Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dirty Tricks: Robots in Disguise # 30!

Now that’s more like it. After rolling through the first parts of a plot that made the humans look genuinely dumb and the Cybertronians acting out of character, “Transformers: Robots in Disguise” (“TF: RID”) seems to be finding its rhythm again with issue # 30.

Written by John Barber and illustrated by Andrew Griffith (with flashback sequences by Casey Coller), “Earthfall Chapter 3: The Mind Bomb” has Prowl rejoining the Constructicons in forming Devastator 2.0 in order to turn the tide of the battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons in Poverty Flats. As the battle threatens to spiral out of control, Earth Defense Command director Marissa Faireborn reveals that the humans have an ace up their sleeve: A mind bomb that can deactivate Cybertronian brains.

Unfortunately, it only works on minds the humans have scanned—so it will only work on the humans’ allies, the Decepticons (It was developed by Dr. Bharwaney, last seen helping out Bumblebee a few story arcs ago).

Faireborn does it anyway, ordering Skywarp to teleport the Decepticons away as she tries to contain the reappearance of the Cybertronians now that their cover seems blown.

Through flashbacks, we discover some very interesting developments. First, we witness Galvatron back on Cybertron ten million years ago as the aggressive warlord meets a most unexpected ally. A few months prior to the events of the issue, Soundwave continues to explain why the Decepticons need to win the humans’ trust. Optimus Prime prepare to returns to Earth and Arcee asks to join the crew.

At issue’s end, we find out the identity of the spy among the Autobots and, as a consequence of that, the Autobots and the Decepticons now know where the humans may be keeping the missing Cybertronian wise man Alpha Trion. “Now is the dawn of the Decepticons,” says Soundwave, cleverly playing on the story arc title “Dawn of the Autobots.”

This issue is a welcome read, because it proves that the humans are not as dumb as they seemed earlier on. Faireborn and the EDC don’t trust the Decepticons either and have the means to keep them in line. Barber also continues to build the mythology behind the IDW version of Galvatron (by now clearly and completely different from the original G1 character seen in 1985’s “The Transformers: The Movie”) and has a funny bit that plays with the possible connections between Arcee and the three newly-arrived female Autobots. “You’re as different from Windblade as she is from Sideswipe,” quips Prowl. “They don’t belong on Cybertron like you do.” Prowl is becoming more and more a compelling character as his rift with Prime and willingness to do whatever it takes to get things done (even putting the Constructicon band back together) makes him a major player again. Soundwave is now revealed as the one pulling Galvatron’s strings and the combination of seeking vengeance against Megatron and building a new Decepticon order makes him dangerous.

The robot-on-robot action remains nicely drawn with Griffith almost on automatic pilot. The humans still look a bit rubbery though. It is nice to see Casey Coller back—his Cybertron sequences are awesome—and maybe IDW can find something more regular for him.

“TF: RID” # 30 fixes a lot of what was wrong with the first couple issues of the story arc, adding several layers of intrigue and leaving readers with a cool cliffhanger going into the next issue. Who gets to the Marshall Islands first? What will they find there?

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