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Transformers Spotlight: Soundwave
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek

Issue Review

Effectively a linking issue playing off themes from previous issues whilst setting up subsequent ones, Soundwave still manages to tell an entertaining if slight story.

Oddly enough we don't learn a great deal about Soundwave here, though it's always nice to see the more manipulative and opportunist side of him rather than the "Yes Sir, No Sir" cartoon version.

It does say a lot about the quality of the rest of IDW's recent output that something as entertaining as this is in the middle ground, but ultimately it'll be best enjoyed if you're deeply involved in the stories it feeds off.


This is a direct sequel to the first Spotlight issue, in which Shockwave seeds worlds with Super Energon before being buried in lava (on Earth) by the Dynobots. The flashback page of Megatron ordering Bludgeon to investigate directly recaps the end of that issue.

For Bludgeon and co. this takes place before Stormbringer (the abandoning of Cybertron having taken place between Shockwave's vanishing and 1984.) It seems it that even with the Ore 13 it still took over twenty years for the proto-Pretenders to restore Thunderwing.

"Skywatch" have just made their present day debut at the end of Escalation #5, taking over the evacuation of Shockwave's body (so full circle for them, really.)

The kid on the last page claiming he'll stick to his iPod is a jokey reference to the debate amongst both fans and the IDW staff over what alt-mode Soundwave should take now that tape players are defunct. Based on comments made by Furman made at the Auto Assembly UK convention they still hadn't decided what to do with the character's appearance in the run up to the start of Infiltration. In the end they found an excuse to keep him as was, probably due to him being one of the most iconic characters and there not being an easy fit for a modern day counterpart (it's easy to make Jazz a new Porsche, but an iPod doesn't really translate well into a Soundwave-esque robot mode or having minions.)

After all that his Cybertronian mode is kept very much in the shadows on the one page where we see it.

1984 was, of course, the year Transformers first debuted in the West. Oregon in general and Portland in particular was where the bulk of the Transformers adventures in the Marvel comic occurred - though in that case it was Mount St. Hilary rather than St. Helens that had the secret Transformers' base beneath it (the change is probably inspired by Helen's eruption in 1980. We'll assume this is meant to be a separate explosion rather than Furman fudging the date.)

According to Simon Furman: "A nano-klik is approximately one Earth second. A klik is about 1.2 Earth minutes. A cycle is about 1 hour 15 mins. A mega-cycle is about 93 hours. A deca-cycle is approx 3 weeks. A stellar-cycle is 7.5 months (there or thereabouts). A Meta-cycle is about 13 months."


The main events of Shockwave happened at least a couple of million years ago... even allowing for a bit of time for anyone to notice his disappearance, did Bludgeon really manage to stall Megatron for that long?

In Escalation Megatron's mass displacement causes a huge electrical storm when he Transforms that not only disrupts all local communication but is dangerous for other Transformers to be near. None of which seems to apply to Soundwave or his cassettes here. Also, Megatron is only able to achieve such shrinkage with the help of Ore 13, which Soundwave doesn't have access to here. [More robust and efficient, less ad hoc technology? Possibly it has to do with something like being built for it rather than later adapted. -Ed]

Soundwave's tape deck mode (and Laserbeak, to a greater degree) vary hugely in size throughout the issue, which is either an inconsistency or they can control the mass displacement.

Whilst vinyl still has a great deal of appeal to some people, it's hard to imagine anyone getting that excited by a tape player nowadays. [Maybe the guy's looking for a cheap way to record radio or a garage band? -Ed]

How did Soundwave get from the volcano down to the second hand shop? Did a Skywatch agent find him, completely miss the big purple badge he shares with the metal bird and take him down the pawn shop before leaving town? [Hitchhikers? Find a cassette recorder, keep it. Find a giant metal bird, call the police. -Ed] How did he survive a bloody big explosion happening on top of him unscathed? [Ah, you're on your own with that one... -Ed]

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