CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers Spotlight: Wheelie
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek
After a few distinctly average entries (Blaster
was the last top notch one) IDW's best range returns to form with a bang. Whilst it could easily have been turned into a nudge nudge jokey story, the issue merely opens with a wry acknowledgement that Wheelie is the last character anyone wanted to see before becoming a very sweet, slightly melancholy tale of loneliness and Wheelie finding a place for himself in the Universe.
You can tell Scherwinski has really thrown himself into the project. Every panel of art is gorgeous. He's also backed up by solid support from Furman, who seems to have been infected by his colleague’s enthusiasm as well.
The only real flaw is that there is a few places where it feels as if the memory of Kup
is being invoked a bit too strongly, but if a similarity to the best single thing IDW have done is a fault, it's a very small one. So don't be put off by the character’s reputation, rush out and buy it now.
Oh, and be thankful nothing much rhymes with Varta or this would have been a themed review done entirely in verse. Which would no doubt have made you want to put me in a hearse.
Wheelie's main role in the war on Cybertron was to provide new ammunition for front-line soldiers. He was seemingly regarded with scorn by most of his colleagues (in a metaphor for the reactions of fandom of course).
The other Autobots Wheelie beats to get the planetary survey assignment are: Hubcap, Bumper, Scrounge and Roller.
For the first time we see Transformer repairs without the aid of a CR chamber. Wheelie's attempt to reattach his arm makes his transformation process extremely difficult.
The Chaosteros monster is probably a nod in the direction of the Chaos creature from the G1 episode of the same name. Wheelie tries the Universal Greeting from the original film on it but gets bitten into for his trouble. In addition, the overall storyline is likely to be loosely inspired by the Wheelie: Wild Boy of Quintessa
Wheelie is (in)famous in the original series for talking in rhyme. Here he only does so here due to Varta's broken translator. The Reflector robots on the other hand do not adopt their TV speech pattern at all (though with Viewfinder dead the three speaking in unison is a lot harder).
The Quintessons here make their IDW début, though it's not as yet clear if this is going to lead anywhere or is just a one off gag to end the issue.
Exactly when this occurs in the IDW time frame is uncertain. Wheelie sets of before Cybertron is abandoned, his distress call is observed by Optimus Prime in his Spotlight
(though we have no idea how long the signal has been traveling for there's been no indication to date of anything other than instant communication in the IDW-verse), Reflector will be in All Hail Megatron,
so presumably they arrive on the planet after that. The only direct reference to time is a caption stating the end of the issue occurs a "Year" after the failed escape attempt. What the planet's year is impossible to say though.
This issue has several points of similarity with Spotlight: Kup
, including a marooned Autobot, the loss of an arm and a dead Transformer in a chair.
By way of back up strips this issue reprints two of the Lil'Formers
gag cartoons. One where Wheelie is told he's just about last in line to ever become Prime (a variation on this is used in the issue itself) and one where the IDW boys struggle to think of a new Spotlight
star having used all the obvious candidates.
Furman has frequently derided the character of Wheelie at various conventions over the years. This project was very much Klaus Scherwinski's pet project and his enthusiasm eventually brought the Furmanator round to the idea. The bulk of the plot and outline are Scherwinski's, with Furman mainly giving the whole thing a more professional polish.
By way of publicity, this title was first announced via a April Fools gag that included lots of faux Wheelie merchandise such as hoodies (Transform and Wheel Out!
). It was something of a surprise to many when it turned out the issue itself was real.
The issue also includes 5 pages of sketches and designs. One, the drawing done for fun that inspired the title, has Wheelie flipping the bird (though the offending digit is covered up here).
Cover B is a deliberately retro style old school affair (complete with faded price sticker and sellotape). Despite a few experiments with speech bubbles during Infiltration,
this sees the first use of excessive text on a IDW cover.
This is the last regular Spotlight
for the immediate future, the next four entries in the range being part of the Revelation
Whilst accepting it's a gag, of those Autobots also on Hot Spot's list Bumper and Scrounge were killed in Megatron: Origin
and Roller, as an aspect of Optimus Prime, would actually be far to important for such a menial mission anyway.
Neither Wheelie nor Varta are speaking English, so it's amazingly lucky their words still rhyme when translated for our benefit. Notice also how Wheelie learns his new friend's name off panel due to the lack of words rhyme with Varta.
The first page of the sketchbook shows the creation of a page of art from initial outline to final colours. Unfortunately, the first sketch is of a different page to the others.
The little character bio present in the other Spotlights
is missing from the title page.