Monday, 18 January 2010

Transformers: Bumblebee #1 review

Woo! This is the last review of my December haul - yes, I know its January now. Below I present to you my review of Transformers: Bumblebee #1, but first, the cover (above). I've never been a fan of Guido's cartoony style and think it demeans his artistic prowess. But colorist extraordinaire Josh Burcham colors it up something awesome with very cool-looking old style filters that make it look like an old 80's comic. Hmm? Oh yes, the review:

SYNOPSIS: The election of Bumblebee as Autobot leader is full of cheer, but within a few days, Bumblebee wishes he could give up the title. Tensions are high as the Autobots either stay in hiding, or forge out on their own. Ratchet rebukes a disrespectful Wheeljack. Meanwhile, Skywarp kills some humans who don't give him information on something he's looking for. He then teleports away from Allodyne Systems. Back at Autobase, Wheeljack receives a transmission from Colonel Gordon Horiuchi. While Bumblebee is explaining to Omega Supreme that he must hide in a very uncomfortable cave, Wheeljack listens to the Colonel, who states that he is part of a small group of rebels within Skywatch who want to work with the Autobots to capture Decepticons. Wheeljack decides to make contact.
Bumblebee and Ratchet are furious when they find out, but agree to meet the Colonel anyway. Meanwhile, At a neutral location, Horiuchi meets with Bumblebee, explains the desire to work with the Autobots, and gives them a set of badges that will mask their signal from Skywatch's scanners. Bumblebee takes the badges back to base where they are soon installed on each Autobot.

Shortly, the Autobots capture six Decepticons, the latest being Frenzy, who's lost without Soundwave. The next on the list is Scavenger, but instead, Horiuchi wants them to capture Blurr, who had earlier left the team. Cliffjumper blusters out that the Colonel is crazy if he thinks they will capture one of their own. Horiuchi has his tech activate an immobilizer built into Cliffjumper's badge, locking him into vehicle mode. The Autobots are aghast, but Horiuchi merely explains it is until he calms down. The Autobots all realize that they are now pawns for Horiuchi, who will use them as he sees fit to capture friend and foe alike.

THE ART: Chee Yang Ong's artwork as met much criticism from the fandom. His art is basic, demonstrates only basic perspective skill, and his decidedly geewun designs are inconsistent with the ongoing. As I've said before, giving employees creative freedom is great, but this is too far. It angers regular fans, confuses new readers and messes up continuity like there's not tomorrow. The hands are drawn with the skill of an eight-year-old, and the poses look unrealistic. The artwork's only saving grace is colors from the skillful Moose Baumann. His expertly rendered, highly detailed colors enhance Chee's basic artwork and make the comic look very well done. The only complaint I have would be his coloring of Frenzy (pictured above) is a very dubious, dark blue that, along with the red blood on him, makes him look like his G1 counterpart. I have no problem with this (Frenzy is red in my book) but at first glance it looks like a canonical inconsistency which, again, is something IDW seems to be doing a lot these days. Overall the art is half-terrible, half-quite-cool. Go figure.

THE STORY: Zander Cannon certainly makes an impression, though not as much as main man Mike Costa did with the ongoing. The situation of humans pretending to work with the Autobots and then forcing them to work for them is nothing new, but it's just different enough that it becomes interesting. However, there is very little substance to the issue. The first ten pages are literally 100% exposition, recapping the events of ongoing #1-3. It's very word-heavy and frankly, very boring to read. Even when the new development of Colonel Horiuchi offering the Autobots come work for Skywatch, there's three pages of featureless, blah-blah-blah of what the Skywatch badges do and why Horiuchi wants to help the Autobots. Only when you get to the last three pages does anything remotely resembling exciting happen. The only good thing about Cannon's writing is that he slots in a few obscure characters like Cindersaur, Gutcruncher, Axer and Squawkbox. So, the result for thi disappointing issue are:

Covers by Chee, GUIDO GUIDI

ART RATING: 7.5 out of 10
STORY RATING: 7 out of 10
OVERALL RATING: 7.5 out of 10

ERRORS: Silverstreak was listed as having left with Hot Rod in Ongoing # 2, but a very Bluestreak-looking Autobot is among those cheering for Bumblebee on the second page. Perhaps Silverstreak is a different character? Or maybe it's supposed to be Smokescreen? Oh, and the designs of the bots are inconsistent with the ones in the ongoing. That sucks.

VERDICT: a thoroughly DISAPPOINTING first issue that fails to impress on both literary and visual fronts. Not a good start guys. Moose Baumann is the only one who's done a decent job. Next time: Bumblebee does something! Will it be important? Probably not. Rated 7 out of 10.

Posted by Fanbot at 12:31 pm, MONDAY 18 January

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