CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers Tales of the Fallen #6: Arcee
Reviewed by Blackjack
"Past failures to my team will haunt me forever."
Basically, this issue is 'Reign of Starscream Coda', Chris Mowry's attempt to explain why Arcee is one transformer in Reign of Starscream and three separate entities in ROTF, as well as tying most loose ends made by him. It's a nice gesture that he's willing to fix his mistakes instead of ignoring it. At least one
of IDW's writers is doing his job. By this issue, we can assume that those lifeless toy Autobots that were Arcee's crew in Reign of Starscream (Breakaway, Clocker, Crosshairs et al) are all dead, killed off-screen by Thundercracker. It's a nice move, cleaning off the slate of those dull characters, allowing future writers to bring in the new toy cast. (Despite its merits, we have to admit that Reign of Starscream did introduce way too much new toys.) So Mowry decided to do the sensible thing. Arcee and the Twins get an origin, and Mowry repairs his continuity by giving Arcee an encounter with a makeup artist. Basically, it's a nice spotlight for Arcee, building up on her characterization in Movie Prequel and Reign of Starscream, and builds her into sort of a reluctant/conflicted hero, but she doesn't kill for revenge, making her a polar opposite of Sideswipe. Also, she has three bodies with one mind. Screw all those toy biographies and people who insist that there are three separate bike girls. Arcee(s) is her own mech.
Thundercracker is a decent villain, also true to what we've seen of him in Reign of Starscream, being a fierce warrior who sometimes makes wrong judgment calls. The plot is decent and original, with the 'Cons faced with the problem of a dwindling troop supply. The Twins are done nicely, not too intrusive, although using brain damage™ to explain their street talking is a little lazy. While the dialogue is a little dull, the plot satisfies nicely. Milne's art is decidedly improving. Nowhere as bad as Megatron Origin or later issues of Reign of Starscream, but nowhere as good as the Ravage issue or the first Reign of Starscream issue. The only quibble I have is Flatline. While he has a wicked name, I just feel that it's a wasted opportunity when the movieverse already had a perfectly nice mad scientist in the Doctor/Scalpel, or even Mixmaster. Don't see the point in introducing a fanmade character here, especially when he doesn't
die. While nothing too spectacular, at least it isn't a flop. This issue actually resolves some continuity problems instead of introducing new ones. What I expected to be a load of crap turned out rather well, and I like it.
The three Arcee components are a single entity, divided among three bodies. This has been mentioned in the ROTF comic adaptation (where she speaks Reflector-style), ROTF novel (where she's called a tripartine Cybertronian) and finally this issue. This resolves the debate that some fans raise when they say that the three bikes are separate characters. So: Arcee components, not Arcee Sisters.
Milne homages his own Spotlight: Arcee cover (sort of) when Arcee first wakes up.
Come to think of it, Flatline is a little like IDW's Jhiaxus, no? Only that he didn't make Arcee a transsexual, but rather a Reflector. According to Mowry, Flatline was originally set to appear in an early draft of Reign of Starscream, where he builds a prototype Devastator from bots like Mixmaster and Huffer. He was based of a fanmade G1 character who transforms into a hearse.
The sudden need for new warriors might be caused by Dreadwing's death in Reign of Starscream, as well as that legion of drones he controls.
The new Arcee bodies first look like the hatchlings from the movie (albeit larger and coloured) with snake-like lower bodies and everything. After being reformatted, Arcee gains her unicycle bodies.
Arcee's encounter with Thundercracker, and the wound on Thundercracker's neck, happened in Reign of Starscream #3. The rest of the events, foiling Starscream's plan and everything, happened in Reign of Starscream #4 and #5.
While only Breakaway and Clocker is shown in the flashback, it's safe to assume that the rest of the Autobots with Arcee (Crosshairs, Skyblast, Wingblade, Strongarm et al) are all killed or taken captive by the Decepticons. Because they don't have toys no more, yes? Armorhide is the only exception, because he shows up with a new body in Nefarious. Of course, that Armorhide might be a different guy from the one in Reign of Starscream.
Thundercracker and Flatline are not killed. Flatline's fate is ambiguous (did he survive the explosion?) but an injured Thundercracker is seen watching the Autobots' shuttle escape, an ironic scene considering that their positions were reversed in the end of Reign of Starscream.
Instead of being wannabe gangsters or punks, the Twins are scatterbrained idiots.
Skids and Mudflap are basically in a simplified version of their compact car bodies. It's worth noting that in the every pre-movie fiction the Twins appear in (Titan comics and this one) they are in Cybertronian forms similar to their compact car bodies, even though they were supposed to have their ice cream truck bodies prior to the compact cars.
Thundercracker misses his gold highlights several times.
Why didn't Arcee blast the computer console herself instead of asking the scatterbrained Twins to help her out? She could free them later...
The Payload and Dreadwing drones seem a little... off from all the previous times we've seen them. Of course, Flatline could've upgraded them...
The blue Arcee is miscoloured gold when she says "You killed your own kind."
The blue and purple Arcee bikes switch their colour schemes at the end of page 21.
Arcee: I come online again, but I would soon wish that I hadn't. I try to scream, but there is no sound.
Flatline: "I swear I only did minimal surgery. Our commander caused most of the initial damage."
Thundercracker: "And it was my pleasure."
Arcee: It hits me. I see things clearly again. We all do.
Arcee: "Hey, you two. I need your help. I'm stuck. There's a restraining lock that's holding me up here."
Mudflap: "Help? Um, we're kinda stuck here."
Skids: "Yeah, we need help, too."
Arcee: -blasts prison door- "There. Consider yourselves helped."
Flatline: "Who knew that three protoforms would function as if they were one being? No matter, I'll just divide your body further!"
Arcee: "You want my body? Then take it!" -throws knife-
Arcee: It's all a mess in my head. My reflexes are tripled, my mind has tripled, my skills...