Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Strange Positions: Robots in Disguise # 29!

AT the end of “Transformers: Robots in Disguise” (“TF: RID”) # 28, the Autobots—led by Optimus Prime—return to Earth for the first time in a long time in search of ancient sage Alpha Trion. But upon finding the reformed Thundercracker, the Autobots find themselves trapped by the combined, allied forces of the Earth Defense Command (EDC) and the Galvatron-commanded Decepticons! How did that happen?

Written by John Barber and illustrated by Andrew Griffith, “TF: RID” # 29 begins with the tense and confused face-off between Prime’s troops and the Decepticon/human forces. The back-and-forth soon leads to a firefight and a pursuit. “TF: RID” # 29 then goes back and employs two distinct flashback sequences.

The first flashback sequence explains how the Decepticons, helped along by a disillusioned Soundwave, manage to find common ground and convince the EDC to ally with them. EDC leader Marissa Faireborn (introduced in the Generation 1 Sunbow cartoon) believes this to be their best option. The second flashback sequence explains how Prowl and the Constructicons wound up involved in Prime’s Earth mission immediately after the trial of Megatron on Cybertronian moon Luna 2.

Take note: We only know Megatron was not found guilty, not how he was judged that way. It looks like the trial itself will be covered in “TF: RID’s” sister title, “Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye.”

The issue is full of action and briskly goes through its paces. The only problem is that the issue’s central conceit—the humans siding with the Decepticons—is clearly unbelievable. Despite Soundwave’s entreaties, it just feels like agreeing to the alliance sounds like a very bad idea and runs in the face of everything the humans—Faireborn especially—have experienced regarding the Decepticons. Prime echoes the readers’ incredulity when he says, “The Decepticons will betray you—while my Autobots have always fought for the human race.” This clearly will not end well for the humans. Faireborn already has her doubts. “How did this seem like a good idea,” she ponders. Readers will say the exact same thing.

The most interesting thing about the issue is the ongoing discussion of Prowl’s new relationship with the Constructicons, something that began as a tragic twist through Shockwave’s strategy, but now plays into Prowl’s requirements. The art remains great in terms of robotic portrayal, but Griffith’s humans, especially his take on Faireborn, look rubbery. The Earth flashback sequences by Guido Guidi feature a much better-looking Faireborn (and other humans in general) so the contrast is evident. (By the way, Daniel Witwicky is back as the EDC’s general).

With the promise of more metal-on-metal action, “TF: RID” marches on with its Earth-bound high jinks but with its central idea being so preposterous, it might be best to finish this arc and move on to the next one. Then again, maybe Barber will prove us wrong. Please prove us wrong.

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