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THE TRANSFORMERS: COMICS, BOOKS AND MANGA

IDW Publishing
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(2003-2007)
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CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING

Transformers: All Hail Megatron #3
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek

Issue Review

Screw your codes buddy. We're getting outta here!

There are three really great sequences in this issue. Firstly, the framing subway stuff is very well done, and actually adds an element of story structure to the title for the first time. But the real jewel in the crown is the Megatron/Starscream exchange. Itís the single best bit of writing the two have had in years, and best of all it follows on perfectly from their relationship in the Furman written stuff. Actual continuity!

However, the rest of the issue is amazingly piss poor. There's very little in the way of toe curlingly awful moments (though the way the nicely subtle jaguar gag from last issue is hammered into the ground is unfortunate), it's just very, very dull with little forward momentum. Now the Decepticons have started to finally move out of New York, but we don't get to see it, leaving the impression all their focus is still in the Big Apple. Skipping repetitive battle scenes is in theory a good idea but to replace it, all we get is panels of bored looking soldiers staring at screens. There's just very little to talk about here.

Whilst the upward quality swing does continue (by issue 11 we might even get an above average installment), this is still stuck in severe mediocrity. Once you've finished reading it you won't remember a thing.

Notes

According to Witwicky, the Decepticons have fortified New York "In a matter of days", so it's been less than a week since the start of issue one. This is probably as good a time as any to talk about the timescale. Shop signs in Escalation told us that arc was set before July 2007, and the end of Revelation was no more than a month or so later. This would suggest that All Hail Megatron starts in late Summer 2008 (or around the time issue 1 came out). The fly in this ointment is that the first issue doesn't say what it's a year later than. It could be Revelation, it could be Maximum Dinobots (which in turn could be set over six months, or 50 years for all we know at present) or even some as yet unannounced story. Despite this, Summer 2008 remains the most likely date.

The recap page refers to Witwicky as a General. Whilst a field promotion is possible we'll keep referring to him as a Colonel until the strip itself confirms it. The same text also calls him by the nickname of Sparkplug. Though McCarthy has also used this in interviews about the series it has yet to be used in the comic (if anything issue 1 implies his nickname is Slugger. Because he's a real mans, mans man). Sparkplug was of course both Spike's father and Daniel's Grandfather in the original cartoon. This means the Colonel is a monstrous bastard hybrid of two G1 characters.

The cities destroyed by the Decepticons include Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington. Though in the case of the latter, Starscream only seems to fly in to kill the President. Air Force One featured in the 2007 film of course. It's worth noting that with the exception of the capital, we're only told about the attacks by a Tom Selleck lookalike soldier rather than seeing them. This brings us back, almost inevitably, to Independence Day where much of the carnage after the initial attacks is also done off screen and then reported by over eager soldiers ("Sir, they've taken out NORAD!").

People hiding in subway stations is of course evocative of people using the London Underground as air raid shelters during World War 2. Astrotrain, for reasons best known to himself, has changed his train mode since Devestation to a more anachronistic steam model.

During Megatron and Starscream's conversation, we learn the Autobots resistance has been crushed and that this was achieved with the help of a traitor. Pay attention to that, it's important later. There's also a possible oblique reference to Megatron: Origin when Megs comments on the Seeker having been there from the start. Megatron's plan to rebuild New York as his base is taken from the classic and much admired original cartoon episode, City of Steel.

Rumble (who in comparison to Frenzy is basically his TV persona) and Reflector make their All Hail Megatron debut here. He blows up a Volkswagen Beetle whilst commenting he hates those things, so he's encountered Bumblebee at some point after the Autobot got his Earth mode. The Reflector units were all killed in Spotlight: Wheelie, but that is after this (and remember, this title is about making things simple again). The three are using their TV speech patterns here.

Though Bridge has yet to be burdened with the triviality of a first (or possibly sur) name, we here learn he does know the difference between a dog and a jaguar. The girlfriend of the late lamented DJ was called Meg and she lived in New York. Andy isn't seen to die on page, so he may well make a surprise reappearance later on.

Goofs

Those subway stations are amazingly well lit considering the power must be out. If the lights were out during the opening attack it might not be so obvious that "Dad" looks exactly like Andy.

Witwicky's uniform is missing the stars from the US flag on his arm. It's possible this is meant to represent the fact the Union has been broken (there's a similar conceit in that little referenced film Independence Day), but nobody considers America defeated at this stage and why would Dan the Man bother getting his uniform altered in the middle of a crisis. And is this a good time to mention his ludicrous hair? Does he use a ruler to keep the line between the dyed and white that neat?

What the hell was the President doing in Air Force One? This isn't a sudden emergency, but a crisis that's been going on for days. He should either be in the White House bunker or have been moved to a more secure location right at the start of all this. If he has to move at all it wouldn't be in something as slow and large as a passenger jet, they'd stick the bugger in their fastest stealthiest fighter.

Megatron's claim that New York is the jewel of Earth's cities is an extremely Americancentric attitude. I'm sure the inhabitants of London, Paris, Beijing and Wolverhampton would all disagree greatly. Hell, considering the number of Catholics out there, Meg's setting up base in the Vatican would probably be traumatic for more people.

Does Ravage really look that much like a jaguar that anyone with no prior knowledge of the Transformers toyline could recognise him as such right off the bat? I could buy Bridge telling he was a big cat, but the exact species?!?!

On page 19 there's a black guy between Bridge and Andy with the most zoned out happy expression you ever did see. And despite it being days, everyone in Andy's hideout is either perfectly clean shaven or has their facial fungus nicely trimmed. Then again, Dad in the first subway did have a few days growth, so are we supposed to assume that military discipline is making Andy ensure everyone use the razor? Or was the stubble just a forlorn attempt to make Dad look less like Andy?

Quote/Unquote

Witwicky: In a matter of days the enemy has successfully secured the perfect stronghold from which to launch any number of attacks.

Starscream: Praise Megatron? For me? Such a rarity.
Megatron: You are skilled, powerful and ruthless. You are the living embodiment of the Decepticon ideal and are merely a step away from completely embracing it. It is you who refuses to see that Starscream, not me.

 
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