Dark Cybertron Is, Thus Far, Dull Cybertron

Transformers-Dark-Cybertron-1-Preview-4Spencer Ellsworth writes:

The thing about reading Transformers comics: it's one of those nerd habits that one has to defend in the presence of other nerds. So: If you can get good stories from a rubber bat suit, you can get good stories about shape-changing robots. Damn good stories, at times. That's the law of averages for you.

With that out of the way…

Of the two current ongoing series, More Than Meets The Eye and Robots in Disguise, MTMTE has been the standout–funny, labyrinthine and full of high emotional stakes. But RID has its moments. Writers James Roberts and John Barber, especially Roberts, have put a lot of thought into how a millions-year-old robot society would evolve, function and acculturate. The stories, even when they misfire, are full of big ideas.

Transformers-Dark-Cybertron-1-Preview-5The big crossover between both titles, Dark Cybertron, launched with three chapters in November, revealing Shockwave's master plan to unleash the Dead Universe upon our heroes, and bring them under the rule of the evil Nova Prime and Galvatron.

Unfortunately, that's Transformers speak for Overused Supervillain Uses Terribly Hackneyed Superweapon.

Nova Prime and the Dead Universe were first introduced as the Big Bads of Simon Furman's 2008 arc Revelation, and they made a comeback in 2011's Chaos story. And Shockwave's machinations have been behind most evil plots since 1984. This is the giant robot version of early 90's Venom.

The art is muddled and murky, with mainstays Alex Milne and Andrew Griffith nowhere in sight. The story is overly talky, and suffers under its extended cast. Things picked up a bit in part 4, if only because of Nick Roche's excellent art, but the story is still mired in cliche.

Transformers-Dark-Cybertron-1-Preview-6The recent Remain In Light story explored the ultimate consequences of generations of Cybertronian apartheid. Yes, apartheid. Shadowplay had robots selling their alt modes for drugs, when they weren't being reprogrammed in experimental clinics under Cybertron. What happened to apartheid, machinations, reprogramming clinics, robot drugs, robot psychiatry, and all the other cool details?

I want to believe that this crossover will be as awesome as it should be. The writers and (regular) artists involved are good enough for the story to be legendary.

So pick it up, Roberts and Barber. After I've explained to a comic shop's denizens that TF comics can be good, the last thing I want to hear is "I read the latest part of Dark Cybertron and it sucked!"

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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