CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers Monstrosity #1
Reviewed by Red Dave Prime
Not meaning to play on its title but Monstrosity is indeed a curious beast of a comic. Set in the IDW main universe but still wanting to carve its own way, it has a feel of a darker version of season 3 of the sunbow cartoon. Not surprising given the writing talent behind this (and prequel series, Autocracy). It’s most notable when characters already established in previous issues act very differently in this. The Terrorcons and Scorponok are the most glaring examples in this first issue. Scorponok displays none of the smarts or Machiavellian plotting that made him a daft but fun villain in Furmans run and the Terrorcons are so confident in their own strength here that it would be near impossible to link them to the cowed, wannabe lackeys of Sixshot.
Still, while it may play a little loose with the universe its set, issue 1 does set up lots of running plot threads. We have Dai Atlas preparing to leave Cybertron with the Knights, Optimus Primes first crisis of leadership, Megatrons trials on Junkion, Scorponoks leadership coup and, and… well you get the idea. It’s a bit crammed. Hence my scatter-gun approach to the summary. This may have worked fine with the digital issues (each running at 8 pages) but as a printed collection of parts 1 to 3 it feels a bit like a sugar rush. So much is going on, but nothing is given a really clear focus. It’s hard to know where the series is heading or what it’s trying to say, beyond lots of loosely connected incidents. Still, there are three issues to follow, or another 9 in digital land so there’s plenty of time for things to come together.
It wouldn’t be fair to review an issue of Monstrosity without comment on the artist. Like Chaos and Autocracy, Livos work lends a certain atmosphere. Indeed, you could argue it only lends one type of atmosphere and while his style works wonderfully for some scenes it can be absolutely useless for less dramatic character scenes. Also, while he does masked Transformers like Grimlock and Prime well, his faces are generally useless too, getting across very little emotion. Overall, I like his stuff but it’s only going to work with certain scripts. It fits a story set during such a dark age of Cybertron but not always.
In summing up, Monstrosity #1 is an interesting but over-egged start to a series. It has some good scenes and some bad, but these are all short, lending it an almost 90’s MTV vibe. Many of IDWs previous series have been rightfully slated for being too light or too slow but sometimes things too need space to breathe and resonate. That doesn’t seem to be the case here, but first issues do tend to be info-dump heavy in most cases so hopefully things improve. The other nag is that with one quarter of the story down, I can’t say what the central focus is. Hopefully part 2 clears that up.
Monstrosity is the direct sequel to Autocracy, IDWs first digital Transformer series. This is the first print issue of four in the monstrosity series. It collects the first 3 digital issues (each 8 pages in length).
The Grand Convocation seems to have been set up to fill the hole left when Zeta Prime and his leadership was destroyed by Megatron (see Autocracy). It consists of a mix of Transformers – Bulkhead, Xaaron and Dai Atlas being the most obvious. There are no Decepticons present in the Convocation and it doesn’t seem to be an Autobot led assembly.
Metroplex appears to be acting as the Autobot Headquarters, after being awoken in Autocracy by Optimus Prime.
In his quarters, Optimus Prime seems to have busts of the most recent Primes – with an empty slot maybe being reserved for Zeta Prime.
Megatron's damaged state is a direct follow-on from the ending to Autocracy and indicates the there is little time since the ending of that series and the beginning of this one.
The scene in which Scorponok throws Megatron's battered body out into Space is a clear homage to the similar scene in the Animated Movie.
Although Wreck-gar is not named, he is clearly the Bot leading the Junkions.
The Quinntesson Pentius calls himself a King without a thrown. Pentheus in Ancient Greece was a King who defied the god Bacchus and means “Man of Sorrow”. There may be a connection (or I may be reading too much into that one)
Tankor (formely Octane) seems to be absolutely massive when he is seen flying with the seekers. Maybe not a goof as such but given that his earth form was just a plane it seems odd to see him represented as so huge.
Another size issue – When Scorponok picks up Megatron to throw him out he absolutely dwarves Megatron and is able to pick him up in one claw. Although he is always presented as big in the issue, the size difference here seems too extreme.
“Wait, I Still Function” – Megatron, continuing the autocracy tradition of “subtle” nods to the animated movie.
“You forget what happens when we lose control and change alt modes?” – Swoop, hinting at things not being quite right with the Dynobots.
“The Darkness told me you would come” – Pentius, hinting at a connection to everyone’s favourite evil matrix.