Sunday, August 24, 2014

Book of Revelations: Robots in Disguise # 32!

Comic books sometimes require a period of time to really get going. That was clearly the case with “Transformers: Robots in Disguise” (“TF: RID”) after the “Dark Cybertron” arc, probably because of how difficult it is to accept the human-Decepticon alliance. But as writer John Barber and artist Andrew Griffith have gotten a few more issue into their “Earthfall” storyline, the series has gotten a lot better. With the last issue, “TF: RID” has come out with guns blazing.

“Earthfall Chapter 5: I Dream of Wires” starts off with a flashback of Prowl and Bumblebee having a conversation half a million years ago as they watch Metroplex leaving Cybertron. Prowl isn’t so sure about the direction that Optimus Prime is taking the Autobots toward. “The Autobots need someone who can plan,” Prowl says. He’s referring to himself of course. We flash forward as the Autobots are returning to Earth and Prowl continues to have misgivings about Prime’s plans, having a quirky conversation with Cosmos, which is fun just to hear the incredulous personality Barber has given Cosmos.

Finally, on to the present, as the Autobots storm Bikini Atoll, where the humans’ Earth Defense Command (EDC) has been hiding Autobot sage Alpha Trion...

The Decepticons have found the facility as well, and as the humans and ‘Cons argue, a stealthy Jazz has discovered Alpha Trion—only to find Prowl point a rifle at him.

It’s all a fake-out, of course, as Prowl wants to make sure Jazz doesn’t activate alarms. He may be all superior, but Prowl is still a loyal Autobot. Prowl is using the Autobot attack as a distraction as he infiltrates the humans’ computer system, eventually grabbing control of the humans’ weapons to destroy the Decepticon ship.

As they rescue Alpha Trion, the Autobots discover the breadth of Prowl’s plans, which included ordering Scavenger to reveal the base’s locations to the Decepticons. As the humans and Decepticons evacuate the ruined base, Galvatron takes a moment to express his displeasure over the humans’ using the mindbomb on him. He kills Gen. Daniel Witwicky, later pinning the blame on Prowl when EDC commander Marissa Faireborn asks what happens. It’s a glimpse into Galvatron’s cold but also stringent code of vengeance. “I hope your sun shines in whatever afterspark awaits you, General Daniel,” Galvatron says.

We find out a lot in this issue, including the fact that, aside form a bad cough, Alpha Trion seems to be OK. “I have much to tell,” Trion says. We find out what Prowl’s been planning all along and he has his inevitable shouting match with Prime. “We an’t just be heroes, Prime. We have to be geniuses,” Prowl says, and damn if he isn’t right.

We also find out that, despite what the Autobots previously thought, the humans were not using Alpha Trion to make their anti-Cybertronian technology. It’s someone else, and Prowl has an idea who it is.

As Galvatron talks to Faireborn about Witwicky’s son Spike, the Decepticon leader says forebodingly, “An offspring. How… charming a method of procreation.”

What does that mean? The issue ends with another revelation as Thundercracker, whom we know has been working with the humans for a while now, flies off with his dog Buster while working on his novel in his head. He arrives at another location—where we discover row after row what appears to be clones of Decepticon seekers Ramjet and Thrust.

Barber keeps the issue running at a fast clip, moving from scene to scene and amazingly keeping the battle scenes to a minimum as he concentrates on the spy work being done by Jazz and Prowl. Barber has Prowl back to his bad-ass self and the issue satisfying wraps up this part of the storyline. As usual, Griffith is his dependable, robot-drawing self.

We would be remiss if we didn’t take note of the homage done in “TF: RID” # 32, both to the 1986 “The Transformers: The Movie.” The title page of the issue clearly is a shout-out to the movie poster, with Prime ironically here taking the place of Ultra Magnus. Then the other shout out, which really was revealed last issue, is the Decepticon ship Galvatron is using is clearly the same one Unicron gave him to use in “The Transformers: The Movie.”

All in all, this is a cool and compact issue. It’s nice to see “TF: RID” regain its momentum and we look forward to more good stories from it. IDW Publishing seems to be trying to highlight the title as it will apparently be called simply “The Transformers” near year’s end.

Next time: More Than Meets The Eye # 32!

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