(W/A) Tom Scioli
It seems GoBots were always the ugly stepsister to the more famous line of transforming robot toys The Transformers. Having only one animated show that ran 65 episodes and one film compared to the multiple media ventures of the robots in disguise. This could be due to the toys selling so badly and going through licensing problems. You could say that the GoBots were robots deep, deep in disguise from the viewer’s eyes. But in 2018 IDW starting publishing Go-Bots by Tom Scioli, which could very well change the fate of this long dead franchise. I mean if you want a great comic based on a 80’s franchise that builds upon its history while having easter eggs for the fans and having a fun and engaging plot why not have Scioli write and draw it? Hell the Writer/Artist made the phenomenal Transformers V.S. G.I. Joe.
Now before we get too deep in the story of Scioli’s Go-Bots let’s get past the blaring question. No I haven’t seen the show, or read the few stories revolving around the toys. Honestly who has? Yes some may have heard of the franchise, but I think it would be hard-pressed to find someone that could name off the GoBots or anything about them without Wikipedia. Hell, I had to use the good ol’ Wiki just to figure out some info, yes they have names – which are pretty on the nose – and the general plot seem like it borrows from Transformers. Without seeing the show before I put myself throw some quick torture to help understand IDW’s Go-Bots by watching a few highlights of the original Challange of The GoBots series, I would highly recommend not watching it. Tom Scioli updates the lore of the original GoBots to fit in modern times while making it more adult themed but still keeping goofy names, and some corny 80’s dialogue.
Throwing the readers right into the middle of Go-Bots becoming renegades Scioli wastes no time in showing that new more advanced robots that the Government are working on have the ability to eliminate humans. Which as we all know is a big no-no in the Three Laws Of Robotics. But nonetheless the Government has no qualms as this new option gives them aid in stopping terrorists in the form of Leader-1, who could be compared to Optimus Prime. Mess with fire and get burnt, or whatever that saying is could easily be applied to much of Go-Bots. After we learn of the advancements in robotics with some beautiful panels that pop off the page we are introduced to two of our main characters, human A.J. and Scooter. With this quick paced introduction we learn how Go-Bots are a huge part of human life now, with them being huge helps with normal day stuff. The best example being having a Go-Bot as a car so you don’t have to park…… Yes, that is a reason, showing that Go-Bots became a crutch for humans to abuse and use in unnecessary manners.
The pages that explain all of these ideas are great and shows Scioli’s artistic skills. Instead of having the introduction to this world take multiple pages Scioli has it play out as A.J.’s professor holding a lecture on Go-Bots and how we made them for our leisure, all on one page with 20 panels. Yes you read that right, 20 unique panels on one page. Now this wouldn’t work out with every story, but for a dialogue heavy scene Scioli knocks it out of the park with each panel consisting of something different while keeping its overall art quality. This is hard to do when you start getting into the smaller panels, but through each panel on this page Scioli makes it work spectacularly. We are then introduced to race car driver Matt Hunter and Turbo who are introduced to a fight club consisting of renegade Go-Bots, showing us how far and fast the problem has become.
Each fight scene has great flow that is easy to follow while also playing with positions of the panels and having a chaotic energy that channels some of Jack Kirby’s epic fights. Yes I would compare Tom Scioli to Jack Kirby in the sense that he holds the King in high regard basing his art in his manner. Which I wouldn’t blame him, Kirby is the King. The art can look chaotic at some parts, but not enough to were it’s a hindrance, even when using smaller panels each detail stands out. The heavy Inks, chaotic panels, squiggly lines, and blockiness in the art can turn off many readers. I know a few who absolutely hate Kirby’s style, but me, I fraking love it. Which is one of the reasons why I have followed Tom Scioli’s work since I read Transformers V.S. G.I. Joe. Back to the plot.
With our two humans introduced and our three main robots we learn who is leading the renegade robots, Cy-Kill. Whose name is perfect as he turns into a motorcycle whilst being evil, on the nose, how 80’s. During the fight with Leader-1, Cy-Kill explains his reason to go renegade, “They treat us like their toys when we are their betters.” Wanting to see his side, but be peaceful to the humans Leader-1 joins the Renegades for now. All of this happened within the first issue. Each of the five issues of Go-Bots packs so much plot and action that for someone that isn’t as experimental with their art and story as Scioli it would have been at least a ten issue serious. But that is where we hit a small snag in Go-Bots.
Go-Bots #2 shows us the uprising of robots with them killing and taking over Earth with some humorous results of cars eating people with their hoods. With A.J. and Matt teaming up to stop the ending of all humanity we end with Leader-1 injured but victories over Cy-Kill with the end of our world in Leader-1’s robotic hands. Then issue 3 confusingly jumps to a new planet for no reason. This abrupt change of scenery and timeline is quite jarring making me feel I missed in issue in the trade. But no, instead of explaining the fall of humanity we get blue-balled hard with hints to what happened to our two main humans, and what caused the fall of humanity. We are reintroduced to the robots of the past via spaceship Spay-C – like I said, on the nose – and the Go-Bots human astronauts inside.
After a great first two issues we get a confusing last three that feels like if we got an issue between 2 and 3 with the downfall of humanity this would have transitioned better, but Scioli went with more of a shocking route that can easily confuse at first. As we draw near the final issue we learn more of what happened and why the earth is now covered by the Go-Bots own planet Gobotron. Once everything is sorted out and we learn of Earth and its inhabitants the story picks back up and rolls with the twists and turns amazingly, but it feels like there was more emphasis on a future twist instead of giving us more of the human plot. Finishing the story everything comes together with a great time-travel piece that is hilarious and realistic.
With IDW’s Go-Bots Tom Scioli continues to show how great of a story teller in the plot and visual department with only a few minor hiccups. After finishing this trade I look even more forward to his Fantastic Four over at Marvel.
Memorable Quote: “I see you’re a ‘sunglasses at night’ kind of guy as well.” – T.C.B. Well it’s hard not to when there’s a catchy song about it!
“Do you have a real bad drinking problem?” – A.J. I mean if you are in the middle of a robot uprising who wouldn’t become even more of a drunk then they already are?