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Red Dave Prime
2013-08-11, 11:08 AM
Spotlight: Orion Pax
“Omega’s Conundrum”

Published Date: December 12, 2012
Written by: James Roberts
Art by: Steve Kurth & Juan Castro
Colours by: Jesus Aburtov & Graphikslava
Edited by: John Barber
Cover price: $3.99

Synopsis:

The issue with Orion Pax in a sticky situation. Tied to an out of control shuttle, heading straight for Iacon it’s fair to say things aren’t looking good for the future Prime.

Prior to this, Orion Pax is refitted into a new body, complete with visible mouth, to allow him to navigate the hazardous terrain of the Rust Spot, a hostile terrain where Chief Medical Officer Ratchet is being held captive by a Decepticon force led by Bludgeon. Seeking to trade prisoners, Orion Pax along with Nightbeat and Alpha Trion are to escort a Decepticon prisoner into the Rust Spot to exchange for Ratchet.

Nearing the Decepticon camp, the three are set upon by a swarm of slicers, but are able to fight them off without too much damage. During the melee, the trailer carrying the Decepticon prisoner is busted open. They recapture the prisoner, only to discover it is in fact 2 prisoners – Rack and Ruin. They explain that they are lowly troops and fear returning to the Decpticons. Before Pax can react to this information, a trio of sweeps lead by Thundercracker arrive to escort the Autobots the rest of the way.

At the Decepticon base, Pax meets with Bludgeon. Too late he realises that it’s a trap with Bludgeon revealing that it was Aplha Trion they were looking for all along (and knowing he would be in the rescue party due to his knowledge of the Rust Spot).

Looking to gain access to Metroplex and his Space Bridge technology through Alpha Trion, Bludgeon sets his army of Decepticons on the Autobots but thanks to Rack and Ruins knowledge of the Tunnels leading from the base, they are able to escape. All of them, that is except for Orion Pax.

Pax is captured while providing cover for the others and awakens to find himself tied to a space shuttle. Bludgeon gloats over the situation that he finds himself in and aims the shuttle for the nearest population centre. Which leads us back to the start of the issue.

Escaping from his bonds by performing an instantaneous conversion into his alt mode, Pax redirects the shuttle to a barren stretch of land before performing a somewhat successful crash landing. While awaiting his rescue, he adapts a piece of metal to once again have his signature face plate.


Characters featured [in rough order of appearance]:
Orion Pax, Wheeljack, Kaput, Rung, Zeta Prime, Ratchet, Nightbeat, Alpha Trion, Metroplex, Rack, Ruin, Thundercracker, Acid Storm, Skywarp, Bludgeon

Notes:

This issue explains why Orion Pax has a different body in the Spotlight: Blurr. Pax has his regular body in Chaos Theory, gets the new body in this spotlight which is also seen in Spotlight: Blurr before returning to his regular Cybertronian body up until Escalation.

Kaput makes his first visual appearance here but Roberts fans will know him from the text stories “Bullets” & “Zero Point”, featured in the Last Stand of the Wreckers Hardback edition. Dominus Ambus also gets a mention.

Another Roberts background boy gets a mention – Killmaster (along with his wand)

The Slicers also were first mentioned in the “Zero Point” story (thanks to TF wiki for that one) It’s not clear if they are animals of Cybertron, much like turbo foxes, or if they are a branch of Transformers that went a bit crazy. Alpha Trion likens them to the Diaclona Tribe – obviously a nod to the original Diaclone toys.

The “Omega Conundrum” is a clear play on the “Schrödinger’s Cat” experiment, made more well-known recently by The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper. (He is a fictional character, just to be clear.)

Pax mentions a rumour that Megatron's newest “Favourite” is obsessed with Gestalt technology. Obviously this can’t be Jhiaxus as he is in the Dead Universe so initially I assumed it was Bludgeon (he is a student of Jhiaxus after all) but recent events in RID #17 indicate that it may be new recruit Senator Shockwave.

Alpha Trion transforms into what looks like the Batmobile from the Nolan Trilogy. Nice.

Rack and Ruin are obviously based on the marvel original Rack’n’Ruin. At some point in the future they will become of a single body, like in the marvel comics, as they appear in LSOTW.

The shuttle that Orion Pax collides into is the same one that Hoist was aboard. (see Spotlight: Hoist for more details)

Quote / Unquote:

“I liked it, it moved when I spoke” – The first thing any transforming robot notices when they get a new form is their missing face plate.

“Zeta! Good to see you.”
“Just “Zeta”?” – First signs that Zeta Primes ego may be bigger than others had hoped.

“When something ceases to be observed, how can we be sure it exists?” - Alpha Trion talks about some cat in a box…

“I thought this world needed changing, Just like Megatron” – Pax reveals that he and the Decepticon leader share similar ideology.

“He… talks about you sometimes. When he’s tired”
“What does he say?”
“Best not ask. It would make both of us feel uncomfortable”
- Bludgeon indicates that Megatron still remembers the events of Chaos Theory.

“Once he’s decided to save everyone’s lives, that’s the end of it” – Nightbeat comments on that winning Orion Pax character.

“You’re going to kill civilians with this stunt Bludgeon – I thought we were supposed to be fighting on their behalf!” – I often wonder how Thundercracker ever got involved with the Decepticons.

“Me and My big visible mouth” – Pax never does get over this.


Review:

I wasn’t a fan of this Spotlight on release but this re-read has actually been really enjoyable. What seemed like a throwaway issue is packed with little details. And while the overall plot has some swizz cheese style holes, its lighter tone helps it get away with it.

The artwork from Kurth & Castro runs the range between very good to a bit slapdash. But generally there is good movement to the panels and everything is clear. At times it lacks a little dynamic and can seem a bit mundane but it’s really not too bad. We’ll see better from others but we’ll also see a lot worse.

Roberts’s script initially seems like a weaker effort but there are some nice touches here. The slow progression of Zeta Prime from a nice guy to a prick is carried on here. Power hasn’t gone quite to his head but the first few strands are starting to show. Alpha Trion gets plenty of pompous moments to shine here and contrasts well with Nightbeat. Speaking of, I really like how Nightbeat has been featured in a lot of Roberts’s past-based issues. It’s a nice way to use a good character without bringing them back and cheapening their death. If anything, having Nightbeat as an appealing character accentuates his death in Spotlight: Hardhead.

As I’ve said, there are problems with the plot. The Decepticon plan is flimsy and presumes an awful lot. It seems odd that only one autobot can navigate the Rust Spot but many Decepticons have no problem with it. And why the Autobots agree to such an obvious trap-based location is never really explained. Ratchet may be valuable but sending Orion Pax, Aplha Trion and Nightbeat in as well doesn’t ever sit right. Still, the issue just about covers itself, even if at times it feels a little like a ladybird book.

We also get a real “Bond Villain” performance from Bludgeon. He’s one of the more fun villains in IDW at the moment and while he would have been better of just killing Pax, you have to admire his over-elaborate method of execution.

So a nice surprise to enjoy this. It feeds nicely into some of the wider plots running through the main series and at the same time it is pretty well self-contained as a good spotlight should be.

Rating 3.5 out of 5.

Blackjack
2013-08-11, 11:40 AM
Like this issue more for featuring Rack'n'Ruin, Bludgeon and Nightbeat more than about Orion Pax himself, honestly. And there are some Barber-esque continuity niggling with the Optimus body-switching and Zeta Prime and whatever.

Bludgeon is the one suited for more arcane stuff like the Metrotitans and whatnot, of course, but I really wished the ridiculous Bond villain role would've been given to Scorponok instead -- who is a true-blue Bond Villain.

But I suppose we need some screentime to bulk up Bludgeon's villainy in the RID series, so...

EDIT: Also, I love the comedy moments about Optimus Prime's mouth a lot more than I should have.

Red Dave Prime
2013-08-11, 03:46 PM
Whats the Zeta prime issue?

Blackjack
2013-08-12, 03:52 AM
Whats the Zeta prime issue?

His rather inconsistent portrayal with senator Shockwave picking a relatively friendly Zeta as a Prime candidate in Shadowplay or something, I can't recall, and the full-on crazy generic big bad villain in Autocracy.

Or this might come before that, I can't really remember.