Writer: Shane McCarthy
Art: Matt Frank (Lines) Josh Perez (Colours)
It’s ‘Krrr-krr-chnnk-chck’ versus ‘Ack-ack-ack’ in the battle of the sound effects that make people look at you funny when you try to make them come out of your mouth – yes folks, those funny looking little Martian fellers are taking on Optimus Prime, Megatron and company in a battle to the death with planet Earth in the balance, as IDW’s crossover event continues with ‘Mars Attacks The Transformers’!
Review In A Nutshell:
Comic book crossovers – in theory, an exciting mash-up of characters and concepts but in execution, usually a halfway house that satisfies neither fan base and adds nothing to continuity. In previous years, IDW have crossed their licensed properties with their ‘Zombies vs Robots’ continuity in their Infestation events – fair enough, if zombified versions of characters are good enough for Marvel and DC, why shouldn’t IDW have a dabble too?
And the bits I read were nicely produced, mildly-diverting bits of fluff, but as a pretty hardcore Transformers fan, it was a bit of a stretch to see a potentially explosive plot thread (Prowl’s tinkering inside Kup’s reanimated head) tied off early in an otherwise disposable adventure; with crossovers then, it’s fair to say, there’s a balance to be struck…
Perhaps showing my ignorance here, but as far as I’m aware, despite being the longer in the tooth of the two properties, I’m fairly certain Mars Attacks doesn’t have the rich back story that IDW’s Transformers universe has – conversely, there’s probably a percentage of comic book fans familiar with the Martian themed trading cards that don’t know anything of Transformers past the Michael Bay movies and the 80′s cartoon that they would see on TV before or after school, back in the day. To hell with ‘in universe continuities’ then; as a knowing and loving nod to the spirit of both series then, this book is an absolute joy!
Shane McCarthy divided the TF fandom when he brought us the 12-issue ‘All Hail Megatron’ arc back in 2008 – the subtleties and mysteries of Simon Furman’s Infiltration, Escalation and Devastation arcs eschewed in favour of a more campy, saturday morning cartoon feel – back then, such a change of tone and style was met with message board fury but here and now, for this particular project, Shane’s snarky and slightly silly set-ups work perfectly. Within three pages, I felt that I could be watching an episode of the old Transformers cartoon, but one that retained some “over-the-kids-heads gags for grown-ups”.
Matt Frank’s stunning artwork perfectly capturing the anarchic sensibilities of the piece, with some of the wonderfully exaggerated facial expressions on some of the Cybertronian cast evoking the spirit of the similarly raucous Transformers: Animated series that ran on Cartoon Network a few years back. Josh Perez, a regular on IDW’s TF output, brings his usual A-game to the colouring, brilliantly balancing the day-glo brightness of the 80′s cartoon look with the modern shiny stylings seen in current TF books.
‘Mars Attacks The Transformers’ is a hugely hilarious comic book romp that lovingly pokes fun at both continuity’s foibles (Flying saucers? Mass-shifting? Starscream crossing Megatron AGAIN?! Spike Witwicky?!!) and delivers 22 pages of nostalgia that anyone with even a passing familiarity with either property will get a kick out off. A massively unexpected pleasure!
VERDICT: ACK ACK ACK!! (BUY!!)