CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers: Escalation #3 (of 6)
#13 of an ongoing arc
Reviewed by Denyer
The focus shifts away from the Machination for this issue,
with Megatron stepping up a campaign of global destabilisation. We’re off to
the fictitious state of Brasnya, which is presumably modelled on Chechnya, with
a decent amount of action – and it looks as if the Autobots will be in the
thick of it next issue.
Though we only get a panel of it here, Su takes Nick Roche’s
Hot Rod redesign to the next level. Then there’s Prime, Blitzwing’s tank mode,
Hardhead, transformation sequences – heck, everything’s looking good. Colours
are a comfortable median between bright and flat, and details and consistency
are really being emphasised, aside from the possible miscolouring of Skywarp as
Thundercracker. It’s possible that, like Blitzwing having a cloaking device,
Skywarp has just been recoloured or disguised with a hologram for the duration
of the mission to better blend in with the environment. I mean… it’s reasonable
to assume that characters would upgrade, choose fresh alt-modes, recolour and
do whatever else might give them an edge, especially since there’s no longer
any stringent external requirement to keep colours constant due to branding and
The cast continues to give proceedings a bit of an
Earthforce feel, which in turn harks back to classic core Autobot and
Decepticon groups. The issues so far have had more cliffhangers than quick
resolutions, but there’s still a sense that Furman is breaking this arc down
into clear chapters; #1 was the ‘death’ of Sunstreaker, #2 a raid on the
Machination, and this is the Decepticons finally going into action. All-in-all,
it’s shaping up to be a consistently high quality monthly read, and my
favourite multi-parter so far.
Megatron seems to like being showy and dramatic, deriving a
lot of satisfaction from laying the framework of various international
incidents-to-be. The rest of the Decepticons are still cowed by his presence,
requesting permission to do anything they think could possibly affect the
Prime is solicitous, asking Prowl’s recommendation for
action against Megatron. He does seem regretful at having to refuse Ironhide’s
request to follow up on Sunstreaker’s abduction (insofar as his faceplate
conveys much emotion other than de facto stoicism; it’s conveyed by a silent
pause) but probably quite rightly considers active Decepticon agitation the
more pressing concern. Besides which we later learn that Nightbeat is amongst
those summoned to Earth, presumably to investigate this and the Ore-13
Prowl also backchats Prime, but apologises for it. He isn’t
best pleased about Ironhide speaking out of turn, probably because he feels it
reflects badly on his command.
Jimmy doesn’t really seem to know what the word ‘decimation’
means, but does have a convenient intricate knowledge of ultra-lite alloy
manufacturers. Mix in Verity’s unusually sharp technology skills,
overconfidence and flair for deduction, and they’re actually pulling their
Ratchet is prepared to go AWOL again, but this time
Ironhide’s prepared to join them.
Towards the end of this issue Nightbeat is a lone voice of
caution, the rest of his crew (Hardhead and Hot Rod) being likewise keen to
disobey orders and jump into action.
Apparently Bumblebee is left running the Ark-19 on his own.
The Decepticons have at least one facsimile in the other
‘Soviet’ faction, stirring up tension effectively. Though a clone, Georgi Koska
still seems to be fully sentient and reasoning; this ability to create organic
life probably helps in part to explain the Decepticons’ disregard for it. This
facsimile will be “decommissioned” once its immediate assigned role is
Mass displacement, in addition to requiring a great deal of
energy (thus not being feasible with the Energon substitutes the Transformers
have been using since Cybertron was rendered uninhabitable) is also potentially
hazardous to those who get too close to the transformation. Either that or
Megatron’s just showing off.
Blitzwing’s tank mode design seems to have been tweaked a
bit to suit his cover, I’m assured by someone who knows enough about tanks to
tell. I don’t, but that’s welcome attention to detail if it’s the case.
Blitzwing has chameleon mesh, which can render him invisible
(though the cloaking effect doesn’t extend to a hologram to disguise his tracks
in the snow, or possibly he just isn’t sharp enough to see any need for this.)
The Autobots have orbital bounces for teleportation,
although it’s unclear what in orbit they might be bouncing off (existing
satellites, perhaps?) However, it’s clear both that 1) as long as they have the
energy required to power the system, transformation is for disguise rather than
for getting from A to B, and 2) that lacking flying alt-modes won’t get in the
way of responding to Decepticon threats.
The Koska facsimile apparently has a cellular template that
is the key to every other Decepticon cloned agent operating on Earth. It isn’t
clear what Prime means by key; whether, for instance, it would make remote
scanning for the clones possible.
At the back of the issue is a two page informational piece
on the upcoming IDW prequel miniseries for the 2007 movie, letters,
cross-promotional ads, cover checklist and four-page preview for the company’s
new Star Trek: Next Generation title, the first non-Transformers preview to be
in a new TF book.
QUOTES OF NOTE
Megatron: “Koska, though you are human in appearance alone,
you have the unprecedented honor… of wielding the galaxy’s greatest living
Prime: “Mass-displacement. Haven’t seen that in a long time.
The energy expenditure must be colossal.”
Hot Rod: “Hey, Nightbeat. You can sit tight if you want. Me
and Hardhead… we’re going in! Hoo-hah!”