Rating: 3.5/5 – Scioli’s Stylized Art Stands Out.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
Transformers vs G.I. Joe is a new take on the popular Hasbro universes by Tom Scioli and John Barber. This isn’t related to anything that’s happened from the previous and current Transformers and G.I. Joe series being published by IDW and is free of the complex history and continuity. If you’re familiar with Scioli’s work on Godland or American Barbarian, that same loose, but creative Kirby-esque style is here in all it’s glory. Scioli co-writes, draws/colors and even letters this first issue that picks up right where the Free Comic Book Day zero issue left off and delivers on exactly what you’d expect him to in terms of the art and style, but missed the mark for me when it came to the storytelling.
The story opens with a splash page that immediately sets the tone for those that may not be familiar with Scioli’s style. Snake Eyes with his red dash tattoo is being protected from an upset General Flagg by his pet wolf Timber. You can see all of Scioli’s lines in the detailed character work and backgrounds and you instantly come to understand that Scioli is taking the time to pay respect and acknowledge the finer details of the characters from the G.I. Joe and Transformer universe. Small details are found throughout this first issue as Scioli makes each character stand out, embracing, rather than diminishing their colorful and vibrant looks. The character designs are simplistic, yet detailed. You can see Scioli’s passion for the characters and this world in each page. There’s definitely a look to this book that’s like nothing else out there and what may seem simple in line, is anything but when you look at the overall package. Each page is as fun to look at as the last, and the pages that include the Joe team vs. Soundwave are worth the price of the book alone.
As good as the art is though, the story isn’t as coherent or sequential as it could be. After the opening splash page involving Snake Eyes, we immediately jump to an all-out battle taking place in Springfield without any description or time reference. This happens a few times within this first issue and makes the story feel unnecessarily chaotic at times The story also makes multiple references to the zero issue that unfortunately many fans may have missed. Not only that, but the Transformers have zero dialogue in this issue which makes this first issue seem unbalanced in it’s approach The first two points could have been easily fixed with a recap page and description boxes, while the latter would rectify itself in future issues. On the plus side, the back of this issue has five pages of story commentary that fills in a lot of the creator’s thoughts and process, proving their passion for the project once again.
This is a book that because of the stylized art involved won’t appeal to everyone, but for those that it does appeal to, it will exceed expectations. The art is as crazy, creative, and fun as it should be when combining these two storied franchises. This is just the start of the series that Scioli has big plans for and plans on staying with for the foreseeable future. Scioli and Barber are doing what they want with these characters and enjoying the freedom of a clean slate. As long as he and Barber can tighten up the storytelling, then this book should have the bright future that they, and fans both desire.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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