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Blackjack
2013-08-07, 04:51 PM
Transformers Spotlight: Megatron
Publication Date: 6th February 2013
Written By: Nick Roche
Art By: Nick Roche
Colours By: Len O’Grady
Letters By: Shawn Lee
Edits By: John Barber & Thomas Boening

Synopsis: Megatron finds himself reformatted in a new body, walking through the Decepticons’ base with Soundwave in order to establish what elements remain of his army, and finds that his Decepticons – and his legacy – have fallen into extremely pitiful conditions. Megatron attempts to rally the troops, promising them vengeance against the Autobots, but a handless Needlenose reflects the rest of the demoralized Decepticons. Shockwave attracts Megatron’s attention, and insists on Megatron testing out the space bridge technology stolen from Metroplex which has been integrated into Megatron’s new form, worried about it interacting with the localized black hole connection he also has. Megatron waves Shockwave off with a sarcastic remark, instead asking him to continue preparing the weapon caches. Megatron notes to himself that those like Shockwave and Soundwave who disguise their treachery must be scrutinized more thoroughly. As they continue to walk, Soundwave attempts to give Megatron a record of the procedural mis-steps taken by the entire army during the Decepticon leader’s absence, but Megatron silences him and requests to be alone (though he acknowledges to himself that Soundwave would most likely be eavesdropping).

Megatron then approaches Starscream, who lie dejected and defeated in his darkened throne room. Megatron orders Starscream to muster what dignity he has and explain his three-year tenure as Decepticon leader. However, Starscream is extremely submissive, telling Megatron to get along with the punishment instead of suffering from humiliation. Megatron attempts to prolong the conversation, but Starscream instead pulls Megatron’s cannon and aims it at himself, which disappoints Megatron. Megatron instead begins to expound on how Starscream had came into power – not by treachery, but by merely filling in a gap when he fell, as well as Starscream’s failed attempted use of the Matrix to gain respect. Megatron continues to taunt a still-passive Starscream over his failures, telling him that the mess which Starscream made out of his leadership tenure is even more disappointing than all his other attempts at treachery. Megatron’s verbal abuse continues on as he describes the deplorable state of the Decepticons, reduced to a bunch of cannibals with no military infrastructure, and lays all of it on Starscream getting what he wants.

Starscream eventually snaps and opens fire on Megatron, but immediately realizes his mistake and flies off in his jet mode. Megatron gets up, and notes to himself that he had expected to beat up Starscream upon his resurrection, expecting himself to vent his resentment, while Starscream could vent his own rebellious urges. Megatron notes that this little game has taken place multiple times, where he would exert dominance upon Starscream every time… and he felt the need to get Starscream back to how he had been before. With the gauntlet thrown, Megatron transforms into his stealth bomber mode and works it out, impressed with how well the alternate mode handles. Megatron pursues Starscream through the asteroid, and a further taunt provokes Starscream to fight back, something which Megatron notes as first a desire to live, then a desire to be punished, before concluding it as an attempt to find respite over his guilt. The battle rages on through the asteroid field, until Megatron has Starscream by the neck. Megatron asks if Starscream truly wishes to die, which Starscream answers yes, but Megatron refuses to grant him that, the continuing taunts igniting Starscream’s anger once more. Megatron continues to berate Starscream, blaming him for falling so far that he’s not even comparable to the already pitiful Starscream of past.

The Decepticon troops, meanwhile, assemble below to watch the battle, with Skywarp enforcing that no one interfere.

Starscream eventually breaks down, saying how he had everything – but was unable to make the Decepticons obey him through respect or fear, and how horrible it was to have his lifelong dream crumble beneath his eyes, telling Megatron he could never understand that. Megatron beats Starscream to the ground, telling him he can understand all too well – his own dream, the Decepticon army, has also been destroyed… by Starscream. Starscream begs for death, but Megatron opens fire instead on a nearby rock, telling Starscream that the reason that he keeps him around is that Starscream used to be the model Decepticon – a competent warrior who keeps those under him in check, and one who aspires for victory, and in Megatron’s greatest moments, Starscream’s presence will forevermore remind him the need to watch his own back and not be complacent. Megatron notes that Starscream is no longer any of the above, and gives Starscream one last chance to use all his self-loathing in a productive way. Weakly, Starscream accepts Megatron’s offer back into the Decepticon ranks.

The Decepticons gather around the two combatants, and Megatron begins to rally them again, telling them to use hate and anger to carry them through their troubled time, and this time they respond in kind, cheering for Megatron’s return. Megatron takes stock of his troops, noting that Soundwave lurks, Shockwave plots and Starscream lives to scheme… the Decepticon house is in order once more, and everything is as it should be.

Characters Featured: Megatron, Soundwave, Pounce/Wingspan, Reflector, Sunstorm, Blitzwing, Windsweeper, Skywarp, Rumble (see notes), Razorclaw, Shrapnel, Acid Storm, Kickback, Needlenose, Shockwave, Starscream, Astrotrain,

Review:
” I slumber for three. Tiny. Years. And when I wake up, this is all I have left. Say it again. Say that I have no idea what it's like to see a lifetime's work destroyed and made mockery of. ”

Like the other spotlight issues in this series, very few happens here. Basically all this issue can be summed up in ‘Megatron beats Starscream up in his new body, and rallies his troops back into shape’, which takes place inbetween one of the more problematic arcs of Costa’s run. However, where many other spotlights merely just expound and normally lack in meat, this issue is the other way around. In essence, this does what pack-in comics are expected to do… bill Metroplex for a little, promote some plot threads which could be followed up in the modern ongoings, and have the character monologue. But where the likes of Thundercracker and Bumblebee simply ramble about things we have heard a million times before, we never have really gotten into Megatron’s head, despite him being the big bad of the main series. The closest we have is the ‘Chaos Theory’ two parter, where it was more from Optimus Prime’s point of view, and the rivalry and mutual grudging respect between the two of them.

This issue, however, deals with an issue which is so iconic to the G1 mythos, yet has been explored so little: why Megatron keeps his treacherous lieutenant Starscream around. Other than a few panels in the Generation Two comic, this has never been explored until the tail end of Season Two of Transformers: Prime, as well as this issue. Both plays on Starscream’s ambitions and the reasons of Megatron keeping him around very, very well, and the dynamic between the two certainly has gotten far more interesting than merely portraying Megatron as an idiot leader. Nick Roche delivers an extremely excellent script, in which every verbal abuse and put-down said by Megatron hits home and explores how extremely abusive, manipulative yet effective Megatron is, whilst exploring a lot behind Starscream’s own guilt and motivations. Spotlight issues have generally been hit and miss, mostly used as a way to seed plotlines or generally being throwaway stories. It is really seldom that a spotlight issue would really hit home and explore what exactly ticks behind the character’s head… but this is a spotlight issue which succeeds not only with Megatron, but with Starscream as well.

I really like the extremely efficient style of Nick Roche’s storytelling, how every panel is not wasted. I like how Megatron checks off parts of his body in the beginning and later closes with checking off the aspects of his army. The exposition of the current situation of the Decepticons was worked in seamlessly into Megatron’s verbal abuse into Starscream, and said verbal abuse is truly well-delivered, working pretty well with the dynamic between the two. This, in essence, spotlights the relationship between the two main Decepticons very well. The art really works well too, and I really like how Starscream is very much sick of this abusive and unhealthy relationship. A working relationship, not the other kind.

It’s not perfect, and the main fault is that it takes place in the Costa run, which, as impartial as I might try to be, is not one that’s exactly popular amongst the readers. It does manage to deliver well and promote the toy (after reading this story I have an urge to buy the stealth bomber Megatron toy to go with my own Starscream figure even though I’ve never really cared for Megatron’s Costa-era body), though, and it’s a story which I highly recommend, despite its rather unsubtle parallels to domestic abuse.

(Four and a Half out of Five)

Notes:
This takes place during Mike Costa’s ongoing series, specifically falling in after Megatron’s return in his new body in issue 13, and this issue deals with Megatron’s return from the Decepticons’ (well, mostly Starscream’s) point of view, which is mostly glossed over in the ongoing. Megatron also alludes to the Matrix being taken from Starscream (issue 13) and the preparation of weapons caches which will take place in the ‘Revenge of the Decepticon’ arc.

Like all other spotlight issues in this series, Spotlight: Megatron would later be included as a pack-in comic for the Generations Megatron toy based on the Costa-era stealth bomber body.

Megatron’s new stealth bomber body is retconned to have been derived from Metroplex (something the Decepticons have been hunting, as established in Spotlight Orion Pax and Spotlight Thundercracker), which explains Megatron’s ability to space bridge and plugs up some of the plot holes from the Costa ongoing. It is not yet revealed how the Decepticons had obtained Metroplex’s space bridge technology, but we can presume it happened prior to the events of Spotlight Metroplex, where he flew through space instead of teleporting away.

Megatron’s rarely-seen ability to link up interdimensionally to a black hole is mentioned here, which is rarely used in fiction outside two more obscure Marvel UK stories. It was also mentioned in the James Roberts-penned ‘Chaos Theory’, where it’s dismissed by Ratchet and Perceptor as being an unrealistic rumour. Shockwave confirms that Megatron actually does have one.

We see Soundwave’s blackmailing tendencies and Megatron notes him to be sneaky and having his own agenda, something which, outside of Marvel UK stories and toy bios, has only officially come into place in Soundwave’s first appearance in the IDW continuity (Spotlight Soundwave), until it was supplanted by the stoic loyalist of the cartoon in all subsequent IDW appearances.

As mentioned in the ‘Prelude to Chaos’ series, Megatron had been destroyed and rebuilt into new bodies multiple times.

The blue cassette makes an appearance. While all other issues identify the blue cassette as Frenzy, the Costa run inexplicably switches the colours. Going by that, the blue cassette here would be Rumble.

All the Decepticons wantonly slaughtered by Hot Rod in ongoing #13, namely Razorclaw, Shrapnel and Acid Storm, whose fates were all left ambiguous, are all shown to be alive, albeit very beat-up.

Goofs:
Skywarp should have been on Earth, having been seemingly captured (or at least incapacitated) by Skywatch at the end of the Bumblebee miniseries and only rejoined the Decepticons after the Decepticons assaulted Skywatch, which takes place after this issue chronologically. It could be some miscoloured Seeker, but his dialogue specifically references his teleportation power.

Blackjack
2013-08-07, 04:51 PM
This is an extremely fun issue to reread and review. :)

inflatable dalek
2013-08-07, 05:12 PM
The gang's back together!

Blackjack
2013-08-07, 05:45 PM
The gang's back together!

Nah, we need to get you to review Regeneration One or something for it to be truly together.

inflatable dalek
2013-08-07, 05:47 PM
I never left! By carrying on with the Titan reviews I'm like Simon Pegg in The World's End, the annoying drunk who never moved on with his life.

Blimey, these reviews are breeding like tribbles.

Blackjack
2013-08-07, 05:51 PM
Ah, yeah, you make Titan reviews! I keep forgetting that despite being the one who uploads them and keeps goofing it up.

So that kind of leaves Cliffy to be the one to pick up Regeneration One... :p

inflatable dalek
2013-08-07, 05:53 PM
Does no one remember that review Kremzeek did?


Little wonder.

Blackjack
2013-08-07, 06:18 PM
Does no one remember that review Kremzeek did?


Little wonder.

I think there are a lot of contributors who gave reviews for one or two issues, but so far the ones that take on entire chunks of Transformers comic book lore are you, me, Cliffy and Red Dave. Denyer did quite a few of the IDW ones as well, as I recall.