THE WAR BEGINS! The first strike in COMBINER WARS is against WINDBLADE’S homeworld—and she’s not happy about it! Her long- lost CYBERTRONIAN colony is found… and the only thing that can protect it is SUPERION.
And of course, Alpha Bravo
Last week's Opening Salvo to Combiner Wars highlighted the major players and stages for the IDW event to take place, but it's with the first issue of a returning Windblade series (reuniting its creative team, if briefly) that the refuse really hits the propeller. And you can blame Swindle again, of course.
..or can you?
Mairghread Scott, one half of the plotting team behind the event with John Barber, takes the writing duties as seriously and as cruelly as she can, with death death rampage, death, destruction, no gardening, a bit more destruction and, on a different side altogether, talks of religion, diplomacy, incorporation and assimilation, politics and cultural differences - and makes both sides work really really well, if sometimes a little disjointed due to two worlds almost literally clashing.
ALL THE BACK-UP
Swindle is still pretty glorious all the way through this issue too, though the spotlight goes to Windblade unsurprisingly, and her political, diplomatic (with an edge) skills as a Camien and a Cityspeaker - as opposed to the machinations of Starscream or war-like leadership of Optimus Prime. The interactions and moments that the three have are wonderful, and at times smirk-inducing, as a result.
And some dynamics never really die
What the issues offers, then, other than some mighty fine scenes of destruction and good old fashioned imperial foreign policy, is a glimpse into how different strands of continuities are addressed as belief systems, how ex-Cybertronian societies have evolved very differently from their original soil, and how all of that, right now, holds a trepidantly unexpected set of consequences.
Sarah Stone returns to interiors, too, and shows off some more lovely digital artwork, spreads, splashes, body language and physical/facial interactions corresponding and developing Scott's script ever so marvellously. Especially with the foregrounded characters, new Camien introductions and Starscream's undying quest for the perfectly suited chassis befitting his own ego.
So haaard to choooose..
We had seen Stone's amazing work on chases and landscape type panels, and we are now also treated to bigger scale creatures that are not hanging from rafters in repair workshops - and the interactions between the big brutes. Coupled with some trademark contrasting chromatic effects, highlighting key moments in fights and heated exchanges.
Dennis the Menasor
If at times, especially in the second half of the book, you might feel a little dazzled by the locations, Tom B. Long's letters are a godsend (heh), identifying not only voices but pinpointing the scenes with needed, fontastic accuracy. A slew of covers also allows to cover the multiplicity of worlds we're encountering, slowly, from the Travis Sengaus/Josh Burcham Devastator retailer variant, the Casey Coller/Joana Lafuente established Superion cover, Livio Ramondelli's poster Menasor - and the thumbnailed gorgeous Sara Pitre-Durocher Superion/Windblade variant.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
There is a lot going on in this issue, even more than was the case in Opening Salvo. While it may not sit entirely well with some readers, the material Scott (with Barber) are covering is both established and a new take, new aspects and new introductions to the mythology, world-building and conventions of the until now Cybertron/Earth axis - with minor detours - of the Transformers fiction, thanks to the Way of the Flame and its repercussions among the governing side of Caminus. And it works, for this reviewer.
Holy Mistress of Tall Flames, Batman
It is really good to see more Sarah Stone artwork too, and the fight scenes look great - but much like the writing aspect of the issue, it's what is going on around the fighting that is really the crux of the story. And trust me, you want to get all the engines running on multiple franchise continuities with this one, and revisit and reassess some older pacts that were made in light of the ongoing arkarc.
Fellow Seibertron.com member and YouTube reviewer optibotimus has shared with us a new video review of a Prime 1 Studio Museum Masterpiece figure. Last time we saw Megatron in his Revenge of the Fallen body - today it's the turn of Dark of the Moon Optimus Prime (MMTFM-02)! Check it out below.
It is here. After all the hype surrounding the release of the Takara Tomy fan polled Masterpiece Transformer MP-24 Star Saber, the first video review is offered by YouTuber OptimusPrimeSG in slight advance of general release, and brought to us via a tip by fellow Seibertron.com member KirbyForce1. Watch it below in all its victorious forms, and remember that maybe Primus does not hate you after all!
Fellow Seibertronian hinesika, also known as DuoDuoTea over on TFND.net, was lucky enough to acquire a Takara Tomy Masterpiece Transformers MP-24 Star Saber in Taiwan, and decided to share with us all a nice look at the figure via a photo gallery/pictorial review! You can check out some of the photos below, and head here for the full sequence. Will you be getting your Star Saber too, will it be soon? Let us know what you think of this fan-based bot in the Energon Pub!
We've posted the Seibertron.com galleries for the sadly badly released (if at all) Age of Extinction Power Attacker Claw Crush Junkheap just the other day - so why not double-dip, and take a look at the embedded video review below, courtesy of our very own site owner Seibertron? Includes comparisons to the other figures in the line (such as Bumblebee and Vehicon Power Attackers), various Voyagers and Deluxes; check it out!
OPENING SALVO! The Autobots and Decepticons’ uneasy peace is threatened by the flames of war! STARSCREAM—ruler of CYBERTRON—makes contact with WINDBLADE’S homeworld—and the only defense against a new CYBERTRONIAN EMPIRE are COMBINERS—multiple CYBERTRONIANS forming together into huge, dangerous forms!
Days of Deception is over, Windblade was over a long time ago, Punishment saw both its digital and print run, and we have been really setting the stage for Combiner Wars for a long long time now. And yet, The Transformers #39 takes another small step, piecing together the various parts leading up to here, preparing the spark, the casus belli, if you will and giving it all just a gentle prod.
Oh hey random Starscream that has nothing to do with this at all
John Barber takes main writing duties for the issues, but both him and Mairghread Scott are palpably present in the plotting of story. The dialogue provides a great framework of power dynamics and hierarchy being subverted at every turn, with some further development for a lot of older faces - and Swindle, of all characters, whose perspective guides the story.
We have Windblade and Optimus and some intriguingly almost 'post-colonial' moments of perspective shifts; we get Wheeljack and Ironhide and Chromia just trying to do their jobs, and being almost entirely confused; we get Starscream being Starscream, and gloriously so; we are introduced to Offroad, and given a *fantastic* explanation for their presence; we get another addition to the chapter in Transformers fiction that is Alpha Bravo, and Powerglide.
The legend continues
As an introduction, the Opening Salvo of Combiner Wars does much more than wht it could've,and is an immensely enjoyable read, with good humour, a good establishing of the playing field and just enough references to older continuity points to keep older fans entertained while bringing in some new ones too. Kapoom.
Livio Ramondelli, as we knew, takes on the whole brunt of the artistic duties for this and the majority. And I have to unfortunately admit this time, we are not seeing the great work he provided in recent publications such as Punishment. The composition is great, and there are really good layouts in the issue, and some of the expressivity is well conveyed.
At other times, however, some of those same faces, especially the newer or less frequently used ones, fall a little short of the full enjoyment of the piece. The tone is captured, and the washed-up, grimy sense of a post everything Cybertron works well - as might Caminus - but sometimes it really does jar a little.
Not as successful
The lettering does work quite well, even so, and Tom B. Long demonstrates once more the craft of a good letterer in some great sound effects and speech modifications. And While we have seen the beautiful Casey Coller/Joana Lafuente regular Menasor cover, and Ramondelli's poster variant for B, the gem of the variants is undoubtedly Sara Pitre-Durocher's Menasor and Swindle - see the thumbnail!
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
Being able to follow what is going on on Cybertron from Swindle's perspective is, in and of itself, a treat. Seeing the world how he sees it and through those purple eyes, with the cynicism, degrees of naivete and, well, Swindle attitude, is truly refreshing. We get all of that, plus some very good interactions, and a great cameo from the Lost Light, too.
If this what we are to expect from the crossover event, and the merging of Barber and Scott's plotting minds, then we're certainly in for a fun trip down six or so issues. Combiner Wars is playing on multiple angles without, so far, reaching too far out to be forced to justify the number of players, has a healthy dose of Swindle and Starscream, and is suitable for anyone under or over the age of Galvatron.
Fellow member and long time fan of Seibertron.com QBKiller94 was able to attend a première of the Transformers Robots In Disguise cartoon hosted by Hasbro at a movie theater in New York City. They were able to write up their thoughts of the two-part pilot episode, and we've copied it below for your perusal - why not compare it to our previous review from board admin Burnhere? The show is already being aired across multiple countries, and will air in the US on March 14th.
Review: “Transformers: Robots in Disguise” Two-Part Pilot Episode
“Transformers: Robots in Disguise” draws upon several of its predecessors while carving out a unique place in Hasbro’s animated lineup thanks to a striking art style, talented voice cast and promising plot lines.
“Transformers: RID” made its North American debut with a private screening at the TriBeCa Theater in New York City on Saturday. I watched the two-part pilot with my 5-year-old daughter without commercial breaks in a small theater with about 60 fans of all ages.
The pilot opens up on Cybertron with two Autobots racing down a path together -- a familiar scene for fans of the original G1 series. Bumblebee, brilliantly voiced by Will Friedle, is a veteran street cop accompanied by the young and inexperienced Strongarm. An indeterminate number of years have passed since the events of “Transformers Prime.” Optimus Prime is dead and it appears the war is over.
While Optimus is no longer leading the Autobots, his presence is felt throughout the pilot and marked physically by a giant memorial statue on Seibertron. Bumblebee sees Optimus in a vision during the apprehension of the law-breaking Sideswipe near the former Autobot leader’s memorial. The message from Optimus is loud and clear – Bumblebee must return to Earth.
The scene shifts to Earth where a boy named Rusty laments living in a salvage yard with his father, Denny. Denny is a nostalgic collector, a hoarder of things others have grown tired of and he’s not keen on throwing any of it out. It’s a subtle wink at seasoned Transformers collectors, for sure. Rusty yearns for life in the nearby city to take him away from the boring salvage yard. Rusty is a plucky, rebellious kid and Denny is a laid-back dreamer who provides comic relief. Thankfully, neither one detracts from the action of the pilot episode.
Things pick up when an Autobot prison ship crash lands in a wooded area near Denny’s salvage yard shortly before Bumblebee, Strongarm and Sideswipe arrive on Earth. Hundreds of deadly Decepticons have escaped and they’ve got to be recaptured.
On Earth, the Autobots team up with the Minicon Fixit and Grimlock, whose back story is given a fresh new spin. Grimlock, like some of the other characters, is a mash up of several previously seen Transformers personality. Grimlock, voiced by Khary Payton, is a combination of his G1 namesake and “Transformers Animated” Bulkhead. He’s massive, dumb and super kid-friendly.
Bumblebee is the reluctant leader of the group and it’s clear early on that his maturation and growth in that role is going to be one of the overarching story lines for this series.
“Entourage” actress Constance Zimmer voices Strongarm, the young, by-the-book cadet who’s eager to jump into the action despite Bumblebee’s constant coddling. She’s peppy and green as grass, basically the complete opposite of Arcee’s role in “Transformers Prime.” Sideswipe is aimed squarely at the preteen crowd. He’s a cross between “Transformers Prime” Smokescreen and Ted Theodore Logan. The diminutive Fixit rounds out the crew. He stammers and stutters comically, which makes you wonder how he ended up being in charge of a prison ship full of the universes most dangerous Decepticons in the first place.
“Do you know who I am? I’m Underbite, the Chompazoid who devoured Nuon City!”
“Transformers RID” is set up for the Autobots to embark on endless missions to hunt down these escaped cons and if the rest of them are as colorful as Underbite, then we’re in for fun ride. Underbite is a Chompazoid who is incredibly proud of his strength, which grows each time he chomps down on some metal. Undrebyte flexes, preens and exclaims: “Feel the burn!” just as you’d expect an arrogant muscle head from Venice Beach or the Jersey Shore to. Underbite is a hefty Decepticon who gives the Autobots all they can handle all the while looking for validation of his past misdeeds.
The art style for “Transformers: RID” has a strong anime vibe to it with a bright color pallet to give it a softer feel than “Transformers Prime.” It’s a mix of CGI characters and painted backgrounds that works well on screen. The action scenes are animated with skill and each characters transformation is expertly executed. There is a scene where Sideswipe saves Rusty while transforming that is reminiscent of one of the more famous live action movie scenes. There’s hope that we may get some of the cinematic quality action sequences that “Transformers Prime” made common place.
Overall, it’s clear “Transformers: RID” is aiming for a younger demo graphic, but it succeeds in both entertaining the under-10 crowd and having enough meat to keep parents and older fans engaged. The pilot episode does an excellent job of setting the stage for the series with well-written characters, laugh-out-loud moments and a solid plot foundation. If you’re looking for it to be as weighty as “Transformers Prime,” then you may be disappointed. However, if you can get past the tonal change you’ll be treated to a host of original characters and a fresh new voyage into the Transformers universe.
Courtesy of fellow Seibertronian chuckdawg1999, we have a video review of the final deluxe of Transformers Generations Combiner Wars wave 2, and the last (as if it matters) member of the Stunticon team - Dead End (I guess). Check out thoughts and video below (like, whatever)!
Dead End is a fantastic figure, and easily one of the best deluxes that has been released under the Combiner Wars line thus far. Transformation is unique, featuring a hinged door below the knees that secures the entire back half and lower arms in car mode. A very easy recommendation.
THE ONYX INTERFACE! The AUTOBOTS and DECEPTICONS face down human forces—and strange battlelines make for strange allies. Who will emerge with the ancient ENIGMA OF COMBINATION… and who will usher in the COMBINER WAR…?
On a very different playing field from MTMTE, the 38th issue of The Transformers also brings a storyline more or less to its conclusion, and finishes setting the stage for the Combiner Wars event due to begin next month, alongside revisiting some of the characters and power plays we hadn't seen in a while. And it does it very well.
And Spike is still despicable
The most obvious, and personal highlight of the issue, is John Barber's writing of individual characters and interactions, rather than general team/theme work - with Thundercracker, Soundwave, Arcee and Galvatron in particular standing out among the rubble. The humans have some nice moments too, but the more ambiguous players really take the spotlight.
Of course, that is not to forget Prowl, the Constructicons and the strange dynamics of Devastator as it currently stands, and as it will stand for the next three or four months. The development on gestalt technology, plotting and writing has been a great thread to follow since pre-Dark Cybertron, and there are very interesting developments in this issue that might affect the wider concept.
No hamfistedness here
There were some misgiving about some of the more plot-device heavy moments, but overall, the issue serves really quite well to seed even further plotlines and potential, and we may see some of those potential lapses come back in Barber's continuity-magic at a later stage. That, and Thundercracker is still a wonderful piece of writing work.
What really has to be said for this issue, is that artist Andrew Griffith undoubtedly kills it from an artistic perspective. The poses, settings, expressions (robot, dog and human alike) are spot on and fantastically execute everything at play in the script. Galvatron in particular is stupendously sinister, and the pain and confusion found in some Prowl/Devastator and Thundercraker scenes is actually quite moving.
Josh Perez' colours, on top of that, allow for a wider range of emotional charge that blend fantastically well with the linework and script. The bigger scale moments do not dwarf the smaller, personal scenes; the Soundwave situations in particular which both show nothing of what is actually happening and the pure anger that the true Decepticon must be feeling, are stunning.
What elephant in the room?
Tom B. Long is still as font-abulous as he can be, and Devastator's speechbubbles, any title or caption and the impressive amount lettering in the more explosive sequences is carefully controlled. Again, we have encountered the RI cover by Jeffrey Veregge yesterday, though still beautiful; the thumbnail then is the B cover, by Casey Coller and Joana Lafuente helps with a sense of scale and stakes for this and the coming story.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
Once again, ScottyP was a good sounding board for some of the points I made in the review, and his thoughts also come through in this piece. Personal highlights, however, are the return to Soundwave's own schemes and plans, which may or may not be working with/alongside/for Galvatron and the Decepticons, and the wonderfully poignant conflict within the Constructicons - and of course, Thundercraker.
A Handsome Jet
Hoping that Combiner Wars doesn't slow down the great pace and development in the post Dark Cybertron era of exRID too much, this issue shows just how much change Cybertronians and Earthlings have gone through, all the way since the -ations and All Hail Megatron, and with both positives and negatives considered, it is a lot. And definitely worth the read.
JOURNEY'S END! Across time, across space, from prewar Messatine to postwar CYBERTRON—it's all been heading towards this—the moment when the fate of the AUTOBOTS and the DECEPTICONS is sealed. At the heart of it all: three killers, two outcomes... and one terrible, terrible choice.
Here's an unrelated image
What we really get in More Than Meets the Eye #38 is three conclusions. The end of the Elegant Chaos arc, under Days of Deception; the end of the Cybertronian trilogy according to James Roberts, started in Chaos Theory (2011); the end of the world as someone knows it. How we get there, though, is a whole other journey.
Yeah, it was
There was a strange feeling running through my head as I was reading the issue, the same sense of unease that I had found in the other parts of Elegant Chaos, as if it was just building and building, without really reaching its climax - and it feels even more the case in #38. Discussing it with others on the staff, we believe we've cracked that mutual feeling: this is really not about the action, or even the story itself.
What Chaos Theory, Shadowplay and Elegant Chaos offer are is a an exquisite series of character developments and spotlights, retreading older paths and forking ways, in the wider frame of time travel and end-of-the-world threats. We get, then, to see the origin of Megatron, but also Whirl and Orion Pax; of Rewind, Chromedome and other relationships formed and lost; of Rung's historic constant, and much more beyond that; of Rodimus' leader skills; of quantum jump technology; of the whole MTMTE series.
Thank you Whirl
If you're looking for a semi-linear, action-based story that revolves around and solves all the questions it poses, you may not want to read this just yet. Go back to 2011, and read the three parts from there up to today. This book deserves more of your time than just one read, and sheds a lot of (fragmented) light on what came before it. Give it time.
The story, the arc, the events, are really about the characters, then - and Alex Milne's character work is probably the most appropriate combination that could've been had. Yes, the backgrounds and settings are as great as always, but it's the body language, the positioning, the interactions, the facial expressions that truly stand out here.
Combine that with the fantastic colouring work provided by Joana Lafuente, and the bodies and faces no longer need to speak for themselves, as the hues of colour, saturation and gradients seeping into the scenes offer not only background but also mood settings and indications.
I mean, come on
There is also plenty of space, from the title pages, to the captions, to some of the speeches, for Tom B. Long to flex his fontastic fingerskills, including a number of action-heavier scenes in the latter half of the book. While we've seen the decorative RI cover by Jeffrey Veregge already, the thumbnailed B cover, by Nick Roche and Josh Burcham really makes sense post-reading, too.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
I'd like to thank ScottyP for teasing out some of my own thoughts on this issue, as we briefly discussed why it did and didn't work at certain turning points. And I think I've highlighted most of those further above. But, in no particular order, I hope you pick up on the following: Rewind, Brainstorm, Tailgate, Perceptor. Some major, some minor, but all part of the intricate web of personalities that characterise the Lost Light crew.
Oh, and there's jokes too!
There are some very powerful, emotional moments in the overall arc of the issue, and sometimes it can feel as though there are maybe too many, too different and all together. But they have just enough time, and space, to work out, compared to other endings by Roberts' storylines - and then you have that very last page. Good luck.
. out of
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