CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers Sector Seven #1
Reviewed by Blackjack
...We had become something new, something original.
A nice change of pace from the half-thought-out Nefarious and the rather repetitive Tales of the Fallen. Sector Seven takes us back before the first movie, but not so far back as Defiance. It provides a great background about what exactly Sector Seven did before the first Movie. We follow the adventures of Walter Simmons and Theodore Joseph Wells (although there was a bit of confusion with the latter's name, see goofs) as modern humankind makes their first contact with the Transformers.
This rather human-centric story actually works well in the context of the Movieverse, and the intrigue about the Transformers is well delivered. Furthermore, while the art falters several times on secondary humans, it sets the mood excellently with the sepia colouring. It's a nice, refreshing break from the constantly bright colours, and the rather mellowed art is easy on the eyes. In contrast, the panels with Jetfire and Megatron constantly keep them in shadow, as dark and gigantic, and almost demonic monsters. I particularly like the one-page spread of Megatron in the icy cave, with fantastic lighting effects. This is what an art medium should be.
The story also obeys the status quo, with it building up on the events already shown in the movie instead of telling something 'big' that would later be ignored like Defiance did with the Sacrophagus thing. Simmons and Wells are a likable bunch of guys based on the non-entity background extras from the original Movie Prequel. The other members of Sector Seven, meanwhile, are handled like real life people. Those guys with specialties and long names, but are easily forgettable. The story interweaves the plot points from the first and second movie nicely, and I'm pretty certain that somewhere down the road we'll learn how Jetfire goes to get a Blackbird alternate mode and be exported to the museum. Real-life continuity references like the Spanish war is also awesome. Joseph Wells is a great foil to Walter Simmons' obsession.
It's a great story with a great set-up. Best of all, the entire story is finished in one issue satisfactorily, with the second issue picking up several years down the road, referencing key events that are only hinted of in the movie. It's a great move. It's different from your average Transformers comic, but I welcome the change.
At the back of this issue is a commentary section named 'Field notes from Agent John Barber', so prepare for a rather in-depth notes section.
The first Seven, who represent disparate bits of the era, are:
-Walter Simmons, the rather fanatical ancestor to Seymour Simmons.
-Theodore Joseph Wells, Simmons' trigger-happy partner. Both Wells and Simmons are Jules Verne/H.G. Wells gentlemen scientist-adventurers.
-Billy North, the fed agent that recruits Simmons and Wells. North is based on a cowboy.
-Reginald Danco, Archibald Witwicky's first mate.
-Jack Arden, metallurgist. He's a 'throw-back to the pre-Industrial Revolution master/apprentice era'.
-Phillipe Bowen, explosive expert. Bowen is supposed to be 'contemporary writer Oscar Wilde as an explosives expert'.
-Theodore Grant, geologist. He's a 'rugged hero in the mold of H. Rider Haggard's fictional colonialist Allan Quartermain'.
Billy North references President McKinley, then-president of the United States in 1898.
Joseph Wells and Walter Simmons are based on the two men-in-black from the movie Prequel #2. The house where the two meet up in, with the alien memorabilia, has effectively been retconned as their eccentric hobby instead of Sector Seven having been formed. Albeit, the dialogue in Prequel #2 was vague... Presumably the senior Sector Seven agent in Prequel #3 is one of the two, as well. Of course, page seven is a re-enactment of the encounter between Archibald Witwicky and the two, only from Wells and Simmons' point of view now.
Walter Simmons' name had been name-dropped several times in the Sector Seven Alternate Reality Game, as well as the prequel novel Ghosts of Yesterday and several other sources as well.
Wells mispronounces Captain Witwicky's name as 'Wickety', something that Seymour Simmons would do in the first movie. It probably was meant to be Walter Simmons' line, though...
Where did Danco came from? John Barber noticed that one of the sailors in Witwicky's crew seen in Prequel #2 and another guy seen with Sector Seven eight pages later looked similar, so he decided to make them both the same character.
The ship's manifest uses aliases. While the words are tiny and obscured, Barber says that this is lifted directly from the list of names from the obscure Sector Seven ARG. For those who don't know, it's a funky promotional website that's part of a 'real' Sector Seven.
According to Tales of the Fallen #4, Jetfire wanders the Earth between, and 'time becomes meaningless' between his fight with the Constructicons in 17000 B.C. until he scans his Blackbird alternate mode. This then places this issue between that massive time gap.
Jetfire accidentally starts the Spanish-American War in 1898. According to Barber the cause of the USS Maine's sinking was never discovered, so he decided to make Jetfire the cause. Apparently Jetfire was
the Maine (or another ship nearby) — he has anchor chains and gun turrets in his robot mode, and him transforming was mistaken for the ship sinking. Either way, it's his fault.
On page 14, Bowen reads the classic alien novel War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, serialized in 1897 and released in 1898. According to Barber, Joseph Wells is named after this guy. The gentleman-adventures also inspired characterization for both Simmons and Wells
Jetfire doesn't recognize Megatron, keeping in touch with the fact that Tales of the Fallen #3 and 4 takes place some time before Defiance. It's safe to assume that he's looking for the Fallen.
Jetfire being sunk in the Arctic is, of course, a reference to his similar fate in the G1 cartoon. He's Skyfire then, though.
Megatron being partially submerged by the resulting explosion explains the difference in years of Megatron's discovery and his excavation from various sources.
Megatron is temporarily activated, and says his name, but the humans misinterpret it as Mega-Man, leading to his nickname in the Movie. The term 'non-biological extraterrestrial' is also coined by Joseph Wells in his monologue.
The title of this story, 'Original', is etched on the plank on the harbor of page ten. It's really easy to miss; only after noting the one-word titles in subsequent issues do I realize that it's a title.
The art is consistent with Wells (glasses and darker hair) and Simmons (mustache), but the script gets them muddled up. The author's comment at the back of the book calls Joseph as 'Theodore Wells', and throughout the second issue he's named consistently as Theodore. Finally it is resolved in the third issue that the guy's name is 'Theodore Joseph Wells'.
To make things worse, on page four our heroes are introduced erroneously as Joseph Simmons and Walter Wells.
While it's not noticeable at first because we only see some parts of him, Megatron's design is closer to his ROTF body instead of his first Movie design.
Like all the media bar the movie itself, Jetfire is drawn without a proper mouth.
Jetfire says that Megatron wears 'Decepticon markings', yet Megatron has no visible Decepticon insignia on his body.
Walter Simmons: "Maintaining a scientific demeanor might have proved the better part of valor, Joseph."
Joseph Wells: "They made the first move."
Walter Simmons: "They growled at you."
Joseph Wells:"That's a first move, Walter."
Joseph Wells: "&%$# Reason."
Walter Simmons: I am but a humble servant of progress. Or at least that's what I tell myself when I lie awake at night.
Walter Simmons: "Who piloted this—or, good God, man! What if this is the creature itself?"
Jetfire: "<You wear the markings of the Decepticons. But you are not the one who betrayed me.>"
Megatron: "<I... am Megatron...>"
Jetfire: "<Megatron? Never heard of you.>" [PUNCH]
Jetfire: "<Ah! These insects sting! But they sting Jetfire- only once!>"
Walter Simmons: "We'll do what we do best."
Joseph Wells: "What's that, Walter?"
Walter Simmons: "RUN!"