CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers #19: Space Opera Part 1: The Stars My Destination
Reviewed by Blackjack
”I fix your walking you stop talking.”
Clearly Costa’s talent is in creating stories like these, that center around a character. All of his best stories so far, his only
good stories, are the ones that revolve around a character or two. Like Thundercracker in issue four, or Megatron in issue seven and fourteen, or Hot Rod in issue thirteen. Here Hot Rod and Wheelie take center stage with no other characters other than the bumbling alien supporting characters. Again, like all stories that does not involve Skywatch or Costa’s fugly Optimus Prime in any capacity, this one is a nice breather from the crappiness of the past few issues. Hot Rod is still quite off, but at least he is bearable and really not that bad, compared to everything else Costa had lobbed towards us. He still comes off as a little pompous, and bringing the Matrix back as the plot device™ can’t help but make my eyes grate. It’s not overdone yet here because everybody still thinks it’s just another power source… I’d be pleasantly surprised if it’s all that the Matrix was, but we all know Costa isn’t the subversive type. Wheelie rhymes, but doesn’t come off as that annoying, but rather quite charming. The aliens are generic and uninteresting, but at least they have some fun dialogue between them, not dry and dreary like the Reapers or the villains from the Drift mini.
I have to praise Wheelie actually being shown to be a survivalist instead of just randomly popping up anywhere like he had been for any pre-IDW comic appearances. It’s a nice continuation of Spotlight: Wheelie, continuity headaches (see goofs) notwithstanding. The exile driving him loony, as well as his unique way of dealing with the aliens, is something refreshingly different instead of just retreading the stupid Skywatch plot all over again. Guido Guidi’s art is so much better compared to his sub-par work in the International Incident series; that Chaosteros is genuinely awesome. That said, though, while this is a nice short story unto itself, the fact that IDW’s gone on a campaign for ‘THE ROAD TO CHAOS’ is a bad omen, since the last time they campaigned for something that ‘will change Transformers FOREVAR’ we get All Hail Megatron. Still, no need to worry about future issues; we have plenty of time to bitch about them when they do appear, yes. It’s nice to see Transformers being brought into the space again. While I am not the biggest fan of random aliens, it’s a nice touch that they used alien species that we’ve seen before, and the basic premise of getting off the rock, and the Autobots being cold enough to leave two of the aliens behind for the Chaosteros to eat, and to certain death since the planet is spiraling into the sun, is a nice touch. Not quite a lot happens here, but it’s better to have little happening and have an adequate story, rather than to have lots of shit happening all at once.
Wheelie was stranded on this planet in Spotlight: Wheelie, and got his rhyming tic here. According to Rodimus (he still refers to himself as this instead of Hot Rod) Wheelie was lost when he joined the Autobots, so apparently this retcons Continuum, not that it’s a bad thing, since the timing of Spotlight: Wheelie is vague at best… so instead of this happening in the far flung future as IDW has always claimed whenever asked, Spotlight Wheelie now takes place in the distant past.
In a nice touch, all the three aliens have appeared in IDW material before. A member of the Ilxian race has previously appeared in Spotlight: Blaster as captain of the ship that rescued said Autobot. Some similar aliens have also appeared in Spotlight: Kup and as a background member of the Reapers in Devastation. Codder and Garnak are the same species with the thugs that appeared in the bar in Spotlight: Drift.
The Chaosteros, based on the Chaos monster from the episode ‘Chaos’ in the G1 cartoon, first appeared in Spotlight: Wheelie as well. This one has a more skeletal-based head design than the other Chaosteros. The other monster seen in Spotlight: Wheelie, the Arachnosaur, appears in the foreground of panel four of page three. None of them are named in this issue.
While we don’t get to see a full-body shot of it, anyone who’s watched the 1986 movie will recognize that Wheelie has taken up residence inside a Quintesson ship, you know, those spiral things. Now you might remember that at the end of Spotlight: Wheelie we see a bunch of Quintesson murals… it’s lampshaded by Rodimus’ monologue ‘this feels strangely familiar’.
By the way, Hot Rod clearly considers himself being Rodimus Prime, or at least plain Rodimus, since he tells Wheelie that he ‘used to have a different name’.
Wheelie having a necklace of teeth and whatnot is based on his concept design of being a survivalist. This has cropped up in the children’s book ‘Wheelie, the Wild Boy of Quintessa’ but was dropped for the 1986 Movie proper.
Starting with ongoing issue 19, the cover has ‘The Road to CHAOS’ emblazoned on top of it, hinting of some big Transformers arc in the ongoing.
‘The Stars My Destination’ is a reference to a 1956 science fiction novel by Alfred Bester.
Reflector was unambiguously killed at the end of Spotlight: Wheelie, but they appear fine in both All Hail Megatron and the Ongoing, so retconning Spotlight: Wheelie into taking place in the past makes this a continuity error, unless there is a second set of Reflectors running around (which is not implausible), or some Decepticon team arrived and repaired Reflector off-screen (also not implausible).
Chalk it up to artistic license, but the hole that Megatron blasted through Hot Rod’s chest back in the previous issues was too big for the Matrix to fit snugly into… although since this is the Matrix we can assume it repaired Hot Rod for a bit.
Varta is also missing, but given the vague timeframe it isn’t implausible to say that something might have happened to him. Wheelie also mentioned something about a ‘last planet’…