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


Ahhh, the many deaths of Optimus Prime. Prime surviving by putting his mind elsewhere is similar to what happened in Marvel US #24 Afterdeath, though there it was an ordinary floppy disc he put his mind into. Though it's slightly hard to say due to most of his "deaths" not being anything of the sort (as here), this is probably the shortest time he's ever spent "declared" dead.

Prime, wisely, has practised this before, though not over such a distance or under combat conditions. Megatron presumably doesn't know Optimus is capable of this.

We have confirmation that Megatron can't do anything without help in gun mode. He seems to be about to use his ol' antimatter eyes at one point before Prime blasts him.

Prowl and Hot Rod are the same rank, but on Earth the local commander has seniority.

The floating head in transitional space is as yet unexplained (though he does have a strong Big Convoy/Nemesis Prime look to him). Furman has said he's planning to avoid using Unicron, but that doesn't rule out this being Primus.

Prime learnt that Super Energon can be countered (burnt out) by strong concentrated firepower at close range in Stormbringer. This is much more of a leap of faith than Prime lets on, though, Thunderwing took a lot more concentrated fire from a far larger army over a longer period of time. Megatron's lack of a Pretender shell probably hinders him in this regard.

When a facsimile dies they turn into green goo. This is a long standing SF staple, the two most obvious influences being the infiltrating aliens of The Invaders and the alien/human hybrids of The X-Files. Considering he's (unbeknownst to himself) a brainwashed double-agent one has to wonder if Nightbeat killed Koska, as well as damaging Hot Rod enough to ensure he won't talk for a while (though if that were the case killing Hot Rod outright would have been the obvious choice).

Skywatch captured Ravage and Laserbeak in the Soundwave spotlight (which was Joshua Red's debut). Presumably they're going to be used to track the Transformers to their various bases and have had their brain modules tampered with in some way to make them more servile. The fact the attack on Brasnya is the first they've heard of the planets new arrivals is firm confirmation they're not associated with the Machination at all.

Astrotrain is shocked at the thought of bringing Sixshot to Earth. Presumably the Decepticons would normally strip the planet of energy before having him toast it. Muma Obscura and the Reapers first appeared in Sixshot's Spotlight.

Oddly enough both Hot Rod and Megatron reference the *ahem*popular*ahem* British reality show I'm a Celebrity- Get Me Out of Here! when calling on someone to, well, get them out of there.

The Giant Head running the Machination is almost certainly Scorponok and the Sunstreaker doubles being used to replicate the Headmaster process.

As usual the first five pages were previewed online. Events will continue later this year in Devastation after IDW spend the Summer concentrating on the Live Action Transformers Movie...


So, doesn't Megatron notice the giant robot sneaking up behind him? Was Optimus on tiptoes? I bet he's regretting that choice of alt mode now as well. Even without knowing Prime's special skill you think he'd kill the Autobot leader a bit more definitely as well... Prime doesn't have to spend more than a few minutes out of his body before he can re-occupy it. If Megs had ripped his head off it would have gone very differently.

Why are Ironhide and Ratchet going through the elaborate process of cutting through the floor thing rather than Ironhide just carrying them out of the building, which he could easily do in less time? If they're too heavy for him to carry, Ratchet could send his simulcrum down as well. And why does Ironhide need to be so much closer to the shop than Ratchet when the medic is parked right over our human heroes?

The Decepticon cloning technology really is a bit rubbish if the facsimiles turn to green goo when they die. Even if you assume that the Decepticons replace them quickly when they die asleep in bed, what if one gets hit by a car or has a heart attack in McDonalds?

Skywatch, a top secret Government agency dedicated to tracking aliens with a vested interest in the Transformers, doesn't hear about the Brasnyan incident until after it happens from a spy in the country. Don't they have people watching satellite recordings like prowl was a few issues ago? Aren't they hacked into all the main government mainframes and monitoring military communications for just such a thing? It's not as if Russia going to war is a small obscure thing they might have overlooked. No wonder Skywatch is so dependent on the cassettes to do their work for them.

Sixshot is completely grey on the last page.

Not a goof as such, but does anyone else find the idea of a army of Sunstreaker hilarious? Obviously the Machination's new order will involve a lot of personal preening and saying how great you are all the time. [Probably more battle suits than traditional Headmasters. -Ed]

Quote Unquote

Megatron: Hear me Autobots! Optimus Prime is dead! The final battle in this long and bitter struggle belongs to Megatron! Kneel before me or share his fate!

Hardhead: Kneel my a- [very Joss Whedon that]

Prowl [being the first person to state the bleeding obvious in twenty years] : Seems Megatron's got no real long-range weaponry at his disposal and no way to access his alt-mode without someone to hold him.

Prowl: And if Starscream and his little infiltration unit have ironed out that little [Ore-13] quirk?
Optimus: Then we're as good as dead.

Optimus has his Arnie moment: Megatron... BURN!

Ratchet: Sunstreaker, Ironhide, who's next? And still we have no idea who's behind all this!

Issue Review

I did not invite debate. Let there be Devastation!

One of Simon Furman's big weaknesses as a writer is that the conclusions to his arcs often fall apart after a strong start. Thankfully this isn't quiet the case here, things aren't as good as the previous few issues but generally this is good stuff.

The nicest thing is the subtle differentiation between Optimus and Megatron's attitudes. The Decepticon goes in guns blazing and without thinking things through (the useless alt-mode could even be seen as an acceptable extension of this flaw if it weren't so insanely stupid), but Prime takes time to think things through, plans them out in advance (such as his mind transfer) and has taken the time to study Ore-13 properly.

We also get a fun Megatron/Autobots battle, an intriguing turn in the Skywatch saga and some nice mystery over Nightbeat's motivation.

The flaws include Megatron descending into full comedy stooge mode (he goes from certain victory to utter defeat in less than 22 pages, a record even for him), the plotline with the humans having trod water for two issues now and the fact that it's the lead characters of the weakest of the initial Spotlights that seem set to play the biggest part in future events (did anyone want to see the Reapers again?)

Still, a good solid conclusion that sets things up well for the next phase.

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