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Blackjack
2013-08-10, 02:43 PM
Fall of Cybertron #1: Good Intentions
Publication Date: 15th August 2012
Story By: John Barber
Art By: Dheeraj Verma
Colours By: Priscilla Tramontano
Letters By: Chris Mowry
Edits By: John Barber

Synopsis: Autobots and Decepticons battle at the perimeter around Autobot City, and Grimlock notes that the Decepticons never seem to run out of reserves. Grimlock leads the Lightning Strike Coalition into the battle, tearing the Decepticons apart. In Iacon, Grimlock’s offensive causes Optimus Prime to order them to fall back to stop wasting energon, an order which Grimlock grudgingly follows. Optimus and Grimlock come to heads, and Grimlock retorts that Optimus’ strategy consists of sitting and waiting for the Decepticons to win, storming off in anger. Optimus and Jazz discuss the Ark. Perceptor gives Grimlock an encrypted transmission from Swoop, who had been sent to recon the Decepticons earlier, but is cut off before he can elaborate. Grimlock, furious, leads his team to rescue Swoop.

Characters Featured: Grimlock, Slug, Sludge, Snarl, Optimus Prime, Perceptor, Jazz, Swoop

Review:
”How much does he think we – and our world – can stand?”
Pretty bad. IDW seems to have a tendency to shoehorn the story of the High Moon games into all its digital series, although this one actually is supposed to serve as a prequel to the game in question. Of course, while a prequel should really give us more insight to, say, the origin of the pre-Dinobots, what happened between WFC and FOC, stuff like that, this tells absolutely nothing of value that I can’t find out two minutes into playing the game itself. It’s very generic – Grimlock is a Wolverine wannabe, Optimus plays it safe… stuff that Simon Furman has done many times over, except even Furman’s worst Grimlock prose is far more interesting than this. The art looks very unfinished, and the Transformers look very sketchy and deformed at times. Not a very good way to start a series.

(One and a Half Cubes out of Five)

Notes:
The events of this miniseries take place prior to the events of the Fall of Cybertron game, specifically detailing the Dinobots’ failed attempt to storm Shockwave’s lair and Shockwave’s subsequent experiments on them.

Fall of Cybertron was released in a digital format.

In the first battle, we see Seekers, Wall Crawlers and Guardians as part of both forces, all enemies who are featured in the game itself.

The ‘Lightning Strike Coalition’ is the pre-dinosaur name of the Dinobot team, first established in Dreamwave’s War Within. The same term is also used in the game itself, and mocked by Cliffjumper. Grimlock’s password is LCS-85, a reference to 1985, the year the Dinobot toys were first released.

Goofs:
The Dinobots have bodies that are very similar to their Dinobot bodies, basically just replacing the dinosaur head and leg kibble with vague geometric shapes. It does make identification easier, but it still doesn’t excuse the distinctly dinosaur spikes and fins on Slug and Snarl. Sludge, in particular, looks nothing like how we see his pre-Dinobot body in the Fall of Cybertron game.

Blackjack
2013-08-10, 03:04 PM
Fall of Cybertron #2: Secrets
Publication Date: 29th August 2012
Story By: John Barber
Art By: Dheeraj Verma
Colours By: Priscilla Tramontano
Letters By: Chris Mowry
Edits By: John Barber

Synopsis: Grimlock monologues to himself about how the Lightning Strike Coalition had obtained the intel that had led to Swoop’s mission to the Sea of Rust, searching for a Decepticon base with supposedly unlimited energon, and worries about Swoop.

Prior to the events of last issue, Swoop arrives at the Sea of Rust and finds a seemingly-abandoned tower patrolled by Decepticons. Sneaking inside, Swoop overhears Starscream arguing with Shockwave. Starscream wants Shockwave to continue supplying energon to the Decepticon armies, whereas Shockwave is far more interested in ‘cosmic secrets’, one of which are tied to the Insecticons which Shockwave has discovered and subjugated under his control. As the two continue to bicker, Swoop attempts to exit the base only to be surrounded by Insecticons. While being overwhelmed and outnumbered by the Insecticons, Swoop manages to get a partial message out to Iacon.

Grimlock and the rest of his team arrive at the Sea of Rust, still unaware of Swoop’s fate other than if he fell, he would have fallen a warrior. Grimlock tells himself that he is going to save the world.

Characters Featured: Swoop, Seekers, Shockwave, Starscream, Insecticons (Kickback, Sharpshot and Hardshell may be among them), Sludge, Grimlock, Slag, Snarl

Review:
”Happy and unhappy are the constructs of lesser intelligences.”
Dheeraj Verma’s art is still very sub-par, even worse than the last issue which already feels unfinished. The art here is pretty bad, proportions are horrid, details are lacking… some panels are straight-up bullshit, like the panel of Swoop transforming… that’s just a bunch of random floating pieces of metal that only calls the mental image of Swoop just because it’s coloured in. Starscream’s mouth looks shit, the battle scene… they’re all not very good to look at. On the bright side, though, John Barber steps up the writing duties. I like the framing monologues of Grimlock while the bulk of the story tells of Swoop’s little infiltration mission. It gives some character to Grimlock, and the bickering between Starscream and Shockwave is pretty fun. Some things are explained, and all in all it’s a pretty good setup, unlike the previous issue. In fact, you can start reading here and basically nothing will change, since the entirety of the last issue is summed up in two or three of Grimlock’s narration boxes.

(Three Cubes out of Five)

Notes:
All the Lightning Strike Coalition members transform into tank-like vehicles, including Swoop.

Wall crawler enemies from the game patrol Shockwave’s lair. The Insecticon grunts, are, obviously, enemies from the game as well.

As the game implies, this issue shows that Shockwave has rediscovered the Insecticons and somehow controlled them, although like the game, the comic remains vague on how exactly Shockwave managed to do both.

Goofs:
A little inconsistency with the games – the generic Insecticon drones are coloured differently from the primary three in the games, and a good bunch are coloured in disco colours. Also, not 100% on this, but I’m pretty sure the grunt Insecticons can’t transform into robot modes.

Starscream’s mouth

Blackjack
2013-08-10, 03:20 PM
Fall of Cybertron #3: Siege Mentality
Publication Date: 12th September 2012
Story By: John Barber
Art By: Dheeraj Verma
Colors By: Sanjay Kharwar
Letters By: Chris Mowry
Edits By: Carlos Guzman

Synopsis: Grimlock and the Lightning Strike Coalition discuss strategy. After joking by suggesting a stealth mission, the team charge straight in with their trademark excessive force. After getting inside, they are ambushed by Insecticons, but manage to push on until they find Swoop bound into a machine. As they rescue their teammate, Grimlock feels uneasy and decides to call a retreat to report to Optimus Prime. However, before they can do so, Shockwave and the Insecticon trio appear and tell him that the arrival of Grimlock’s team is part of Shockwave’s plan, that no backup will follow them. Shockwave sends in even more Insecticons, and the Coalition are overwhelmed, Grimlock reflecting that occasionally playing it cautious like Optimus is a good idea.

Characters Featured: Slug, Grimlock, Snarl, Sludge, Insecticons, Swoop, Sharpshot, Shockwave, Hardshell, Kickback

Review:
”…that jinxed us.”
Some good bits here – namely, the little comedy with Grimlock discussing a stealth mission, and the little monologue about justifying excessive force as good strategy. However, other than those two bits, the issue is kind of unremarkable, with extremely generic dialogue. The art is still terrible, with ridiculous proportions, ugly heads and everything generally being pretty ugly to look at. Even the cover looks horrid! It’s not a bad read, but it’s not a good read either.

(Two and a Half Cubes out of Five)

Notes:
Grimlock uses the Energon Harvester from the FOC game, while other Dinobots use the Magma Frag Launcher from WFC and the Pathblaster from FOC. Can’t identify the other weapons due to the art.

Goofs:
The Dinobots’ heads, I’m pretty sure, are not supposed to look that way.

Blackjack
2013-08-10, 04:30 PM
Fall of Cybertron #4: Last Stand
Publication Date: 26th September 2012
Story By: John Barber
Art By: Dheeraj Verma
Colors By: Sanjay Kharwar
Letters By: Chris Mowry
Edits By: Carlos Guzman

Synopsis: As the Insecticons overwhelm him, Grimlock realizes that he needs to find out what Shockwave plans to do and get the information out to the Autobots at all costs, and breaks loose from his attackers. The rest of his team has no such luck. Grimlock attacks Shockwave, seemingly overwhelming the Decepticon before Shockwave fights back, striking back effectively at Grimlock’s weak points, blinding and crippling the Autobot. Shockwave gloats to Grimlock, telling him that he allowed Swoop to make the transmission, and that the siege led by Megatron and Starscream on Autobot City will be even more efficient without Grimlock’s presence. Shockwave notes that he’s fascinated by Grimlock’s tendency to never give up, but Grimlock’s struggle is in vain as Shockwave hooks them all up to machinery, claiming that he will fashion them as the Decepticons’ ultimate weapons.

Characters Featured: Insecticons (Sharpshot, Hardshell and Kickback may be among them), Grimlock, Slug, Shockwave, Sludge, Starscream, Megatron

Review:
”I’m about getting results – not about seeming clever on the way.””
And that quote, I think, describes this issue very well. This issue certainly gets results – Shockwave monologues, Grimlock doesn’t give up, Shockwave efficiently defeating Grimlock, minor plotlines that ties into the Fall of Cybertron game… and while it is a rather solid story, all things considered, both the art, pacing and script leaves a lot to be desired, and, as Grimlock aptly describes, the comic does not feel or read clever at all, making it just… there. The art is improved slightly due to the addition of photoshop effects but then again there are a lot of malformed art still, although it’s better than the last issue. Grimlock’s head when Shockwave… prods his thumb into the visor? Pretty horrid, those panels. Otherwise, though, it’s functional but not much else.

(Two out of Five)

Notes:
Unlike past issues, instead of in-game enemies (or poorly-drawn generics resembling in-game enemies, anyway), the generic Decepticons that make up Megatron and Starscream’s forces are not based on any enemies from the High Moon games.

Goofs:
In the recap page, Grimlock is spelt as ‘Grimolck’.

Megatron is in his Fall of Cybertron body, when at this point in time he should be in his War for Cybertron body. Admittedly the difference is not very large between the two bodies, but it’s still pretty evident.

Blackjack
2013-08-11, 09:55 AM
Transformers Fall of Cybertron #5: Fragmentation
Publication Date: 10th October 2012
Story By: John Barber
Art By: Dheeraj Verma
Colours By: Sanjay Kharwar
Letters By: Chris Mowry
Edits By: Carlos Guzman

Synopsis: Grimlock awakens, his memory fragmented. He has no idea who he is, only knowing that he needs to save his friends. He and his team are all strung up in Shockwave’s laboratory. Shockwave shows up and taunts him while using the machinery to separate the Autobot into his component pieces. Shockwave explains his motives – the members of the Lightning Strike Coalition are better specimens, whose minds would not be able to withstand his experiments. He also shows off his new Space Bridge, which allows him to observe the universe, one of which is Earth during the dinosaur age. Shockwave plans to use the unlimited supply of energon there to fuel the Space Bridge and allow the Decepticons to conquer the universe, but first he’ll modify Grimlock’s team into weapons like the Insecticons. Grimlock’s mind, still shattered, attempts to resist but ends up only uttering Shockwave’s name.

Featured Transformers: Insecticons, Swoop, Snarl, Slug, Grimlock, Shockwave, Starscream (hologram), Megatron (hologram)

Review:
”…me hurt…”
It’s a very sub-par issue. The art is still malformed, and straight-up reuses panels in some moments. I understand that Grimlock being separated into his individual parts is supposed to be horrific and painful and stuff, but it ends up just looking… well, bad. Shockwave’s monologues are uninteresting although I suppose it can’t be helped. I really can’t feel much about the issue but apathy. Shockwave actually feels more like an idiot with his monologue here. I understand that digital comics have very little space to tell a story, and thus this ends up being the introdump story, but it’s just bad and boring and generally uninteresting.

(Half a cube out of five)

Notes:
The reason Shockwave is an idiot and picked Autobots to be turned into indestructible monsters of mass destruction is explained here: the Dinobots are the only ones strong enough to be intact and not broken through the experiment. Which, of course, bites Shockwave right back in the ass (well, hand) when they do escape in the game and are not-broken enough to destroy Shockwave’s entire operation.

The pre-Dinobots are close to unrecognizable in the background and generally being poorly-drawn silhouettes, so I don’t try to.

The Space Bridge allows Shockwave to see through time in a limited fashion, and he had observed the rise and fall of the dinosaur race on Earth. He considers them the ‘pinnacle of greatness’ similar to Cybertronians.

Sludge is killed during the battle against the Insecticons in Fall of Cybertron, although it's not mentioned here. So it's presumed that the three Dinobots strung up are Swoop, Snarl and Slug.

Goofs:
Earth is already in its modern continental shapes when in the past it should be different.

Blackjack
2013-08-11, 10:10 AM
Transformers Fall of Cybertron #6: Fall
Publication Date: 24th October 2012
Story By: John Barber
Art By: Dheeraj Verma
Colours By: Sanjay Kharwar
Letters By: Chris Mowry
Edits By: Carlos Guzman

Synopsis: Grimlock’s muddled mind struggles to hold together in face of Shockwave’s torture and constant taunting, and gets flashes of memories jumbled up, one of which is a vision of him attacking Shockwave in the form of a Tyrannosaurus rex. Grimlock’s mind is overwhelmed by impulses to destroy, and tries to transform, but Shockwave has placed an inhibitor and continues to taunt Grimlock. Grimlock manages to mutter ‘me serve no one’, while Shockwave activates a machine to erase Grimlock’s mind, and Shockwave begins to speak straight in Grimlock’s mind, that he is nothing but Shockwave’s servant now. Grimlock’s memory is jumbled, and suddenly sees Starscream, and finds Slug and Swoop in new dinosaur forms, before finding himself in Shockwave’s tower and causing him to roar and transform into his new beast mode, roaring that no one controls him.

Featured Transformers: Shockwave, Grimlock, Optimus Prime (flashback), Starscream, Slug, Swoop

Review:
”STOP POINTING!”
It’s messy. Art still hasn’t improved, certainly, and I say it for the last time: it’s bad. It’s really unclear what’s happening. Kind of impossible for Grimlock to remember the future, so I’m assuming it’s just a Quentin Tarantino-style non-linear storytelling and just having timeskips randomly in the panels telling the Dinobots in the Fall of Cybertron game itself. Grimlock and Shockwave actually get some nice domination dialogue between them, and the flashback kind of works to see Shockwave’s mind-control, but it really would’ve worked better if the pacing wasn’t so terribly awkward. Was it necessary to show everything that happens in a disjointed fashion? It’s not as horrid as the previous entries, but it’s still bad.

(Two out of Five)

Notes:
Shockwave mentions that he merges the alien DNA with Grimlock’s CNA. The latter term, first introduced in IDW’s Spotlight Arcee, also make an appearance in the Fall of Cybertron game, but I can’t remember if Shockwave mentions dinosaur DNA.

Goofs:
Grimlock is not shown being moved to another part in Shockwave’s facility (which is what happens in the Fall of Cybertron game) and in the last issue the Dinobots are all in the same room. This issue does show Grimlock meeting up with Slug and Swoop later, though in the game Grimlock meets the two of them in separate places. It might just be Grimlock’s mind muddling things up.

Again, an inconsistency with the Fall of Cybertron game – the Insecticon trio are completely absent, when in the game they were the ones torturing Grimlock.

How the heck did Shockwave obtain the dinosaur DNA? Fall of Cybertron makes it clear that the Space Bridge requires a whole lot of energon to activate, and Shockwave hasn’t done it before.

During Grimlock’s triumphant declaration, ‘Dinobots’ is misspelled as ‘Dinbobots’.