by Tom Scioli and John Barber
Previous publishers that have held the comic book publishing rights to Hasbro’s G.I. Joe and Transformers pitted and allied the two in one book title either G.I. Joe vs Transformers or vice versa. IDW is continuing the tradition this summer with a slightly untraditional twist. Tom Scioli and John Barber continue their zany homage of the two 80’s toy lines that started in May’s Free Comic Book Day. Transformers vs G.I. Joe #1 is an incredibly unusual book that is both fun and faithful to the properties.
Although this series technically started in Free Comic Book Day’s zero issue, the story was mostly prologue and should not sway the curious from this irrelevant series. Action begins the issue as the Joes defend Springfield USA from a Cobra attack led by Tomax and Xamot. Page two is one of many splash pages that are filled with cartoonish action packed with easter eggs and subtle sight gages. Both creators do not take a full on silly approach, his script is a nice balance of respect for the source material with a touch of tongue in cheek humor. Joes are trying to make contact with the Transformers after their brief encounter in issue #0. Scioli and Barber do a nice job of capturing a military style dialogue without a heavy dramatic slant. The Joes manage to attract the attention of the Decepticons. Surprises from both Decepticons and the Joes during the meeting and resulting battle is both a visual and narrative joy. Scioli and Barber give reverence to the well known characters and vehicles with an added bit of fun without coming off as flip or saccharin.
Scioli’s Kirby-esque intensity that was found in the pages of Godland is a perfect for the series. Scioli knows when to do big large than life perspectives and knows when to scale back for amazing spread pages. The characters have all their recognizable features with a slight fun twist. The panel angles and point of view shift from page to page adds both to the story flow as well as boasting up the fun levels. Scioli not only channels Kitby but also incorporates and nails a Steranko Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. style as well. The color tints change with the tone of the script. Nice uses of red, light brown and blue provides urgency, excitement and a touch of the dramatic to the panels.
Scioli and Barber are creating a light hearted but respectful tale of two Hasbro properties with a history of meeting up in the pages of comics under various publishers. Transformers vs G.I. Joe is surprising fun. There’s a hint of insanity in each page and dialogue but not enough to be disrespectful to the source material. Evidence that the creative team has done their research is reflected on each page which makes Transformers vs G.I. Joe a fun summer read for Transformers, G.I. Joe and comic book fans.