CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers Last Stand of the Wreckers #4
Reviewed by Blackjack
"That story epitomizes everything I admire - everything I love - about the Wreckers."
The pacing's a little slow. There are few action scenes in this issue, mostly during Kup's scene as well as the death of the two Predators. Although Overlord is hardly featured this issue, we get another awesome Decepticon in the form of Stalker. He's a sadist with simple pleasures, and he fires on his friend without much consideration, and gets a nice death scene at the hands of Springer. At least this issue we don't get lots of generic fights against generic Decepticons. More deaths happen this issue. Snare dies, sadly. And Impactor killed him instead of Overlord or Stalker, halfway through his soliloquy, and it's one of those touching and cold scenes at the same time. Snare’s death is the most emotional death for a Decepticon ever since, oh, maybe Iguanus in Stormbringer. The Jumpstarters buy the farm as well, a startling development. I had expected Ironfist or even Fort Max to be sacrificed, and it’s frankly surprising. Anyone can die next issue… I have a feeling only one or two Wreckers will make it out alive. The art is simply spectacular, and the colouring is better after a hiccup last issue. Twin Twist looks so grotesque with his torture, and the art and colouring are as crisp as the first issue.
Aequitas is finally revealed, and the pay-off isn't too disappointing. It's not the Magnificience or something like that, but rather a super-computer. Not Vector Sigma, though, but rather a truth detector and a judge. It’s a little weird, and a little morbid how they must sacrifice someone to gain access. Perceptor's a cold-hearted jerk, basically telling the rookies 'go discuss who's gonna die among you' and forces a stream of information into Ironfist's head, and tells Verity to f*ck off when she tries to vote, but it's nicely done and flows naturally. It's the same with the Twins' spark-bond thing and subsequent deaths. Plus, it’s a decent exit for Topspin, sacrificing himself so Ironfist and Pyro don’t need to come to blows and to save Twin Twist from more pain. It’s a much more viable excuse to activate Aequitas instead of, say, Alpha Trion dying similarly for Vector Sigma. Just to make new toys. Boo.
However, too much of the issue is spent dealing with Ironfist retelling the story of the Wreckers versus Squadron X, but it’s hardly noticeable. Basically Squadron X is nearly every Decepticon who's appeared in the Marvel comics but didn't get a toy, something to make old-time fans jump with joy. And Roche draws all of them superbly. We also get to see the original Wreckers team back, and I was delighted to see Rack'n'Ruin among them. Unlike Dreamwave, it’s not some random Diaclone toy or some massacred Go-Bot, but rather a proper honest-to-goodness reference that connects with the story. It’s not dropped out of the sky either, but both Squadron X and Pova have been mentioned several times by Ironfist. And, if I'm reading into this properly,the real
story of what happened between Squadron X and the Wreckers is the reason why Impactor became the 'Autobot that went too far', and the source of friction between Impactor and Springer. Ace. You don't see that
sort of storytelling in the Ongoing, do you? There are many wonderful character moments for Ironfist, including the flashback sequence to Ironfist’s background, and how he is prepared to die to atone for his sins. Amazing how R’n’R manages to do with an obscure character in four issues compared to what sad amount of characterization that twelve issues of AHM manages to give. Prowl gets a nice short role as well. It’s actually a nice intermission (sort of) to the breakneck pace of issue three, rounding everyone up and getting rid of some players to get ready for the final showdown.
Pyro's self-righteous and arrogant streak is wonderful. He simply wants Ironfist to be sacrificed, that asshole. I was right, then, in assuming that he's an Optimus Prime fanboy and that he had a polite façade. Guzzle and Kup also share a nice moment when Kup takes out the squad of Decepticons. It'll be nice to see what happens between the two when Guzzle reveals how his friends died. Verity is not too obtrusive this issue, and gets some good lines in. Springer gets some amazing characterization again, while it's nice to see Impactor not as a plot device but as a proper character. Those scenes between Springer and Impactor both in the present as well as the one in the flashback are amazingly scripted, and it makes one wonder what exactly transpired between the two. Again, continuity is displayed by the search for Grimlock, and by Prowl seemingly manipulating Ironfist by putting him in the Wreckers. Perhaps Prowl wants to get rid of Ironfist for delving too deep into the Impactor matter? This issue is better than the last, and it’s filled to the brim with characterization. With the cast thinned a little, anything can happen in the final issue. Will Shockwave, Grimlock or Prowl make an appearance? Will Fortress Maximus be revived? Will Megatron and/or Starscream arrive to put their house in order? Will Roadbuster and the rest of the errant Wreckers come as backup? Any of them could happen. However, endings are the tricky part, so I really hope that our R’n’R team can end this miniseries with a bang.
During the scene with Prowl, Ironfist displays a Sky-Sled, presumably Impactor’s, which he mentioned in issue two. This is confirmed by the authors in the TPB. Also, Ironfist has one of those cerebro-homing guns that he’ll give to Pyro and Guzzle on his work-table during his scene with Prowl. Ironfist works in the Kimia research facility, where they revived Kup in AHM #15. Kimia literally means ‘Chemistry’ in Indonesian.
According to the authors, Aequitas doesn't detect guilt, but determines it based on all evidence. It is inspired by an academic research paper exploring the application of a similar computer in the Australian criminal justice system.
Squadron X consists of practically nearly every obscure ‘hi-and-die’ Decepticon in Marvel comics, except for Straxus. All of them lovingly got the Roche treatment. Let’s see…
- Macabre first appeared in the UK story ‘Target 2006’, where he was a Decepticon assassin trying to kill Emirate Xaaron, but killed Impactor instead. He got fried by the rest of the Wreckers.
- Crosscut appeared in the Marvel US story ‘The Bridge to Nowhere’ for all of three frames to show that the Space Bridge is unstable. Roche gave him a new paintjob and had him transform into a TIE-Interceptor thing.
- Ferak appeared in the Marvel US story ‘The Smelting Pool’ as a Decepticon who tormented Empties and got killed by Blaster. This is the first time his robot mode is depicted, and the robot mode is made to resemble a generic Decepticon who got gunned down by Rodimus Prime in 'The Legacy of Unicron Part 2', since both Ferak and that Decepticon transform into generic Cybertronian jets.
- Fang is a Decepticon who appeared in ‘Target 2006’, as a guy in a bar who kicks around a piano. Twin Twist killed him.
- Tornado appeared first in ‘State Games’ where he was part of the Vos/Tarn war. He then reappeared in ‘The Enemy Within’ where he was killed fighting Earthquake after rebelling against the Decepticons. Hell, I never knew this guy (or Earthquake) existed before I read this.
- Earthquake is a Decepticon traitor who appeared in the Marvel UK story ‘The Enemy Within’ in a flashback where he fought Tornado in gladiatorial combat. He and Tornado blew each other up.
- Triton is a Decepticon double-agent who infiltrated the Autobots in the Marvel UK story ‘Peace’. In the Marvel UK future timelines, Triton caused the Autobots to go into war with each other, but he got killed by Sandstorm.
Squadron X seems to be based somewhat on the Mayhem Attack Squad, the Wreckers’ nemesis in G1.
According to the writers, Pova means 'point of view', hinting on unreliable narration and whatnot.
Rack’n’Ruin, who was not among the Wreckers lineup in previous IDW issues, appear during the flashback sequences. Presumably he was transferred out of the group (or died?) during the interim. For those who don’t know, Rack’n’Ruin is created by Simon Furman to add another member into the original Wreckers. Other than Xaaron and Unicron, he was the non-toy character who appeared in the most UK comic issues.
Springer shutting off his pain circuits is similar to Jazz doing the same after having his arm blasted off in issue nine of the original Marvel comics.
Redan Quadrant is a reference to Redan Place, the base of operations for Marvel UK in the early days of the British transformers comic.
Ironfist tells Verity (and by extension, the audience) that Impactor and the rest of the undamaged Wreckers, all of which are incidentally not present as of the end of this issue bar Springer and Impactor, hunted down Squadron X and killed them in a massive showdown. Impactor's case, and Ironfist's mention of a cover-up (and indeed Prowl's presence at the beginning of the story) hints strongly that there is... more than meets the eye
to the story of the Wreckers and Squadron X. It is strong enough to have Ironfist vote to kill off his idol.
We could glimpse that Ironfist used to have a mouth in his flashback. The dent on his head is missing too for all the flashback scenes.
Ironfist’s comrade who died in his arms is Nautilus, an Autobot double-agent seen in the Marvel UK story ‘Wanted: Galvatron Dead or Alive’.
Ironfist and Pyro reference ‘second-stringers’, a popular fan term. They also reference ‘Ark worthy’, a reference to how only Autobots who went with the Ark seem to be more important than everybody else.
A supercomputer needing someone to kill himself to activate it has been seen previously in the G1 cartoon two-parter ‘the Key to Vector Sigma’. Didn’t realize it until someone pointed it out, though… Topspin’s suicide was so brutal that it’s hardly Alpha Trion’s ‘one with the matrix’ thing.
Aequitas says “Til all are one” when Topspin donates his spark.
According to Snare, Overlord tells his Decepticons that ‘Play makes you free’, a twist on the real-life German Nazi slogan ‘Work makes you free’. The choice given to Kick-Off last issue is fighting Overlord or suicide. Presumably, if someone chooses suicide, Overlord feeds him to Aequitas. Yum.
Impactor kills Snare by crushing his brain module, the same way Death’s Hand kills Shockwave in the Marvel UK story ‘the Legacy of Unicron’.
Snare’s mouthplate falls off to reveal a proper mouth.
The scene where Verity convinces Pyro and Ironfist to be better people is an exact reversal of an earlier draft where Verity, embittered at Hunter's death, is prepared to kill an enemy in cold blood, but Pyro talks her down with his Prime-like qualities. A ironic reversal of the normal human-compassion whatchamacalit in cartoons. Shame that it isn't included in the final cut.
Ironfist gets the profile treatment this issue, again in the Autopedia format. It’s still a stub, like with Rotorstorm. A reference-filled stub. It’s revealed in the story proper that Ironfist designed Optimus Prime’s rifle, but the bio tells us that Prime mistook him for Skyfall, another obscure Action Master from G1. Ironfist is also revealed to have designed glass gas, Cliffjumper's signature weapon (although ironically Cliffy is yet to utilize the glass gas in the IDW continuity). Two of Ironfist’s self-published Wrecker books aimed for the freshly sparked, “the Wreckers’ Lighting Strike” and “Wreckers at the Pole” are references to “Autobots’ Lighting Strike!” and “Decepticons at the Pole!” two Ladybird books from G1 era aimed at kids. The Xantium, seen in Stormbringer, is referenced as well, and like many fan speculation, Ironfist insists that the Xantium (the Wreckers' ship seen in Stormbringer) must have a robot mode. Ironfist also insists that Rack’n’Ruin be referred to in plural, again a reference to the Marvel UK background for the guy where they were two Autobots glued together. Oh, and for some reason he's listed as 'presumed deceased'. Foreshadowing? Let's hope not. I like Ironfist.
Fortress Maximus’ comatose body, who was with Perceptor’s group last issue (carried by some of the Wreckers) disappear for the entire issue. Of course, Pyro could’ve put it out of sight.
Perceptor’s monocle is missing his crosshairs during when he introduces Aequitas to the other Wreckers.
Ironfist’s narration made it look like Roadbuster and Rack’n’Ruin were late arriving to combat Squadron X, but the art shows the two (three?) of them in the trenches on the first frame.
Snare: “Wait! If I’m still alive by the end of this sentence, you have to listen to me… deal?”
Topspin: -on Aequitas- “Unless it contains a fully sequenced cyber-genome, or the uncensored version of the Autobot code, or – let’s think the unthinkable – a roadmap to peace, I’d respectfully suggest that High Command have sent us on a fool’s errand!”
Impactor: “They plugged you into Aequitas, and the first thing you said was "I saw him do it." The Decepticons tried for hundreds of years to rip the Wreckers apart. You managed it in five words."
Ironfist: “The story of the Wreckers and Squadron X was never going to end in handcuffs and a custodial sentence. No, this particular score could only ever be settled by direct confrontation. This was always about opposite forces, about darkness and light.”
Ironfist: “It was never gonna be Perceptor, was it? Or Springer or Impactor or Kup, if they were here. No, it was always going to be one of us – the second stringers.”
Pyro: “Yeah, just because we’re not famous – not Ark-worthy – one of us has to bite the bullet. Well, I’m sorry, but this isn’t how I’m supposed to die!”
Pyro: “But me… I’m supposed to die switching on a computer?"
Topspin: “Because if we’re gonna die, bro, then let’s at least do so with some semblance of dignity.”
Aequitas: -Initializing spark donation protocol. Thank you, donor designated: Topspin. ‘Til all are one.-
Topspin: “Wreck and…”
Twin Twist: “…ruuuule.”
Stalker: -blasting Snare- "Traitor! Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!"
Impactor: "Springer, yer sprung. Take that 'Con off rant mode, will ya?"
Springer: "My pleasure. And I just know where to find the off switch!" -slams torture device onto Stalker's face-
Snare: "No time. Just... just kill me. Quickly. Before... he gets here. Please. At least... I know... that my death has..."
Impactor: -crushes Snare's brain- "Okay."