CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers: All Hail Megatron: Coda #13
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek
Guess Iím just going to have to stick aroundÖ
And so the healing process begins. Old Ways
is a very slight story. You donít really believe for a second Ironhide will be leaving and thereís no great shock or surprise in the flashbacks we see. Indeed, as a choice for a sub plot for needs expanding on itís a strange one, the natural end of the Ironhide and Mirage plot was when the later saved the formers life. Even McCarthy knew this and left it alone after that, and when Shane McCarthy knows more about story structure than Simon Furman, somethingís wrong with the world.
However, to be a step in the right direction it doesnít have to be the greatest story ever told, it just needs to be better than the 12th issue. And it is. That might be damning with faint praise, but after the frantic nonsense of the last year, two characters just sitting down with a beer and talking toot makes a nice change. No epic, world changing events, just a bit of light fluff.
Donís new art style does seem to be playing against his strengths; everyone seems to have escaped from a zombie comic. Hopefully heíll settle down once he gets into it because, whilst most of the framing and design works the facial expressions are terrible.
A hesitant, but not unacceptable restart.
Now, pay attention, this is where it gets complicated: The last four issues of All Hail Megatron
were originally announced as a separate follow up series, All Hail Megatron: Coda
, issues 1-4. This was then changed to issues 13-16, but still keeping the Coda
sub title, and was promoted as such at the end of issue 12. However, for issue proper the Coda
has been dropped, so this is simply All Hail Megatron
13 with no extra bells and whistles. However, the Trevor Hutchison cover had already incorporated the full title into the art, meaning anyone with that issue gets a slightly differently named comic to everyone else.
Officially the reason for the extension is that the main story had become so big it needed more room to be wrapped up. Those of us who have noticed the lack of plot momentum thus far may find this amusing. More practically it seems to be both an attempt to appease disgruntled fans by covering some of the gaping plot holes and incongruities with what has gone before, and also setting up various plot threads for the ongoing comic, which starts in November.
This is the first issue with no credited contribution from Shane McCarthy. Simon Furman of course needs no introduction; though oddly perhaps his story isnít one of the ones dealing with lose ends from his main run. Mike Costa is the great new white hope for IDW, whoíll be taking the reins of the ongoing when it begins.
Don Figueroa returns to interior work on a Generation 1 comic for the first time since Spotlight: Optimus Prime
two years ago. Though heís worked on Beast Wars
(not to mention some covers and the fan club comic) in the time for the bulk of it heís been away from Transformers
trying to break out from typecasting as a guy who draws robots. As his only notable work during his hiatus was on The Terminator
, Iíll let you decide how successful it was. Here heís noticeably trying out a drastically new art style, more obviously based on the live action film design style. The fact this involves giving Prime a retractable faceplate and mouth has been decried as heresy by some fans. However, itís worth remembering that Donís the guy who gave Masterpiece Prime a mouth behind the mask so this isnít new territory for him (not to mention the various glimpses of a mouth you see at different points in the Marvel era).
The Ironhide story shows us the first meeting in flashback between him and the newly promoted Optimus Prime [See goofs, inevitably]. Though itís unnamed the chasm where the two of them get ambushed would seem to be the Sonic Canyons mentioned in Sirenís tech speech, even whispers can be magnified a hundredfold there.
One of the generic Autobots in Kup's team is called Motorhead, also the name of a Decepticon Micromaster who appeared in Spotlight: Hardhead
Though special variant and convention exclusive covers are fairly common, this issue provided the first ever UK convention cover for Auto Assembly 2009, with art by Nick Roche. For anyone wondering, Grimlock is predominant on it because voice actor Greg Berger was the main guest of honour. Both he and Nick are actually on the cover in human form as well.
The first meeting of Prime and Ironhide depicted here contradicts them working together before Optimus became Prime in Spotlight: Blurr
[Possibly the drink and old age are affecting their memory].
Prime tells Ironhide that even whispering in the canyon could be dangerous, whilst talking in a normal tone of voice.
Optimus Prime: Itís a changed world we now face, with myriad new challenges. We have to learn to adapt. Itís a daunting prospect.
Flashback Ironhide: With respect, most of your ďarmyĒ here have never picked up, let alone fired a weapon before. Most of them will die before they ever do! They are not soldiers. And you, sir, are unlikely to increase their odds of survival by telling them they are.
Ironhide: Hn. Tactically outmanoeuvred by my military protťgť! Canít exactly exit on that note, can I?
"UNEASY LIES THE HEAD"
This is the important one. The chance for the new boy to convince us heís got what it takes to make the ongoing worth reading. For the most part he leaves this reader mildly optimistic. Unlike McCarthy, heís got a good ear for dialogue (Starscreamís internal rants are out of character with the last issue but read well), and Screamer setting himself up as a chosen one to get everyone behind him is actually interesting and a idea with potential.
However, thereís one big cloud on this silver lining. And thatís Brad Mick syndrome. The shameless rehashing of lines and scenes from the í86 film is so Dreamwave it hurts. Starscreamís line about throwing Megatron out the airlock is especially bad, as it doesnít feel like something heíd say, itís the authors voice intruding for the sake of a groan-inducing joke. If this is a one off then Costa does have potential, but the ongoing cannot continue in this line for that way madness lays.
Chee Yang Ongís art is lovely, a change from the usual house style that actually works, Iíd certainly be in favour of seeing more from him.
I suspect the issue as a whole isnít substantial or bold enough to bring a lot of lost readers back fully into the fold, but personally I think thereís the glimmer of hope in here for a successful jazzing up of the line. They just need to keep on the right track, there arenít many last chances left for me to give.
Starscreamís section is based heavily upon the Astrotrain sequence in the 1986 Transformers
film. We have the Decepticons fleeing Earth on Astrotrain with a damaged Megatron; Starscream plotting to take the leadership from him [see goofs, inevitably] and making a rousing speech to get everyone on his side; Starscream contemplating throwing Megatron out an airlock (though he doesnít for fear heíll come back stronger); a variation on the ďI still functionĒ line (just a month after Spotlight: Metroplex
did the same gag. Clearly editor Andy Schmidt hasnít read that issue by writer Andy SchmidtÖ) and the same basic cast of characters. In other references to the film, we get a character wearing the Matrix on a chain round their neck and talk of a chosen one.
Astrotrain being bigger on the inside is of course also a nod in the films direction, though heís much, much larger here. Whilst it would be easy to call this a goof, thereís actually nothing to say IDW Astrotrain hasnít always had this ability. It may seem unlikely, but after Omega Supreme somehow moving half his body from Cybertron to Earth by magic it seems almost normal.
Starscreamís group is heading to meet Razorclawís, and mention is made of the Predacon leader being a likely candidate to replace Megatron. Rather nicely this means someone has remembered that IDW have already established a whole bunch of Decepticons higher up the chain than Starscream.
Starscream seriously thinks the Matrix is useless. Whether this is a genuine new plot twist or itís just a case of it not being usable by the wrong person remains to be seen.
Though itís happened before (in Marvelís Generation 2
comic), Frenzy operating medical equipment seems hugely unlikely. Perhaps Soundwave really does want Megs out the way. Or Frenzy is just trying to tune in the hospital radio.
At the end of issue 12, Starscream has a perfect opportunity to leave Megatron for dead with a Tex Avery style comedy nuke about to fall on his head, a situation where even his staunchest supporters would have been unlikely to intervene. Instead, Screamer decided to save Megatron because heíd learnt that Decepticon leadership could only be properly taken by force, which he will do one day, but untill then heís going to be the loyal sidekick. Here, mere hours later heís back to plotting and contriving and trying to persuade Soundwave to pull the plug on Megatronís life support [One theory is that Starscream is being influenced by the Matrix like heís Frodo Baggins with the ring].
Starscream: [After Soundwave shots down his attempt to turn Megatronís life support off] Your loyalty will surely be remembered Soundwave. Your reward will not be long in coming, I assure you.
Starscream: I should rid myself of [the Matrix]. It mocks me. Itís the symbol of every failure. Every victory turned to slag. One of the garbage chutes will be a fitting end for this refuse.