CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers Last Stand of the Wreckers #5
Reviewed by Blackjack
"It's a story of sacrifice and betrayal, and of good people dying in stupid, pointless ways."
While it is far from flawless (well, not that far, when you think about it), the conclusion to Last Stand of the Wreckers ends IDW's best output with a bang. Many characters die, which is a shame. Where do we start? Let's start from the bad stuff. Pyro's sudden reversal from selfish jerk to a martyr seems rather rushed, as is Perceptor being convinced by Verity. Also, I disliked Ironfist being all emo because he learnt that Impactor gunned down the Squadron X guys because bureaucracy meant that they had to be released. Wasn't the whole concept of the Wreckers when it was introduced by Simon Furman as the deadly hit team of the Autobots that will kill Decepticons, no matter the cost? After all, this is war. Also, Verity is ultimately pointless, isn't she? Granted, she was more interesting than when she was written by Furman, but all she managed to do is to convince Perceptor and co not to kill Impactor, which could have been delivered by, um, introducing another Wrecker, I guess. And being helpless against the flaming Overlord. Also, Springer's survival is a little letdown. When Impactor and Overlord treat Springer as dead, it had made me slightly happy inside. Not because I hate Springer (I love the guy) but because R'n'R had done something brave. Namely, killing off the guy that appeared in the cartoon while letting guys like Impactor (a guy from the comics) or Overlord (a Japan imported guy) survive. It's a letdown when he survived, but that was no big loss. Also, I hate it that all the Autobot prisoners are killed, which means guys like Vroom and Rad and Jackpot and Turbofire (and maybe Grimlock as well?), guys who most other writers don't give a damn about, would be dead without having a decent death scene.
That said, characterization, pacing, dialogue and art are simply overwhelming. The art and action scenes are simply amazing. Character damage actually felt like it was painful (Impactor shooting his harpoon thing into Overlord's eye, Springer's face being ripped off, Overlord being reduced into a skeleton), something that few other comics could give. The whole issue is just a big battle scene plus the darker flashback, with Fisitron's commentary helping to give more emotional weight. Last Stand manages to give character development, action scenes, dark storytelling and some ace jokes at the same time. And the theme of the issue seems to be people "dying in stupid, pointless ways". Rotorstorm's sudden death in issue three, and the Jumpstarters' ignomious suicide are prime examples. Pyro's death this issue, being torn apart by the generic Decepticons while he bought time for the others to escape, is really heart-breaking. I mean, I knew Pyro was going to die (he wears red, after all, and R'n'R didn't spend that much time on him compared to the others) but his death actually meant something
due to the character that R'n'R had crafted for him. Compare Pyro's death, with, say, random G2 guys that Nemesis Prime killed in Revelations. See? Also, I read this after I read the first few chapters of James Roberts' Eugenesis, and I could see that he used the same suspense tactics here. If you read Eugenesis, you would see that almost every other sequence of a story, a character might seem to have died, suffering major damage. This is very similar to what they did with Guzzle here. First page- boom, Overlord tears Guzzle into two. At the end of it, Guzzle has been taped back together.
The major characters shine as well. I was really shocked when Ironfist died. Look at this- Ironfist keels over, seemingly dead. Then, when Impactor had beaten the crap out of Overlord, he stands up, conscious. I thought "hooray, he survived!" only to turn the next page and see that he died afterwards. But the death was foreshadowed. Sneakily. The dent on his head for the entire series, the cerebro-centric bullets he gave Guzzle, the blackouts, that scene with Prowl... Prowl also got many nice character moments here, effectively undermining the 'cheery guy' that Costa and McCarthy portrayed him as. And as a nice show of continuity, Roche drew Magnus in his Don Figueroa-designed body, albeit in his style. Applauds for that, since all the other artists seem to be sticking to their personal character models. I was pleasantly surprised that Impactor didn't die. While the revelation of his crimes is a little letdown, that flashback scene where Springer throws himself onto the locked door repeatedly while Springer guns down the Decepticons in cold blood is very emotional. Impactor also delivers some of the best lines in the series when he faces off against Overlord. Overlord himself is nicely done, as the Decepticon without any agenda other than revenge against Megatron. That moment where he simply loses the will to fight (after spending the rest of the issue being superior and stuff) is well-scripted, a scene made the more ironic since the readers know that Megatron is still alive, if not fully functional. Springer's character moments are mainly in the aforementioned flashback portion, and again we see Roberts' feint when Impactor and Overlord treat Springer as dead after the face-ripping thing.
All in all, Last Stand has been the best miniseries that IDW has delivered thus far. And that's not hyperbole. This was the first time I actually felt sad that guys like Pyro and Topspin died, probably how the -ahem- 'older' fans felt when Optimus Prime or Nightbeat or Thunderwing died during the olden days. It is fitting that the writers would introduce us to a new generation of characters (Ironfist, Pyro, Guzzle, Overlord, Rotorstorm, Snare et al) while still giving 'classic' characters like Prowl and Springer love. While the last issue is far from flawless, it still stands heads-and-shoulders above the rest of IDW's output.
This issue includes MTMTE-styled profiles for Impactor, Guzzle and Pyro, all done in the Autopedia format by Rung. Lots of Easter Eggs, like Impactor getting his arm attachment from a dimensional-hopping freelance peacekeeping agent that arrived after leaping through an exploding time portal (for those who are unfamiliar with Marvel UK, this is a very obvious shout-out to Death's Head, who also had a harpoon hand at one point). Their meeting is chronicled in "Wreckers Declassified Datalog 151", the same Marvel UK issue that Death's Head jumps through the time portal. The title of that datalog, "The Wreckers at the Corssroads of Time", is a homage to the Doctor Who story "The Crossroads of Time", where Death's Head appeared after exiting from Marvel UK continuity. Pyro apparently suffers from a condition called 'Primus apotheosis', which means he worships Optimus Prime after being rescued by him during the Simanzi Massacre (the same massacre that caused Rotorstorm to be a little psycho), which leads to him dressing up like Optimus and is willing to sacrifice himself for heroic deeds. Guzzle is used to be called Pneumatix, has a gun named 'Judge', and had been torn into two pieces before, which might explain how he recovered so fast from Overlord's attack. Guzzle is a 'Class 3 Ruination Tank', a reference to the RID combiner RUination. A 'Cult of Black Epoch' is also mentioned in Guzzle's profile, Epochs being a central theme in James Roberts' novel Eugenesis.
Part of Fisitron's narration on the first page is based on Lord Tennyson's poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade (Cannon to the right of them et al). Appropriately, Verity has a thick book of Tennyson's work at the end of the issue.
Fisitron's narration is "Wreckers Declassified number 332". 332 is the total number of issues that the original Transformers comic ran in Marvel UK.
Some possible call-outs to the live-action movies are made. Overlord tearing Guzzle into two is vaguely reminiscent of Megatron ripping Jazz into two in the first movie, while Overlord tearing off Springer's face might be a reference to Optimus Prime doing the same to Fallen in ROTF (the immortal line "Give me your face").
We finally see Perceptor's battlestation/tank mode after twenty four years.
Pyro's death seems to be a based on Dawn of the Dead
. Also, like Optimus Prime's Marvel comic appearance, he has a skeletal, toothy mouth under the faceplate.
During the flashback sequence, Impactor communicates with Prowl through a Communicube, the same communication device that is used by Impactor and later Dirge in Target 2006. However, instead of a glowing yellow cube with the portrait of the guy at all faces, IDW's communicube is instead transparent, with Prowl's face on every face of the cube. Also, Springer looking at the other Wreckers through a visor (complete with their names in Cybertronian symbols) seems to be based off Beast Wars visors.
The Pova scene is a great contrast with issue four, with rain, grit and damage in issue five, with darker colours, shadows and battle damages. In issue four, it's uncomfortably bright, with sunshine and idealistic colours. Simply a great usage of art, something the comic medium should use more often.
The scenes with the Autobot prisoners being killed aresimilar to issue 3's scene of the imprisoned prisoners, only this time they are dead. Just go back to issue three, right after Overlord made his announcement. See? Oh, and by killing all the Autobot prisoners, does it mean that Grimlock (among the others) are dead as well? Nick Roche reportedly couldn't stop laughing when he drew that scene with the head of an Autobot with the Autobrand stuffed into his mouth.
Verity's exosuit has wrist-mounted cannons, just like Daniel's in the original movie.
Overlord rising up of the flames as a skeleton after the others thought he was dead seems to be based by a similar scene from the original Terminator movie.
Ratchet taking care of Springer and Fort Max, and the Wreckers going to Earth, seems to imply that there is still some sort of a chain of command, even though Optimus Prime had dissolved it in Spotlight: Prowl. Presumably this consisted of Prowl, Magnus and Bumblebee. Presumably Impactor left Earth because he couldn't stand the pussyfooting of the Autobots there (who could blame him?). Oh, and Ultra Magnus is in his Don Figueroa body.
The coffins for the four dead Wreckers are similar in design, if not in colour, with Optimus Prime's funeral barge seen in the original marvel comics.
Ironfist's cerebro-seeking bullet is presumably how he got the dent on his chevron, and the source of his blackouts during the first issue. This was also foreshadowed somewhat when Ironfist was willing to kill himself to switch on Aequitas before Topspin volunteered, and the reason that Prowl picked him for the mission. The way it inches towards the brain little by little in reminiscent to the shrapnel inching closer to Iron Man's heart. Well, it might be a coincidence but it reminds me of that anyway.
Kup watching over Springer is very similar to the scenes where their roles were reversed during Spotlight: Kup.
The data contains all the atrocities done by Autobots that had been covered up so the Autobots look like heroes. Stuff like Impactor murdering people in cold blood, and presumably guys like Grimlock or the Monsterbots as well.
During Prowl and Ultra Magnus' conversation, we see the mad Autobot scientist Flame (from Marvel UK again) on trial, with Prowl, Tyrest (see below), Emirate Xaaron (the leader of the Cybertron-bound Autobots from Marvel comics) and Nightbeat on the jury seats. On one of the screen the planets Klo, Babu Yar and Elpasos (?) are written. Klo is the planet where the final battle in the Marvel US comics took place.
The TPB confirms that guy between Prowl and Xaaron is Tyrest, a new character inspired by the Tyrest Accord first seen in Spotlight: Ultra Magnus and referenced by Magnus numerous times afterwards. Chief Justice Tyrest was originally named Chief Justice Adjuctus, but it's decided that the Tyrest accord referenced by Ultra Magnus should be named after a person. His face is always in shadow...
Verity sits in Mister O's diner, a setting lifted from the fourth issue of the original Marvel comic. In the commentary in the TPB, the writers hint cryptically at the police car outside the diner, stating that it is 'neither Streetwise nor Prowl'...
At one stage or another in the writing, the 'big three', the guys that are more famous due to their cartoon/movie roles — Kup, Springer and Perceptor — were marked for death by the end of the series. Hasbro vetoed one (likely either Perceptor or Kup, who are both apparently getting a new toy by next year), IDW vetoed another (likely Springer, due to him suddenly being not-dead at the end of the issue) and the writers chickened out on the final one.
On page three, Topspin's corpse is coloured grey, the colour that Transformers turn to when they die in the cartoon. However, on page four Topspin's corpse is coloured normally.
During the flashback sequence, Impactor's Autobot insignia is threaded through a pipe-like piece of Macabre's body, but it wasn't there before.
Where did Ironfist produce such a gigantic cannon from?
Overlord: (tears Guzzle into two) "Oh, don't look so surprised. You didn't expect this stunted little wretch to survive, did you?"
Pyro: "I figure that dying to save people you care about is the most that anyone can do."
Ironfist: "I think you have your motto."
Pyro: "No.... my last words."
Springer: [Ironfist throws him a giant gun] "Sweet."
Springer: "Wreck and rule.... YOU SPAWN OF A GLITCH!"
Overlord: [rips Springer's face off] "Sweet."
Verity: "Oh, man, this is perfect! You can't accept that [Megatron] never gave chase! You lived your life thinking about him every day, and he died forgetting all about you!"
Overlord: "But... but he owes me!" [falls to knees] "he owes me..."
Impactor: "Twenty years ago, as I was being dragged to my cell, he said something to me. Something I didn't want to hear. 'They deserved to die, Impactor, but that didn't give you the right to kill them!' You've killed Springer, and you deserve to die. But he wouldn't have wanted that. So you're going to stand trial, just like I did. And you're going to go down... because, like me, you're guilty as hell."