John Henry? Check. Mark Twain? Check. Transformers? Uhh…check?

Shockwave - Hearts of Steel sketch cover

Yeah I don’t get it either, but it happened. I finally got around to reading the four-part Hearts of Steel series/line/mini-series and I’m pretty surprised that it actually works. Knowing full well that this is supposed to be fun and not critically acclaimed, historically accurate fiction, I had no problem going from one book to the next. Once I realized that it was an, “out-of-continuity, stand alone Transformers tale,” I thought, “whatever, it’s fucking robots…” and pleasantly made my way through them all.

The premise is pretty ridiculous, but that’s why I kept reading. John Henry and Mark Twain couldn’t have been the only characters that could’ve been used for this, but I guess they were the only people that the darts landed on when picking main characters from old-timey America. I just shrugged and went with it. Even for Transformers nerds this has to be an enormously hard sell, and I can just barely imagine this idea being pitched with someone saying something to the effect of, “No, no, no, it’ll be cool! Check out these sketches!” and then whoever at IDW (who published the books) saying, “That’s…that’s dumb…and what about Optimus Prime? What about Megatron? Not writing them in is crazy. You’re out of your mind…but if you can get it to sell, then we don’t give a shit.” Like I said, I don’t know why this even exists, but it’s still somehow worth reading. Or to be more honest, it’s worth looking at.

Some of the concept and cover sketches are actually a lot better than work that made it into the books, but it’s Jay Fotos’ colors that help Guido Guidi’s art stand out just enough to be memorable, but not absolutely incredible. Lots of browns and tans, and lots of subdued, well…everything. Guido Guidi doesn’t lay down artwork in every issue though. For whatever reason, issue #3 is without his talents and it definitely shows. There are even a few frames that are laughably bad and actually make me a little bit embarrassed to own the book. All in all, it just adds to the can’t-possibly-be-taken-seriously tone of the series.

I can say with a straight face however, that these would have made awesome toys.

You can (and should) check out the other IDW Transformers comics art, info and sketches at IDW’s site.

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Filed under Comics, Transformers

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