Book Review: ‘The Joy of Joe: Memories of America’s Movable Fighting Man from Today’s Grown-Up Kids’

This pretty short book is a collection of a few dozen essays written by some fairly notable people, about their childhood love of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.

Some essays are about the old ’60s toys but most are about the ’80s version of G.I. Joe and all of it’s forms: toys, comics and the cartoon.

Fabian Nicieza even contributed to the book, which was cool as I’ve been a big fan of his comic book writing since the early ’90s.

This obviously won’t mean much to non-G.I. Joe fans but for those of us who have a love of the franchise, it was really nice reading about how passionate these writers are about the toyline and everything that came with it.

In the end, it’s just nice being reminded from time to time that you’re not alone in your love of something that feels long gone, that will probably never be the same, even after several attempts at resurrection.

Rating: 6.5/10

Vids I Dig 050: Toy Galaxy: The History of the ‘GoBots’

From Toy Galaxy’s YouTube description: People don’t generally remember who finished second place but with transforming alien robot toys that just isn’t the case. This is the history of the GoBots.

Sure, Transformers finished in a distant first place in pop culture but in this case plenty of people are still big fans of the second place finisher.

Comic Review: Star Trek Vs. Transformers

Published: June 12th, 2019
Written by: John Barber, Mike Johnson
Art by: Jack Lawrence, Philip Murphy
Based on: Transformers by Hasbro, Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry

IDW Publishing, 118 Pages

Review:

What I found most interesting about this is that it was a crossover of the animated Star Trek series and the original animated Transformers show. When I first heard about this crossover, I wasn’t sure how they would bring the two franchises together but this was certainly the best approach and definitely better than mixing the terrible Michael Bay Transformers movies with the Kelvin timeline Star Trek stuff.

Overall, this was amusing and I enjoyed the art style.

However, the story is just decent and didn’t do much to really maximize the properties. Its also full of predictable things like the Enterprise transforming into a robot, in this case, a version of Fortress Maximus.

Also, the Decepticons team up with the Klingons, which sort of fits a trope of these IDW crossovers, which is villain team ups to offset hero team ups. I’m not saying that the trope is bad, it just makes these events predictable and formulaic.

Star Trek Vs. Transformers isn’t a bad crossover, it just falls short due to it being more of the same, despite the franchises featured. It’s like IDW has a checklist with every crossover and the writers have to check off every single box.

The truth is, I love checking out crossovers like this. Unfortunately, the output is really redundant and it’s kind of killing my interest in seeing different intellectual properties collide.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: other IDW crossovers between famous franchises.

Comic Review: IDW Deviations

Published: 2017
Written by: various
Art by: various
Based on: Judge Dredd by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, The X-Files by Chris Carter, Ghostbusters by Ivan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, G.I. Joe by Hasbro, Transformers by Hasbro, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, My Little Pony by Bonnie Zacherle, Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry

IDW Publishing, 356 Pages

Review:

So IDW decided to do their own version of Marvel’s What If?… series and DC’s Elseworlds tales. Except, IDW doesn’t have really any creations of their own, at least none that anyone really seems to care about. Instead, they are most known for printing comics of intellectual properties that they pay for publishing rights to have.

This series of one-shots gave us “what if” tales for Judge Dredd, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Trek, X-Files, Ghostbusters and My Little Pony.

At their best, there were a few issues that were simply, okay. But most of these were terrible. And they weren’t terrible for one reason, they had just about everything going wrong for them.

In fact, the only two of these that I would give a passing grade to are Donny Cates’ take on Star Trek, which is still a poor effort considering Cates’ caliber, as well as the Transformers one, which gave us an alternate take on the events of the original animated motion picture.

The worse one of the lot was the one I was most excited for: G.I. Joe. It was a big, lame, unfunny joke that poked at some of the franchise’s tropes but did so without the writer having a single funny bone in their entire body. I’ve never not laughed so hard.

This was something that had potential, could have given us some really cool results and honestly, shouldn’t have been that hard to write at even a passable level. IDW has lost their fucking way, man. I guess it’s no surprise that the company is up shit’s creek, now getting bailouts from Marvel on their D-list comic books.

Frankly, I’m pissed I paid for these issues.

Rating: 3.5/10
Pairs well with: the IDW 20/20, Infestation and Revolution events, as well as some of the IDW crossovers.

Vids I Dig 026: Toy Galaxy: The History of ‘Visionaries’: The Hologram Gimmick Didn’t Sell

From Toy Galaxy’s YouTube description: On this episode we cover the history of the Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light.

Released by Hasbro in 1987 their play gimmick was holograms. With a comic book series from Marvel and an animated series what could go wrong? Plenty.

While Visionaries didn’t sell in 1987 the property has been sitting on the edge of resurrection for a number of years, including a new comic and maybe a new movie.

Comic Review: Go-Bots

Published: November 21st, 2018 – March 27th, 2019
Written by: Tom Scioli
Art by: Tom Scioli
Based on: GoBots by Tonka

IDW Publishing, 169 Pages

Review:

I didn’t know what to think about a Go-Bots comic book when I first heard that this was coming out. Historically, even though they beat the Transformers to toy shelves in the ’80s, they were always seen as a cheap imitation. A lot of that probably just has to do with their television show and toys being of lesser quality but Tonka did bring this idea of vehicles transforming into robots to market first. Granted, both franchises took the idea from toys that were already popular in Japan.

Since their inception, the GoBots intellectual property rights have changed and now the franchise is owned by Hasbro and the GoBots find themselves under the same umbrella as TransformersG.I. JoeM.A.S.K.Micronauts and other properties. That being said, Hasbro has been using the comic book medium to tie their properties together into a shared universe, which is being done as a test before they eventually try this with motion pictures.

So it should be no surprise that the GoBots, now spelled Go-Bots, were given the comic book treatment by IDW, alongside Hasbro’s other big properties. This also ties into those other properties but to say anything more about that would be a bit too spoilery and I won’t ruin this because I think that people need to read Go-Bots and enjoy it, as I did.

The art and the story are done by Tom Scioli, a guy whose work I’ve really enjoyed in G.I. Joe Vs. Transformers and also in the issues of Godland that I’ve read, which is the most Jack Kirby-esque comic not done by Jack Kirby himself.

Scioli writes a solid, dynamic story that moves through great distances in time but it introduces several characters and spends enough time with them all to give them real character and weight.

I adore Scioli’s art style and it was perfect for this book, as it makes it truly feel like a throwback in a visual sense. Although, the writing is better than what the standard was for these toy property books back in the ’80s, when they were all too common and usually just rushed out to inspire kids to buy toys.

Ultimately, I enjoyed this comic so much that even though I want to talk about the plot, I’d rather people read it for themselves. Frankly, this is one of my favorite comics that IDW has put out in years. Actually, the best since the Chuck Dixon and Mike Costa era of their G.I. Joe books.

I sincerely hope that there is something in the works for future installments of Tom Scioli’s Go-Bots.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: other Hasbro related comics from IDW, especially the Transformers stuff.

Film Review: Bumblebee (2018)

Also known as: Transformers 6 (working title), Brighton Falls (fake working title)
Release Date: December 3rd, 2018 (Berlin premiere)
Directed by: Travis Knight
Written by: Christina Hodson
Based on: Transformers by Hasbro
Music by: Dario Marianelli
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, Glynn Turman, Fred Dryer, Angela Bassett (voice), Justin Theroux (voice), Peter Cullen (voice)

Allspark Pictures, Di Bonaventura Pictures, Tencent Pictures, Bay Films, Paramount Pictures, 114 Minutes

Review:

“The darkest nights, produce the brightest stars.” – Memo

The first three minutes and twenty seconds of this movie are pure Transformers perfection. The opening scene hit every single note in the right way and proved to me, right out the gate, that this was not a Michael Bay Transformers movie and that the creative team behind this film, actually cared about the source material.

Then the next scene was spectacular and the opening twelve minutes or so were a hell of a lot of fun, punctuated by John Cena being awesome because he initially felt like a heel in the story.

Now the film starts to taper off from its awesomeness a bit once we meet the main, non-robot characters, and deal with teen angst and crappy summer jobs. But that stuff is far from terrible and the movie does do a good job of fitting within the ’80s. Well, except for how often it has to remind you of what decade it is with a constant barrage of random Top 40 hits of the time. Not that I dislike ’80s music, I love a lot of music from that decade, but the selections didn’t seem cohesive and it felt like some millennial giving their Amazon Echo a very generic statement like, “Play ’80s music!”

This was also the most human and emotional Transformers to date. It develops its characters well, you truly care about Bumblebee and the humans and seeing Bumblebee feeling lost, without his memory, is executed greatly. Sure, it’s a cheesy, feel good movie but what’s wrong with feeling good?

What really wowed me is that most of this film is fan service but it understands what fan service is, delivers it damn well and sort of makes up for all the other atrocious Transformers movies I stopped watching after the second one.

Also, the robots look damn near perfect. Going back to the incredible opening scene, all the Autobots and Decepticons featured there looked exactly as they should if you are using the G1 era as your source. Between Wheeljack, Soundwave, Shockwave and all the others, it felt great to see them in a live action movie the way they were meant to be seen, which is all I ever wanted from the five films before this one. In fact, when Starscream and the Seekers turn into Cybertronian jets, they look just like they did in the pilot of the G1 cartoon, with a sort of sleek pyramid shape.

Megatron is nowhere to be seen but the two main villains were really solid stand-ins. The female robot was voice by Angela Bassett and the male was very much a perfect recreation of Vortex. The two of them were also triple changes. So where the Vortex looking Decepticon looked like the actual Vortex helicopter mode, he was also able to turn into a muscle car.

Hell, Cliffjumper shows up for one scene and he looked perfect. It was great seeing him get an appearance. considering that he’s been completely overshadowed by his brother, Bumblebee, since the original cartoon started. I always liked Cliffjumper better, as a kid.

Hailee Steinfeld put in an energetic and convincing performance and was the best human protagonist in the history of Transformers movies. The kid crushing on her was pretty useless but I didn’t hate him. However, the kid playing her little brother was terrific and I wish we would have seen more of him. Also, Pamela Adlon as her mother was a very strong plus for me.

In the end, Bumblebee was the Transformers movie I never thought I’d get. It’s far from perfect but it is a great step in the right direction. While this was intended to be a prequel to the Michael Bay films, I think they should just use this as a reboot and relaunch the franchise off of the shoulders of this film. And with that being said, I don’t want this to be the last time we see Steinfeld’s character.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: the original Transformers cartoon and animated movie but NOT the Michael Bay films, as this is so much better than those.