I am a child of the 80s, quite literally. The decade of the 1980s was, for me, time spent in both elementary and junior high schools, and then rushing home to watch those classic 80s cartoons which included Robotech, G.I.Joe, and the Transformers. (And for those of us in Canada, we’d occasionally get 5-minute minisodes of Danger Mouse…) But my friends and I all loved the Transformers in every incarnation – cartoon, toy, and the original Marvel comic. Early on, the cartoon introduced the Dinobots to the mix and I was hooked – I mean, not only were they robots, they were dinosaurs! So when I saw Transformers Prime – Rage of the Dinobots #1 on the shelf at my comic store, there wasn’t a second thought: I had to get it.
I’ll be honest – this is my first Transformers comic in about 10 years. Although I’ve always loved the franchise, I was not the biggest fan of the movies which were something of a let-down to me (I have specific reasons – ask me sometime over a frosty beverage and I’ll be more than happy to share). Because of that I never glanced at the comics on the shelf much – they just didn’t grab the inner child in me. But when I saw the book at eye level, with Grimlock looking me in the eye and the others rallied around him… I took a look. A quick glance inside and this looked like the cartoon I fell in love with. Although Marvel did a good job with Transformers stories in the 80s, the characters looked nothing like the cartoon, and the coloring at times was… well, horrid. But this one… This is the cartoon on paper.
Upon reading it, we’re thrown right into a battle. Think Star Wars: A New Hope beginning – a few simple words (non-scrolling, this is a comic) and then BAM! Right into the action. The Autobots are evacuating and the Dinobots are laying down ground support to allow them to get away. The Decepticons don’t appear to know what hit them, though, as the Dinobots are tough as ever. One thing I notice, though, is that these are not the Dinobots of old. As the ‘Cons attack, I’m half expecting to read something like “Me, Grimlock, will protect Autobot ships!” followed by “Me, Swoop, will help!” Instead, I’m treated to… more articulate Dinobots. I mean, they are forming complete sentences and not speaking in third person. Although this is not what I was expecting… These are my Dinobots of old, but evolved a little. And I’m not complaining.
The Dinobots finally follow the other Autobots only to watch the flagship carrying Ultra Magnus crash. They fan out to find their fallen comrade, only to be attacked by a long-thought-extinct Cybertronian, a Predacon. The Predacons are the most vicious creature ever to grace the surface of Cybertron, which makes the Dinobots the perfect force to stand up to them. But even the Dinobots have limits, and this battle appears to be it. Swoop goes down in the first assault, but Grimlock steps in to defend him… only to be damaged. This manages to set the leader off and he loses it – attacking the Predacon and then not recognizing his own team, blindly attacking them as if in a rage similar to the Dinobots of old. And that alone is what made this book interesting.
I admit, I didn’t know the work of writers Mike Johnson and Mairghread Scott before now, and I’m sorry I didn’t. This team obviously has the same love and passion for the characters as I did as a child, and I think that’s what is driving me to keep wanting this book. Anyone can tell a Transformers story – Michael Bay has proved that (SNAP!), but not everyone can tell a Transformers story that keeps the fans who were around when it first premiered interested. As one of those fans, I say this: well done! This is a piece of my childhood that is now returning – in spades – with the same energy and characters I played with and watched on TV growing up.
The artwork of Agustin Padilla is also strong, and as I said before was the reason I picked up the book. This is the cartoon. This is my childhood. And it’s now on paper for me to read. The detail exists where it needs to be, the broad outlines (such as the ships which don’t need much exterior detail) have just the right amount. The energy weapons look like they are pulsing with energy (thanks to colorist Thomas Deer) and the Dinobots are… well, to put it simply…. These are the Dinobots. There are a few slight differences, but that can be overlooked as these are evolved Dinobots. And that’s a good thing.
So should you get this book? Me, Kelly, say you should. It’s a great read for us long-time fans, but it’s a strong story on its own and reads like its own epic. This is the Transformers universe. And it’s one I plan on revisiting again soon.