IDW Publishing: "Mars Attacks Transformers"

in 2013, Comic Book Review, Generation One

IDW Publishing

General Information:
Cover Price: $3.99
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: January 23, 2013
Story by: Shane McCarthy
Art by: Matt Frank
Colored by: Josh Perez
Letters by: Neil Uyetake
Edited by: Carlos Guzman

CoverSynopsis:
On Earth, the Autobots are finishing a battle with the Decepticons. As the Earth military takes away the fallen Decepticons Spike comes onto the scene in a celebratory mood until a General yells at him. A moment later, that same General is killed by a giant death ray!

The Autobots look up to see an armada of flying saucers in the air, firing onto targets on the ground and in the sky! The Autobots are damaged from their battle with the Decepticons and another battle could finish them for good. When Ironhide sees the aliens with their giant brains and helmeted suits he doesn't think they're much of a threat - until they blow his arm off!

The Martians demand Earth's surrender as the Autobots seek cover. Their destructive rays wind up setting the Decepticons free! Megatron immediately seeks out the Martian leader to make a deal with him. Megatron knows that the Martians can't stand up to both the Autobots and Decepticons. Under that term, he offers them a chance to join him against the Autobots!

As the Autobots gather to attack the Martians, the Decepticons suddenly appear! The two sides are about to battle again when they are suddenly trapped inside an energy shield! The Martians tell Megatron that he was right: they can't battle them both so they decided to trap them together instead. Now without any significant resistance, the Martians begin their invasion in earnest with their own troops, robot suits and giant ants.b

Inside the shield, the Transformers decide to combine forces to beat the Martians. Hooking up both Soundwave and Blaster, they manage to take the shield down and charge at the Martians, but the Martian leader is not perturbed. He fires a shrink ray at Megatron, reducing him in size to a toy size! Megatron doesn't care and takes the chance to destroy the Martian leader anyway! Soon, a full on battle erupts between the Martians and the Cybertronians.

In the midst of the battle Starscream tries to take leadership for himself but Soundwave has reversed the shrink ray, which will eventually return Megatron to his proper size. Megatorn doesn't hesitate however, attacking Starscream despite his small size!

Soon, the Martians are sent packing back to their ships, but they still have weaponry they can use to destroy the Transformers from above. What they don't count on is Cosmos flying in from behind and blasting their fleet!

The Transformers are victorious. Optimus Prime and Megatron share a handshake right before Megatron promises to resume the war!

The End?

Review
The "Mars Attacks!" universe has never been meant to be a serious one, so this one-shot is a welcome respite from the main IDW titles which are heavily tinged with serious tones most of the time (nothing wrong with that, it's just nice to have something different now and then). This issue provides that while tossing in some "Transformers" humor as well.

The story is a very basic "enemy of my enemy is my friend" type of deal with some double crossing. It also moves at a very fast pace, fast enough that you try not to think too hard about some of the logistical weirdness in the issue. For instance, where are the rest of the Autobots and Decepticons? How come Cosmos didn't intercept any of the alien fleet? Such questions are a bit out of place here however. This story is putting something in front of us and asking us to accept it at face value, not overly analyze it. Besides, you could easily come up with a dozen reasons why some characters appeared in the story while others did not and they could all be equally plausible.

The humor is fun. The Martians and their arrogance is on full display along with their unconventional weaponry including giant ants and a shrink ray! These take inspiration from science fiction films of the 50's and work wonderfully in such a silly tale. I also loved Optimus' platitudes and the way Megatron would not stop fighting no matter what happened. Moments like seeing Ironhide getting cocky only to have his arm blown off were also funny. The wacky gear the Martians have gives the story license to pretty much do whatever it wants. I also loved the way Spike's yellow boots were made fun of, I mean, how come he wore it everywhere in the original series anyway?! (Real answer: most TV show characters in cartoons wore the same thing everywhere at the time, it made them easier to draw consistently).

I did enjoy the sprinkling of Transformers everywhere that don't normally get to shine. The Insecticons fighting off giant ants was fun and Cosmos' dramatic entrance had me laughing and cheering on the inside at the same time.

The art style in this issue is quite distinctive. It has a very "Generation One" vibe to it not only in the character models but also the coloring, which is bright and vibrant. Frank was obviously having fun with this one, giving Megatron a gigantic chin that The Tick would be proud of and really playing up the facial expressions of characters. There's humor in the art too. The group shot of the Autobots including Thundercracker sticking out the side of the skyscraper and Grimlock grabbing Ravage by the teeth were hilarious. At the same time, he manages to make the Martians look cheesy and scary at the same time, no small feat. I really enjoyed how clean and well defined the art was in this issue. Despite taking place in a city with tons of battle going on everywhere, the artwork was very crisp and easy to follow.

Final Thoughts:
"Mars Attacks!" Transformers is a fun one shot comic. It's not really connected to any other continuity (I think of it as a side continuity from the G1 cartoon based on the artwork and characters featured) so it's free to do its own thing. I found the title funny with good action. Recommended if you want a light hearted "Transformers" read.