PDA

View Full Version : Comic Review: Windblade #4 [uploaded]


Blackjack
2014-07-27, 08:10 PM
Transformers Windblade #4
23rd July 2014
Written by: Mairghread Scott
Art by: Sarah Scott
Letters by: Chris Mowry
Edited by: John Barber & Rebecca Huard

Synopsis: Pursued by two of Starscream’s Badgeless, Windblade and Chromia race towards Metroplex’s brain when a power outage plunges the city into darkness. Back in the prison, Starscream manages to take Slug out with a shoulder missile and takes off in pursuit. Chromia wants to kill their pursuers, but Windblade manages to talk her down and she complies, causing the Badgeless to crash with her physical weapons. Metroplex begins to convulse, however, and with Starscream in pursuit they barricade themselves within Metroplex’s brain chamber. Chromia tells Windblade to ‘merge’ mentally with Metroplex to gain control over his systems, something Windblade is initially evasive about since the link could kill her. Starscream breaks through the barricade easily and Chromia charges into battle against him, despite Windblade’s protests.

As Windblade prepares the merge, Starscream throws his sword to wound her, and the distraction allows Starscream to slice off Chromia’s arm. As Starscream prepares to deliver the killing wound to Windblade, she manages to connect with Metroplex, causing the chamber to come alive and restrain Starscream against the wall. As she (or rather, ‘they’) explore Metroplex’s systems to find out why the Space Bridge is online, and images from Windblade and Metroplex’s memories flow together. They see many of the other worlds that were colonized by the Metrotitans, their inhabitants having evolved in their own way, but they cannot sense the beacon of Caminus. As the two’s memories and perceptions become blurred and intermixed together, the truth is revealed – the one responsible for the blackouts and diverting power to the Space Bridge – targeting Caminus – was Chromia.

As Windblade reveals what she knows, Chromia tries to reason with the city-speaker, justifying her plot was all for the single reason to get Windblade home, refusing to see her friend die for the Cybertronians. Chromia continues to attempt to get Windblade-Metroplex to activate the bridge, while the trapped Starscream screams that with Metroplex integrated with Iacon, the activation would kill everyone not completely inside the Titan. Windblade-Metroplex sees the remains of Caminus, dismantled and scattered across a planet. Windblade begins to lose her grip as she is overwhelmed by all the mass of data within Metroplex, and the fact that she cannot choose. As she thinks that she’s alone, a vision of Metroplex appears and offers his hand with the assurance that she is never alone. United at last, and realizing not being able to choose is a choice in itself, they manage to deactivate the Space Bridge.

Windblade deactivates the link between to Metroplex, and confronts Starscream for drawing new war lines between new races, as well as the truth that neither Cybertron nor Caminus can survive without help. She tells Starscream that there are many other colonies out there waiting for the leader of Cybertron to unite them, and she appeals to Starscream’s ego; in exchange for keeping quiet about all this, Windblade will allow him access to Metroplex’s Space Bridge once he has recovered, in order to unite all the colony worlds and making Starscream a true ‘Chosen One’. He agrees and leaves. Windblade prepares to look for Circuit and prevent an information leak, whereas an ashamed Chromia thanks Windblade for taking the blame for her. Windblade grants Chromia permission to leave Cybertron as soon as they can get a shuttle, but demands that Chromia follow her orders until then. Chromia claims that she will serve the Cityspeaker faithfully, but Windblade quietly hopes that one day her friend will believe in her too. Windblade then takes to the sky, vowing that she will begin to fight for both her homes, Metroplex and Caminus.

Featured Characters: Windblade, Chromia, the Badgeless, Slug, Starscream, Blurr, Rattrap, Metroplex, Knock Out, Vanquish, Fireshot, Injector, Air Hammer, Caminus (flashback), Nautica (flashback)

Review:

To side with all of creation. That’s a Cityspeaker’s true calling. Regardless of who gets credit for it, or how it happens.

The conclusion to Windblade’s first series is a bit of an odd beast. Unlike the second and third issues, which felt less impressive when I sat down to review them, the fourth was rather underwhelming when I first read it… but ended up feeling really good once I reread it. Perhaps partly because of the Windblade-Metroplex perception blurring thing making the whole flashback sequence rather odd to read at first, and partly because Chromia being the villain felt like a random twist, but upon rereading neither of these problems really scream out. The issue does away with all the secondary characters, focusing only on Windblade and Metroplex. Starscream and Chromia feel more like devices to get Windblade to where she is, though they do get a fair bit of screentime, but this is totally Windblade’s show and I absolutely love her internal struggles. It makes great use of the internal monologue as a storytelling vehicle, the distinct thought bubbles allowing us to distinguish Windblade and Metroplex’s individual thoughts and Windblade’s own personal struggle as she is torn in all directions between loyalty to Chromia, duty to Metroplex and her general goodness to protect the city.

On the downside, this means there isn’t really any resolution. We never find out what happens to Rattrap, Slug, Blurr, or any of Windblade’s other allies. They presumably escaped alongside Waspinator back in issue three, and it’s implied that Windblade’s deal had smoothed Starscream over, but while it would be nice to get some confirmation it’s not exactly something I’m griping about.

The art has thankfully picked up on the slack, with no obviously-rushed panels like issue 3 has. I do love the action scene of Chromia jumping off Windblade like a platform, then landing like an action hero while the Badgeless jet crashes behind her. The scene where Starscream slices Chromia’s arm is also pretty effective with all the colours flying around. Also despite my general disdain for Windblade’s kabuki makeup, the scene when she finally combines with Metroplex and her red markings are overlaid against the vista of the darkened city is a rather powerful image. There are still some weak art, of course – Starscream’s proportion looks odd at times, but those are relatively minor complaints.

I do quite like the idea Metroplex as being this massive dude whose brain is stretched towards so much micromanaging his various systems that he needs someone with direction like Windblade to pinpoint the exact problem. Granted it doesn’t jive with the Fall of Cybertron copycats that are the –Ocity series, but it fits in quite well with the rest of Metroplex’s appearances throughout IDW canon. The fact that Windblade can actually merge with Metroplex, while not too far a stretch, does feel rather pulled out of a bag randomly… though it’s certainly something I’m happy to overlook.

Starscream himself is good work – it’s clear that he’s just protecting his own base of power as leader of Cybertron (how is he still in power after Dark Cybertron?) and the fact that Windblade has given him a new outlet for his ego as the Chosen One is pretty nice way to end the conflict. As much as I’m confused with how Starscream is still around after Dark Cyebertron, this is one of the best character work he’s gotten for a long time now and it’s rather refreshing to read. Granted with the Badgeless and the general discontent amongst the populace I’m not sure Starscream’s reign will last for a long time, but I do like how the series ends with them learning about tolerance and working with each other, about how the two extremes of Chromia and Starscream, the former being a staunch supporter of Windblade as an individual and the latter being extremely protective of the city, even if it’s an outlet for his own ego, illustrates exactly the two choices that Windblade can choose, and thanks to Metroplex she ends up taking a third direction. It’s certainly a deeper message than I would expect from a Transformers comic.

Also do like how Windblade and Chromia and Starscream aren’t just instantly buddies. Despite accepting the deal Starscream storms off with a sour look on his face, and Windblade snarks at Chromia about whether she killed Ironhide as well. They’re civil at each other, but it’s evident that Chromia and Windblade’s friendship has been broken in a way. They still tolerate each other, but it’s nowhere as joined-in-the-hip as they were back in issue one.

Throughout the series there are subtle themes of racism, between Cybertronians and Camiens. Last issue we saw Starscream and Rattrap spitting just that on Windblade, that they cannot stomach the idea of an ‘alien’ being in charge of Cybertron, whereas now Chromia is prepared to kill a lot of ‘Cybertronians’ because she cannot stomach the idea of Windblade dying for them. It’s a pretty nice theme to explore indeed.

The idea of the Metrotitans being colonies is a nice way that actually fits in very well with established canon such as the hot spots and the Circle of Light being one such colony, and from a personal standpoint I was excited as hell to see Knock Out, Injector and Air Hammer, because they’re cool. Because guys INJECTOR!

So overall, for an almost ethnically offensive-looking fanmade fembot with a sword that has so much potential to be just Drift the Second, Windblade ended up being really likable, and it’s certainly a pleasant surprise, especially to me personally who immediately dismissed her as a poorly-defined random insertion by Hasbro. Scott and Stone really made this miniseries into a beautiful little standalone story. It’s not entirely perfect nor an essential read, and certainly not a flawless one, but it’s certainly a great one with a lot of new ideas if you should ever decide to pick it up.

(3.5 out of 5)

Notes:

Chromia has energy daggers in addition to her normal arsenal of axe and shield. Windblade’s fake hairpin apparently hides an uplink port to a Titan. Starscream uses his shoulder missiles and two swords, both accessories that are present in his Generations toy – no fake flip-out blades like Dark Cybertron here!

Starscream’s “Chosen One” title is a reference to the Robots in Disguise Annual, where a dying Metrotitan which has been teleported to Cybertron declared Starscream to be the saviour that would unite the planet.

Maybe it’s just me paying more attention because Scott has actually worked on Prime, but the neural uplink cable seems to be again heavily inspired by a similarly-shaped object from that series.

Both Chromia and Windblade bleed blue energon, whereas the Badgeless in this issue bleed normal purple-pink energon, confirming that the two of them do have different ‘blood’, whether because of their gender or because of their Caminean descent.

The colonists that have evolved elsewhere include Knock Out from Transformers: Prime (his identity confirmed by Scott herself), Fireshot and Vanquish, members of the rarely-seen-in-fiction Micromaster Combiners from the tail-end of G1, as well as Injector and Air Hammer, two non-show Fuzors from Beast Wars.

The general idea of multiple colony worlds existing apart from Cybertron, each with their own distinct cultures, stems from the Cybertron series. Even the two colony worlds here seem to share aspects with the Cybertron series’ Velocitron and Animatros, the former seeming to correspond to Knock Out’s world where he’s participating in a race, and the latter corresponding to the planet with the Fuzors.

We finally see what Caminus looks like in robot mode and he has a different head from the traditional Metrotitan design, and indeed he does have face markings similar to Windblade.

Goofs:

Circuit claims to be recording ‘live’ back on issue two, so how is Windblade going to stop the information from getting out? Granted, the only parts of the news that may have broken might only be Windblade’s talk in the bar, but that is some pretty damning accusations.

Quote, Unquote:

Windblade: “We have to shake them.”
Chromia: “You sure you don’t mean ‘kill’? I would’ve gone with ‘kill’.”

Windblade: Chromia is always at home in a battle. She says it’s simple, clean. You versus whoever is trying to kill you. The only problem is… I don’t want to kill anyone. And I’m rapidly becoming the only one who doesn’t.

Starscream: “You were always going to try to steal this planet from me. But you forgot something. I’m Starscream. I’m the Chosen One!”

Chromia: “You wouldn’t leave, not unless they drove you out. I couldn’t just sit there and wait for you to die. Not for them. It’s my job to get you home in one piece, remember?”

Windblade: Our home: small, struggling, proud.
Metroplex: Our friend: dismantled, like a butchered corpse. Fragments of Caminus scattered across it.
Windblade: A willing sacrifice.
Metroplex: He made his choice.
Windblade: She made hers. But, what choice is mine? I don’t know what to choose. And just like that, I’m Windblade again. Small and alone. I can’t choose.
Metroplex: “Do not think that, Wind-voice. Not even for a moment.”
Windblade: I can’t choose.
Windblade/Metroplex: “We are never alone.”
Windblade: I can’t choose. And then I realize… that’s a choice all in itself.

Windblade: “You stopped fighting the war, Starscream. But it doesn’t mean you truly know peace. Autobots, Decepticons, Nails, Camiens, Cybertronians. As fast as you blur the lines between ‘us’ and ‘them’, you etch new ones.”

Windblade: “‘Starscream cares for nothing and no one but himself.’ That’s the point.”

zigzagger
2014-07-27, 09:10 PM
Gave it a quick proofing. Good stuff as always. Not a whole lot to report, just some slight rewording in a couple sentences to cut down on some repetition I spotted (i.e. repetition of character names).

Red Dave Prime
2014-07-27, 11:34 PM
Curious as well if we ever get an explanation for Screamer remaining in Power. Its a problem I have with the series. He can still be an ego-centric, self-centered character but I think he needs a moment to shine whereby we can see that, ok he has flaws, but this is why the NAILs thrust in him.

Spotlight: Starscream please. Art by Guido. Colours by Josh. Nick Roche on Scripting. Thanks :)

Blackjack
2014-07-28, 03:58 AM
Curious as well if we ever get an explanation for Screamer remaining in Power. Its a problem I have with the series. He can still be an ego-centric, self-centered character but I think he needs a moment to shine whereby we can see that, ok he has flaws, but this is why the NAILs thrust in him.

Spotlight: Starscream please. Art by Guido. Colours by Josh. Nick Roche on Scripting. Thanks :)

Yeah. I read Windblade first before I read Dark Cybertron, so I assumed Starscream did something (or at least took the credit for something) to keep himself in power over Iacon, but his contribution throughout the entire series is trying to keep the massive death wave in bay, getting infected by it, getting bitched at by Tankor, getting bitched at by Scoop, getting bitched at by Bumblebee and Megatron, getting bitched at by Scoop again, kills Jhiaxus with blades he somehow doesn't know his body has, then when he tries to blame Metalhawk for everything (which I thought was the way to reset the status quo and put Starscream back in power) he gets confronted by everyone else saying 'nuh-uh-uh'.

And the next time we see him chronologically was where, MTMTE? Where he's at Megatron's trial? He did deliver a beautiful speech there but I'm pretty sure quasi-defending a mass murderer won't make them like him enough to make him leader as opposed to someone else. But he's already acting like a leader in that scene and by the time RID and Windblade rolls around Starscream has somehow become ABSOLUT LEADER with no real explanation.

I like the idea of Starscream being a leader that the good guys cannot just shoot, and I also like him being a bit ruthless and gestapo-y, and the idea that he actually cares for the city if only to keep him in power... notsomuch the whole deal not being explained.

Red Dave Prime
2014-07-28, 06:02 AM
Ur last paragraph sums up my feelings exactly on this. There needs to be something to show that he is actually good at what he is doing even if he is a bit malicious while doing it. Otherwise his role in the story lacks credibility.

Blackjack
2014-07-28, 08:32 AM
Ur last paragraph sums up my feelings exactly on this. There needs to be something to show that he is actually good at what he is doing even if he is a bit malicious while doing it. Otherwise his role in the story lacks credibility.

Yeah, hopefully the second Windblade mini or future RID stories will feature more explanations on Starscream's behaviour and seeming popularity among the non-Autobot-non-Decepticon crowd.