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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: Foundation #2
Reviewed by Blackjack

Issue Review

Well… you win, Megatron. I believe you.
Splendid work. Simply splendid. John Barber may be the next best author that IDW has hired next to R’n’R. Barber neatly tells his own story, expanding the mythology in preparation for Dark of the Moon. Yet character interactions from the rather banal comics prior to this is still carried over, and best of all, it ties in into stuff like Defiance and Tales of the Fallen neatly, interweaving the mythos ever closer together instead of tearing it apart like Furman’s attempt to shoehorn the Primus mythology into the Movieverse. Also, something I appreciate is that not all crowd scenes are filled with toy-exclusive characters. The odd Prowl or Fracture is fun to look at, but not like Defiance when entire pages are filled with half-assed drawings of the toy-exclusive characters. Optimus Prime and Megatron get simply splendid characterization here, especially Optimus’ descent from an idealist with his head buried in the past to the vengeful face-carving maniac he is in the bookending parts. The contrast between his smiling, uncertain and the I-don’t-really-care-what-happens-to-Cybertron attitude in the pre-war sequences and his faceplated, scary sword-swinging vengeance-ridden one during the war is really evident. Plus, all the self-kicking for not believing Sentinel Prime or the myths whole-heartedly… Best Optimus monologue I’ve seen in some time.

Megatron, too, for what little we see of him here, is great fun as well, as the power slowly corrupts him from a soldier to a tyrant. Great dialogue all around, which aren’t painful to read. The art is amazing as well, a far cry from recent IDW Movieverse work. Compare this with Carlos Magno’s untidy artwork and you’ll be astounded by the gap in quality. Characters are distinct even if they are in Cybertronian forms, and best of all Griffiths uses character models that have been established prior. Brawl has his alternate mode from Defiance, Fracture has her spiderweb mouth from her appearance in Alliance… little things like that which a obsessive geek like me can appreciate. Ironhide, Elita-One, Arcee and Starscream all get great moments as well. Ironhide and Elita-One, in particular, have grown so much more defined. I’ve always hated Elita-One in all her incarnations. It’s not because of her stupid name, but rather it’s because she has no personality bar being Optimus Prime’s girlfriend with super powers. Here? Here Elita is a war-weary girl who just wants to settle down but is later wrapped up in warfare instead, watching sadly as her best friend is consumed by hatred and vengeance. The sisters retcon is handled smoothly as well. Starscream, for what little we saw of him, have vibes of Mowry’s proud and independent Starscream, which is good. A nice first meeting between Megatron and Screamer as well. Brawl’s solo line of dialogue is great as well.

Now, for the new characters. Sentinel Prime is basically filling the role of jolly old mentor, and gets some of the best lines to Optimus. But Shockwave has to steal the show. We all love our one eyed, big-gunned, logic-headed Decepticon, but this Shockwave is his own character. While keeping true to his G1 roots, Shockwave is aloof, quite a dry wit and rather emotionless the way he savagely shoots down anything that is in his way. Astrotrain also appear here, and it seems that with the exposure he has, he might be one of the new Decepticons appearing in Dark of the Moon… or not. Might be a red herring Barber is pulling. Very rarely do we see great characterization, great storytelling, continuity repairs, exploration of myth and all-around awesomeness. After the mediocre Movieverse comics that we’ve been having post-Reign of Starscream, this is one of the best series. Which really surprised me considering how lukewarm Defiance was. Highly recommended.

Notes

Whoo-ee. Primus is established as the first creation of the AllSpark instead of a light god, and the Dynasty of Primes is descended from him. Since it’s all in flashback and pretty vague, it leaves plenty of wiggle room in order for the Fallen’s claim of being descended from Primus in ‘Tales of the Fallen #4’, as well as the more in-universe origin of all Transformers being spawned by the AllSpark. Probably the myth will be explored in Dark of the Moon, probably not, but it is a nice job at bringing things together.

Again, the AllSpark consumes suns, as has been established in the ROTF movie, as well as ‘Tales of the Fallen’ and last issue.

Sentinel Prime apparently found Optimus Prime ‘hidden and alone’. This alludes to the rejected part of the ROTF script that says Optimus Prime is an orphaned child of the Prime legacy (since it doesn’t make sense), but is included in the adaptation.

Healthy hatchlings are seen. They have the same faces as the one Megatron killed accidentally in ROTF, but have actual bodies instead of the spine-like thing the ROTF one had.

Sentinel says a variation of the Autobot credo ‘Til all are one’.

Lots of tie-ins with the other prequel comic, Defiance. This issue starts the dual-pronged leadership with Optimus and Megatron that was already in place in Defiance, as well as the broken-brothers and Megatron having more authority. Also, Optimus digs up artifacts from the past, like it was in Defiance. Arcee, Elita-One and Ratchet are part of Optimus’ crew, and Ironhide is part of Megatron’s warrior caste (among the other obvious Decepticons) as per Defiance. Also, a more subtle one is that the tower Sentinel, Optimus, Megatron and company are giving a speech is the one that will later open up to reveal a Decepticon insignia when the Autobot-Decepticon war breaks out in Defiance.

Ironhide and Chromia are fighting together as soldiers, something mentioned in Chromia’s toy bio. They don’t seem to have any romance between them other than basic camaraderie. And a reluctance to kill an innocent.

Also, Ironhide and Arcee seem to be pretty close as well, mentioned in Arcee’s bio of having been tutored by Ironhide. Ironhide also mentions Arcee’s fondness of hunting turbofoxes (G1 Mirage’s favourite pastime), also from Arcee’s toy bio.

Fracture has a black energon blade in her wrist.

The term ‘malcontents’ used to describe the renegade Transformers is a reference to the Robotech franchise, to which author John Barber is a huge fan. The term ‘Battlecry!’ is used as the tagline for the next issue. While a word associated with Robotech as much as ‘Robots in Disguise’ has been for Transformers, it was pure coincidence that it was included. Barber had a good laugh, though.

Spoilers to those that haven’t seen the Superbowl trailer:
SPOILER! (select to read)
the tentacle monster that attacked Starscream and is killed by Megatron and Shockwave had been seen in the trailer. Other than ‘random wild beast’ there isn’t anything we know about it, though.


Goofs

The cover page has Cybertron as its background, but Optimus Prime and Ironhide are in their Earthen bodies. Specifically, the stock footages used for publication materials. Lazy, eh?

The dead Autobot Elita cradles is in slightly different colours with last issue.

Quote/Unquote

Optimus Prime: You tried to teach me that, Megatron. Whatever it takes. Whatever it does to my friends. Whatever it does to my allies. Whatever it does to me. You tried to teach me, but I didn’t listen.

Optimus Prime: “Learning about Cybertron’s past… finding the truth in the old stories… that is my destiny. I’m not a Prime.”

Shockwave: “This is not a monster, but rather… a magnificent creature.”
Megatron: “Spare me your admiration, and keep shooting it!”
Starscream: “Don’t touch me…”
Megatron: “What? I just saved you.”
Starscream: “I can save myself.”

Megatron: “Starscream! Good—an honest name for a warrior. There is hope for our world, after all.”

Sentinel Prime: “Transformers of united Cybertron! You placed your faith in me during our eternal night. Well, day has dawned. War is over.”

Sentinel Prime: “Together, all are one!”

Chromia: “I’m Chromia. Who are you?”
Elita-One: “The one who isn’t rude is Arcee.”

Ironhide: “I can’t believe they stuck me with raw recruits.”
Starscream: “please. You know I’m here at the direct request of High Protector Megatron, himself.”
Ironhide: “That doesn’t give you experience, Starscream.”
Chromia: “C’mon, Ironhide. Just ‘cause you’re an old man…”

Ironhide: “Your intelligence was right, Soundwave.”
Soundwave: “My information is always correct.”

Megatron: “Shockwave—execute.”
Shockwave: “My specialty, Megatron.”

Unfortunate Malcontent: “Wait—wait—we give up—”
Brawl: “Now there’s givin’ up an’ then there’s givin’ up…”

Ironhide: “Optimus! First your science makes my tribe give up all its foolish old beliefs…”
Optimus: “And now I’m telling you they might be true, after all. It’s a funny world, Ironhide.”

Optimus: “It’s your job to protect Cybertron, brother. If this is what you believe is necessary, then I concur with the judgment of High Protector Megatron.”
Megatron: “Please, Optimus… call me Lord High Protector. Call me ‘Sir’.”

 
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