Thursday, March 21, 2013

Transformers Prime: Rage of the Dinobots (Comic)

I would now like to present you with my thoughts on another Transformers comic, this one also set in the current Aligned continuity. Unlike the Fall of Cybertron comic which was distributed digitally (with a recent physical collection of it that I encourage you to buy if you're interested), this one, Rage of the Dinobots, was released physically on a monthly schedule for 4 issues. It, too, focuses on the Dinobots, this time telling their story after the events of the Fall of Cybertron game and leading into the 3rd Season of Transformers: Prime (which premiers soon, actually). Due to it explicitly using Fall of Cybertron (the game) as background for the story, this comic technically counts under this blog's criteria of a licensed video-game comic, so I would now like to present my thoughts on it.

The story, written by Prime writers Mike Johnson and Mairghread Scott (the first woman to write an official Transformers comic), follows the Dinobots (Grimlock, Slug, Sludge, Swoop, and Snarl) as they try to leave Cybertron after Optimus Prime and the Autobots. While dealing with some Decepticons, Ultra Magnus comes to the Dinobots' aid, only to get shot down. When the Dinobots decide to investigate, they learn of a new enemy named Ser-Ket, who has members of a new opposing faction, the Predacons, working for her. They also learn that Ser-Ket has managed to capture Ultra Magnus, which lands the Dinobots another chance to confront Ser-Ket's boss, the Decepticon Shockwave, the one responsible for their current appearances.

Mike Johnson and Mairghread Scott, helped in part by them having experience working on Transformers, have written an excellent tale based around the Dinobots. Here we see them, but mostly Grimock, trying to cope with their new forms as they embark on their rescue mission. In the process we get to learn more about these characters and the relationship between them, mainly with the Dinobots and their antagonistic rivalry with Shockwave and their friendlier terms with Ultra Magnus. The story carries some tension that makes the story work, although there are a couple of funny moments near the end to balance it out. Some scenes from Fall of Cybertron are also directly referenced near the end of the story proper, which solidifies how this comic ended up being reviewed here. (There are also, of course, a few continuity errors of sorts, especially one involving Sludge, though explaining these requires spoiling the Fall of Cybertron game.) It feels like a true modern Transformers story through and through, and it gets me excited with the prospect of seeing new characters show up in the Prime cartoon before it ends.

Augustin Padilla, another Transformers veteran, takes on the interior art duties with some amazing pencil work that truly captures the art style of the Prime cartoon. His work, combined with Thomas Deer's work on the coloring, expertly bring the story to life and help create the atmosphere set forth by the writers. There are some larger panels spread throughout, including a handful of splash pages across all 4 issues, but these are not the bulk of the work and serve to set up an epic scene or show how big something is (such a crashed ship or a big battle scene). Ken Christiansen provides the art for the main covers, and they are absolutely gorgeous, with some amazing line work and colors that help the comic stand out (you might even be compelled to hang them on your wall if you like them enough); Thomas Deer's pin-up of Grimlock at the end of issue 4 is also pretty good-looking, showing off his artistic capabilites when working solo (and is also potentially wall-worthy). Overall, the artwork is very nice and appealing to look at, displaying a good range of emotion from the characters (even Grimlock, whose face consists of a visor and mouthplate).

Transformers Prime: Rage of the Dinobots is not only a good Transformers comic, it's also one of the better Transformers stories told in recent years. Sure, there's a few issues with the continuity it's trying to tie in to, but by itself it's pretty well-written and drawn and it actually gets you to care about the characters involved. If you're someone who's currently investing in the Aligned continuity, you should definitely pick up this book and give it a shot (and if you're super hardcore about it, prepare for a headache). However, I would not recommend newcomers to Transformers to start here, if only due to its placement in the current continuity and how it requires a little knowledge from another source(s) (instead, watch this if this is your first dip into the modern mythos). It may not be the absolute best Transformers story, but, as I have said, it is certainly one of the better ones and deserves a look.

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