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Transformers: Escalation #4 (of 6)
#14 of an ongoing arc
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek


It's not as yet clear what procedure Hunter is being prepared for, but it is suggestive of the attempts to create a Cybertronian/Nebulan hybrid as seen in Ultra Magnus. If something similar is being done here then Hunter having a X-Files "I want to believe" poster on his wall back in Infiltration may have been a nice bit of foreshadowing as Scully in that show was memorably kidnapped by the Government as part of a program to create a human/alien hybrid.

Ironhide clearly states that the technology being used by the Machination is probably to sophisticated for unaided humans. Indeed, the shielding around the hidden room is able to hide it even from his equipment.

We get a better look at Prime's command deck (called "Remote tactical" here) and Roller. Both are indeed based on the original toy, though the pilot's seat on the former has been replaced by what seems to be a targeting sensor, whilst Roller has a very large phallic gun.

It looks as if the facsimiles don't come with a inbuilt self destruct ability (probably to avoid anything odd showing up in a autopsy) as Koska has to wander into a battlefield to try and kill himself. The fact that Megatron doesn't just shoot him would seem to confirm that he can't fire himself or move under his own power in gun mode (and see goofs).

Hardhead and Hot Rod don't have Earth alt modes yet (so they've probably broken all sorts of protocols by coming out in the open like this), with Hot Rod's having been seen previously in his Spotlight.

According to Megatron it's been a long time since he and Prime have met, and even longer since they fought. This suggests the last face to face encounter was during their brief alliance against Thunderwing as seen in flashback in Stormbringer. Alternately, there may well have been attempts to end the war diplomatically (or negotiate things like the Tyrest Agreement mentioned in the Ultra Magnus Spotlight) that required a non-combative meeting.

Several of Furman's recent comics have had a 24esque feeling to them, with moles, double agents and various spy motifs, but here we get a direct homage to Jack Bauer as the issue ends with close up of a digital clock (all together now: Beep, Beep, Beep...)

Lots of in-jokery this issue (all in the Verity and Jimmy sequences, and mostly Japancentric):
• The auto shop is called Idea and Design Works Custom Wheels.
• There's a magazine advertising "Seibertron Car", next to a Binaltech air filter (Seibertron being the Japanese name for *gasp* Cybertron whilst Binaltech is their equivalent of the Alternators toy line, but with more diecast.)
• A sign in the window of the shop reads Date 070407, which is, in the American format, the release date for the live action DreamWorks Transformers Movie. Of course, this also lets us firmly date Infil/Escalation (both of which occur over less than a week, remember.)
• By the Machination card lies a book simply called "Takara" (the Japanese counterpart to Hasbro).

The Decepticomments letters page is entirely given over to ShockDan bigging up both the forthcoming Movie and IDW's comic tie-ins, followed by a six page preview of the Prequel Comic.

As usual the first five pages were previewed on-line.


If Megatron is so keen to see the facsimile die, why not simply transform? The huge electrical storm caused by his mass-shifting should easily fry the little human clone, especially when you consider that it was dangerous for the other Decepticons to stand close to him during the change last issue. It's also a little odd that Megatron spends at least a few minutes just lying in the snow doing nothing [Does the difficulty of mass shifting mean he has to work up to transforming? This whole ego trip of Megs is seeming more and more like a silly idea.]

Considering he's under orders to go kill himself Koska manages to wander across a vicious battlefield without getting shot/blown up/maimed.

The secret door to the top secret Machination secret room protected by technology more advanced than what Ironhide's got can be opened by Jimmy wriggling a knife in the crack. It also takes Verity, who has yet to display Holmesian deductive skills, about ten seconds of looking to spot it. They then go into the room without contacting Ratchet or Ironhide first even though they know the Autobots can't see in there. And considering their desperate hunt for their friends they show no interest in the two partially completed Sunstreaker decoys lying around the lab.

The Machination also make a schoolboy error by setting the traps to go off when intruders start fiddling with the office desk rather than, say, when they open the door out of office hours (there's a similar mistake in Ultra Magnus where the equipment to detect simulcrums is in the room where they can see everything they need.) Hopefully the next issue will come up for a rationale for a top secret secret organisation having a calling card (especially a blank one, which is especially pointless.) Yes, moving it seems to set off the gas, but is it really wise to let unwelcome visitors even see your logo?

Brasnyan General Todorf refuses to tell his aide Breski what he can see through his binoculars when Hot Rod transforms, even though they should be standing close enough for Breski to see the giant red robot unaided [extreme denial].

It might be worth noting here that Verity and Jimmy have been wearing the same clothes for about four days now. They must be beginning to stink a fair bit...

Issue Review

We appear to have an American F-22 Raptor, being shot at by some kind of rally vehicle. And a police patrol car, also American... under attack from a SPACE SHUTTLE?

Again Escalation continues to impress despite being dragged down by some excessive silliness in the Adventure Kids section (even if the above quote, however fab, shows up how daft the robots in disguise angle ultimately is.)

Optimus' cool detachment during battle shows him at his very best, whilst Prowl fraying a little at the edges during the fight (he makes a insane suicide run on Skywarp to try and capture Koska that would have killed him if not for Hardhead) makes a nice, and very subtle bit of characterisation, showing that whilst he may be cool under pressure when acting behind the scenes his strengths don't lie in all-out action.

The plot, however, is somewhat stationary. The Autobots ended last issue trying to capture the facsimile and are still chasing him at the end of this one, whilst Megatron spends the bulk of part 4 having a nap in the snow. The fact that Megatron's conversation with Blitzwing is repeated from last time and we're once again told why everyone's after the dodgy duplicate (which will make this very repetitive reading in the trade) doesn't help this.

However, snappy dialogue, good characterisation and some superb action keep things on track, and the fact we end with the promise of the first IDW Prime/Megatron smack down makes issue 5 eagerly anticipated.

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