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View Full Version : Blackjack plays catch-up on the past half-year of comics...


Blackjack
2014-07-05, 08:54 PM
This is probably going to be my personal ranting thread, so yeah.

And the first thing I read was, strangely enough, Regeneration One. Well, the seven or eight issues I had left to read, anyway... I didn't even remember what the last issue I read was other than it randomly re-introducing Jhiaxus and the Warworld and oh god why is Furman recycling G2 without acknowledging it. That was the extent of my thought that made me put down the comic series.

And rereading through from 94 to the end, well, it doesn't totally suck. It's nowhere as good as Furman's best work, certainly, randomly incorporates elements from his unfinished IDW work, and near the end really feels like Furman himself giving a sad farewell letter to the Transformers readers instead of Rodimus reflecting his mortality. But it doesn't have the I-want-to-scratch-my-eyeballs-out quality of the Nebulos and Scorponok arc, which dragged on like forever with horrid dialogue and absolutely what the hell was going on.

First up, I want to praise the art. The art was pretty beautiful, and a sudden step-up from the older Regeneration One issues. I absolutely love the 'four points in time' in issue zero, in particular Deathbringer exploding. And the Magnus/Galvatron fight throughout the two issues is beautiful as well. The art isn't perfect all the time, but it suffices.

How do I break it down? How about by character...

I jumped back into Regeneration One with that issue where Galvatron is fighting Ultra Magnus, and you can never go wrong with Galvatron fighting Ultra Magnus. It's a pretty nice, brutal fight with Galvatron basically going bonkers and Magnus just going 'who the hell are you?' and reflecting on his not-exactly-deserved epithet as the greatest Autobot who has ever lived. And with loads of panels that homage Target 2006, while these two particular versions of Magnus and Galvatron have never met before, Magnus continually lampshades this. The fight was pretty nicely scripted... and Magnus wins! Yay... except Galvatron survives. Oh. And then Magnus hunts him down. Galvatron gets saved by Unicron cultists. I was really expecting for another big showdown somewhere in issue #99 or #100 but no, Galvatron ends up being a mind-controlled puppet and what is probably supposed to be a big moment of Magnus putting down Galvatron for good felt really like just checking a bad guy off the list. Galvatron isn't even himself, and this particular Magnus never had the UK comics' history with Galvatron, so I really, really didn't see any point of prolonging the Galvatron battle after the scene where Magnus walks out of the flames. It's just a long chain of 'eehhhhhh' after that. I'm not sure why Bob the Evil Matrix sends him to blow up Nebulos other than for shits and giggles either.

While Magnus battles Galvatron, the scenes are often juxtaposed with Soundwave battling Blaster. And this is cartoon Blaster, speaking in the fake-jive accent and all that shit, which is a definite turn-off. And while the battle had them employing sound waves and shit, Blaster and Soundwave never actually, you know, met each other in Marvel continuity both US and UK, and it's really obviously just Furman trying to tie up loose ends he never got to tie up in IDW -- the way the utterly horrid Movie tie-in Nefarious seems to likewise extend his original plans for Skywatch or whatever. Soundwave and Blaster's battle likewise fell flat, and Soundwave's fate is left ambiguous until that little mini Ravage-story in #100 where he's turned into one of those shadow monsters and presumably killed randomly? So all the build-up of Soundwave being a mastermind ends up getting subsumed by Bob the Matrix Monster... nope, not a big fan of this.

Likewise, Monstructor randomly appearing out of nowhere just to battle Omega Supreme, juxtaposed over the previous two matchups that make no sense in Marvel continuity is also blatantly Furman trying to reuse the rivalry he didn't get to finish from Spotlight Optimus Prime. Hell, I'm surprised he didn't have Sixshot randomly show up and battle Starscream at this point.

Primus wasn't really Primus-that-didn't-die but Evil-Matrix-Monster-masquerading, which to be honest is an actually pretty nice twist I didn't see coming because I'd fully expected the former from Furman. But all the mystic bullshit with him sending Hot Rod to 'Zero' and then showing him all the four scenes and it all ending up just being a big psychological game for Matrix Monster to push Hot Rod's buttons is a pretty nice thing even if it doesn't make sense under scrunity. I personally do like the Deathbringer and Movie scenes, which look so deliciously out of place compared to the Regeneration One art. More on the Matrix Monster and Hot Rod later.

We get closure to Buster and Jesse, who apparently is on the list of humans that ended up getting mercilessly executed by the zombies while begging Spike for help -- thus cementing the fact that everyone knows that Spike Witwicky is the biggest douchebag in all of existence. It is pretty sad to see Buster go out like that.

Not sure what purpose Spike serves throughout all this other than becoming a suspiciously similar substitute to Circuit Breaker, to be honest. Bob the Matrix Monster says he needed a 'trinity' of human, nebulan and transformer tissues to open the multiverse because he wants to consume it all and I just don't really get it. But Spike ends up getting broken down and cries and gets redeemed without it getting too annoying. I had hoped he would be mercy-killed by Rodimus because I hate Spike but eh. I'm not sure why he's in the series at all other than to show how psychotic he is. Not sure what the Circuit Smasher upgrade is for either, it never does anything relevant to the plot other than zap Roadbuster a bit when they were fighting early on.

Bludgeon, like Megatron, Galvatron and Scorponok, feels too much like Simon Furman just putting all the non-Unicron and non-Ratbat villains (because Ratbat is in the same league as Unicron, see) in a list and just checking them off like a bored man. Bludgeon's arc starts off pretty promising with him being actually smart and letting the indestructible Chickencons lay siege to Cybertron, then waiting to ambush the Wreckers, doing all this weird 'mess up your senses' thing, all in the name of getting a good death... and then Rodimus randomly shows up at the last second, has the concentration to counter his Metallikato and just throws him off of a window, which is totally anticlimactic. And then he spares the almost-dying Bludgeon, which is an actually fitting way to punish the honor-obsessed Decepticon, but then we promptly forget he and Soundwave exists. At all. Presumably they all become shadow leeches. Everyone becomes shadow leeches. Wouldn't it be more poetic if the Autobots had discovered Bludgeon to be the shadow leech instead of someone random like Iguanus (who IIRC died while pretending to be King Kong anyway), and then giving a little closure that he didn't get the warrior's death he wanted? It's annoying because Bludgeon came so close to getting a good ending, but ends up getting shoved aside the way he was in G2.

Thunderwing ends up being a red herring. Yep. Isn't even involved in the Evil Matrix's plans. Not even in Furman's 'let's close all the ideas I had for Marvel and IDW' does Thunderwing catch a break.

Among the supporting Autobot cast, I think Kup is the one that gets a lot of spunk. IIRC in the early Regeneration One issues Kup has a fair amount of scenes himself as a reckless 'why is Optimus such a god damn pussy' kind of old warhorse, and it extends here. As Wrecker leader he just gets free rein and actually seems to execute the mind-controlled Fortress Maximus in cold blood at the end. He deals a lot of damage to both Bludgeon and Jhiaxus' forces and while he fails to do anything but buy time and get rescued by Rodimus or whoever, Kup's pretty cool. None of the other Autobot cast that keeps reappearing over and over -- Bumblebee, Nightbeat, Prowl, Jazz and Jetfire, doubtless chosen because of their popularity -- ever gets anything notable to do.

The Wreckers, when not taking up entire issues to themselves, end up being fun once more. Furman certainly has no idea how to write any of the Wreckers -- they're all 'Kup and a bunch of badass guys', so keeping them to a minimum and having them blow shit up is all we needed. Did Leadfoot die? Leadfoot is absent throughout everything, and I remembered him randomly shoved into the Wreckers thanks to Dark of the Moon. I liked the Wreckers messing shit up during the assault at the Hub, especially that forcefield thing Roadbuster and Topspin did to blow up the pipeline.

Grimlock and the Dinobots ended up not taking a shit-ton of spaces like I feared when Grimlock became Primus. It's totally a groan-worthy moment. They just slice things up, ends up befriending the Demons... and just show up and slice things up. Absolutely not sure what the Demons are all about other than they aren't really evil -- eating Runabout was because of Bob the Evil Matrix, and they're just primitive things that are around because a post-Marvel story needs to have these Demons. Still, with the 'find a cure' thing done and dusted, Furman's Big Boy is toned down from his earlier Regeneration One portrayals and is just here to smash stuff.

Rodimus Prime ends up being a proactive leader that isn't naive, and I do like how he handled the meeting with Jhiaxus. I absolutely am confused with the random Zero Zone thing and how he traveled to the Nick Roche cartoonverse to get the Matrix or something? The army of Rodimuses versus Bob the Evil Matrix and his three Optimus Prime minions in the finale is also time-consuming and a big what the hell moment. What I do like is Rodimus being proactive, and that monologue about destiny and stuff like that. More on that later.

Jhiaxus and the Brain trust and Boltax.... it's a big 'eh'. Jhiaxus feels like an amalgamation of the G2 and the IDW versions, minus the 'throws tantrums' and 'Igor mad scientist' aspects respectively. He randomly visits Boltax (and kills him, though Boltax shows up fine in the old Marvel comics itself) and ends up being a part of the Underbase... and the way he dies is, like Bludgeon, Scorponok and Galvatron, absolutely anti-climactic. The build up to this new version of Jhiaxus -- a highly intelligent one-man Cybertronian Empire who built everything from scratch to make order -- was relatively well done, but the eventual confrontation ended up being stunted and idiotic with the Underbase and things and Jhiaxus practically getting shoved away by the whole Matrix bullshit thing. I do like this new take on the Cybertronian Empire and the Hub, and while it's not exactly the conclusion one would hope from the Generation Two story, Jhiaxus as the leader of the Cybertronian Empire doesn't totally suck. I can give Furman that much.

The new Rook looks horrid. I'm not sure why they needed the redesign other than to give the Cybertronians identikit looks. Also not sure why the five bodyguards are named when they never appear afterwards other than Rook. Also not sure why Jhiaxus actually has his massive fleet just pull back to the Hub instead of, you know, opening fire on Cybertron, but I suppose he just wants to be a smug bastard.

Starscream and Shockwave... what the hell are they still doing? Starscream has absolutely nothing that he does himself -- every contribution he does to the plot is thanks to the Underbase. Shockwave does this annoying I/we thing and with Starscream just serve to give commentary to the situation. They did help out in blowing up the Hub and stuff, being wild cards and shit, but since they interact with absolutely nobody I'm not sure why they're around other than, again, Furman just checking his big list of 'Marvel Comic Decepticon Leaders'. Shockwave in particular I just don't understand. The Underbase gives him a new body, and he suddenly discovers emotion? He suddenly likes Starscream enough to save him -- even though Starscream isn't even himself throughout a good portion of the run? And the two suddenly turn good by the time they reach issue 100 who what the hell what? This isn't even Furman working off unused ideas for unfinished comics either -- I'm not sure what these two idiots are doing throughout the series.

Fortress Maximus... poor, poor Fortress Maximus. On one hand it's actually nice to see him acknowledged as a character on his own right that can function without Spike... and then suddenly he's taken over by an evil entity! And blows things up! And just when I thought we'd get an epic confrontation between Magnus and Maximus to make up for the lack of Galvatron-Magnus, Kup's team just comes and straight-up executes their mind-controlled friend. What the hell, Furman. Why even bring Fortress Maximus back if you're just going to do that?

Optimus Prime gets to mope around on Earth for a bit and gets told off by that asshole Spike before Fortress Maximus blows a hole in him. And then, uh... Evil Matrix Juju makes three of him, one of them turns out to be the real Optimus Prime and after telling Rodimus to do break Spike out of his emo funk, gets teleported to the real world... and dies quoting TFTM? What the hell? Again it's Furman just ticking off characters off his list, though really Optimus could've gone out in a far more dignified way. Like Galvatron I'm not sure why he's hanging around for instead of, say, dying against Megatron and being quasi-revived by Evil Matrix later on.

Before I rant about the Matrix, I probably want to talk about some of the lesser characters first... because practically everyone that isn't with Team Rodimus gets turned into these shadow demons which incorporate elements of the Swarm and the Dead Universe's Death Touch, which sucks because unlike the original end to the Marvel US run nothing revives them so practically everyone is dead. Bludgeon, Soundwave, Scattershot (his acid-pellet gun is fine though)... basically everyone ends up dying off-screen and feels like Furman's doing a rehash of Beast Wars Ascending with a dark force taking over Cybertron while the heroes are away dealing with another threat -- Jhiaxus here, the Blendtrons there.

Crosshairs, despite being an extremely likable minor character in previous arcs and probably the only good thing around there, gets executed by Jhiaxus randomly and without any acknowledgment. Tailgate gets to die twice without appearing anywhere in-between, getting shot by Needlenose during the Bludgeon arc and getting impaled by the shadow things in the finale. Poor Tailgate. After being forgotten during the boring-as-hell 'Autobot Headmasters turn evil ZOMG' arc, Chromedome (who didn't die in the Marvel run and hence wasn't mind-raped by Scorponok) ends up being separated from Stylor. He proceeds to appear in crowd scenes and do absolutely nothing but eh. Did Sludge die? He was stabbed by Rook's buddy, but I thought he survived. But when the Dinobots show up in #100 Sludge is absent.

Ravage gets a little sad story at the end of #100 where he is the only survivor of the Shadow takeover and is forced to watch Soundwave and the other cassettes be zombies or some shit, and then gets rescued by Starscream and Shockwave who have been turned into space hippies, and he's the last Decepticon... some Beast Wars vibes here.

Now for the ending! I'm... I'm not really a big fan of Furman pulling out the ridiculous Multiverse arc. Generally never been a big fan of Multiverse bullshit -- Fun Publications fiction and TFWiki has shown how retarded it is for the multiversal singularity to be actually incorporated into fiction, and while the story initially seemed to head that way, the fact that 'whoops, Primus died, Evil Matrix is trying to take over the space' actually discredits it so yay? Evil Matrix is trying to seep into the multiverse and consume it all and something (wasn't this the thing Unicron tried to do in the Armada comics or something?), so Optimus tells Rodimus to sever theirs to limit the destruction, so Primus' will can flourish elsewhere or something? Honestly kinda skimmed over those bullshit. As mentioned above I think the Rodimus army is super-tacky, and as usual the big evil villain is vanquished by the power of a glowing object... though I do like the 'connect-the-dot-with-the-power-of-retcon' monologue. It doesn't feel too fanwanky. Not a big fan of how the crisis was resolved, to be honest... it's not another 'OPEN TEH MATRIX' thing, but like the conclusions to all the villains throughout this series, it's equally underwhelming.

Bob the Evil Matrix Monster tries its hardest to look like he's planning all of this out but when you look like a sketchy mass of thing trying to masquerade as a Cthulhu wannabe you don't really look impressive. It's certainly a different way to end the series than having, say, Jhiaxus or Galvatron be the main final villain, but from the onset it's obvious the power of the Matrix and friendship and whatnot will defeat him, so a big resounding 'eh' from me again.

But unlike the endings to G2 and Marvel US, it doesn't end on a positive 'it never ends!' note, but rather ends in the future, where a dying, rusting Rodimus reflects on mortality and on how they managed to do some good. Most of the transformers are dead when Evil Matrix Monster killed Cybertron. Earth is a wasteland and Galvatron kind of blew up a good chunk of Nebulos. All the villains have been checked off the list after one last rodeo, and the way they died isn't exactly triumphant either -- all of them felt cathartic and tired in one way or another. Everyone dies and not in a good way, and with the Old Man Rodimus monologuing I cannot help but see Rodimus as Simon Furman himself, writing this one last farewell letter to the fans, and despite all the hiccups and mistakes he had done before, managed to try and give something that isn't totally bad in order to allow the rest of the multiverse to flourish and be Primus' grand plan. It's as much a look into Furman's mindset as it is into Rodimus'.

It's certainly not a good story -- full of Furmanisms, characters flit in and out as they please, random people like Gunrunner and Skram show up with no explanation and disappear after their scene, deaths are meaningless and random and doesn't add to the 'war war war' vibe that G2 had, the villains had nice buildup but terrible payoff, Barber-level of nitpicking continuity, randomly bringing in UK and G2 elements... Maybe it's because I read everything in one go instead of each issue individually, maybe it's because I actually feel a little surprised for a Simon Furman story written post-Revelations to not completely suck, but I don't completely hate this thing. I would've preferred it not to exist and for Marvel comics to be laid to rest at G2, but this isn't completely horrible, and it's over, and thank god.

Blackjack
2014-07-05, 09:10 PM
IDW's Transformers versus GI Joe issue zero... is a big headache to read, to be honest. This is the... fourth incarnation of a GI Joe crossover, I think? And it's done in a super-duper retro art style and storytelling style and I can tell you that I certainly do not find it funny. It felt absolutely tacky and there isn't even the fun hammy factor to have from these parody-style comics. It's just a long slugging series of dry scenes that felt like they're trying to be funny and/or dramatic but fell flat on their face every single time. I cannot tell what is going on from panel to panel and personally dislike the art style. I'm sure this kind of retro storytelling appeals to someone out there, but I am horribly put off by this.

Blackjack
2014-07-05, 09:17 PM
I read quickly through the Beast Hunters tie-in comics as well that's still trying to pretend Fall of Cybertron and the Prime cartoon happens in the same continuity and it's completely idiotic, pulling all of Simon Furman's bad Dinobot tropes without pulling all the good.

It focuses too much on the Dinobots -- all of whom are identikit and virtually indistinguishable but are a lot more boring than how I associate them with. The plot randomly jumps all over the place, dealing with Cybertron's rebirth and the Forged and there's Chromia doing stuff and Shockwave building organic dinosaurs and rebuilding and Predacons and what the hell is this series even about.

It definitely shoehorns the Fall of Cybertron Dinobots randomly into the Prime cartoon and probably beloved by the kind of fans who think the two continuities are now seamlessly interlinked by pointing to this series of terribly-written comics.

Eh, whatever. Tomorrow I'll start on the main IDW continuity with -sigh- the second half of Dark Cybertron.

Skyquake87
2014-07-06, 08:45 AM
I am pleased to hear that I have missed nothing at all by skipping Regeneration One, all of which throws like a sad tired throw of the dice by a writer whom is sadly long past his best.

I read the first Prime mini-series with the Dinobots in it - there was Shockwave and Serket or someone and something something. I liked the cover art is the best I can say, as the comics were totally forgettable.

I have this terrible feeling at the moment, that were Transformers comics to end tomorrow, I really wouldn't miss them. Even the really good stuff (Wreckers, MTMTE, those two Chaos issues and a handful of Spotlights) has been drowned out by so much shite by IDW.

Transformers comics feel marooned on this strange little back water island whilst the rest of the comics market has grown exponentially in terms of maturity, depth and storytelling, and the kind of art you get in comics. Whether its through being shackled to a publisher thats stuck churning out other inglorious licensed properties, I don't know, but I just have this overall feeling that these just aren't very good comics.

Worst of all, even when they do get a good thing going that shows some promise, IDW go and bugger it all up again!

After two years of solid, decent reads in MTMTE and RID, they stick this dismal crossover based on one of the worst concepts ever to grace Transformers. John Barber really needs to rein in his continuity OCD. There is absolutely no joy to had in boringly joining-up-the-dots to somehow try and polish the turd that IDWs comic continuity has become. I'd have been happy if the whole wretched mess of IDWs comics up until Wreckers had just been scrubbed and they'd started from scratch.

The people that voted for Regeneration One to happen, on the evidence above, need to be dragged into the street flogged, tarred and feathered and forced to read some good comics until they realise the error of their ways.

Blackjack
2014-07-06, 06:16 PM
Windblade #1 first, because it seemed less daunting than the big chunk of MTMTE and RID. The art first! It's... it's got very expressive faces, and kind of pretty. It's just so bright yet mellow at the same time It's got this nice soft watercolour feel to it, but at times the body language of the characters just feel weird.-- non-static scenes in particular, especially the two-page spread with her flying around Metroplex and the scene with the explosion. Several times the art also looks a bit too pencil-ly and feels not quite finalized yet... The artist seems to be drawing humans and adding robot kibble to them and they just don't 'feel' like robots as such. Still, minor complaint since I do like this art style.

The pacing is really, really slow, and apparently Windblade already showed up in Dark Cybertron. The story takes place after Dark Cybertron and -- spoilers! The good guys won!

The first issue is extremely slow-paced, with a fair chunk of the issue just devoted to having the readers catch up on the status quo and give us the backstory of how Windblade, Chromia and one other female show up on Cybertron... which probably would read a lot better if you hopped into the TPB but feels rather unnecessarily infodump-y to me.

I do like how the question of why there are female robots is just handwaved over. Take that, Furman! And all you perverts who dream about robot sex!

The random kabuki makeup is also just handwaved as it being a cultural thing handed down amongst cityspeakers. Okay then!

Also like the completely disjointed way that Metroplex speaks.

Windblade herself is pretty flat for now, basically this naive girl confused about the big city and being threatened by an evil boss. Like it was with Drift's miniseries, more focus is placed on her backstory and her function as a Cityspeaker (which is certainly more unique than Drift's turncoat ninja) whereas her personality can be summed up in one word: 'naive'. She's got a monologue thing going on and I personally do like it.

Starscream is a jerk, and that's the whole point of the story. Windblade thinks Starscream is just a bit overzealous in protecting the city, not knowing how much of an asshole he is, and Windblade wants to find out who Starscream is as a person, as well as fix whatever the hell is wrong with Metroplex that's causing outages. I think the issue dealt with Starscream and the NAIL Cybertron a hell lot better than RID itself ever did, in the issues I've read, anyway. It also portrays the atmosphere of the NAIL Cybertron better than RID ever did, with the two pages in the bar giving a lot more than all the forced scenes with Blurr and Jazz ever did on RID.

I have no idea why Metroplex is on Cybertron, if it was addressed early on in RID or if it's a development in the Dark Cybertron stuff I haven't read or whatever the hell -- all these Metrotitan bullshit! I can't keep track of all the Titans.

Chromia is her good friend who gets a lot of screentime but ultimately just throwaway.

Ironhide shows up for a bit, and he's apparently kind of bummed because the idiotic future issue that Mike Costa did doesn't come to pass. Ironhide's just there to tell Windblade that you have to find out about a person from their friends. Not sure why his mouth is loooong though.

We visit Blurr's bar, which is pretty fun to be honest. Blurr's a nice dude, the two Tankors (as obviously as it is Hasbro forcing IDW to take on yet another non-G1 character) are actually fun in the short scene they show up in, Waspinator didn't die in Dark Cybertron so yay, Slag was fun, Swindle and Fizzle (who's apparently on the Lost Light) both get nice one-liners...

There's too much time being spent on drawing the connections to other stuff (the spark hot spots, recapping the whole Titan excursion thing) and nearly the entire issue is just Windblade monologuing and finding out that Starscream is, in fact, an asshole -- something thirty years of transformers have been consistent about. It's generally slow and not the best piece of fiction I've read... and yet at the same time, maybe because of the artwork or maybe because it's about a brand-new character, or maybe because I've just read a bunch of other crap, it feels fresh and interesting. Windblade herself is likable even if the main plot about her discovering the workings of the RID-era Cybertron isn't interesting in the least. It's not hugely groundbreaking, but definitely not a bad read. It's a pretty, atmospheric and fun break from all the BIG STUFF that has been happening throughout most Transformers comics and a pretty nice little change of pace.

(3.5 out of 5)

I am pleased to hear that I have missed nothing at all by skipping Regeneration One, all of which throws like a sad tired throw of the dice by a writer whom is sadly long past his best.

Yeah, there's probably around five or six actually good issues in the whole thing, which are still marred by half-baked conclusions, identikit characters, overlong dialogue and the sense that you've read these stuff elsewhere. Written by the same person.

It's not as bad as a lot of people say -- certainly not as horrid as Furman's Beast Wars Ascending or the club stuff with Shockaract, but it's certainly not good and completely unnecessary.

Transformers comics feel marooned on this strange little back water island whilst the rest of the comics market has grown exponentially in terms of maturity, depth and storytelling, and the kind of art you get in comics.

Eh, Marvel and DC are overrated. Sure, like Transformers there are a fair bit of good stuff that crop up here and there, but I gave up following DC comics in disgust when they did that stupid Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis bullshit which requires you to buy like seventeen hundred different TPB's from different titles, plus supplementary stuff just to get the whole story and you have to know all the various Earths and all the what the hell and the story isn't even good and it's all gritty and dark and shit. OH WAIT LET'S REBOOT EVERYTHING! Let's turn beloved classic characters into psychotic caricatures of themselves and screw whether it makes sense or not!

Nah, I think as bad as Transformers gets, I don't think it will ever reach the amount of dull banality that is DC comics now. Can't say much about Marvel, but then I've never been keen on following them.

Blackjack
2014-07-06, 06:46 PM
Windblade #2:

Add Waspinator to the people who have weird mouths here. For all the expressiveness that everyone else has in the Windblade series, Waspinator's mouth is just a big gaping hole, and especially considering how emotive he was in Beast Wars every time Waspinator shows up it's just weird.

This issue still has the slow, more character-oriented focus, this time on Windblade just being a kind soul to Waspinator and it's actually pretty adorable. Certainly far more interesting than Windblade finding out that Starscream is a douchebag, anyway. It's actually quite refreshing to see Starscream's schemes on Metroplex discovered in the space of an issue -- after seeing plot threads dragged along for five to six issues it's quite nice to see a quick conclusion to the mystery that is not a mystery.

Art is wobbly at times. That scene with Chromia pinning down Waspinator looks unfinished, and in several other places it looks wonky as well. Blurr's mouth makes a shape a mouth shouldn't be able to make at one point. Windblade is quite emotive, though, and it is still mostly very lively. I'm sure without the art the story wouldn't be quite as fun to read.

Starscream is a massive slimeball and I can definitely hear his Prime counterpart's voice oozing through his mouth. He likes to get up close and deliver threats of death, and I definitely like this Starscream. Not sure if it's better than RID's 'reluctant, conflicted leader' Starscream, but I do know that this take on the character feels as close to my personal definitive Starscream as possible, namely the Prime cartoon version, so I think I like this Starscream better...?

Longtooth and Circuit play a relatively large role, filming people in the bar before getting punched by Blurr (which is actually a cool pose of him), filming Windblade and Chromia before getting an ax shoved in their face, and finally being instrumental in Windblade's intended expose of Starscream. Chromia's collapsible ax and shield are cool, and the visuals certainly help a lot.

Rattrap is a villain and Starscream's lackey and as I have said multiple times in RID: I hate it. His presence here is minimal, though, so it isn't as offensive in RID where he is practically everywhere doing the 'look at the new toy' dance.

The Terrorcons (the three of them that didn't already show up in MTMTE and RID, anyway) show up in their Beast Hunters bodies as the bad guys. Oh noes!

I just want to give Waspinator a hug! Poor little bugger.

(Did he just drink Metroplex's energon? Or blood? Ew)

The Tankors are still funny, Chromia and Ironhide are still the same, Slag is still rambunctuous (why do I have a feeling that the Dinobots will show up as cavalry either in the third or fourth issue?), Starscream is an asshole and Blurr has that nice scene. Windblade herself proves to be likable as well.

It's a pretty good read. The general political-themed main plot with Starscream being a Luthor-style tyrant with good publicity and underlings that do the dirty work, and Windblade being the one who he's trying to off because she has the means to figure out his plans, is a nice thing, and I do think it's better than RID as far as taking the politics angle goes.

(3 out of 5)

Blackjack
2014-07-06, 07:21 PM
Windblade #3:

Art is still lively, but again at times a bit wonky. The artist seems to have trouble with action poses, that scene with Windblade charging into action is really weird-looking, Slag and Blurr charging at Starscream's forces is flat-out bad, and the air battle between Tall Tankor, Windblade and Cutthroat isn't exactly smooth. Cutthroat's flame breath looks cool though (Since when can Cutthroat breathe fire?), so are the speedlines on Blurr's wheels. That torture scene was so moodily coloured and the expressions Windblade makes helps out a lot in making the torture scene and her resolution pretty badass.

I appreciate it so much that these guys didn't become Twinstrike and Windrazor. I hate it when G1 characters (like Tankor and Trailcutter) gets their trademark-friendly name slapped on them for no good reason.

Anyway, the issue kicks off with an action scene, basically the ragtag bunch battling the three Terrorcons -- who are now apparently legitimate threats instead of the jokes they were in Spotlight Sixshot. Blurr gets a cool scene, but ends up getting thrown at Waspinator (who only gets shot). Fat Tankor doesn't do a thing, the reporters just shoot. Oddly, Slag battles Rippersnapper and... loses off screen? The Dinobots aren't all-powerful but they were always kinda strong, so I guess he just had a lot to drink before? That's what spending all your time in a bar will do. Chromia panics and goes after the air battle instead of helping out Blurr or Slag, Tall Tankor and Windblade manage to bring down Cutthroat.

It's a disorganized rabble and a drunk Slag fighting three Decepticons who are ready to kill anyone who comes, and ends up about as expected.

Suddenly Starsceam shows up and beats Windblade up, and he and Rattrap arrest everybody. Apparently Starscream now has masked policemen working for him, cementing his place as leader of Cybertron. Whatever he did during the Dark Cybertron arc after Metalhawk beat him up certainly gave him a shitload of power, eh? Anyway, Starscream wants to spin a story that Team Bar are the ones responsible and are trying to put Windblade in power, and then execute them. Starsrceam at least has some justification, if you call not wanting to let some 'alien' stay in power justification... and a peace-starved Cybertron is one that is susceptible to Starscream's lies.

Longtooth is so deliciously dumb. "Even Waspinator not dumb enough to say that."

Windblade, meanwhile, is being tortured by Rattrap with a torture prod! It's uncomfortable to watch, and makes me really, really hate IDW Rattrap on top of all the other non-BW stuff he does. I guess they wanted an 'evil Autobot' and in the BW cartoon Rattrap was never a stranger to unscrupulous methods like sabotage, but BW cartoon Rattrap was never outright evil. It's a different spin on the character, and one I am not a big fan of. Rattrap makes one deliciously creepy and hateable thug, so I suppose he works?

Windblade gets broken by the torture and tries to kill Starscream (who quickly lampshades that Cybertronians don't breathe) but Starscream knees her right in her injury from issue 1, and the two confront each other and good lord Starscream looks positively deliciously deranged by this point. There seems to be 'more than meets the eye' about the situation, as if Starscream isn't behind everything, just draining the energon ores. A nice little intrigue.

All the Starscream bit is interrupted by Chromia staging a breakout, helped by Sky-Byte and Swindle of all people, who shows up to deliver a lot of good lines. After being hailed as the mastermind of the dull and anal Costaverse, I absolutely love this funner Swindle. The others of Team Bar battle Starscream and Rattrap, and apparently Metroplex activates a spacebridge.

Good stuff, the plot twist that Starscream isn't behind everything isn't radical but a nice little thought into the story. It's a lot more character oriented, other than Fat Tankor all the minor characters are pretty lively (Waspinator in particular is a favourite) and the pacing's a bit faster than the first two issues. It's not perfect, but again a nice little self-contained read that makes me actually like Windblade... she's likable, and this miniseries focuses a lot more on her as a character and I definitely like it more compared to the Bumblebee mini (focusing more on plot), Ironhide mini (focusing more on mystery and mind-screws) or Drift mini (focusing more telling a backstory which we already know a part of). Definitely a nice little series so far, let's see if the ending can make it work.

(3.5 out of 5)

inflatable dalek
2014-07-06, 08:06 PM
Yeah, I'm quite enjoying Windblade, it's fluff but fairly solid fluff and I think Scott is mostly handling the Cybertron side of things better than Barber did.

I do not know what this ReGeneration One comic of which you speak is.

Blackjack
2014-07-06, 11:49 PM
Yeah, I'm quite enjoying Windblade, it's fluff but fairly solid fluff and I think Scott is mostly handling the Cybertron side of things better than Barber did.

Eh, Transformers need a bit of fluff and I do like how this feels cute without overloading you with sugary moments. It's not just 'a girly comic' either, it's a hands-down nice to read comic with a girl Transformer as the protagonist which is a nice thing to read.

And like you said this Scott person handled the Cybertron stuff way better than Barber did.

I do not know what this ReGeneration One comic of which you speak is.

IT IS HERESY

zigzagger
2014-07-07, 02:13 AM
Those are pretty solid reviews of Windblade #1 - 3. You should put them up on the main site. Or was that your intention?

Blackjack
2014-07-07, 03:28 AM
Those are pretty solid reviews of Windblade #1 - 3. You should put them up on the main site. Or was that your intention?

Mmm, those are just my quick thoughts after reading the issues, though I wouldn't be opposed to review the Windblade series... highly suspect my thoughts won't be too different, though.

As it is, I'm starting where I left off with Dark Cybertron part... 5? 6? Bah. Whoever thought of the idea of separating a twelve part story between two separate titles in an alternating fashion needs to be shot in the kneecaps.

zigzagger
2014-07-07, 03:59 AM
As it is, I'm starting where I left off with Dark Cybertron part... 5? 6? Bah. Whoever thought of the idea of separating a twelve part story between two separate titles in an alternating fashion needs to be shot in the kneecaps.

Yeah, crossovers at that length generally work when you have more than, say, two titles to bounce back and forth from. Take the X-Men or Avengers books, notoriously known for their their 'events'; they have numerous main titles to work with, resulting in crossovers wrapping up much sooner. And they tend to run for about 10 to 12 chapters.

As it was, IDW essentially put its only two TF titles on hold for 6 months and, from what I gathered, alienated a lot of readers. Most of whom just skipped the crossover and came back when it was done. Like me.

6 issues probably would've sufficed. And honestly, that's about as much content Dark Cybertron had anyway.

Blackjack
2014-07-07, 04:06 AM
Dark Cybertron #6/MTMTE #25:

Art first. While Livio's art is a perfect fit for the Dark Universe scenes, the other two artists have too different artstyles that the jump from one to the other is jarring.

Starts off with Slag changing his name into Slug 'because Arcee said it's offensive'. It's... stupid, really. Should have just changed the name quietly and not lampshade it like this, because (a) Arcee never got to Earth and she's a psychopath anyway so it makes no sense for her to be the one to tell Slag to change his name and (b) Slag has been an angry bottle of angry all throughout the IDW run (Sludge and Swoop generally are more articulate and less grr grr grr). Understand the need for the name change; absolutely dislike the way they did it.

Astrotrain has bad eyes and carries around binoculars? Eh.

I have only vary vague recollections of the past issues, but the Autobot-Decepticon alliance led by Soundwave and Arcee got out and aww look how sweet Rumble is supporting Ironhide I don't care they'll be at each other's throats after this crossover

We then cut to the MTMTE cast who're traveling within Metroplex's corpse-uncorpse. Even without Windblade spoiling the end of the Metroplex subplot it's really pretty obvious that Hasbro won't allow IDW to kill off their biggest toy in this toy-driven arc, so he's never really in danger. And they have wooden expressions. Roberts tries his best to spruce things up with some MTMTE dialogue but the expressions all scream DURRRRR and dilute Roberts' dialogue (which TBH isn't his best anyway). A lot of the characters are just there to spout some line that suits their job (Perceptor, Magnus, Brainstorm, even Swerve's freaking metallurgist function) which isn't how I associate the MTMTE characters. They are characters first and scientists, warriors etc second. But their faces! After reading Windblade, oh god the faces! They are horrible. And not even the return of Swerve's funny gun makes up for his constipated expression. Getaway freaks out over the antics of the MTMTE crew as the only sane man and I like it. 'We're in a ship! Shaped like Rodimus's face!'

I do like the fact that Metroplex is so big that the lifeforce or lack thereof takes some time to reach his entire body.

We then cut to Starscream who's alive and trying to be a good leader (boo hiss!). Fat Tankor! Presumably his first appearance in IDW! And he isn't a dum-dum like he was in Windblade, actually quite articulate and stands right up to Starscream's face. It's just a 'I've never appeared before now I have dialogue look at my new toy!' It's rather anal and Tankor certainly isn't one to talk about peace -- his Beast Machines counterpart is certainly not this tired-of-war fellow, and Fat Tankor from Windblade is just a dum-dum. Generally pointless scene because IIRC we already had this a lot of times in past Dark Cybertron and RID issues, so it's just a waste of space to sell Tankor toys and to have a big splash page of the Necrotitan doing a stomp that causes Michael Bay explosions to engulf everything.

The Dead Universe. Oh right Nightbeat randomly became traitor. Another dude who shows up because his toy was solicited.Team Prime drags the scene along tries to distract Nightbeat. Cyclonus goes all 'unbelievable' and that's about my commentary for this scene as well. Rodimus' hand has something, Nova (Nemesis?) Prime shows up.

Cut to MTMTE Cast. Fun little dialogue with Magnus' OCD with signs, and no one liking the Rod-Pod, but otherwise it's a banal scene. Not sure what the two-page Scooby Doo splash scene is all about either. Where did the Minicon come from? Did a crossover from Armada happen off-screen? Do I care?

Back to the Dead Universe. Nova mocks Pax and Cyclonus because he's a douche, though we get a few continuity nods. Hardhead, the dude who somehow doesn't have a toy, isn't a popular character and yet is still hanging around for god knows why, charges through the crack and gets crushed by Nova and finally, after not being interesting since Furman first killed him off yet appearing all the time like bad sushi, Hardhead dies. Then Nova blah-blah-blahs about a friend of his that turns into a Spacebridge and I thought for a second it was Spanner, but nope, turns out TFWiki says it's Kup and I groan because it's yet another pointless tie-in to Infestation.

To sum up: loads of pointless bullshit, loads of wasted space, loads of blatantly hawking toys, pointless continuity checking, scenes drag on for no good reason, don't particularly care about both the Necrotitan and the Nova Prime plots. Hardhead dying gets a big resounding 'eh' from me (and it seems everyone in the comic except for Optimus). MTMTE section has some great dialogue but it's wholly marred by the ugly art. Livio's art suffers for storytelling as well... it's extremely atmospheric, and fits the theme but the BIG REVEAL at the end of this issue is completely ruined because you either have to realize it is Kup despite the colours being all washed-out by the lighting and it doesn't really look like IDW Kup, who spends 99% of his career being drawn in a skinnier, Popeye-ier look by Roche and Guidi.

Three artists and none of them are good -- MTMTE guy is the worst offender because of his heavy shading and lifeless faces. RID guy has rather simplistic artwork and can't get helmets right. Livio is nice and atmospheric if a little vague as always, but even here the scene where Nova crushes Hardhead's hand looks awkward and that Kup. Ugh.

This post looks long because I ranted a lot about them shoehorning toys.

(one point five out of five)

Blackjack
2014-07-07, 04:15 AM
As it was, IDW essentially put its only two TF titles on hold for 6 months and, from what I gathered, alienated a lot of readers. Most of whom just skipped the crossover and came back when it was done. Like me.

6 issues probably would've sufficed. And honestly, that's about as much content Dark Cybertron had anyway.

I'm another one who got so turned off by the crossover I waited to read them all in one sitting and forget them. The thing is, Dark Cybertron suffers a lot by trying to cram in as many Generations toys as they can, like mr. 'show up for two pages to rant at Starscream even though his personality in Beast Machines is nothing like that' Tankor. Why is Tankor in the plot? He never shows up in RID before, and his role would've been better fulfilled by, say, Sky-Byte or Blurr or Zetcar or any of RID's secondary characters confronting Starscream. But no, you shove in this toy dude so you can sell toys.

And the fact that Dark Cybertron is repurposed as toy cross-sells is just as bad. Guess which toy this issue apparently came with? That's right, Tankor.

The three-way crossover between the toyline, MTMTE and RID is just stupid, and that's not even before we get into the abysmal quality in both the artwork and storytelling.

Blackjack
2014-07-07, 04:46 AM
RID #25/Dark Cybertron #7:

More of the same. Urgh.

Scene opens with the rest of the Lost Light crew fighting these 'Ammonites' who I don't remember at all but apparently have appeared before. OH HEY LOOK IT'S CROSSCUT PEOPLE WE NEVER SAW HIM BEFORE HE HAS A NEW TOY! And Swerve shows up and gives us the low-down on Crosscut's backstory! How convenient! Although to be fair Crosscut's inclusion isn't quite as forced as Tankor was in the last chapter, so eh. Swerve does a fourth-wall 'main cast' thing, but it's otherwise all filler.

Poor Chromedome is relegated as background cast.

The other MTMTE cast and of course the explosion doesn't kill them. The art is confusing and I'm not quite sure what's happening. It took a full minute before I realize Getaway is miming a microphone. Swerve looks like an old man. Getaway keeps looking like he has some kind of stretched-out mouth but it's just the shadows. Skids explains Metroplex's internals are shifting so what's the point of the extended arrow scene from last issue other than padding?

Competent Swerve is weird.

Death Universe stuff. Monologue blahblahblah. Not sure why Nova lets Team Prime walk around. Or not kill them outright.

Oh right Galvatron is in this series. He argues with Shockwave a bit over two halves of Megatron (forgot what this is about) while Waspinator and the zombies Dreadwing and Metalhawk flit around like fairies. Extremely simplistic, one goes 'HONOR!' and one goes 'SCIENCE!' They are joined by Jhiaxus, Bludgeon and Monstructor who I also forget is in this series. Megatron is obviously not dead.

Dead Universe. Nightbeat monologues about a plan, is obviously not truly evil and will see redemption, but Rodimus namedrops Shadowplay, and gets Nightbeat to have his brain work by showing him a mystery he can't resist. It's blatantly obvious that Nightbeat will be turned, but it's not a completely bad way to show it, because it segues into Rodimus' guilt over presumably Overlord's rampage and he has to face Optimus.

Why are there Sweeps? Is Scourge still alive after Chaos however many years ago that was? Do I care?

Bumblebee ambushes Galvatron and to be fair the artwork nails down Galvatron's ranting face perfectly. Galvatron throws the upper half of Megatron away, and to be fair I do like the scene where he goes 'it's just a scratch'. Oh and Megatron delights in Starscream's pain.

Jump-cut to Starscream who isn't dead but covered in fire. So many characters, so few that actually do anything. Scoop confronts Starscream and goes all 'you failed us' even though the prophecy bullshit didn't make sense in the first place, I think? See, Scoop would've fit in Tankor's place last issue perfectly. And do we really need this 'you failed us' speech twice? We get it, Starscream sucks. Will each of the next six issues have two pages where another guy with a new toy walk up to Starscream and go 'you suck boo hiss'?

Team Magnus is preparing against the Ammonite assault. Why do we even need the Ammonites in this issue even, other than to give the MTMTE group something to do? Oh noes, they were working for Shockwave. Big whoop. And Chromia and Nautica and presumably Windblade in the next issue show up to crowd this up further, guhhh

More of the same bullshit, made even worse because we jumped from one scene to another without making much sense. I did like the Nightbeat scene, and Megatron got a 'heh' out of me. Swerve and Crosscut feels like a random meeting that isn't connected to the whole Dark Cybertron bullshit and I'm grateful for it. But even more characters are shoehorned into this story, there's so much obvious padding and I'm just losing all interest.

Uhhh... I do like Hound's rank being acknowledged and him acting as commander in place of the ranking officers. That's about it.

(1 out of 5)

Blackjack
2014-07-07, 03:46 PM
MTMTE #26:

Holy crap, a Dark Cybertron issue that doesn't suck!

Plot progression. Just plot progression everywhere. And some actual characterization instead of just random 'eh, that's snappy enough, it'll do' lines from Roberts.

Starts off with a nice conversation between Bumblebee and Megatron about their chances, and Megatron talks a bit like a revolutionary instead of a tyrant which is good -- after the idiotic stint of trying to pretend it's all part of the plan in past Costa and RID issues it's nice to see him just be a strong leader.

Starscream, after spending the better part of three or four issues wallowing in self-pity and being the brunt of verbal abuse from random people finally confronts Rattrap. The whole Scoop/Starscream/prophecy thing was IIRC quite moronic from the get-go but apparently Rattrap's been playing all sides? Starscream is still a bit of a defeatist but manages to get his shit together (granted after Necrotitan blew up like half the city while he was crying) just in time for Rattrap to bring the rest of the RID cast: team Prowl, team Soundwave and the Dinobots. Prowl and Soundwave take charge after threatening Starscream with harm -- good to know that for the 'enemy of your enemy' spiel the RID cast has been practicing does not apply to Starscream, who banished them all out just because. Prowl and Soundwave get a far more polished version of their respective rants about Shockwave, which is quick and to the point and doesn't drag on for two or three issues.

The action scenes of the various fighters shooting at Necrotitan is tastefully short, cutting from one group futilely shooting to the next -- land troops, air troops, Dinobots, NAILs getting the wounded away, other land troop -- without lingering needlessly on them because we all know they won't do much, but it's still nice that they're offering resistance. There's Acid Storm! Arcee and the Dinobots also have some non-retarded dialogue which is a bonus. Also mighty convenient that the two Decepticons seen prominently flying in alongside Swoop (Acid Storm is barely visible) are people with toys: Blitzwing in his swanky new Generations toy and Buzzsaw in his Masterpiece toy, but this is how promotional toys should be, not shoehorned like Tankor and Crosscut were

Starscream gets a quick scene where he sees two medics bicker and other this illustrates the general sense of chaotic hopelessness among the Cybertron community than just pages of explosion.

Really not sure what the hell's going on with Rattrap though. He's weird all around.

The MTMTE cast gets introduced to Nautica, Chromia and the newly-introduced Windblade, quickly gloss over the fembot connotations, quickly get over the not-fight and quickly catch up. And while Windblade does have that air of Mary Sue fancharacter with the ability to communicate with Metroplex, it's not particularly gamebreaking and only serves to deliver a short exposition. It was Magnus who ended up jury-rigging the stuff that Thunderclash did in that filler issue (which, with the Ammonites and Thunderclash tying in to both Metroplex and Team Windblade's arrival is just kind of there to foreshadow, isn't it?). There's a fair bit of great dialogue being thrown around here -- Whirl going on a out how beating up Ammonites is his element, Magnus commenting about graffiti, Magnus talking about Shockwave's hands, or rather hand, Nautica geeking out awkwardly, Ratchet being compared to Pharma etc.

Also, the mystery of signs which is definitely obviously unnecessary padding is quickly dusted by Chromia in a single panel -- Chromia did that, but Metroplex is rearranging himself (and it's kind of implied that Metroplex protected Team Magnus from the Rod Pod's explosion two issues back) so the signs don't make sense.

We get some bullshit story about how they met Alpha Trion without Metroplex but IDW Alpha Trion is a kooky hobo that wanders around looking for holy grails and ain't got time for all these world-saving crap. The girls lampshade what an idiotic thing he's doing being mystical and shit and move on.

In the Dead Cybertron, they free Kup. Kup immediately gets an attitude which is nice, wouldn't like it if he was just treated as a plot device instead of a character. Cyclonus just randomly gets woozy, to which I'm pretty sure has been explained in an earlier issue but I don't remember. The winner piece of character in this issue is the two-page conversation between Rodimus and Optimus, where Rodimus confesses his sins regarding Overlord and waving around the numbers on his hand like some kind of 'cool' penance. He is, either consciously or not, just sort of trying to bait Optimus to say a pep talk... but Optimus is disappointed, thinks he should've stepped down and generally pissed off, going 'that is nonsense' when Rodimus tries to give a Cat Poster type of reply like 'it's harder to stay in charge, right?' It's not mean-spirited, but you can just imagine Optimus' deep voice expressing disappointment and Livio's moody art makes the scene actually work. Nova shows up and gets ready to fight Optimus.

Also apparently Rodimus did a vote with the Crisis Act and the numbers on his hand represent that -- not a fatality count as I had thought it was. It's something that if my memory is right we haven't actually seen in MTMTE issues itself, and it's an actually nice way to deliver it.

On Cybertron Prowl starts to think hope is lost, but Bumblebee and the two halves of Megatron show up, and Megatron actually had Bumblebee wait for a couple of minutes for DRAMATIC EFFECT. What a ham. I like hammy Megatrons. Megatron goes on saying that he's a freedom fighter, he'll bring order by sheer amount of force and the DJD and whatnot, which is cool if only he wasn't supporting half his body with his hands. But Bumblebee calls Megatron out on his bullshit of spreading his speeches and his cause only when it's convenient, and kinda indirectly mocking his inconsistent characterization.

Then Metroplex and the Lost Light show up, ready for battle.

It's a big setup issue that pairs off Optimus with Nova, and Metroplex with Necrotitan, but a lot of stuff go on, a lot of padding gets tied up and dialogue is a definite step up from past issues. The focus on a smaller cast (Galvatron, Shockwave's party, the MTMTE cast not with Magnus, Scoop and a bunch of others are wholly absent, while Arcee, the Dinobots, Ironhide, Blurr etc don't crowd the scenes) is welcome. The Rodimus/Optimus conversation is the unquestioned highlight of the issue, but the Bumblebee/Megatron debate, Starscream getting told off, Prowl and Soundwave, Kup... it's all decent writing. And as I said before, the plot moves! Yay!

The only quibble I have is the introduction of Nautica, Chromia and Windblade. It's handled well, mind you... they each get a bit of a spotlight scene and introdumps fairly quickly in the space of two or three pages, but do we really need them? They're just another group among a sea of other groups.

I mean, I'm pretty sure the quality won't remain consistent with the one here but with this one issue I find that I actually enjoyed myself, and not just with the MTMTE cast either.

(3 out of 5)

Blackjack
2014-07-07, 05:24 PM
RID #26/Dark Cybertron #9:

Again, still quite good, sort of, especially compared to the ridiculously plodding Dark Cybertron #4-7. It isn't quite as the last surprising issue -- artwork is far better now that RID's original artist have returned to draw all the Cybertron scenes, which is great -- Shadey McShade who drew the MTMTE portions is gone and for that I am grateful. Dialogue isn't quite as well-written as the last issue and the cast swells again. The fake-tension drags on a little because Megatron is obviously going to honour his promise, and I find the scenes with Necrotitan being all 'rawr I kill Metroplex' wholly unnecessary.

First we start off with Starscream and Scoop, and Starscream does his emo spiel.He's angry at Rattrap, Scoop's angry at him, which is basically the same thing that we had all throughout the series go away Scoop you're annoying.

Why did the death mark or whatever not kill him outright, beyond 'he's Starscream', anyway?

Big two-page splash with Metroplex punching Necrotitan. We get a hilarious dialogue with Whirl, still fighting the Ammonites, screaming at Ultra Magnus in sarcasm which is fun. The Ammonite fight is mostly off-screen, first just showing Whirl, Getaway and Skids beating the Ammonites, then the Ammonites tearing Skids' hands apart which is hella brutal, then the Autobots winning off-screen after Metroplex powers up halfway through the issue. Truthfully I don't know why the Ammonites are still around, their presence isn't really required other than to give people something to do while other 'plot' goes on, and they end up being disposed offscreen. It's a nice concept but one that goes on for far too long -- thank you, Whirl, for exterminating the species.

Lost Light crashes, and Team Bumblebee (Soundwave's basically an ornament now) drives up to meet Team Lost Light. I like how Hound takes charge. A bunch of the crew get down, most notably the MTMTE main characters who have been sidelined (Rung, Chromedome, Trailbreaker and to a lesser extent Swerve). They do a little recap thing while the cities fight, which is a bit awkward but kinda necessary... I do like how Bumblebee is all 'they're supposed to be dead!' And Megatron laughs. Only Scrapper stays dead these days, and I'm not sure why they haven't revived him yet because that Costa issue is the stupidest thing ever, the five-man Devastator team is an annoying bullshit and I want it to be reversed as soon as humanly possible.

Bumblebee trusts Megatron (which gets him into a small choke-Prowl moment later on) and despite lampshading what might go wrong, bring Megatron to Metroplex's thumb (which I totally forgot about). Megatron uses the Space Bridge inside him (which first showed up in the Costa arc and retconned as Metroplex tech by Barber) and the Ore-whatever to teleport the thumb to Metroplex's fist and give him... the resurrection ore? The power-up Ore-13? Whichever.

The Dead Universe stuff with Optimus and Rodimus is still the best. The Robozombies fill in the same role as the Ammonites -- to give the other characters an excuse so they don't just stand around. We get an acknowledgement that after all the prequel stuff with Autocracy, Monstrosity, Chaos Theory and all that jazz that past Primes are assholes. And Nova Prime takes the form of each one and this makes Optimus waver, ending up in a copy of Optimus' own body. Nova just throws Kup aside no problem, Cyclonus steps in and tries to keep him busy while Optimus has a bit of a breakdown. Talking to Rodimus (who wants to be Rodimus Prime, aspiring to be all Optimus could be), Optimus -- well, Orion all throughout these, really, but I really hate the name 'Orion Pax' with a burning passion -- had abandoned his name and rejected the title of 'Prime'. But Rodimus instead tells Optimus that he embodies everything a Prime should be, even if the rest of the dynasty is full of douchebags. Nova shoots Rodimus and knocks aside the others, and Optimus Prime roars into battle, basically owning the shit out of Nova Prime. And I absolutely love this -- he just goes I AM OPTIMUS PRIME and punches straight through his doppelganger's chest in a very Movie-esque manner, except this has been a long time coming and finally puts all the dynasty of Primes bullshit to rest. Nova Prime is dead, he's gotten an actually good final battle scene that's so much better than the Solar Pool and the Darkness and the whatever, please, please, let him die for good.

Galvatron, having survived his battle with Megatron and Bumblebee (of course), feels this on Cybertron, but Shockwave keeps going 'this is all according to plan' so the original plan for Shockwave to be the big bad instead of Galvatron, Nova and Jhiaxus is still around, at least. He tells Metalhawk to dispose Waspinator (the jerk!) and tells Jhiaxus (who's his underling now for whatever reason instead of the other way around?) to prepare a spherical machine that the wiki tells me is Turmoil's time-travel machine or some shit from RID that I forgot.

Now, bad pacing: the time it takes for all that to happen is the time it takes for Bumblebee to drive back to the others, but also the same time it takes for Necrotitan to beat Metroplex up, for the Ammonites to tear Skids' arm off and stuff. Granted, Scoop's narration of their darkest hour prophecy is atmospheric and everything, but there's no logic for Megatron to take like fifteen minutes just to teleport. Atmospheric scene, yes, but bad, bad pacing all around.

Metroplex kills Necrotitan with one punch, so that's two of the main villains down (plus the Ammonites and Robozombies if you're keeping count of them). Shockwave's healing ore or whatever somehow inexplicably heals Starscream and the Constructicons (who are Prowl fanboys) and everyone with a name. Megatron calls themselves the 'good guys'.

Back to Shockwave, and as Galvatron laments their loss, Shockwave reveals he has an ulterior motive with his Regenesis Ores that no one can keep track of are all gathered, and intends to use Galvatron as a conduit. Metalhawk's apparently sentient because he's eavesdropping instead of killing Wapsinator.

It's not a bad issue -- Nova Prime's last stand as a villain, representing the Prime Dynasty and Optimus Prime finally coming to terms with himself and PUNCHING NOVA THROUGH THE CHEST HELL YEAH is an awesome scene to look at. Scoop's narration of the prophecy gives a really atmospheric feel, but the Metroplex-Necrotitan battle really drags on a long while, with the RID and MTMTE cast first going 'hey guys', then Bumblebee and Megatron have their little conversation, then the 'darkest hour' moment with the speeches and everyone in danger (Brainstorm still won't open the damned briefcase) but Megatron takes forever just to teleport. But as soon as he does BOOM METROPLEX PUNCH and Necrotitan, who has been dragged on for far too long, dies. Deus ex machina and Starscream etc gets healed which is kind of stupid. They're really pushing home the fact that Megatron is an anti-villain or whatever now, aren't they? Not that it's a direction I like, I just wished Megatron does all that with feet because seeing him as two separate pieces was funny the first scene, was funny the second scene but now it's just irritating to look at.

Shockwave reveals that he has plans which involve stuff, so Dark Cybertron sadly isn't over yet... but thankfully we're back to having Shockwave as the big bad and while everything before these two issues have been invariably terrible I do hope the conclusion is at least palatable.

(2.5 out of 5)

Blackjack
2014-07-08, 05:44 AM
MTMTE #27/Dark Cybertron #10:

General rule: if you only managed to beat one of the many villains in the arc, do not party in a bar.

How long did Shockwave monologue anyway? Apparently in that monologue, everyone had time to party in Swerve's bar and sing a couple of songs, Chromedome and Prowl had time to have their confrontation, Ratchet had time to both repair Megatron and give Arcee a new body, Windblade and Magnus had time to talk to Metroplex...

The general 'yay, battle is over, time to wrap character plot stuff up!' vibe is utterly ruined by the fact that no one seems to care about either hunting down Shockwave, Jhiaxus or any of their cronies, nor does anyone care about getting Team Prime out of the damned Dead Universe. This last bit is especially egregious because someone (Chromedome?) actually called Magnus and went 'Wheelie's ship lost the Dead Universe' and everything, but no, go solve your emotional moment with Prowl. It's only the fate of the five friends trapped there who may or may not have defeated one of the architects of this whole universe-at-stakes thing is, after all.

And it's not like they don't know about Shockwave, I did remember them fighting him. And Optimus definitely knows about Jhiaxus, Bludgeon and Monstructor, and it would be stupid if he told no one about it.

Shockwave's monologues carry on for too long and generally... uh, doesn't make sense? He goes into this tirade explaining the many, many ores to Galvatron, and then at the end of the issue talks about his motivation, to make Cybertron a black hole and space-time and end everything and the center of the universe and something? Ugh. Would've preferred it to end here without Shockwave and everything else, really.

Windblade, Nautica and Ultra Magnus also play a little monologue, basically a recap of all that's happened to make Metroplex get to where he is. It's a bit of an annoying tell-not-show, and I would've rather had a bunch of the earlier filler issues actually show Metroplex getting attacked and launching the regeneration ore or something, because with all the ores and characters and the mystery I don't care about it's really a moot point. Magnus and Nautica's conversation is a lot nicer to read than Shockwave's blah-blah-blah.

Galvaton's been reduced to a plot device.

Why in the hell is Dreadwing still working with Shockwave? I completely forgot he was even in this series or had a toy.

I don't know what Arcee was talking about with Windblade and the girls and I don't want to know. She changes her body as well into her Generations body too.

And while Alex Milne (?) did make that last page with the seventy-billion-strong Ammonite army blocking out the sky (and that one Mini-Con combiner dude who randomly shows up in the Generations toyline is an Ammonite apparently) look absolutely pretty as hell with Ammonites of various sizes, I'm pretty sure that as unnamed characters they'll only exist to give second and third tier characters someone to beat up while the important people fight Monstructor, Bludgeon, Jhiaxus etc.

I do like the concept of a swarm of little robots that can combine into a big robot and thus make it rather difficult to kill them -- even if it's ribbing off the Reedman from ROTF -- but this is giving me Deceptigod flashbacks. Ugh.

Livio's art also suffers in this issue, Kup looks possitively wonky in that first page. And that last page where Cyclonus was probably supposed to smile looks like he's having particular trouble vacating his bowels.

###

That all said, though, while there is a shit-ton of problems with the way the story is told, the parts I liked in this story, I really liked. Dialogue is still nice, with quite a few jokes that make me smile. Anything involving Megatron is brilliant, Prowl-Chromedome is nicely written, ditto for the fun bar scenes.

The Dead Universe is basically going 'I'll sacrifice myself, no I'll sacrifice myself', and Rodimus gets pissed off at this because what would be the point of having Nightbeat and Kup get returned to the cast only to be summarily killed off again? (Then he notes that Cyclonus says nothing, which was funny) Optimus and Cyclonus suddenly hears singing, so, uh... Tailgate is coming to rescue them?

Monstructor is using his secondary tiny pair of hands -- Slog's hands -- to hold Galvatron's feet. I've always loved the four-armed Monstructor that IDW artists draw and this little detail is a nice touch.

While we're on the subject of that, Livio aside the art this issue is phenomenal. Milne is back, but he's not alone -- there was another guy who was drawing the non-Livio stuff but their art styles mesh pretty well that it isn't a jarring jump from one artstyle to the next. I love it. And that's without giving a shout out to the work of labour putting everyone in the cast -- including that giant ass Cosmos and Atomizer -- on two pages.

I love how the Constructicons are Prowl fans, going all 'Megatron is the greatest! Except Prowl!' 'Yeah, except Prowl!' 'Prowl is awesome!' It's not what I would expect the Constructicons to do, but they serve their purpose when Chromedome and Magnus confronted Prowl, and true enough the Constructicons fanboying over his evilness may be the closest to friends Prowl has.

And the confrontation between Prowl and Chromedome/Magnus was well written as well! I just wished it took place not in the middle of a Dark Cybertron arc but after it. Or even better, in a MTMTE issue so I don't have to track down whichever Dark Cybertron issue had Chromedome meet Prowl.

Prowl tries to be smug, being self-centered and going all 'oh, you lost Rewind? Too bad, your memory wipe allowed the Decepticons to get into my mind' to which Chromedome responds by throwing Prowl off a cliff. I like Chromedome more and more! They kind of fight after that with the Constructicons being 'rah rah Prowl rah rah' instead of, you know, helping him. Prowl goes on and on about the bigger picture, about how they are all soldiers, and Magnus comes and calls Prowl out on his bullshit. Whatever Chromedome did, it doesn't absolve Prowl of his sins -- Prowl had put Overlord on board, had sent Skids and Getaway to get Tyrest and I absolutely love the confrontation. It didn't give them any closure, of course. Magnus gets into Prowl's face and basically accuses him of wanting to control everything, but the Constructicons break up the drama, and I like how Magnus goes 'we'll leave you to your new friends, you lonely man.' or something like that.

That scene IIRC segues in to Starscream mocking Scoop, who is all alone. Apparently Starscream and Rattrap forgive each other, wanting to deal with their problems in private... which is kinda stupid. Scoop tells Starscream that the prophecy was told by Shockwave or something which doesn't particularly make sense, but thankfully Metalhawk interrupts the scene. Skywarp still hates Starscream, and Metalhawk shoots him in the gut! Metalhawk apparently tells Starscream of Shockwave's plans... why Starscream and not, say, Soundwave or Megatron or Bumblebee or Prowl or Magnus, I don't know. Don't particularly care about Metalhawk, but HELLA COOL TO SEE SKYWARP BACK. I am a Skywarp fanboy, for whatever reason. I just like him.

Megatron and Ratchet was spectacularly funny. Just that one page. "I wanted to be a medic." "Really? I wanted to be a genocidal despot." I have no idea how Megatron went to 'ha ha Starskreem yu suk' in RID to this really likable anti-hero but I like it.

Megatron later meets Bumblebee, and they both kind of discuss over losing Iacon to Starscream. Megatron talks about his ultimate victory, about how he always considered it to be Simanzi where half the population died and 99% of Cybertron was under Decepticon control... but after seeing Starscream's shitty leadership Megatron realized that his greatest victory was when he built the Decepticons, when he was still a revolutionary winning people over... it's kind of deep and while it doesn't absolve Megatron of his previous terrible characterization, a warlord so blinded by hatred who finally sees how far he had fallen from his original revolutionary origins is a really nice one. Megatron's character hasn't really been developed since that one Roberts issue during the Costa run where he had a talk with Optimus, or that Roche one with Starscream, and I really like what they're doing with Megatron here.

The bar scene was fun. Frankly surprised Whirl didn't go 'we kill 'cons! we kill 'cons!' instead of singing a chorus with Blitzwing and Frenzy, but eh. Early on in the massive page spread Sunstreaker and Sideswipe seems to have made up after all their shit that's happened to them during AHM, which is nice -- IIRC Costa kind of ignored Sunstreaker despite re-introducing him randomly during his run. We get Brainstorm and Bluestreak argue over how to pronounce the Necrotitan...

And we finally get Swerve's big character moment with Blurr! And it's ridiculously funny. Went on a little too long, with Swerve just fanboying and fanboying and fanboying and Rung actually getting a good dig in: 'are you doing an impression of him?' It's a nicely written scene that shows that not every confrontation needs to be dramatic. Swerve finally meets Blurr and despite all the possible angstiness that I feared would be done, it was done in Swerve's particular way: funny. Blurr asks Crosscut, which is a nice touch and usage for using a new toy, and none of them remember who Swerve is other than he's annoying. Hee.

So, to recap: good stuff in this issue is really good, but the bad stuff? Really bad. Pacing's all over the place, but thankfully I don't really care about the Dark Cybertron stuff and find the character confrontations far more exciting. Shame with the Ammonite army attacking it'll all probably get shot down to hell next issue. Thank god, two issues left.

Reading this felt more rewarding than Regeneration One, by the way.

(2.5 out of 5)

zigzagger
2014-07-08, 06:13 AM
Part 10 is where I decided to jump in and, at the time, I was able to work out the story up to that point without having read it. It was a welcome diversion and it wasn't as if I was interested in what Shockwave was up to to begin with.

I came solely to see Ratchet snark off to Megatron*, and Prowl and Chromedome's loving reunion. That's it. It's a shame that such great moments -- and I really thought that they were -- are brought down by all the nonsense happening around it.


* Which makes Ratchet's treatment of him in the current storyline all the more stranger.

Blackjack
2014-07-08, 06:43 AM
RID #11/Dark Cybertron #11:

The penultimate issue, which suffers a fair bit from having too many characters.

The Megatron stuff is still good. It feels a bit forced, but I've read too many 'bad guys turn good' type of story to know that this is one of the better ones I've read. He's starting to change gradually with Bumblebee being a morality pet -- how did the two randomly meet again? Whatever. And then Bumblebee dies, shot by Shockwave! Oh noes i don't care. He'll probably be alive in the finale, and even if he somehow stays dead for a fair bit I'm pretty sure Hasbro is not the type to let Bumblebee stay dead for long. I mean, freakin' Sunstreaker gets revived, after all. The rest of the issue is just, well a bit of running around here and running around there.

Several months ago, before the lost light launched, Brainstorm checks Hardhead out and the two kind of reminisce a bit. Apparently Brainstorm had gotten hold of Nova Prime's first body from Revelations, and quickly gives a theory/explanation that Nova's essence got sucked back into the Dead Universe. Brainstorm tells Hardhead that he's officially 'not dead' but something shoots out from Nova Prime, strikes Brainstorm and the readout says 'one'. Obviously it's the groanworthy plot-device-at-the-last-minute to allow Brainstorm to act as the Space Bridge to allow Optimus' crew to pass through, but what does this mean for Brainstorm? Is he a zombie now? Does he have the zombie touch? Is this related to his briefcase? How did Hardhead, Nightbeat, Galvatron and Cyclonus get classified as 'living' while Nova is an undead creature? Do I care?

I care more about the fact that Brainstorm is apparently a Dead Universe zombie thing. Is the briefcase for that? I did remember the Spark-eater creature ignoring him in an early MTMTE issue -- apparently it's not the briefcase, it's the fact that he doesn't have a spark... so what does this mean for Brainstorm, then?

Also what the hell is up with the 'singing' thing from last issue then? The bar? Was it the singing from the bar? Sheesh.

The massive Ammonite army is quite pretty and practically everyone that's not with Team Megatron is fighting them. We get a short scene with Magnus asking Windblade to ask Metroplex to fight which is kind of dumb when Windblade gets shocked over 'universe is ending', and then a couple of splash pages... isn't it odd that Jetfire suddenly gets center stage after being apparently killed and missing in action during Megatron's return in RID? Well, guess who has a spanking brand-new Leader Class toy! But there are a bunch of toyless guys as well... we get to see Grotusque after apparently being randomly killed in Chaos. Good, retcon that death! Retcon Scrapper! Please let the Monsterbots join the Lost Light pleasepleaseplease, and Cliffjumper! He kind of disappeared into the background after AHM and disappeared almost throughout all of RID. Mainframe! Perceptor uses the 'Perceptor Curve' to give the extremely scientific observation that the universe is ending.

Jhiaxus acknowledges Shockwave as his master, and Shockwave taps into time for whatever reason and sees the past -- basically scenes from Autocracy, Chaos Theory and Shadowplay. Bludgeon and Dreadwing finally get lines after ten issues of being ornaments. Dreadwing is basically an idiot who wants everything. Bludgeon gets to fight a lot this issue! And I like him. He stabs poor Waspinator through the chest (why universe hate Waspinator?) and despite Skids' attempt to use his Mary Sue powers quickly learn Metallikato by observation Bludgeon goes FOOL! and stabs him through the chest. Yeah Skids you die.

Soundwave and the cassettes act as Megatron's loyal vassals, and despite Soundwave advocating that they betray the Autobots, work with them anyway, and alongside Scoop and Getaway, 'sacrifice' themselves because Skywarp can only take a finite amount of people. Ravage goes 'tell them some cassettes send you' which is cool. Soundwave as a loyal friend = Blackjack likes.

Poor Skywarp is just fritzing in and out of space and right after teleporting the important people just... fades away? No, don't kill Skywarp :(

Prowl is working with the Constructicons who have absolute faith in him, protecting Fat Tankor. Prowl has absolute faith in Bumblebee because of reasons. I do like how Hook distinguishes himself by doing calculations and stuff, and notes that Monstructor is coming. Prowlvastator forms (god damn it bring back Scrapper) and fights Monstructor. Presumably the fight will be off-screen or be over in one punch because we only have one issue left. It's gotten a big 'eh' from me -- I'm not a big fan of Provastator. It's idiotic.

Basically everyone is going on to give the 'heroes', here being Megatron, Starscream and Bumblebee, time to reach Shockwave. First Metroplex and everyone holds back the Ammonites, Provastator holds back Monstructor, Skywarp dies (?) in the teleportation attempt, Scoop (who seems to get shot through the gut), Getaway, Soundwave and the cassettes because they can't bring everyone, Magnus and Skids stay back to fight Bludgeon, Starscream and Metalhawk fight Jhiaxus, etc.

Scoop gets randomly replaced with Hook at one point.

I don't understand how Starscream goes from 'Scoop always plays the doing for the greater good card, ignore him Bumblebee' to 'wait, Scoop, you can't actually stay there' in the space of one panel.

Absolutely don't understand why Rattrap is even teleported with the group as opposed to Soundwave or Getaway.

As mentioned before Waspy and Skywarp get taken out of the game almost immediately, and Bludgeon is all hammy! I like hammy Bludgeon. I don't understand why they didn't just dispose of zombie Metalhawk, or why he's even working with Shockwave in the first place but whatever. Brainstorm gets woozy because of the flashback we were just shown because Optimus Prime is trying to punch out of his chest, Starscream is all 'scoop scoop scoop' but Starscream and Metalhawk meet Jhiaxus, who suddenly uses reactive armour to copy Starscream's body in the most ham-fisted toy advertisement in this entire series. -sigh-

Jhiaxus is just idiotic. All the stuff about the prophecy? Ugh. Don't open your mouth.

Megatron blasts Dreadwing, almost kills a non-responsive Galvatron and gets talked down by Bumblebee. It's rather cliched -- it's the best part of the issue, but that just goes to show how m'eh the rest of the issue is. Bumblebee gets shot, big whoop, and Megatron goes all HE'S DEAD BWAHGWAHHHH and fights Shockwave who will not shut up.

Bludgeon easily takes on both Skids and Magnus and goes with the 'fool!' route to take down Skids -- no, wait, I take what I said before back. This is the best part of the series, Bludgeon fighting like a hammy martial artist. Of course, Team Prime shows up from Brainstorm's belly.

Pacing is all over the place, characters get shoved aside in favour of the main guys, and we all know Optimus and Rodimus will be the ones to save the day. With one last issue to wrap things up, it'll probably be just them taking down their respective enemies, mourning/reviving Bumblebee and stuff. Not hugely interested in either Shockwave or Jhiaxus as bad guys. The Necrotitan as an unstoppable monster and Nova Prime as a hammy representation of the Dynasty of Primes were nice concepts for enemies, but Shockwave ranting about space time blah di blah I just don't care. Brainstorm's Dead Universe connection is dropped randomly out of nowhere despite Brainstorm being mostly a background character interchangeable with Perceptor throughout Dark Cybertron and I thought it was terrible for it to be revealed, like, in the same issue that Team Prime use the portal to get home.

(1.5 out of 5)

Blackjack
2014-07-08, 07:51 AM
Dark Cybertron Finale:

Things happen. As conclusion to IDW 'events' to, this isn't the worst, but too much time is spent trying to build up to the second season of MTMTE and RID with an Autobot Megatron and a dead Bumblebee and maybe a bit about Brainstorm and the Dead Universe? Whatever, but it's not quite enough on wrapping up the plot threads cleanly.

I'm still not quite sure what the hell is going on with Scoop's prophecy and why Jhiaxus puts so much faith in it considering they were the architect of everything, but screw the prophecy.

Issue starts off with everyone fighting the Ammonites. We get another crack that, yes, Slag is Slug now (sigh). Whirl and Arcee have a little conversation about Whirl's role in starting both the Ammonite and Autobot/Decepticon conflicts. The battle progresses mostly the same like the last issue and we know that nothing they do can change the Ammonites -- it'll be all up to the main characters. That said, I do quite like Mainframe insisting on adding the 'Stomp Watch' to Perceptor's calculations.

Starscream fights Jhiaxus and Metalhawk talks about how the ores and everything are the ones responsible and he's obviously going to sacrifice himself. It was so obvious from the time he reappeared back to life, and later on he does. He blows up, and Starscream just stabs Jhiaxus (who, according to Starscream, is 'cosplaying as him' which is funny) with a one-liner about how he didn't know he had swords, and exit Jhiaxus. Rattrap is still annoying.

Bludgeon apparently gets killed off-screen which sucks.

We get a bit of a recap, and Cyclonus, Nightbeat and Kup, having turned into Dead Universe people, are getting confused. Brainstorm can apparently heal them (convenient how he's with the strike team instead of, say, with Chromedome, Rung and the others back on Cybertron, eh?) and recruits Rodimus. Cyclonus mocks Rodimus for running away, he tries to show some bravado, and Nightbeat calls out Brainstorm for being 'dead'. The scene with Rodimus and Brainstorm pulling the dead people out drags along a lot longer than it should, and of course Brainstorm heals them. It's padding and really unnecessary. Do we need an entire page of Brainstorm babbling about how he's unsure if it will work? Do we need an entire page of them just shambling along the streets? Ugh.

We get hints that the Lost Light is 'more than meets the eye' from Nightbeat.

Some random timey-wimey shit lights up the sky, showing scenes from points in time which is pointless and takes up space.

Metalhawk's death somehow blew up all the Ammonites and spares the Transformers... because? I do like Jetfire commenting how he thinks Metroplex's titan magic (really, Jetfire? 'Magic'? I am disappointed in you) was the one responsible, but Windblade says Metroplex is laughing for whatever reason.

The Lost Light smashes into Monstructor, kind of making Prowl's sacrifice to embrace Devastator again kind of pointless.

We waste half a page for Windblade to jump down and join the battle against... corpses? What the hell. And we get a stupid line about how Arcee is their sister-in-arms even though they met like five minutes ago.

Meanwhile, Bumblebee actually dies and Megatron cries... and I think this issue handles Megatron eventually rejecting the way he had done his ideals in the past and becoming an Autobot a bit badly. It starts off well with Shockwave mocking/comparing his goals -- greatness for Cybertron, and Megatron is angry about how Shockwave had used his cause and had twisted his ideals, but Magnus and Optimus come in. Magnus gets shot in the face and stays out of commission for the rest of the fight because screw Magnus, right? Prime tries to talk Shockwave down by making him remember the old Senator Shockwave and it's at this point that it all goes downhill even worse. They try to talk Shockwave into goodness (with the word Shockwave being doled up all fancy-like, and a big NO! panel) and Shockwave of course fights through the Shadowplay and asks them to kill him.

The villain discovers his true self that he used to be in the past but it's too late and the heroes must mercy kill him. It's not quite that terrible, but it annoyed the hell out of me because this could be seen coming a mile away because Senator Shockwave and blah blah blah. I don't like the conclusion. It's just so unsatisfying... the Lost Light saves Team Prime.

Soundwave observes that Megatron has an Autobot insignia and goes on about how Megatron has betrayed the cause, and Skywarp goes all 'look what I found, can I keep him?' Skywarp lives, yay! Skywarp, Dreadwing and Galvatron show up and obviously Galvatron's going to be Decepticon leader in the future. Eh. I don't care.

Starscream and Rattrap get a scene where Starscream tells Rattrap that he's inferior in the backstabbing game, which I thought was pointless. Also tries to pin the genocide of the Ammonites on Metalhawk or something? But he gets confronted by everyone.

Later Optimus and Megatron have a talk -- Megatron is honest about changing and stuff and they walk out to meet the people.

All in all? It's pretty badly paced. I find I don't have that much problem with Megatron turning into an Autobot or Shockwave being defeated by a talk... but the pacing and the scripting isn't all that good. Granted it's a far more satisfying conclusion than Chaos or Revelations or the idiotic Provastator, but Dark Cybertron ran on for at least six issues too long. A lot of the things could've been cut out and instead of spending too much time on buildup and later forced to kill off characters off-screen because there isn't much time, wouldn't it be better to compact the series? Have the Necrotitan stuff and the Shockwave stuff all happen simultaneously so you don't have to so obviously pad things out for twelve plus issues. There aren't a lot of things I hated about this issue, but definitely none that I liked. But with Jhiaxus and Nova Prime dead, the Dead Universe apparently drained dry by Shockwave, please do close the book to all that. And do let Metalhawk and Bumblebee die in peace -- it's not a terrible exit for either one of them and I believe the two have overstayed their welcome. Hopefully Galvatron can be interesting for the first time since... since his original Spotlight, really.

Anyway, I believe we only got two good issues out of everything in Dark Cybertron. A bunch of good Roberts stuff scattered throughout, but other than the Megatron/Bumblebee, Optimus/Rodimus and Chromedome/Prowl/Magnus stuff from whichever issue it was that they took a break for no reason, nothing particularly noteworthy for any of you who decides to skip this.

TL;DR: Metalhawk, Bumblebee, Jhiaxus, Shockwave, Nova and Bludgeon all die. Megatron realizes he had fallen from the ideals of his cause and ends up becoming an Autobot. Optimus Prime adopts that name again and doesn't care about the Dynasty of Primes anymore. Brainstorm is a Dead Universe denizen. Windblade, Chromia and purple female show up. Nightbeat and Kup are back among the living.

(1.5 out of 5)

Blackjack
2014-07-08, 04:57 PM
More than Meets the Eye #28:

We're baaaaaack!

Oh finally we're out of the stupid Dark Cybertron.

However instead of picking up where we left off with MTMTE last time, instead we get saddled with a six month time skip, and the story alternates between Megatron's trial right after Dark Cybertron and the present-day hijinks of the Lost Light with Megatron as captain.

It's still good stuff, but there's the fear that not all of our main characters have returned. Most egregious in his absence is Rodimus, apparently replaced somehow by Megatron as captain of the Lost Light. So far confirmed main characters who've stayed include Rung, Brainstorm, Swerve, Skids, Chromedome, Magnus, Whirl and Perceptor... which means among the 'main' players Rodimus, Ratchet, Cyclonus and Getaway are absent as of now. Might be offscreen, but I dunno. Also Tailgate, who may be just stuck in medbay limbo.

(IIRC Drift has been exiled, and both Red Alert and Fort Max who don't do much are both with the Circle of Life.)

Major new arrivals, so far, include Megatron, Nightbeat, Nautica and Groove (who managed to get onboard, so I assume Bluestreak's on board too). I notice Mirage and Sky High have snuck onboard as well from the RID cast. And Ravage may or may not have sneaked on board... considering how Soundwave is all pissed off at Megatron it remains to be seen which one Ravage is loyal to.

We first open with Brainstorm zaniness. All the Dead Universe bullshit forgotten, she cracks jokes with Nautica over the cartoon guns that shoot out red and purple blasts. The image of random Autobots trying to eavesdrop in on Rung talking to Megatron is fun! Megatron's talk with Rung itself is pretty nice, gives us a little in into Megatron's head (and at apparently Rung obsesses about Megatron's fusion cannon and associates it with Freud? Oh Rung you sly bastard) as well as his writings in the pre-Origins era where he is an intelligent idealist. We get a little talk about self-editing, which hits home closer than most to myself because I actually do this -- more because of the toy reviews I wrote were when I was like thirteen or something, but it hits home nonetheless. We get a reference to 'Terminus', whoever the hell that is. We may or may not have heard of the name before; Roberts likes to drop names. But man, Megatron... he's taking this 'regret' thing seriously, isn't he?

Ravage is listening in, whatever the hell he's doing or if he's supposed to be on the ship at all.

Rung's googly-eyes are spectacles my whole life is a lie.

Despite throwing Prowl off a cliff (Skids was understating it by saying he merely punched him), Chromedome has fallen into a depression and keeps listening to Rewind's last message. Nightbeat and Skids (whatever happened to Getaway?) are buddies now, and they try to talk to Chromedome but he's depressed. Then suddenly there is a scream in Rewind's old recording... did Overlord get him back then?

Megatron's room door gets filled with graffiti and he gets show by an arrow -- for a moment I thought it was ATOMIZER which would be awesome, but no, it was Whirl! Holding a crossbow (and apparently somehow painting all that with his claws) and gets into a fight with Megatron. Takes up a fair chunk of the issue, including a point where Whirl knees Megatron in the groin and he goes all goggly eyed. That made my day. And appparently the reason Whirl survived is that Megatron had told all of his troops to leave Whirl alone. Which is awesome. Whirl stabs Megatron in the stomach (and he later walks around with a hole in his stomach no problem) and lost his arm because Megatron's innards is wacky space bridge jumbles. I think Megatron spared Whirl because of the 'people is changing' stuff?

Whirl is also apparently for once not being a psycho, which is surprising. He's only baiting Megatron and is reporting to a mysterious someone. Let me guess -- Prowl... except it's too obvious. Who would want Megatron off the ship? Rodimus?

Random numbers and words from walls are disappearing, which is weird. On two separate occasions it's mentioned that the 'Pyrobots' are missing, so it might be a Duobot case all over again.

Then they find a coffin in space.

DON'T OPEN THE COFFIN

It was said in the prophecy DON'T DO IT PEOPLE

(They're going to do it)


The 'past' scenes are a bit less interesting. Rodimus and Ratchet are present there, anyway, and Rodimus delivers one of the best lines in the series to Prowl ('it's not the table's fault!'), Starscream ('suicide by face-palm') and Optimus ('YOU BROKE THE MATRIX?'). He's on a roll! Despite Optimus' reprimand about the Overlord fiasco he's on a roll... though he might've taken it to heart and stepped down for Megatron? I dunno. Prowl and Magnus are also gold as the former understandably basically wants Megatron to be crucified. Rodimus lampshades the deja vu and I totally forgot we actually had a trial-thing for Megatron back in the Costaverse. Great, thanks for reminding me of your goth angst phase, Rodimus.

Also apparently the Lost Light have the name painted on it (by ATOMIZER), and their gameplay now is to hunt down Thunderclash -- who I dislike because like Rodimus I find him a bit of a Sue.

For three pages we have Swerve, Crosscut (who I assume will be filling a minor role like Trailbreaker and Pipes did in the past) and new non-toy character Riptide who's apparently a 'Hydrobot'. They interview Groove, Nautica and Bluestreak ("we're not allowed to take anyone who might remind Rodimus of Prowl")... and while on the surface it looks just like another annoying funny Swerve antic thing, it's also a quick but effective introduction to possible major players and their little quirks. Nautica and her babblemouth and her quantum physics love and her book love gets a lot of screentime in this scene.

Megatron then refuses to allow Chromedome into his head... who, strangely, does not speak for the entire encounter -- he did, after all, not want to practice mnemosurgery after promising Rewind and refused to help Metroplex last time, so what changed? I like how Megatron goes 'all I have is who I am'. Rodimus goes 'nyah nyah yu gon die' but Megatron hands him... uh... the Allspark? Or a Communicube?

He then gets taken to trial on Luna 2's stadium with a shit-ton of cameos in the crowd including the humongous Cosmos. Sandstorm and Broadside! Broadside, alongside Bluestreak and Sky High, apparently survived the events of the Decepticon uprising in RID. I remembered them dying stupidly and completely randomly. GOOD GOOD ROBERTS RETCON ALL THE STUPID DEATHS.

It's just a setup issue setting up some of the plot threads to come in MTMTE 'season 2', as Roberts IIRC called it. We have the whole intrigue about Megatron both present and past, we have the disappearing letters, we have Chromedome's depression and a possible additional mystery about Rewind, we have Thunderclash, we have the coffin, we have the mystery Nightbeat alluded to about the Lost Light... plus new arrivals. Highly anticipating Bluestreak and already liking Nautica.

(3.5 out of 5)

Blackjack
2014-07-08, 06:08 PM
MTMTE #39:

GROTUSQUE IS ON THE LOST LIGHT! SO IS REPUGNUS! AND DOUBLECROSS! YUSSSSSS

Also: Chromedome's vehicle mode is weird as hell.

Either Milne or the colorist does this WFC thing where detailings on people's body light up like lava. On Trailcutter and Prowl it's not too distracting because they're part of their secondary colour, but on Nightbeat's helmet it's hella annoying. Milne's art is gorgeous, by the way, and a lot, lot more expressive. Atomizer in particular is extremely expressive. Trailbreaker's eyes bugging out in surprise when Megatron surprised him? Comedy gold. Optimus Prime's eyes nearly bugging out when he says 'you are pleading not guilty' while wearing Tyrest's crown? Priceless.

Ahem. The issue itself. Tailgate and Cyclonus are on-board, and Tailgate's all alive and well. He's got an Autobot tampograph now, to Cyclonus' displeasure, and has also had Waste Disposal painted back from his fake Bomb Disposal! Guess he's not so above it all. Tailgate is going around 'finger-in-the-head'-ing people after the whole Tyrest thing. Tailgate plays catch-up and does a double-take when Megatron walks past him while four Autobots carry a coffin. Mainframe carries a drunk Jackpot who is hilarious. Tailgate is all bouncing around like an excited kid especially after everyone acknowledges who he is and his role and WHOOPS RUSTY LEGISLATOR! Who turns out to be a red herring.

Ten is a reprogrammed Legislator (with arrows sticking out of him, so we can assume Atomizer tried to bring his bow in) working as a bouncer, and Swerve painted a '9' on him just because. We have Streetwise getting pinned down by Groove in a wrestling match in the bar which is funny. Swerve has three rules (including no briefcases) and he's grumpy because Megatron's captain. There's a news thing going on, and Riptide, Skids and Nautica are buddies now apparently (where is Getawayyy) and Trailcutter is a horribly self-destructive drunk. It's funny to watch him ("Skids! Nautica! Thingy!"), yes, but it's hard not to do so without feeling a shit-ton of pity for the dude. Riptide manages to egg him on to steal Megatron's secret stash of energon and he goes off to do it.

Nightbeat is looking at a big hologram of something that kinda resembles Transformers Prime's version of the Key to Vector Sigma. I'm definitely getting a Cumberbatch-Sherlock vibe from Nightbeat and I hear his voice every time he speaks. He's a massive showoff and while initially he kinda-dismisses Chromedome's mystery... apparently the scream disappears when replayed, Nightbeat sees Rewind's... ghost? Vision?

Elsewhere, Trailcutter is even doped into wearing a head-cam and Nautica's reaction is just priceless. We're interrupted for a bit by Ratchet, Megatron and Magnus agreeing to open the coffin with procedure (we know it won't happen. Something will happen to open the coffin and that's exactly what happens later on) and Magnus is just so happy! Trailcutter is all 'duh what this is' because he's drunk. "I think I want to punch it". And while I initially thought it was just Trailcutter being drunk and accidentally pressing the right button, he made the door disappear. But Tailgate finger-in-the-heads the sober people watching the webcam so they don't see it. He walks into the medbay and trips unseen alarms (and the late Ambulon's stuff is untouched), drinking Megatron's icky-green energon and have his eyes bug out. Apparently instead of being awesome stuff it tastes like poison. It's also green.

Trailcutter getting drunk -- and I do love how Megatron addresses him as Trailbreaker -- causes him to flare his forcefield which looks freakin' brilliant. It's a panic bubble, which is a brand new thing Brainstorm designed for him that takes thirty minutes and he just looks so defeated and generally like a guy who did something really stupid when they're drunk.

While the panic bubble goes on, Chromedome (in his weird-looking alternate mode) and Nightbeat (who surprisingly doesn't look like his toy, come to think of it), goes up to Nightbeat's quarters where he thinks it's a 'data ghost', an imprint of Rewind himself thanks to the sheer amount of data he collected. He's on full Sherlock mode here, generally being hyper-excited and being a bit astute about other people and dismissing Chromedome's power-of-love thing outright. We also get confirmation that Dominus Ambus or however it's spelt was indeed Rewind's ex-conjunx-endura and when Nightbeat opens the door his room's walls have disappeared, opening into deep space. Somehow none of the ornaments (his shelves and table are bolted to the wall) fly off into space, though.

Trailcutter is ready to accept any punishment that isn't physical harm, but Megatron does a kung fu chop (four million years of practice) that engages Trailcutter's F.I.M. chip (foreshadowed way back in the Hedonia issue). No idea who Megtron would employ this on, but Trailcutter can no longer get drunk. Megatron employs him as director of security, replacing Red Alert (who didn't get to do a thing even in MTMTE, poor bastard) and they open the coffin which contains what I think is Rodimus! Shit, did he die between the trial and now? Half his face is missing.

In the past, Megatron goes on trial, and Prowl's apparently having every Autobot testify including some random dude called Gripper. Atomizer (!) walks up to Rodimus ("interrupt. Please god interrupt) and talks to him, bringing up a different Vos, who is massive and had hooks for hand and feet. Certainly different from the scrawny 'wear my face' dude of the present. Rodimus brings up lists randomly, and Atomizer hands him a list of the people who voted against him during the poll. Rodimus makes a big show of refusing it because it should be anonymous, but as we see at the end of the issue he ended up accepting the list.

Starscream goes on to testify (with a crown and a cape, naturally) about Megatron. It's a long speech but surprisingly one that really, really fits Starscream. It's later revealed to be a ploy to get his ratings up and possibly explain him getting into power by the time of Windblade. After getting objected by Ultra Magnus for grandstanding, Starscream basically calls Megatron an incompetent, untalented dumbass for not having enough power to take reins of the war and allowing it to spiral out of control. He basically mocks Megatron and mocks Megatron some more and while the testimony is actually a defense for him, you can just see Megatron seething. It's a brilliantly crafted speech. Kudos to Roberts for writing it.

Of course, the trial ups both Starscream and the Autobots' ratings, and it's nice to see Slamdance pop in. I do like Slamdance.

Whatever nerve Starscream struck, it ticks off something in Megatron. He talks to Magnus, and he pleads innocent -- would be interesting to see how he gets out of this and becomes the captain of the Lost Light to boot.

Interesting stuff all around, and while the trial stuff does drag on a little I'm not too bothered by it. It's not quite a terrible storytelling method except I'm really more curious about the present-day stuff. This issue focuses more on Trailbreaker which is awesome, as well as Nightbeat and Chromedome, and Starscream/Megatron and Rodimus/Atomizer in the past.. It really is still a bit of a set-up issue with pieces of the ship disappearing, Trailcutter getting set up as a security officer, establishing that Tailgate and Cyclonus are still alive... it's a great issue, just feel an itch to get things going- it lacks the oomph to get a 4.5 or 5 rating. Certainly not bad by any means.

(4 out of 5)

Blackjack
2014-07-08, 06:19 PM
Addendum to #29:

After rereading the coffin's probably meant to be a red herring for Rewind's ghost, isn't it? I'm just too obtuse. :p

Also Atomizer gets characterization! The Trailbreaker and the Nightbeat and the Starscream scenes steal the show so much that Atomizer gets a bit sidelined but ATOMIZER WOO! He might or might not be giving Rodimus a real list, but he seems like a bit of a swell guy. Or maybe I just like the idea of a bow-wielding interior decorator, okay?

And the list. I've not considered the full ramifications of the list, and it's probably something that'll break Rodimus mentally... maybe it's the reason he's absent? Also whose names are on the list is a good question too. Obviously Chromedome, who lost Rewind... but who else? Magnus? Ratchet? Rung? It's a great character moment for Roddy right there and Milne just nails that pose with him sitting on the floor in depression.

Milne's art is beautiful and has evolved even further. I daresay he's probably the best artist I've ever seen to work on Transformers.

Unicron
2014-07-08, 07:10 PM
And the list. I've not considered the full ramifications of the list, and it's probably something that'll break Rodimus mentally... maybe it's the reason he's absent?
#30 Covers that, I shan't spoil.

Also, the hologram Nightbeat was studying is Rung's Alt Mode. It looks a little different from it's first appearance due to different artists, but Roberts confirmed via Twitter that it is.

Blackjack
2014-07-08, 08:08 PM
#30 Covers that, I shan't spoil.

Funny you should say that...

More than Meets the Eye #30, in which I attempt to review and recap half-awake:

In the present!

Bluestreak is renting out human movies, Whirl's epic holo-avatar has sprouted punk chains and spikes and is awesome and is braiding his/her hair. Not sure why Riptide gets so much screentime to be honest -- he doesn't look to be important and I'm not sure why his role can't be taken over by, oh, Atomizer or Hound or Groove or some of the more pre-established guys. Nautica, while I won't rate her high in my 'favourite MTMTE people' list, at least has a rambly personality and a specialty and I can see her being sorta like a quasi-Rung. Riptide, though? Eh, I don't mind them. I ended up liking Rung and Impactor and Rack'n'Ruin and Drift and Windblade and they're all basically fanwank characters.

Swerve is still angry about Megatron. He's only been getting one-panel appearances of late.

We cut back to the coffin, and First Aid! One of the guys I completely forgot about. Cool to have him back, he's still traumatized over Ambulon's death and killing Pharma.

And... Rodimus is still alive despite Megatron strutting around being called captain and acting like captain for the past two issues and actually going around promoting Trailbreaker into security captain. I like Rodimus so I don't want him dead, but I thought this fake-out was kinda idiotic especially with the cliffhanger last episode with the corpse and past!Rodimus reading the list (and maybe doing something rash with it). And, oh, 'co-captain'. Basically Rodimus has been sulking in malaise for the past two issues just for this joke to work and I think it's just taking it too far. Definitely not a big fan of this 'twist'.

I mean, Roberts have this tendency to fake out and scare people with deaths... Tailgate's Cybercrosis, Ultra Magnus getting blown apart by Tyrest, Whirl 'oops it's just Cyclonus' vision', Red Alert's head blowing up not really a death, Rung's head blowing up and getting nursed back to health... but I don't think it's been done for the sake of a prolonged joke. Jeez.

Rodimus calls in 'team Rodimus', which is basically all the non-Perceptor smart people on board. Nightbeat tries to tell his own mystery but gets waved off by Rodimus until later on a wall disappears and he goes 'yeay I earn points!' Rodimus pesters Chromedome to do mnemosurgery on Roddy-corpse. Megatron doesn't like needles, there's something he's not telling. Nautica seems to be a bit touchy-feely with Brainstorm and the two rambles a lot and likes science... are we having a shipping moment right here? Eh. Kind of indifferent honestly. Brainstorm's UH-OH gadget is a bit forced, in my opinion... and are we ever going to talk about his Dead Universe-ness or is that it? Nautica discovers that there are some religious markings that both Ratchet and Rodimus recognize as belonging to Drift, and both Chromedome and First Aid confirm that it's Rodimus... but from the future!

Oh noes!

Rodimus prepares to amputate his arm with what I think is Pharma's saw (they keep that around?) and Megatron goes all 'what if we are destined to reattach your arm' with such a deadpan, serious look on him. Rodimus apparently had removed the numbers, but before he can say much they're interrupted by the ship disappearing.

We randomly get a picture of Magnus, Rodimus and an Optimus with a mouth drinking? Twice in a page?

In Swerve's, Tailgate is telling his accomplishments, even though they're true this time. I love that googly-eyed Smokescreen. Suddenly, Getaway who's been absent all this while, show up all shadowed-like. Not hanging around with Skids for whatever reason (did they have a fight? Is that why Skids is buddies with Nautica and Riptide now?) and Getaway basically flirts with Tailgate for one and a half pages and Cyclonus gets jealous. What the bloody hell did Getaway do to little Tailgate's chin that he only does to people he's acquainted with? Jeez Getaway, Tailgate's basically a kid, you creep. Eesh. Anyway Cyclonus I think has officially been confirmed as kind of being a love interest instead of an elder brother figure as I kept seeing him as, what with the jealousy and all. I had hoped that Roberts was going to troll all the shippers by opening the gateway with Chromedome/Rewind and then subverting romance with Cyclonus and Tailgate, but eh.

AWOOGA AWOOGA and the crew evacuates and thanks to Magnus' drills it's smooth. Also, seeing Hot Spot and Streetwise next to each other, practically all the Protectobots are on-board the Lost Light, aren't they? First Aid is, Groove is, Blades I'm sure showed up in 'season one'. With Megatron and a lot of scientists on board, we could be seeing an Autobot combiner!

(Superion was for whatever reason missing in Dark Cybertron, wasn't he)

Did Whirl get out? His avatar fritzes out but he was 'confined to quarters'. I'm inclined to believe Magnus isn't that stupid, but he wasn't seen among the evacuees.

Anyway the Lost Light disappears and Megatron does this smug 'sorry not guilty' which I actually find funny.

In the past!

Ultra Magnus reads Megatron's statement about how he feels the trial is rigged in Autobot favour despite not having a problem with it at all... we're later revealed that he had planned it as an exit strategy should he feel the need to, and the Communicube he gave to Rodimus in #28 has absolutely no significance other than that -- why couldn't he just say it to Optimus in the first place?

Then Hun-grr, Snaptrap and a bunch of Seacons, Terrorcons and the Stormtroopers (anyone know the Stormtroopers except for Warcry and me? No? That's freakin' RAGE over there) and Magnus goes for a hammer. While I'm pretty sure Seawing didn't die from being shot in the chest, poor Tentakil (who was definitely struggling and not dead) has his body in pieces with his legs and tentacles everywhere. God damn, Broadside is brutal. It's a bit sad to see them prepared to die to let Megatron escape but he's gone good. :(

Prowl and Magnus argue about semantics, basically Megatron being tried on Luna 2 instead of Cybertron allows him to be tried by the Knights of Cybertron. It's a loophole, and while Starscream is desperate to get Megatron executed (otherwise it's him that's going to be executed by Megatron, I reckon) Optimus knows moving the trial to Cybertron will cost them PR ratings. Rattrap suggests they talk to Megs himself.

Megatron talks to Optimus, how he wants to make amends and not let Starscream write his epitaph, and decides to find the Knights himself to give back to the people... and despite the sincere-looking monologue, Optimus gives him a condition, to read off a statement denouncing all Decepticons, as if refusing Seawing's aid and pasting an Autobot insignia and earning Soundwave's ire isn't good enough.

Also I find it idiotic for Megatron to go from 'we can't execute Megatron because of legal loopholes!' to 'hey, let's make him captain of the Lost Light!' Nevermind that the rule is ancient and isn't even a thing you should take seriously. Nevermind Rodimus owns the Lost Light (IIRC) and certainly does not want Megatron on board, Megatron is the captain/co-captain now? How the hell did that happen? Scrutiny is scrutiny, yes, but captain? Really? Why not make him second-in-command, share a rank with Magnus? Or make him the new security chief, making him deputizing Trailcutter more beliveable? Even if the Autobots are trying not to get the public against them by allowing Megatron to go onboard (which is the only solution in that position, really) why CAPTAIN? No, it's just there for the 'oh em gee' factor and it kind of falls flat.

Megatron is forced to read out that denouncement which thanks to Alex Milne's art we can just see the look of defeat on his face as he's marched away, and he actually cries, good lord, I feel so bad for Optimus. Not only did making Megatron read the thing (or make him captain of the Lost Light) make absolutely no sense, it was downright cruel. What a jerk!

Rodimus meets Ratchet over the new Rodpod in the past, and shows Ratchet the list. Ratchet is angry, but realizes that Rodimus isn't doing anything with the list. Ratchet breaks the news to Rodimus who takes it anime-style with lines under his eyes. And Rodimus outlines all the reasons why having Megatron on board the ship, captain or scrutiny or whatever the reason... he's not easy to take down even if they catch him doing anything wrong. They're feeding him fool's energon, which is an energy-draining thing that Trailbreaker apparently drank last time, but what's stopping him from stealing other people's drinks? Even if Swerve refused to sell him his drinks, what's stopping him from beating up, say, Tailgate and taking his energon? It would also be stupid to give a strong crewmember such an obvious handicap which will render him useless if they fight an enemy like say Overlord instead of, oh, a restraining bolt or whatever. Rodimus makes a good point that Optimus wants to believe Megatron is changed and stuff. Ratchet is angry (so why is he buddies with Megatron last issue) about the issue but tells Rodimus to destroy the datapad and move on... and Roddy does so. Ratchet then reveals that the list is fake because Ratchet's name is not on it....

Rodimus certainly takes the news badly considering he's been moping, but it raises some new questions... what is Atomizer's angle? What is he doing and why (as this issue confirms) is he still on the ship? Is he really a Rodimus fanboy and just a bit wacky in the head? All this means is that we're probably going to get flashback sections next issue and we don't need that.

Overall I think it's a fair bit of a step-down from the previous two issues, which felt dense but had breathing room -- Trailbreaker's scene, Nightbeat/Chromedome's scene, Whirl/Megatron's scene all went on for a while to let it sink in whereas this just kind of jumps all over the place. This issue is more... cluttered, so to speak. There is still a lot of characterization going on, don't get me wrong, and we're finally picking a plot and going forwards with it, namely the disappearing ship, and the trial is finally over even if the results make no sense, but all in all it isn't quite as good as the previous two issues.

That said, even at its worst MTMTE is still damn good, so. Do like the Rodimus and Ratchet/Atomizer stuff the best.

But the trial's end was stupid and seemed forced. And without a good moment like Starscream's from last issue and Megatron himself from two issues ago I don't see the point why it needed to be so long, or why we needed to waste four pages on a failed Decepticon rescue mission. Or why we needed to bullshit around about legalities.

(3 out of 5)

Also, the hologram Nightbeat was studying is Rung's Alt Mode. It looks a little different from it's first appearance due to different artists, but Roberts confirmed via Twitter that it is.

Oh? That's totally unexpected. I vaguely thought it was Tyrest's staff or something like that, and I don't even think Rung's alternate mode has any of the fancy stuff. It looked kind of like a golf bag, really -- even Rung himself calls it an ornament.

Intriguing...

Blackjack
2014-07-08, 08:17 PM
New thought I just got: Optimus seems to be just bullying Rodimus into working with Megatron. Optimus did say he had hoped Rodimus to resign, and he can't do it since the Lost Light isn't under his jurisdiction. But by making Megatron captain using the authority bestowed upon him by Tyrest's funky crown he can circumvent that and punish Rodimus in a way by hitting where it hurts the most -- his pride.

And Megatron would get away scot-free, so despite Optimus wanting to have his old buddy Megatron to change (which Rodimus lampshades) he tells him to say that really, really damning speech that robs him of his pride and dignity as much as Starscream's speech did before, makes him an enemy in the eyes of all Decepticons... well, even worse than the red insignia did before, anyway... and to punish him as well?

So, uh, Optimus Prime is just a jerk, then? Jeez.

Blackjack
2014-07-08, 08:58 PM
Robots in Disgsuise #28:

Is actually good. It's a nice setup, a nice little breather from all the Dark Cybertron and politics stuff. Barber's finding nice dialogue to work with. Both Jetfire and Sideswipe have golden dialogue. 'uh, wall burrowing missiles? anyone care?' That said, though, the issue with humans having Cybertronian technology is giving me Costaverse vibes which I hate.

And knowing Barber I'm truly, truly afraid I'm going to have to read through another set of random continuity nitpickings, only instead of Dead Universe and Wheelie timestream stuff we'll get HUMANZ and we'll probably integrate Furman's fascimiles to Costa's entire bullshit mess.

But since that doesn't happen yet, it's a promising little show.

We start off with Thundercracker (I like Thundercracker) going on about a silly script he's writing that's so laughably bad it's awesome. In the however long he's been on Earth he's adopted a dog named Buster. Apparently it's all Age of Extinction on Earth because Thundercracker has moved to a hangar in the middle of nowhere with wanted posters on the walls... and he's befriended, uh, Scarlett or Black Widow or some other redhead chick from the military? And she wants his help.

We get a totally random flashback that has nothing to do with anything this issue with Megatron besieging Metroplex (RE: more MTMTE... yeah, he did all that for four million years, all the cruel fusion cannoning and Optimus believes he can be trusted with a starship after showing around two or three months of niceties?) and Alpha Trion takes it into space for, uh, a half-million years to run away from Shockwave. I think this was meant to be featured amongst one of the massively filler issues of Dark Cybertron where it's relevant. The only relevance I see is when Windblade later recaps to Optimus that Alpha Trion is gone and we don't need the flashback.

Anyway, present day and we see the shaver mini-Arks from the Furmanverse being attacked by wall-burrowing missiles. Jazz apparently had failed in eliminating all human tech in the Costaverse. Sideswipe offers to jetpack, Jetfire makes a joke about his alternate mode, Prowl keeps being a prick... and Optimus brings down his crew of himself, Kup, Arcee, Jazz, Cosmos and THE MAJESTIC SKY LYNX which I did not see coming. Prowl tries so transparently to cover up for his tenure as Arcee's employer.

Sky Lynx is visually awesome. The two of them somehow break through the barrage of missiles.

Flashback again to Prowl and Cosmos and poor Cosmos just wants someone to listen to him and Prowl just wants to rant. I do like this scene. It was awesome. Poor Cosmos. Starscream shows up to gloat, and Optimus Prime sets up the events of Windblade: Metroplex has replaced the destroyed Iacon, Windblade is the city-speaker and Starscream is in charge. Took a bit longer especially since Windblade's own mini kind of explains it via tell-don't-show. We see the reporters too.

Kup recaps the events of Infestation (this is going to be a thing with Barber again ain't it) and somehow they stealth-land with Sky Lynx's alternate mode, talk a bit and roll out. Prime does this thing about how no one wants to go back to Earth. They find Thundercracker on a scrap car sofa which is awesome, and TC is all cryptic and gets surprised by the Autobot Megatron... and apparently he's setting them up for... Galvatron's Decepticons?

So far it's quite nice of a setup. Very slow especially compared to MTMTE, and it does waste a fair bit of time bullshitting with the Metroplex flashback and the little recap to set Windblade up. The Thundercracker and Prowl bits are nice, but there really isn't anything special... it's not bad, though, and while I don't particularly like it that much I find it inoffensive and actually want to know more.

(2.5 out of 5)

Unicron
2014-07-08, 09:26 PM
Oh? That's totally unexpected. I vaguely thought it was Tyrest's staff or something like that, and I don't even think Rung's alternate mode has any of the fancy stuff. It looked kind of like a golf bag, really -- even Rung himself calls it an ornament.

Intriguing...
There are Rungian details in the hologram, but they don't come across hugely well. Part of the problem is, as I said, the different artists between the first appearance and the hologram. Either Raiz got it wrong the first time, or the design hadn't been finalized yet.
As for the 'ornament' thing, nobody knows what Rung's alt-mode is, not even Rung himself. The Functionists classified him an ornament and called it a day.

My bet is he's a key, probably to some very important save-the-day or restore-the-planet type device deep within Cybertron or Luna 1. And the whole 'historical constant', no one remembering his name, and mode fidelity things are part of Primus' plan so he'll still be around when needed.
That or he's a fancy golf bag.

Blackjack
2014-07-08, 09:29 PM
RID #29:

So we get a flashback to All Hail Megatron and apparently the random girl I thought was Scarlett from last issue is Marissa Faireborn. Great, so between her and Sky Lynx apparently we're ribbing off Dreamwave's third mini. We get an origin story about how she witnesses AHM first-hand, which is all good... but then she and the old Witwicky general from AHM directly makes an alliance with Soundwave and Galvatron. Even though Marissa herself recognized Soundwave. Soundwave does this spiel about how Megatron sides with the Autobots, ergo the Autobots are evil... and the humans buy it. Because they are idiots. Seriously.

You know, say all you want about Michael Bay, but Age of Extinction is the first time I took an anti-Transformer group seriously because they weren't bumbling naive idiots like this. They're even worse than Circuit Breaker because they're actually working with the Decepticons. And while Soundwave does have the silver tongue Galvatron is right there going all 'my Decepticons can annihilate you!' And this interplay -- Soundwave trying to be all deceptive-like and Galvatron is all 'I kill! Galvatron does not back down!' It's annoyingly moronic.

In the present, Marissa confronts Optimus and basically doesn't believe him. We bring up Jazz's murder of a human (sigh) and Optimus sounds the battle. Art is quite pretty with the transformations and the Earthen vehicle modes... Earthen vehicle modes make me happy because Cybertronian vehicle modes, especially those based on WFC, are ugly as sin.

Thundercracker also does this thing where he fusses for his puppy. I find it kinda adorable. Why did Marissa bring the dog into the fight anyway?

Jetfire has a cute little drone sidekick and gets a fair bit of screentime cleaning out those Buzz Droids, and apparently the Constructicons snuck on-board. Or are let on by Prowl, isn't clear. Good, the fanboys are back! They're identikit, which annoys me, but at least they're fun identikit. Long Haul is also massive for whatever reason.

Frenzy's sonic scream gets Buster the dog riled up, Laserbeak speaks which is awesome, and Jazz accidentally shoots a tank and goes oh noes! Blitzwing goes 'you're a walking cliche' and punches him. Thank god. Jazz is annoying these days. The Autobots transform and run, and the Decepticons pursue -- Galvatron's a tank that's not quite his Universe form, and Soundwave is some kind of APC that looks a hell lot better than his WFC body. Maybe a new Generations toy is in the works? Sideswipe and Arcee shoot the Decepticons unsuccessfully, Cosmos and Sky Lynx say some things.

Flashback to before the launch, and Prowl calls out Optimus Prime on his bullshit. Basically Optimus' defense is calling out Prowl on hypocrisy and going 'everyone can change'. Prowl puts on a spiel about how Earth changed him briefly (oh god I am having bad bad memories about the Costa run's Prowl). And after a quick encounter with the Constructicons (who go 'Prowl!' like excited kids). Prowl seems to have accepted the Constructicons as friends, which is either heartwarming or going to bite him in his ass, and follows Optimus to Earth to clean up his mistakes. After a short, nice road battle (Sideswipe's alternate mode goes all DOTM and it's beautiful; Arcee's altmode is shockingly but realistically not her Generations toy)

Prowl gets the Autobots to drive into a city, where the Decepticons can't turn into robot modes without breaking cover... but, uh, the Decepticons are tanks and jets while the Autobots are a bunch of cars, so yeah. Blitzwing mangles the 'United Steaks of America'. Marissa is shocked (oh noes!) and Thundercracker told her this would happen -- he's played video games which is like a lame reply instead of 'I've been fighting a war for 4 million years. The two of them are starting to annoy me.

Galvatron wants to continue the battle and Optimus proposes a change of location but the Constructicons airdrop in and form DEVASTAPROWL

Blackjack
2014-07-08, 09:33 PM
RID #29:

So we get a flashback to All Hail Megatron and apparently the random girl I thought was Scarlett from last issue is Marissa Faireborn. Great, so between her and Sky Lynx apparently we're ribbing off Dreamwave's third mini. We get an origin story about how she witnesses AHM first-hand, which is all good... but then she and the old Witwicky general from AHM directly makes an alliance with Soundwave and Galvatron. Even though Marissa herself recognized Soundwave. Soundwave does this spiel about how Megatron sides with the Autobots, ergo the Autobots are evil... and the humans buy it. Because they are idiots. Seriously.

You know, say all you want about Michael Bay, but Age of Extinction is the first time I took an anti-Transformer group seriously because they weren't bumbling naive idiots like this. They're even worse than Circuit Breaker because they're actually working with the Decepticons. And while Soundwave does have the silver tongue Galvatron is right there going all 'my Decepticons can annihilate you!' And this interplay -- Soundwave trying to be all deceptive-like and Galvatron is all 'I kill! Galvatron does not back down!' It's annoyingly moronic.

In the present, Marissa confronts Optimus and basically doesn't believe him. We bring up Jazz's murder of a human (sigh) and Optimus sounds the battle. Art is quite pretty with the transformations and the Earthen vehicle modes... Earthen vehicle modes make me happy because Cybertronian vehicle modes, especially those based on WFC, are ugly as sin.

Thundercracker also does this thing where he fusses for his puppy. I find it kinda adorable. Why did Marissa bring the dog into the fight anyway?

Jetfire has a cute little drone sidekick and gets a fair bit of screentime cleaning out those Buzz Droids, and apparently the Constructicons snuck on-board. Or are let on by Prowl, isn't clear. Good, the fanboys are back! They're identikit, which annoys me, but at least they're fun identikit. Long Haul is also massive for whatever reason.

Frenzy's sonic scream gets Buster the dog riled up, Laserbeak speaks which is awesome, and Jazz accidentally shoots a tank and goes oh noes! Blitzwing goes 'you're a walking cliche' and punches him. Thank god. Jazz is annoying these days. The Autobots transform and run, and the Decepticons pursue -- Galvatron's a tank that's not quite his Universe form, and Soundwave is some kind of APC that looks a hell lot better than his WFC body. Maybe a new Generations toy is in the works? Sideswipe and Arcee shoot the Decepticons unsuccessfully, Cosmos and Sky Lynx say some things.

Flashback to before the launch, and Prowl calls out Optimus Prime on his bullshit. Basically Optimus' defense is calling out Prowl on hypocrisy and going 'everyone can change'. Prowl puts on a spiel about how Earth changed him briefly (oh god I am having bad bad memories about the Costa run's Prowl). And after a quick encounter with the Constructicons (who go 'Prowl!' like excited kids). Prowl seems to have accepted the Constructicons as friends, which is either heartwarming or going to bite him in his ass, and follows Optimus to Earth to clean up his mistakes. After a short, nice road battle (Sideswipe's alternate mode goes all DOTM and it's beautiful; Arcee's altmode is shockingly but realistically not her Generations toy)

Prowl gets the Autobots to drive into a city, where the Decepticons can't turn into robot modes without breaking cover... but, uh, the Decepticons are tanks and jets while the Autobots are a bunch of cars, so yeah. Blitzwing mangles the 'United Steaks of America'. Marissa is shocked (oh noes!) and Thundercracker told her this would happen -- he's played video games which is like a lame reply instead of 'I've been fighting a war for 4 million years. The two of them are starting to annoy me.

Galvatron wants to continue the battle and Optimus proposes a change of location but the Constructicons airdrop in and form DEVASTAPROWL. Which, I have to admit, is kind of badass. Which is weird because I hate Devastaprowl with all my heart and soul.

Generally a step down from #28 mostly because Marissa doesn't make sense, Thundercracker and Galvatron are both annoying, between this and MTMTE Optimus comes off as a massive jerk... No Cosmos this time around, too. Cosmos was fun last issue. Soundwave and Prowl are the only intelligent people around, and I'm not sure why we don't just have Soundwave as the leader of the Decepticons. Prowl being in his RID mode he's sure to be making mistakes in his black ops instead of carefully scheming things out, but eh, what can you do. Not sure how I feel about Provastator, but I like the fanboi Constructicons. Prowl does seem too trusting about the Constructicons, and I dunno if it's going to be a thing about him giving in to evils and whatnot. Some of the action scenes are pretty but otherwise felt a bit hollow. It's inoffensive, but on account of the characters' idiocy I can't give it too high a mark. When a Michael Bay Transformers movie make more sense than you, you know you screwed up bad somewhere.

(2 out of 5)

Blackjack
2014-07-08, 10:07 PM
RID #30:

Ghhhhh okayyyy, this isn't outright terrible and want to make me scratch my eyes out like early Dark Cybertron issues did, but it was definitely bad. There is some good stuff intermixed with random Barber continuity throwbacks. But it's just so bloody boring and uninteresting compared to MTMTE. It's leaps and bounds better than Costa's bullshit Earth arc and it shows, but it just slogs along and generally fails to hold my interest much beyond having Soundwave and Prowl in it.

We start off with a pointless four-page Galvatron flashback where he kills an ancient tribe of Headmasters and meets Alpha Trion. All this is to fix that one quibble in Heart of Darkness where Galvatron revives 'an ancient Headmaster'. JOHN BARBER PEOPLE! It doesn't tell us anything we need to know, doesn't change anything about Galvatron -- we already know he's a warrior and everything. What is the point of this scene? Why can't Galvatron just name-drop the Headmasters as a tribe he wiped out once in a line of dialogue the way Roberts does with his own continuity checking? Why do you remind me of Heart of Darkness?

Skywarp, unstable as he was in Dark Cybertron, is hooked up to the Decepticon ship. Poor bugger. Galvatron and Soundwave argue a bit, and Soundwave is, uh, actually more pissed off that the humans sided with the Autobots instead of actually going all 'yesss, we're fooling the humans' which annoys me. Weak willed fool, Soundwave! Why is every one of these black ops characters suddenly becoming 'oh yay humans'? Galvatron gets into an argument with Rumble and somehow knows what a cassette is.

Devastaprowl fights the Decepticons and kinds of loses it a bit: 'at least pretend you're still a warrior, Prime'. He goes all angry and shit and whacks poor Buzzsaw to bits and is generally immune to the Decepticons' firepower. Galvatron manages to slow him down a bit, though.

Marissa is a bit shocked, and it seems for a moment that they're just dumbasses, but they actually have a plan! Marissa tells Skywarp to teleport them out of here, while contacting Sanjay to tell him to activate the ridiculous mind-bomb (both from the Bumblebee mini, who I also don't wish to remember) and somehow it works on Galvatron's Decepticons... but not Devastator, who's 5/6th Decepticon. Nor does it manage to mind-rape the Autobots either. Skywarp teleports the 'Cons away, Devastator separates and the Constructicons are all like 'woo-hoo!' Prowl's all happy about his experiment, that the Decepticons cannot break protocol so by fighting them in the open the 'Cons are forced to retreat, which is actually a nice subversion of the normal trope. The Autobots retreat.

Marissa goes in to get rid of all electronic evidence, and Prowl is actually pleased no executions are being done. Oh, Prowl. Prowl knows that it doesn't matter if the Autobots are discovered since they are the good guys, and more experiment talk goes on. Prowl gets a nosebleed.

We flashback to another unnecessary scene where Sideswipe goofs up when trying to talk to Arcee and unintentionally offends her. Prowl and Optimus are both annoying since they all 'oh you want to talk to Windblade, you know she's a gurrrrl and you're a gurrrrl' despite all having this talk way back in Dark Cybertron. Arcee does talk about Hardhead a bit, the two having been stationed torturing the undead Jhiaxus on Gorlam Prime and working together. Again, wholly unnecessary.

Arcee's actually working with Prime now, Prowl is all 'humans are the enemy', which is nice considering his hippie phase was horribly terrible and we get a little nice monologue from Prowl. Jetfire discovers that the humans may have Alpha Trion, which they're hunting for. But Scavenger (and apparently not the other four) is a double agent for Soundwave and informs him. Galvatron is throwing a tantrum, calls Astrotrain 'Spacebus' but is kind of mollified by Soundwave telling him of the double agent. And that they have located Alpha Trion.

So... Prowl's monologues are kind of good, Marissa not being a total idiot is definitely welcome, and the explanation that the Decepticons are on Earth for Alpha Trion and not just making an alliance with the humans for random shock value is likewise welcome.

What's not welcome is Devastaprowl. Provastator. I hate him on principle and any story that features him immediately gets a 'no' from me. He's mostly inoffensive here, though, and from the looks of things I might see Scrapper returning in a couple of issues and the True Devastator may once more devastate. The Scavenger twist was surprising but relatively welcome, because I do hope the Constructicons get some proper characterization sometime soon.

I'm also not a big fan of random pointless flashbacks that serve no purpose at all. What's the point of showing Galvatron killing an old Headmaster tribe other than to show that he met Alpha Trion one time? Or Arcee talking about her feminity with people for the umpteenth time then going "I'm going to join?" There's also hints about the Thirteen tribes and oh god Nexus oh god don't bring the thirteen into this please

Other than that, though, Galvatron is wholly unlikable -- more 'angry idiot' than 'insane monster', Optimus is a bit of a naive jerk, Jazz is whiny, and neither Thundercracker, Sideswipe, Sky Lynx Jetfire nor Cosmos appear quite enough.

(2 out of 5)