The rebellion has begun and the Go-Bots go head to head to destroy, or save, their human creators. When the violence ends and the smoke clears who will stand victorious?
Issue 2 of IDW Publishing’s new Go-Bot series picks up from the end of the last issue with Cy-Kill using the testimony of Go-Bot abuse to rally his troops. Like a true dictator he uses the suffering of others to ‘prove’ his own case and spread fear and hatred. In this case the maniacal robot is painting the Human creators as abusers who care little for the machines they have built.
This leads to a series of destructive attacks which announce the Go-Bot revolution to the world.
Meanwhile A.J. and her Go-Bot companion, Scooter, run for their lives and barrel directly into Turbo and Matt Hunter. And Leader-1 makes a stand in defence of his life and those he has sworn to protect.
A lot happens in this single issue. This is partially down to the fact that Tom Scioli (Story, Art, Lettering) loves dense, panel packed pages which allows him to tell long sequences of the narrative using very little space. For example, the mining Go-Bot, Screw Head, tells his story of a mine cave in which fuels Cy-Kill’s call to arms. This story within a story is told across 18 panels on the very first page. This economy of space helps the narrative in some ways allowing the narrative to move quickly in a single issue but it also interferes with the greater story telling elements of the comic.
One drawback is that a number of the images disappear in the panel, weighed down under large speech bubbles. Some of the pages look so crammed with white space coated in text that it is easy to forget you are reading a comic. A lot of these expositions could easily be played out with images in panels. Scioli needs to take a little more time and pace the narrative over more pages. Ultimately this may increase the total number of issues in the series or mean that elements of the story need to be edited out but it would make for a smoother, more aesthetically pleasing comic.
There are some moments of brilliance within these pages, especially when Scioli plays around with the structure of comic books. In one chase sequence, the characters literally hang from the boarders of the panel, to the point where their hands curly into the gutter. Scioli also uses the page turn transitions wonderfully, employing the use of cliff hangers and narrative full stops.
Having said this, the art style takes some getting used to especially if you are used to the slick, fast paced Transformers comics that IDW have been producing in recent years. If you are used to the more popular Robots in disguise this title is going to be a bit of a culture shock. Scioli plays with form and representation choosing a direct approach to illustrate the story. The physical depiction of the characters is very two dimensional which works in some case but misses the mark in others. The Human characters suffer the worst, becoming floppy doll like creatures that have no substance.
As far as Go-Bots is concerned, narrative intent is more important than realistic representation. There is an impressionistic style to Scioli’s art work and the influence of Jack Kirby is plain to see on every page.
Another miss in this issue of Go-Bots is the humour. Whether intentional or not, scenes with a serious nature are made ludicrous by cheap gags or simplistic art. It becomes difficult to tell what kind of story Scioli is trying to tell. Are we, the reader, meant to find the rise of the Go-Bots threatening or a joke? Is this a satirical take on the long running Transformers series? If it was to be the later, then this could be a clever, witty comic, doing for giant robots what The Tick did for street level superheroes. Unfortunately, the purpose is not made clear and is lost in crowded pages and incomprehensible art.
If you can get used to the art style and accept the silliness of the story, Go-Bots can be an enjoyable read. The design has a nostalgic feel that will appeal to some readers. Overall this comic is a fun tale that does not take itself too seriously. The narrative is simple and over explained but Scioli excels in playing with panel layouts.