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Blackjack
2014-07-27, 02:37 PM
Transformers Windblade #3
25th June 2014
Written by: Mairghread Scott
Art by: Sarah Stone
Letters by: Chris Mowry
Edited by: John Barber & Rebecca Huard

Synopsis: As the Terrorcons confront Windblade and her allies, she reflects on how she was once deemed ‘too centered’ to be a cityspeaker, and despite Chromia’s warnings leaps into battle. She was surprised by the fact that Cutthroat could fly, prompting Chromia to abandon the others to protect her friend. Blurr takes charge, ordering Tall Tankor to take into the air and assist Windblade. Circuit and Longtooth continue to film the battle, which goes poorly for the Windblade’s allies. Despite initial resistance, Rippersnapper defeats Slug, whereas Sinnertwin manages to take down both Blurr and Waspinator. Under Windblade’s orders, Tall Tankor manages to distract Cutthroat long enough for Windblade to get close enough to pull out her sword and force Cutthroat to crash-land. However, Starscream and his forces suddenly enters the fray, ramming Windblade and arresting her and her allies. However, Chromia manages to slip away.

The group is imprisoned, where Starscream introduces Blurr and the others to the ‘Badgeless’, Starscream’s new police force, who hide their identities with masks. Starscream threatens the group with execution, with the excuse of them helping deliberately damaging Metroplex’s systems to help Windblade stay in power. Longtooth says that he has video evidence proving otherwise, to Waspinator and Circuit’s surprise, and Starscream easily says that he can easily kill him. Starscream then tells them that they aren’t about to start a war, but the others should side with him to ensure their own freedom, noting that not many people will want to help an ‘alien’ and all he needs is one or two to discredit the rest. Blurr, however, speaks for the group and rejects Starscream’s offer.

Meanwhile, Windblade is being electrically tortured by Rattrap for Chromia’s location and the ‘real’ reason they arrived on Cybertron. She does not say anything. Starscream arrives, and with the torture being unsuccessful, instead undoes her cuffs since he doesn’t think she will cause trouble. Windblade immediately tries to tear Starscream’s head off, but he easily takes her down. Starscream then angrily asks Windblade why she stopped helping him if that was all she wanted, and admits that he did tamper with Metroplex’s filter systems to get the Ores with no intention to kill the Titan. When Windblade accuses Starscream for the bomb that nearly killed her, Starscream and Rattrap are initially confused before Starscream orders him to take Windblade back to the cell, knowing that Windblade cannot possibly justify killing Starscream anyway.

Windblade is returned to the cells, and thinks over the revelations that Starscream was trying to find out about the bomb and power outages which she thought he started, which makes no sense. Her thoughts are interrupted by Chromia, Sky-Byte and Swindle bursting in to break them out. As they all scatter, Blurr and Slug stay behind to slow Starscream’s forces down. Chromia and Windblade head to Metroplex’s brain, and Chromia is surprised at the revelation that Starscream is not behind all the trouble… whereas within Metroplex, power is rerouted to activate his Space Bridge.

Featured Characters: Sinnertwin, Cutthroat, Rippersnapper, Chromia, Windblade, Blurr, Tall Tankor, Circuit, Fat Tankor, Slug, Waspinator, Longtooth, Starscream, the ‘Badgeless’, Rattrap, Sky-Byte, Swindle

Review:

”Something doesn’t add up.”

The third issue of Windblade feels a bit slower-paced despite the action scenes, and while it reads really nicely the first time through it feels a bit more like padding. Granted, Starscream being behind everything is so obviously a red herring from the beginning that it’s not exactly efficient to get to the end of the third issue to have our main character reach that conclusion. Of course, Starscream isn’t exactly blameless either since he is behind one of the odd happenings around Metroplex, just not all of it. I do really like how Starscream is actually actively taking a role in protecting his city, even if he’s barking up the wrong tree.

Other than the pacing issues, Sarah Stone’s art rather suffers this issue. There are still some exceptionally beautiful drawings – the flame effects from Cutthroat’s fire breath looks beautiful, the panel with Blurr charging into battle against Sinnertwin, Cutthroat flying in general, and both Windblade and Starscream get absolutely wonderful expressions during the torture scene – ‘I’ve got nothing to say to you’ for the former, and ‘WHY DID YOU STOP’ for the latter… and as much as I dislike it, the torture scene is absolutely brilliantly drawn, with the mood lighting from Rattrap’s electric prod thing sharply illuminating everything with a nice ambiance…

But on the flip side a lot of other scenes look rather terrible – Starscream’s forces block-coloured while they charge out in particular, as well as Slug and Blurr crashing onto them, all look hastily drawn and rather awkward all around. The aerial battle between Windblade, Tankor and Cutthroat, and the transition from that to Starscream pulling a Ramjet on Windblade, isn’t exactly smooth either. Despite Stone normally excelling in facial expressions, there are several where she falters – Slug and Blurr’s face during the ‘buuurn’ scene, the general look during Slug and Rattrap when they talk...

Dialogue also doesn’t flow as smoothly as it had before, though the only one that really bothers me is Cutthroat responding with ‘This is Cybertron! Everyone knows that!’ in response to Windblade exclaiming in surprise that he can fly. That line of dialogue is rather odd and doesn’t make much sense in context of the scene, and there are several others that doesn’t flow as nicely as Scott’s normal work. There are a couple of masterful scenes though – the torture scene, Starscream threatening Blurr’s group, Blurr taking charge during the battle, all the one-liners that Blurr, Slug and Swindle drop…

The Terrorcons have somehow grown into legitimate threats since their initial appearance as Sixshot’s sad fanboys, but I felt that there’s a bit of author favouritism going on when Windblade is the only one able to take down her foe (albeit with help), whereas Slug, second-in-command of the Dinobots, gets defeated off-screen, and Blurr gets taken down by Sinnertwin (though at least he puts up a bit of a fight). Slug is weird, since while the Dinobots aren’t exactly all-powerful, he should still be able to put up a fair fight instead of being so soundly defeated off-screen. Maybe he just has a lot to drink before? The battle generally feels rushed, just a series of cool-looking panels that get resolved too quickly despite taking up a fair amount of space. Chromia doesn’t even do anything and Fat Tankor disappears until the prison scene, though considering that he’s apparently a NAIL in this continuity it’s not too much of a stretch for him to stay out of battle.

Poor Waspinator gets fireblasted and then clobbered with Blurr without even trying to join in the battle, though, which was funny.

The concept of masked stormtroopers working for Starscream is a nice one as he consolidates his political power (how did it happen after Dark Cybertron, I still wonder?). And I do like that Starscream and Windblade are blaming each other for the power outages and are just taking measures to stop it... Starscream’s just less ethical about it. And as much as I hate IDW’s evil Rattrap, the torture scene is pretty beautifully done and actually feels uncomfortable to watch at times. And while the various scenes in the prison feel like padding, I do personally think it shows a fair bit of characterization for Windblade and especially Starscream. I do absolutely love the subtle real-life parallels with Starscream and Rattrap getting pissed at the idea of an ‘alien’ in charge.

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

We get a nice little lampshade that Cybertronians don’t breathe, and I do like how Starscream easily takes Windblade down by kneeing her in the wound back from issue 1. Starscream’s deranged and later confused expressions in this scene are pretty brilliant, and I do like it as the mystery unravels. The breakout scene was fun, with Swindle being hilariously brilliant despite only spouting two lines. Absolutely like this Swindle better than the big mastermind of the Costa-verse Earth arc. Windblade herself is quite fun. She ends up getting spurred into action by necessity, nearly broken by Rattrap’s torture enough to try and strangle Starscream, but has enough self-control to later reason with him.

Overall it’s still good stuff. It’s not quite perfect or the lauded ‘best comic ever’ that some over-enthusiastic fans out there might think, but it’s still a solid read nonetheless. The plot twist that Starscream isn’t behind everything isn’t quite a radical one, but still nicely executed with lively characters all around. It focuses more on Windblade and Starscream this time, though Blurr, Slug, Cutthroat, Waspinator, the reporters and Swindle all get good moments – Chromia meanwhile gets absolutely sidelined. Windblade being hyper-competent in battle despite not being in the war (as opposed to Blurr and Slug, who definitely were) is a bit weak, though. This miniseries keeps a nice balance between plot/mystery-related stuff, lore building and characterization, and while not quite perfect it’s still something that I do enjoy.

(3.5 out of 5)

Notes:
Unlike IDW’s norm of changing the names of Transformers to fit whatever trademark-friendly Classics/Universe/Generations toy out there such as Octane becoming Tankor, or Bluestreak becoming Silverstreak, the Terrorcons are still referred to by their original names. No Windrazors or Twinstrikes in this issue! Appreciate it so much.

Tall Tankor’s jet mode is now a Cybertronian jet as opposed to an Earthen plane. Cutthroat and Sinnertwin can breathe fire, an ability neither of them have shown to be able to do anywhere before.

It is implied that being a cityspeaker isn’t exactly something unique to Windblade, but rather something she was trained in during her time on Caminus. Windblade was once deemed too self-centered, with too much focus on herself, to speak for a titan.

Windblade notes that the colonists on Caminus do not use guns because they are deemed too wasteful. Both Windblade and Chromia indeed fight with melee weapons, whereas their fellow Caminean Nautica is nominally a non-combatant that waves a wrench around. Autobots that do not use guns have been seen in the lore before during the Beast Machines and Animated series, as well as the Circle of Light colony introduced in the Drift miniseries. Maybe, considering that the Circle of Light was revealed to be actually harboring a Titan themselves, the no-guns thing is a something common for all Titan colonists?

Rattrap uses energo-cuffs to arrest Slug, which look almost identical to the energo-cuffs seen in Transformers: Animated.

Rattrap being interrupted with a ‘shut up, Rattrap’ references the many times that Rattrap got shushed in a similar manner in the Beast Wars cartoon.

Goofs:

On the last page, what is probably meant to be ‘en route’ is spelt as ‘in route’… though Metroplex is kind of in a fritz so maybe it’s an actual in-universe error?

Quote, Unquote:

Windblade: HE CAN FLY?!! No one said he could fly!

Chromia: “I have to save her.”
Blurr: “What about us?!”
Chromia: “What about you?”
Slug: “Buuurn.”

Slug: “Anyone else notice how none of the Decepticons made it in here?”
Tankor: “Ah-hem!”
Waspinator: “Hey!”

Longtooth: “But… I’ve got everything on film. I can prove we weren’t the ones damaging Metroplex.”
Waspinator: “Even Wazzpinator not dumb enough to say that.”
Starscream: “No, no. Let’s make this a teachable moment. The footage only exists in your head… so it only threatens me as long as ”

Starscream: “How many do you think will hang together for an alien’s life… against incarceration, on pain of death? After all, it only takes one, maybe two of you to save your own skin and the rest are completely discredited.”

Windblade: My agenda isn’t secret. Item 1 – kill Starscream. End of agenda.

Starscream: “You know strangling me won’t do much. Cybertronians -urk- don’t breathe.”

Slug: “You make a lotta noise, Blurr. you make a lotta noise.”

Windblade: Starscream was surprised. And it terrifies me to think that.

Swindle: “I do not know the codes for this facility and anyone who suggests otherwise will have a problem.” –opens door– “Got it?”
Slug: “Blah blah blah. Get outta my way, Swindle.”
Swindle: “Dinobots. No manners.”

Waspinator: “Why Blurr waitzzz? Is speed-bot! Go go go!”

Blurr: “Primus, I hate saying ‘wait’. Just an awful word.”

zigzagger
2014-07-27, 06:04 PM
Lovely stuff.

Gave it the read-through. Not much to fix, as usual, though you were using 'Slag' and 'Slug' interchangeably, which I corrected. I opted with the name he's actually referred to in the book, that being Slug... which I hate.

Pfft... And IDW claims that there is little executive meddling involved in their books. Uh huh. Well, Dark Cybertron disagrees with you, guys.

Blackjack
2014-07-27, 06:46 PM
Gave it the read-through. Not much to fix, as usual, though you were using 'Slag' and 'Slug' interchangeably, which I corrected. I opted with the name he's actually referred to in the book, that being Slug... which I hate.

Yeah, looking at the Word file I had, I used Slug almost exclusively in the synopsis, probably because I was typing it while reading the actual issue whereas the review itself was all free-flow and, well... Slug is a pretty terrible name which brings to mind a disgusting snail without a shell. Do realize Slug has another meaning, as in a bullet, as in Slugslinger, but it's the name I hate the most among Hasbro's insistent name-mongering. I hate that name with a passion.

Whereas Slag, offensive as it may be, is extremely catchy. Its meaning is also quite suitable for Slag's fire-breathing ability and temper.

Pfft... And IDW claims that there is little executive meddling involved in their books. Uh huh. Well, Dark Cybertron disagrees with you, guys.

Dark Cybertron, and now the upcoming Combiner Wars all disagree with that. Dark Cybertron is especially bad, though, and I've ranted about it in the New Comics forum.

Hell, signs of Hasbro's tightening grip has been around since... since somewhere after the Costaverse, I guess? Everyone gets turned into Fall of Cybertron bodies -- which all have toys, mind you. Plus people like Trailbreaker and Slag get their names forcibly changed with little to no justification (Slag's is particularly bad because does he look like the type to care if his name is a curse word from Earth?). The Terrorcons suddenly getting shoved as competent monsters in Monstrosity because their toys showed up in Beast Hunters, despite past IDW fiction painting them as losers? Springer's death apparently being vetoed by Hasbro because, hey, new toy in two years' time?

Rattrap and Waspinator shoehorned into G1 fiction? Sky-Byte probably gets an excuse for appearing long before his toy was leaked, but considering how long Hasbro has apparently been 'planning' this out, I wouldn't put it past them to sneak Sky-Byte into comics half a year before.

The current RID comics seem to feature Leader class Jetfire pretty prominently despite him getting killed off by Barber a couple months back. Also Long Haul is a Voyager class towering giant now and the Constructicons is now a five-man team.... my money is on a Devastator without Scrapper being solicited somewhere in the future.

I'm just surprised that Nightbeat and Whirl hasn't changed into Generations bodies in MTMTE, whereas Blitzwing has changed from his Infiltration body to Generations during Dark Cybertron, and now back to a more Earth-based form. Arcee likewise has adapted an Earth mode.