Writer: John Barber & James Roberts
Layouts: Phil Jimenez
Finishes: Andrew Griffith
Prologue Art: Brendan Cahill
Colors: Josh Perez
Prologue Colors: J.P. Bove
Letters: Tom B. Long
Editor: Carlos Guzman
The Story So Far:
The war for Cybertron is over. Now Starscream controls the planet, having banished the Autobots and Decepticons from his city. In the far reaches of space, Rodimus leads the crew of the starship Lost Light in search of the legendary Knights of Cybertron while Orion Pax- the former Optimus Prime- pursues the renegade scientist Jhiaxus. But all of these threads are about to be pulled together as Shockwave- the emotionless former Decepticon- enacts a plan eons in the making.
All the pieces are in place. It's time for IDW to give us the very first internal Transformers crossover! While the Transformers franchise is no stranger to crossovers and events, this is the first time we've had two monthly Transformers books that will crossover with each other.
Writers John Barber and James Roberts work well together and it seems like the collaboration plays to both of their strengths (Barber is a continuity master and Roberts is a world builder). The issue pretty much lives up to the writers' proclamation that you don't NEED to read any previous Transformers comics to understand this event. It certainly wouldn't HURT to be versed on the universe, of course. This event brings in story points from the very beginning of IDW's run on Transformers so if you've read 'em all (that would be me), then you're going to have a more full experience than someone who's just starting on the Transformers. In addition, everything IN this comic has been set up in both ongoing series, most importantly Robots in Disguise's Prelude comics. So if you're wondering why Orion Pax and company are trying to escape from a collapsing planet, the answers are detailed in a previous Transformers issue.
As far as the story itself goes, it perfectly sets up a mega event and gets me excited for what's coming next. The massive cast is introduced, the status is set up, and... oh man, the surprises. I'm actually shocked that after reading every interview about this thing I could find that I STILL didn't know what was actually going to happen inside the book. This issue is pretty much all set-up because it HAS to be but it's a very well done set-up.
And then we get the art.
Brendan Cahill handles the art on the prologue with colors by J.P. Bove. Cahill's art here is reminiscent of Guido Guidi's work with these characters back in Robots in Diguise Annual #1 which means it's period appropriate. Bove's colors are suitably "comic-booky" which also complements the time period of the prologue. I would have prefered the same newsprint-style coloring that Guidi employed in the annual but these colors are probably a better choice since this is the first thing a new reader is going to see of the Transformers. We don't want to scare anyone away by making them think this is a reprint of an old Marvel story!
The meat of the issue has layouts provided by Phil Jimenez with finishes by Andrew Griffith. Jimenez is a high profile artist that most comic book fans will recognize from his work across the industy on titles like Wonder Woman, Amazing Spider-Man, and Astonishing X-Men (just to name a few off the top of my head). Having an artist of his calibur on a Transformers book is awesome and I'm a bit disappointed that he only provided the layouts. Still, Andrew Griffith does an excellent job making these pages SING. You're basically getting the best of both worlds: a comic book veteran providing high quality layouts with a Transformers artist making the book look like a Transformers book. Griffith has been impressing me lately on the Robots in Disguise ongoing and his work over Jimenez is even better. Colorist Josh Perez's work is more muted than the prologue colors but nothing gets muddy. Perez has plenty of room to work some magic on these pages.
If it sounds like I'm gushing the hell out of this issues it's because I'M GUSHING THE HELL OUT OF THIS ISSUE. Transformers: Dark Cybertron #1 is light on action and it's heavy on set-up. I can see this being a criticism but it's also a necessary evil when you start up a multi-part crossover event unless you want to confuse... everyone. Besides, it feels pretty dense to me... and that last page...