Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Busy Bodies: The Transformers # 36!

The comic book series formerly known as “Transformers: Robots in Disguise” has apparently leapt at the opportunity to rebrand itself by adopting a far busier approach. From the story lines begun last issue, “Transformers” # 36 furiously moves its set pieces forward. Writer John Barber has obviously embraced the idea that more is indeed merrier, as he also brings into play bits and pieces he’d been putting in place for a while now.
            This is officially called “Onyx Interface: Part Two.” At the issue’s beginning, we find out what exactly Soundwave’s “personal errand” was. He has teleported to where Thundercracker has been holed up with his dog Buster and rewriting his screenplay in his head. Soundwave is trying to recruit Thundercracker to his new, feel-good Decepticon cause. Thundercracker isn’t buying in just yet, and there is a limit to Soundwave’s group dynamic: “I said all will be welcome… but those who align themselves with a Prime… they shall always be enemies.”
            We get a better understanding of the two-man army that’s vexing both the humans and the Decepticons. It’s Spike Witwicky and his spec ops buddy Jimmy Pink, and we get an earful from Spike about why he’s fighting this fight. Unfortunately, he exits the café and recognize Prowl and the Constructicons waiting outside and a chase ensues. The Constructicons know that Spike executed their former leader Scrapper, after all. Arcee winds up holding Prowl back because she’s worried Prowl is endangering humans. It’s kind of dumb of Spike and Jimmy to coincidentally find high-tech motorcycles and try to use them to escape his pursuers.

            It shows how much of a Generation 1 devotee I am that I didn’t recognize the motorbikes as the current alt modes of Rumble and Frenzy (I still prefer them as obsolete micro-cassettes), who deliver the two soldiers to a group new to the party: Galvatron and the Decepticons. “We have things to discuss before I kill you,” Galvatron says.
            We get the Earth Defense Command talking to G.B. Blackrock and it turns out that Blackrock knows a thing or two about a mysterious device that apparently jumpstarted human society. Readers will recognize that the item he’s talking about and showing Marissa Faireborn is the elusive Enigma of Combination (it allows for Cybertronian gestalts) that everyone is literally after.
Prowl manages to escape with Spike, leaving Arcee to rescue Pink—before being surrounded by the Decepticons. Ulp. Once they find cover, Prowl reveals he’s not here to kill Spike. Quite the opposite. “I forgive you,” Prowl says.
Yes, that is a whole lot of plot being moved forward with the developments of last issue finally converging in the Tokyo throwdown. We get a lot of clarification as Barber reveals what motivates Prowl, tying in the Onyx plotline the current arc takes its name from. The pace is quite good and refreshing from the stop-and-go feel that used to characterize the series.
Penciller Andrew Griffith’s robots are getting even better. He can draw Transformers just standing next to each other, doing nothing, and it would still look cool as he pays attention to things like how tall they stand relative to each other and the proportion of the kibble on the robots. But he continues to struggle with drawing the humans, particularly the facial expressions. Don’t get me wrong, he has gotten better, but it’s still easy to notice especially in an issue with a lot of humans in it.

            “Transformers” # 35 has a lot of stuff of going on, but it’s still primarily set up for the business that is apparently coming. It’s intriguing, but the “Onyx Interface” arc will be judged by the conclusion that seems to be on its way.

Next time: Transformers Drift Empire of Stone # 2!

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