Monday, February 18, 2013

Transformers Comics Roundup!

I only go to my local comic shop once a month because I only read a few titles a month, mainly Transformers titles.  The titles on my pull list are: Transformers: RiD, Transformers:MTME, Transformers: Spotlight, Transformers: Regeneration One, X-Factor and Uncanny Avengers.  I'm known as "The Transformer Guy" at my LCS.  Today is the day that I picked up my books, and Transformers wise, I picked up MTME #13, Regeneration One #88, and Spotlight: Megatron.  Since I'm still waiting on the TFC Soundwave/Blaster VSE set, and taking pictures of every single Transformer I own is driving me mad, I figured I'd do some quick reviews on what I picked up today.

Now this was a fun little issue.  The issue opens with Swerve sending a communication back to Cybertron.  Blaster has repaired the long-range subspace network.  Swerve, though his normal behavior, is the first person to use the repaired network, so he's sending his first communique to his old buddy Blurr.  Swerve decides to relate the events of the preceding day when Rodimus sends Ultra Magnus, Swerve, Rung, Rewind, Tailgate, Skids, and, as a hanger on, Whirl and about a hundred others to the planet Hedonia for a little rest and relaxation.  Also along for the ride is Cyclonus.  Really, that's about it for plot, but this issue does something that James Roberts does so well - character development.

Throughout this issue, we find out tidbits about these characters that add a whole lot to their overall character.  Ultra Magnus, for example, has always been shown as something of a straight-laced, stick in the mud.  The 'bot doesn't even know the word "relax".  During the course of the issue, we find out that his avatar is Verity, Tyrest is to blame for Magnus' uptight ways, he likes music, he doesn't like being called "Mags".  And he can't handle his fuel.

There are other great little moments such as showing off the "Swerve Crew" and their avatars.  The avatar program was redesigned by Brainstorm and Rung to reflect the user's psyche.  Skids being a Dr. Who was a nice touch even though I'm not a fan of that series.  My favorite, though was Whirl's avatar - a little, pigtailed girl with an eye patch and two uzi machine guns.  The fact that her Autobot insignia also had an eye patch was great. 

The best moment was of the comic was the interaction between Tailgate and Cyclonus.  Both are older than the rest of the crew, having been around since the time of Nova Prime.  The entire scene between those two was great, as was the big reveal.

The work that James Roberts is doing on this comic is phenomenal.  His dialogue is spot on, witty, and incisive.  While there hasn't been a lot of development towards the final goal of finding the Knights of Cybertron, the character development makes this issue and series one of the most consistent and compelling Transformers comic out there and among the best comic series period.  Roberts is doing a great job developing and fleshing out what has always amounted to secondary or worse characters and making them whole, complete and fan favorite characters in their own right.  Seriously, who would've thought that I'd actually care about Swerve's back story, or even Tailgate's?

Next up is Spotlight: Megatron.  This issue takes place during the last time Megatron was reformatted, during the "Police Action" storyline, I believe.  Really, this story is nothing more than something to pack into the recently announced Generations Megatron figure.  Still, this issue was written and illustrated by the great Nick Roche.  Essentially Megatron gives a couple of speeches to his soldiers, lets us know what he really thinks of Shockwave and Soundwave, and beats the living tar out of Starscream, delivers another speech, and lets Starscream know his place and why he's still allowed to live.

As far as I know, this is Roche's second time completely writing and illustrating a Transformers comic, and he's done well both times.  The Spotlight series as a whole has always been a great way to focus on a character and let the audience know what makes that 'bot tick.  Which is why IDW named this series Spotlight.  I'm a smart guy.

Really, the main selling point to me was the Roche art. This is a man who should pencil more than covers. He's up there with Andrew Wildman and Don Figueroa in the pantheon of great TF artists.

My only letdown with this and the previous Spotlight is that I'm not sure that its going to eventually tie into any of the main series as Simon Furman's did. I'm sure I'm wrong, so lets hope I am.

Speaking of Simon Furman....

I picked up Regeneration One issue 88 with a mixture of hope and gloom. Would this be the issue that propels the story, finally, towards, frankly, something? Anything? Sadly, the answer to that is no.

This issue takes off where last issue started. Scorponok and his merry crew of Decepticon-ized Autobots have returned to Cybertron intent on altering every Autobot's CNA to make them Decepticons. Grimlock is in tow to help Scorponok just do he can repair his Dinobots. Now, let me just say that this has been done before. Grimlock going rogue to save his Dinobots has been done over and over. Dreamwave did it. He k, even Furman's done it. He did it to restore the Dinobots during his original Marvel run, and during the Maximum Dinobots miniseries. It's something of a trope at this point. Let's do something more original next time, yes?

As it's Autobot versus CNA altered Autobot on the surface of Cybertron, we're treated to a few cameos. Skyhammer! Overdrive and Punch get lines! I will say it's nice to see these cameos as even in the main IDW series, these guys get no love. Not even these cameos help this mess, however. The one neat thing that I'm hoping will be expounded upon is that Punch's CNA cannot be altered. Is this because he's a double agent and this immune? Maybe Furman will explain it, but I'm not holding my breath.

The focus then shifts to Soundwave and Bludgeon on the War World, which, if I remember correctly, wasn't even introduced into G2. And if I'm remembering correctly again, this series wasn't supposed to have any connections to G2. At any rate, Bludgeon has apparently had the War World since the end of the original run and he's been stealing tech from other planets to build drones so he can retake Cybertron. With Thunderwing's remains. Sound familiar?

Just in case anyone forgot, Hot Rod is journeying deep within the recesses of Cybertron to find the Primus chamber again. There, he runs into the ancient life that dwells underground who were last seen attacking Optimus Prime and Scorponok. He runs across some artifacts. I'm pretty sure that Furmam is telegraphing something about the Primus/Hot Rod connection here. I imagine that Primus will possess Hot Rod turning him into Rodimus Prime.  Who knows?  At the slow pace that this thing is crawling at, I'm beginning not to care.

Look, there are some good things about this comic and I didn't do this post just to slag the most prolific Transformers writer of all time.  There are some good ideas so far in this series, really there are.  I'm just frustrated by the pacing of the whole ordeal.  This is a very finite series, and if I remember correctly, it will end at issue 100, so that only leaves 12 issues left to resolve all of this.  Is Scorponok really the big bad?  Is it Bludgeon, or Galvatron?  What about Optimus Prime?  How does he fit into all of this?  Or the underground dwellers?  The effects of Nucleon on the others who were revived?  Did it just affect the Dinobots adversely?  Too many questions, and maybe not enough time.  Wildman's art, as always, is top notch.

I'm really hoping that Simon Furman can pull this off.  This is a series that I was super eager about when it was announced.  Maybe I'm spoiled by the original run, or the -tion series.  Perhaps the decompressed storytelling doesn't mesh well with a continuation of the old Marvel series.  I'm not sure.  I do know that I won't be abandoning this title just yet.

Well, that's it for my first comic review.  It seems as though my most in depth review was for a comic I didn't really care for.  I'll have to work on that.  How did I do?

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