Writer: Simon Furman
Artists: Nick Rouche, Liam Shalloo (colors)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Plot: Hot Rod infiltrates the Decepticon penal colony Styx on a rescue mission to vindicate himself for a past mistake.
Commentary: The plot of this book could be considered clichéd. It really, really could. The hot headed leader who made a mistake that cost lives and somehow must make amends for that mistake. The idea of going behind enemy lines and getting the men left behind was the basic plot of many a Chuck Norris and Sylvester Stallone film in the eighties, so this story was hardly original.
It was still very good.
I’ve mentioned in the past that my primary exposure to the Transformers was the animated series. Because of this my only exposure to Hot Rod was in the 1986 movie where he seemed to be created specifically to replace Optimus Prime as leader when he snatches the Matrix of Leadership from Galvatron and rises as Rodimus Prime. Curiosity was my main motivation in picking up this book because I wanted to see what Hot Rod was like in this continuity, and I was pretty happy with the results.
Simon Furman’s writing was the main cause of that satisfaction. Despite the previously mentioned familiar plot, Furman sucked me into the story quickly. Sure, it was very Stan Lee of Furman to have a character named Hot Rod act like a hot headed risk taker, but Furman made it work. The use of flashbacks was very effective and gave Hot Rod’s current mission emotional context. It also gave the revelation of the double agent amongst the ranks of the Autobots more of a punch. I kind of saw it coming, but at the same time I dug it because Dealer’s betrayal gave all of Hot Rod’s actions a tragic tone.
Another tone that I enjoyed was how epic the Transformers concept could be. The most I ever got from the animated series that the war between the Autobots and Decepticons took place beyond the Earth was Kupp and his stories. The idea that the Decepticons not only had a penal colony but enough of them that Styx was the worst gave the world of the Transformers an added depth that I never considered before. It may not be enough for me to get sucked in, but it was enough for me to get something new from this comic.
In The End: Despite the few moments where I had “Mr. Roboto” stuck in my head when Furman revealed that the penal colony was named Styx, I liked this book. The art was tight and the story was an interesting ride. Furman gave us a good look at Hot Rod’s personality, and he definitely transcended the role he played on the animated series.
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