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Transformers Spotlight: Shockwave
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek

Issue Review

I wasn't really looking forward to this one. Whilst I know it makes sense for Spotlight to kick off with well known characters the thoughts of the hugely overexposed Shockwave and Grimlock getting more screen time failed to excite me. As did the fact that the whole story is little more than a remake of a perfectly good comic I already have. Frankly I was just waiting for the Nightbeat one to get all my praise.

I was wrong in almost every way. There's nothing new or shocking here, Shockers' and Grim's behaviour will only surprise those who haven't read a Transformers comic before, but as a rollicking action issue that serves to re-establish these characters in this continuity it's very hard to beat. The subtle way it plays off plot points already set in motion and sets up future ones is fantastic, and it was only when preparing this review I realised exactly how much foreshadowing is slipped under the radar. Another plus point is the art; Roche infuses every panel with personality and does an amazing job (more please!) All in all, one of the best things IDW have done to date.


Shockwave's concerns over the future of Cybertron were shown to be valid in the Stormbringer miniseries. Similarly, the Energon that Shockwave seeds on Earth herein will go on to be uncovered by Starscream in Infiltration.

The main plot is a reworking and expansion of the fight (between the same combatants in the Savage Land) seen in flashback in issue 7 of the Marvel US comic. The idea of prehistoric Earth being seeded with Energon, the partly organic alt modes to prevent Energon build up, and the notion of Stasis Lock all originated in the Beast Wars television show. The name Dynobots, their Cybertronian modes — and indeed the very notion of Shockwave being behind everything — were part of Dreamwave continuity. In other words, there's a lot sourced from other places here.

Shockwave refers to the Predacons as one of Megatron's tactical assault units, a role they still seem to be filling in Stormbringer.

During battle the Dynobots communicate by internal radio, which Shockwave can tune into [most likely this is normally done in code, but here they don't give a toss if Shockwave listens or not.] This is something we very rarely see in other Transformer fights, so it may well be a Dynobot thing.

This is the first IDW comic to confirm that the War has been going on for at least a few million years, with Megatron in command of the Decepticons for the bulk of that time.

At the moment Shockwave's full plan for the super Energon isn't entirely clear, but it no doubt involves a coup of some sort.

Shockwave states that after stabilising the Energon will become inert, explaining why the Transformers in Infiltration don't need the organic covering (no doubt they've developed better shielding as well.)

For the first time since... ohhhh, his original stint as Autobot leader in the Marvel comic, Grimlock manages to get through an entire issue speaking completely normally. Though if I were a betting man I'd put good money on the fight here doing permanent damage to his vocal circuits.

By the end of the issue the majority of the organic covering has been burnt/shot/ripped off the Dynobots — thus leaving them in their "classic" G1 look for their next appearance.

Irish artist Nick Roche has previously done covers for Infitration and the British DVD releases of Masterforce and Victory, not to mention the well-received Transmasters UK fan comic A Rage In Hell. This is his first interior work on a Transformers comic.


Shockwave's seeding of Earth with large amounts of super energon does rather raise the question of why humanity has never found or been able to exploit this amazing fuel source (in Beast Wars the Energon placed here by the Vok is destroyed by them long before we start strip mining places.) Of course, the same applies to the naturally-occurring energon in (duh) Energon.

It's deeply illogical of Shockwave to assume that there wouldn't be some sort of booby trap stopping just anyone stealing it.

Despite what Jurassic Park teaches us, the odds of finding any DNA on dinosaur fossils are very low indeed.

A minor shame is the time scale established here (after being implied in Stormbringer). One of the best things about Infiltration was the loss of the four million years the Autobots spent asleep in the Ark. The idea of a war going on that long without someone wining is idiotic, as is the relatively small changes in status quo. Unfortunately this issue not only makes it clear this is a very long running war, but showing that Megatron's been Decepticon leader for that long without actually achieving much does rather undo the new sense of menace Infiltration gave him.

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