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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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CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING

Transformers: Devastation #3 (of 6)
#19 of an ongoing arc
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek

Issue Review

This issue was always going to have a huge challenge with the first change in the regular team on the main title. We knew Nick is one of the best artists IDW have, but would his art style mesh well enough with Su's so as not to feel jarring?

The answer is an overwhelming yes. Roche shows himself to be the most versatile artist working in Transformers, providing drawing that are still unmistakably him but crafted to the already established look. An exceptional undertaking of a potentially difficult job.

Writing wise Furman continues to show great form (is it really the same guy who is currently making Beast Wars a convoluted bore?) as he begins to bring the various disparate threads together. As well as the Reapers and the Dead Universe, it's great to see that things like Senator Holt haven't been forgotten and still have a part to play. Even the surprise pay off to the K IDW joke is well done.

The issue centre piece is of course the Ratchet/Sixshot chase, and it's full of great moments both big and small. I especially love how Sixshot finds Ratchet amongst a load of ambulances simply by blowing them all up. Even the old "End of the road" gag is done well enough to raise a wry smile rather than a groan.

On the negative side, the Machination are becoming sillier and sillier the more we learn of them, to the point where I'm beginning to wonder if SK-NK is pulling a massive con on some rich idiots. And the continued refusal to properly name the Head is getting silly now. Unless there's a massive left field plot twist coming it's been done to death.

Still, apart from very minor niggles this continues to impress greatly, and is well worth your time.

Notes

Within the original cartoon, exactly how the Headmasters process worked was a tad vague, but came across as a fairly straightforward - human piloting the robot whilst the Transformer remains in overall control. Within the Marvel comic it started in an equally similar manner - the human controlled the robot whilst the original head maintained contact via radio, but quickly involved into a linking of the two minds called Binary Bonding. A variation on this is what IDW has gone for with the added twist that all the humans who have undergone the process are linked to just the one Transformer, Sunstreaker. The fact Hunter hasn't displayed any mental link yet (which, after all, would make Sunstreaker having to give him all that exposition unnecessary) will no doubt be addressed next issue.

We come this close to hearing Sunstreaker name The Big Giant Head, but the scene cuts away before he can get more than a "SK-NK" out. This adds to the already overwhelming supporting evidence for the head being Scorponok.

Senator Holt was seemingly replaced by a facsimile back in Escalation issue 2. It's unclear if Deacon - his plant on The National Security Council - is also a substitute or just a human lackey unaware of the big picture. The NSC appear to be completely in the dark over the cause of the mid air explosion, suggesting they have no links with Sky Watch.

Ratchet has the facilities to treat human wounds, which is probably a fairly recent addition as it's only been in the last few weeks he's had potential human patients. According to the Doctor there have been no first hand accounts of Sixshot's activities due to the lack of survivors.

The Gyro Inhibitor, as the name implies, effectively screws up a Transformers co-ordination so they either fall over or crash. Wheeljack sends regular memo's on his new inventions, which Sunstreaker hardly ever bothers with. The interesting implication being that the Autobots have to read them in the first place rather than, say, just downloading the information directly.

K-IDW journalist Lindy Simmons first appeared in Infiltration issue 3, the panel here of asking her cameraman if he "got" footage of the Transformers is a direct copy of one from that issue, only here he's actually managed to get Sixshot on tape. Somewhat oddly considering we've had a few made up TV Channels by this stage since Ratchet makes a direct reference to CNN at one point.

The Reapers decided to follow Sixshot to Earth in Escalation #6, and appear to have amassed both a spaceship and a army of comrades to attack the planet. The Dead Universe has been a sub plot across various Spotlights, starting with Nightbeat, that here makes its presence in the main title for the first time. Nemesis Prime is one of Optimus' predecessors who - under the name Nova Prime - left Cybertron millions of years ago on Ark 1 with a crew that included Galvatron. Their main activities so far in the present day include brainwashing Nightbeat and stealing Thunderwing's body from Cybertron.

Injokery this issue includes:

- Beneath Ironhide in the crush pile is a Porsche with the registration "DREAM" - a dig at Dreamwave company owner Pat Lee who infamously brought several cars of that make rather than paying his staff (oddly enough Roche himself wasn't one of them).
- A gas station called Dark Stone, which is a variation on the surname of G.B. Blackrock from the Marvel comic.
- As he reaches the coast, Ratchet realises it's "End of the Road!", a recurring Furman phrase that most recently popped up on the Andrew Wildman cover to Infiltration #3.
- Ratchet's registration number is SIDW S10 (probably a bit of IDW overkill between that, the TV Station and the Machination shop from Escalation).
- Both the Roche cover and the Sixshot/Ratchet chase contain visual homages to the classic Hitchcock film North By Northwest.

With E.J. Su on paternity leave, Nick Roche becomes only the second person to have drawn the main comic.

Goofs

In the opening exterior shot the Pentagon looks remarkably intact considering Megatron demolished a wall when he threw a giant arm through it in Spotlight: Ramjet no more than three weeks before this. That's fast repair work.

So, if all the Headmasters are linked to Sunstreaker why don't they know he's talking to Hunter?

Why is the Headmaster just standing around talking at Hot Rod and Wheeljack rather than fighting them? Has the mind sharing scheme given them Suntreaker's ego as well?

As we cut away from Sunstreaker naming the head we get a shot of a fair haired Machination scientist who has the most inanely happy grin on his face, which is somewhat odd as the Headmasters have just received their first major set back from the Gyro Inhibitor.

And in the last panel of the last page, Galvatron and Nemesis Prime's speech bubbles are reversed.

Quote, Unquote

Hot Rod: Headmasters? Now I've seen everything. I mean, I can see how you'd want to cover up all that fleshy vulnerability, but really! It'd be laughable if it wasn't so tragic.

Sunstreaker: Pwlease. I...just...Want. this. To. Stop. They're ALL in here, uuusing me to hunt, to hhurt... other Autobots! And this...is just the beginning.

Verity: I don't want to sound ungrateful or anything, but is that your plan? Hide?
Ratchet: Um. Yes.

Sixshot: It's been fun. Better than some anyway, but it's over. I'll make it quick.
Ratchet: Gee, thanks.

 
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