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

Issue Review

Robots! On the cover, anyway. The interior barely features them. The Transformers do get plenty of dialogue in their alt-modes, the art is lubberly, and the sequence of events ties into the (assumed) movie plot with alacrity. I'm just not feeling it. It was different when the no-robots thing was applied to IDW's own universe in Infiltration, as that was leading up to a big open-ended story. This is leading up to one we already basically know and which is set to be a fairly run-of-the-mill action sequence with big effects. Don't mind me, I'll try to keep this objective...

We kick off as Starscream, Barricade and Blackout make planetfall -- the first two killing the witnesses to their arrival. Meanwhile, Sector 7 are continuing with plans to draw any Transformers out into the open by mimicking the radiation signature of the Allspark; we're told that copying (rather than scraping off a fragment of the cube) is necessary because it reacts badly to such attempts, and the last time it was tried resulted in the Three Mile Island incident -- a nuclear accident that, in our own universe, occurred in Pennsylvania in 1979 due to reactor coolant failure and for which the exact cause was never determined. Nice choice of detail there.

Bumblebee inspects the asylum Archibald Witwicky was kept in, finding it dilapidated and abandoned. There doesn't seem to be any reason why he couldn't have pulled this information up online, but perhaps he was hoping for some remnant of an energy signature.

Agent Simmons turns out to be the descendant of the guy who oversaw Megatron's removal from the ice many years ago, following the theme of generations re-encountering Transformers and emphasising the long lifespan of the alien robots. Speaking of which, there's an additional page on the subject of Sam and his family's heirlooms.

The rest of the issue deals with the Decepticons stumbling onto Sector 7's plan to capture Bumblebee. Whilst the organisation might have been in a position to take down one non-military Autobot they stand no chance against three hostiles, and the 'Cons are also able to extract a bit of information from the on-site mainframe link before its plug is pulled. With no obvious leads, the bad guys decide to rough Bumblebee up a bit and let him escape -- hoping that he'll lead them to the Allspark.

The story will be followed up in a four-issue adaptation of the film, to be released at weekly intervals during June, and of course in the film itself a week into July. Unusually, the trade paperbacks for both this series and the movie adaptation will be released at the start of June -- so not only will the adaptation come before the film, but also before the individual issues. As an incentive to get them, the issues are planned to include extra material in the form of interviews with the movie production team, galleries of CGI art, etc.

I'm favouring watching the film first, personally. One of the main things that it has going for it is the big screen explosions 'n' fx factor; Don's done sterling work with the art for the prequel, but even so a static page has limitations and the designs don't carry emotion very well. It remains to be seen whether that situation will improve once they're moving -- currently I'm feeling extremely could-take-it-or-leave-it. It's not disllusionment with the comics series, more that I'm not yet seeing anything to be excited about with the film storyline itself. The framework hurts the tie-in fiction; nothing can happen on Earth in any of it that counts towards this movie or any sequels, and that means they're never going to be particularly exciting whilst stories are confined to our planet. Having said that, if we get a future series that deals with Transformers in the rest of this universe (particularly on Cybertron pre-war) more than Earth, I'll be all over it. Here's hoping.

And once more for good measure: Chris Ryall for a main IDW universe Spotlight issue? Maybe even a mini?

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