Hey, everyone. RobBarracuda here, and it is officially November, the month that many a Toonami fan has been anticipating for quite some time. This is thanks to the hyped-up premiere of the Intruder II Toonami event: a successor to the classic event miniseries that famously killed off the first incarnation of TOM and replaced him with the more well-known robot that we all love today, with a sleeker build and the voice of Steve Blum. This month also promised some other neat Toonami goodies to coincide with Intruder II¸ including the launch of their official mobile app AND an online comic titled TOM 4: Redemption, which is the subject of this review. The comic exists as a side story/interquel of sorts, following TOM 4, Flash, and D at some point time clearly before the Adult Swim version of Toonami and likely after the ending of the original run on Cartoon Network, at least as far as the continuity of the Toonami-verse would be concerned. You can read and download the comic for yourself here, and with that introduction out of the way, let’s get on with the review.
The story starts with our crew looking through a station while stranded on a planet hoping to find some way to get home. Flash seems to be having trouble communicating with the base’s computer systems, so TOM decides to upgrade him with some of the junk parts lying around the base. While scrounging around for parts, D suddenly shows up spouting a bunch of nonsense that sounds like a mix of Shakespearian prose and the lyrics of Death Grips.
TOM and Flash get back to trying to find a way off, and Flash suddenly starts to feel weird, with TOM suspecting that the part he used on Flash might be messing with his own internal mechanics and software. Immediately after this, Flash starts glowing with red lights and proceeds to punch TOM in the face. He tries to get away but ends up getting found, and as Flash is about to punch TOM in the face again, the computer screens in the base light up to reveal a hideous face: the Intruder (well, this comic’s version of the Intruder, anyway). The Intruder reveals that he infected all the junk in the base with a virus to override and possess any robot that came into contact with it, he reveals that designed the base as a trap to deliberately capture TOM and his crew, and he says he will arrive at the base in 36 hours. Flash immediately goes back to fighting TOM as he tries to defend himself, and he manages to get the jump on Flash by holding a gun up to his head. TOM hesitates but proceeds to shoot Flash point-blank in the head… and shockingly, this does not work. TOM manages to escape again and runs into D again, who’s still extremely out of it.
34 ½ hours later, TOM finally has a plan to escape the base and hopefully defeat the Intruder, going into the explosives storage section of the base. However, Flash manages to get the jump on him and knocks him out, capturing him just as the Intruder finally shows up at the base. He has TOM tied up in wires and begins to evilly monologue, as you do if you’re a cartoonish supervillain. Meanwhile, D is still wandering the base and spouting awkward mixtures of the poetic and the nonsensical, when he suddenly comes across a glowing mechanical sphere and takes it with him. Just as Flash is about to kill TOM for good, D takes the sphere he found and inserts it into the base’s computer system, which restores everything back to normal and breaks Flash free of the Intruder’s control. The Intruder tries to escape from the base, but Flash manages to kill him off with a well-aimed rocket launcher blast. The crew gets their bearings together as they see the station’s computer matrix is back up and running. They immediately get back to work trying to get into contact with whoever they can, and the comic ends with the reveal that the Intruder might still be alive in some form.
The overall story is quite enjoyable, and it’s really neat to get some idea of the bigger Toonami universe especially during that weird blank space where there was basically no Toonami stuff at all. The design and illustration work of the comic is quite interesting, as the planet that the crew explores has a distinct combination of advanced computer tech and ancient creaky structures that calls to mind the Chozo architecture of Tallon IV from Metroid Prime. As for the character designs, the crew looks pretty good, arguably better than their 3D television counterparts. I think this mainly owes to how their faces are drawn. While the original designs weren’t too terrible, I always thought they looked kind of awkward because of the too-human faces that everyone in the crew had. That whole uncanny valley feeling is gone, as the characters all have blank white eyes which, surprisingly in this case, is less off-putting and makes them feel more expressive. The Intruder himself looks appropriately menacing, actually getting a face this time with sharp angular eyes and that jagged mouth. I can’t say the same for when he shows up in an actual metal suit. The physique makes him looks too stocky, kind of like Mr. Incredible as a robot, and it admittingly takes away from the menace just a little.
The writing is solid enough and what you’d expect from a story like this, especially all the obligatory techno-babble about computers and the system matrix and “digital neutrino degradation” and all that. D’s gibberish throughout is pretty funny to read and adds some light comedy to the proceedings. The Intruder’s dialogue himself is classic simple villainy, with plenty of evil monologues as you would if you were a character like him. I also like how TOM tries to hesitate on shooting Flash in the head, clearly trying to break through to whatever semblance of his personality is left in there. I only really have two not-wholly positive comments about the writing, and they only really apply to two moments in particular. At one point, TOM makes a reference to the Colecovision gaming console, and I have to wonder how TOM knows what a Colecovision is. I get he’s a gaming nerd and all, but I didn’t know he was that much of a nerd (or maybe he’s been alive longer than we realize). The other line of dialogue is this one said by TOM: “Sometimes, irony is the hygiene of the mind”. In all honesty, that’s a really awkward line, and even more so when you realize it’s coming out of TOM’s mouth. It doesn’t really sound much like anything he would ever say, and in fact it sounds more like something you’d hear in a J. Michael Tatum dub script. That’s really all I have to say on the writing. Overall, the comic is quite an entertaining read that you should absolutely check out (assuming you haven’t already). I hope we get more side stories exploring more of this universe in the future. Until next time, later!
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