When you were kid, did you ever wonder who would win in a fight, G.I Joe (Action Force in the UK), or Action Man? Transformers or Rom, the Space Knight? Now, thanks to the toy tie-in department of IDW, we get an idea of how an action figure free-for-all would go down.
To say that a confluence of events brings the various faction into play is an understatement: some Ore 13 explodes in Mount Olympus, where Action Man has found a mortally wounded member of the G.I Joe’s. The explosion starts a chain reaction that further erodes the recent tenuous peace that exists between the humans and the Cybertronians. Throw in Rom who discovers a couple of Dire Wraiths in the Joe’s fold and despatches them with no word of explanation, then things are going to get a tad heated.
Behind one of the nineteen (three of which are blank?)covers, lies the traditional start of any team-up, with the bigger story beginning to edge out. Writers John Barber and Cullen Bunn do an admirable job in bringing the various parts into play, without falling into the exposition trap. The pair take the somewhat standard ploy in making the Autobots the patsies, for now, but with the plotlines from their own book making an appearance, this feels a lot less forced then the movie equivalents. The dialogue works for the most part with the Autobots seemingly the most sincere and the Joe’s acting in a way that screams fearful paranoia. With two distinct polar opposite stances, there is a lot of bridgework to be made, possibly with everyone else caught in the middle.
Artist Fico Ossio has a harder job. Each toy line has their own distinct look and feel; Ossio looks to accommodate these where possible. So to that end, we see a cartoony look for Action Man, a very detailed look for the Autobots with Joe’s suffering the greatest inconsistencies. I personally prefer the detail laden work, but was quietly impressed with some of the Joe work, especially with panel layouts and camera angles allowing Ossio to go for dynamic posses. Ossio suffers with faces, at times not knowing which style he is going for, with the different depictions of Scarlett the biggest, but not only, offender. Sebastian Cheng does a masterful job with the colors throughout, with the highlight being the rain-soaked confrontation, which has a more than a small feeling of Blade Runner.
This bi-weekly series has a number of tie-in books including M.A.S.K and Micronauts, each of which are hinted at in the main series. With the mixed opinions the recent books, mainly Rom and Micronauts, received, IDW are doing a smart thing; using this series to consolidate the books with their more popular characters. This can work well, but as last year Swords of Sorrow saga from Dynamite showed, cream will always rise to the top. Still, with Barber and in particular Cullen Bunn writing the main series, IDW have gone some way to show that the combination of the all American hero, the greatest hero of them all, a space knight and a bunch of robots may have more than meets the eye.
Writing – 3.5 Stars
Art -3 Stars
Colors – 4 Stars
STORY BY Cullen Bunn and John Barber
ART BY Fico Ossio