IDW Publishing "Ironhide" Chapter Three: Ironing out the details Comic Book Review
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: July 7, 2010
Written by: Mike Costa
Art by: Casey Coller
Colors by: Joana Lafuente
Letters by: Chris Mowry
Edits by: Andy Schmidt
Assistant Editor: Carlos Guzman
Ironhide and Scamper arrive at Autobot City (which I'm assuming is Metroplex until it is revealed otherwise). Ironhide talks but Scamper is of course not very conversational. Ironhide takes a moment to recharge before he meets his mysterious benefactor: Alpha Trion! The ancient Autobot is amazed when Ironhide does not recognize him. He explains that he brought Ironhide back to life to go on a very important mission. Ironhide asks him what has happened to Cybertron and he explains that the planet has been evacuated. Ironhide gets a bit impatient and tries to grab Trion who manages to force Ironhide to sit down by manipulating the EM field around him. He also explains that the Autobot/Decepticon war has now spread out to the galaxy on many worlds.
Ironhide absorbs all this quickly and then asks if he's the last Autobot on the planet and Alpha Trion confirms this. But Ironhide notes an energy signature on a screen and recognizes it! He decides to go seek out the Autobot with or without Trion's permission.
Later, Ironhide is looking down a chasm where a pile of body parts are littered all over the place. Scamper is with him but doesn't offer to help in any way. He climbs down and after some searching finds the half wrecked body of Sunstreaker! He scoops up the body of his comrade and Sunstreaker awakens and begins to apologize for everything that happened on Earth. Having no memories of the events on Earth, Ironhide just promises Sunstreaker that he'll get him fixed up. As he tries to climb out, a swarm of Insecticons attack! Ironhide transforms to vehicle mode, putting Sunstreaker in the back of his storage compartment and rams through the creatures at top speed!
Later, back at the city, Alpha Trion chastises Scamnper for losing Ironhide. When he returns, Sunstreaker is draped over his shoulders. He puts him down gently and sunstreaker is shocked to see Alpha Trion, recognizing him instantly! Sunstreaker begins to babble again so Trion puts him to sleep, explaining his brain is stuck in a recursive loop. Alpha Trion is surprised Ironhide would risk himself for "scrap" and that's when Ironhide reads Trion the riot act.
Alpha Trion finally explains that while he did live on to die on Earth, the version of his Spark and memories that have been restored was from Cybertron's distant past, so he would have no memories of those events. He goes on to explain that he brought Ironhide back for one very good reason: to save Cybertron. He's one of the toughest Autobots in body and spirit and he was one of Prime's most trusted advisors, making him ideal for the task. Ironhide understands the importance of his mission, so after strapping on some impressive looking weaponry, he heads out into the darkness of Cybertron to save the planet!
The beauty of this issue's story is how simple it is, but how much the circumstances give us a look at Ironhide's core personality traits. As he wanders into Metroplex with Scamper he is conversational, cool headed. When he meets Alpha Trion, he rapidly digests the situation that may have made other Autobot heads spin and does his best to get to the point, a reflection of his no nonsense attitude. When he doesn't get the answers he's looking for his aggressive side kicks in and when that's deflected, he again adapts quickly. So here he is, debating with a Transformer who can make him sit down at will and that still doesn't keep him from marching out to face hordes of enemies in order to rescue what might be a friend. That shows his loyalty. There are times where entire graphic novels can go by and you don't see this much character crammed into one issue, so to see it so effectively done in this single issue is a treat.
Having Alpha Trion back in the spotlight is a treat. First introduced in the G1 television series, the character has been mostly sidelined through a lot of recent Transformers history. Now that he is considered one of the original "13" Transformers created by Primus, I'm not surprised to see him featured prominantly somewhere in the IDW universe. This version seems a bit more loopy and a lot less empathetic than past incarnations, and if indeed this Trion is the Trion that is now considered one of the "13", then this would make sense considering his relatively high position and his age. What's nice is that we're given small hints as to his brilliance including the most important feat: bringing Ironhide back to life. I also like the fact that he brought Ironhide of all Transformers to save Cybertron. In an era where many new Transformers are being introduced as cool because we're told so it's nice to see an old timer like Ironhide being given the respect he is due.
Tossing Sunstreaker into the mix is interesting. While somewhat disturbing, I found his betrayal in the previous "Devastation" and "All Hail Megatron" series somewhat understandable. Sunstreaker was never portrayed as a mushy, human loving Autobot in his original tech spec. He was said to be a ruthless warrior, much harder edged than his brother Sideswipe. Given that, why wouldn't he go nuts with no regard for humans who only caused him pain? The default answer is "But he's an Autobot!" but I think this series has shown that Autobots can be as diverse in beliefs as humans themselves. That said, I see the opportunity for his character to change for the better and get some redemption, which makes this an interesting tid bit to add in. That said, I am quite curious why he knows who Alpha Trion is but Ironhide does not. One wonders if the gap where "this" Ironhide stopped being the Ironhide we first met in the IDW universe is where Alpha Trion revealed himself to the Autobots or something. This is a story point that I hope is picked up in a future series.
A lot of this issue is conversational, and thus for the artist a lot of emotion has to be conveyed without much action going on. Coller delivers the goods however. The facial expressions in this issue are fantastic. Between Ironhide and Alpha Trion we get a wide range from surprise to anger. It's very easy and tempting to make Transformers look emotionless since they're robots (and warrior robots at that) but the fact is these are sentient, emotional creatures so seeing emotions (beyond anger and apathetic) is always welcome. Coller not only draws these in the facial expressions, but body language as well. Ironhide holding his head in confusion, Alpha Trion's hands splayed out in confusion when Ironhide doesn't recognize him and Ironhide putting his fingers on his brow in frustration are fantastic as they convey a message even without text. Add to this that Coller manages to get good expressions out of Sunstreaker who is missing part of his face and it's even more impressive.
The coloring work in this issue is fantastic. There is such a night and day contrast between the dark streets of Cybertron and the bright lights and surging power of Metroplex are incredible. It helps that Metroplex himself is mostly white and light grey. Also, I love use of lighting effects including a glow coming out of the eyes of the Transformers as well as the bright screens inside Alpha Trion's command center.
"Ironhide #3" reveals a lot of answers at the same time but does it well and just in time to whet our appetites for the next (and final) issue. The issue stays very true to the character of Ironhide and has some great eye candy to boot. Recommended!