CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers: The Reign of Starscream #2
Reviewed by Blackjack
Characterization is great in this issue, with Arcee and Thundercracker playing second fiddle to the Star of the show. While the pacing is still slow – Starscream spending half the issue 'rescuing' Frenzy from the Hoover Dam is grating – it gives him an excellent opportunity to get some monologues, establishing Screamer to be different from his previous incarnations. For one, he does not say 'Hi Megatron. I want to lead the Decepticons. Now turn around so I can shoot you in the back.' Mowry's Starscream is a different take on the character, making him more of a schemer than a two-dimensional traitor. The whole Salazar plot point is rubbish, though, as is Landmine. While it's not inconcievable that Sector Seven would have Transformers at their disposal, it's poorly executed.
This issue explains that the Swindle/Payload/Dreadwing lookalike generics are drones, similar to the Beast Machines
era Vehicons. Thus, it is highly probable that the Dreadwing we saw in issue 1 is the commander of the Dreadwing drones. The TPB further elaborates this by labeling the Dreadwings 'Drone Unit class Alpha' and the Payload 'Drone Unit class Beta'. No mention is made for the Swindle type, so I'll assume he's drone Unit class theta. Alex Milne also created some difference in the head designs between the drones and the 'true' Decepticons.
A certain N.B.E.-3 reveals Starscream's name to the humans (one of which thinks it's cool). Presumably this could be Wreckage, which is seen in the data Starscream gleaned from Frenzy. However, in Transformers Movie Prequel
#4, Simmons says that Blackout was to be called N.B.E.-3. Continuity headache!
Among the vehicles that transport the Sector Seven agents, there're vans resembling Stockade from the toyline and – what else? – a semi-truck resembling G1 Optimus Prime. Oh, and Sector Seven don't seem so disbanded after all.
L.M.-1, or Landmine, as he is known from the toyline, takes the form of a Sector Seven attack buggy. Starscream notes that the Buggy has a strong energy pulse. It transformed only halfway before stopping. Strangely, Salazar refers to the process as 'alteration'. Presumably, if we follow the toy bios, L.M.-1 is one of the vehicles transformed by the All Spark. The numbering might indicate more L.M. Units.
This issue also shows that Transformers are more adaptable in the Movie universe than before. Starscream refers to himself as a Seeker. Starscream's inbuilt weaponry include his missile rack (seen on the movie) replacing the left hand, a rotating machine-gun type above the right hand and two large Brawl-style claws as in the fast action battlers toy. Starscream is also able to extend his hand via wires, as well as adjust the jet thrusters on his back to aim forwards. Also, having bird-like legs also inspires Mowry to make Starscream lift Salazar's car with his 'talons'. Starscream also remarks that he's able to push his alternate mode beyond the design limits.
Starscream's monologue "Stupid! Stupid!" is a homage to his line "I'm stupid! I'm stupid!" in the episode 'Triple Takeover' in the cartoon.
According to Mowry, in earlier drafts, he had a squadron of F-15s chase after Starscream as he takes of to space. In that draft, Starscream would remark that he admired the design.
The original panel of Salazar exploding, being too gory, was covered with a large POP! sound effect.
Frenzy is confirmed to be really dead. Cosmos makes another appearance in this issue, this time in saucer mode. Thundercracker also appears, his body based on the Protoform Starscream toy, but with what vaguely resembles jet kibble, indicating that he may not transform into a comet. The Autobots and Hardtop have likewise been given Cybertronian treatments.
Space Bridges are like terminals, jumping from one point to the other through the galaxy. Thundercracker's line 'drone tests have been successful' is a probable reference to G1 cartoon episode, Divide and Conquer
, Starscream and Rumble sending a Reflector 'drone' as a test for their own Bridge. For what it's worth, the Space Bridge terminal also closely resembles the cartoon version.
Technically Salazar exploding won't make a 'POP' sound effect because... Sound waves do not travel in air. Seriously, even the earliest Transformer comics established this. I'm not sure whether a human body would explode if one is strapped onto a jet flying into space, but I'm not keen to try it.
One of the technical goofs in the original issue, which I believe is corrected in the TPB, is that Agent Banachek's name is mispelled as "Banechek" in Salazar's speech bubble on page 6.
So... why did Starscream spare the two technicians? Whatever happened to "conquest is made of the ashes of one's enemies"? Of course, the two might
be cooked in Starscream's blast as he tales off...
So Starscream uses bird talons to take Salazar's vehicle up. Quoting a favourite line from tfwiki's entry on Starscream... 'It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a bird-legged freak that transforms into a plane!'
Why didn't Thundercracker, Hardtop and the drone units provide assistance in the battle for the Allspark? Surely with that big shuttle Mission City would be leveled in no time. And no, they've been on Mars since Starscream and the others arrived on Earth.
One who is not familiar with the toyline might be confused that Bumblebee and Jazz are on Mars. Seriously, Cliffjumper and Smokescreen are so covered in shadow that it's easy to mistake them for their movie counterparts.
So, like, when Frenzy learns all that info from Air Force 1 (presumably), why didn't Starscream get a copy? I mean, Screamer of all people would want any info he could get his claws on...
Frenzy learns about L.M.-1 and Wreckage but doesn't share the info with the others. Jerk.
Starscream: "Do not get in my way, humans. Surrender now and you shall live. Resist and y-" <a missile impacts on Starscream's face> "and you will DIE."
Human responsible for the missile: "Oh, Sh-"
Salazar: So what are we calling this one? N.B.E.-WHAT?
Sector 7 Agent: N.B.E.-3 says that his name is Starscream. Cool name, huh?
Starscream: (throws Salazar's van down from the sky) Speak, human, or you shall plummet back to your world. How do you know my name?
Salazar: I'm not authorized to tell you. Put me down and maybe we can talk.
Starscream: (drops Salazar) You can follow your vehicle, if that's what you wish.
Salazar: Huh? NO! I'm just doing my job! NOOOOOOOO!
Starscream: (swoops down and catches Salazar) I have you, pathetic creature. Your job now is to tell me what you know! I could always return you to your planet if you so desire.
Thundercracker: Your new appearance is puzzling, Lord Starscream. Earth modes are similar to ours, am I correct?
Starscream: Similar, yes. Superior, hardly. While the overall structures of their vehicles are weak, our adaptive abilities allow up to not be limited to them. We can and should rule the planet.