IDW Publishing "Infiltration" #0

in 2005, Comic Book Review, Generation One

IDW Publishing

General Information:
Title: "Prelude to Infiltration"
Cover Price: $.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Written by: Simon Furman
Art by: EJ Su
Colors by: John Rauch
Letters by: Tom B. Long & Robbie Robbins
Edits by: Chris Ryall


Autobot Cover Decepticons Cover Megatron Cover Optimus Prime Cover Botcon Front Cover Botcon Back Cover Back Cover

Synopsis:
In Phoenix, Arizona, young Verity Carlo has identified her mark. What she does not notice is the car parked near the bus eyeing the same man. As she rides on a bus, she waits for the man to fall asleep and quietly steals his palm sized computer. Making an excuse, she gets off the bus with her stolen goods and begins to look for a ride out of the desert.

Meanwhile in Oregon, machinery is hard at work as Starscream receives a report: the target has been lost. He orders his warriors to find them!

Back in the desert, Verity has gotten a ride from Hunter O'Nion. The drive is uneventful until he suddenly stops. The two find the bus Verity had been on earlier crashed into the ground, its passengers all recovering from the crash. One is missing however: the salesman.

Back in Hunter's van, he tells Verity of the theory that Earth is being invaded by alien robots! Verity wonders why no one has noticed them, and Hunter explains (much to her amusement) that they are in disguise. Just then, an F-22 fighter plane comes screaming over them unleashing a sonic boom!

Hunter tries to dodge the plane as it comes back for another pass. Starscream orders the target destroyed, and Hunter quickly gets Verity out just as the jet destroys his van.

Verity thinks this is a military plane and suggests surrender, but Hunter knows better. He saw the cockpit is empty and realizes surrender is not an option. Just then, an ambulance appears on the scene, a gun reveals itself from its roof and shoots the plane, sending it flying away. The hologram of a man appears in the ambulance's front seat and tells the two that if they want to live, they will go with him!

Review:

Story:
The credits page of the comic gives us a brief background telling us that the Transformers have infiltrated Earth in disguise for about two years now. We are also treated to a roster of sorts, with one column for Autobots and the other for Decepticons. The characters actually appearing in this issue are shown and named, the others are kept in shadow with no names (though most of them are very easy to figure out).

Unlike the previous versions of Transformers comic books, this new title sets out to create a new origin story for Transformers. The idea was to bring the characters and ideas we fans know and love into a more contemporary setting. However, the idea was also to not replicate every aspect of the story and just change dates. To that end, we are given a tale from a rather human perspective. Most Transformers tales have used children as the conduits for the readers/viewers to relate to Transformers on a human level for years. Verity and Hunter are of a different mold than what we've seen in the past. Often the "Transformers kids" are these wide eyed young kids who are special either because of their technical skill or bravery etc. Verity and Hunter are two loners who live "outside the system", making them ideal candidates to encounter our favorite robots in disguise, who are also "outside the system" in their own way.

Transformers do not actually take center stage in this story. One aspect of Transformers that has lost some resonance over the decades has been their "robots in disguise" element. Alternate modes have become more of an alternate means of attack or defense rather than a way of keeping themselves from being discovered. In this book, this is crucial. We "meet" Runamuck and Runabout for instance, but they never take on their robot forms. It is also cool to see that Ratchet was tailing Verity from the very beginning as he and Runabout are both in the bus station parking lot at the beginning. However, the low key nature in which they are drawn and just placed into the background works perfectly.

This issue also sets up interesting questions. Transformers are said to have been on Earth for two years, so does that mean the entire story of the Ark crashing into Earth millions of years ago has been discarded? Also, was that Soundwave or some other Transformer being rebuilt in the panel with all the machinery? And why is that salesman's computer so important? I look forward to January when we begin to get answers to these questions.

Artwork:

EJ Su has worked on Transformers artwork for quite some time now, contributing to everything from Armada packaging art to the DK Ultimate Guide where he worked on the Prime and Megatron cutaway pictures. His art is nicely done. His style is understated. Detailed when it needs to be, simple when it is called for. He does not attempt to use (or overuse) intricate detail that is not going to be repeatable panel to panel, and that is appreciated. I'm also glad to see that the Dreamwave propensity towards bloated looking Transformers has not carried over to IDW. Hopefully this will be the standard they go by from here on.

EJ's humans clearly have an anime influence, but they are each distinct and do not look completely like they stepped out of an anime cartoon. The interview in the back of the book with Simon Furman indicates that he wished the forms of key characters to be updated to modern versions of their original 80's G1 selves. We see several examples of that in this book, and each one was very much on the mark. F-22 Transformers have existed for a while now, and the jet mode resembles the old F-15 seeker jets enough that they completely work as an updated version of the seeker. Runamuck, Runabout and Ratchet each have familiar vehicle forms but definitely look more modern.

The color pallette is very rich here, especially with the desert scenes. While bright, everything manages to have a nice, almost calm tone to it - which works well to contrast the scenes where fighting or explosions occur.

Final Thoughts:
As a preview issue, this works very well. It sets up some main characters and although long-time fans will already know who's who and what to expect, there is still a nice air of mystery created since things are not happening in the exact same order most Transformers fans will remember. Old fan or new fan, there is something here for you. Highly recommended.