Continues to go where the TV series couldn't.
On the planet of Cybertron, the war between the Autobots and Decepticons continue. However, it's not being fought between Optimus Prime and Megatron since they're stranded on Earth, instead their respected armies are continuing the fight. The Autobot scientist Perceptor leads a band of Autobots as they seek to remain undetected, and take advantage of any small situation that may pop up and give them the edge. The Decepticons are being lead by Lord Straxus, and he holds court destroying anyone whom is not a member of the Decepticons. -summary
For those who don't know, Classic Transformers by IDW reprints the original series by Marvel which began back in 1984, and was written by Bob Budiansky. This second volume contains issues 17 - 32, issues 22 and 23 are broken down into story summaries due to copyright issues, since the stories feature a Marvel created character named Circuit Breaker. The summaries give more than enough detail so there's no big loss; but I can understand anyone who may be upset about it though, because I also prefer everything to be in its original form.
This volume continues the war between the two factions and it begins with a very strong spark. The story opens up on their homeworld with the first chapter called the "Smelting Pool". Autobot Blaster is on a solo mission, and he's waiting for some information from a friend named Scrounge whom is captured by the Decepticons for spying. He's then taken to the Smelting Pool for execution, and Blaster decides to try and save him with the help of some other Autobots. Those who saw the animated movie would more than likely remember the Acid Pit scene that took place inside of Unicron, where robots were thrown in and melted to death. Well that just so happens to be the situation here, and it's far more horrible than the movie.
I really enjoy the way this world was created. The Transformers comic is so much different from the animated series. Here, it's obvious this is a war and the two armies are trying to kill each other. The Decepticons are far more ruthless and completely uncaring. Whoever isn't on their side is against them, and these poor souls are considered to be nothing but energy wasters. The Decepticons plow through the streets destroying anyone who doesn't bear their insignia, and alive or dead, they dispose of their bodies in the Smelting Pool in order to melt them down for usable material. The narration is pretty wordy, yet graphic and necessary when telling the plight of the Autobots as well as other innocent robots caught in between the war.
The story doesn't leave the battle on Earth neglected at all. Optimus Prime leads the Autobots against the co-leadership of Megatron and Shockwave whom are in a constant power struggle, and only decide to call a truce due to the Autobots constant threat. Their personalities are far different from the animated series with a lot more depth as well. There are several moments that reveal the more insane and reckless side of Megatron.
The stories flow into each other rather well, and the focus will change to select characters; such as two Autobots abandoning their faction due to what they feel is very poor leadership after the title is changed over. These are risk that the animated series never took which lead to it feeling so repetitive. Here, you really don't know what's going to happen. I enjoyed when the focus was on the Autobots medic Ratchet, as he was giving into the stress of not having enough spare parts to repair destroyed Autobots, which forced him to the nearest junkyard searching for pieces. Another thing the comic does better than the animated series is introducing characters. In this book, you know where all the new characters are coming from, while in the TV series they just popped up with no explanation. It's clear that the series only wanted to push a toyline, while the book actually tries to tell a better story.
Even though the book has plenty of really good moments; there are several bad ones too. The introduction and constant use of some human characters takes away from the focus of the warring armies. I realized this was the intention, but most of these stories were just way too boring, and at times, the dialog was a bit too camp and just straight corny.
I have to give respect to some of the artwork though. The Smelting Pool has some disturbing artwork, with robots being melted alive, while some are on the edges trying to claw their way out for their lives. The action panels have some really good moments of shooting, with robots being blasted down and terribly damaged. On the negative side, some of the character designs can be drawn pretty bad, and there are short cuts taken, such as drawing groups of robots the same black and white color, instead of taking time to color them properly.
Overall, Classic Transformers Volume Two is a pretty entertaining book, and to me, it's far better than the animated series. The book ends on a cliffhanger, and if you bought into the characters and the stories by now, then you'll more than likely want to see where things go from there. Recommended