CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers: All Hail Megatron: Coda #15
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek
"EVERYTHING IN ITS RIGHT PLACE"
Right now we need someone like him.
Ah, the good stuff. Spotlight Kup
was an extraordinarily well-done comic, and the pinnacle of not just IDW’s output but also pretty much everything since the comics came back with Dreamwave. But it was very much a one off and stood alone. The real question before this issue came out was could Roche repeat that success in a story connected directly to, lets face it, a crap arc and within the constraints inherent in basically writing something that only exists to plaster plot holes? Amazingly he manages it, and whilst it’s not as mind numbingly brilliant as his first effort to a certain extent, it’s an even more impressive achievement due to those outside factors.
There’s lovely art (especially the zombie hand clawing on Kup's chest on the Roche cover) and some very well written characters. It also does a good job of dealing with a very shitty retcon, even managing to make the "Cy Gar" seem sinister (though I'm guessing there's some really special way of pronouncing that for Kup not to know straight away what Witwicky was asking about when he mentioned the cigar).
However, there's one niggle, and it's one I'm almost reticent to mention as I much prefer this to anything prior but I made the same complaint about Starscream's personality shift in issue 13 so fair's fair: I didn't buy that throughout his appearances in both AHM and a few other places Kup has been a brainwashed sleeper agent working to Prowl's agenda. True, we don't have any real idea what he was like before, but if he was more belligerent and less logical than the git we've been saddled with you've got to wonder how people could stand to be in the same room as him. I don't even get a subtle sense of it. Hopefully this is something that'll get paid off well in the Wreckers comic to somewhat nullify this complaint, if not it seems a pointless retcon in a comic already overflowing with them. That said... I also don't believe Perceptor would ever go through with it. Perhaps the solution to both problems is that he just lied about fiddling with Kup's mind?
On the other hand, making Prowl Peter Mandleson was an excellent bit of business to explain why he never seemed bothered about Jazz and Kup measuring dick size to see who got to be boss. And it was nice to see Ratchet on Prowl's list of buggers, someone remembers comics that happened
a year ago six months ago
before they started writing the issue they're on.
Plus, as an added bonus, Roche is able to work the recurring themes of IDW’s recent output into his story with admirable ease. The idea that the Autobots have been fighting this war in the wrong way and need to change is something we’ve been bludgeoned over the head with in the last year, but it has never worked better than when portrayed through Prowl’s pragmatism.
The only thing we can’t be sure that Roche can do now is write a story across multiple issues. If Last Stand of the Wreckers
shows that he can maintain momentum over months then that, added to his ability to tell good stories whilst not stomping on what’s gone before, makes him the perfect candidate to take over the ongoing as and when Mike Costa gets bludgeoned to death by a mad fan screaming “Make it stop!!!!!”. True, that would mean less art from him, but IDW has several good artists (even if they’re not used to the best of their abilities all the time), what they really need more than anything is good writers, and they’re unlikely to find a better one.
This is effectively the first of the Coda stories to deal properly with a dangling plot thread created by All Hail Megatron
itself. It bridges the gap between the Kup Spotlight
(where he’s a crazy badly damaged and incurable mad guy) and him showing up in issue #5 as the Galaxy’s most hardcore badass Hannibal Smith impersonator. As Nick Roche wrote the former story, he was a natural choice to step up to the plate and try to sort this out.
These events take place between Kup
(most likely some time after as there’s been time for the Pretender technology used in Revelation
to be studied and adapted) and Drift Spotlight
In Spotlight: Optimus Prime
, Springer mentions that Kup’s body has been fixed and that it’s his mind that’s the problem. That isn’t going in goofs as the Pretender alterations may be specifically helping his mind and Springer isn’t a medic so his knowledge could well have been wrong.
We finally get an explanation for Kup’s “Cy-Gar”. When Kup suffers his brief separation from it his hallucination is drawn in the same art style as his madness in his Spotlight
. According to colourist Kris Carter at this years Auto Assembly, he originally drew a blue light on the end of it but this was slapped down from on high as it was felt having Kup actually “smoke” as opposed to just posing with an unlit one was unsuitable for a comic that could be read by children (huge swaths of insane gonzo violence is fine of course).
The Autobots whose profiles are studied by Kup as examples of dangerous loose cannons are Ratchet (broke protocol in Infiltration
), Hot Rod (disobeyed the order to abandon Earth in Devastation
and caused the deaths of those under his command in his Spotlight
[but see goofs]), Grimlock (over 113 files!) and Springer (using Autobot scientists to save Kup against Prowls orders, that’s a bit of a pissy one on Prowl’s part).
The “Patrol” on Prowl’s doors is repeated twice on page 4.
Prowl’s file on Hot Rod claims that he’s repeatedly
caused the death of those under his command. In fact, after the failure of his first mission in charge he became a loner who never worked with others, let alone being in charge of them, and surely killing Decepticon double agent Dealer doesn’t count? Either since the catharsis of Dealer’s death, Hot Rod’s thrown himself back into command and has been buggering it up royally or Prowl really is a super cock.
The issue's main flaw, in relation to how Kup is portrayed here in relation to the rest of All Hail Megatron
is dealt with in the review.
Prowl: Every one of my prognostic evaluation programs predicted with 98% certainty…
*Springer whacks him in the face*
Springer: Where’s Kup?
Prowl: …That this would be his reaction.
Prowl: Springer, as the leader of the crack commando unit the Wreckers, his hands haven’t been clean in years. Why do we Autobots rely on an extreme last line of defence when we should make our first one count?
Prowl: I don’t want to lead. I don’t need public approval. My goal is to put all resources into winning this war. That’s the way it should be for a number cruncher like me. But with Kup, everyone wants to hear what he has to say. So now, when he speaks, you won’t even see my lips move.
[Basically, go buy the issue and regard every line as perfect].
"LOST AND FOUND"
Just doin’ my job.
It’s hard not to feel sorry for Tipton and Coller; in any one of the other additional issues this would have been the standout story. Coming after the incredibly strong Roche opening, however, it can’t help but be a bit of a comedown. Indeed, my reaction on first reading was fairly unfavourable.
To a certain extent this was unfair. It’s a good solid story that does something the previous issues couldn’t by merging the new macho Perceptor with his previous brain box persona, it’s his smarts in knowing where to aim that helps bring down Monstructor as much as his big gun. It also presents the loss of innocence as a bit of a tragedy, a nice antidote to McCarthy’s “Hey, guys with guns are cooooooooool” stuff.
Drift also contributes something useful for the first time in All Hail Megatron
, as someone outside of Kup’s inner circle he can offer a more dispassionate view on Perceptor’s change that none of the other characters can.
However, there’s still a big flaw, and that’s the story being completely pointless. It’s easy enough to follow the dots from Drift
to All Hail Megatron
without having it all spelt out, this is yet another slot that could and should have been given over to dealing with some of the dangling plot threads. Hell, if they’d even had Bludgeon chasing Hot Rod for the Magnificence and then destroyed it that would have been one taken care of.
Ultimately this is a decent enough read but a irrelevant one. However, the issue as a whole is so much better than anything else IDW have done in 2009 and is the only thing from All Hail Megatron
that’s worth your time to track down.
This is the only one of the additional issues where the two stories connect into one another. Whilst the first shows us Kup’s resurrection, this not only follows up on what he did next but gives us Perceptor’s return from the brink as well.
This story occurs between Spotlight: Drift
(the opening page likely immediately afterwards, the rest some time later) and the flashback that opened issue #5. It’s suggested that Autobots who were in transit weren’t targeted by the Decepticon attacks as the Trion is left completely alone despite containing the Autobots most fearsome warriors, meaning more of them likely survived than we originally were led to believe (Hot Rod just seems to have lucked out).
Bludgeon is back, and in command of the Monstructor 6. Whilst their use is obvious, you’ve got to wonder exactly what the mad religious nutter who nearly destroyed Cybertron has to offer Megatron (Sixshot at least had Space Bridge technology too trade, however unlikely that was). Whilst it’s possible he may have been mind controlled by Jhiaxus all along and thus wasn’t responsible for any of his actions, his personality is pretty much exactly as it was in Stormbringer
. As with so much of this series though, it’s hard to put it in goofs as the background is left so vague there may well be a plausible explanation. Apparently some of this will be explained by Last Stand of the Wreckers
(but we’ve heard that sort of thing before…).
Monstructor seems to be much weaker than in Spotlight: Optimus Prime
where he gives Omega Supreme (who can destroy Devastator with one shot) a lot of trouble. This is most likely due to whatever was done to them to perfect the process before it was tried on the Constructicons. It may well even be down to Perceptor having more up to date weaponry.
Drift has either been to Earth at some point or hung out with someone who has, as he knows the Japanese game of Go.
The Perceptor cover contains text lifted wholesale from the Transformers Wiki.
The Trion receives a whole bunch of distress calls and loses contact with the communications hub. Rather than going either to the nearest Autobots calling for help or to the hub itself to find out what’s going on, Kup’s team of the best of the brightest just stand around looking frustrated and as if they’re going to cry any second.
Blurr goes down to fight six of the most fearsome Decepticons of all time completely unarmed.
Blurr: I know it’s my turn Drift. But what’s the name of this game again?
Kup: Uh, glad to see you’re feeling better.
Perceptor: Thanks to Drift, I’m told. Much obliged. But lying there helpless with a massive aperture in my chest… I won’t let that happen again.
Hot Rod: [Bludgeon] sends the most charming transmissions that describe how I’ll “Burn in the purifying flames” or “Be turned into a cinder”.
Hot Rod: I won’t be taken prisoner again!
Bludgeon: Don’t worry; you’ll be free soon enough.