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THE TRANSFORMERS: COMICS, BOOKS AND MANGA

IDW Publishing
(2005-now)
Devil's Due
(2003-2007)
Dreamwave
(2002-2004)
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(2001-now)
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(2001-now)
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CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING

Transformers Spotlight: Cyclonus, Revelation Part 1
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek

Issue Review

I have faced my personal maelstrom, this is yours.

The final stages of Devastation were a mess, possibly as a result of Furman having to change his plans as he was writing to accommodate All Hail Megatron. It looked as if the wheels had well and truly come off the IDWverse.

However, a bit of a break and a chance to regroup and rethink results in the single best thing Furman has done in over a year, possibly since the end of Generation 2. Every line of dialogue serves the plot, whilst the characters are all well drawn and memorable, even a newcomer like Cyclonus feels like he's been around for years (though I'm biased in being a fan of ol' bunny ears since Dry Run made a huge impact on my young mind. If you don't know why go read it...).

As an artist, E.J. Su often doesn't get the credit he perhaps deserves, never showy or ostentatious he rarely hits you with a ZOMG!!!!! moment but always does wonderfully clear, straightforward art that serves the story first and foremost. Here, as with Furman, he's doing the best work he's produced for a while aided by some exceptional colouring. It is really hard to believe this is the same team who made Devastation end with a whimper.

The negatives are fairly small. There are a few signs this was supposed to be a much longer story, Optimus Prime seems to be running from place to place with little pause being the most obvious example. The last page reveal is also slightly fudged in that the new character the reader might recognise (Straxus) is shoved to the back whilst previous non-entity Grindcore gets to hog a more prominent role.

Frankly the best thing about All Hail Megatron is that it has given Furman a much needed kick up the arse (one is reminded of Roger Moore's comments on Never Say Never Again, "First time I ever got bad reviews for a film I wasn't in"), and if these are the dying days of Furman's over-reaching storyline it's going to go out with a huge degree of style if they can keep this up.

Notes

Lots of continuity, so deep breath: Banzaitron's team freed the captive combiners and Arcee was freed to pursue them in her Spotlight (which was also the first place we heard of the Nega Core), Nightbeat was captured and brainwashed on Gorlam Prime in Spotlight: Nightbeat, Thunderwing was seemingly and finally killed in Stormbringer and his body stolen in Spotlight: Galvatron, Hound's team was summoned to Earth and then diverted to Garrus 9 (much to Sideswipe's chagrin) in the last two issues of Devastation, and Optimus Prime had his vision of Nemesis Prime in issue six of Escalation.

One set of loose ends you won't find dealt with here is the Earth based events, which will be covered by the forthcoming Maximum Dinobots mini series, and also possibly by All Hail Megatron.

The sequence between Cyclonus and Ark-12 is evocative of a similar space battle in the 1986 Transformers film, only there it was the Autobot ship that is seemingly destroyed only for it to turn out not to be the case.

Cyclonus is tough enough to take all a reasonably sized spaceship can throw at him. Oddly the fire power of a handful of Autobots later causes him more trouble, but by that stage the effects of being outside of the Dead Universe might be taking their toll.

We learn here that the Dead Universe cast - bar Galvatron for unknown reasons - can only survive in the normal Universe for limited periods of time. This is actually a neat little bit of understated writing by Furman as it deftly deals with why the seemingly all powerful villains would need Thunderwing to guard their secrets, gives them some added motivation for their actions (it's about being able to come home safely as much as ruling the Universe), and gives them a weakness that the Autobots may use to their advantage before long. All in one throwaway line of dialogue.

Another good example of the attention to detail in this issue is that when Nightbeat watches the recording he made in his Spotlight it looks like a panel of art from that issue. In fact, Su and Carter conspired to make a new drawing look as much like the style of that issue as possible.

In a fine example of the series attempts to add shades of grey to the Autobots, Fortress Maximus and Jetfire are complicit in Arcee's torture and murder of a prisoner of war. The freelancer she later captures and gives similar treatment to wasn't seen in the raid on the penal colony in her Spotlight, but was on one of the covers.

After several issues of trying to find ways of describing Birdbrain and company without using the words "Pretender" or Decepticon", we finally get an appropriate moniker for them, the Monstructor Six. This is an obvious play on famous groups of arrested criminals such as the Birmingham Six or the Guilford Four (oddly it's a style of name normally used by prisoners protesting their innocence).

Ultra Magnus repeats his "My way or the hard way" catchphrase. It must be a struggle to find new ways of sounding cool before taking perps down.

At the issues end we meet the full Dead Universe cast for the first time. Along with three we've met previously (Nemesis Prime, Galvatron, Jhiaxus) and Cyclonus, the other two are revealed to be Straxus (based closely on Lord Straxus from Marvel comics even down the the axe, though we don't as yet know if this version has title), and Grindcore. Grindcore is the odd one out as he's the only entirely new character as opposed to being either toy based or originally created by Marvel comics. There is a Grindcore in the Movie toyline and his work on Titan's British tie in comic may have put the name in Furman's mind.

The Mosaic: Breakaway is presented as a back up strip.

Now, here's where the chronology gets complicated, to recap as briefly as possible:

Originally Revelation was conceived of as a six issue mini series that would be followed by Expansion. However, IDW bigwigs decided to relaunch their Transformers line with a new writer and main storyline, resulting in the year long All Hail Megatron. Officially the change is due to a desire to reinvigorate the title rather than any dissatisfaction with Furman's work, but either way he now had to wrap up all his plot threads as quickly as possible and in such a way as to lead into the new story. Hence a four issue Spotlight series wrapping up the outer space plotlines and a five issue Maximum Dinobots dealing with the Earth based stuff (though how much of the new situation at the start of All Hail Megatron will be explained by Furman's work or by flashbacks within that title remains frustratingly unclear at this time).

The original announced intent was that the run from Cyclonus to the end of Maximum Dinobots would be sub numbered 23-31 (following on from the numbering in Devastation), with All Hail Megatron being numbers 35-46, meaning another three issues set before the new series to be announced later. Ultimately the numbering would be dropped entirely as it was felt it was getting too confusing.

An upshot of the moving goalposts in that, despite being announced as such when unveiled on the IDW website, the Furman written Mosaic: Hail and Farewell is no longer considered canon.

So just to be absolutely clear, despite being published at the same time All Hail Megatron is set at least a year after Revelation, and is in continuity with it. And remember, all of the above is the result of efforts to make it easier for new readers to jump into the comics. Ho hum.

Goofs

As a nice touch, the targeting screen onboard Ark-12 makes an attempt at Cybertronian writing, only for it to be undone by all the later screens we see still using English.

Lord Straxus previously appeared as a background character in Megatron Origin, set after he'd have left on the Ark 1. No doubt it was his brother Sarcasus.

And nope, that's all I got. The most error free issue for a while, possibly in the entire IDW output.

Quote/Unquote

Cyclonus: Why did I come here? To see what I already knew? That those who came after us took this perfect glittering jewel of a world and made a wasteland of it!

Cyclonus: Someone must pay! [After blasting several shades of crap out of Ark-12] They'll do.

Hound: Unknown assailant, this is your first and last warning. Break of your assault immediately or we will respond with deadly force.
THRMM!
Sideswipe: Yow. You tell him Hound.

Nightbeat: Hardhead, I need help. Your kind of help!

Tortured Decepticon: Wait! Wait, I'll tell you everything!
Arcee: They always do.

Optimus Prime: Prowl, summon the Wreckers before things really start to fall apart.

 
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