Pros: Spiderman gets to backchat Megatron, you get to see Starscream.
Cons: Everyone behaves completely out of character, inconsistent generic artwork, no effort on the story.
It's always hard to figure out how to start a review for one of these major crossover titles. I always figure some kind of witty remark, or some clever quote should be used to tell all and sundry that "IT'S NEW AVENGERS VS THE TRANSFORMERS!!!" Unfortunately there is nothing clever about New Avengers vs. Transformers, it never really manages to be all that witty, and it's not even a particularly big event in terms of the story either. So I figure, if the writers of the comic itself can't be bothered to put any thought into all this then why on Earth should I bother when reviewing it either?
Now the most important things to consider with one of these randomized crossovers are what clever way are you going to come up with for merging these stories and what are your audience going to want to see once you've achieved that? Sadly writer Steven Moore seems to have given more thought to his lunch menu than to either of these 2 crucial factors.
The story goes that a war is about to kick off between the Eastern European nation of Latveria (the place with the president named Victor Von Doom) and their neighbours Symkaria when mysterious jets start bombing the latter nation. The New Avengers (Captain America, Ironman, Spiderman, Luke Cage, Wolverine, Falcon and Ms’ Marvel) are sent in by S.H.I.E.L.D to investigate. Arriving in Latveria they happen upon a mysterious compound, enter it, find themselves under fire from some unseen foes, witness Spiderman get captured and then flee the building like a Wily Coyote with an Acme brand rocket strapped to its back. No, seriously, 'Earth's Mightiest Heroes', who've squared off against the likes of Magneto and Apocalypse, have defeated actual gods in battle, and have even encountered Death herself on a few occasions, are now running off with their tails (not literally in most cases) between their legs; and are leaving a man down no less!
If that wasn't strange enough, by this point we're nearing the end of the first issue (of four, all featured here) and we haven't caught so much of a glimpse of a Transformer. We haven't even had so much as a quick shot of a truck parked near the base watching the events unfold. It's almost as if Moore wanted to gradually build up the suspense throughout the book about who was in Latveria so that the final pages big reveal would drum up interest in the second issue. Would have been a good idea too, if not for the fact that the Cover to the issue featured Captain America leaping away from Optimus Prime and had the title The New Avengers and The Transformers. Might be a bit late for slow building suspense now I think! In fact, I suspect we may have just touched upon tediously plodding predictability.
Either way the big reveal that The Transformers and the Marvel Universe have been living and fighting side by side all these years without noticing each other is now out of the way. So from issue 2 the book gets down to business as usual. The story follows along the same path as every other bad crossover (and most of the good ones to be fair) hitting every cliché along the way. Heroes have been introduced to each other, get confused and start fighting, but then realize they're all on the same side just in time for their respective bad guys to team up. It's just that in this instance none of it makes any sense at all, even after you've accepted the initial concept.
When the 2 teams meet up the fight kicks off because Optimus Prime says "Hello" and Captain America; Earth's most experienced hero I should add, screams "Attack!" Then Optimus utters the line "Standard human containment. No fatalities..." (pulls out gun and starts firing) "...unless absolutely necessary!"
So after a few pages of fairly mindless action; with The Avengers looking thoroughly weak against robots not much bigger than sentinels, the Transformers manage to attach a strange sciencey thingamajig to captain America that blocks the bad chemicals in his brain from making him mad any more. As He says, "The engines of War. Sometimes they stop, and just like that..." (Dum dum duuuum) "The fog clears!" With everything now calmed down it's revealed that the Avengers were under the influence of a stolen mind altering device that would increase their aggression enough to make them run away from the potential boogiemen in the dark base, and charge head first into battle with the giant space robots outside. This is revealed by Doctor Doom, who had originally created the device for purposes unspecified. He babbles on for a bit about his technology, and about how he's got to look out for his people above anything else, before walking away to try and restore peace with the neighbours.
Optimus Prime then reveals that Megatron is the one who has stolen this technology in order to incite aggression between the 2 nations now fighting so that he can harvest some energon from the war. Meanwhile inside the base Spiderman is restrained to a device that Megatron intends to use to harvest some of his enhanced blood and create some new super energon for his Decepticon warriors. Spiderman does a bit of back talking, but this does nothing to prevent the emergence of the super powered Decpticon army. Obviously the Avengers want into the base to help their friend, but these Decpticons are going to be a bit of a handful. The autobots try and fight them, Ironman shows up in some giant Ironman armour he created due to the understandable concern that rumours of giant extra-terrestrial robots hiding among us would turn out to be true, and everyone's worst fears are realized when Megatron and Doctor Doom reveal that they have realized the benefits of working together. It's never quite revealed what those benefits are exactly. Doctor Doom wants to make Latveria strong and Megatron wants Latveria blown to kingdom come so that he can harvest the wars energy. I'm fairly certain those desires are mutually exclusive or something.
So who will emerge victorious, The Autobots and The Avengers, or The Decepticons and Doctor Doom? Will Spiderman ever get to do ANYTHING in this book? Will Doctor Doom decide to do some more walking away? All will be revealed if you run out and purchase this book now. Or alternatively you could make a wild guess and would probably be just as right at a fraction of the cost.
Now considering the fact that this series was released in the same month as the first Transformers Movie it should come as no surprise that it turned out to be such shameless cash in. However, from experience with these kinds of things, I can point out that shameless marketing scams are no excuse for poor writing. Or at the very least there's no excuse for the poor writing to be taken so serious by all and sundry. I mean, sure there are laughs to be had, but when the dialogue runs along the lines of "Cap what are your orders?" "Orders? Kill the giant robots!!!" I don't think the laughs were all that intentional. Moore really seems to believe he's got a dramatic story to tell here, and so doesn't even to bother throw in any comic relief. This makes the preceding events even funnier I agree, but still, it's not exactly a story you want to spend any of your hard earned money on.
I would like to say that the artwork makes up for any deficiencies in the plot department, but even that would be a lie. Some of the covers are absolutely fantastic in a minimalist anime kind of way. Sadly the artwork in the story itself is all very bland. It's not exactly terrible looking; it's just all generic 90's kind of artwork. Sort of detailed, but lacking any of the flash required for a story as thoroughly absurd as this. It also tends to be kind of inconsistent, with Spiderman's head changing size and shape with every frame, while Captain America and Wolverine walk around with the same constipated look on their face that screams I'm moody and hard!!! Sometimes you can look to their arms to see what exactly they're doing (running, fighting or talking are the favourites) but in frames where the arms are out of shot you're going to get pretty lost.
So all in all this is not a particularly well put together book. It's a shame; I really wanted to like it in a cheesy kind of way. It is Marvel Super heroes and Transformers afterall. It's just the lack of intentional humour and fairly tedious action kills whatever cool factor this could have had. Spiderman mocking Megatron aside the book is otherwise poorly produced and uninspired. It's not as if the old open a portal between universes and suck in heroes, make a few jokes and blow everything up, is a difficult formula to achieve. So why they went with this mess instead will be beyond me until the end of days. Don't bother with this one, unless you want to of course. Doesn't matter to me one way or the other I guess.
Part of the Funny pages writeoff: http://www.epinions.com/content_5192654980#ow