Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Comic Review: Transformers: Megatron Origin

Transformers: Megatron Origin #1

Writer: Eric Holmes
Artist: Alex Milne

(Covers by Alex Milne and Marcelo Matere)

Synopsis: A Cybertronian Senator travels to a remote mining colony to shut it down, placing its work force out of jobs so they can be replaced by automation. When a dissenting worker is put down, another miner (Megatron) objects and kills a guard. The miners are then "pacified" (read: shot) and the survivors placed aboard a prison ship. However, they quickly break free and take control of the ship then go to hide out in a seedy part of Cybertron.

Comments: I had some reservations going into a mini-series about Megatron's origin--namely because I've read at least a couple of his origins in the past and some were less then stellar. If I don't like this one, well, its official, so too damn bad for me.
I do wonder about the title. "Megatron Origin" is the best thing the marketing wizards at IDW could come up with? A story proposal called "Megatron Origin" I can understand but an actual finished, published comic? Not very imaginative, imo.
Apparently, this writer, Eric Holmes is a long time fan. This can either be a blessing or a curse, depending on his story telling ability (I did enjoy Nick Roche's recent Kup Spotlight issue, to be fair). On the other hand, I've read some genuinely bad fanfic in my time too...
Issue one's story is decent but short. Megatron is apparently an Energon miner but when he and his fellow miners are going to be replaced by automation, takes matters into his own hands (how can robots be replaced by machines? The idea seems ludicrous! I mean, I get it but it's sort of silly when you think about it). We don't get much of a sense of who Megatron is in this first segment--apparently he has a sense of justice (he rebels when another miner is put down for being a dissenter). Yet he seems confused about his own motivations later on--I'm not sure what they're going for here. Is he supposed to be shocked or prone to some sort of psychosis? Beyond his limited actions, we don't seem to know much about who he is or what he's about (and this story is supposed to focus on him so that's bad). And if he's the one planning in the end of the story, presumably, he seemed to get over his confusion quite quickly.
The art is confusing in places. Generally, it's good but there are panels where it's hard to figure out what the hell is going on--this is due, in part, to Milne's using generic drone style robots as security. When they're fighting off the miners, it's hard to tell who's who.
I also wonder about using established characters so quickly, like Rumble/Frenzy and Prowl. Why do the established characters already have to be around so early on in Megatron's own origin? It seems needlessly convenient... Also, while I like Sentinal Prime's look, I think he resembles Optimus Prime far too much--Rodimus, Ultra Magnus and Fortress Maximus look nothing like Optimus Prime so why would one assume his predecessor would resemble him either? (Yes, this is nitpicking but still a fair question).
I also wonder why a Megatron origin story is truly necessary (beyond being a cheap excuse to sell another comic to the masses). At this point in the main story, all Megatron's even done is help Prime stop Thunderwing by nuking Cybertron then later on, come to Earth to conquer it. We've seen little of his personality/motivations in the IDW universe in the present. So little, in fact, it seems pointless to try and explain his past motivations at this point in time...
And, on a personal note, I really hate stories where Megatron is a victim of circumstances beyond his control. Raksha's Megatron origin fanfic years ago was beautifully written but made Megatron out to be a pawn of fate--and this IDW series seems to take a similar approach thus far. Why can't Megatron simply emerge out of the chaos of pre-war Cybertron and become a charismatic symbol because he wants to? Why must he have a defining, traumatic event to explain away his evilness? He's not Darth Vader, for cryin' out loud! He could simply be a politician that saw an opportunity or a "hero" of the down trodden that fought for a change he saw was needed among his people. Whatever the take, I want him to have pursued his course because he chose to, not because fate conspired against him!

Final Verdict: mildly recommended.

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