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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)
Japanese
Manga
Other Books
and Titles

CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING

Transformers #4: Seasons in Flight
Reviewed by Blackjack

Issue Review

"I can’t think of the last time we created anything."

A superb sub-spotlight for Thundercracker, showing that Costa could do something good if he puts in some effort. This is how an ongoing issue should be: characterization and plot at the same time. It actually reminds me of some of the Marvel issues where it basically acts like a spotlight for a single character. The whole issue echoes of continuity, and it’s nice to see that Costa is actively trying to mend his work after the whole mess of issue one. At the very least, Costa has a great handle on characterization for second-stringers like Thundercracker and Swindle. The art is okay, and Thundercracker’s monologue brings anyone sane enough not to pick up AHM up to speed with most of what’s happening prior to the ongoing. And while Don’s movieverse hybrid style isn’t the best for a spotlight-esque issue (imagine if, say, Guido Guidi or Nick Roche penned this issue instead) it’s still serviceable, and is nowhere as bland as issue two. Thundercracker’s ruminations about beauty and whatnot could have worked better if it had been distributed throughout the issue as interludes between the Skywatch/Rodimus scenes instead of bunched up at the back, but it’s a minor complaint to the first decent issue in the ongoing. It’s the first time, ever, that Thundercracker had gotten anything resembling proper characterization. It’s about time, since he’s been here for twenty six years now.

It’s nice to see the Decepticons scampering around at the post-AHM flashback, defeated and leaderless (instead of stealing leadership positions like in TFTM). While it’s still hard to believe that Starscream and company had left them to rot for three years on Earth (Devastator and the Combaticons surely would be a great asset to the army?) it serves its purpose now. I just hope these dangling plot threads will be answered soon. Thundercracker respecting the humans and life (but not outright loving them) is a nice breather to all the ‘WE LOVE HUMANS’ party that Prowl and Optimus had joined. Rather, he seems to be more curious and intrigued by how fast humans change and all that. Rodimus is more realistic than how he had been in the last three issues, and that scene where he rejects the offer to rescue the Constructicons is a nice move. Swindle’s sweet-talking him with the whole ‘Rodimus Prime’ thing works nicely, and it’s nice to see Swindle actually showing his skills to sweet-talk someone. He may not respect continuity, but Costa has got a knack for scripting. Hell, even Prowl, whose portrayal I've criticized numerous times, is behaving like how he did. Talking about logic and jurisdiction and stuff. I would give Costa an excuse for that out-of-line characterization in the first issue if Prowl turns out to be observing Rodimus for his own agenda.

However, Rodimus still comes off as too na´ve and proud (especially with the name change), which is a shame considering the characterization Furman had given him in the –ions series. However, it’s hardly noticeable in this issue, especially with Swindle's dialogue leading up to it. Swindle and Magnus are well defined, and for once Rodimus’ name change from Hot Rod has an actual reason behind it, unlike Tankor or Silverstreak. Ultra Magnus is still golden, the same no-nonsense guy we see in the rest of the IDW output, and Swindle is a great character. Dialogue is sharp, pacing is great, characterization is wonderful and it respects continuity. Best of all, Spike is only in it for one page. It’s a shame, though, that this high standard wouldn’t be maintained for the subsequent issues.


Notes

In the flashback portions to the events of AHM #16, both Skywarp and Thundercracker are in their Masterpiece (F15) bodies, albeit done in Don’s new style. Afterwards, Reflector and presumably Scrapper fixes Thundercracker back into his E.J. Su era body (F22 Raptor), again done in Don-style.

Costa actually reconciles the Constructicons’ dual origins in IDW (what’s with the Constructicons and multiple origins anyway?) saying that while they are the youngest among the Decepticon, they are still millions of years old, effectively making more sense of the dialogue in AHM, whilst retconning the fact that they were recently built.

Watching television for a long time to learn human culture is probably a veiled reference to Wreck-Gar and the Junkions.

Rodimus and Swindle’s building site evokes the original Decepticon construction site way back in the debut cartoon episode ‘More than Meets the Eye Part One’.

Rodimus Prime is, if you don’t know, what Hot Rod would eventually become in the original Movie after opening the Matrix. In the IDW continuity, it’s a name cooked up by some of his followers, and immortalized by Swindle.

We see Sandstorm, reverted back to his Marvel character model (Don-ized) instead of the toy-accurate/Dreamwave faceplated version seen during Stormbringer and Revelations. The three-year gap gives this a leeway, at last.

Ultra Magnus references to his past encounters with Swindle last seen waaaay back in ‘Spotlight: Ultra Magnus’. It seems that the list of crimes have gone longer. It should be noted that Swindle sells combiner technology, a possible hint of what’s to come, and why Swindle is so desperate to get either the Constructicons or Stunticons back as a set…

Magnus has lots of pop-out weapons.

The Constructicons with Rodimus’ party include Mixmaster, Hook and Scrapper, while Scavenger is hiding in a human dockyard in Bumblebee #2, so presumably Long Haul and Bonecrusher were either captured by humans or too deactivated to help out.

Like in Devastation, they edited in a real-life picture of Earth from space into the last page as Thundercracker flies up into upper atmosphere.

At the Decepti-Comments section, Mike Costa challenges readers to name the BBC documentaries that Thundercracker is watching. The results were given in issue 7, with the winners getting an autographed comic. The winner is Jeffrey Sanders, and the documentaries are Planet Earth: Great Plains and Civilisation: A Personal View--The Skin of Our Teeth.

Goofs

Throughout the issue, they keep saying that AHM was three years ago, but in issue one Optimus says that it was two years ago. (For what it’s worth, most solicitations use the three-year-ago gap.)

Thundercracker said that the ragtag bunch of Decepticons who found him didn’t know about the betrayal because they were on other parts of the world. AHM may be clunky, but both Scrapper and Reflector were at New York City for the entire series, while Tankor should at least be aware of why his payload didn’t blow it into ashes.

Considering that it’s in flashback, it is implied that Seaspray was captured by Skywatch during the interim between AHM and the ongoing, yet Seaspray was seen alive and happy among the Autobots just last issue.

Quote/Unquote

Thundercracker: Sure, it was a teeming, festering cesspool of ‘life’. But life found a way to booby-trap even the moisture in the atmosphere. Life found a way. Without design or schematics. It just… changed itself.

Swindle: "Hey, you know what you're doing here? You're building a whole new world. You are the architect of a new age for us. I don't think anybody was ready to embrace an antebellum kind of idea following untold years of war. Anybody but you."

Ultra Magnus: "Prowl. Hot Rod."
Rodimus: "Rodimus Prime. Please."

Ultra Magnus: "Failure to cooperate here is treason!"
Rodimus: "Treason against whom? On whose authority are you even operating under?"

Prowl: "The war ended years ago, and under my observation Rodimus has not been colluding with the enemy to the letter of the law."
Ultra Magnus: "I'm sorry to see you here, Prowl. I don't understand why you summoned me if you were going to start committing crimes."

Prowl: "An Autobot was killed. Requesting a special investigator is proper procedure. Since then, I have examined the widsom of staying here after the surrender of our commanding officer. Leaving is the rational choice."
Ultra Magnus: "The 'rational' decision might not be the legal one."

Thundercracker: There's so much confusion and anticipation in the air. Especialy in the Autobots. The way they throw themselves into their work to drown out their mounting dread. Hot Rod--or 'Rodimus'--might actually talk faster than Swindle.

Thundercracker: Held the same allegiances. Lived the same lives. We call ourselves Transformers. Where's the transformation in that?

Thundercracker: We have so much to learn here. Yet all they want to do is fly away.

 
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