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Red Dave Prime
2013-08-11, 05:18 PM
Monstrosity #2

Published Date: 3rd July 2013
Written by: Chris Metzen & Flint Dille
Art by: Livo Ramondelli
Colours by: Livio Ramondelli
Edited by: John Barber
Cover price: $3.99

Synopsis:

Arriving at the Toraxxis Mega-refinery, the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime and Dai Atlas, engage Scorponoks Decepticon Force. Using the battle to escape, Grimlock leads his Dynobots away only to encounter Scorponok and some of his lieutenants. The two former gladiators engage in hand to hand combat, but just as Scorponok gains the upper… claw, Grimlock begins to mutate, gaining in strength and aggression. Only a laser blast from Optimus can tear him from Scorponok. Realising that he and his Dynobots can’t be free of Cybertron of their affliction, Grimlock threatens to destroy the Fusion Regulator. Prime talks him down, but Scorponok carries through on the threat. The resulting blast destroys the refinery and the immediate area, causing mass casualties.

Back on Junkion, Megatron continues his trek to the old spaceport. He encounters and defeats a swarm of Sharkticons while learning of the history of Junkion from Pentius.

After the explosion at Toraxxis, the Autobots face up to a massive death toll and the realisation that without Toraxxis, there is not enough energon to sustain the planet. Prime argues with Dai Atlas about what course to take and in the end relents and lets him leave, along with anyone else who wishes to join him.

Returning his attention to the Dynobot group, Prime learns of their final mission under Zeta Prime which led to the death of their sixth member, Scar, and their subsequent withdrawal from the Autobots. Worried that they may be ticking time bombs due to their strange alt-modes, Prime goes in pursuit.

During the search for survivors at Toraxxis, the Autobot Science team led by Jetfire encounter an enormous network of caves underneath the plant. They discover ancient cybertronian hieroglyphics before stumbling across a massive lake of pure, unrefined and self-replenishing energon. After Ratchet stumbles into the energon and briefly goes insane, they realise that the energon could be both a blessing and a curse. Before they can decide their next course of action they are set upon by a swarm of winged, dragon-like creatures. They escape to a large cavern but discover a much bigger problem – the sleeping form of the giant Trypticon.



Characters featured [in rough order of appearance]:
Sky Lynk, Oprimus Prime, Dai Atlas, Prowl, Ultra Magnus, Ironhide, Bumblebee, Scorponok, Grimlock, Slag, Thundercracker, Starscream, Soundwave, Blitzwing, Megatron, Pentius, Sharkticon, Swoop, Blaster, Wheeljack, Ratchet, Jetfire, Perceptor, Kup, Sludge, Snarl, Skar, Trypticon


Notes:

This issue collects the digital issues #4-6. The titles are “Rage”, “Fallout” & “Underworld”

This issue marks the beginning of the exodus from Cybertron.

Skar is a new character. He is designated as the medical officer of the Dynobot group.

Despite the huge explosion at Toraxxis and all those Autobots and Decepticons whom we know and love being present, no named transformers die during this explosion. There's a huge death toll alright, but it doesn't seem to effect any 'bots who have a toy made of them...

The Junkion culture is described as once being beautiful yet Narcissistic. They depleted the resources of their world and resorted to selling off their wealth to survive. Eventually, they caused their world to break from its natural orbit, causing it to become the drifting wreck it now is.

Quote / Unquote:

“Megatron had you marked for greatness. So much potential” – Scorponok goads a battered Grimlock with tales of what might have been.

“I feel it too, Swoop. Can’t hold it back” – The other dynobots would appear to suffer from the same condition as Grimlock.

“Your last greatest command as Prime… is to let your people go” – Dai Atlas pleads to be allowed to leave Cybertron along with his followers.

“Leave it to the “science team” to leave home without Defensive weaponry” – For a group of super smart autobots, Jetfire points out a rather stupid error.

“Guys… I think we just stumbled into a whole, heap of trouble” – Jetfire, referring to Trypticon and not any continuity errors that this series may have thrown up.

Review:

Issue 2 of Monstrosity is somewhat less jam-packed than the first issue, but there is still a feeling of too much going on here. There are some big events going on here and yet nothing is really given the spotlight to allow the writers to make the most of things. We have Scorponok taking over the Decepticons, Dai Atlas leading the exodus from Cybertron, The Energon crisis, Primes own crisis of command moment as he wonders whether he is fit to lead, the Dynobots and their mutating alt-modes, Megatron and his journey across the waste lands of Junkion and now the discovery of Trypticon. That’s all in this issue. All decent enough plot ideas too – if we had maybe 3 of them running through monstrosity, things may be going better.

And there is potential here. Some scenes are written well and there is some nice artwork on display. Scorponoks barbaric rule of the decepticons is an interesting idea compared with Megatrons cruel but well-intentioned “peace through tyranny” ideal. Scorponok only wants to see Cybertron turned into one giant gladiatorial pit, and believes only the strong should survive. That’s a good basis for a villain… but it’s not Scorponok. I’m all for new takes on old characters but we already have been introduced to Scorponok through many issues. I find it hard to link this barbaric, brutal warrior with the mad scientist, bond villain that we came to know and love (well, I did) in Maximum:Dinobots.

And speaking of the Dinobots, this issue expands a past which doesn’t fit what we already know about them. The concept of an autobot squad being exposed to a form of ultra energon which perverts their alt-modes and makes them highly dangerous is a good one but it doesn’t fit the dinobots of the IDW era as well as it might have. For example, when we encounter them in Spotlight:Shockwave (set after this) the Dynobots willingly take on beast modes without any regard for this history.

Additionally, one of the side plots of all this is Grimlock feeling he has led his team into a corner and how bad he feels about this. That plots been done already in Maximum:Dinobots. Maybe if we had a different group (the monsterbots are an obvious fit for this role) I wouldn’t feel so jaded by it.

The upshot of all this is that Monstrosity isn’t that bad a comic. The dialogue is fine and we have plenty of action to go with it. There’s even some character development (although it’s all a little ham-fisted to be fair). But it has two big problems which undo the other good work here.

The first is that too much is happening for any of it to have any real effect. You don’t get the feeling that all these multiple plot strands are going to converge in any meaningful way. The second problem is that of continuity. Monstrosity can decide if it wants to be part of it or separate from it. The portrayal of Scorponok and the Dynobots would be fine if this was a different timeline. And if you read this and ignore the Furman-penned issues, it’s not a big deal. Where we get a clash is with things like the exodus. Something like this needs to be part of a bigger continuity to have an impact. So there’s a bit of having the cake and eating it in regards to the writing.

It reminds me of the overstuffed Spiderman 3 movie. From what I’ve read, Sam Rami didn’t like the Venom character and didn’t want to do it, preferring the Sandman to be the main villain. Sadly the studio and the fans wanted Venom. In this case, I get the feeling that Dille and Metzon wanted some parts of this (at a guess, the Dinobots and Megatron v Scorponok) but also were obligated to shoe-horn other bits in to appease the overall writing scheme. (the exodus and Energon crisis). Of course, I could be very wrong but that’s how it reads.

Bearing that in mind, I can’t give this a great rating but if you were only to read Monstrosity on its own and no other IDW stuff, you might well wonder what I’m complaining about.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Blackjack
2013-08-12, 04:04 AM
Fair enough review.

You can have jam-packed issues with fifteen concurrently flowing plotlines and still be good, well paced and full of characterization; practically every other MTMTE issue is exactly that.