Saturday, October 17, 2020

Transformers '84: Secrets and Lies #3 Review...

 

Transformers '84: Secrets and Lies #3


Writer: Simon Furman
Artist: Guido Guidi

Synopsis:  Counterpunch recalls how in Optimus Prime and Megatron's absence, Straxus swiftly worked to gain brutal dominance over the Autobots. Along with Thunderwing and Scorponok the three Decepticon warlords carve up Cybertron into their own fiefdoms. Straxus privately consults Counterpunch and asks him if he thinks will respect their pact (to stay in their own territories). He replies, no. Straxus plots to take the whole planet, then the cosmos itself! He orders Counterpunch to make Project Dreadnought happen, no matter what it takes. Punch goes to the interim Autobot leader, Ultra Magnus, and tells him they must stop Straxus' machinations. Ultra Magnus feels overwhelmed by his responsibilities but gets some reassurance from Impactor and Roadbuster. Both of them volunteer to join in on Punch's proposed "wrecking crew" to stop Straxus.
  On Earth, Grimlock has apparently defeated Shockwave and is headed back toward the Ark on "autopilot", still mentally distant after his infusion of pure energon the last issue. AUNTIE, the Ark's computer is damaged and can't recognize him as a friendly so it commissions some clones of the Autobots to intercept him. Grapple, Hoist, Smokescreen, Tracks and Skids are dispatched.
  Meanwhile, aboard the Nemesis, the three conehead jets (Ramjet, Thrust and Dirge) ave recovered from Shockwave's attack and decide to go down to the surface for some payback. They reach the Ark first and engage the Autobots. Grimlock passes through them unfazed so Auntie activates some Guardian robots to stop him instead.
  Back on Cybertron, Star Saber fights valiantly against overwhelming odds until Deathsaurus confronts him. He orders his forces to kill the Autobot but he manages to escape. Ultra Magnus then contacts him and tells him to return to Autobase. He needs him for a critical mission. At Autobase, Impactor introduces Punch to his newly formed unit--the Wreckers!
  On Earth, Grimlock makes short work of the Guardian bots and begins to regain his senses. But, just then, we discover AUNTIE has reactivated Megatron!

Thoughts:  Like with the previous two issues, a lot of this story feels boring. Like stuff we've all seen before. However, this issue veers in to slightly new territory so it's not quite as bad. I don't feel like this story is the definitive canon version of the G1 comic (I prefer the original, slightly more vague rendition). It will be interesting to see how this is all resolved next issue. As usual, the art is excellent.

Verdict:  Average.

Friday, September 25, 2020

The Next Big Step...


      There are a lot of perennial concepts I’ve followed over the years. Stuff comes and goes and some ideas are better then others.
    This is the time of year where we celebrate the premiere of several Transformers cartoons, for example. The original cartoon, Beast Wars and Beast Machines all debuted in September (which is logical, given the new school year and the run up to Christmas, of course Hasbro wants to attract new kids–and now, adults too–to its newest product).
    It occurred to me that I haven’t really found any of the various Transformers cartoons of the last decade or so to be all that interesting. The last one I tried really watching was “Robots in Disguise” (the newer series from 2015).
    It was okay but it didn’t really blow me away. Granted, I’m not the target demographic any more (not by a long shot!) but usually the best series have something that can attract older fans too.
    I’ve also watched the Combiner Wars shorts (which were boring, imo. No time for characterization or much plot really beyond the superficial). Most recently, I watched the six part 2020 Siege series on Netflix. It was better paced (each episode was about 30 minutes) and had at least some characterization. Again, though, it felt like it could have been better in some regards.
    I think part of the problem is the heavy reliance on nostalgia. Nostalgia can be good but how many times do we need to re-hash the same elements from Generation One? Lately, we keep getting the same G1 characters as toys over and over again. Now, we’re even re-doing the war for Cybertron and the journey to Earth.
    I understand they can’t do one contiguous story for ten years, since it would make it extremely difficult to attract new kids to the concept, but why not at least try something different occasionally? Why not focus on a new unit of characters in a new setting somewhere? Or the same characters in a new setting? Something–anything–other then the same old thing!
    Beast Wars did this and was a smashing success. Beast Machines continued Beast Wars but went off into left field with its idea. The original Car Robots/Robots in Disguise was different. Transformers Animated was a bit out there too...
    The last really good, really memorable story Transformers series was Prime. It had the same general robots-crash-on-Earth set-up but managed to still find something interesting in the concept to try.        The current concept is “War for Cybertron” which is a multi-year concept. They start out on Cybertron during the War, travel to Earth and then something involving some Beast Wars ideas (aka “Kingdom”). Once that’s over though I hope Hasbro sits down and brainstorms something new and fresh to do with the concept. Don’t give us more regurgitated G1 stuff again (at least, not for a while anyway).
    They need to take it somewhere new and different. Get some decent writers and give us a new–and good–animated series. Get a comic series to try its on take on the idea. Make long-time fans like myself actually get interested and excited in the concept once again, instead of just going through the motions.
    (This totally ignores the whole “Cyberverse” line and shows, which are aimed at a younger audience and I’ve not bothered watching. Perhaps they’re trying something more interesting...?)
    Until then, I’ll just be over here with my G.I.JOES... 😃

- Thunder

Friday, August 28, 2020

Transformers '84: Secrets and Lies #2 Review...

Transformers '84: Secrets and Lies #2


Writer: Simon Furman
Artist: Guido Guidi


Synopsis:
Counterpunch continues his narration, recounting as the Autobots return the ruined Dynobots to the Ark’s storage bay. Ratchet copies their memory engrams into the computer for safe keeping. Elsewhere, Perceptor shows Ultra Magnus that they were blown off course intentionally but Shockwave’s world engine. In Polyhex, Counterpunch sets Straxus up with a new base, explaining that he will be important in helping establish the new order once Megatron is gone. Straxus launches an attack on the remaining Autobots at his urging, keeping them distracted from doing anything further about Shockwave’s machinations. Shockwave is on the Nemesis overseeing Megatron’s attack on the Ark when the other vessel crashes into the Earth with all aboard. He is confronted by Ramjet, Thrust and Dirge (stragglers left behind to keep any Autobots from escaping the attack) and forced to neutralize them with a weapon of his own devising. He then transforms and flies to the Earth to try and make certain Megatron and the others are permanently deactivated. The Ark’s computer detects his presence and rebuilds the Dynobots into their new dinosaur forms then sends them out to confront him. Shockwave realizes the Earth is abundant in energy and could easily help them re-energize Cybertron itself. The Dinobots arrive and attack him but are easily bested. Grimlock gets some raw Energon from Swoop and uses it to power himself up. He strikes Shockwave and moves in for the kill...

Thoughts: Pretty much the same as last time. This is competently written but I find the subject matter a bit dull. We’re just retreading history here, time and again. There is the new take on the Dinobots versus Shockwave but... meh. Perhaps things will be more exciting as we approach the eventual conclusion of this mini-series?

Again, Guidi’s art is nothing short of fantastic looking. Easily the best reason to pick up this series!

Verdict:
Average.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Transformers '84: Secrets and Lies #1 Review...


Transformers '84: Secrets and Lies #1


Writer: Simon Furman
Artist: Guido Guidi


Synopsis: In 2019, IDW released a single issue called “Transformers ‘84" that chronicled the classic Transformers back story that happened before the Ark launched into space to defend Cybertron from the asteroid field. This summer, that issue has been followed up with “Secret and Lies” which continues onward with the back story.
    While the original issue followed the Autobots story from Punch’s perspective, issue #1 of “Secrets and Lies” follows the Decepticon side of the story from Counterpunch’s perspective. Shockwave and his scientists labour over “Project Dreadnought”, a plan to create world engines (called “turbines” in the story) to power Cybertron through the cosmos. Starscream and Skyfire ruminate over Megatron’s obsession with destroying Optimus Prime instead of worrying about the greater plan. Counterpunch arrives and tells Shockwave that Megatron demands his presence immediately. Megatron tells Shockwave to plan to take Stanix next so they can take the entire western hemisphere. Ratbat argues they are overstretched already but Megatron dismisses him. Later, a massive explosion sends Cybertron hurdling in the direction of the Stellae Cimeterium–a graveyard of stars. Shockwave suggests they finish the planetary turbines to correct the planet’s trajectory. Megatron says they have time to wait and gauge the Autobots response instead. Later, Ratbat speaks with Shockwave, suggesting perhaps the explosion wasn’t an accident and implies Shockwave did it intentionally, a fact he denies (although it’s obvious to the reader he was behind the incident). The Decepticons watch as the Nemesis, their new battleship designed to combat the Autobot’s Ark, stands ready to launch. The Autobots (Perceptor and the Dynobots), via Counterpunch, discover Shockwave’s treachery and go to the area in question to investigate. Skyfire, Shockwave’s associate, intercepts them there but he is taken out by Grimlock. Shockwave arrives shortly after and stops them in return (except for Perceptor, who hides and escapes his attack). Shockwave is recalled by the Seekers (Thrust, Ramjet and Dirge) to go see Megatron off on the Nemesis. Perceptor signals for backup who come and retrieve his damaged comrades...


Thoughts: This is a competently written story. Having said that, I don’t really find it all that exciting. It feels like we’re just retreading history here without really exploring anything all that interesting. Does it really matter if the Constructicons and Jetfire existed on Cybertron before we first saw them in the Marvel comic? Also, the first issue proposed that Optimus Prime purposely drew Megatron and his warriors off Cybertron to try and give whoever was left a chance to save their homeworld. It’s a different spin on things but not one that I really care for. I prefer the original way instead (a mission to save Cybertron that went wrong). Again, we’re not really covering any new ground storywise here and I don’t find it all that exciting. (After reading the two issues in question I find I’m having trouble even recalling what happened in them. Not a good sign for the future).
    The artwork here is excellent. Guidi does a phenomenal job recapturing Andrew Wildman’s early TF style at its best. The comic is worth checking out for that alone, even if the story itself is not all the exciting.


Verdict: Average.