CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers Last Stand of the Wreckers #1
Reviewed by Blackjack
This is how it’s done!
Fantastic. After a year or so of comics ranging to mediocre to downright trash, it’s very refreshing to see an excellent issue at last. Nick Roche, already gifted with an amazing ability to draw, continues to impress. He showed us his writing skills as well with ‘Spotlight Kup’ and that Spotlight issue where he ties in AHM with Revelations. It’s about time he received a miniseries of his own. Every single scene, every single dialogue is a delight, and stuff like the Bumblebee miniseries or even the ongoing look so slow and stunted compared to this. Nick Roche made an impact with the destruction of Garrus-9 in four pages, an impact that Shane McCarthy needed five whole issues to tell. The art is crisp and colourful, and Roche doesn’t disappoint. The art (and colours) shift style as needed. From the crispy and colourful art of the Decepticons having fun, or the Wreckers talking to each other, to the funeral-like scene where Fortress Maximus seemingly bites the dust, to the very dark atmosphere as Kick-Off loses his Autobot pride, to the more serious atmosphere at the end as Impactor appears.
The new characters are handled nicely. While it’s a shame to see Skyquake offed so early, Overlord proves a wonderful villain. For once, we don’t get a villain with all those world-encompassing plans, but simply a Decepticon with a taste of destruction and murders. The Predators, meanwhile, are reduced to giving one-liners or simply not speaking at all. It’s a rather nice move, emphasizing all our attention on Overlord. Amazingly, this issue ties in seamlessly with both AHM (the global Decepticon attacks) and the Furmanverse (Garrus-9, Kick-Off, the Wreckers). The Wreckers themselves are a mixture of the characters we’ve seen throughout IDW’s run. Roche doesn’t just write with Furman’s default Wreckers team, but rather integrates McCarthy’s Kup and Perceptor into it as well, a rather nice touch. I'm a little worried at the amount of generics in this issue (Dipstick, Borehole, Wingblazer...) but I suppose it couldn't be help, if only to establish a high body-count.
The new Wreckers are neat as well. Considering it’s the first fictional appearance ever for Rotorstorm, Pyro and Ironfist, they get loads of characterization. Rotorstorm is a sarcastic jokester, Pyro’s a wide-eyed soldier while Ironfist is a Wrecker fanboy. Topspin and Twin Twist get some nice characterization since… well, ever. Springer (and Kup) has a wonderful moment where they discuss the burden of leadership. Perceptor and Guzzle didn’t get to say much this issue, but that’s understandable. Kick-Off’s short scene is similar to the background given in his tech-specs while not outright plagiarising, and is well-scripted. It's nice to see Action Masters and post-G1 characters actually get some characterization other than getting themselves blown up. All the scenes are frankly amazing. The dialogue where the new and old Wreckers talk to each other seem so natural, unlike the dialogue in Bumblebee, where it seemed so forced. Even the scene where Overlord kills the two generic Decepticons for being jumped by the Autobot (Rhythms of Darkness, anybody?) doesn’t feel as forced as what it should be. Basically, the writing keeps us in suspense. We don’t know what’s going to happen next. Roche and Roberts (writer of the amazing self-published Transformers novel Eugenesis, available for download in the fandom section site. Be warned—you need to read the whole Marvel continuity to appreciate it at its fullest.) are amazing in keeping the audience hooked. Impactor’s arrival actually surprised me I never expected him to appear, and thought that scene with Springer and Kup is only a nod to old-timer fans. It's a little too much of a coincidence for Kup and Springer talking about Impactor mere pages before he appeared, however. Still, guys like the Jumpstarters, the new Wreckers, Overlord and Kick-Off get decent characterization since, well, ever. Shame about Skyquake, though—he got wasted after three pages. Oh, another complaint is the unnecessary inclusion of Verity, and I hope there would be a proper reason other than 'to throw a human into the mix'. It's a wonderful (if a little clunky) setup, but there's still the potential for this to fall apart. But let's not be pessimistic, shall we?
For those who need some background… the Wreckers first appeared in the IDW-verse in Stormbringer. They are somewhat of a suicide team, sent to do the worst jobs. And they die. A lot. The Wreckers were created by Simon Furman in 1986’s Target 2006 of G1 Marvel UK. Impactor is also ‘imported’ from Marvel UK, where he is the former leader of the Wreckers prior to Springer. Apparently, in IDW, Impactor had been ‘behind bars’, according to Magnus.
Aside from Guzzle, all the new Wreckers have never appeared in fiction before. Rotorstorm, as well as the Predators, are late-G1 toys who only appears in Europe, Canada and several other countries, while both Pyro (Optimus Prime lookalike) and Ironfist was released during the transition between G1 and G2. The reason why the Wrecker candidates aren't crack fighters is that the Autobots are short-handed after the events of AHM, where a lot of the Autobots were destroyed all over the galaxy. Overlord is the main villain of the Japanese TV show ‘Super-God Masterforce’. However, his characterization in IDW is decidedly different. He doesn’t have a human couple riding him, for starters.
Of the original lineup of Wreckers seen in the IDW-verse they’ve lost Roadbuster, Whirl, Sandstorm and Broadside since Spotlight: Drift. (Since Scoop doesn’t seem to be a proper member) Roadbuster has been hanging around Kup's party in AHM and more recently he’s seen with Bumblebee in his miniseries. Sandstorm is with Hot Rod’s split Autobot faction in the ongoing, but we have no idea what happened to the other two. Most likely we’ll know this later on. Roche and Roberts stated that they viewed the Wreckers as having an 'ever-changing lineup'. Considering how high the death rate of Wreckers in fiction, it is appropriate.
The first scene most likely happened somewhere around AHM #1, where all the Autobots around the galaxy are attacked by the Decepticons.
The rest of the Autobots at Garrus-9 seen in other issues, like the Autobot Clones, the rest of the Action Masters, Vroom, Turbofire and several other obscures, might’ve either been killed or captured. Turbofire is seen in the first page alongside Kick-Off, though.
On page four, two Autobots beheaded by Snare are coloured in the colours of ROTF Skids and Mudflap. This is reportedly Josh Burcham’s little joke.
Nick Roche mentioned in the bonus features of the TPB that Overlord's face is designed to resemble a Greco-Roman statue, right down to the pout on his lips, since it is in theme with his sadistic streak.
Ironfist weilds a 'Lightformer cannon'. His original toy is under the Lightformer sub-group.
Verity Carlo was last seen at the end of Maximum Dinobots. According to Guzzle, she sneaks aboard Ultra Magnus’ ship. She has a tattoo of a green alien head on the back of her right shoulder, most likely as a reference to her departed friend Hunter O’Nion (who wore that shirt throughout the –ion series), killed in AHM #12.
Verity's line 'one way ticket to hell and back' is a homage the British band Darkness
' second album. She also calls Rotorstorm 'Hitman' at one point, a nod to pro-wrestler Bret 'Hitman' Hart, famed for his pink shades. Rotorstorm, of course, has pink optics.
Mentioned above, Overlord killing Wingblazer and his buddy for being jumped by an Autobot (dubbed Spin-Out in the script, after Sunstreaker’s early working name) is very similar to Galvatron II killing Cyclonus in the G1 story ‘Rhythms of Darkness’.
Previously, Ironfist was assigned to Kimia, where Kup’s new body was built in AHM #15. He also references the ‘siege of T’Muk’, a reference to TransMasters UK (TMUK for short) a fan club that both Robertrs and Roche are members off. He also says about ‘the Roadbuster affair’ and the ‘showdown on Pova’. Pay attention to Pova, folks.
Rotorstorm remarks that Pyro stole Optimus Prime’s looks. This is because Pyro’s toy really, really, really looks like Optimus Prime.
Kick-Off's line, "alt modes are for wimps!" is a sneaky reference to the Action Master line his toy was part of.
Verity references Uhura from Star Trek when she’s about to hail the Decepticon dropship.
None of the Decepticons save for Overlord or Skyquake gets named, so here goes. The red jet that appears in most scenes is Snare, one of the Predators. The faceplated guy with a missile on his back on page 8 (he speaks to Overlord) is Stalker, yet another Predator. Standing near him is what I think is Falcon, but it might be a generic. The orange guy in page 14 (the one on the left) is Fearswoop, part of the same assortment that Ironfist is.
According to the writers, Dipstick's dialogue had to be heavily edited due to the use of strong Cybertronian swearing.
In earlier drafts it was Scorponok who was the main villain instead of Overlord. Also, reportedly Grimlock was slated to appear as a Pit-fight champion, chemically controlled by the Decepticons, wearing a splintered cannon muzzle as a crown. He was to be mockingly called 'the King'. However, this idea was ultimately dropped due to the writers not wanting to overshadow the Wreckers by bringing in well-known characters.
At the end of the story is a profile of Rotorstorm. Its done in-universe, in an ‘Autopedia’ (read: Wikipedia) format. It’s a stub! Most likely, a reference to TFWiki. The psycho-analysis thing is done by an Autobot named 'Rung', who is a name-dropped character in James Roberts' novel, Eugenesis.
On page 2, Overlord’s gun is missing the piece at the top of the barrel.
Also, where did Overlord’s tank part drop out from?
Why did Verity stick around? And with Ultra Magnus? Last we saw, she was this emo kid who acts all grown-up, but now she acts like Hunter. Furman was already sidelining her, and after Max Dinos, it isn't really necessary for her to stick around. Plus, I can't see IDW Magnus actually accepting her aboard.
On page 14, with Ironfist looking at the other Wreckers checking him, Topspin is coloured as Rotorstorm. Granted, with only his face and chest visible, it’s hard to tell them apart.
(Basically, nearly every line of dialogue is perfect)
Fortress Maximus: “Okay. Mobilize the crisis response team. Again. I want this place intact for when we find whoever sold us out, and haul them here, kicking and screaming.”
Overlord: “Oh, Skyquake, I did try… why couldn’t you?”
Overlord: -beats Fort Max up- “As if there were any other outcome…”
Dipstick: "You're joining the Wreckers... what makes you think you're coming back?"
Rotorstorm: “I hate that guy…”
Verity Carlo: “Thank you for choosing Air Wreckers… please present your roundtrip ticket to hell and back to the stewardess.”
Rotorstorm: -on Verity- “Ultra Magnus has shrunk…”
Pyro: "By the sacred spires! A human! Optimus Prime's data was right! They're so delicate and in need of our protection..."
Rotorstorm: “And Magnus puts up with you? Must be a great cleaner…”
Verity: “Cyber-sexism. Nice, hitman.”
Ironfist: “Dude- that’s Kup!”
Guzzle: “I see him…”
Verity: “Pff. He changes his oil like everyone else. Not as often as he should, though…”
Kup: “You, me and an airlock, kid…”
Springer: “You’re following in some massive footsteps, Autobots. You’ve earned your shot at being a Wrecker. Welcome to the team. Just be prepared: sometimes in the Wreckers, your first day is your last.”
Fearswoop: “ ‘Hunting party’, my airbrake. There’s no sport in this.”
Random generic: “I know. And we’re going all the tracking. Instead of watching it all, why doesn’t he get stuck in?”
Overlord: -appears suddenly- “And where’s the fun in that?”
Ironfist: “But I’m guessing the best stuff was what they held back- like Twin Twist and Topspin’s files, for example…”
Twin Twist: “Hear that, Topspin? We’re officially classified!”
Topspin: “Maybe I should change my name to Top Secret.”
Rotorstorm: “Was that… a joke? I didn’t know you guys did jokes.”
Topspin: “Wish we could give you a scoop, ‘Fisitron’, but the only thing that sets us apart from the rest is a knack for saving each other’s skin. Yeah, and as of last count, I’m ahead by six saves.”
Twin Twist: “Get slagged.”
Rotorstorm: “Pyro, any reason why you’ve stolen Optimus Prime’s look?”
Springer: “Sometimes it seems pointless building these teams, just to see ‘em ripped apart. It’s one thing seeing your buddies fall by the wayside over time, but losing ‘Bots under your command…”
Borehole: “Please, Kick-Off… you’re an Autobot.”
Kick-Off: “Know what that means in this place, Borehole? Nothing
.” –rips head off-