Just when you think that “Marvel Zombies” and “Blackest Night” have milked the zombification of pop-culture icons dry, along comes “Infestation,” IDW’s own Zombie-fuelled crossover. It’s hard not to feel a little fatigued.
In fairness, Zombie Transformers is a concept that we haven’t really seen, so in that sense, there is something new here, but at the same time, if you’re coming into this story with nothing but pure, un-jaded enthusiasm, it’s hard not to be a little envious.
It’s a little disappointing to find that in a comic that combines giant transforming robots and a zombie plague, everything is played with absolute, straight-faced seriousness. Abnett and Lanning have absolutely no problem orchestrating an epic, but when it comes to letting a concept’s inherent fun out, they apparently plan to err on the side of caution rather than risk undermining the concept with comedy.
In fairness, perhaps they’re keeping the comedic take for the “Ghostbusters” crossover issues — in which case, the Transformers are well-suited for a big action story, and that’s roughly what we get. It’s hard not to feel like the characters are misused, though.
For instance, in a normal Transformers book, neither Kup nor Galvatron would typically express much fear — the former is too stoic, the latter simply too insane — but in this story, both are gibbering wrecks at the prospect of the zombie infestation. Clearly, the intent is to reverse these characters’ normal attitudes as a way of conveying the scale of the threat, but it vastly over-eggs the pudding. It doesn’t work, because their reactions are so extreme that they don’t feel believable.
It doesn’t help that Nick Roche’s artwork seems to veer off model quite frequently. Prime’s initial appearance is so distorted that it actually distracts from the story, and from there on in it seems as though no character is drawn the same way twice again. Similarly, the art is so busy that it gets tough to follow. Clearer storytelling or coloring would help make the book easier to read, as the sheer volume of robots running crammed onto the page can easily lead to confusing visuals.
Perhaps worst of all, although the book appears to be trying to stand alone, the final-page twist relies on a story detail from “Infestation” #1 only covered on the recap page, and since I read this prior to “Infestation” #1, it was unclear what questions I was supposed to be asking of the twist. That alone, seems like bad form for a comic labelled issue #1, and it’s unfortunately indicative of the comic’s quality as a whole.