Go-Bots No. 3 review: Gobotron or bust


Welcome to Gobotron where the Go-Bots have built a planet of their own. Is there a place for humans in a post-human society?

Go-Bots art by Tom Scioli (Courtesy Hasbro, published by IDW)

I don’t know where I expected Tom Scioli to take the story after Go-Bots issue two. It could have turned into a union drama à la films like Norma Rae or Salt of the Earth. It could have become an even more action-filled, a war comic detailing the struggles between the human-sympathizing and separatist robot factions. Instead the Go-Bots story leaps years (Centuries? Millennia? Mega-annum?) past the era of humanity and dumps a new batch of POV characters onto a planet built for—and only for—Go-Bot kind. As in Transformers, this is a planet of metal, built at a giant scale to accommodate the oversized inhabitants.

The Go-Bot ship Spay-C and its human crew explore this strange world as we do to learn the landscape. Humankind is insignificant here, and I can only say for certain that one of the shuttle crew, Charlotte, gets named in this issue. While the humans hide inside Spay-C, the Go-Bot is shoved in a jail cell, and eventually interrogated by the planet’s ruler . . . Leader-1. Which answers some questions raised by the time gap between this and the previous issue.

It seems the jet robot did join the revolution, liberated the Go-Bots, then somehow built an entire planet, and has ruled it ever since. But all is not grand for the head of Gobotron. While Leader-1 slumps wearily on a throne, surrounded by the metal skulls of his enemies impaled on spikes, he is plagued by threats to his leadership, as well as a Godzilla-like robo-monster called Zod, and Cy-Kill causing trouble as usual.

Go-Bots art by Tom Scioli (Courtesy Hasbro, published by IDW)

Scioli sprinkles lots of references and homages to ’70s and early’ 80s pop culture through the issue. There’s images or dialogue on almost every page of the book that scratches at my memory, trying to bring the allusion into focus: The robot jail cell is controlled by an electronic Simon game. The first time we see the Spay-C, it’s a reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the ship’s humans are introduced huddled around a conference table like the crew of the Nostromo in Alien.

Go-Bots art by Tom Scioli (Courtesy Hasbro, published by IDW)

One usurper to Leader-1’s power, as prophesized by some pestering mystics, is implied to be very similar to Optimus Prime. Speaking of mystics, Scioli takes Leader-1 on vision quest ala Krull and other creations derived from Hyborian Age barbarian settings. Similar to what he did in Transformers vs. G.I. Joe, Scioli is building up a spiritual, proto-religious aspect to the toy mythology.

Go-Bots issue three climaxes with an extensive, action-filled dogfight in outer space. At times these pages get a little confusing because they’re so stuffed with panels and robots that haven’t been developed as characters yet.

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In the end, Scioli slows things down and brings the story back to human scale with another unsettling twist—and some toys even more obscure than the Go-Bots–to set up issue four.