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

Issue Review

Furman isn't shying away from human casualties — the corpse of the "salesman" from issues #1 and #0 turns up on page six, and it doesn't appear that he died pleasantly. Hopefully this means other characters (humans and Transformers alike) won't enjoy protected status... not because I've formed any kind of dislike for them, simply because to do so would evaporate the dramatic tension that's successfully been built.

The bulk of this issue is very visual and action-oriented, despite reassuring amounts of dialogue. I can't recall ever seeing such an involved road fight in a Transformers story, marking this as something of a first. Normally I'm not keen on extended fight scenes, but these do set up the Decepticons as far more dangerous and murderous than ever before.

Su has a very cinematic style in parts, comparing favourably to Bryan Hitch's manifesto for comics storytelling in widescreen. Thankfully it's not overused, but you can easily imagine these issues being used as the storyboards for a film — indeed, if the 2007 live-action movie is half this well-timed it'll be great. Particularly visual scenes are towards the end, as Ratchet evades Thundercracker's missile and the Autobots drive him off, followed by imposing transformations to robot modes. There's some great use of viewing angles.

Furman turns in some classic overblown narration at the beginning and end, making the final panel a doozy. The action sequences hadn't been grabbing me to anything like the extent this did — in a few words, the scale of the conflict the Autobots and Decepticons are engaged in expands to include "worlds aflame". There haven't been many such redefining moments in Transformers, the last one I recall being in the first issue of Generation 2 by Marvel US in which it was revealed a whole universe full of previously unknown second gen Decepticons existed and considered the characters we were familiar with relics. Here, we learn that the Autobots have failed to stop Decepticon infiltrations of other planets, which significantly raises the stakes. Here's hoping this line of thought will be run with — it certainly made me re-read the issue a few times to enjoy the build-up.

Extras in this issue are another couple of pages of inked lineart from the following issues, some more preview pages for Beast Wars #1 and a couple of pages of letters. This plus the end-of-issue cliffhangers help to round out the comic as a monthly event; though I can see Infiltration working well as a trade paperback storyline, it's also working in installments for me, with the other material extending the read and giving fuel for speculation.

The only criticism I'd make is that someone typo'd "siege" as "seige" on the last page of story — there was a similar transposition ("orignial") on the inside back cover of the previous issue. Does the software used for composition not have a spellchecker? Still, if that's the extent of things annoying me, things are good...

I ordered an extra copy for this installment, as I've been collecting Raiz covers to date but the Prowl one by Wildman offers a homage to Marvel UK comics in the form of a dialogue balloon. It's always good to see covers made more relevant to the story inside.

Character Development

Runabout isn't too smart, falling for Ratchet's holo-avatar feedback trick. Both of the battlechargers enjoy their destructive (and probably lethal) rampage through traffic.

Verity looks absolutely petrified as they flee the garage. Although Ratchet shields the humans from the worst of the Decepticon attacks, this gives her time to realise that it's her fault they're being hunted down.

Ratchet is surprised and concerned by the Decepticons breaking cover, realising that this means the situation is far more serious than he'd imagined. It's unlikely he would have drawn them through busy traffic had he considered that they would give chase without regard to human life and discovery.

Starscream is, expectedly, scheming. The other Decepticons seem to be loyal and deferential towards him.

Building on his overweening self-confidence from last issue, Jimmy seems to fancy himself a wordsmith — and possibly Verity. When he gets out to talk her down, Hunter is left in the cab rolling eyes and miming putting a finger to the back of his throat.

Hunter is the first to bother asking Ratchet's name, which the medic appreciates.

Prowl and the other Autobots are not impressed by Ratchet's actions, going so far as to raise weapons at the deserter. However, Prowl seems shocked and even fearful when Ratchet mentions "siege mode".

Other Details

Ratchet refers to his "holo-matter generators" to explain how the Arnie-lookalike projection is sometimes insubstantial (the concrete blocks fall through it) yet able to interact with objects. It's unlikely the projection is capable of exerting much pressure on things, however.

Both the Decepticons and Ratchet conceal weapons inside limb compartments, in a manner reminiscent of the 1987 film Robocop. All of the Transformers seem to possess quite considerable arsenals usable in vehicle modes. Additionally, Ratchet has concealed rocket thrusters that allow him short bursts of extra speed, plus a clinging smokescreen. One or two people have commented that this gives a character equipment that was previously seen as another character's signature ability (in this case the appropriately named Smokescreen.) Realistically though, members of each faction would be kitted out with any technology that might prove to their survival advantage, where such technology could be duplicated.

Quotes of Note

Ratchet: "[ Around me, triphammer hearts work overtime as blood drains from surface capillaries. Throats parch, muscles spasm and lock. Exposed to the harsh reality that shapes and defines my life, even the most open human mind takes shocked, stuttering refuge. ]"

Verity: "No disintegrator ray?! What kind of aliendeathwarmachine are you?"

Prowl: "Ratchet. You face seven counts of misconduct, gross dereliction of duty and disobeying a direct order from a senior officer... plus sundry violations of sections six, eleven, fifteen, and twenty-two of the Autobot code of interplanetary conflict. Anything you'd like to say?"

Ratchet: "[ On the human's computer, an image. Redolent of bitter failure and nightmarish consequences, of bodycounts and worlds aflame. Things... fall apart. ]"

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