CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers: Devastation #5 (of 6)
#21 of an ongoing arc
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek
Do you seriously think I would set in motion a living weapon if I did not have the off switch?
This issue is more than a little disappointing. If Furman has been successfully juggling six or seven plot balls up to this point, this is where a few come crashing down onto the floor.
The big failed area is the Reapers. They still look crap, have no real motivation (at least the Decepticons have an overall goal with their destruction, the Reapers are just in it for the hell of it. You have to wonder why Sixshot thinks life with them would be more satisfying) and are deeply dull characters. Every moment with them detracts from other, more interesting plots that are starting to feel underdeveloped -- both Hunter's and Hot Rod's adventures are starting to feel stretched out beyond their natural life.
Another problem is that the motivations of Sixshot and Prime are woefully underdeveloped. their behaviour here is entirely consistent with what happens to them in their Spotlight
issues -- Sixshot was sorely tempted by the Reapers offer, and Prime learnt things about the Prime lineage that would start for him an obsession with Nova Prime and Jhiaxus -- making it reasonable for him to abandon Earth even though his stated reasons are bunk (the Ore 13 is clearly a more clear and present danger than combiner technology, as the Super Energon can be used right now whilst the latter still needs to be developed properly.)
The problem is that after those issues this character development has been completely ignored by subsequent issues. Spotlight: Sixshot
was more than a year ago and none of his Devastation
appearances have suggested anything but the loyal soldier. Prime hasn't had any thoughts on Jhiaxus since his issue either. Without the building up of those foundations both characters' actions here seem fairly arbitrary and sudden, and this shouldn't have been the case. It's nice that the comic doesn't entirely spoon-feed you back story to characters, but in a title that frequently has them explaining things to each other they already know for exposition purposes (and the Prowl/Hardhead conversation, whilst well written, is a prime example) it seems very odd. If there wasn't enough room to develop all of the plots some should have been dropped (such as the Reapers...)
E.J. Su returns on art chores, and clearly shows the effects of sleepless nights changing nappies. It's his weakest showing to date, with the art often looking sketchy and unfinished.
It's not all bad, the dialogue is still on top form and Starscream is coming across as a surprisingly subtle and intelligent character, but it's not enough to stop this being the weakest issue of the main arc yet and a worrying misstep before the big final.
The flashback that opens the issue takes place a unspecified time before the abandonment of Cybertron -- possibly fairly soon after Megatron Origin
as Starscream is very much the loyal bodyguard at this stage -- even if Megatron is starting to show the contempt for him that will eventually drive them apart.
The bulk of the Decepticons have seemingly never heard of the Reapers. Not impossible considering the size of the Galaxy (even if Sixshot had been aware of them prior to his Spotlight
Jimmy and Verity have been "Dead" for 5.62 Earth minutes when Ratchet brings them back. Bumblebee is in a CR chamber and Jazz is completely armless. Of the relatively undamaged Autobots, Nightbeat is reading a report on a autopsy (which next issue will reveal is that of Leadfoot from Spotlight: Galvatron
), Optimus is receiving a report mentioning Jhiaxus from Jetfire and Prowl and Hardhead are left running the shop.
The Machination Headmaster bodies aren't as tough as the real Sunstreaker, but their sheer numbers pose a problem for Hot Rod. After the process is completed on Hunter he has super-human strength in addition to his telepathic and transforming abilities.
Even in the middle of a life and death struggle Hunter can't avoid a Pop Culture reference; he calls the Headmaster body his "Ticket to Ride" in reference to the Beatles song.
If you ever want to shut down Sixshot, the code is Reset: Pi-Orion-Actual-Orbit Enable. Somewhat ironically the other Decepticons are impressed by Starscream's taking on of Sixshot and the Reapers even though Sixshot ultimately only turns against his fellows because of being attacked by the Seeker.
The inmates who escaped from Garrus 9 are revealed to be the Pretender Monsters [they're not actually Pretenders at this stage, the name is only used for ease of reference] in Spotlight: Arcee
. They were captured by Prime in his own Spotlight
issue, which is the same place he first learnt of the potential danger presented by Jhiaxus and Nova Prime.
Grimlock was buried and then dug up in Spotlight: Shockwave
. Skywatch have called the six Transformers they found at Eureka the Eureka 6 (no doubt a focus group took days to come up with that). The other five are the rest of the Dynobots and Shockwave himself.
Prior to the release of this issue a special Mosaic
was released on line, written by Furman and set in the main IDWverse. It focuses on Hunter and is set after the events of Devastation
-- seemingly quite a long way after -- and effectively reveals spoilers about forthcoming issues. Naming no names, but one reveals the super-secret identity of a certain Big Giant Head...
Transformers Mosaic: The Curse
was printed as a back up strip on the last page.
The code that shuts down Sixshot is presumably one of the most closely guarded secrets the Decepticons have, known only to a very small number. So how does Starscream, a Lowly field commander (who is bitter at Megatron precisely because he's been forced out of the inner circle) know it? Even if he was important enough to know it once, the code should have been changed regularly and many times since then (standard military procedure to stop the code getting out or into the wrong hands).
Of course, if you wanted to be really picky all codes Starscream knew should have been changed automatically after the end of Infiltration
#6 as a matter of course.
Thundercracker is a lovely shade of purple as Megatron asks about Sixshot's arrival time. To make up for it, Skywarp looks as if he's missing all of his purple in the same panel.
So Verity and Jimmy were only suffering from stopped hearts at the end of last issue then? No-one told the colourist, as the sickly off green they were coloured isn't something you'll find on people who can be revived that easily
Why does Hardhead need to ask Prowl where everyone is? It's been less than ten minuets since they Orbital Bounced onto the ship, did they not say to each other where they were all going when they split up? Does he really need to be told Jazz, Bumblebee and Ratchet are in the medical bay? Lucky he has Chief Exposition Officer Prowl on hand to fill him in.
Once he's undergone the full process why aren't all the other Headmaster's in the building aware of Hunter from their newly-established mental link?
Megatron: Who are they?
Blitzwing: We don't know Megatron.
Megatron: What do they want?
Blitzwing: Er, ditto.
Megatron: Tell me something Starscream, or so help me I'll eviscerate you as thoroughly as I did Starscream!
Blitzwing: Um, they're...alien. A mish-mash of species. And they're, er... hostile!
Megatron: You don't say.
Hot Rod: Up till now I've been lenient with you Headmasters. Mostly due to Wheeljack reminding me of this or that priority. But as you seem to have taken him out of the equation, all bets are off. So let's see who blinks first!
Starscrem: Sixshot! This has been a long time in the making! But even way back when I knew, one day, it would come down to you and me!
Astrotrain: Lord Megatron -- look, [Starscream's] taking them out single-handed!
Megatron: So I see. In fact I see it all very clearly now. Nevertheless, the battle cry is honourably raised. Decepticons attack!