Madefire Motion Books (Star Trek, Transformers) | Review

(IDW / Madefire)

IDW recently sent us some samples of their comics that have been converted into “motion book” format. The motion book platform is a technology from Madefire in which the comic reading experience is enhanced with animation, sound effects and music. The digitized and enhanced comics are read on Madefire’s own free apps for iPhone and iPad, and the individual titles can be purchased through the app.

Of the titles IDW offered us I opted to review Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #1 and Transformers: Monstrosity #1 over My Little Pony.  (To see a sample of Star Trek in motion book format, click here and to see a sample of Transformers, click here).

Okay, to start with, I’m personally not a J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot guy. I’m just not. The destruction of Vulcan, the messing around with the time continuum – yeah, yeah – I’m a different generation and this isn’t my Star Trek. Sorry. As for the Transformers, the whole idea of alien robots coming to Earth disguised as transport trucks and using our planet as a battlefield – yeah, right.

But: these IDW comics presented in Madefire’s motion book format are damn fine comics.

Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness is a prequel to this year’s Into Darkness movie. Now, when it comes to the Abrams movies, I had to learn to accept them for what they are: thrill-rides with lots of action and adventure. It’s Star Trek for a new generation, loosely based on the Star Trek I grew up with. What I liked about the Madefire version of this comic though, is that while writer Mike Johnson and Roberto Orci keep the comic true to Abrams vision of Trek and throw in a few details for guys like me (it’s like IDW picked the right writers to get me to like the wrong project), the Madefire effects of sound and motion like transporter effects and red alert klaxons in the background  add to the rich tapestry of the thrill-ride.

Now for Transformers. “Robots in disguise” indeed. But this comic is far more than that. In this first issue of the Monstrosity series (sequel to last year’s hit Autocracy), the Great War is over. The Autobots have won, but Optimus Prime now faces another threat: how to build a new society of Cybertronians out of divided factions used to fighting amongst themselves for survival. Peace is more problematic than war.

The art in both titles is laudable. In Star Trek, artist David Messina admirably reproduces the characters as well as the lens flare-rich ambience of Abrams’ Enterprise. And in Transformers, Livio Ramondelli manages to effectively capture the technological environment of the planet, Cybertron, as well as the denizens themselves. I could genuinely see Optimus Prime’s frustration as he explained how ill-equipped he felt in the political arena instead of in combat. Of course, kudos go to writers Chris Metzen and Flint Dille for their storytelling.

You know, I guess I’m a bit of a reactionary when it comes to new interpretations of stuff I grew up with. But when you consider it’s just another way to appreciate the visions of their original creators, you can appreciate the homage. Madefire’s motion book technology is a great way to appreciate these comics and IDW has done such a great job with presenting various incarnations of Star Trek in the past, as well as the new direction of Transformers, that these are definitely comics to pick up, regardless of which generation you belong to.



About Captain John K. Kirk

Captain John K. Kirk
John Kirk is an English and History teacher and librarian in Toronto, Canada. In addition to the traditional curriculum, John tries to teach his students to make sense of geek culture. And with the name "J. Kirk," it's hard for him to not inject "Star Trek" into his lessons. Comics, RPGs and the usual fanboy gear make up his classroom resources.

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