CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Megatron: Origin #3
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek
As this comic enters its final stage the big problem becomes apparent -- Megatron talks about the oppressive Autobot regime but we haven't actually seen anyone get oppressed since the start of issue one. We've no real idea what drives Runabout or Mixmaster or Crasher to feeling downtrodden. We're told Decimus is an evil despot but he comes over as a mostly harmless doddery old man. The effect is that the Decepticons just seem a bunch of thugs who garner no sympathy.
We also have the issue of Megatron -- three parts down and he's a bland blank slate. "Hnn" and variations on it make up most of his lines. It's been mentioned by the writer that this comic wasn't called Megatron: Origin
when first pitched and it really shows.
Then you throw in the bad, cluttered artwork filled with rubbish in-jokes that directly contradict what other people working for IDW have claimed to be aiming for (including no fembots and no Ultra Magnus as white Prime.) Apparently most of the background characters were inserted on Milne's whim so things like Elita One wouldn't have been in the script Furman would have glanced over to offer tips on, but when the editor saw the art he should have asked for changes. In fact, poor editing is pandemic: the whole thing feels so much more like a Dreamwave comic than anything IDW have done so far and it reminds you why so many of us were so glad to see that company die in the end.
In short, if the thought of a page where all variations on the Bumblebee mold are standing next to each other gets you aroused, this is for you. If you would like a comic with a degree of intelligence, action, fun or entertainment of any sort, avoid it like it's a rabid ferret.
This issue, even more so than the previous two, features numerous continuity references and in-jokes at other parts of the franchise. These include:
After losing his arm in a fight Megatron is fitted with a new one that contains the energon mace first seen in the More Than Meets The Eye
three parter that opened the original TV show. The fact that this weapon was one of those offered to him by Soundwave and that the Arm is a perfect match for his body would suggest it's purpose-built despite the art making it unclear if the other robots in the surgery are being medically treated or used as spare parts.
Soundwave has a Decepticon symbol hidden in a rubsign on his chest -- as well as being a fondly remembered part of the original toys, rubsigns also featured in the Dreamwave War and Peace
comic though there they hid members of the Autobot (rather than Decepticon) resistance.
The Constructicons seem to be Megatron's medics as well as his constructors -- as they've effectively rebuilt him before the issue starts this may be a reference to them having built him in The Five Faces of Darkness
TV episodes. Normally I'd call that a stretch, but considering the rest of the list...
Bumblebee, Cliffjumper and Hubcap are all standing together by Bumper's coffin -- all four of them are linked by very similar toy moulds.
At the front we have a character with the head of Orion Pax and the body of War Within
Optimus Prime. Orion Pax was the character who became Optimus in the cartoon. To his left is Pax/Prime's girlfriend Elita One and to his right their "Father" Alpha Trion (who is also as he was in War Dawn
with the shorter beard.) Behind them is a white version of Prime that is most likely supposed to be Ultra Magnus in a reference to the end of War and Peace
where it was revealed he really is a white Prime repaint beneath the armour. The Titanium toy based on War Within
Prime was also issued as a white Ultra Magnus. Sadly we don't get more than a blur for his face, leaving his resemblance to Orion left unknown.
Grimlock was both a Gladiator and proto-Decepticon in Dreamwave's continuity. The issue also picks up on #2's State Games
tribute by showing more of Sunstreaker's involvement.
Megatron mentions various City States as seen across different continuities, including tarn, Vos, Altihex, Uraya, Kalis and Kaon.
And more general points:
Senator Decimus has recovered from his experience in issue one and here has a statue built in his honour. He mentions to "The House of Decimus" reaffirming that Transformers do have something akin to family relationships.
As well as Elita One there are fembots in the crowd for his speech, the first firm confirmation of them in IDW's continuity.
Rumble and Frenzy have been altered -- somewhat reluctantly -- to be partnered with Soundwave, the beginning of the road to them being cassettes.
The groups that will one day come to be called Predacons and Stunticons seem to be working as units already. Perhaps surprisingly the only other Dynobot who seems to be in evidence is Slag.
Megatron's team badge has been redesigned to become the standard Decepticon logo (did he get a PR person in to give it a makeover? Perhaps it was Sunstreaker...), with the issue's key moment being him suggesting to the crown they never take the badges off. Thanks to all the rebuilding he's pretty much in his standard IDW Cybertronian body by the end of the issue.
The end of the issue seemingly brings another signature moment with Starscream's first betrayal of Megatron. Though whether or not this is all as it seems will have to wait till the finale...
Why is Soundwave the only one with a super-secret rubsign when everyone else has to wear their badge on a a chain? Why does he bother showing it to Swindle when Swindle must know who he is? Does no one ever ask him about the big black square on his chest?
When first introduced the Seekers all have slightly different designs, but latter they all have identical alt modes and Starscream's robot mode look clearly changes [The Constructicons did some quick enhancements?]
At the funeral Bumper and Fastback both have their names written in English on the top of the coffins -- somewhat overkill considering the Cybertronian versions on the bases are clearly just English text messed about a bit anyway.
During Sentinel Prime's speech he gets so emotional he completely changes colour to a funeral black. Sadly this occurs during a sequence where he's presumably supposed to be "suiting up" to the battle mode seen in issue one, but the colour mistake makes it seem as if someone else is suddenly talking.
Grimlock follows Soundwave's example and starts talking like his TV counterpart despite not having done so in other IDW appearances.
Why is Senator Decimus' statue suddenly in the arena where Megatron gives his speech? Did he have the Seekers steal it the same time they kidnapped him in order to really humiliate him- in which case why did no one see them flying about with a honking big statue behind them -- or did he have the arena built where the statue was -- in which case why so public? No wonder the Autobots finally caught him after three issues of being unable to find their recharge sockets with both hands.
For some reason the order to release Soundwave clearly has a barely disguised Decepticon logo on it, but none of the Autobots reading spot it.