I wanted to give the start of this miniseries a little more fanfare, at least mentioning it in the Sunday posting, but I didn’t realize I had reviewed the rest of Transformers Timeline already as they came out in solo reviews. And this one is next on the list, so here we go.
Transformers Evolutions was an experiment I wish IDW had continued because it’s such an interesting concept. What if the Transformers had woken up in different stages of Earth’s history, or they may have even tried alternate planets, perhaps even similar fictional crossovers to the lines Hasbro had the Transformers go into, like Star Wars. After all, with all of the crossovers going on with, for example, Star Trek or the current Justice League/Power Rangers crossover that’s coming out this month, there’s a good opening for that. Sadly, this is the only “Evolutions” miniseries we would get.
Transformers Evolutions: Hearts Of Steel #1
IDW Publishing (June, 2006)
WRITER: Chuck Dixon
ARTIST: Guido Guidi
COLORIST: Jay Fotos
LETTERER: Robbie Robbins
EDITORS: Chris Ryall & Dan Taylor
As the Ice Age fell on Earth, the Transformers came to Earth and instead of being knocked out started their battle on Earth. However, the cold was too much for them and both factions went into hibernation. Now in the age of the Industrial Revolution, the Autobot Bumblebee is awaken by the sounds of the railroad being built outside the cave where they were in hiding. Working on that railroad is John Henry (yes, of the tall tales, the ones that led to his namesake, John Henry Irons, and his using a hammer as the DC superhero Steel). Bumblebee wants to help, but the other Autobots who awoke with him decide not to wake Optimus and just return to hibernation. But Bumblebee goes to explore the camp, swapping his dinosaur mode for a steam train. Meanwhile, an engineer named Tobias Muldoon is trying to get funding for his new “submarine”, but even with Mark Twain and Jules Verne intrigued by the notion, his investor backs out after the sub sinks after resurfacing, and even humiliates him by having him wash dishes in his hotel when Tobias can’t pay for his share of the meal. Dejected, more by disappointing the investor’s daughter (which he appears to be interested in), he is surprised when a nearby steamboat transforms into a giant metallic man. His name is Shockwave, and he’s willing to help…but what is his real agenda?
What they got right: I love this concept, if you couldn’t guess from the intro. Seeing the Transformers taking on old steam-powered vehicles is very interesting and thought seems to have gone into the design of Bumblebee and Shockwave’s robot form designs in light of their new alt modes. Even the dinosaur-influenced robot modes, although we never see what they transform into as dinosaurs sadly.
What they got wrong: Why are authors Mark Twain and Jules Verne part of this story? Did they even met? And why John Henry, a (as far as I know) fictional character who just happens to be from this period and famous for dying while racing a steamhammer to get rails laid out? Also, I think there’s some potential of the dinosaur times war that I wish could have been explored, perhaps as a prequel to this series. Finally, what’s wrong with bright colors? Everything is real dark. Not as bad as the GI Joe crossover Dreamwave did years before, also lacking the painted style that Transformers/G.I. Joe had. However, There are no bright colors in this comic, just a lot of grays and muted colors, even in daylight.When compared with the sketch cover shown in the back, the preview for the second IDW miniseries, Stormbringer, and an ad for the Optimus Prime “Alternators” figure it really stands out how dark it looks.
Recommendation: This was a good start and I remember being fascinated enough by the series (at least in concept) to wish they had made toys based on this series. (Official ones–do you know how much third-party fan toys cost? I couldn’t afford them when I HAD a job, but I would love the Bumblebee one for my Bumblebee shelf.) This is one to keep an eye out for.