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Transformers: Movie Prequel #3 (of 4)
Reviewed by Denyer

Issue Review

Don gets to draw a lot of humans this issue, which shifts the focus onto Archibald Witwicky, his descendants and Sector 7. Later on we learn that the humans plan to draw Bumblebee (designated as Non-Biological-Entity 2) out with a fake Allspark, and the Decepticons (Starscream, Blackout and Barricade) show up on Mars.

There are some Easter eggs to pick out, such as a box-cab Optimus Prime and Ironhide (possibly plus others) in traffic -- though a trick was missed in not modelling the black Sector 7 long-nose on RiD Scourge. More noticeably, a movie tag-line gets an airing on page two. It feels a bit forced as dialogue ("Their war! Our world!" could use an "on" or a "come to", mebbe) but Archibald's mad fit offers a frame for working in a two-page splash featuring some modern day movie alt-modes. Official appearances of the Transformers themselves (in robot or alt-modes) seem to be being rationed in the lead-up to release, which gives the instant dissemination of material leaked onto the web a distinct advantage over comics and magazine articles when it comes to getting attention.

Twenty-six years after we last saw him, the blinded explorer Witwicky has been straight-jacketed and dumped into a dark asylum cell. Having done his flash-forward, we cut to preparations for Megatron being moved to a base under the Hoover dam in the 30s, then to 2003 as the robots finally come looking for what's theirs.

Sector 7 are prepared and on the scene of Bumblebee's planetfall within minutes, but his ability to mimic a vehicle within seconds catches them unawares. I have to say I'm really, really not keen on Transformers having the ability to morph into new alt-modes; it takes the magic out of transformation -- or rather, it turns it into magic rather than science fiction. This type of nanotech is problematic for storytelling; if you can rearrange matter at a base level, it would either obviate most threats that can be introduced or is selectively applied as a cop-out. "A wizard did it" isn't exciting; it's fiction written by a marketing department rather than people with a shred of interest in or respect for engineering.

Sorry, where was I?

We spend a couple of pages with the Witwicky family, with a young Sam none-too-impressed with his great-great-grandfather's surviving possessions. Then it's back to Sector 7, where more examples are detailed of the effect captured Transformer tech has had on the development of human civilisation; specifically named are William Hayward Pickering (a NASA pioneer) and Robert Oppenheimer (creator of the atomic bomb) but there are other portraits decorating the Sector 7 boardroom that presumably reflect other inventors who in this world derived their inventions from Megatron's workings. We can probably assume that this point will be glossed over in the film, if script drafts currently doing the rounds are anything to go by.

Bumblebee digs up some information on teh intarwebs about Archibald and the Ice-Man claims, whilst Sector 7 put their plan into action. Unknown to either group Decepticons have camped out on Mars, encountering the Beagle probe that was featured in the movie teaser trailer, so we get to see Don's take on cybertronian robot modes for a few of them. Again, as a big reveal, this is a little undermined by the information that's already circulating. Those reading this who haven't been mingling with the online fandom are in a better position to appreciate it, and I can imagine any kids who've gotten their hands on issues (or who'll get the collected edition) as particularly likely to be more excited -- plus be propelled to investigate some real-life history.

If you haven't already started picking this series up, it would be fair to say it'll read fine in trade paperback form -- the first issue is the most standalone chunk of story. I'm a little disappointed we aren't getting more on the efforts of other Autobots to comb the galaxy for the Allspark (operating on other worlds, robot action that needn't spoil the Earth alt-modes Hasbro have lined up for the film) -- which a prequel series seems ideally suited to -- but we're back to the fact of any project like this being constrained to stay "on-message" by the license-holder/studio. It essentially has to be, well, non-essential.

Ryall for a main IDW universe spotlight issue, please. It'd be nice to see what he can come up with without restriction.

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