Feb 11, 2014

[Comics] G.I. Joe/Transformers - Volume 2

The Transformers comics license has bounced around different companies over the years, although I suppose we should be thankful that DreamWave was unable to hold on it (or most of its assets, quite frankly). Although the post-DreamWave era did eventually lead to IDW Publishing gaining the right to publish Transformers comics, there was a weird moment when Devil's Due Press was allowed to bring the Transformers into a G.I. Joe story, even though DreamWave wasn't quite dead yet at the time.

With IDW in full control of the comic book versions of the Transformers, this has also given them access to some of the past licensed works, including this strange crossover series. And they've gone ahead and re-released the various story arcs (yes, there have been more than one) in new collections.

Through the wonders of comiXology, I finally got my hands on (so to speak) copies of these compilations and it certainly for entertaining reading all throughout. And even though I was never that big of a G.I. Joe fan, I knew enough about the franchise to still get a kick out of what was done here.

Synopsis: G.I. Joe/Transformers Volume 2 is the second collection of crossover comics featuring both Hasbro properties G.I. Joe and The Transformers. This time around the book collects G.I. Joe vs. the Transformers and G.I. Joe vs. the Transformers II, both originally released by Devil's Due Press together with Image Comics. All stories are set in an alternate universe with a number of interesting changes for these two franchises.

In G.I. Joe vs the Transformers, the whole alternate universe is setup with Cobra discovering the Ark containing the deactivated Autobots and Decepticons. Instead of the original (G1) course of events, Cobra takes the stasis-locked Transformers and reverse engineers Cybertronian technology for their own end. Eventually Cobra finally reveals itself to the world and catches the US militay off-guard with their advanced weapons (Cobra is the first to have energy weapons) and even transforming vehicles using the bodies of the Transformers in the vehicle forms that were the original Cobra vehicles we've all come to recognize.

In G.I. Joe vs the Transformers II, Shockwave has managed to conquer most of Cybertron with the liberated Autobots acting as resistance fighters. Meanwhile Cobra Commander tries to take control of the super computer Teletraan-3, but his efforts actually damage it and transports a random assortment of Cobra and G.I. Joe forces to Cybertron. On the flip side, a random collection of Autobots and Decepticons are sent to different time periods back on Earth and now the Autobots, G.I. Joe and Cobra need to work together to recover the lost Transformers. Should they fail to return the Transformers to the correct time period, some sort of energy build-up will cause them to destroy the Earth.

The entire Devil's Due continuity is simply put - crazy. This is not some sort of serious, gritty take on a G.I. Joe / Transformers crossover. It's just a crazy story that's along the lines of popular internet fanfic at it's most primal. Thus you have Optimus Prime transforming into a Cobra H.I.S.S. tank and Jazz taking on the form of a pimp-mobile when he's sent the past. And these two stories actually set up a heck of a lot of other potential storylines that they do try to explore in two more related titles.

Since it is a standalone continuity, the writers had a lot of liberty to explore various story possibilities and scenarios. It also means that there's no need to feel encumbered by actual Transformers and G.I. Joe comic book continuity nor are we married to any particular characters. So yes, there are character deaths and a lot of Cobra Commander being as annoying as ever.

The art across these titles is decent at best but at least it didn't suffer from a lot of the weird proportions that were a signature of the DreamWave era of Transformers comics. There's a sort of shininess that is evident across all the titles that is pretty striking and certain lends itself to that "animated" feel. However it can also get a little tiring on the eyes and we probably didn't need to have every single character (including the humans mind you) to be so darned shiny all the time.

Admittedly, I had a lot of fun with this collection and I'm strongly recommending G.I. Joe/Transformer Volume 2 if you want a fun romp in the zany creation of some kid locked in the 1980's or something. Continuity be darned, this is a fun title and it becomes quite clever how we see the various characters reimagined to fit this strange alternate world. Thus I'm going to go all-out and rate this title as 5 Autobots trapped as Cobra vehicles out of a possible 5.

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