This year has given us so many epic confrontations. Batman v. Superman. Captain America versus Iron Man. Punisher versus Daredevil. Donald Trump versus human decency. Now, there’s one more epic confrontation to take centre stage: the Transformers versus G.I. Joe!
It’s every battle you ever created using your action figures as a kid and it’s playing out in this issue by Cullen Bunn, John Barber and Fico Ossio! Read on below for our full review of this issue, but be warned: there may be spoilers ahead.
Written by John Barber & Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Fico Ossio
THE REVOLUTION BEGINS! Explosions rip across the Earth—and all signs of blame point to OPTIMUS PRIME and the TRANSFORMERS! G.I. JOE refuses to go quietly—and they assemble heroes big enough to stop the invaders! ACTION MAN and M.A.S.K. fight for humanity—but where do ROM and the MICRONAUTS stand? Celebrating more than a decade of stories by IDW and HASBRO, this unprecedented bi-weekly event draws everything together—and leaves nothing standing. The REVOLUTION is here—TAKE A STAND!
This comic is goofy as hell.
Even by the standards of comic books, whose most well known genre has had what are basically oiled up body builders in spandex bodysuits act out a decades long soap opera through punching, this comic is pretty dang goofy. Tying together the disparate threads of many of IDW’s licensed Hasbro titles, “Revolution” sees the coming together of the franchises of The Transformers, G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K., ROM: Spaceknight, and Action Man, the British version of G.I. Joe who was modelled after James Bond more than the armed forces. It’s a shared universe crossover that builds on years worth of stories from IDW’s many other series, but seems to stand on its own terms if this first issue is any indication. It seems to be the kind of event that will change the face of these licensed series in the months to come, but can also be enjoyed on its own.
Like I said, this comic is as daft as it gets. It opens with a character who is repeatedly and unironically as Action Man travelling to Mount Olympus which the reader is assured is totally a real thing in this universe. In a comic that wants you to eventually accept a racing of living, transforming robots are living amongst humans on Earth, it’s kind of hilarious that it’s going to immediately throw the reader into accepting that Mount Olympus is real in this world and that it’s destruction is the kickoff for this event. However, while the comic’s setup is daft in the best way possible, it slowly but surely runs out of ways to capitalise on that. See, instead of this being just a simple crossover, this issue might as well be subtitled ‘G.I. Joe v. The Transformers’. Using the barest possible logic and a stubbornness unlike anything I’ve ever read, every character related to G.I. Joe suddenly enters a blood feud with The Transformers after about five pages of this comic and spends the rest of it engaging in an all out firefight.
It’s kind of disappointing when even a character in the story has to point out that the fight is pointless, but alas, this is the kind of comic this is. While I get that these characters are based off of toys, it’s hard to really get invested in a comic where no one makes decisions like human beings do and no one can communicate like an adult. After the brief setup for the event, the issue revolves around a firefight in which every other panel is either a Transformer explaining that they did nothing wrong and are being attacked for no reason of a G.I. Joe yelling about how all robots must die as if they didn’t read the dialogue in the previous panel. After a while, it becomes tedious and eventually the lack of motivation or understanding just becomes frustrating. Eventually, when a third party enters the scene, the issue just falls off the rails into a mess of yelling and misunderstanding where characters whose personalities are summed up by their codenames decide that the only way to have a rational conversation is through bullets.Continued below
It’s baffling how much this issue falls apart in terms of writing. What little characterisation we get from the characters (I’m guessing that it’s been assumed that I know who these characters and why they have lost all sense of rational conversation) is breezed past in order for the issue to be packed full of what can only be described as mindless action. It’s an issue where a bunch of humans shoot bullets that don’t hurt at 20 foot robots who did nothing wrong. It’s fascinatingly frustrating and ends on a note that feels like it’s supposed to be dramatic, but rings like a parody of events like the current Civil War II. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be laughing with or laughing at “Revolution” #1, but the net result feels like wasted opportunity of a first issue.
Thankfully, the artwork is at least enjoyable, though I don’t know if it’s enough to save the issue overall. Ossio’s linework is bombastic and over the top and is able to render this huge firefight in the middle of a storm between a human military force and a group of giant robots in really dramatic fashion. Each page and every panel is crammed with detail, but the storytelling remains crisp and clear and the many characters are instantly recognisable with special attention paid to the likenesses of the Transformers themselves who feel detailed and realistic in terms of scale and technicality while remaining reminiscent of their original looks. The colours be Sebastian Cheng run the gamut of bright and warm with the opening page of Action Man skydiving over Mount Olympus to dark and dramatic towards the end of the issue as the remaining, rain-drenched forces are framed by flashes of lightning.
The artwork is, honestly, impressive on each and every page. There is a lot of story to get through on each page and Fico Ossio is able to juggle a lot of different character with a lot of varying scales and designs without pages ever becoming confusing. It’s a pretty impressive feat given the cast of characters and the frantic action at play here. It’s just a shame that the storytelling in the script could be as clear as the storytelling in the artwork. Even with two writers credited, it’s hard to get a grasp of what any of these characters actually want to accomplish, all I know is that the big robots sure do look pretty when the bullets start flying.
All in all, I wasn’t sure what to expect from “Revolution” #1, but I’m left feeling oddly disappointed. With a great, goofy and lighthearted opening (that, admittedly, does involve a death and massive destruction of a mountain), the issue seems to squander that to capitalise on the trend of having the characters of different franchises fight with little to no reasoning behind it. I almost wish the marketing of the issue had just come out and said that this issue was going to be about G.I. Joe trying to murder the Transformers for trying to… exist, apparently? Maybe then I wouldn’t have wasted my time on this first issue. Still, it sure is pretty though.
Final Verdict: 3.5 – Don’t even ask me about what Rom was up to in this issue because I might have a genuine mental breakdown.