by James Roberts, John Barber (Writers), Atilio Rojo, James Raiz, Livio Ramondelli (Artists), Josh Perez (Colorist)
The Story: Bumblebee’s group has to deal with the huge Titan, Starscream prepare for eventual trouble while Orion Pax and the crew of the Lost Light gets ready for a trip in a dead universe.
The Review: I am always partly afraid of crossovers. While a number of excellent stories have been the result of said methods of storytelling (Kraven’s Last Hunt, for example), those are few and far between as a good lot are just there to make people buy more issues to get the entire story (here’s looking at you, Battle of the Atom). Whether a person is a fan or not, there’s always a challenge that writers needs to accomplish, which is to make sure both their casts and plotlines converges in a way that feels natural. It’s always a bit sad to see the momentum of a book gets destroyed due to the inclusion of various elements that simply don’t fit in. However, with both Transformers titles converging in this crossover and both James Roberts and John Barber writing, does this second part provide something of quality to read?
For the most part, both writers succeed in bringing forward what they do best in their own books, with the elements of RiD and MtMtE being on display without the actual status quo of their book being damaged or simplified in order to tell the story. To the credit of the writers, Dark Cybertron feels a bit more like a natural progression of elements first introduced in RiD, with the characters of MtMtE being along for the ride. Each situation is explained in fairly short and concise manners, along with some of the more obscure concepts in the IDW continuity in order to let the readers appreciate what is happening.
Another elements that is easy to appreciate is the characterization, with a lot of the characters receiving apt one, with some development or very interesting interactions going on. Peppering it with new way old characters interact, like Orion Pax with everyone else, along with humor served by characters like Swerve and Whirl. The core personality is brought forth quite well with the dialogue, mixing exposition with a good deal of more memorable lines in order to bring what is either likable or detestable in those characters.
Where it falters a bit is the cohesiveness of the issue. While these scenes range from adequate to rather good, the book jumps from one character to another without connecting much of anything to provide something that can provide a look at the ensemble of the story. It is still early in the crossover, of course, yet merely seeing the characters talk about events in other books, while a nice touch, is not exactly enough to cement this as an ensemble book yet. Just adding the Orion Pax plotline to the cast of MtMtE is not exactly enough, unfortunately.
Another area where cohesiveness is lacking is in the art, with this issue being drawn by three different artists altogether. Atilio Rojo, while a very competent artist, is not exactly someone that can be paired easily with James Raiz. With one having a more cartoony and bright outlook while the other possessing a much more somber touch with a lot of shadows, it create a disparity between the two styles. Both are great, though, with Rojo being able to convey a huge sense of scope and depth to his panels and scenery while providing evocative poses for his characters. All the while, James Raiz has a much more moody and personal approach in his pages, focusing instead on the characters and on a more high-tech and mechanical detail, allowing for perhaps a lower amount of emotions to those huge changing robots. While his anatomy and his scenery are rather great to look at, his lack of emotions to his characters seems like a missed opportunity, even if it fits the melancholic mood the characters find themselves into in his scenes.
Livio Ramondelli is perhaps the worst in the bunch in terms of disconnection to the overall style. Make no mistake, his art is absolutely superb, yet it doesn’t fit at all with either the moodiness of James Raiz or the cartoony approach of Atilio Rojo. While his style fits very well with his low amount of pages set in a dead universe, it’s just too different from the rest. Still, his economy of space in his backgrounds create an eerie atmosphere that really cements in the creepiness of the area in which Orion Pax and the others are in. The characters are perhaps a bit suffering in terms of details with his approach, yet they are easily recognizable nonetheless.
The colorization fares a bit better in terms of cohesion, yet not by much. The work of Josh Perez is quite apt, bringing in the rich and diverse number of colors that are the norm when it comes to the Transformers, most of them being bright. He is able to bring the difference in setting rather well, with a huge amount of bright light effect in the scenes on Cybertron, while the rather dark affairs on the Lost Light is apt with the name of the ship. Despite all this, he is able to connect the world thanks to his colorization, despite some of the differences in terms of lighting. Livio Ramondelli, coloring his own work, is really able to push even more the darkness and unsettling atmosphere of the dark universe thanks to very low amount of brighter colors, serving as a contrast to the rest of the book. It works very well on its own, yet it does not connect well with the ensemble.
The Conclusion: Some interesting developments, some very potent characterization along with a light touch of humor would make this a very great book if it wasn’t set back by a lack of connectivity between some of its scenes and the art in general. Fun, but not quite on the level it used to be.
Hugo Robberts Larivière