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Blackjack
2013-08-06, 10:57 PM
Transformers Spotlight: Bumblebee: The Question
Publication Date: 6th March 2013
Written By: John Barber
Art By: David Daza
Colours By: Zac Atkinson
Letters By: Shawn Lee
Edits By: Carlos Guzman & Thomas Boening

Synopsis: the story opens with Bumblebee finds himself at the receiving end of a beatdown by the Stunticons, alternating with a flash back to a day before:

With Optimus Prime and the Autobot forces on their way to Cybertron to handle a major crisis, Bumblebee had been left in charge with a small group on Earth to hunt down the remaining Decepticons left on the planet, but the latest search is a bust, and Bumblebee begins doubting himself, noting that Optimus Prime commanded respect, and that even the Stunticons moved as an army, unlike his men. Bumblebee argues with Prowl over the concern of Decepticon threats against the unknown threat of their human allies, and the argument boils over when Prowl orders Groove and Streetwise to come with him, with the justification that Optimus Prime would not put up with procedural nonsense and instead do what is right. Hot Spot tries unsuccessfully to cheer Bumblebee up

Left alone, Bumblebee pays Thundercracker a visit, but finds him packing up and leaving his hideout, claiming that he has no contact with the Decepticons for years. Bumblebee keeps up the conversation, but Thundercracker tells Bumblebee that he’s not leader material, making comparisons of Bumblebee with Optimus Prime and later himself. The conversation eventually led into talk about the space bridge, and how Megatron could make space bridges in his new body. Thundercracker eventually gives Bumblebee the radiation signature of the space bridge.

The other Autobots are all busy doing Prowl’s operation, and Bumblebee, finding himself not really cut out for command, decides to take things into his own hands. Visiting his human ally Sanjay Bharwaney, and after a short conversation, uses the equipment of a facility to scan the planet for the signature, locating it near some native American ruins. Bumblebee heads out alone, still unable to contact the others, and finds the entire Decepticon army gathered around a space bridge terminal. Bumblebee attempts to sneak and sabotage the bridge, but is discovered by the Decepticons. Starscream orders the Stunticons to take care of Bumblebee while he leads the rest of the army to Cybertron.

With his flashback over, Bumblebee is beaten up by the Stunticons brutally, but a flash of inspiration causes him to jam his cane into one of the bridge’s power conduits, causing an explosion that destroys the bridge and knocks the Stunticons away.

Bumblebee rendezvoused with the rest of the Autobots, dragging the five Stunticons behind him, surprising Prowl and the other Autobots. Bumblebee begins to take charge, explaining that they need to wrap out the business on Earth, and even orders Prowl to discuss procedural matters, eventually earning Prowl’s respect, who acknowledges him as a good leader.

Characters Featured: Bumblebee, Hot Spot, Groove, Dead End, Motormaster, Wildrider, Breakdown, Drag Strip, Omega Supreme, Ultra Magnus, Prowl, Streetwise, Thundercracker, Sanjay Bharwaney, Starscream, Astrotrain, Shockwave, Blitzwing, Soundwave

Review:
”I’m not Optimus Prime, and I will never be.”
Bumblebee is a character that has a very… checkered history throughout his IDW career. Owing to his Movieverse counterpart’s popularity (even though the Movie and G1 namesakes do not share much) Bumblebee has found himself being shoved into all sorts of things. A new body based on the Movie’s alternate mode (which, incidentally, was made into a toy which led into this Spotlight issue) and leadership of the Autobots. Now the topic of Bumblebee’s leadership has been somewhat of a running joke throughout the Costa run, alternating between ‘efficient in his own way’ and ‘does not command enough respect’. The fact that he keeps being outshone by Optimus Prime, and to a lesser extent Prowl and Spike Witwicky does not help his career much, and while you’d think this sort of thing would’ve been toned down, Bumblebee’s flip-flop characterization generally continued to plod throughout the Robots in Disguise ongoing.

This issue takes place during Bumblebee’s stint as leader, amongst the whole Chaos fiasco, and it really suffers from that. A good majority of the issue is just establishing the setting, and a good chunk is taken out for a conversation with Thundercracker, which, in true Costa fashion, had happened multiple times in the ongoing, and seems to serve no purpose other than to tie in needlessly with the Spotlight Thundercracker issue. The little ‘flashback story’ with Bumblebee narrating his life story whilst getting beaten up by Stunticons isn’t done very effectively either, and ends up feeling like a waste of space. There is only some explanation to the plot holes left in the wake of Mike Costa’s reign, but ones that are tied up nicely by the far superior Megatron issue, and really, is anyone scampering for the reason why the Stunticons were missing during the Chaos scene? Prowl acts uncharacteristically like a jerk here, instead of cooperative or subtly manipulating Bumblebee as he acts in that period of time. It’s not even Prowl the manipulator, since the script again flip-flops between the two.

This issue would have been better if Mike Costa and John Barber hadn’t done the tired Bumblebee monologue a hundred times in their respective titles, and it just really feels like a rehash of the old ‘I can’t match up with Optimus Prime’ stuff that’s really getting tiring now. The art is really sub-par, and felt rushed, with a lot of odd-looking perspectives, overly-smooth lines, missing facial features and at times being just a jumble of shapes barely resembling a character's silhouette. Kudos to the colourist to make this issue as palatable as it is. This issue really feels very throwaway, and it’s nothing you can’ get from any other issue featuring Bumblebee. Again, there's not much that happens in this issue, and the scripting even feels kind of off compared to Barber's normal fare. It’s not particularly bad if it's the first IDW comic you read, but for long-time readers it just feels like something regurgitated from older IDW material.

(One and a Half Cubes out of Five)

Notes:
As mentioned in the first page, this takes place during the events of ‘Police Action’, which is the Earth-based story during the whole ‘Chaos’ arc. This would seem to take place around issue 25 and 27, and the Decepticon army arriving on Cybertron would take place in issue 28.

This issue is the first to explain why Megatron allowed the Autobots to capture him in the ongoing, which was left very vague and muddled, as well as explain how the Decepticon reinforcements arrived en masse during the events of Chaos – the Decepticons have rebuilt Megatron’s new body with Metrotitan-based space bridge technology, and they needed to home into Megatron’s signal. This also explains the silliness behind why the Decepticons used the crippled Devastator instead of the fully-functional Menasor during the Chaos event.

Bumblebee’s often-overlooked function as an espionage expert (termed here as a saboteur) is brought up.

Breakdown seems a little dinged up, and claims that he owes the Autobots, referring to a battle against Prowl and Streetwise in issue 25, which would chronologically take place directly before this issue.

The Space Bridge terminal seems to share its design with the space bridge seen in All Hail Megatron.

Bumblebee’s meetings with Thundercracker happened in Spotlight: Thundercracker, as well as issues 10 and 15 of the Costa ongoing. Thundercracker’s records were obtained there as well.

Sanjay Bharwaney first met Bumblebee in Transformers: Bumblebee, and this is his first appearance outside that mini-series. The events of that miniseries is briefly allude in their conversation.

Bumblebee seems to like the improvised lightning-cane, and would obtain one later (chronologically) in the Robots in Disguise series.

Goofs:
Starscream has his toy-based War for Cybertron body even though he only switches bodies post-Chaos and into the Robots in Disguise storyline. During this time he should have had the F22 Don Figueroa body.

Dr Bharwaney’s name is misspelled ‘Bharmaney’, although to be fair without looking it up I wouldn’t have noticed this error either.

Why is Bumblebee able to withstand the explosion from the cane? No explanation is given other than ‘I just know I can take it’.

The simple answer to this goof is of course that it’s a retcon, but it’s strange that no one mentions Metroplex or portable space bridges during the whole Costa run.