COMIC BOOK REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS: PRIMACY / AUTHOR: CHRIS METZEN, FLINT DILLE / ARTIST: LIVIO RAMONDELLI / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 18TH
Epic space opera is perhaps the most obvious choice for the Transformers stories. After all, they already are galaxy-spanning giant robots - all you need is a touch of high drama and you have the recipe for big, brash and loud sci-fi. Primacy completes the trilogy that was begun with Autocracy and continued with Monstrosity. The plot runs along very simple lines. The political machinations and posing are over; Megatron has gone for a final roll of the dice, and aims to take over the Transformers’ home planet of Cybertron or leave it in ruin.
The writers get the Transformers on every level. Prime is a brave and wise leader, Megatron is the cackling madman and master of evil. Everyone else, from the unstoppable Grimlock to the cowardly Starscream, is captured perfectly and that’s part of the problem. Just because we know these characters well, it doesn’t mean that the narrative doesn’t have to work to make us care about them.
What lets it all down is the story. There are no twists and turns here, just one very long battle scene, with every fan favourite from the franchise thrown in for good measure. As war stories go, it’s a huge tale and yet somehow it feels like a small and parochial scuffle. This is because there isn’t enough characterisation at the start. There are no stakes, except the doom of Cybertron, which has always been doomed anyway.Livio Ramondelli’s art is gorgeous; he brings a legendary sensibility to the work, making each character look craggy and ancient. Each panel looks like it could easily be a huge wall painting and the work effortlessly conveys an inhuman and vast scope to the work. Each character looks like a hero from an ancient war, whilst still resembling the plastic toy they are based on. That’s quite an achievement, and Primacy is almost worth it for the art alone. Almost.
Transformers Primacy is an example of a graphic novel that has all the elements to be great and yet fails to put them together properly. All the right moves, but in the wrong order. Disappointing.
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