CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers #18: Revenge of the Decepticons Part 5: The Demolished Man
Reviewed by Blackjack
“NO! Why can’t you ever die?”
The thing is, this looks like another mediocre installment by Costa at first sight. But at a second reading, things really fall apart, and you wonder just what the hell is Mike Costa thinking, doing something like this. Evidently, Costa can be a good writer, I will not argue that point. It’s just that he’s not being one right now. Now, the good things first. Alex Milne’s art is pretty, and characters have great expressions, although there are some scenes—like Magnus speaking to Optimus—that could still do with some improvement. Compared with people like Carlos Magno, though, Alex Milne is still great. The random reference to Ore-13 being used up, after two years ever since it was last mentioned, is probably the closest thing we’ll get to closure over the matter.
Now, the plot. Or whatever is left of it, anyway. Kids, this issue is one of the perfect examples of the term ‘deus ex machina’. Basically it amounts to ‘pulling a plot device up your arse during the climax and using it to win the day’. Have we ever seen the stupid kinetic cannon whatchamacalit before? No, we haven’t. Not even a Dreamwave/Furman-style hush-hush file being placed aside somewhere. Just out of the blue Optimus sees blueprints that nobody ever mentions before, tells Jetfire to fly off, and throw the satellite down at Megatron. Now, while being a terrible usage of deus ex machina, it’s also a piss-poor job at telling a Transformers story. Another example of deus ex machina is Omega Supreme popping out at the end of AHM, but that was kind of cool, and it’s relevant. Here? Well, usually the reason humans are great allies of the Autobots is because of their BURNING JUSTICE fighting spirit, or their organic ingenuity, or by simply being overlooked by Decepticons. How humans can ever make technology that Transformers never expect, I don’t really know. I mean, by virtue of reverse-engineering the technology from the Transformers means that human tech is still behind the Transformers, no? And Optimus Prime is acting all angsty because Megatron can’t ever go down… well, nobody said war was going to be cakewalk for the good guys, right? And in any case Autobots being demoralized and everything have been explored before, in All Hail Megatron no less. Costa really, really can’t get a handle on writing Optimus Prime. Prime just comes off as a jerk. ‘Something different’? Well, if it was different and consistent, well, maybe I’ll let it slide. But throughout the ongoing Optimus Prime has evolved into a whiny I-give-up guy, into a cooperative bugger, into a shoot-them-all-and-let-god-sort-them-out killing machine, to this angsty guy who is crying because he can’t beat Megatron with a punch.
Well, when you have Autobot reinforcements like effing Omega Supreme and Broadside and whatever sitting around at base and not using them, Prime kind of deserves it for being an idiot. Really, why bother showing Omega Supreme and how they can’t defeat Megatron if they don’t throw Omega at Megatron? And the whole ‘shared leadership’ thing between Optimus Prime and Bumblebee? It looks silly, and stupid. Bumblebee never gets respect even after his leadership upgrade, and Optimus Prime always calls the shot everywhere. Was there, at any point in the ongoing series, does Bumblebee even qualify for leadership material when both he and Optimus are in the same room? It is really irritating, goes nowhere and is not even explored properly. Thundercracker, Shockwave and Jazz all fail to impress despite their redeeming qualities from Costa’s better works. In particular, after all the shock put into the horror of Jazz executing the beat mustache cop last issue, all he has to show for it here is two lines and a suspension order from Optimus.
Plot threads are thrown all around the place, from Ben Simpson’s anti-Transformer humans to Thundercracker and stuff. Things like Jazz killing a human, whatever it is Starscream is planning and everything are all forgotten and tossed into a corner. All the Jazz-kills-a-human thing serves as another catalyst for the human-hate thing to flare up, which has been done to death in all the past seventeen issues of the ongoing. And a glaring contest between Jazz and Prowl… which is so much identical to Ironhide and Mirage in AHM. Another thing I hated was Optimus Prime threatening Thundercracker. Now TC’s been through a lot, helping the Autobots when he doesn’t have to. Of course it stands that he’s a little flippant, but Optimus Prime doesn’t have to threaten him with imprisonment and stuff. Hell, even shoot-the-Decepticon-unable-to-fight Spike remarks on this.
Oh, and Costa shies away from killing off Soundwave. Now while it is one of the most ignomious deaths ever, Costa would’ve gained some respect in my eyes if he had sucked it up and killed Soundwave anyway, but it’s never going to happen, right? We all know Scrapper’s going to revived sometime down the road. Ironhide and Sunstreaker are both back… hell, anyone whose toy is before 1987 can’t die. That’s the rule. Which kinds of blows the whole ‘darker and edgier’ shit to hell. So, a headshot can’t kill? A chest-shot can’t kill? What can, then?
Really, all the angst that they put into killing Scrapper (one of the worst issues in Transformers history, lest we forget) will probably end up the same way as Ironhide’s death. Once the angst is no longer needed, they will forget about poor Ironhide. And revive him. Mark me words, if Costa doesn’t do it, somebody will revive Scrapper, if for the sake of having Devastator back on the map.
In particular Costa fashion, there must be a minimum of four pages of characters doing nothing but talk to each other about banal shite that could be shortened to one or two dialogue bubbles when you think about it.
And Megatron surrendering to the Autobots, and the Autobots not killing him? Tell me. Tell me in any single way does this make any sense. Now if Megatron had, say, a dead man’s switch, or a hostage or something, it might make sense. But here? He is surrendering
into Autobot and human hands, all for the sake of making Optimus Prime cry because Spike Witwicky murdered an unarmed Decepticon… when in the very last issue, Optimus Prime shot Soundwave in the head. If, say, Megatron tries to make Optimus cry because Spike has killed, oh, say, Seaspray or Gears during capturing them, now that’s another story. Now Prime is all ‘okay, humans, we really really like you and we will fight with you but you can’t shoot Decepticons’ heads off’. What the eff. Even the cartoon had more sense than that. Megatron himself has lost all the interesting vibes to him from the last issues, coming off like a reject Saturday cartoon diabolical villain. The whole thing is just confused and doesn’t make any sense.
And the worst part? Optimus doesn’t kill Megatron at the end of the issue when his whole mission at the beginning was to hunt Megatron down and kill him
, and he is so serious about it that he ignores Jazz, Spike, Prowl, Thundercracker and everybody else. And the end? He keeps him tied up so Megatron can torment him further.
Tell me there is any single thing right with that piece of crap they call ‘plot’.
“You have a terrible plan based around several, unknown variables.”
Optimus Prime jumping from a plane, through an opening cargo door, is too similar to the iconic opening scene in Revenge of the Fallen (and every other story featuring NEST) to be a coincidence. Only this is minus the parachutes. Optimus Prime crashing through the roof of a Decepticon-annexed human property, carrying a gun, is also very similar to how his movieverse counterpart barged in to face Megatron and Starscream at Revenge of the Fallen, prior to the forest fight scene.
Shockwave mentions that they used every ounce of Ore-13 to rebuild Megatron. Lest you forget, Ore-13 is the super-energon that was mined upon Earth by Shockwave in the Furmanverse arcs.
Astrotrain is now twice as tall as the average Decepticon. All of the Decepticons captured by Skywatch are freed. Aside from the ones seen captured in the ongoing series, Megatron’s forces now include Skywarp, captured in TF: Bumblebee and Ravage, captured in AHM 16, and apparently not killed as it was stated there.
Megatron’s new weapon is a rail gun, similar to his death-dealing weapon of choice in the Generation Two comics. Only in G2, people shot by the railgun actually die, instead of suffering from large gaping holes but is stuffed into the medbay. Also, it looks quite a fair bit like the live-action movie’s interpretation of the railgun, a human-engineered secret weapon.
As the only sane person in the base, Prowl realises that sending all their available medics out at the same time is a stupid move.
The three protesters seen on the monitor on page 19 are based on the likeness of real life Transformers fans. Namely, David ‘Kalelprime’ Wallace (founder of the Moonbase 2 podcast), Aimee ‘Ladywreck’ Morgan and Matt ‘King Grimlock’ Messenger, hosts of the Underbase Podcast. Matt’s shirt has an MB2 logo.
As proof of how uncreative Mike Costa is, the title for this issue is the exact same title as the first story of this arc. ‘The Demolished Man’.
“Prime, clearly you are here with some death wish.”
Oh, well, crap, where do we start? Artistic failures first, shall we? Although to be fair, none of it was Milne’s fault this time, but rather the colourist. Page one, panel one (yup, this is a good
sign). Wheeljack’s ears are glowing even though he isn’t talking. Same thing for page two, panel three.
During the panel with the many Decepticons, Blitzwing’s left wing is coloured as part of Astrotrain.
Astrotrain’s shoulders and chest details are not coloured.
Page nine, panel two. Octane (or Tankor or whatever you want to call him) is coloured as Prowl. Drag Strip, beside him, is block-coloured blue.
It seems that what is coloured as Starcsream is supposed to be Skywarp. While not a definite error, it seemed that Starscream is working on his own agenda. While not implausible that he might’ve holed up with Megatron for the time being, it’s unlikely.
Technical errors now. Shockwave mentioned that they chose the asteroid because it has the materials needed to rebuild Megatron… when in fact Soundwave had the idea of rebuilding Megatron some time after their stay on the asteroid.
You’d think Shockwave and Megatron will start shooting if somebody crashes down the roof carrying a gun.
You’d think they put some sentries outside so if, say, somebody was to drop a nuke instead of Emo-Prime…
Since when does Megatron care about what Optimus Prime does to his men? And if Megatron is worried that Optimus will kill another Decepticon, why the frak did he bring the entire army outside?
Why doesn’t Optimus Prime bring any reinforcements with him? No, really, why? Why why why? Even if Omega Supreme was needed to guard the wounded and stuff, wouldn’t Broadside and Prowl and those guys like Red Alert or Sandstorm or Smokescreen or Bluestreak that keeps disappearing between issues must earn their keep sometimes, right?
Optimus Prime says that the railgun is the first upgrade that Megatron has used over the millennia. Even discounting any battles that may have happened offscreen, what about Ore-13 in Infiltration? Or his unexpected gun alt-mode in Escalation?
How on Earth do humans advance their technologies faster than Transformers? What, Wheeljack, Scorponok, Perceptor and the whole mad scientist cadre are on vacation for a thousand years?
Instead of shooting Optimus Prime, Megatron tells Astrotrain to chase him. What does this serve, tactically?
Why would Optimus Prime care if Scrapper dies? He has been killing Decepticons all the while.
‘You are a traitor to our race!’, when clearly the Decepticons have slaughtered much more Autobots than the Autobots have killed Decepticons.
Why didn’t Optimus Prime kill Megatron?