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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)
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Other Books
and Titles

CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING

Transformers #1: For All Mankind
Reviewed by Blackjack

Issue Review

"Reduced, in our impotence, to naked hope. Hope that something horrible doesn't happen."

A mixed bag. While it's nice to see a decent issue after more than a year of crap in AHM, Costa delivers an adequate story. Figueroa's new style of art doesn't bother me as much, and the two-page spread is gorgeous. Figueroa just needs to work more with the faces. They don't really display much emotion, especially those mouths. The colourist is also better than the one that was assigned to AHM. It's also a decent opening for a new series, and much more happens in this issue than the first six issues of AHM. The inclusion of Breakdown and Streetwise is also nice, showing that the writer didn't just watch TFTM and a couple of season one episodes, then plucked a few other toy-only characters at random. But that's where my praise ends.

Ironhide's death is handled rather hastily, as if Costa killed off Ironhide just for the hell of it. The impact wasn't felt, and in all honesty, Ironhide's seeming destruction at the end of Escalation had more impact than this. Breakdown is wonderful as well, but the rest of the characters were seemingly rewritten, and rather unprofessionally at that. Prowl gave his life on the line for a Decepticon. It would've made more sense if it was Ratchet who got captured by Skywatch, establishing that this is the same devil-may-care Ratchet we saw in Infiltration. But we get Prowl, the heartless prick that manipulates others, to be the the one who risks his life for humans. While this would be explained (read: rewritten character) in Spotlight Prowl, the fact still remains that Optimus Prime and Hot Rod are way out of character. Hot Rod is not the daredevil guy who's wisened up from na´vety we saw in the -ions series or even AHM, but rather an arrogant, stuck-up idiot who acts like the Autobot version of Starscream. It's Costa's biggest weakness, really. If a character couldn't fit what Costa wants it to be, he ignores the character's previous incarnations.

Optimus, meanwhile, instead of the prioritized guy who abandoned Earth to the Decepticons in Devastation, is now an emo crybaby who heads off after Ironhide's death. It's a re-hash of the same plot when Ratchet died in Furman's Marvel comics, but in that issue Prime only brooded for a few pages instead of, oh, saying 'F*** all, I'll just give myself over to the humans'. Even if the character change is attributed to the loss of the Matrix it would've been yet another tired plot device. And why did the Transformers stay on Earth for two whole years anyway? After all, from the dialogue in AHM, the entire galaxy seems rather chaotic. Why Earth over the other planets? Why did the main 'Con army not attack Earth with their planet-destroyer missiles and wipe out the Autobots there? Why didn't someone like Ultra Magnus or Prowl or Jetfire or some other Autobot slap Prime silly and tell him to grow some balls and take the fight to the Decepticons? I can't really imagine someone like Sideswipe staying dormant for two entire years and not lose his temper. Why Earth, when Ore-13 or any other stuff isn't there? I just hope that several of these questions would be answered down the line.

And the worst one, Skywatch agents. In robot suits. Led by IDW's Spike Witwicky. Complete tosh. Robotic suits made by humans never make sense to me. They would be very expensive, and lost limbs would be expensive to maintain instead of, say, more advanced jets and tanks. The inhibitor thing makes sense, but the robot suits are complete rubbish. Skywatch had been the least interesting human government organization so far. At least the original Furmanverse version wasn't so IN YOUR FACE. Spike's still bollocks.

Still, I might have been too harsh due to IDW's lack of respect on continuity lately. It's a decent issue, but not up to the high standards that IDW could churn out lately. Bottom line is, it's a decent issue, if, and only if, it's on a separate continuity. It's rather enjoyable if you don't consider it in continuity with the -ions, but otherwise it's another result of IDW's general ignorance. Still, it shows promise. But AHM also showed promise the first time it appeared, and look how that turned out.

Notes

The events of this issue take part three years after AHM. The Autobots have been there all while, and several other Autobots have arrived on Earth, although other than Streetwise, only the AHM cast is seen this issue.

Don has changed his art style in a more movie-influenced style. For the sake of not flaming IDW further, I'll just take it as simply art style instead of each Transformer being overhauled. However, Ratchet has gained a new, slightly different alternate mode, while Prime is given a Don-ized version of a cross between his Masterpiece and Classics toys, and has a red trailer now. Hot Rod is in his AHM G1-esque body, albeit more streamlined. Same thing goes for Wheeljack. Oh, and Wheeljack's 'ears' glow yellow now instead of blue. Ironhide and 'Bee are still in their IDW bodies, albeit Don-ized. We only get glimpses of Mirage, Sideswipe and Hound, but presumably they retain their previous bodies or have been reworked a little.

It's a nice touch, however, that in the splash page of the conflict on Earth, they are drawn in Don-ized versions of their IDW bodies. For example, Hardhead is in Devastation/Revelations Earth body, while Swoop is in his Nick Roche body. The splash page is probably intended to show the non-literal conflict on Earth between the Autobots and Decepticons prior to the Ongoing, since guys like Hardhead and the Dinobots aren't around during AHM. It also contains several references:
-the Dinobots are facing off against Devastator, akin to the two groups' rivalry in the original cartoon.
-Devastator has gotten rows of teeth in his jaws, seemingly based on his ROTF potrayal.
-Ratchet kung-fu kicks Thundercracker in the crotch, akin to a similar infamous scene in the cartoon episode 'Changing Gears'.
-Kup bends one of Scorponok's cannons like what he did to Blitzwing in TFTM.

Breakdown's new body is based on the Universe Sunstreaker/Sideswipe toy, since they all have the same G1 alternate mode of a Lamborghini Countach. He also has his name on the license plates. Future redeco, anyone?

Gears and Windcharger have been captured by Skywatch. But they never bothered to rescue those two. Animals.

Skywatch uses inhibitors similar to one of Megatron's 'weapon of the week' in the G1 cartoon. The crash suits seem to be ripped off from Devil's Due GI Joe crossover. Presumably, they are all reverse-engineered from the captured transformers (Ravage, Thrust et al) during the AHM events.

Optimus Prime paraphases his 2007 Movie counterpart in his line, "Easy, Ironhide." He paraphases the 1986 Movie yet again in the line "'Till all are one."

The title of this issue, shown on the final page, refers to the inscription left on the Moon by Apollo 11. "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind."

Goofs

On the splash page, Sludge has a purple Autobot insignia.

Scorponok is as large as Devastator, when in the IDW continuity he's only about twice (or three times) as large as Hot Rod.

Prowl breaks cover to help Breakdown. This is the same guy who is prepared to leave Kup, a fellow Autobot, to death. This is the same guy who is prepared to keep Prime in the dark about the escalation on Earth for the sake of reputation.

Why the hell didn't Prowl use his holomatter thing to help Breakdown?

Prowl mentions three of those robotic suits, when four drop out of the ship.

How Skywatch cannot figure out how to control the Cassettes for twenty or so years, yet they can build effective robotic gundam suits in two years is beyond me.

How the Autobots can relax as human cars instead of fighting the Decepticon army who's wiped out all the Autobots bar the AHM cast, the Wreckers, the Throttlebots, Metroplex and Streetwise is beyond me.

During Prowl's rescue, the prose says that it's in the night, but the colouring is that of the evening time.

Quote/Unquote

Optimus Prime: Freedom is the right of all sentient beings. I believe that. I believe it is the duty of all advanced races to spread freedom through space. But all we've spread is war.

Skywatch Chick: "Single actor, DS-345, self-identifying as 'Breakdown'."
Spike: "Where do they get these names...?"

Skywatch Guy: (to police officer) "They insist on paying me like ten times your salary, so I sorta have to know these things."

Optimus Prime: This is a bitter loss, Ironhide. I grieve for you, and for myself that I should require so harsh a lesson to finally do the right thing. But I'll never forget. And I'll honor you as you deserve, old friend.

Optimus Prime: "I leave no successor, as I am unfit to choose one. You have my certainty that you will find a better course without me. Goodbye."

 
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