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Transformers: Escalation #2 (of 6)
#12 of an ongoing arc
Reviewed by Denyer


We seem to be on a roll. Art and colouring are great, story is hotting up, two covers that are directly relevant to the issue contents. Transformers for the twenty-first century and not a rubsign or fanwank reference to toy exclusives in sight.

As the letters page spells out, this creative team are aiming to bring back a sense of wonder to the “robots in disguise” concept, and on a more minor point, the writing’s doing a solid job of recapping events from last issue and from Infiltration, without the flashbacks and dialogue references feeling too heavy-handed. It’s still a story anyone can pick up at this issue and get grounded in the fiction that’s being built.

One point I particularly like is Starscream being kept out of things after his literal gutting at the hands of Megatron in a previous arc. The Decepticons talk amongst themselves about having had the temerity to lock weapons on their leader, then commiserate that they’re better off than the air commander. Starscream’s probably due back at some point – the characters are quite realistically very hard to kill with any permanence (although we haven’t seen any head atomisation yet, for instance) but the consequences of the confrontation are being upheld for now.

Furman’s attracted a bit of flak for making the senator a neocon Republican, though I’d like to take this opportunity to reassure any Americans that the rest of the world thinks most politicians, be they either side of a mainly two-party system and American or not, include plenty of self-serving scum.

So I’ll wrap up with a short off-topic quote from Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (1893-1986): “When I received the Nobel Prize, the only big lump sum of money I have ever seen, I had to do something with it. The easiest way to drop this hot potato was to invest it, to buy shares. I knew World War II was coming and I was afraid that if I had shares which rise in case of war, I would wish for war. So I asked my agent to buy shares which go down in the event of war. This he did. I lost my money and saved my soul.”


Prime has a hands-on style of leadership, getting information out of a rather shaken Ironhide (and calling him ‘big red’ as a familiarity.) He also goes after the ‘remains’ personally, and turns out to a better detective than Prowl, surmising that the cover-up was to stop any immediate search for Sunstreaker.

Ironhide goes from shock at the level of damage apparently done to Sunstreaker, to an assumption of Decepticon action and wanting to take the fight to them.

Verity and Jimmy also aren’t too sanguine by this point, either.

Megatron has the Decepticons tiptoeing around him, carrying out orders to the letter. (The battlechargers, in particular, are doing a good three-bags-full-sir rendition.) Though he’s clearly decided to stay and investigate the super-Energon personally, the whimsical excuse given is that he wants to try out his new… wait for it… gun mode.

The Machination are dog-killing bastards. They also aren’t particularly impressed with giant, armed robots, having tech of their own sufficient to incapacitate them.

Jazz and Wheeljack work effectively together, with plenty of camaraderie between them.


Facsimiles are grown in fusion tubes, are bio-tech in nature, and can even be implanted with memory engrams taken from the original subject. They may not be aware that they’re facsimiles. However, they’re prone to malfunction and the Decepticons prefer to keep the original subject on ice so that more can be produced.

Phase two of the Decepticon infiltration protocol is political agitation leading to mutually assured destruction for the native populations of a planet.

Megatron is the first time in this continuity we’ve seen a Transformer with an alt-mode that requires substantial mass-displacement in order to function.

Whilst the Machination agents’ electro-scramblers are effective, the short-range missile subsequently used on Jazz and Wheeljack doesn’t appear to do a great deal of damage, only flooring the two and slowing pursuit.

It seems a little odd that Prime apparently didn’t try to take the injured (dead?) Machination agent in for questioning. Or maybe this was the intention, but the lights and sirens in the distance are assumed to be law enforcement / backup troops and he doesn’t want to break cover any further yet.

Prime’s holo-avatar is a bearded trucker. (The other Autobots maintain the avatars we saw previously in Infiltration.)

There’s a news anchorwoman for ‘T-Span’ called Arcee Arthur. Dressed in pink.

Dan Taylor (‘ShockDan’) takes over from ChrisCharger as respondent to the letters page. There’s the usual cover checklist, and an ad for 24: Nightfall amongst the TF cross-promotional items.


Prime: “Strangely, I almost hope it is the Decepticons. Because if it’s the humans, if they already know this much about us… we’re more exposed than we’ve ever been!”

Jazz: “I’m okay, ish. For the sake of my dented pride, I really hope those weren’t just humans.”

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