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THE TRANSFORMERS: COMICS, BOOKS AND MANGA

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

CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING

Transformers: Devastation #4 (of 6)
#20 of an ongoing arc
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek

Issue Review

It looks as though we now have multiple combatants. Nature/origin: Unknown. Intentions: hostile. Threat level... off the scale! Recommend ultimate force..

As the synopsis shows, this is a very fragmented issue that's more about getting the pieces into place for the finale than it is with being a satisfying read in its own right. As such it will probably play much better when read either in the trade or when going through the issues in one sitting.

However, we still get lots of very nice individual scenes and moments, from the way Furman manages to play the battle in such a way as to make Sixshot live up to his reputation but still show the Autobots as credible soldiers through to the quiet character moment between Sunstreaker and a resigned Hunter.

Probably the biggest plus point is the seeming deaths of Jimmy and Verity... the characters have never really worked (unlike Hunter, who despite starting as the weak link has grown into one of the best supporting characters, once the comedy surname and Sci-Fi geek clichés stopped being mentioned), something Furman seems to agree with as they have been more and more sidelined from the main action as the issues have gone on. Hopefully they will stay dead rather than Ratchet simply going "Wait, we can save them if we use this technobabble!" next issue. Certainly both the medic and Hunter's reactions should be interesting to watch.

Musso does a great job on art, both he and Roche having ensured a potentially difficult transition has been handled well. His sense of scale in the fight scenes is especially good, though his comedy over-sized bombs during the air strike leave a little to be desired.

The only two bits that don't really work are the adventure corpses' interaction with the cop, which comes over a bit Scooby Doo "You keerrazzzzzy kids" for something happening next to a war zone, and the Reapers (as always).

So we have a transitional issue that is more than the sum of its parts, and that will hopefully lead to better things next month.

Notes

In the grand tradition of spy fiction Skywatch HQ is in a seemingly abandoned warehouse. Agent Red makes reference to their "acquisitions" at Eureka, referring to the Dinobots and Shockwave. Ravage and Laserbeak have been officially classed as "seekers" by Skywatch. In Transformers fandom this term is normally used to refer to the F15 jet mode Decepticons, so Furman is probably playing with our minds a bit here.

Soundwave was found in the rubble of Mount St. Helen's and later sold to a retro fan teenager in his Spotlight issue. Though his transformation ability was shorted-out in that issue, here we get confirmation that he is both still conscious and can use his internal functions. Unsurprisingly for a communications officer his signal is more powerful than the one Skywatch were using to control their "seekers".

Bumblebee takes a full frontal hit from Sixshot. Though the extent of his injuries has yet to be revealed, based on what we know about the Decepticon he will most likely be out of the main action for a good long while if he's been lucky enough not to be killed.

K-IDW are once again the news crew on the scene. One hopes the USAF warned their chopper about the air strike beforehand...

Though he's undergone surgery this issue confirms that Hunter had not been put through the full Headmaster process. The final stage involves an iron maiden style device that causes a lot of pain.

Jimmy has trouble hot wiring a motor boat due to it having a different sort of ignition to cars. The implication being that he has hot wired cars in the past. Tsk tsk tsk, crime doesn't pay, does it Jimmy?

According to Sixshot the metal he's made of was forged from the compacted subatomic matter of a collapsed star, and his power core is a "self regenerating dark matter fission cell". Though Optimus points out there's a lot of hyperbole there, it would explain why the six-changer is so tough to beat.

At the moment I'm taking Ratchet at his word and treating Jimmy and Verity as dead, though there are a couple of potential get-out clauses to bring them back (such as the Machination's equipment which presumably is capable of advanced physiological work on humans beyond Ratchet's ability).

It should be noted though that just because humans cannot survive a orbital bounce it doesn't mean Koshka's death at the end of Escalation was entirely innocent. Here the Autobots are in a panicked retreat with little time to think -- whilst the Brasnya affair was a planned mission and it would have come up if the facsimile wouldn't have been expected to survive their extraction method. Also, the facsimiles are known to have different physiology to humans (green blood and all) so what's lethal to the one may not be to the other. Indeed, it may be that the Decepticons create them tougher (rather than just as straightforward clones) in order to endure the retrieval process.

On the other hand, it could be that whatever sabotage Nightbeat did to the system to kill Koshka was still in place and it was that that finished off the misadventure kids.

Starscream was last seem functional in Infiltration #6, and now seems to have fully recovered.

The teenager who bought Soundwave has a poster of a yellow-with-black racing stripes '08 Camero on his wall. He also has one showing one of the bugs from the original cartoon episode Cosmic Rust. This bears a logo saying "ESCAPE", a desire that applies to several characters including Soundwave. The other main in-joke this issue is the junkyard being called "Wrek'N'Rule" -- the slogan of the Wreckers in the original Marvel comic and the title of the Target: 2006 chapter that fully introduces them.

Bizarrely we get another I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! reference following the two in Escalation #6. Was Furman writing this whilst watching Christopher Biggins eat Kangaroo scrotum?

Robby Musso is the last of our fill-in artists whilst E.J. Su is on paternity leave. This is the first original IDW Transformers comic where the interior artist has not provided a cover.

After a lengthy absence the Decepticomments page returns, now hosted by new editor Andrew Harris; who launches a competition for artwork of him as a Transformer to tie in with ChrisCharger and ShockDan. We also get a pic of little Myra Su. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Goofs

How the hell hell did Agent Red get from Brasnya (the Russian border) to Washington D.C. so fast after issue one?

Something that was evident in earlier issues but worth mentioning here is that the Headmasters just vanish into the bodies of the robot when they change to car mode, leaving the vehicles look driver-less, Up until now it could be excused as a deliberate trick to confuse Hot Rod and Wheeljack as to weather or not one of them is the real Sunstreaker, but here one has to wonder; if they're not going to bother properly with the disguise aspect of the Transformers, why not just build non-changing machines to merge with?

As with Trypticon's rampage in The War Within: The Dark Ages our hero is saved from certain death because the unstoppable force is called off to do something else and they leave at once, even though it would take Sixshot here all of another thirty seconds to kill the main leader of his enemies forces.

Quote, Unquote

Skywatch Agent: The Seekers are not responding. There's some kind of competing signal.
Red: Can you block it?
Skywatch Agent: Negative. Wherever it's coming from it's strong, and extraterrestrial!

Hardhead: Frag, what does it take to put this one [Sixshot] down? Heavy artillery, that's what!

Hunter: Ah- Anything else I should know?
Sunstreaker: Yuh. Iht's painful.
Hunter: Oh great, now he tells me- EEAAAGH!

Sixshot: You don't get it do you? I could do this all day. It's what I was built for. It's all I was built for.

 
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