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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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(2001-now)
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(2001-now)
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CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING

Spotlight: Mirage
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek

Issue Review

But of course, it's just a dream.

I love "what if" style alternate history, parallel Universe stories. As well as the chance for fun camp leather pants and eye patch wearing regulars the very best give you a good chance to learn things about the regulars when you see them out their comfort zone. Unfortunately Mirage fails in that regard as the lead character is one we haven't met before. How can we be shocked at his evil persona when we've never encountered the good version?

What we do learn about Mirage is that he's basically a Mary Sue for the author. He's so gosh darn good if he fought for the other side he'd have won the war single handed. He can outsmart Megatron, outfight Ratchet, talk turkey with Optimus Prime. He can do it all. It's a wonder we've managed close to 50 IDW issues without him appearing before. It doesn't help that the most (well, only) interesting thing about Mirage in most fiction is his ambiguity on the Autobot cause. Implying the tendencies come from some sort of mind meld with his evil twin robs him of that ambiguity and makes him just a bit duller.

The more familiar regulars all feel off as well. Megatron making business deals over Energon shares like a less evil Rupert Murdoch? Optimus Prime, who in IDW's take on the character has always been pragmatic, surrendering because Mirage threatens to shoot someone about to die anyway? Hound as Mr. Spock? None of that would matter if the plot these caricatures were in was engaging, but it's simple, linear and has a twist at the end that's about as shocking as an episode of The New Outer Limits (but without gratuitous tit shots). There's nothing hugely bad here, it's just all achingly average and inconsequential. The fact it's all in Mirage's head just adds to the "what was the point?" factor.

The main saving grace is the art. Guido's bright crisp cartoony work suits this down to the ground, and the fight scenes have a great deal of energy to them.

In short though, we have what may have made a neat Mosaic, but there's not enough meat on the bone to be truly satisfying. Pretty pictures though.

Notes

This is the first Spotlight to seemingly have no connection to any of the ongoing stories. Even the more standalone Ramjet and Kup still fed off what was going on in the other comics -- here, though, if not for the use of the IDW character designs it could take place in pretty much any generic G1 continuity.

Of course, only the last two pages themselves take place in IDW's main continuity. These are likely set a great deal of time after the main action as Mirage has yet to come to Earth in any of the other titles (nor indeed has Hound acquired an Earth mode). Exactly how far forward is unclear, but it seems at some point prior to these events Mirage and all the Transformers present were involved in a battle in the Pegasus Star Cluster, where he was badly damaged and is possibly the point where his mind met/merged with his Decepticon self (it's all very oblique). The same battle shows Optimus Prime being badly damaged by Starscream. However there is also the possibility that the battle itself is entirely invented by Mirage's dream state, or even that even Autobot Mirage's reality is also a alternate one that has no bearing on anything.

As for the main bulk of the issue, it's either a glimpse of a alternate time line, or just a dream sequence. Until (or even if) we find out either way it's hard to quantify the relevance of anything in it.

Zodiac Energy played a key role in the Japanese Transformers: Zone Manga, where it was the substance that created the Universe.

Oddly perhaps, considering the main comic has dealt a lot with dwindling fuel supplies, this is the first time we see a IDW Transformer power up (or do we??!!). This process requires the Transformer to plug themselves into a large wall mounted machine (or does it??!! etc.) Design wise the panels of Mirage in the regeneration chamber resemble the Great Machine on Epsilon 3 in Babylon 5. When good Mirage wakes up, one of his robot servant's arms is obscuring his Autobot logo in such a way as to look like a Skutter from Red Dwarf.

The comic closes with a two page interview/feature on IDW's Movie Sequel The Reign of Starscream.

Mirage's simulacrum has his name on the helmet. Flash git.

Goofs

For the last desperate group of Autobots none of them, even the dying Jetfire, look very beat up [But then, it's all in Mirage's head].

Hound as the science guy giving all the technobable on Zodiac Energy? Plus, isn't he the least likely guy in the world to be fooled by a hologram (they might have gotten away with that if he hadn't been making cracks about the Zodiac being like a hologram right before "Bumblebee" walks in). [But then, it's all in Mirage's head].

Megatron doesn't want to be personally involved in the final defeat of the Autobots, nor deliver the killing blow to Optimus Prime? [But then, it's all in Mirage's head].

As Soundwave looses his head his chest is all smashed it, but his Decepticon logo is still nice and straight. Almost as if it's been Photoshopped on afterwards [Mirage needs to eat less cheese before bed].

Even if, unlike in the old days, Mirage now seemingly has a driver, does he really think a no longer in production F1 car driving around the streets will be nicely inconspicuous? [But then... oh, hang on, that bit's supposed to be real. Hmmm.]

(Editor's note: the solicitation for this book specified "when a temporal accident suddenly shunts him into an alternate timeline, [Mirage] finally gets the chance to experience life as a Decepticon. Will he embrace his newfound power and wipe out the last of the Autobots, or sacrifice everything to save them?" Make of that what you will.)

Quote/Unquote

Mirage: I serve only one will in this universe Megatron, my own.

Hound: What're you doing? You just blew out the whole security system!
Mirage [revealing himself]: Your cognitive skills astound me Hound. But then again, that's probably because my expectations are so low.

Ratchet: Back off Mirage! [Jetfire's] already dying. He's not in this fight.
[Mirage chucks him to one side].
Mirage: Maybe not, but then neither are you.

Optimus Prime: Regardless of what you've done in the past, you have a chance to do the right thing now, take it! Listen to your conscience. You're not a murderer--
[Mirage kills Hound]
Mirage: You don't know what I am!

 
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