With “Bumblebee”, the first Transformers spin-off arriving in theaters in less than a month, the idea of backstory always integrates into the presentation of a focal point. The interesting angle in the “Bumblebee Movie Prequel: From Cybertron With Love” [John Barber/IDW/96pgs] (not the greatest title) is the Bee speaks all the way through. The texture and genre of the prequel is of course at pace per se within the James Bond arena with a British spy called Reeve and his female cohort/spy Diana who are always tearing each other down. The gist of the story is to keep the West from destroying the East and vice versa. Thrown in the middle of the mix is the continuing battle between the Autobots and Decepticons. Bee has a romantic foil as well in Diabla. The allegiances in this story are a bit like shoes, whatever fits best. While the odes to spycraft are many, the actual aspect of starting a nuclear war with a stray missile plays back to both the genre and its shortcomings. However within the greater context, some of the double crosses and subtle textures actually might make sense, especially if they lead to Bee’s eventual muteness and retraction into the VW Bug for the upcoming movie. While the action becomes muddled and the allegiance the bots pays to the humans is, for the most part, unfounded, the prequel is more just an exercise in genre than anything else, adequate but not a game changer.
By Tim Wassberg