What I’m Reading Today: 10/09/2015

Hi, folks! I’m back! I hope everyone’s in the mood for giant robots, because I’ve got some picks this week from one of my all-time favorite fandoms – The Transformers!

Boom! Studios

Toil and Trouble #2
Writer: Mairghread Scott
Artists: Kelly & Nichole Matthews, Warren Montgomery (letters), Kyla Vanderklugt (cover)

“But Pocky, I thought you said this post was going to be all about robots?” Well, I lied a little, but even this one is indirectly Transformers-related. I was introduced to and fell in love with Mairghread Scott’s work through her tenure on Transformers: Windblade, another favorite read of mine which has recently wrapped up its second miniseries run. And while “Toil and Trouble” contains exactly zero giant robots, I’m more than happy to support this indie gem, clearly a labor of love by Scott with all the rich, vivid characterization I’ve come to expect from her.

For those who missed out on issue 1 (and you should pick it up if you did), “Toil and Trouble” is a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Macbeth from the perspective of the mysterious three witches who manipulate not only Macbeth’s fate, but the fate of all Scotland. The first issue spent more time on backstory, but this one begins to carry more familiar echoes of the play itself, including an eerie depiction of the scene in which Macbeth first encounters the witches and is prophesied as the future king. The art is breathtaking in this one, and more of the tangled, troubled relationships between the witches is coming to light. Cait is rapidly becoming a favorite character of mine as she struggles to make peace between the bitterly feuding Riata and Smertae. Definitely give this one a look if you enjoy Shakespeare, or even if you’re just looking for an ethereal, slightly spooky read for the Halloween season.

Favorite panel: Coming soon!

IDW

Transformers: Robots In Disguise #3
Writer: Georgia Ball
Artists: Priscilla Tramontano, Josh Burcham (colors), Tom B. Long (letters), variant cover by Josh Burcham

This series is the companion comic to the currently airing cartoon series at the same name. I’ve read more of it than I’ve watched at this point, largely due to Cartoon Network’s boneheaded decision to air the show at 6:30 in the morning. While I consider this series to be probably the weakest in IDW’s current spread of Transformers comics, it’s a nice light read with fun characters and a quirky sense of humor. Sure, there’s an actual plot here, as Bumblebee’s team continues their mission to recapture Decepticon fugitives set loose on Earth and begins unraveling a conspiracy on Cybertron. But it’s not half as fun as watching alien robots join their human companions in nerding out over Storage Wars. Since this series acts as a direct sequel to and crossover with Transformers: Prime, its exquisitely animated predecessor, I get to see some of my favorite characters from Prime in action again, and that’s always a treat. And Strongarm, one of the newer female characters in the Transformers franchise, is my bae, so I’ll gladly take any form of media in which she’s featured.

Favorite panel: Coming Soon!

Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #45
Writer: James Roberts
Artists: Alex Milne, Brian Shearer (inks), Joana LaFuente (colors), Tom B. Long (letters), cover by Alex Milne with color by Josh Perez, variant covers by Nick Roche with Josh Burcham; Kei Zama with Josh Perez; and Casey W. Coller with John Paul Bove

I’m cheating a bit with this one because it was actually released last week. But I didn’t get to read it until this week due to real life being annoying, and this is a series near and dear to my heart that I’m eager to share with you all.

Expect to see a lot of love for MTMTE in my future posts, because I will sing the praises of this series loudly and to whoever will listen. It’s not just my favorite Transformers series. It’s my favorite comic series period, and the book that’s responsible for getting me back into comics after a hiatus of over a decade. You don’t need to be a Transformers fan to enjoy this book. It’s more than just a Transformers book. It’s a dark comedy space opera with a side order of thoughtful social commentary and a cast that is profoundly, realistically human despite being entirely comprised of alien robots. Think Star Trek meets Monty Python, with the occasional gut-wrenching pathos of The Walking Dead.

Yeah. It’s that good.

Roberts is known for his intricate and winding plotlines, and that can make getting into MTMTE seem daunting to first-time readers. But #45 stands on its own, and makes an excellent jumping on point for anyone interested in giving the series a try. Leaving the main cast aside for the time being, this issue focuses on the Scavengers, a long-ignored group of supporting characters who are basically a bunch of slacker Decepticons bumbling their way through space and trying to find meaning and purpose in a post-war world. It’s been quite a long time since we last saw the Scavengers, and the issue first offers up a recap of what zany shenanigans they’ve gotten into in their time offstage before bringing us to their current activities. But, as is so often the case with MTMTE, the comedy gives way to a deeper story as the Scavengers wrestle with the decision of what to do with their prisoner turned companion Grimlock, and the mystery of what unknown trauma has turned Grimlock into a scarcely functioning shadow of his former, fearsome self.

Although the main cast of characters is absent, this issue really captures the overall tone and flavor of MTMTE as a whole. So pick it up. Give it a try. If you like it, there’s a box set of the first five trade paperbacks coming out next month that will give you a perfect opportunity to catch up.

Favorite panel: Coming Soon!

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