CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers Spotlight: Nightbeat
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek
This one isn't quite arm-thumping-in-the-air brilliant as Shockwave
, but it still makes an entertaining read. Surprisingly the main inspiration isn't Raymond Chandler but H.P Lovecraft (ancient evils underground) with a touch of espionage thrillers.
It's also a surprise to see a third party of villains introduced when we already not only have the Decepticons but also the Earth authorities in Infiltration
. Hopefully everything will tie together in the end, but there's a strong chance there's too many threads up in the air at the moment, and the "ancient evil from the Transformers' past" threat is one that Furman really needs to leave alone.
The art is also something of a weak point, looking rather rushed and half arsed. It's rather staggering to think this is by the same guy who drew the single most memorable cover in the entire Marvel comic's history.
Whilst that may sound rather negative, taken on its own merits, this is still a fine read, mainly because Nightbeat remains a great character. The mental rape of him at the end is horrific, and sets up something very interesting for Escalation
to follow up on.
The first Ark was launched 6.2 million mega-cycles ago in order to plot safe passage between the Cybertronian Quadrant and the Benzuli Expanse. She vanished twenty thousand astro cycles after leaving Cybertron and has become something of a Marie Celeste style mystery.
Ships called the Ark have a troubled history in various Transformers
continuities. If you're ever offered a ride on the maiden voyage of one, it's best to politely decline.
Gorlam Prime is an advanced (by 2006 human standards) technological society where the organic population is augmenting itself with cybernetic implants. As the origin of Transformers is lost in the mists of time Nighbeat wonders if his own race had similar origins.
Nightbeat has never encountered Micromasters before (though he is posted out in the sticks) and learns to his cost they're more advanced than he is. The Micromasters are not referred to as such, or even named here. They seem to have completely blank minds. Though if this is how they were built by the inhabitants of the portal or if they were originally sentient but captured and reprogrammed like Nightbeat here remains unknown.
And speaking of unknowns — where the portal leads, who its owners are and the exact nature of their plans have yet to be explained, though Nightbeat's presence in Escalation
suggests at least some of that will be dealt with there. Before succumbing to the brainwashing he does hear references to "Dead Universe" and "Emissary" [probably not Captain Sisko despite IDW's recent acquisition of the Star Trek
In at least one interview Simon Furman has mentioned 24
as one of his favourite TV shows. Nightbeat's fate here is very like of the various "moles" seen over the years in that program. Except with the added twist that the mole here doesn't even know they're a double agent.
Artist MD Bright has a small but memorable previous Transformers
connection, having drawn the iconic cover to Marvel US #5. You know, ...Are All Dead!
Though it was released generally on October 18th, this comic was made available earlier with an exclusive cover at Botcon 2006.
At one point Nightbeat describes the mechanoid's last words as a “Message from beyond the grave” — “From Beyond the Grave!” being a now infamous line from the 2006 Doctor Who
episode Rise of the Cybermen
(infamous for the insane level of overacting from Roger Lloyd-Pack, rather than the line itself.) Whilst it may be a coincidence, it’s worth noting that not only is Furman a fan, but the people of Gorlam Prime are effectively turning themselves into Cybermen.
It might be an intentional joke, but Nightbeat's "incognito" alternate mode looks nothing like the other vehicles we see on the planet.
Nightbeat also suffers from an art oddity — he starts and ends the issue with his head handlebars, but doesn't have them on the planet. The latter might be the result of his brain alteration, but why remove them in the first place?
The cranial implant looks so large there shouldn't be room in Nightbeat's head for anything else when it's implanted.
Why wait to grab Nightbeat until after he's seen the portal? If they got him after going underground but before seeing it they reduce the risk of him being able to tell Prime anything useful if the brainwashing goes wrong...