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THE TRANSFORMERS: COMICS, BOOKS AND MANGA

IDW Publishing
(2005-now)
Devil's Due
(2003-2007)
Dreamwave
(2002-2004)
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(2001-now)
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(2001-now)
Marvel Comics
(1984-1994)
Japanese
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Other Books
and Titles

CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING

Transformers: All Hail Megatron #2
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek

Issue Review

This is insane.

An improvement on the first issue, though to be any worse McCarthy would have to be rubbing his own crap into every page. There are still honking great problems with the pacing, story structure and characterisation. The main things that are wrong can be summed up by two specific bits of the issue:

First up is the complete abandoning of Soundwave's established IDW personality simply because he had a cool memorable voice in the cartoon (and cartoon Soundwave really didn't have anything else, as neat as the voice was he couldn't really do more than two lines at a time). Think about it for a second, McCarthy is basing Soundwave's behaviour in this printed media around the way his voice sounds. He's now Megatron's Sat Nav. Poor characterisation is endemic throughout, especially Butch Witwicky. And for a comic called All Hail Megatron we still know jack about the guy who's supposed to be the star of the whole show.

Secondly, if you look at successful "city wreaking" films like Independence Day and even Transformers, to a certain extent they're all about the building explosion porn. The large scale human death toll is either carefully played down or totally ignored because that wouldn't fit in with the light hearted action adventure nature of the films (if you look at ID4, the only characters we know who die in the destruction of the cities, UFO woman and Gay Jewish Stereotype both have their demises played for laughs. Even the dog doesn't get killed).

On the other hand, the cliffhanger to AHM 2 is basically "The Decepticons have just killed millions of innocent fleeing civilians in the most horrid way imaginable", and that, to me at least, just doesn't fit in with the cartoon tone of the rest of the title. This conflict between the desire to be "Grown Up" and keeping things like a 25 year old kids cartoon tears the whole thing apart. It wants to be The Ultimates but winds up like City of Steel, but less fun.

There are a few isolated high points though. The colouring is a distinct improvement on the first issue, and Frenzy is fantastic. Though itís telling that the best character in the issue is one who's been completely reinvented from their cartoon counterpart. But two issues in and we're still in the "Decepticon Smash" stage that should have opened the first issue before getting on with the plot. Half a cube more than it deserves for Christopher Ecleston being one of the soldiers watching Devastator thump things...

Notes

Continuity! In the Colonel's briefing we learn that the Machination were defeated (not a totally unexpected spoiler) and the Government put out a cover story claiming them to be terrorists controlling giant robots. The idea of Spooks trying to pass off Transformers as terrorist stooges was first used in various Marvel issues starting with US #15 I, Robot-Master!. And I bet that's a story no one ever expected to be homaged, however unintentionally. The photo we see of Optimus Prime is the only appearance of an Autobot this issue. The adjacent pic of Starscream has him in F22 mode with his arms out.

Danny Witwicky takes his name from Daniel, the weedy annoying kid in the original film and subsequent episodes of the G1 cartoon. Giving the name to a macho, macho, manly mans man character (if you were casting an actor to play him it would be either Charles Napier or Michael Ironside) is effectively a terrible pun Ė which is at least in keeping with Furman's human naming policy.

Frenzy is basically nuts, the sound of his ultra sonics sending him as mad as everyone else, Soundwave being the only immune one. In contrast to his brother's piledriver arms, he can turn his hands into drills. Though Frenzy hasn't been seen on Earth before there's nothing to say he wasn't gently nestled in Soundwave's chest throughout his Spotlight.

And speaking of Soundwave, he's now speaking like he did in the cartoon. Letís be charitable and put that down to some sort of brain damage as a result of being buried by a volcano.

We learn Andy's full name, Commander Andy Reid. Though it isn't seen, him surviving the destruction of his plane was probably via ejector seat, and may well be a nod in the direction of all those pilots who never went down with their flights in GI: Joe. He repeatedly mistaking Ravage for a dog is a nod in the direction of the many, many people who have made that mistake over the years (he's a jaguar donchaknow). His two new friends, Bridge and Sarah, have yet to be blessed with surnames.

The Constructicons are now combiners [So Revelation needs to end with the Decepticons in possession of Monstructor], and are also seemingly capable of mass shifting as they are considerably larger as Devastator than separately. Dialogue implies they are newly built and that Hook has never met Frenzy before, both of which contradict Megatron: Origin suggesting that title is being dropped from a great height. This isn't going in goofs for two reasons; firstly because there's some wiggle room in interpreting the lines (when Skywarp calls Hook the new guy he just means new to Earth, Frenzy's sonic powers are a recent addition Hook hasn't seen before), and secondly because ignoring Origin is a very sensible thing to do indeed.

The Decepticons fight the army in Central Park, a pivotal location in this yearís big "Stupid alien destroys New York for no reason other than it looking cool"" film Cloverfield.

On Brooklyn Bridge there are several trucks in evidence, but not one is based on a Optimus Prime toy. This may be a first in modern Transformers comics.

Laserbeak uses his head TV camera from the cartoon to blanket broadcast Devastator destroying the tunnels, seeming with the intent of it being a show of force/a way of putting the screaming hebbie jebies up humanity [but see goofs].

Goofs

The attack on New York has clearly been going on for a decent amount of time as the issue opens, say half an hour to a hour. But none of the people at Colonel Witwicky's party (who are within easy travelling distance of the City) have heard anything about it. Even allowing that the Decepticons blocking of signals coming out of Manhattan means no one is aware of exactly what is going on the complete loss of contact, and explosions seen from the mainland makes it unlikely that no one at the shin dig got a call along the lines of "Some bad shit is going down in New York, quick put it on CNN!".

Andy is not only able to out run Ravage, but the super strong giant robot is thwarted by a flimsy metal shutter. We never see our heroes escape from the garage either, so how they got past the dog remains something of a mystery.

In a crisis like this, would a Colonel really be put in charge? Are there no Generals or Government types (like say, the Secretary of Defence?) who might show an interest if a full scale invasion of American soil occurred?

On his way to the disaster area, Witwicky gives a obstructive CIA Agent a big impassioned speech about how he's not sending any soldiers into battle until they've been fully briefed on the truth of the situation. Then as soon as he arrives he sends them into battle before even he's been briefed because... the Decepticons are standing about not doing much in the park. He then goes off for his briefing and doesn't actually pay any attention to the troops he's supposed to be commanding until they're all dead.

Mind, the soldiers themselves are more than a bit dim. They know the robots have been destroying F 22's with their bare hands but seriously think four giant monsters will be easy for them to take down.

We're also told that Frenzy has no control of his powers and Soundwave is the only immune one to them. So why aren't the Decepticons standing right behind Frenzy going ga ga as well?

Colonel Witwicky orders a subordinate to punch the aforementioned obstructive CIA Agent because sticking it to the man is supposed to make him seem like One Of Us. If any real US soldiers are reading this, try punching a CIA Agent and see if you get away with it even in a crisis.

We're told that the Machination were passed of as terrorists, which is fine in itself and is even a nicely done continuity touch in that it acknowledges the past without going into huge details on as yet unpublished stories. The problem is though that last issue everyone reacted to the Decepticons with cries of "Hey, Hollywood must be making a film because giant monsters will always be achieved with full size animatronics rather than special effects" rather than "Oh crap, its those terrorist robots again!", and even the air force have never heard of them. [A cynic might almost wonder if the dialogue in the briefing was changed at the last second following the complaints about the lack of continuity in issue 1].

And one final, if minor thing on the briefing. The most prominently displayed photo on the table is of a red truck that looks perfectly normal. I'd have loved to have heard that part of the show and tell ("Well you see, itís not a normal lorry, it's an outer space lorry!").

The implication of Laserbeak broadcasting Devastator doing his thing is that the Decepticons want everyone to see their power. So why have they been blocking "Cell" and other transmission signals? Why not let people spread the panic?

Quote/Unquote

Mrs. Witwicky: How are you holding up there slugger?
Danny: Loving it.
Mrs. Witwicky: Really?
Danny: We were discussing cars.
Mrs. Witwicky: Cars. With Chad Wells. You were dreaming of killing him weren't you?
Danny: Five different ways, all with this toothpick.

Hook: One small Decepticon against hundreds of troops? Even against the odd life-forms you must be out of your minds.
Skywapr: Words of wisdom from the new guy.

A.N. Soldier: Sir! We have a report back from the Central Park assault. There were casualties.
Danny: How many did we lose?
A.N. Other: All of them Sir.

 
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