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THE TRANSFORMERS: COMICS, BOOKS AND MANGA

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

Transformers Spotlight: Doubledealer, Revelation Part 3
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek

Issue Review

Take emotion out of the equation and the answer was staring me in the face all the time

With the third installment things go badly wrong, but in the most surprising way. The Dealer/Hot Rod stuff that chokes up a third of the issue is basically irrelevant to the many, many plot threads Furman has to resolve in this arc, reintroducing it at this stage feels like he's making a new rod for his back to go with the 50 already down there.

This plotline should have been dealt with in Maximum Dinobots, or if there wasn't room there, just left by the waysides a minor casualty of the changes. This should have been Spotlight: Nemesis Prime with the freed up extra space used to allow the story to breath and to get to the Magnificence's one contribution more naturally through the main characters using their brains. Then we could have also had the more interesting Nemesis of the first two issues take central stage rather than the BWA HA HA HA evils we get here. And yup, all the problems I was worried about in the lack of screentime for Optimus in my review of the last issue come home to roost here.

Not only does this issue fail as part of the ongoing narrative, it balls up as a Spotlight, the lack of space means Dealer's whole story is barely developed and the attempt to portray his loyalties in a more ambiguous light fails.

The art was always going to be a let down after the last two issues, but Khanna does OK. Sadly there's little ommph or wonder in his work to carry the sub par story. And Hot Rod's neck is just weird.

Sadly this is a huge misfire that means the last issue would have to be 80 pages long to finish things off properly. The Darkness should have been Tim Curry.

Notes

Unlike last issue where we had a special recap page, here the story so far is recounted in rather breathless style by Dealer across an opening flashback (including stuff he didn't witness, but we'll just assume he's well informed)

Dealer betrayed Hot Rod and company in the latter's Spotlight issue. Hot Rod himself has been on Earth since the end of Devastation looking for Sunstreaker. There, he was out on his own acting against orders, but he seems to have established some form of official contact in the meantime. His fight against the Headmasters will be explored in more depth in Maximum Dinobots.

Here we get a clearer idea of the Magnificence's power than we had before, it can basically answer any question on any subject. This is likely a change from the original plan that has occurred to speed up the now compressed narrative.

Having been implied last issue, here we learn the process Jetfire intends to put Cloudburst's team through is indeed to make them Pretenders. The Technobot ship being used to ferry the shells to them is called the Nightbird, after Megatron's girlfriend from the original series episode Enter the Nightbird.

We learn that Shockwave was a pupil of Jhiaxus, and his energon seeding plan is vital to the Dead Universe plot. Exactly how much of this was planned in advance is unclear, certainly there's nothing in his monologues in Spotlight: Shockwave to suggest he's working to a specific Universe destroying plan, so the entire scheme may well be Jhiaxus taking advantage of a coincidence.

Straxus and Grindcore were introduced in the last issue but get named here for the first time (the former would seem not to be a Lord as his Marvel namesake was).

The Space Bridge network links the energon on Earth with Jhiaxus on Gorlam Prime and the three Nega Cores allowing the merging of the two Universes. Or some such.

Where Galvatron is going will be explained next issue. However, where the others think he was going, nor if Cyclonus is involved in his plot or not will never be explained.

We learnt Bludgeon's spark was being held on Garrus 9 in Spotlight: Arcee, and here we see his entire body is there as well. Exactly when Jhiaxus stuck the Axis Cradle Override in his isn't explained. Possibly Bludgeon was acting entirely under Jhiaxus' control throughout Stormbringer, as his actions there did get Thunderwing above ground again.

So after much speculation we're told Nemesis doesn't have the Matrix anymore (though if Optimus does isn't stated), what we saw last issue and what he uses here is simply "The Darkness". In practical terms this basically acts as the tainted Matrix does in the Furman written Matrix Quest arc from the Marvel comics, especially US issue #66 All Fall Down!. It's also impossible to see him use it to zap Optimus with lightning without thinking of the Emperor from Star Wars.

Now gentle reader, normally these reviews are written without knowing what happens next, but due to real world circumstances this review has been finished after Spotlight: Sideswipe has come out. So let me draw your attention to something that may not seem obvious just from this comic: When Optimus enters the sub level to confront Nemesis Prime, there's a pool shaped object with some solar panels above it. Remember that, it'll be important later.

The planet Bhul was where Arcee was captured by Ultra Magnus in her Spotlight.

Technically this is the first Spotlight issue where the title isn't the name of the featured character. With his death here, we'll never learn if Dealer was a triple changer as the toy is. He does make a reference to flying them up the mountain at one point, but he's presumably talking about going back to the shuttle.

Goofs

Two issues ago Cyclonus was more than a match for Hound's heavily armed Ark ship. Here he's given far too much trouble by a small weedy science vessel.

Apparently you can blow up large chunks of China (a densely populated country famous for its internal security) without anyone actually noticing at all. And why is Straxus waving his axe about when he transforms? Is he planning to dig for energon the Seven Dwarfs way? And good on him and Grindcore for explaining the fiendish plan they already know about to each other for our benefit.

Garrus-9, the galaxy's most secure prison gets broken into for the second time in days. Luckily they've managed to replace all the guards massacred by the Combaticons in record time (though a few have made speedy recoveries from certain death). Though, perhaps they are still a bit short staffed as Searchlight - a character who sole role in the IDWverse to date is to be Optimus' secretary - gets sent to the front line to fight a superpowered crazed ex-Prime who has the touch of death. Oh, and Manta Ray's gun looks bloody stupid when drawn literally.

And speaking of Garrus-9 security, didn't I say back in Arcee that keeping the inmates weapons with their bodies was a bad idea? And shouldn't checking for long distance remote control devices on those bodies be standard procedure, since several characters (such as that notorious fiend Optimus Prime) can do that sort of thing with bits of themselves as standard? And apparently there's no sort of security on the bodies either.

Hot Rod suspects Dealer is a sleeper agent. As such he... constantly walks in front of him, climbs the mountain in front of him and even asks his question with his back to the duplicitous Deceptibot. Lucky for him Dealer is really a bit misty eyed about their friendship (and what would Hot Rod's reaction have been if the Magnificence had said Dealer was innocent? "Ah, yes. Well, had to be sure. Mmmmmmmm. This is a bit awkward now isn't it?").

Despite its great power, Hot Rod has never thought to just hand over the Magnificence to his superiors to help them win the war (which is surely part of the reason they sent him after it in the first place).

Everyone whittles about the Universe like they were just crossing the road, different characters going from the Dead Universe to Earth, or Earth to Ki-Aleta, or Banzaitron's secret base to Bhul in a stupidly short amount of time. This is especially odd considering the Nega-Core's are going to destroy the entire Universe. They should really be a little bit more spaced out than that [this is really where the change in format for the series shows, originally there'd have been scenes dealing with the Machination on Earth intercut with all this that would have made the journey times seem more protracted].

Optimus has a Ready Brek glow when meeting his predecessor for the first time. The scale also seems a little off with Nemesis on the same panel, he looks more like Wee Jimmy Krankie Prime.

Considering he's a UKer, one has to wonder why he had to give the Darkness the same name as a awful one hit wonder band (though in their early days they looked like they might be quiet good, before turning into a embarrassing joke with the lead singer failing at everything he does. Most appropriate then).

OK, the big one. No one thinks to just ask the Magnificence how to win the day.

Quote/Unquote

Hot Rod: You, me, the Magnificence, it's as if things have come full circle.

Dealer: And hey, if you can't trust me
Show one face to the world. Hide the other
who can you trust?
Be an island. Let no one in.

Nemesis Prime: The Matrix was a leash. A shackle of good intentions, limiting the sheer scope and range of what I- and we- can achieve. This [the Darkness] on the other hand has no limits!

Hot Rod: Did Dealer betray us?
The Magnificence: YES!

 
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