I’ve been a fan of artist/writer Tom Scioli since I first read his creator owned work, The Myth of 8-Opus. While it was his decidedly Jack Kirby-esque style that caught my attention, it was his obvious passion for comics that made me a fan.
Godland, American Barbarian, Final Frontier-– I was hooked on it all and, finally, as a comics fan, I thought I’d seen it all.
Then he went and got a gig on IDW’s Transformers vs. G.I. Joe and he proved just how wrong I was.
Transformers vs. G.I. Joe reads like the fever dream of an 8-year-old kid living in 1985 distilled through the lens of an auteur in 2015 with the singular goal of pushing comics beyond their limits. On the surface, the comic is indeed the story of giant robots versus elite soldiers, but it’s also about mankind’s contact with giant transforming space gods and the effect that has on Earth (hint: it’s not good). It’s about grabbing Promethean fire and that Promethean fire grabbing back.
With each issue, Scioli pushes not just the story forward, but the medium of sequential storytelling as well. Unlike other books that have used the same title, this isn’t just for fans looking for a nostalgia fix—this is for people who want, well, a transformative experience.
As a child of the 80s, I’ve been with both Transformers and G.I. Joe since the very beginning. I watched both cartoons back-to-back each and every afternoon; I read the comics; I watched the rebooted cartoons; I read the rebooted comics. And you can be assured that I bought (or begged my parents to buy) as many of the toys as possible. As far as I was concerned, there couldn’t possibly be anything left to do with either property that even smacked of being new.
I am an old and very, very cynical fan. I’ve been around long enough to see the ebb and flow of trends and I’m pretty damn good at pointing how these new things today are rehashes of old things from years ago.
But I can’t do that with Tom Scioli’s work on Transformers vs. G.I. Joe. Sure, I can point to his influences and various callbacks, but that’s about it. Beyond that, he’s taken two tried and true corporate IPs and made them seem like insane creator owned properties.
John Barber deserves a hell of a lot of credit.
IDW’s Senior Editor could have just opted to churn out another by-the-numbers crossover book, but instead he went in the complete opposite direction. He took a chance. He chose to let something different take form. Other publishers pay a lot of lip service to doing this kind of thing, but the rarely, if ever, follow through to the extent Barber has.
For that, I, and many other fans of mind-blowing comics are thankful.
If you’ve yet to try Transformers vs. G.I. Joe, go an take a chance. I’ve heard people shy away from it because they’ve never really been into either property. That doesn’t matter. If you have a hard time following along sometimes, understand, this is a book you’re supposed to have a hard time following along with from time to time.
It asks a lot of the reader and, if you’re willing to give a little, you’ll get a whole lot in return.