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Transformers #21
Reviewed by Blackjack

Issue Review: Orphans of the Helix

And although old wounds had not fully closed...
This is what I hate about Mike Costa, you know? You keep complaining about him, then he gives us a string of three well-written issues, which makes me almost want to forget his previous dire works. Almost. The fact is, this thing is probably going to end with a belly-flop if previous experience is any indication, but let’s not be pessimistic.

The issue is great, and for once, Mike Costa saves space by not having long-winded banal conversations. Looks like he’s learning, which is a good thing. Scenes that would’ve given Costa’s six-pages-of-dialogue a run, like Optimus meeting Hot Rod, or things like that, are reduced to wordless art with the recordings of another Autobots, written in an almost poetic form, telling what is happening. It’s much more effective. And Guido Guidi’s art continues to impress, again a large departure from his work in AHM or International Incident. I especially like the background scenes like Ultra Magnus scowling at Hot Rod, or Mirage and Cliffjumper forgiving Sunstreaker. Hot Rod’s maturity is well-executed, although previous issues of the ongoing were kind of screwed about it. Ironhide’s return is handled pretty well, too, with Bumblebee telling the others not to bother Ironhide a realistic move.

The Autobots wanting to go to Cybertron seems a bit rushed, and awkward for those who had read Stormbringer. If it’s more of ‘we have to kill Galvatron’ rather than ‘we have something to fight for’, it would have been much more effective, since a great deal was made in the ongoing that Earth was what Optimus Prime was fighting for. Although I’m being kind and I’m saying that it’s because of the humans trying to kill Optimus’ Autobots and he’s just saying ‘**** humanity, I’mma gonna rebuilt me planet’. Poor Bumblebee’s puppet leadership is also addressed here at last, since really, everybody could see that with Optimus still around Bumblebee’s leadership is a joke to even read. All in all, a nice read and a nice prologue… not that it would say anything about the subsequent issues.

Issue Review: Police Action

"Where are you headed?"
The backup story is about Prowl, which, in my opinion, is Mike Costa trying to fix the damage he’s caused by writing Prowl as a human-loving hippie in his Spotlight issue. Here Prowl is back to his manipulative, secretive basis, which is great. I’m not sure if James Robert’s arrival to help out in the Chaos arc is the influence for Costa dropping the cartoon Prowl angle, but it’s a huge leap of improvement. Although that scene where he tries to pull the good cop routine on Megatron is a little irksome… thank goodness that both drop the act in two frames. The way Prowl wants to play Bumblebee along whilst respecting his leadership, and watching on Spike… well, I hate Spike, if that isn’t obvious already. And I’m disappointed that Prowl’s return into a manipulator would certer mostly on Spike Witwicky. Thundercracker still thinks he’s Wolverine, which is fine… much better than being used as a generic nobody like poor Skywarp in the Bumblebee miniseries anyway.


The issue is split into two stories, 'Orphans of the Helix', and 'Police Action'. The cover has 'CHAOS begins here!', and the comic switches into two issues per month in anticipation of the so-called grand event. According to Mike Costa, even-numbered issues starting from #24 will focus on the Cybertron-bound cast, while odd-numbered issues will focus on the Earthbound cast.

'Orphans of the Helix' is a science fiction short story by Dan Simmons.

While Hot Rod has been calling himself 'Rodimus' ever since Swindle dubbed him Rodimus Prime during his little rebellion (and resulting in goofs that people that haven't met him before knowing that it's his new name somehow), this issue Optimus Prime officially christens Hot Rod into Rodimus.

Continuity references galore! The Autobots still remember Rodimus' rebellion in the first six issues of the ongoing. Beachcomber, being one of the few who tried to support Hot Rod before, was the first to show Optimus Prime to Rodimus. Mirage and Cliffjumper (a pair any G1 fan would know to be usually portrayed as a red herring traitor and a traitor-hunter), who were aware of Sunstreaker's betrayal in All Hail Megatron, approached him anyway, showing that all is forgiven. Note that Mirage still hasn't had a new Autobrand after the events of AHM, although this might be an insignia-placing error like the many we had below. Bumblebee was crippled in issue #16, and Pennington in #14. Megatron was captured in #18, and Thundercraker has been with the Autobots since the Korea incident.

Omega Supreme’s rocket mode being a separate module from his base mode is finally recognized (unlike in AHM), and Optimus’ group takes the rocket while the base and the tank modules stay on Earth with Bumblebee.

For once, Blurr is drawn with the same design as his last appearance, namely his Don-designed body.

Bluestreak/Silverstreak is still not named, haven’t been for quite some time. It has come to my attention that Hasbro has re-obtained the ‘Bluestreak’ trademark, so all the guys in IDW must be feeling quite silly right now. For intents and purposes I’m referring to the character as Bluestreak in here.


In the second story, Thundercracker goes from his F22/F15 hybrid design back into his F15 design. Maybe he has spare wings stuck somewhere?

Speaking about Thundercracker, Bumblebee puts the time between #18 and #21 as six weeks. Since Thundercracker seems to be in a hurry to get out of the Autobot base,

On the fourth page, you might be forgiven to think that the Autobot in front of Jetfire is Drift, but it is really a miscoloured Tracks (the two have rather similar heads, no?). A properly-drawn Drift would appear later in the issue, and the contrast becomes clearer.

On all of his appearances, Hot Spot is constantly coloured white.

On page 5 of the first story, Ironhide has an Autobot insignia on his shoulder even though all previous issues have consistently drawn him without. And indeed, all subsequent frames up until when they get ready to take off, Ironhide remains insignia-less.

On page five, Cliffjumper and Sunstreaker both are missing Autobrands as well.

Wheelie has constantly been drawn with a tattered Autobrand, but since Guido doesn't draw Autobrands in his art, he alternates between having no Autobrand and a full one.

On pages 7, 10 and 14, Optimus Prime's Autobot insignia goes AWOL as well. On page 10 Sideswipe's insignia also disappears.

Joining the swath of missing Autobrands, Bumblebee's disappear on pages 2, 10 and 14. There are probably quite a few others, but I can't be arsed to hunt for more errors.

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