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Greatest Battles of Optimus Prime and Megatron

Reviewed by Blackjack
Reprinting: Transformers #4, #24, Transformers Generation 2 #6, Transformers Armada #5, War Within #4, Animated Movie #1, Escalation #5
Written by: Jim Salicrup, Bob Budiasky, Simon Furman
Pencils by: Frank Springer, Don Perlin, Manny Galan, James Raiz, Don Figueroa, E.J. Su
Inks by: Ian Akin, Brian Garvey, Jim Amash, Rob Armstrong, Erik Sander, Elaine To
Colours by: Nel Yomtov, Sarra Massaff, Alan Wang, Ramil Sunga, Felipe Smith, Rob Ruffolo, Josh Burcham, Zac Atkinson

The Stories:

Optimus Prime and Megatron had had many fights throughout the twenty plus years of Transformer-dom. This TPB was released in 2007 following the hype that came after the 2007 movie. However, the best and most memorable fights between Prime and Megatron had been done in animated formats. The fight on the 1986 Animated Movie, Heavy Metal War from the G1 cartoon, the 2007 Movie itself... however, this TPB collects almost all of the fights between Optimus Prime and Megatron which had happened in the comics. Almost all. Well, for one it only includes one G2 issue (I believe that they faced off more times after that in G2), two G1 issues (there's at least the Mega-Ratchet thing) and neglects to collect any of the Dreamwave G1 issues. That last bit is a good thing, though.

Well, the newbie leader would be overwhelmed at the variety of stories and artwork styles inside the book. The first issue is Marvel Comics' fourth issue, "The Last Stand". Marvel issues are good in the fact that they summarize what happened previously in two or three pages, before getting on to the story, so anyone who jumped in at that point would get the groove on what had happened. Story-wise, the battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons suffer from bad art. Frank Springer hadn't gotten used to drawing transformers yet, you understand, and this isn't helped by Nel "Crayons" Yomtov handling the colours. Prime and Megatron fighting only happened at the end, and they only threw a couple of punches at each other before Sparkplug's bad fuel knocked Megatron out. Then Shockwave came and blew everyone up. It was an anticlimax of sorts.

The next one, "Afterdeath", is one of the more controversial stories from the Marvel run, with Prime dying because he fails to win a computer game. The Prime/Megatron fight is not bad, although the conclusion suffers. Still, it is filled with good dialogue (especially the camaraderie between the Protectobots) and a decent issue.

After the Yomtov-coloured G1 issues, we jump a couple of years later to a Simon Furman/Manny Galan piece from G2, "the Gathering Darkness". Now this was my first introduction to G2 comics. I was suitably impressed. The art is okay and stylized, very much better than the more blocky character-model art of the G1 issues. Megatron clearly trounces Optimus Prime, and it's a little nice to see how powerful Megatron is potrayed here. Grimlock is good material here too. One of the better issues in the TPB.

We skip a couple more yearse to an Armada issue. This is one of the weaker issues of Armada, especially to someone who have no idea what the hell Mini-Cons are. Fights between Optimus Prime and Megatron in Armada always end the same. Megatron gains an upper edge with his Mini-Cons, Optimus gets his own and slaps Megatron silly. The art is a little messy and hard to decipher, especially when one doesn't get the concept of what Mini-Cons are supposed to do. Still, the fight scenes are not so bad, but this isn't by far the best issue in the book.

The next issue is from War Within. This issue features better art, but the story ends in a cliffhanger. We get some classic Starscream betrayal, some Grimlock, before Megatron and Optimus dukes it out. The action scenes in this issue is well-drawn and the dialogue isn't bad. Better than the Armada issue, certainly. However, it ends in a cliffhanger, with no clear conclusion. (All the previous issues, even the G2 comic, had some semblance of an ending.) Still, this issue gives some impressive fighting scenes between the two big guys, which none of the previous stories offer.

After War Within, we get the IDW recreation of 1986's Animated Movie. Don's art is marvellous and cartoony, but the scripting suffers. The fight between Prime and Megatron is horribly condensed, and it's much better to watch the animated thing on YouTube. Still, the fact that they included this thing means something.

The TPB is rounded up by Escalation #5. I have a soft spot for Escalation, mainly because it's the first IDW material I read, and it overwhelmed me. It's also the end of the good IDW G1 material before the decline in Devastation and finally AHM. Escalation #5 is essentially a big Prime/Megatron duke-out with the other plot threads being shoved aside for the moment. Looking at this and comparing it to All Hail Megatron #12, there's a massive gap in quality. Still, it again ends up in a cliffhanger, which would no doubt frustrate any new-comer to Transformer fiction.

The Presentation

There aren't much extras included with this TPB. The cover page is an all-new piece of art (depicting War Within Optimus Prime and Megatron battling) and there's a black-and-white piece of Nick Roche art of Optimus Prime and Megatron facing off at the end of the book.

Covers for each issue is printed before the stories proper.

The Verdict

It's not exactly filled with good material, and if you already have most (if not all) of the original issues, it isn't worth reading. Many of these stories have been reprinted by IDW along with their own preceeding and following issues. There are too many cliffhangers (the War Within and Escalation stories are the worst). Also, many of the issues are among the stories readily available at any toy store in their reprinted forms. Basically, this TPB is for completists or those people who like to see a variety of stories.

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