Spoiler-Free Review: Bumblebee Movie Prequel #2

This week saw the release of Transformers: Bumblebee Movie Prequel #2, continuing the ’60s Brit-spy prelude to this December’s Bumblebee film. Read on to read our spoiler-free review of the issue!

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Transformers: Bumblebee Movie Prequel #2

“The Living Headlights”

Written by John Barber, Line-Art by Andrew Griffith, Colors by Priscilla Tramontano, Letters by Tom B. Long

Hot on the heels of San Diego Comic-Con, which saw a variety of toy and film news released for December’s Bumblebee film, the official prequel comic continues its loving pastiche of ‘60s British spy fiction. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this four-issue mini-series is structured and paced like a Bond film, which meant that a good deal of the debut instalment was taken up by a cold open and then scene setting. Issue #2, then, is where we start to get into the plot proper, as Bumblebee and Agents Reeve and Lux find themselves on the run, hunting the traitor inside P.R.O.G.R.A.M.M.E.
As with last time, this issue does a stellar job of telling a done-straight ‘60s spy story, revelling in the concept and genre without descending into full-blown parody. We’re treated to a car chase, underwater hideouts, Cold War intrigue and, since this is still a Transformers comic, some robot vs. robot action too. Writer John Barber is unmistakeably having a lot of fun with this genre, and some more of the humor that defined his previous Hasbro spy comic, Action Man, comes back in this issue, lending it at times the air of a Roger Moore Bond flick than Sean Connery.
With the story now in full swing, we also get to spend more time getting to know new characters Reeve and Lux, whose good-natured bickering keeps things fresh and lively even during the more expository scenes. Similarly, new lead Decepticon Diabla gets more spotlight this issue, and the former double-agent’s unusual dynamic with Bumblebee makes their mid-fight interactions more interesting than typical good-guy-bad-guy banter, with ‘Bee still not quite willing to write off the ‘bot he thought had been his friend.
The story’s art continues to be similarly good, with Andrew Griffith deftly handling robot and human action alike. The inks feel a little inconsistent at times, with some pages feeling “sketchier” than others, but it’s not to the detriment of the storytelling, and Priscilla Tramontano’s colors tie everything together in a colourful but slightly subdued palette that feels nicely cinematic.
At the halfway point, this mini has proven its chops as a spy story, with engaging action, fun banter and an intriguing mystery. We’re definitely looking forward to seeing how the rest of the series pans out, and also how it ties into the events of the Bumblebee film, set two decades later. As Barber moves away from regular writing into the Editor-in-Chief role, it’s nice that we’re getting this one last ride in one of his favorite genres, and reuniting the full team writing/art team from Transformers: Foundation, one of his earliest movie tie-in comics!