"Hearts of Steel"
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artists: Guido Guidi (pencils), Aaron Leach (inker), Jay Fotos (colors)
Plot: Shockwave and Starscream convince Tobias Muldoon that they will help usher mankind into a new age of technological wonderment. Bumblebee and John Henry becomes friends. The Decepticons attack and rob an army train headed to Sacramento to get money to gain the raw materials to implement their real plan. After Tobias discovers their true motives, he escapes and heads back to San Francisco.
Commentary: God, I love this book.
I'm serious. This has to be one of the most interesting concepts of the year. Chuck Dixon has put together an odd mixture of historical figures, nineteenth century folklore and the American version of a Japanese concept and come out with a neat little story that would appeal to both casual and hardcore Transformers fans alike.
I really shouldn't be surprised. This is Chuck Dixon we're talking about. Yeah, he's probably best known for his work with Batman and Robin (along with the Punisher, Moon Knight and Air Boy), but he's also the one who adapted The Hobbit for comics back in the day. The man can write anything.
The plot moved slowly in this issue, but there were some great moments. It might be a tad formulaic to have Tobias seduced by Shockwave and Starscream, but Dixon's is strong enough as a writer to make it work. Plus, it is very true to the characters involved. Starscream is still a schemer, still trying to destroy Megatron and assume control of the Decepticons and the world. The truly interesting thing about this story is the fact that Dixon has put the characters into an era where robots who can transform into trains and battleships would not only be startling (as it was in the nineteen eighties) but down right horrifying. Sure, Tobias and John Henry have accepted them, but the soldiers guarding the gold shipment looked plenty scared to me.
Speaking of looks, I have thoroughly enjoyed Guido Guidi and Aaron Leach's art on this book. They capture the era well and have a very slick and intricate style when it comes to the human figures and the backgrounds. The Transformers, though, are a little uglier, but the detail is just as sharp. As robots, these things look frightening. Jay Fotos' colors accentuate the mood and give the whole package its own distinctive feel. This is one of those instances where the writing and the art come together to give the complete comic book package.
In The End: IDW has done a lot with the Transformers license, and if they continue to do stories like this, I will continue picking them up. Chuck Dixon isn't the first guy you would think of to write a series like this, and yet he does what any good writer should do: he finds a way. I'm not the biggest Transformer fan on the planet, but I like the property enough to give concepts like this a shot. Hopefully, there will be more projects such as this to come.
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