Thursday, July 23, 2009

Comic Review...

Transformers: All Hail Megatron #13
(aka Coda #1)

Story #1: Old Ways

Writer: Simon Furman
Artist: Don Figueroa

(Covers by Don Figueroa and Chee Yang Ong)

Synopsis: Ironhide and Optimus Prime are on Cybertron (presumably) chilling out when Ironhide tells him he doesn't think he can go on anymore. Prime sympathizes and we get a flashback to when Optimus first took over command of the Autobots. Ironhide told him point blank that he didn't think Optimus had the wits about him to be the commander. Prime tells him to be his consellor then and teach him what he needs to know. In the present, Ironhide tells him he learned well from him and that took guts on Prime's part. We get another flashback, later on in the war, when Ironhide advises Prime during a battle to retreat west. Prime decides to go east instead--and it turns out he is correct, since the Decepticons expected the Autobots to go west and sent in Trypticon to take them out. In a final flashback, Prime and Ironhide are dangling from a cliffside. Ironhide tells him he's wounded and to let Prime leave him be. Prime is stubborn and rescues Ironhide anyway... In the present, Prime tells him he's free to leave, but both the Autobots and he himself will be diminished without Ironhide's presence. Ironhide smiles and decides to stay.

Comments: A short and simple story. It really is the best Optimus Prime story IDW has ever done, highlighting why Optimus Prime is the undisputed leader of the Autobots. He respects his troops, is confident in his decisions and knows the right thing to do. An ideal leader and far too often recently we haven't seen enough of this side of Prime. The writers and fans seem to fixate too much on Prime's internal self doubt all the time and this was refreshing in contrast. My one complaint is the art style Figueroa was trying out here. It's too reminiscent of the recent TF movies--beady eyes on the robots and too much uber detail. I much prefer his classic style instead.

Story #2:
Uneasy Lies the Head

Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Chee Yang Ong

Synopsis: Shrapnel summons Starscream to come see about Megatron. We learn that Megatron is still just barely functional. Starscream suggests to Soundwave that they let Megatron die, but Soundwave won't have it. Starscream tells Shrapnel later that he'd just jettison Megatron's body if he didn't have a nagging feeling he'd return somehow, even more powerful then before. Starscream looks to the Matrix nearby and thinks how Megatron wasted his time seeking it out--what good is it? He goes to flush it out an airlock but Shrapnel stops him since its such an important artifact. This gives Starscream an idea--he addresses his warriors and tells them he has unlocked the Matrix's unlimited power. Soon, all their enemies will fall before them! He retires to plan and there we learn he's just faking it and seems in over his head.

Comments: A bizarre contrast in character here. In the previous issue, Starscream was all protective of Megatron's fallen body, insisting that he couldn't be leader because he hadn't earned it through treachery (which seemed out of character for him). Now, he seems to want to just wipe Megatron out and be the leader (which is in character for him). I know, it's different writers but how hard is to get on the same page with the stories? Yeesh! Also, does this mean Starscream will be in charge ultimately or will he have to worry someone will see him as the coward he is under it all and challenge him? It will be interesting to see where things go. The art is more paint-style then normal but not bad for what it is.

Story #1: Highly Recommended. Story #2: Mildly recommended.
The issue as a whole: Recommended.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Comic Review...

Transformers Spotlight:

Andy Schmidt
Artist: Marcelo Matere

(Covers by Marcelo Matere and Guido Guidi)

Set before AHM #1, the Throttlebots help guard some kind of research on a remote space station. The station is attacked by Sixshot, who kills everyone except them as they've already escaped in a shuttle. Two planets away, they find a Cybertronian base and are shot down near it... Sixshot pursues them and makes short work of the team. As he's about to execute Searchlight, a giant fist appears out of the ground and squashes him. Then it does it again when Sixshot tries to attack. The fist belongs to Metroplex, who transforms into his enormous robot mode. Metroplex tells the Autobots that there is a shuttle they can use--he cannot help them beyond this as he is protecting "it". He transforms to battle station mode and evacuates the planet... Goldbug hopes that whatever Metroplex's mission is that it's worth it--they may have already lost the war, if recent reports are true. Epilogue: Sixshot's mangled body begins to move... Also, this story mentions in passing that Sixshot's been restored after his encounter with "Jiaxus" (spelt wrong for some reason).

The image of the enormous Metroplex character in this comic is awesome to look at. Also, that Goldbug exists in this continuity separate from Bumblebee is cool and logical. Beyond that, I can't say much good about this issue. The art is nice, of course, but story is threadbare at best. Who is Metroplex? Why is he so big and why is he there hiding out? What exactly is he protecting and why? We never come close to finding out, despite the fact this is called "spotlight Metroplex". It's a great story fragment but a small piece of a story that may or may not be followed up upon is not in itself a great story. It's not even a good story... Andy Schmidt is another writer I've never heard of and if this an example of his writing, perhaps he go back to the proverbial drawing board and learn how to write before doing more.


Transformers: All Hail Megatron #12

Writer: Shane McCarthy
Artist: Guido Guidi

(Covers by Casey Coller and Trevor Hutchison)

Summary: The battle rages! Sideswipe beats Bombshell silly while Kup tangles with Skywarp. Omega Supreme takes out Devastator nearby (and the Statue of Liberty while he's at it). Optimus and Megatron beat each other up while Spike watches nearby (Megatron is his target). Megatron subdues Prime long enough to order a retreat before the nuclear bomb Tankor is carrying arrives. Spike shoots then, injurying Megatron and Prime finishes putting him down in a final strike. Starscream throws a fit and grabs Megatron's body then, telling them he must protect Megatron. Decepticon leadership is taken by force, not magically offered up. He and the Decepticons retreat then... The Autobots wonder how they will stop the nuclear bomb and Thundercracker appears, volunteering to stop it. Drift thinks he's joined their ranks but Thundercracker rebukes him--he's not traitor to his cause. But there is no honor in this kind of victory. He retrieves the nuke and sends it to space where it detonates harmlessly. Skywarp executes him for helping the Autobots out. Prime offers the humans help in rebuilding but Spike says humanity will never welcome the Autobots help now... finally, Sideswipe finds what's left of Hunter O'Nion and turns off his life support as a sort of final goodbye to his lost brother (we read Spike's rebuke to Prime over these panels as well...)

Comments: Not quite the ending I was expecting. True, we got a payoff but there almost seemed to be a deliberate effort involved to make the Autobots feel like losers so the Decepticons can fly off in some kind of romantic ending thing. Many of the loose ends tied up here almost seemed forgotten over the course of the twelve issues, only to be quickly brought back now and tied off. The Sideswipe/Bombshell thing, the Hunter resolution, Thundercracker's reckoning... Minor nitpick: Tankor? It's Octane, dammit! Stop changing the long established characters to match the toy names! Hot Rod escaped it somehow but Roadblock in G.I.JOE wasn't so fortunate--he is now and forever more known as Heavy Duty (boo!). Starscream's actions make no sense in this story. They work in context with what's gone before here but clearly Starscream is not some romantic character willing to wait for the right time and place to succeed Megatron, as illustrated in early IDW stories as well as everywhere else too. He'd more likely make certain Megatron was dead here then assume command, not valiantly protect him (assuming he's not already dead anyway). IDW's stories need more game changing events too--kill Megatron and let Starscream have his day. Let the story evolve and move along, don't keep trying to maintain the status quo just to make the fans happy. A story where nothing really happens is a waste of time. If Optimus Prime has any brains, he'll pick up and abandon Earth rather then wasting any more time there since clearly the humans won't want any help from him anyway (despite this fact, I'm sure he'll waste time trying). Here's hoping in the future that they write better stories and make them faster paced then this.

Mildly recommended.

Transformers Spotlight:

Writer: Shane McCarthy
Artist: Robby Musso

(Covers by Robby Musso and Don Figueroa)

Summary: Cliffjumper crashes on some alien world and encounters a young woman and her brother. They invite him to stay since they're alone here... Cliffjumper helps them fix up their farm some. He is also wary the Decepticons are out there still and might follow him at some point... They do indeed arrive one day and injure Kita when she goes to save her brother Coll from a Decepticon who thinks nothing of trying to shoot the indigeneous life forms. Cliffjumper goes all die-hard and takes out three of the Decepticons in the nearby forest. Kita pleads with the Decepticon commander to spare Cliffjumper. He grabs her and uses her as bait to lure Cliffjumper out. He comes out and the Decepticon commander reveals that the Autobots are no better then the Decepticons are, which disenchants Kita with Cliffjumper. He throws her aside and throws a couple of grenades the aliens' way, forcing Cliffjumper to run and cover them as best he can. Both fleshlings are rendered unconscious by the blast and C.J. takes them to the barn for cover. Kita is revealed to be seriously injured and C.J. tells them he'll be back. Outside,
the Decepticons reinforcements have arrived... at first, their commander scoffs at the first Decepticon's assessment of Cliffjumper--until he hears the description of Cliffjumper and becomes alarmed. By then, Cliffjumper charges them, guns ablaze. He presumably takes them all out and gains their ship... Kita dies and he takes Coll to a new couple of his species and leaves him behind with them.

Comments: An okay spotlight story with fairly nice artwork... I'm a fan of Cliffjumper myself (he was my first ever official Transformer) but I have to concede that it's difficult to tell a 22 page story based around him. His personality is essentially, "I'm tough and aggressive", which is not much to work with really. It's fine for a tech spec but not for a short story... McCarthy does an adequate job all things considered. The "sheltered soldier" story angle has been done countless times but this was a decent retreading.

Mildly recommended.