CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers #15: Revenge of the Decepticons Part 2: Altered Carbon
Reviewed by Blackjack
” But then something lucky happened. And Megatron was also savvy enough to always capitalize on opportunity.”
Costa juggles the multiple plot threads well. There are several minor retcons, and the little shuffling, with the timeline that issues 1-6 and 13 took place several months prior to issues 8-12 and 14, but other than the ever-present body-design problem the issue is surprisingly readable. The Ben Simpson bit in the front is unbelievably banal and is another example of the page-filler-two-guys-chit-chat thing that constantly plagues the ongoing. We could do perfectly fine without them. However, the rest of the issue kind of offsets this little problem. The monologue is excellent. While it would at first seem to be Megatron who’s doing the narration, the narration constantly refers to Megatron in the third person. It couldn’t be Starscream, and Soundwave was also referred to in the third person. So it’s either Shockwave or a real narrator. Whichever case, it’s great. While I always prefer monologues, this kind of third-person narration also works wonders. Dots are connected rather smoothly (barring the odd bit of continuity glitch like Frenzy and Starscream’s body), making the revelation flashbacks interesting.
Megatron’s body being rebuilt into a new one while the old one is scrapped down into weapons, while kind of disbelief-inducing at first, is original, and not really that absurd. The mind control edge takes away some of the absurdity of it. Although it is obvious that keeping the gun in the ruined Skywatch base would just make someone—Pennington or Doctor Einstein perhaps, or the missing traitor girl—to get influenced sometime down the road. What is absurd is that how they managed to get every single gun looking exactly like Megatron’s Walther handgun alternate mode. Megatron keeping some control in each of the mini-Megatron guns is realistic, though, and is a great plot device for the Decepticons to influence Joe Gladki to shoot Bumblebee. The pages with the gun distribution, while rather banal, were necessary. Ultra Magnus is golden in this issue as the pragmatic soldier we’ve always seen. ‘This feels like we are running.’ ‘That’s because we are.’ Magnus comes off as a great leader as well, the kind who does what has to be done. Brawn is also shaping up nicely, building up on what we’ve seen him before in the ongoing’s issues. And judging from the preview to next issue’s cover it seems like Brawn’s going to get some screen time at last. It should be fun, I hope, all fingers crossed. Thundercracker’s plot thread is picked up again since Costa seems to really like him, but I just hope more of the Thundercracker in issue four instead of his dire portrayal in recent issues. It would certainly be interesting to see how Thundercracker would respond to Starscream’s recruitment drive. Oh, and even the crap from International Incident is kind of justified to give Ben Simpson and Joe Gladki some motivation for what they did. Joe’s transgression into what amounted to a machine is tragic and ironic.
It’s amazing how the same person can botch up a character, only to make him amazing the next issue. Starscream is golden in this issue, the way he doesn’t immediately kowtow to Megatron after learning his survival, instead maintaining leadership for however long it is between Megatron’s revival and Rodimus’ assault. That bit where he pretends to be angry—the narration asserts that he is having ‘practiced outrage’ to obtain his leadership whilst the dialogue only implies that he is furious at the butchering of poor helpless Megatron—is perfectly well done. I just hope this moment of non-cartoon characterization wouldn’t be handwaved as the Matrix’s effect. Also, in a move that I like, Megatron does not immediately shoot Starscream after being rebuilt, because, hey, someone
has to take command. It is kind of a great move, how someone isn’t allowed to steal back his own position unless a perfectly good reason presents itself (like losing the Matrix, for example). This makes it more believable that Starscream, Megatron and the Decepticons as a whole have survived this long despite the web of treachery that surrounds them. Shockwave is great value as well, for what little we’ve seen of him. I just hope we get more issues like this instead of ones with bad plot and bad jokes. Let’s see how long we can maintain this standard again. I wouldn’t say ‘come back now’ to people who have given up on IDW, but it seems like Costa is beginning to shape up. There is a million ways this could unwind into an irreparable mess, though.
Lots of continuity notes here. Megatron’s defeat, shot in the head by Spike Witwicky then beaten up by Optimus, happened in All Hail Megatron #12. Megatron was repaired slowly, seen in AHM #13 and Ongoing #7. He was in a tank in issue #7 and was self-aware, but apparently Megatron’s body was unsalvageable. Presumably issue 7 took place before Soundwave disconnected Megatron’s original body from life support. Starscream’s Matrix plotline flowed from AHM #13, and Ongoing #7 and #13. The broadcast of the battle between Optimus and the Combaticons happened in #12. Joe shooting Bumblebee also happened in #12 and was picked up last issue. Thundercracker presumably left the Autobots after #12.
According to Ben Simpson, there are ‘hundreds’ of the weapons in the country. While it might be just hyperbole, it is conceivable that a forty-feet tall robot could yield that many handguns.
Everything in this issue happened in flashbacks, mostly four months prior to ‘International Incident’, putting the main flashback scenes of this issue around the timeline of issue six/seven of the ongoing. Other than the Ben Simpson bit, that is.
The scene where Starscream carries Megatron off in a cradle, with the blue Cassettecon (Frenzy, if we go by their colours in AHM and assume they switched colours prior to the ongoing) carrying Megatron’s discarded fusion cannon, evokes a similar scene where a near-dead Megatron is cradled away to safety by Soundwave in the original Transformers the Movie, with the blue Cassettecon (Rumble in the cartoon) carrying the fusion cannon.
Since Megatron is apparently already up in his new body when Starascream confronts Shockwave and Soundwave (probably some time after #7), apparently he has been sulking in the sidelines all along until #13, which takes place four months prior to ‘International Incident’. Presumably the nearly-rebuilt Megatron we saw in issue #7 was meant to represent Megatron’s new body, but E.J. Su misread the script and thought he was supposed to design an upgraded body for Megatron. Or something.
Megatron respected the chain of command enough to not wrestle command of the Decepticons from Starscream until the Rodimus incident, which gives credence to how the Decepticons could survive for so long. Still, there’s the Matrix…
As a retcon, it seems that the Frenzy-captured-by-Skywatch bit in Bumblebee #2 has been retconned out in favour of Frenzy being on the asteroid with Rumble and Soundwave (and apparently switching colours sometime therein, too).
Following the change in issue #7, Shockwave has a red eye instead of a yellow one now.
The Drift header for Simpson’s website is seen again.
Doctor Einstein is named Schwalbe.
Pennington apparently isn’t dead, but in critical and immovable condition.
Blurr is seen in his new Earthen alternate mode. There’s also a white SUV which kind of resembles Ratchet’s ambulance mode, but without the ambulance markings (plus Ratchet is supposed to be MIA) so since it doesn’t resemble anyone else except maybe a miscoloured Trailbreaker, I’ll assume it’s a generic vehicle.
Starscream’s body design. In previous issues we have seen that Starscream is still in his F15 body from AHM. Since Don drew this issue, Starscream is inexplicably back in his pre-AHM F22 body. While I like the F22 design better, it does show poor editing skills again, made especially
jarring in that the flashback to AHM #12 and Ongoing #7 had Starscream in his correct F15 mode.
The flashback to the Rodimus vs Starscream scene didn’t quite happen like that. Rodimus never leapt from behind Starscream. Instead they had a Mexican standoff thing.
Also, the art erroneously displays Megatron shooting Rodimus with his old fusion cannon instead of his new blade cannon thing. The Matrix also falls away from Rodimus, which it didn’t happen in issue #13.
Last we saw, Frenzy and Rumble still tower over humans, but now Rumble (the blue one) can hold the Mega-gun quite comfortably in his hand. Soundwave, too, but maybe they come in different sizes?
Ben Simpson: “Like any gun, if you handle it properly, these weapons are perfectly safe.”
Starscream: “You butchered Megatron and made from his body some sort of ghoulish arms cache?”
Megatron: “Really, Starscream, I’m touched you’d remain so obsequious even after my death.”
Megatron: “You don’t seem as surprised to see me as I’d hoped.”
Starscream: “You’re back. I knew you would be… eventually. I just didn’t think these idiots would rebuild you at the expense of our only way out of this asteroid. They’ve revived you to be a prisoner here with the rest of us, so the joke’s on you.”
Shockwave: “Some of us are capable of performing two tasks at once.”
Narrator: But then Starscream discovered that what he had seen was only an abandoned carapace… from which something more horrible had emerged.
Narrator: And everything he used to be–all the weakness, all the failure, everything shopworn and old—was pushed into oblivion.