CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers #6: Earthworks
Reviewed by Blackjack
No! Hold it together, you idiot!
After the decent build up through issues three through five, this conclusion to the first arc fails miserably. Optimus Prime’s grand return is immediately eclipsed by his anal decision to remain in human custody, while Menasor, who seemed so dangerous and powerful with the splash page last issue, falls flat. Hell, Dreamwave did it better, in my honest opinion. At least they didn’t make Menasor riddled with holes, did they? Spike is rubbish, and Rodimus is also rubbish, acting so out of character that it hurts. The Spike/Optimus scenes, as usual, contain banal exposition crap, while the Skywatch guys are lifeless. Thundercracker blasting Scrapper also doesn’t make sense. Especially when we don’t discover what exactly happened to him. (Did he join the Autobots? Did he go all loner-mode and bugs off alone? Did Skywatch catch him? What?)
The only characters that are done well this issue are only the aforementioned Scrapper, as well as Bumblebee. Bumblebee builds up on his supposed maturation in the Bumblebee miniseries and stands up to Magnus, the prick, nicely. Ultra Magnus is still hell-bent on catching Swindle and Rodimus, which is nice. However, after several issues of doing basically the same shtick, it's beginning to grate. Magnus really feels one-dimensional, but at least it's mostly consistent with his previous portrayals. And if (and only if- I could’ve been reading too much into the story) Rodimus actually goes off to fix his mistakes by finding the tired plot device, the Matrix, it might redeem his character some. But having characters acting nicely for one or two scenes isn’t enough to save the entire plot. The issue itself only seeds plot threads, and fails as a whole.
The action scenes are pretty decent, with Optimus Prime slamming on Swindle in his truck mode particularly hilarious and cleanly drawn. Menasor’s internal fighting is done nicely, although again Dreamwave’s attempt reads better with Menasor’s turmoil being internal instead of his component Stunticons shouting stuff out. There is also that nice scene where Scrapper laments being the ‘old combiner’, but all of these little golden scenes are off-set by the sheer stupidity of the conclusion. Prime handing himself over to Skywatch, Rodimus being a jerkass and leaving his men behind after all the effort he made to help them gel together, Bumblebee being useless in the fight, Thundercracker reliving AHM #12… also, the rushed ending means that we have no idea what happened to the Decepticons. Who were captured? Who escaped? Did Spike return Hoist and the others? Basically, it’s a rushed ending to a mediocre first arc, with the Autobot/Skywatch uneasy alliance being unprofessionally done. At the very least Costa had the decency to let Bumblebee doubt Spike’s intentions, thus not completely retconning the Bumblebee miniseries.
The issue is not as poorly done as the conclusion to All Hail Megatron (random betrayals, boring speeches et al) but it walks the thin line between acceptable and crap. While they should’ve done the obvious and make Skywatch into Autobot allies similar to NEST or at least write Skywatch off, it seems like the dull Skywatch arc is continuing for the next several issues.
The cover is advertised to be a wraparound cover, but is instead split among two issues. This results in Optimus Prime having half his body stuck in another cover.
Optimus Prime dropping from a plane seems to be based on the scene in Revenge of the Fallen, while jumping up like that seems to be based on a similar scene in the original movie. Optimus jumping up and blasting Menasor on the face seems very familiar to Dreamwave’s Transformers #4, where Optimus performed a similar move to defeat Devastator. Menasor doesn’t immediately keel over from the shot, though.
Scrapper being pissed off at another gestalt seems to be based on a similar scene where Mixmaster is pissed off at the new gestalts in ‘Second Generation’, a Marvel UK story arc.
Spike’s mecha-suit has camouflage markings.
Rodimus’ crew (Silverstreak, Red Alert, Jetfire et al) have been absorbed by the main Autobot army again.
Rodimus seems to be going off to find the Matrix by himself to atone for his misdeeds in the past. This part, at least, is still in character to Furman’s Hot Rod. However, it isn’t really made clear whether this is the case or whether I’m reading too much into the story.
Brawn, Jazz and Ratchet, who accompanied Bumblebee and Magnus last issue, are nowhere to be seen this issue. Ratchet appears later on, but Brawn and Jazz have been replaced by Mirage.
Dead End is parsed as Dead-End.
One of the Stunticons (Breakdown?) is miscoloured as Red Alert when he surrenders.
While this had happened before, it is particularly noticeable in this issue. Several times, many characters are block-coloured rather unprofessionally.
Bluestreak is named Silverstreak.
Why didn’t Spike Witwicky return all the other Autobot prisoners (Windcharger, Gears, Hoist, Seaspray, Beachcomber, Tracks) to Bumblebee? That would’ve been a better show of trust, no? Unless it happened offscreen.
Scrapper: “Everyone wants to focus on the big guy. Just ‘cuz we have a new combiner.”
Ultra Magnus: “Bumblebee, my jurisdiction is clear. Stay out of this or-”
Bumblebee: “Or what? Magnus, I’m in charge here now. Not you, not your ridiculous statues. Who do you even answer to anymore?”
Ultra Magnus: “I answer to a body of governors that’s been implanted to-”
Bumblebee: “Wrong. On this planet, you answer to me.”
Bumblebee: “So you will listen to me. And you will obey. No Autobot is being arrested to day while I’m here, regardless of their mistakes.”