CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek
The last voice he hears will be mine!
After the fun diversion of Ramjet,
it's a return to business as usual for the Spotlights
with a story that both creates a character’s background in the IDWverse but also creates and feeds into threads of the bigger arc.
What Furman excels at here is the merging of Blaster's different prior conflicting representations (and remember the Marvel UK and US versions were supposed to be the same character despite never seeming so) into a satisfying new whole. The whole concept of "The Voice" is a welcome look into how the Autobots are mentally surviving millions of years of conflict and Blaster's inability to live up to that legend after his trauma is very well played.
And whilst the talking of a brainwashed colleague into resisting and overcoming is a cliché, Blaster's speech is still well done, and the sting in the tale that he couldn't really save Beachcomber is done nicely. It also makes Soundwave a more menacing and dangerous character, which should work nicely into his forthcoming return to the main comic.
What perhaps doesn't work is Beachcomber's backstory, it would have been much more interesting if the assassin had been acting of their own free will (and with Blaster sitting out of harms way during battles but still being lauded as a hero there must be some front line soldiers who resent him greatly).
But that's only a small regret in an issue that - with another strong debut from an IDW newcomer artist - fires pretty much on all cylinders. The Voice is well worth a listen.
This issue fills in some more on the background of the abandonment of Cybertron. Up until now, the implication has been that the planet became uninhabitable as a result of the Thunderwing attack seen in Stormbringer
. This clarifies that the planet was still lived on in the initial aftermath and that the Decepticons recovered from Thunderwing quickly enough to launch a massive attack on the ill prepared Autobots. Presumably this is what finally finished the world off, though it goes unsaid.
In the original cartoon and Marvel UK comic, Blaster was a loud brash shock jock style character, in the Marvel US issues he was a dark, brooding loner mourning the death of a friend. Furman here combines the two takes on the character.
At one point Blaster makes reference to "Today", a rare example of Transformers using recognisable time measurements rather than made up ones like breems or vorns.
Blaster, Beachcomber and Perceptor were all part of the same resistance cell on Cybertron in the Marvel continuity. Mirage is the obvious red herring in the four suspects as he's been traditionally portrayed as someone with doubts over the Autobot cause. Notice also how Bluestreak is the only one of the four to have any lines prior to the reveal, and those are about how wonderful Blaster is. In a Scooby Doo
episode it would have been him who’d done it.
It's not clear at this stage if Bombshell is supposed to be a sentient Transformer (as his counterparts in other continuities have been) or just a tool Soundwave has built. Beachcomber refers to the Insecticon as "It" implying the latter, but he's not the soundest witness. Even though Beachcomber doesn't name what's been injected into him, Perceptor later calls it a Cerebro-Shell, implying familiarity with the technology.
Kup fought against Thunderwing, considering it's already been established he's was an academy teacher rather than a front line soldier prior to going missing this emphasises how desperate the Autobots situation was at that time, they needed every hand they could get.
According to Furman, non-flashback parts of this issue take place roughly the same time as the events in the contemporary Devastation
#4. His presence on the Autobot hub in Stormbringer
- roughly a month or so before those events - would just about tie in with this (his design is different in Stormbringer
, but as he's still fairly beat up here a upgrade makes sense). Despite this, Furman has claimed the character seen there was in fact Blaster's twin Bluster. Whilst obviously joking this might imply that whatever plans he has for the character might well contradict his one panel cameo there.
And speaking of placement, Nightbeat is watching the Voice in a fairly relaxed environment on a Ark, so it's certainly prior to the start of Devastation
Soundwave is currently trapped on Earth, so it's a fair bet where Blaster will eventually be going to look for him...
Bluestreak is in his Blue Diaclone colour scheme, the Transformer version of the toy wasn't released in.
Why hasn't there been a proper investigation into Blaster's disappearance before now? Silverbolt reveals they knew pretty much straight away that it was an inside job, but Perceptor only starts to look into it properly here. It's especially odd as Beachcomber must have carried out other sabotage over the thousands of years gap between parts of the story, so the "eliminate people who weren't there" is something they could have done much sooner.
Once they narrow the suspects down to just four, it doesn't occur to anyone to simply bring them all in for hard interrogation rather than letting Blaster take a course of action that would at best require then to let the traitor blow a chunk up out of the Hub (which it does), and at worst cause the death of the Voice.
When Perceptor brings up the scrambled security image of the second assassination attempt, it's blatantly Beachcomber behind the static.
There's something strange in the scene transition between pages 13 and 14 - At the bottom of the former Perceptor and Blaster are talking, which carries on into a close up of the static at the top of 14, then in the next panel, Perceptor falls over having been shot. It looks for all the world as if Blaster has attacked him. Turns out this panel is supposed to be later on after Blaster has left, so at least a caption to that effect is missing there.
Silverbolt claims Blaster was unarmed in his battle with Beachcomber. Clearly he wasn't paying attention as Blaster's alt mode was in fact armed with a sonic cannon that he does indeed use on the geologist.
At the end, no one seems very worried at the thought that between brainwashing Beachcomber and vanishing in 1984 Soundwave could have put Cerebro-Shells in dozens, hundreds of officers.
Blaster: You hear me Autobots, you go out there today and give'em hell!
Blaster: Friends and colleagues beg precious leave from their current assignments, on front lines far and wide to see me in the alloy. But as I shake each hand, smile dutifully at each salutation, I wonder, was it you?
Blaster [On the four suspects]: If you'd asked me before all this happened I'd say I trusted each of them with my life!
Perceptor: And now?
Blaster: I'm not sure I trust anyone.
Beachcomber: I wanted this quick and clean. You were never supposed to suffer.
Blaster: Well, gee, thanks, but see I've never been the type to go quietly!
Blaster: There's a moment in everyone's life when they look inside themselves and find that solid, hard core that can't be corrupted, or broken, or trampled. It happens when it's darkest, when we're alone and in pain and afraid that we find it. That's when we understand who we truly are. Who are you Beachcomber?
Beachcomber: Ehn. I'm...MNNN M- ME!