STARSCREAM UNDER FIRE! The all-new, all-redesigned, all-leader-of-the-planet STARSCREAM makes his move! Will he stand up for CYBERTRON, or fall under SHOCKWAVE’s onslaught? Meanwhile—the Lost Light receives a desperate call from help from an old friend!
His fabulous, sassy move
PREVIOUSLY, in the reviews: People in the Dead Universe, people on Cybertron, people on the Lost Light! Orion Pax, Starscream, Ultra Magnus! Got it? Got it! (!) But, on the other hand, the Roll Call page has shifted, and that's a nifty little placeholder, actually, giving a sense of the different scenes and their cast.
Dead people in the universe?
John Barber and James Roberts keep weaving the tale of this previously unknown prophecy telling of the advent of a Dark Cybertron, with cyclopses, titans, comets and the such. So it all makes sense. Or does it? I'm not sure how far I can buy into a long-standing legend that has never really been heard of before, though.
I like what they're doing with Rattrap, even the very explicit reveals about his character or potential ulterior motives. What I also like is the Magnus-driven plot aboard the Lost Light, pointing to a different use of his character, now that all the layers have been sliced off. And Brainstorm is still great.
The plot is actually unexpected at this point, I was not anticipating the Necrotitan's involvement so soon, nor was I expecting its aftermath so quickly. I am extremely intrigued by what on earth is Shockwave planning, that's for sure. Will we ever know?
I feel a lot better about the artwork in this issue, even if it is the same two artists: James Raiz for Lost Light Scenes, Atilio Rojo for Cybertron scenes. The latter's linework looks much better, inexplicably, since last week's issue, and there are some brilliant shots of some (sigh) 'old friends'. Raiz really works well with Magnus and Brainstorm, and the inks don't look as dark as previously, though it can get a bit cluttered at times.
Where we're going, we don't need no chairs
I was going to say something about the colours and how they work with the lines but HOLY HOTPANTS BATMAN. Josh Perez takes splash and spreads to new levels, and you'll see what I mean when you read it! The colours are good all over, but those scenes are ridiculously good. Tom B. Long is equally impressive in his lettering, and never gets in the way unless needed. But when he is, he adds some great personality to the noises and sounds.
Wait for it...
As I said, the two different styles work a lot better for me in this issue, for some reason. Maybe it's the script transition, maybe it's the colours, maybe it's the tone getting darker, but whatever it is, it works. Make sure to check out Nick Roche's cover B for some added goodness, too.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
It's getting there, oh is it getting there. We're finally clocking into what might be happening, we get some good action out of it, the characters are being set.. and yet, it feels like we're going back to previous Barber-isms. We'll have to see how it all plays out, but I am not impressed or surprised at the final pages, nor at the big event of the issue. Hm. I like it, but I'm annoyed at it, too.
Well put, Arcee
The art seems to blend better for me, and Perez' work on the two styles definitely contributes to that. I'm glad we only have two artists this time round, and I'd rather this were the case from here on. I have a feeling this issue will only pass readers' judgement once we see how the aftermath evolves.
THE DEAD UNIVERSE! ORION PAX—the ’bot who was once OPTIMUS PRIME—joins RODIMUS and the crew of the Lost Light in a desperate bid to outmaneuver SHOCKWAVE—by returning to the legendary Dead Universe! Meanwhile, BUMBLEBEE faces down the biggest—literally biggest—threat he’s ever seen on CYBERTRON!
After the setting up and minor reveals in DC#1, it's time to get things going. But first - We get another brief 'Previously' page, which while nice (and bit melodramatic), did not feel as necessary this time round. We'll see if it becomes customary, and if it overstays its welcome in the next issues. The Roll Call page was nice, on the other hand, even if just to convey a sense of the cast, and its major players.
Drama! Excitement! Exclamation marks!
While Bumblebee/Goldbugfire and the Auto/Dinobots stand around on Cybertron not doing much, Orion Pax and his crew now aboard the Lost Light concoct their plan to approach the Dead Universe, to which we've been introduced for so long now it feels like that relative you always dread at family reunions - though Brainstorm seems fascinated by it.
Unsurprisingly, to be fair
It seems as though the dialogue has picked up again, and it may or may not be more of Roberts' words than Barber's this time round. But it does feel welcome. The two writers manage to approach the characters of Orion and Starscream in a good, more nuanced way, giving us a better look at what might be happening below the surface.
..that also works
It is gaining some momentum, and we're developing a much better sense of what is at stake and what may happen, with the focus shifting to other characters than the ones we're all execting (though I worry about falling back onto the same ones eventually) - but I feel it'll work a lot better in TPB format than as a single issue.
Now, the artwork. I'm having some trouble making my mind up about this. I welcome the introduction of new names into the franchise, and it's good to see variation between different styles. But having three artists (Raiz, Rojo and Ramondelli) with very different styles in the same story does not convince me as much. They all do an impressive job, though Rojo's faces can seem a little off in proportion, but I feel as though Raiz and Rojo could've been swapped, with the latter on the Lost Light and the former, darker style, on Cybertron.
Though that is a gloriously dark Starscream
The colours, however, are Perez' usual goodness. They play really well with the sources of light and shadows in the panels, and the two different art-styles, without jarring with Raiz' darker or Rojo's lighter lines. Ramondelli, as usual, colours his own art, and does an equally good job in terms of tone and mood setting. The new letterer, Gilberto Lazcano, is intriguingly light-touched, and I would like to see more from him in the future.
Red meets orange, in dim light
The three styles work by themselves, with some shining moments for each, but I have a hard time deciding whether I like their juxtaposition or not. I have nothing to complain about the colours, and even though I chose not to show any Ramondelli images in the review, his work is good and definitely well suited to the tone of that part of the story. The cover by EJ Su is also excellent!
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
The story seems to be gaining its ground, and seeding some future plot elements nicely. It still reads as a bit jumbled though, even if just because of the sheer scale of the cast and settings for the action to take place. I'm fully confident, though, that by next month, once this and RID have had a chance to settle, we'll be back to the usual, expected greatness.
There's a prophecy with PUNS!
The confusion is not entirely helped out by having so many artists work on different parts; even if it does make clear where we are, the styles don't always work with the tone. The colours, on the other hand, always suit the style. I am curious to see what will happen as this goes on, and if it is to be the new standard to differentiate settings.
SOUNDWAVES! The origin of SOUNDWAVE concludes as the master of sound confronts SHOCKWAVE in the ruins of Cybertron! Will they be friend—or foe? Will the DECEPTICONS stand with SHOCKWAVE—or will they join the AUTOBOTS? It’s the moment of ultimate choice.
Er.. a hint?
Almost there. This issue finally marks the end of the long-winded, at times dragged out, pulled along, kicking and screaming prelude to the big event - Dark Cybertron. John Barber takes his time a little longer to give us more of a look at two (well, several) of the key players.
A big happy family, really
Continuing almost seamlessly and effortlessly from last month's story, issue 22 dives right back into Soundwave's story, weaving together his past with his present, his rise in Megatron's crew and his now questioning of Shockwave, whom we come to realise he never actually trusted all that much.
The early years
It's not just talk, as a lot of action takes place between the different characters, with some excellent fight scenes between Shockwave and Soundwave and their respective minions. But the real pulp of the story is Soundwave's own development. Barber has really pulled out all the writing pens on this one, just as Roberts did with Shockwave.
Yep, he's making it up
In a highly personally enjoyable Memento-with-literary-moments story, one of the most inconic characters in the franchise has finally been given a good, meaty backstory that you can sink your teeth in, revealing a whole new side to him. Top notch, I say.
As with the previous one, Andrew Griffith and Livio Ramondelli alternate art duties, with the former focusing on the present and the latter working on flashbacks from the past. Some readers have complained about the stark contrast, but personally I adored the transitions, and how the script linked them.
Or you know, a couple of months
Colour duties fall again to Priscilla Tramontano for Griffith's linework, and boy does she keep on giving. Especially compared to Ramondelli's smokey work (though still fantastic) for the flashbacks, Tramontano's work in the present is crisp, glossy and pleasure to look at.
LOOK AT IT
Shawn Lee's lettering is still impressing me, and the first image of this review shows just what a good letterer can do to a script, to make it look even better. A shout out also goes to Casey W. Coller, who provides the art for cover B, assisted on colours by Joana Lafuente.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
Barber knows how to play with continuity, and it's nice to see a two-parter story with some sort of closure, even if it is moving backwards through time. We see an early Soundwave and his real powers, we see the real importance of Ravage and the bird-cassettes, we get so much good stuff in here it's unbelievable.
All together now!
A lot of people still complain about the art, but I adore it. Griffith, Ramondelli and Tramontano do a terrific job, and the lettering works really well. I'm really looking forward to Dark Cybertron next month, and these past two issues have definitely set it up even more for me.
AND ONE SHALL RISE! Yep, a there’s a new Prime on the block (and the old one isn’t gone yet), and just in the nick of time too, as Cybertron shudders and reels under the dual assault of BLUDGEON and his WarWorld and a spitting mad GALVATRON. But is the advent of RODIMUS PRIME a boon for Cybertron or one more dark domino falling in the headlong rush to universal armageddon?
That's ..a good indication of it, yeah
So here we are, final issue of the second-to-last arc 'Destiny', Bludgeon's mighty plan to take down Cybertron's dwellers, concocted with Soundwave and the remaining Decepticons on the planet. They've all been fighting all along, now Hot Rod is back as Rodimus Prime, Grimlock is back as, well, Grimlock, and here's where it ends.
Unless... it never ends
Rodimus Prime became his proper self in ReGeneration One #0, revealing a glitch in the time-space continuum bound to destroy everything if not rectified. Though it seems here that his newly found power may have deeper ramifications, and the end of the series will truly be eventful.
Among the returning cast, Grimlock retakes his spotlight on the main stage, commanding the primal creatures from the planet's core, clearly due to the brief experience with Primus' possession. Furman seems keen on dragging every character introduced to far into the issues that remain - not that we're complaining!
There is a lot going on in here, though most of it is fighting, bashing, thumping, fighting and hinting at 'there is more'. And yes there definitely will be more, but for now, it's extremely enjoyable to see a Rodimus in action, Bludgeon's deluded speeches and a Grimlock worth of Furman's deepest desires.
The artwork duties are still taken on by Guido Guidi, at least on the pencil side of things. And whoah. There is so much going on in this issue, in terms of action and fight scenes, that it can be really hard to figure out what is going on - but it isn't, because it all looks so fluid, also thanks to Baskerville's inking work.
..as a coarsing river..
JP Bove is still at it with his rainbow of magic crayons, making everything look so crisp yet with that throwback feeling about it. Some of the action scene renderings in colour are just stupidly amazing, with motion blur added to the already highly dynamic linework.
The lettering doesn't get in the way of the artwork, but does complement it nicely - Shawn Lee really has stepped up quite a few notches in his work since the beginning, and it's a pleasure to see him working on Furman's effects so.. effectively. As always, the artistic team are a bundle of pretty pretty joy. (And the covers are worth a look at too! Wildman and Cardy and Senior and Burcham keep doing some magnificent work.)
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
Furman has a lot of fun playing with two of his favourite characters, and his baroque prose in Bludgeon's speeches just shines through. There isn't too much in terms of story or depth in this particular issue, but it does give a satisfying end to the arc, whetting our appetites for more.
It'll be so epic, even the explosions go DOOM
Artistically, it's hard not to adore what Guidi, Baskerville, Bove and Lee have been able to do in this final issue of the penultimate arc. The sense of frenzy, hectic buildup to climactic scenes and the confrontation between Rodimus and Bludgeon are the perfect sauce for Furman's (vast) eloquent (predatory) script.
MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE: THE MOVIE! When the Autobots set off on their mission to find the Knights of Cybertron, RODIMUS gave REWIND a simple instruction: film everything. The result is a documentary that will forever change your perception of life on board the Lost Light. Discover RUNG’s secret! Meet the greatest Autobot of all time! And learn what SKIDS really got up to on Hedonia!
Remember him? Remember?!
We were told by the solicits and various interviews with James Roberts that this would be a breather issue, an actual 'filler' comic (for those of you who love throwing the word about), and it definitely does do that. But it does a little more too, both in terms of looking back, fleshing out and dropping some hints at what Dark Cybertron might bring.
JUST OPEN THE DAMN BRIEFCASE
Roberts has plenty of time and space in this issue to work his humour and dialogue, without falling into the tonal discordances that occur during big emotional moments or fight scenes. Setting the story mostly during downtimes allows him to just play around with characters and episodes we've seen so far. And the individual panels format really brings out the more idiosyncratic lines by the Lost Light crew.
But, as I said, there's a little more to that. We're introduced to an (apparently) even more advanced and belligerous mechanical civilisation, the Ammonites and the Terradores, which seem to be multiple combiners of adorable little minicon-sized robots. Or are they? Are they hiding anything? Is there.. more than meets the eye?
Yep, we'll definitely see ultra-biners
The issue overall is definitely a recap and a pause, but there are two moments that make it fit even better in the path to Dark Cybertron. The Thunderclash episode and the Hedonia expanded story were actually blended together fairly well, while still having the 'these are just two things that happened' feeling about them. And find out Rung's altmode.
As mentioned, teased and prodded at for quite a while now, this issue marks the return of James Raiz on artwork duties, and it's definitely different from Milne or Roche's approach. Raiz has a darker, heavier touch to his lines, while still not losing in details. Some readers will complain, but I personally like the different style.
So was I, Cyclonus, so was I
Josh Burcham works quite nicely with Raiz's darker style, bringing a light touch and a touch of light to the heavier lines in the pencils and inks. He works particularly well with the different camera perspectives, shifting tones slightly for the Rewind vs Lost Light security camera shots.
Red Alert's presence/paranoia is *everywhere*
The lettering doesn't have to do too much in the issue, but Tom B. Long still has some nice moments, in the style I've come to expect from him. All in all, I like the different texture of the artistic side of the issue, and don't think it detracts anything from the story or its details.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
As I mentioned above, we get to delve a little into the life of some of the major cast members of the Lost Light, expanding on some episodes, almost answering a couple of questions and preparing the stage even if very briefly, for what is ahead. And Rung's altmode. And be prepared for some really, really silly humour.
The art might not appeal to all readers used to the Milne or Roche approaches, but I would still suggest considering it as how Rewind sees the world through his camera - Raiz does a great job in picking up on the artistic qualities of the entire run, and reproduces them perfectly, in his own style.
A final comment, though, to this final issue of what Roberts calls Season 1 of MTMTE. I can't shake off the feeling that this and the prose extract from #21 could have somehow been shrunk together, allowing for some more light on the Tyrest situation. In any case, it's a good issue, and one I think we'll need once we lose cast members (as Roberts has, as per usual, teased).
Seibertron.com member chuckdawg1999 has received and reviewed Transformers Generations Deluxe Thundercracker. The figure is a repaint of Fall of Cybertron Deluxe Starscream and comes packed with a copy of Transformers Spotlight: Thundercracker from IDW Publishing. Check out his review below.
chuckdawg1999 wrote:OK I admit it, I'm a sucker for blue. Take that away and we have the stock FOC Seeker mold. Whether or not you like that mold will factor into your opinion of this figure. For my money it's a fun mold and worth a double, or possibly triple dip.
Thanks to YouTube reviewer Peaugh, we get a better look at the Platinum Edition Grimlock vs Bruticus pack! The two figures are the regular releases with different paint applications, Bruticus sporting a deco similar to the SDCC 2012 one, and closer to the Fall of Cybertron videogame, and Grimlock having metalized gold paint on his chest area. Check out the embedded video below!
THE BEAST WITHIN! After the Fall of CYBERTRON, GRIMLOCK and his DINOBOT allies are tasked with protecting the last remaining Cybertronians from the dangers of the demolished planet. But as time passes, GRIMLOCK grows more and more uneasy with the rage and power that he’s forced to hold back. Can the AUTOBOT leader learn to control his power or will the beast take over?
Hm. Let's take a guess
Last issue concluded the two-part story arc with cyber-vampires and robo-betrayals, written by Mairghread Scott. With this issue, writing duties pass on to Mike Johnson (though both plot the series and stories together), for another two-part arc, as stated at BotCon - with a bit of a tie-in in around issue 6.
Yep, that's the one
First impression on the writing, though, is not as happy as the previous two issues. The dialogue appears to be flat, somehow, and there's a lot of it when Swoop's involved, it seems. The exchanges between other characters further on in the story seem flatter, too, which really clashes with the story they're trying to tell.
Says so himself
The story is decent, dealing with the aftermath of previous issues, the previous Rage of the Dinobots series, references to the animated Prime series, and seeding for more to come, either next issue or further down the line. It will be interesting to see how the plot will fit in just two issues, as there are some pretty big (ha!) developments in this one, though not entirely surprising.
Oooh, what could it be?
Overall, not a bad plot, but the dialogue really detracts from its full enjoyment, in my opinion. It may be the case that reading it again once the next issue is out may enhance it again, but so far, a little disappointed.
Agustin Padilla is still on artwork, and I have to say, there are some moments where it feels a little rushed, which is a shame - when Padilla is good, he is really good. And you can see that when the big (ha!) revelations take place in the issue. Really good.
But I won't show you
The credit, though, also goes to colourist Priscilla Tramontano. Most of the story takes place underground, and playing with lights and darkness does not look easy, especially not with some of the wider shots. And, as usual, Tom B. Long on letters delivers, conveying the bestiality (cf. Monstrosity) of some of the characters when needed, and playing beautifully with soundwords.
A bit of a drop in consistency at times, but the artwork is good, with some real gems here and there. The darker tone of the first two issues has yet to be fully re-established, but the whole artistic team do a sterling job of getting it across with shots and shades.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
The dialogue seems to have dimmed a little, and the artwork feels strangely rushed in places, though the organic creatures in the story are beautifully crafted and coloured. I wasn't as blown away until I reached that section of the story, in all honesty, so give it a shot!
I spy, with my little eye...
I'm a little disappointed after being pleasantly surprised with the first two issues, though the story does seem to be working towards something really big (ha!). And the panel on the first page - hinting at something else to come, or past events we've seen? Next month might tell!
Maybe Univerze Like Wazzzpinator? (Spoiler free-ish)
THE DEATH OF A WORLD! Gorlam Prime—the entrance to the so-called DEAD UNIVERSE—holds many secrets… and now ORION PAX—the ’bot who was once OPTIMUS PRIME—pries its secrets loose. But will it be too late for CYBERTRON?
Guest starring: Waspinator!
We're back to looking at Orion Pax' quest after Jhiaxus and Bludgeon, as started in Syndromica. And we actually get a little more agency from the gruesome truesome, not not to mention a good look at what their plans are actually about. Sort of. But the issue features a small but good cast of old faces, bringing everything together so far.
The gang's all here
In the light of recent BotCon Beast Wars toy announcements, the presence of Waspinator is an interesting addition, and Barber manages quite successfully to give him his own idiosyncratic speech pattern without badly damaging the intelligibility or pace of the dialogue - not a small feat!
I felt like we finally get a connection with the 'Prelude' Spotlights and Annuals, too, linking the Metrotitan plot (and the first appearance of Waspinator and Bludgeon in the series) to the main storylines - though not taking it back to Cybertron, yet.
Because it is Waspinator after all
The use of Waspinator is a good one, as he's not just tragicomic relief, Orion Pax seems to have a vague idea of what is going on, there's a fairly nice battle scene, and we get to find out what might happen next. But the ending really bugs me. Not saying what it is, but I found it disappointing.
The artwork for this issue, deviating from the so far established Ramondelli-Orion Pax combo, is done by Dheeraj Verma, who also worked on the Fall of Cybertron comic. And I have to say, despite a lot of people being quite vocal against it, I really enjoyed it. Yes some characters look different, but that's the whole point of having different artists!
Look at Bludgeon, look at him!
The artwork really shines, though, thanks to the colouring work of Joana Lafuente. The whole issue has a great feel about it, keeping the familiar smokey tones and hues we've come to associate to the Orion Pax issues so far in Ramondelli's own colours - just clearer this time, and working perfectly with the linework.
And that scenic shot..!
The lettering by Chris Mowry is good as usual, and some of the soundwords are really excellently executed. One character in particular has a really good speechbubble, but I will not spoil it here. All in all, I really liked the artwork: it's new, it's different, it works. We'll see if Verma comes back later in the series, but I hope so, personally.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
Overall, the story holds together pretty well, as we get back to Orion Pax' personal mission chasing Jhiaxus/Bludgeon, and catching up with Wheelie, Garnak and Hardhead (and others). The addition of Waspinator is a nice touch, and the artwork is great, with some gorgeous backgrounds and colours.
Revelation: Megatron is a petty child
My problem with this issue? The ending. Again, I'm not going to spoil it for anyone, but I felt that the conclusion was disappointing after an otherwise enjoyable read, finally moving away from the usual status quo conflict. Do pick it up though, as it ties up nicely some loose ends, and it just looks beautiful - and it sets up the next step really well.
MEGATRON'S DESCENT! In the early days of the war on CYBERTRON, OPTIMUS PRIME puts everything on the line to unify the planet—but not everyone agrees that this new Prime should be in charge! Meanwhile, the fallen DECEPTICON leader, MEGATRON, begins a journey that will change everything. Plus—what is the terrible secret of the DINOBOTS?
In an unexpected, unless you read the solicits, twist, IDW have decided to release their digital-first series Monstrosity as a mini-series of four print issues, before issuing the paperback. The series picks up where Autocracy left, and features the same creative team at the helm: Metzen, Dille and Ramondelli.
As seems to be the norm by now in IDW Transformers, there are a number of plots running alongside each other in the same issue (which is, in fact, three digital releases): Megatron has been chucked onto Junkion by Scorponok, who now wants to be the big 'Con, Orion Pax Optimus Prime trying to assert his power as new 'Bot leader, and the Dynobots.. being the Dynobots.
Dai Atlas shows up, Scorponok is bad, Swindle is ..Swindle and there's quite the rounded cast to the whole set-up. Maybe a little too big, at times. There's a sense of wanting to include a lot material in a really short type of publication, and in some aspects, that can detract from the overall enjoyment.
Bulkhead's here too!
So far, I am not blown away by the story. Megatron sometimes borrows some elements (as I see it) from the live-action films, and that is not a value judgement, at all. But he is not particularly original, and I have a bad feeling he may become tiresomely 'tough-bad-guy'. We'll see.
In terms of art, we've all come to know Livio Ramondelli's work, and I think he has definitely improved his technique: where he used to shine particularly in wide shots and splash pages, he now packs a mean punch in terms of close-ups too! The monstrous aspect of some of the characters also works really well with his style.
And I mean close-ups
In terms of colours, it's Ramondelli working on his own, and yes, he does know how to colour. Quite nicely, too. And I am really really happy to see Tom B. Long on lettering here too! He works really well with the art style, and adds some really good soundwords to fight scenes.
So the art is pretty good, the colours are amazing, some of the wideshots are absolutely stunning, the lettering makes stuff really pop. Yes, artistically, this is a good issue. My minor pick is with smiles on some of the characters, that can look a little out of place at times, but it is a minor pick!
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
There you have it. Artistically, I have very few complaints, and it all looks brilliant. I do, however, have some issues with the story, especially in terms of Megatron's characterisation. I will be looking out for how his story develops from the next issue, and it will hopefully pick up again - there's so much interesting potential in the character.
Like, why does he adore cloaks?
All in all, this is an enjoyable if predictable issue, and I believe it has to live with its predecessor Autocracy and the two current ongoings - especially seeing as it comes out together with the highly well-received More Than Meets The Eye. It's worth a read, definitely, as there are some nice surprises going on in there, and I'm interested to see where they'll be taken.
. ½ out of
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