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Transformers: Movie Prequel #2 (of 4)
Reviewed by Denyer

Issue Review

If the first issue was Bumblebee's spotlight, this one is split about 50/50 between Megatron and what's been happening on Earth. It even manages to make you feel slightly sorry for the Decepticon tyrant, stuck deactivated and bukkake'd with hoarfrost in a wall of ice.

The issue chiefly focuses on providing rationale for things that I suspect will be glossed over in the film -- why Megatron is weakened enough to be deactived in the antarctic, how the humans have responded to having a mass of living advanced technology in their possession, and the initial movie teaser trailer. In particular, it's implied that Earth's government has been stripping Megatron for parts and technology -- something the movie will, if I remember the early script correctly, develop much further. It also takes a throwaway bit of new movie mythology (Bumblebee encountering the Mars Rover in the teaser most will have forgotten about) and makes it key to his first appearance on Earth in the comics -- the government agency have clearer information than the teaser suggested.

Ryall's also being careful with the history, referencing the 1902 Newlands Reclamation Act and paying attention to the great effort and travel time it took to move internationally a hundred years back. On the art side of things, Don continues to turn in convincing movement and refinements for the new designs, taking some cues from the large Megatron toy rather than many from the lanky and visually over-complicated CGI we've seen. The character does admittedly look pretty cool in Cybertronian jet form (and somewhat reminiscent of Cybertron Megatron's car front) but I doubt the robot will ever be to my taste.

It's the flashback art here that I really like, plenty of the 'bots in the battle scene having enough kibble to suggest they've got vehicle alt-modes rather than the 'meteor' space-faring mode we've seen on the protoform movie toys and on Bumblebee so far. This could be -- and I hope is -- a deliberate twist on old continuity origins that suggested Autobots developed transformation first, the Decepticons adapting to counter it. Certainly if the Autobots were fighting without alt-modes suited to war they'd be at a considerable disadvantage, and it makes it more feasible that a smaller group of Decepticons could wipe out a lot of resistance in initial strikes. There's also always been an element of back-and-forth escalation of capabilities shown in most Transformers wars.

Megatron comes across as very David Kaye-ish in dialogue and mannerisms, unable to believe that he's being beaten at the last gasp by simple physics and lack of knowledge. The arrogance and third-person referencing put the character across as more than the mindless horror the new form suggests, and it's certainly a Megatron if not the "retreat!"-yelling comedy imbecile of the original TV show or schizophrenic portrayals in the US and UK Marvel comics. In fact, if the studio is opposed to Welker for voicing the film, I hope they at least consider Kaye; what little Beast Wars I've seen suggests that he'd do it justice, and there'd be nice juxtaposition between that face and a cultured, mocking drawl.

Something else that interested me but could be barking up the wrong tree... Megatron has been maintaining contact with the Allspark throughout the pursuit, which might just be him sensing the energy readings it gives out, but could also imply it's self-aware in the same way the Autobot Matrix has traditionally been -- remember, last issue he stressed "it calls to me" and that isn't necessarily a metaphor. If so, there's a further comparison to be made to Thunderwing (hey, Megatron's also a Cybertronian jet...) or to Beast Wars Megs (merging with Cybertron's nexus in Beast Machines in an attempt to become omnipotent.) How grand and galactic his plans for the Allspark are if he gets it, though, remain to be seen.

We don't have other Transformers directly involved in this chapter, but Prime on Cybertron in flashback reminds me a lot of Big Convoy, all hulking shoulders and big gun, and certainly more substantial than the rather ape-like protoform toy. The other robot designs are still quite generic, but growing on me a bit in the couple of issues they've been around... and I don't suppose we'll see them for the movie itself anyway. I hope the movie or novels will delve a little into how come they're such natural shape-changers if those abilities aren't actively used on Cybertron -- unless, as speculated, offensive alt-modes are a recent innovation by the Decepticons and the Autobots have peacefully used their abilities for space travel up until now. Either way it'd be nice to have some more in-story development along these lines.

Most importantly, though: things so far make sense. With such a big property and writers working far in advance, there was always the possibility of movie tie-in fiction disappearing off in unrelated directions, and it's pleasing to see otherwise even if it means Hasbro are unwilling to allow more creative freedom with the Cybertronian modes.

The next issue preview page shows a modern street with a tank and an automobile that looks like Jazz, so it looks as though things will be moving on again fast. I haven't found this issue as exciting as the first, due to the need to move the story forwards, explain certain plot points of the movie and for backstory be told, but for a lot of readers (who haven't been following news online closely or have been trying their best to avoid spoilers) much of it will be new -- and with signs of more characters joining the action, we're in position for Transformers duking it out on Earth before the movie even begins.

Also: Bumblebee has to get knocked around further and end up in the shape of a 1970s Camaro in a used car lot for Sam to buy, so there's a story to be told there...

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