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THE TRANSFORMERS: COMICS, BOOKS AND MANGA

IDW Publishing
(2005-now)
Devil's Due
(2003-2007)
Dreamwave
(2002-2004)
Club/Con
(2001-now)
Titan Books
(2001-now)
Marvel Comics
(1984-1994)
Japanese
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Other Books
and Titles

CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING

Transformers: Rising Storm #2
Reviewed by Blackjack

Issue Review

”The Decepticon Empire has needs of your services, Shockwave.”
Now this is a movie prequel, unlike Alliance and Reign of Starscream. While they have their merits, they aren’t as good as this in that they take place outside of the Movie cast, revolves around toy characters we don’t particularly care about, and resets the status quo rather easily. Rising Storm focuses heavily on the main characters—Megatron monologues the whole shebang and is very defined. Barber clearly likes putting Megatron in the spotlight and gives the otherwise generic villain some much-needed personality. Shockwave, Elita-One, Sam and Wheelie all have their great moments as well. Again, Barber displays his favourite ‘passage of time’ thing that he employs with Sector 7, this time from Megatron and Shockwave’s POV. Loose ends from Reign of Starscream, Tales of the Fallen and Sector 7 are all cleared up—and it’s a surprising reveal that the Russians have Shockwave, eh? Didn’t expect that when you were reading Sector 7, didn’t you? Also, the retcon to have both theories of the Arcee sisters being one spark in three bodies whilst being three characters at the same time is done with grace. New toy exclusive characters like Brimstone and Sonar appear, but are not tried to be made into characters. They get one or two line, and that’s it. While pre-established guys like Dreadwing or Strongarm get what little of their characterization fleshed out.

Again, loose ends from Nefarious, like what happened to the mind controlled Decepticons or Soundwave’s little petting zoo, are revealed. Brains, despite being pretty ugly, manages to be more interesting than the entire cast of Nefarious. Barricade’s return is handled pretty nicely as well, Barber knows that everybody cares more for Barricade than, say, Dreadwing or Ransack, which is why he gets several panels for himself and Bludgeon doesn’t get a name-drop yet. Also, new concepts for the next movie, like Shockwave consistently hinting about a pet/a special cargo, Wheelie being given a larger role, Mikaela being out of the game because Sam broke up with her… it’s a fair bet that somewhere down the line that Team Jolt (Knock Out and Dune Runner) and the refugees (Blazemaster, Brawn, Smokescreen and Armorhide) would all be killed somewhere down the issue, as will all the non-show Decepticons, but they do not hog the show. And when they do get a line, it’s delivered with grace. Jolt has got more personality in two issues of minor roles here than six issues in Nefarious.

What I adore most is that the characters appearing in Dark of the Moon are introduced to us in the prequel. For Alliance and Defiance, only the Fallen gets any sort of proper appearance, whilst Soundwave is consistently shadowed and not named. The new cast members only appear at the very end of Alliance. Here? Barber isn’t shy of throwing Astrotrain in our face in all the Foundation and Rising Storm issues, hinting that probably Astrotrain will get a role in DOTM… or maybe he’s just a red herring? Who knows. Ditto for Mirage and Wheeljack. With two more issues to go, I suppose it is inevitable that we see Mirage, Wheeljack and Shockwave kick the asses of the toy-only characters, clearing the cast and the slate to be ready for Dark of the Moon without any toy characters in the background.

A nice read.

Notes

The citadel with the Megatron mug-head was first seen in Reign of Starscream and has made appearances in lots of other places ever since.

Having several groups of Autobots left behind on Cybertron while the bulk of the forces went to space to search for the AllSpark was revealed in Reign of Starscream.

This issue confirms that the corpses of Chromia and presumably later Elita-One are used by Flatline to create the new Arcee body in Tales of the Fallen #6, thus gelling together the fact that the sisters existed in the past whilst at the same time being tripartite, making both theories valid at the same time. In the present day sections, Arcee, Chromia and Elita alternate between talking separately and going all ‘one as three and three as one’.

Shockwave leading a large army and battling a group of guerilla soldiers led by Elita-One, trying to steal Energon, is very similar to the situation in ‘the Search for Alpha Trion’. This Shockwave is much, much more deadly and effective compared to his G1 cartoon counterpart, though.

The AllSpark calling out to Transformers for help was initially part of the first Movie’s backstory which was dropped from the final cut but cropped up in dialogues in places like the game or the novelization.

Shockwave apparently left Dreadwing in charge of Cybertron, which is why a mere former drone could get such a high rank in Reign of Starscream.

Shockwave creates the mysterious real-life Tunguska event when he crash-lands on Earth.

The way Shockwave was excavated is very similar to how he was excavated from the ground in the Marvel comics and IDW comics.

Lots of call-backs to Sector 7 here. Danco junior, last seen from issue five, have apparently survived the crashing ice and managed to deliver information to the Russians. Also we see Walter Simmons again, now with Megatron successfully relocated in the Hoover Dam in 1969.

After the events of Nefarious, it is revealed that all of the not-Cassettecons have survived. Also, Mindwipe and Tankor, like Skystalker, have been likewise reintegrated into the Decepticon army after their stint as mind-controlled Transformers.

This comic places Sam’s college in Philadelphia. While technically the university shot is in Pennsylvania, it was not named, and several places of shooting also takes place in Philadelphia. So.

Wheelie, a Scrap-Drone (based on a throwaway line from the movie) is built north of Burthov. While the name seems random it was mentioned once in Defiance #3.

Wheelie notes that Sam has broken up with Mikaela Banes. This, of course, is because of the real-life reason that Megan Fox will not be returning in Dark of the Moon, but if it has to be resolved here in the tie-in comic, it doesn’t seem high on Michael Bay’s priority list that Mikaela’s absence would be addressed other than a line or two.

The Decepticon squad attacking Sam Witwicky, for those that are not toy-inclined, include Bludgeon, Brimstone, Storm Surge, a decidedly tiny Sonar (he’s a warship, yet he’s about the same size as Storm Surge, a hydrofoil) and Tankor. Tankor was last seen brainwashed in Nefarious. Those arriving with Starscream include Mindwipe (also last seen brainwashed in Nefarious), Ruination (since his description in the novel and his robot mode was based on the Incinerator toy, they decided to go all the way) and an Apache helicopter. Since Barber seems to like the tie-in novels, I’ll go out on a limb and say this is Ruination’s buddy Blademaster.

Goofs

The scene on Cybertron happened in past, long before Reign of Starscream. Since Thundercracker is apparently part of Starscream’s crew, he shouldn’t be on Cybertron then.

Cliffjumper shouldn’t be dead as well, since he would appear in Reign of Starscream (to die, but still…).

Thundercracker’s head is pretty messed up.

Also, while not strictly an error, Elita-One has always been depicted in her pre-ROTF body (the Energon Arcee repaint) everywhere before ROTF (Reign of Starscream, Defiance, Foundation et al) but here she’s already in her unicycle mode a century ago. In her unicycle body, but painted brown like her original Movie toy. Of course, she could change bodies in the interim, but still, it's more likely that Carlos Magno isn't aware of Elita having a different body design in the past, and the colour is there to mitigate the continuity error somewhat.

 
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