(Please add links to the above credits)
One of the advantages Marvel and DC have over the smaller presses is the “shared universe” concept, where most or all of its properties coexist in the same world. Let’s face it, this is a marketing gimmick that works. A central book like Civil War II has a cascading effect on every other title the publisher has, giving readers that much more of an excuse to purchase X-Men if it’s reflecting the same overarching story that’s in Spider-Man. Outside of Marvel and DC, the publishers tend to be very disparate, so it’s not like Dark Horse’s Aliens are just going to show up in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the same casual way that the Hulk can appear in an issue of Captain America.
IDW now has publishing rights to six of Hasbro’s major toy properties: Transformers, G.I.Joe, Action Man, Rom, Mask, and Micronauts. (Or seven if you count My Little Pony, but the company hasn’t found reason to officially get those characters involved yet.) A Transformers/G.I.Joe crossover is nothing new, and IDW just published the third or fourth version of that mashup. Revolution takes that concept a step further by mixing in those three other properties into one gigantic, toy-riffic mashup which now resembles the bedroom of a 1980s schoolkid. Furthermore, IDW is making this the official status quo: while the previous Transformers/G.I.Joe crossover was “out of continuity,” Revolution is firmly cemented in the stories of IDW’s main publishing lineup.
The story is easy enough to get into despite being weighted into the current Transformers storyline. The Cybertronians have established their home on Earth, with Optimus Prime making a well-intentioned effort to bring Earth into the galactic community. Some unknown force is disrupting the Transformer’s source of energon, causing a mass disaster for which they’re taking the blame. Enter G.I. Joe, who’s assumed that the Transformers are hostile and is determined to stop them at any cost. Things are made worse when Rom appears and seemingly kills several Joes, and being a robotic being, it’s assumed he’s another Cybertronian.
Revolution is grand fun, as the concept of seeing Joes fight Transformers never gets old even if it’s been done many times before. Ossio’s art sets the right tone, pitting huge Transformers against tiny Joes, yet never allowing the robots to dominate the camera. This book is good eye candy and is worth the price of admission just for that.
Revolution does suffer from two weaknesses. One, despite the fun of the robot/Joe battle, this kind of thing has been done before. To the new reader, it may feel fresh, but the concept of “heroes fight and later team up” goes way back to Superman/Spider-Man if not earlier, and we know how this plays out. Indeed, the Joes are a little over-militarized, out to kill the Transformers despite their open refusal to return fire. Second, despite this being a five-way crossover, Revolution‘s first chapter really is limited to a Transformers/Joes story. Rom and Action Man’s involvement is limited to quick cameos, the Mask connection is only made in a republished backup story, and there’s no sign of the Micronauts. It’s likely that the connections will strengthen as the story progresses, but for now, it’s not quite what it’s advertised to be.
Still, Revolution is good fun and will be the crossover to watch in the coming months. Check it out if you need a break from Civil War and Rebirth.
Rating: Four gratuitous battles out of five.