CLUB AND CONVENTION TRANSFORMERS COMICS
Transformers Timelines #4: Wings of Honor
Reviewed by Blackjack
Me Grimlock hate when stories get interrupted.
A solid story, despite my misgivings over the whole Wings of Honor universe concept. Wings of Honor is basically the G1 cartoon with Animated elements like the Elite Guard, random homages to random people and constant usage of obscure G1 characters. I will rant a lot about this concept in reviews of the sequels, but for the purposes of this issue it’s fine. While the protagonist, Kup, is kind of boring but it’s probably only because I’m comparing him to Nick Roche’s far superior Kup, it’s pretty fun to see his blatant lies to make himself look good from what happens in the past. The moment with Hellbat is the best. In real life Kup’s easily in Hellbat’s thrall, but Kup tells the Dinobots random tips to avoid being mind controlled. Like the magazine comics, the plot is kind of haphazard and is over another MacGuffin. Thunderclash, Landshark and Flak are kind of straightforward good guys, though they are a huge contrast to the candy cane dimension hoppers, since they feel like actual characters. Flak and Landshark’s camaraderie are fun. They aren’t particularly memorable and I forget them as soon as I close the book, but it makes reading it more enjoyable. Grimlock is a load of good fun, the way he keeps wanting to listen to the story. That moment with Hot Rod is priceless.
The villains, on the other hand, are crazy nutjobs which make reading through this less of a bore. I was initially irked by Leozack’s stereotyping but grew to love him. Banzai-Tron and Hellbat are loads of fun, and even Skyquake and Hooligan got themselves some moments based on their stunted tech specs. Hellbat’s death is great comedy, especially with Banzai-Tron’s WTF reaction. Guido Guidi’s beautiful artwork also expresses these guys as well. It’s very pretty in its simplicity, and flows nicely. In contrast, Dan Khanna seems to be having an off day with his framing story art. Especially bad near the end, where at one point the art makes it look as if Scourge has sprouted another head. For all fairness Wings of Honor frees itself to tell its own thing, but it seems lazy and looks like they are adding a new universe for the sake of it. It’s basically just the G1 cartoon with obscure G1/2 characters, really. I don’t care much about Wings of Honor’s subsequent sequels, so this is the reverse of the Shattered Glass situation. SG has a rather mediocre single issue, but an excellent, refreshing and fun set of text story sequels. Wings of Honor has a decent single issue but the sequels are so overloaded with banality that you wonder why they bothered to make this new universe in the first place.
The Wings of Honor universe is yet another
G1-based universe. While Classics was based loosely on Marvel comics with cartoon elements, Wings of Honor is based on the G1 cartoon, although it is quite different to allow writers leeway with the storytelling. So for example, in the Wings of Honor universe, say, the whole ‘Elite Guard’ shebang, and the different body designs.
The flashback story happens in the early stages of the Great War, and the Autobots have just discovered the existence of the Decepticon leader Meagtron. As established in the cartoon, the Decepticon faction existed first before there was a Megatron.
The entire framing story is loosely based on the chase sequence in the 1986 Transformers the Movie. Some of the dialogues in the first part are even lifted wholesale.
The whole concept of an Elite Guard, the Elite Guard symbols, and a Magnus-based Autobot leading the Elite Guard are all concepts introduced in Transformers Animated.
Characters and their body designs, convention-exclusive toys first:
- The younger version of Kup is a remold of Cybertron Red Alert with a new head.
- Thunderclash is a repaint of Energon Rodimus based on the European-exclusive G1 ‘leader’ character Thunderclash that was released between G1 and G2.
- Landshark is an all new character, repainted from Energon Landmine.
- Flak is a remold of Cybertron Defense Scattorshot with a new head. Initially based on the Micromaster Flak from G1, his colour scheme was changed into silver and black by Fun Publications because the mass-market toy Overload, also a repaint of Scattorshot, has the exact same colours as G1 Flak.
- Banzai-Tron is a repaint of Energon Mirage.
- Leozack, Hooligan, Skyquake, Gaihawk (alternatively Guyhawk) and Hellbat are all repaints of Energon Starscream in their respective colours. For those uninitiated, Leozack, Gaihawk and Hellbat are from the Japanese-exclusive Victory series, Hooligan is from G2 and Skyquake is an Euro-exclusive between G1 and G2. Leozack, Hooligan and Skyquake received convention-exclusive toys.
- Scourge and the Sweeps are remolds of Cybertron Sideways with new heads.
- Cyclonus is in his Universe/Classics body. Buy his toy, it’s on the shelves!
- Hot Rod is in his Universe/Classics legends class toy body.
- Magnum is another new character, loosely based on Animated Ultra Magnus as leader of the Elite Guard. Head aside, though, his body is based on Orion Pax, a.k.a. Optimus Prime.
- Grimlock is a faithful replica of the Masterpiece toy, although that is in itself based on the cartoon model so it’s kinda redundant.
- The other Dinobots, present-day Kup and Megatron are all in their cartoon models. Ditto for Alpha Trion, although here he’s using his mid-life model with the mustache.
Leozack, unlike his original Victory incarnation of a highly competent Decepticon commander, is here portrayed as a cheesy manga stereotype, including having his speech bubbles rendered in an Asian-style font, going ‘Hai, commander!’ in crazy samurai-style, having punctuation marks over his head at times, calling his attacks (‘Great Power Rocket Swarm Attack!’), cheesy villainous dialogue, and even at one point sweatdropping.
Landshark is the only character here not to be based in any way on a pre-existing character or toy. According to TFWiki, he is apparently a nod to Chevy Chase, as well as the SNL skit about a character called Landshark. No idea what these are, they’re kind of before my time.
Grimlock holds a stuffed petrorabbit. Well, a stuffed rabbit, anyway, but considering the slew of homages this is probably intended to be the petrorabbit mentioned in the cartoon’s equivalent scene.
All of the Decepticons in the flashback sequence bar Banzai-Tron share the same body-mold (all being repaints of Energon Starscream). This body-mold is apparently called ‘Skyraiders’, and are precursors to the Seekers we’ll see in the present day era. In the fandom Skyraider is another term originating from a toy catalog used to refer to Starscream, Skywarp and Thundercracker in earlier times before being supplanted by the far more popular Seeker.
The Eight Track is named after the old 8-track tapes, while the Van De Graaff is named after physicist Robert Van de Graaff and the Physics principles and generator that he invented.
Landshark thanks ‘the One’, a mysterious entity said to have spawned Primus and Unicron in the Ultimate Guide.
What with Thunderclash being the leader and all, he gets to say ‘Autobots roll out’.
The panning shot of the crashed Autobot ship on the mountain bears too much resemblance to the Ark, with four engines sticking out, to be a coincidence.
Flak’s line “You boys call those missile launchers? These are missile launchers!” is a homage to Crocodile Dundee’s infamous quote.
The tentacles that were holding the cargo of the Van de Graaff are Quintesson tentacles.
The mysterious transformer at the end, is, of course, Alpha Trion. Beside him is a schematic for Optimus Prime. We never did get a good look at the contents of the cargo, but it is heavily implied to be the Matrix of Leadership, which would mean that it’s going to go to Optimus Prime shortly after.
How did Transformers come up with the name ‘Van de Graaff’, who is the name of a human? And the war has just started, too.
It’s the cartoon, so it’s sort of in-continuity, but everybody has Earth-mode alternate modes and kibble even though they have never been to Earth. Kup is the exception.
Not a goof, but it's kinda ironic that Kup's pre-Earth alternate mode is an Earth vehicle while his alternate mode while on Earth is a weird ass truck.
And that's about it, really, I can't really see any other goofs.