The Transformers: The IDW Collection Vol. 1 (review)

Discussion in 'Transformers Comics Discussion' started by artiepants, Jul 20, 2010.

  1. artiepants

    artiepants Just over here punching Unicron.

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    Ok, so I'm downsizing my incoming comics (since i won't pay $4 an issue and a lot of books i get ~ ATLAS, SWORD, Iron Fist, etc) have been canceled, so i caved on a good deal on Amazon and ordered this.

    Now, if you followed my posts back in the day, you'll not be shocked to know i'm not a big fan of IDWs early work. overall, i feel like they're kind of amateur-hour, especially in their packaging, which is why i was surprised how top-notch this collection is (plus, it, ya'know, makes sense, unlike those bizarre ~ to me ~ "Best of" books, where a lot of the stories don't even make sense out of context). I was also always a fan of Andy Schmidt's editorial work at Marvel, so that was another point in their favor, and i like the idea of reading the whole saga in semi-chronological order.

    and i'm just a sucker for oversized hardcovers. My favorite format going back to the marvel OGNs of the 80s.

    So, as i just mentioned above, the packaging is ace, top notch all around. I even love the pencil illustration cover art.

    Now i stopped reading the IDW books when they jumped up to $4 a piece (another reason i went for this is at Amazon's discount it works out to about $2 per issue.) So most of the material was new to me.

    So, on with the reviews!
     
  2. artiepants

    artiepants Just over here punching Unicron.

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    Megatron: Origin

    hmmmm. Not the most auspicious start.

    I liked a lot of the ideas bandied about in this book, Megatron going from working class to gladiator to total psycho to Decepticon leader, but i felt the actual storytelling was pretty poor. The artwork, while nice (i'm a big Milne fan), often left me confused in the panel-to-panel flow. It also didn't help how dark and often muddy the coloring was. There are some SPECTACULAR individual panels, but the storytelling was frequently confusing.

    It's also disappointing to see in a trade like this (or even an earlier trade) they wouldn't take the time to correct a few instances where speech balloon tails seem to either be attributed to the wrong characters or not clearly showing who they were coming from. This is one of those 'amateurish' things that has previously irritated me about IDWs output.

    I also felt the story didn't do a very good job of giving us the "why" of Megatron's descent into madness (or if he actually is insane???). He seems to show remorse, or at least regret for his early killings, but just goes whole-hog over the edge. In fact, there wasn't really much 'character development' in the whole story, they never really gave much in the way of motivation for anyone, from the Senator's douche-iness, to Soundwaves backstabbery to Sentinal Prime's jack@$$ery to Megatron's rise to ass-kickery. It all just kind of.... happens. They even toss off a line about Thundercracker's reluctance to be a 'villian', yet i'm not sure they ever even introduced the character besides him standing around with the other seekers.

    That was actually something else they did a poor job with: introducing all of this insane cast. I really like Matt Fractions (invincible Iron Man, Uncanny X-man) way of giving you a capsule intro with the characters when a bunch first show up: i.e "Cyclops: Optic Blasts. Fearless Leader". In a book this dense with characters, many SUPER obscure or even created for the story, a little of that would have gone a long way. I like to consider myself pretty-well versed in TF lore, and i was lost on who a lot of characters were (or if they were anyone.) I'd say in that respect this story was very non-new reader friendly, which made it a bit jarring of an opening to the IDW saga.

    I was glad they didn't totally turn Megatron into a "working class hero" like it seemed they were going to do at the beginning, and it was sort of interesting they made the 'cons the worker class and the 'bots the security-class in an inversion of most TFG1 mythology. Like i said above, i liked the ideas a lot, but the execution was lacking.

    I also didn't understand why Soundwave murdered Ratbat at the end. At least i think that was Ratbat? While i'm on unanswered questions, how did Megatron lose an arm between, IIRC issues #2 and 3 ~ he kills Bumper and the redshirt bot handily at the end of the 1 issue/chapter (and has both arms) and then at the beginning of the next he's pissed that he lost an arm, although dialog suggests it was the next day and no cause seems to be given for him losing the arm. It also seemed like ol' Sentinel Prime went out like a bit of a chump being how bad@$$ they set him (and his Apex Armor) up.

    I did really like the prison break though, the highlight of the story IMHO, and playing on your expectations that Starscream would be an "just out for #1 traitor" from the get go. (although it wasn't clear where his null rays came from)

    Rating:
    Story: C (would be C-/D+ but like i said, i liked the ideas enough. If i was a new reader and this was my intro to Transformers comics though i'd give it an "F")
    Art: B (should be a C for the storytelling issues, but i just like Milne's style enough i'm bumping it up.)
    Overall: C (aka Average)
     
  3. artiepants

    artiepants Just over here punching Unicron.

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    Spotlight: Blurr

    much better.

    ok, first off, this is possibly the prettiest Transformers comic I've ever read. Casey Coller is jaw-droppingly awesome, and i will now probably buy anything he does. The perfect intersection of Cartoony/Realistic/Stylized. Sparse, but intentionally so and just SOOO nicely designed. The coloring too was just 110% awesomesauce.

    This was a solid little story. I think i'd have been HELLA pissed if i'd paid $4 for it, since it reads in about 5 minutes, but as a chapter in this giant hardcover, it was really nice. and again the art looks spectacular at this size.

    It was nice to get a little characterization for Blurr (not sure i recall him ever getting much except goes fast/talks fast), i liked him as essentially an olympic athlete, and loved Starscream's hard sell at the bar. Cool to see Optimus inspiring others even before he became Prime. Also a nice glimpse at the early days of the war, before it became planet-wide.

    Story: B (would be higher, but it was pretty slight.)
    Art: A+ (have i mentioned how much i loved it?)
    Overall: A-
     
  4. artiepants

    artiepants Just over here punching Unicron.

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    Spotlight: Cliffjumper

    this was a wierd little story: it reminded me of some of those TV eps everyone makes fun of like 'The Girl Who Loved Powerglide', except actually done fairly well. Cute animation feel art, and i liked that it established Cliffjumper as a legitimate bad@$$, which i've always felt he should be based on his bio. the staff/spears were a sweet visual touch.

    Again, like with Blurr, if i'd dropped $4 on this, i think i'd have been pissed, but as an aside here, it was a nice character piece: possibly the only negative being i don't think Cliffy shows up again in the entire book (he might have been in a couple panels in Megatron: Origin).

    Not sure if this appearance pays off anywhere down the line, but it was fun enough for what it was.

    Story: B
    Art: A-
    Overall: B+
     
  5. artiepants

    artiepants Just over here punching Unicron.

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    Spotlight: Shockwave

    here we start to get into the actual IDW saga, which is interesting since this came out after some other reveals, and reads as if you should actually already know what happened to Shockwave and the Dinobots.

    A cool revenge story, and i always like Furman writing Grimlock, especially smart Grimlock and Shockwave's an all-timer for me. (and way, WAY overdue for a Classics reinterpretation!). Both Shockwave's inability to cope with Grimlock's solely-emotionally-based response and his briefly giving over to his own rage for survival were well done. EDIT: i absolutely loved Grimlock having an 'endgame' in place for dealing with Shocky if he couldn't. good stuff there. Smart Grimlock rules. /EDIT

    The one story aspect i didn't like was the Dinobots receiving 'beast modes' so easily. Given Beast Wars is supposed to be so far off in the future, it seemed either like A. a cheat, or B. overly fanwanky. And it strained my suspension of disbelief that they could just whip up fake flesh in their CR chambers no sweat that quickly. and IMHO it didn't really add anything to the story.

    I'm 50/50 on Roche's art ~ when he uses more hard lines like here, i like it, when he gets overly cartoony like on Spotlight: Hot Rod, i just really, really don't.

    Story: B+
    Art: B
    Overall: B
     
  6. Andersonh1

    Andersonh1 Man, I've been here a LONG time Veteran

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    I've already got either all the individual issues or the previous trade collections with all of these stories. But darn it if that hardcover isn't nice enough that I'm tempted to buy it anyway.

    The Shockwave spotlight is one of my favorite stories from IDW's run, and it looks better in retrospect because of how much it set up in terms of future plotlines.
     
  7. artiepants

    artiepants Just over here punching Unicron.

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    It really is a nice package, with nice design which is one my biggest gripes against IDW.
     
  8. DJCHARTERS

    DJCHARTERS Well-Known Member

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    ive actually just bought this and im going to sell on my individual comics. are you doing a review for the infiltration included in there? i enjoyed reading your reviews on the separate comics and i am glad i am not the only person confused by megatron origins
     
  9. artiepants

    artiepants Just over here punching Unicron.

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    thanks for the comment!

    yeah, need to get caught up on the reviews. (spoiler: while i still have problems with it, Infiltration is a lot better in one chunk then it was getting the individual issues where the Glacial pace made it feel like nothing happened on a month-by-month basis)

    I think M:O just need some much stronger editorial oversight... I'm going to read again in the next few days to see if it makes more sense (but honestly, i already read a good chunk of it twice because i kept getting confused and backing up to re-read it)
     
  10. artiepants

    artiepants Just over here punching Unicron.

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    Spotlight: Nightbeat

    OK, this is an interesting story ~ i'm presuming this is setting up a lot of backstory for a future story, since on it's own it's a little flimsy and inconclusive, but it's also just a cool little detective story/character piece. I've always been a big Nightbeat fan (like Shockwave, another character SCREAMING for a classics redo). the idea of a detective Autobot is just really cool (seems like a Nightbeat/Red Alert team up is a story begging to be told...)

    Now the art, on this one is tough to judge. I really liked M.D. Bright back in the day, but there are places in this book where it's just... bad. like his rendering of Prime at the end. The storytelling is clear, and a lot of it is solid enough, but i guess i just feel like : A. He doesn't have a solid grasp on rendering the Transformers/Robots and B. His old-school style didn't jive with modern coloring (i'd have to go back and look, but it seemed like they colored over his pencils ~ a good inker may have salvaged this)

    Story: B (could go up down the road when i see how/if some of the threads dropped here pay off)
    Art: C- (would be lower, but the storytelling was still quite clear despite not caring for some of the renderings)
    Overall: C+
     
  11. Andersonh1

    Andersonh1 Man, I've been here a LONG time Veteran

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    Megatron: Origin was a mess. I suspect the problem lies with the scripting, since Alex Milne has drawn perfectly clear and easy to follow layouts before. I did enjoy the nod to the series in Ironhide #2 though.

    Spotlight: Nightbeat does indeed set up a lot of future storylines.
     
  12. shadowsfm

    shadowsfm Well-Known Member

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    what happened was that megatron was so posed to be like 6 issues, but the editor forced the writer to condense it to 4 issues. then add in that the printers muddied up the colors and some characters are miss colored.... yeah this is when idw started going down hill just before all hail megatron.

    other issues that make up the "pre all hail" that weren't great is: the second half of devastation, spotlights sideswipe & grimlock, and max dinobots, sure they weren't out right bad, but you can tell this is the beginning of when things go down hill. revelation was so posed to be like 5 or 6 issues long. i guess the editor tried to rush things to start up all hail megetron.
     
  13. Andersonh1

    Andersonh1 Man, I've been here a LONG time Veteran

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    Megatron: Origin was published from June to October of 2007. Devastation followed it beginning in October. All Hail Megatron didn't start until July 2008, over a year later.
     
  14. shadowsfm

    shadowsfm Well-Known Member

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    yeah, im just saying that i feel that's when the trend all started with bad editing and overall quality. they did have some good stuff in that year, like the spotlights.

    examples: in devastation ratchet gets chased through most of the series makes me feel like nothings happening, its so drawn out. max dinobots the dinobots are on the same street through the series getting attacked, so drawn out. grimlock was jarring between artists and bad word balloons. sideswipe had too much going on for its 22 pages.
     
  15. Andersonh1

    Andersonh1 Man, I've been here a LONG time Veteran

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    I guess where I feel IDW has slacked up has been more recently, and in the area of the art rather than the writing. What bothers me is that character models aren't consistent from book to book or artist to artist. Don draws his designs in the ongoing, while Chee draws fairly bog-standard Sunbow models in the BB mini-series. It's so bad that Blurr goes from having an Earth-based auto mode at the end of one ongoing issue, to having his Cybertronian mode where the exact same scene is continued in the BB issue.

    It makes Devastation and Maximum Dinobots feel like the golden age compared to what's going on right now. It was so well-done at that point that every time the stasis-locked Grimlock turned up, he was in the exact same pose that he was frozen in at the end of Spotlight Shockwave.

    But I guess this is getting off topic. I think we're both making roughly the same point, that the stories contained in this volume are generally of pretty good quality compared to some of the more recent stories.
     
  16. Rotorstorm

    Rotorstorm OriginalRotorstorm Fanboy

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    whilst it should be said that all hail megatron wasn't great I wouldn't say all IDW produce has been pants since then.

    Last Stand of the Wreckers

    no more needs to be said.

    I just wish that IDW had kept following the stories from the ation series, they were interesting as the setup a different universe which seems to have crept into the movie style where the human millitary is fighting the decepticons more than the autobots.
     
  17. Andersonh1

    Andersonh1 Man, I've been here a LONG time Veteran

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    I would call most of what they've produced good, with flaws. Last Stand of the Wreckers was really good, while Bumblebee was poor enough that I dropped it after two issues. I enjoy just about every Transformers comic they publish every month. I just wish the art was more consistent.
     
  18. shadowsfm

    shadowsfm Well-Known Member

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    while most disagrees, i feel all hail megetron got better as the story continued. only thing that bothers me was that the decepticon story took way to long (3 issues) and the autobots stayed on cybertron way too long. but at least the wreckers joined the cast and there is the traitor side plot. and a huge fight at the end.

    another thing that is bothersome is characters aren't consist during and after all hail, like that one yer gap where everything changed to spike and his dad going from trusting the autobots at the end to hunting autobots.
     

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