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THE TRANSFORMERS: COMICS, BOOKS AND MANGA

IDW Publishing
(2005-now)
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CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING

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

Issue Review

They know we're here now. It's us against the world!

Sadly the climax to the Devastation storyline continues the downward trend of the last issue to deliver a unsatisfying final. The big problem is, yet again and hopefully for the final time, the Reapers. What the hell was the point of them? We're constantly told of their planet-shattering powers but you don't believe for a second they pose any serious threat to the Decepticons even before Galvatron joins in. All they manage to do is kill Runabout and Runamuck, two characters even the Autobots' medic has managed to best before singlehanded!

The annoying thing is, this dead end plot line continues to detract from more interesting stuff. The hunt for Ironhide that has consumed six issues is resolved off-camera (and we get a hugely clichéd moment of Hot Rod begging Hardhead to ignore his orders. Exactly the sort of thing Furman took the piss out of in the Eye of the Storm scene where Grimlock winds up just punching Kup to get past him 18 years ago). Scorponok finally reveals himself, but does nothing but chase Huntstreaker out the building. We edge close to the revival of Grimlock but stop short of getting there. Not to mention that dangling plot threads such as Soundwave, Jimmy and Verity and Senator Holt (a storyline so slow moving he only seems to be managing one appearance per mini) are completely ignored despite all being a lot more relevant to the main arc than the Reapers. Having long term plots is fine, starting up threads and then ignoring them for issues at a time is getting very old now. Especially when the Ironhide situation makes you wonder if the resolution will be worth the protracted wait.

On the plus side, Megatron and Starsceam teaming up to face a bigger threat actually works really well, and perhaps surprisingly doesn't feel contrived. E.J. Su is also back on form after a wibble last month so at least all the pointless Reaper carnage looks very nice. The dialogue is also nice and sharp for the most part and whilst they way we get there may be a bit painful the situation we're left with at the end of the issue suggests some interesting things to come. All in all though Devastation would have made a fantastic four issue series with all the fat stripped off and more focus on the central plots. At six issues it had a very strong start but has severely tailed off at the end. Lets hope the fourth phase will see a upward quality swing.

Notes

And now... Scorponok. In what may well be the least surprising plot twist in comics history the Big Giant Head is none other than the clawed one. For those that hadn't been able to guess so far the Furman-written Hail and farewell Mosaic, placed on-line before but set two years latter, was the first place to fully confirm this. Exactly how Scorponok ended up in such a state isn't revealed here. It's possible he was damaged by the unstable nature of the teleporter he used to escape in Ultra Magnus.

The Machination are able to interfere with the mental link between Hunter and Sunstreaker, but not break it completely. This interference also seems to affect all other Headmasters out in the field, as Hot Rod finds they suddenly get a lot worse in battle. It's not entirely clear how many Headmasters are still out there -- it's possible Hot Rod destroys all the currently active ones but the Machination still have several more bodies in storage.

Despite the combined mind, when the merger is complete, our boys thinks of themselves as Sunstreaker first rather than Hunter (which makes sense from Scorponok's point of view, he wouldn't want the technology to allow the human half to become dominant).

Hound was summoned to Earth in issue 1, and is here diverted to meet up with Prime and the others at Garrus-9. Sideswipe is mentioned but not seen. Leadfoot was killed in Spotlight: Galvatron, and Nightbeat saw something similar in his own Spotlight. The reason he can't remember is due to the mental surgery carried out on him in the Dead Universe.

Megatron uses his 'nuclear breath' on the Reapers.

Galvatron has the ability to turn other mechanoids (possibly any other life) into what is effectively a zombie, with the ability to bring death to anyone they touch. His mission on Earth would seem to be to prevent the Reapers destroying the planet before his own people unleash a far worse apocalypse upon it. It's possible he takes Sixshot's body back with him, as the last panel of him on Earth shows him looming over the Sixchanger. However, the art isn't 100% clear on this so he could just as easily just be watching the end of the battle from a vantage point that just happens to be by Sixshot.

That Galvatron is not quite the willing slave he pretends was established in his Spotlight, though what his own agenda may be is, as yet, unknown.

Starscream and Megatron are effectively reunited as a team here. Neither one trusts the other but are prepared to work together to defeat both the Reapers and the forthcoming attention of the US Military. Tellingly Megatron seems ready to enforce some extreme discipline on his mutinous troops before Starscream points out they are now revealed to the rest of the world.

This sees the first appearance of Astrotrain in his train mode in a IDW comic. In fact, it's the first confirmation that he's a triple changer here. This does raise a question though. Everyone else in the initial group of Earth bound Decepticons choose either a military based alt mode (the Seekers, Blitzwing), or one that allows them to travel unnoticed around the country (the Battlechargers). Exactly where a midget space shuttle and a steam train fits in with that strategy isn't clear.

Runabout and Runamuck buy the farm. Interestingly, despite the series title and Furman promising on several occasions that there would be several deaths these are the only 100% certain (as Sixshot may still be alive) named character casualties in Devastation.

Grimlock just misses the party here, but his reactivation will be followed up on in his Spotlight.

As Ark-32 leaves orbit the Earth seems to be represented by a real photo of the planet from space.

After an appearance of his head in Spotlight: Arcee we get the first full body showing of Jhiaxus (it's likely it was his hands performing the brain surgery in Spotlight: Nightbeat as well). In the same way his design in the Generation 2 comics took design elements from the G1 Starscream toy, his look here his has some inspiration from Movie Starscream's look. Most noticeably the chest. "The Expansion" was first mentioned in Arcee and is likely to become important as it's the proposed name of a forthcoming story arc. The name of the next immediate -tion mini series, Revelations is hinted at when Jhiaxus talks of things being, well, revealed. His pose here is a homage to Igor from the old Universal Frankenstein films, a slightly odd choice considering he's more Frankenstein himself.

At issue's end the following Transformers are definitely left on Earth in a active state: Megatron, Starscream, Thundercracker, Blitzwing, Astrotrain, Scorponok, Huntstreaker, Soundwave, Ravage, Laserbeak, Ratbat and Hot Rod. Grimlock, the other Dynobots and Shockwave are all deactivated but in various stages of being restored.

By way of extras the issue ends with the Mosaic strip Feeling Yellow and a pin up poster by Josh Burcham. The engines on Ark-32 in the latter are clearly based on a electric razor.

In order to keep his appearance something of a surprise E.J. Su's Galvatron cover wasn't revealed until very late in the day, with Nick Roche's cover being used for all publicity purposes. This, showing Megatron and Starscream fighting, is the first cover for an issue of the main title in a while to have no real relevance to the plot whatsoever.

Both immediately prior and after the release of this issue announcements were made as to the next stages in the storyline. First up will be All Hail Megatron! a four issue arc showing the Decepticons actions on Earth following this issue. Published at around the same time with be The Revelations Saga, a break from the normal six issue structure that will encompass four Spotlight issues (most likely Cyclonus, Hardhead, Dealer and Sideswipe) and that will be the last of the -tion story arcs, implying a degree of closure.

Goofs

The big one up first:- Hot Rod tells Hardhead to take Ironhide back to Ark-32 with him. Even though he and Wheeljack hadn't even found Ironhide before the Headmasters attacked, let alone rescued him. The only person who could have retrieved him is Hardhead, but he doesn't reveal any such thing to Hot Rod. [On the IDW board Furman revealed that when writing the issue he found he didn't have space for certain things he'd wanted to include, such as Ironhide's rescue, and thus had to fudge them. This rings slightly hollow considering that, amongst other things, the issue uses a full page on Scorponok's head reveal that could have been used to tie up some of those threads].

Hardhead's arrival raises a question about earlier issues. He clearly does an orbital bounce to get there, so why didn't Hot Rod and Wheeljack use the same method to skip the entire lengthy journey back in issue 1? Whilst secrecy was more of an issue then surely it would have been possible to find a quiet unobserved spot they could beam down to much closer to the junk yard? [Energy requirements? -Ed]

Why doesn't Optimus Prime just call Hot Rod on his radio rather than sending Hardhead down? [Maybe he's met him? -Ed]

Why does Huntstreaker have the original's blue eyes when all the other Headmasters have "evil" red optics? Odder still Hunter's exo-suit clearly had the red eyes visible on the chest in the last issue.

Quote, Unquote

Hunter: C'mon! Focus. Somewhere in this mixed-up head of mine is the answer. I just have to not... [SCORPONOK SMASHES IN] ...Panic!
Scorponok: It's killing time!

Megatron: Starscream, I can only imagine what internal machinations led to your second coming, but for now I consider the matter moot. Do you serve me or yourself?
Starscream: I serve the Decepticon cause!
Megatron: Then you serve me. for I am its heart and fiery soul! Take me and let loose Armageddon!

Nightbeat: I've never seen anything like this, and yet I just can't shake the feeling I have!

Galvatron: You who claim the title Deathbringer, be one!

Galvatron: My work here is done. Earth's structure and sanctity preserved for now. Little do they know that with one apocalypse averted another is begun.

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!

 
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