For anyone unfamiliar with them, Go-Bots were a toy line from the 1980’s, sold in the US by Tonka. Like Transformers, it was the US name for re-branded Japanese toys and they also had a tie-in cartoon series. Eventually Tonka was bought by Hasbro, although they have done very little with the brand since then.
This Go-Bots mini series is a re-imagining of the Go-Bots cartoon. The Go-Bots’ names, appearance and their human companions are unchanged but, according to the series so far, gone is the concept of them being alien robots from Gobotron. Instead these Go-Bots are human creations and the events of the book are a result of artificial intelligence and human folly.
The factions for the Go-Bots were called the Guardians and the Renegades, and the story does a great job of making those names fit the characters. Portraying the Go-Bots as robots with personalities, designed by humans, is a great move by Tom Scioli. Not only does it move the story away from the comparison to Transformers but it actually adds an awful lot of depth. We have Go-Bots forming bonds with their users, we have a reason for the variety of characters and we have a look into the abuse of labour when it’s dehumanized. This issue deals with the Go-Bots rebelling on their masters and the reactions to it, as well as establishing the two factions. While the dialogue can be a little disjointed at times I think this is a great story for this franchise. It’s an easy to grasp story which helps a lot considering that this is a short mini-series based on a property that hasn’t been used much in the last 25 years.
Go-Bots #2 has a very interesting visual style that stands out from most of IDW’s licensed comics over the last few years. Scioli’s art style really stands out in terms of both the line work and the colours. The style has quite an old-fashioned look which reminds me a little of the 1980’s Transformers Ladybird Books published in the UK. In terms of the layout the book covers both ends of the spectrum in terms of text coverage. There are some pages that feel like walls of text, partly because the lettering is much larger than many recent comics. On the other end of the spectrum, about a quarter of the pages in this issue have less than 4 speech bubbles.
The action sequences and a lot of the scene choices are really good, with a great use of energy and some visceral imagery with the Go-Bots. The scenes where humans are the victims are handled in a way that makes their fates obvious without being graphic. I can definitely see the art style polarising a lot of people, with readers either loving it or hating it.