Infestation #1

Infestation 1

B

When I was 15, I came up with a way to make the universes of Star Trek and Transformers meet. I won’t share the details for fear of lapsing into fanfiction, but I was pretty proud of locating a common thread in both properties’ histories and then exploiting that thread to produce an actual story. Of course, as with most of our nerdy dreams, nothing ever became of it, but to this day I gaze on it fondly in the library of my mind (okay, do you want a hint? Think Beast Wars season two).

Over a decade later, comic publisher IDW announced that they’d come up with a way to link not only those two universes, but also Ghostbusters and G.I. Joe as well. How could I resist? Though I suspect lots of comics fans will view this project with a bit of a distanced sneer — as a sales stunt, perhaps, or another outlet for the already-overexposed zombie phenomenon — I think it takes a lot of guts to try something like this. Coming up with a plausible (or mostly-plausible) way to connect four very distinct licensed properties seems like a really interesting challenge; all the better that two of the properties are among my favorites in fiction.

Wisely, though, Infestation #1 doesn’t drop us into any of those worlds, but instead opts for a slow-burn approach. We enter the series on a world (IDW-Prime?) where the CVO and Zombies vs. Robots comics coexist. An outburst of zombie plague has just been quelled at a military base, thanks mostly to some bad-ass secret robots. However, the dimensional portal from which the zombies sprung has reopened at random, and this time the creatures overtake the base completely. This leads the government to call in the CVO, or Covert Vampiric Operations squad. But they may be too late to do much of anything; a collective mind now controls the zombies, and it’s hungry. So hungry, in fact, that it’s found four other worlds to munch on….

The basic plot of this first issue is kind of by-the-numbers, not to mention that it’s essentially a pastiche of other, more famous comics. Take a little bit of BPRD, toss in some Marvel Zombies, and voila. That said, Infestation #1 does what it needs to do to set up a compelling story. And there certainly are some new grounds to cover here. I really like the notion, for instance, that the zombies operate via a hive mind. It recalls Star Trek’s Borg, which unfortunately probably won’t come up in this comic, since it seems to be crossing over with The Original Series only. Another cool nod to what’s to come: this issue does a few scripting gymnastics to show us that robots can also be infected by this zombie plague. Whether or not you buy it is one thing, but at least the Transformers crossover shouldn’t need to belabor that plot point. Also, I very much like that this series digs its roots in IDW’s own properties before branching off into licensed books. It’s a nice way to really make the book feel like a company-wide crossover.

I’m not too familiar with the work of writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, though my understanding is that they’ve spent the last few years rocking it on Marvel’s sci-fi series like Annihilation and Guardians of the Galaxy. It seems they’re the guys you go to when you want to build some momentum in these big-picture stories. That certainly happens in Infestation #1; everything we need to know is set into place by this issue’s conclusion, leaving the crossover madness free to begin. This issue also shows us that Abnett and Lanning know how to establish characters. While I wasn’t too enamored with most of the CVO team, I really liked what they did with the Britt and especially Benny, who get some great, creepy dialog.

Now to the art: while David Messina isn’t my favorite artist, he pulls off some pretty neat tricks here. In particular, I love the way he draws the robots from the aforementioned Zombies vs. Robots series. That book featured art by Ashley Wood, whose unique style can’t be easy to capture. Still, I feel Messina did a terrific job imbuing the robots with Wood’s quirks, yet making them fit into a more traditionally-drawn comic. I was less a fan of his human characters, who seem a bit ill-defined, but to each his own.

Don’t go into Infestation #1 thinking you’ll get action from the four guys featured on the cover — you won’t. But if you’re like me, excited to see how the heck IDW can tie together all of their properties, this is a good read. It provides an exciting action story that ably lays the grounds for the adventure to come. And it’s guaranteed to be the best Star Trek/Transformers crossover you’ve ever seen… so far.

tags: andy lanning, dan abnett, david messina, idw, infestation, star trek, transformers

  • Mike M

    I am pretty pumped for this.

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