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Transformers: Deviations' Subtle Indictment
(Or: I Swear This Isn't a Site Article) (Unless Va'al swoops in on Alpha Bravo and makes it so...) (Which just happened.)
Note: This article is an editorial, and as such, it reflects the views of the authors and the author alone. Much like our reviews, top lists and other articles, it is not indicative of Seibertron.com, the site owner, or the staff.
The Transformers: Deviations one-shot came out this week and I was extremely excited about this book. I love the 1986 The Transformers: The Movie with a passion, and any addition to its lore, imagery, and self-contained universe is something I jump at with fervor.
There's a reason this movie has withstood the test of time. It's likely most accurate to say that there are a multitude of extremely good reasons this has happened and not just one on its own. From the iconic music (whether or not you enjoy it ironically being outside the scope of things here) to the sublime voice cast to animation that put the weekly TV series to shame, this movie's lasting appeal is one of a hundred factors responsible for the brand's sustained success. Success which, it should be noted, has far surpassed a majority (though not all) of the 80s and 90s nostalgia act properties that have gone away for a time then re-emerged into current pop-culture awareness. TF:TM as I'll call it a lot from here on out was the first time the brand evolved, and it did so in the most amazing way for me.
I should really elaborate on some of those points in regards to TF:TM a bit more. First, to get it out of the way since I've already brought it up perhaps somewhat pointlessly, the music in TF:TM is a time capsule of everything 80s movie soundtracks did, for better or worse. This helps give the movie some lasting appeal. Since the ultimate point of this article is about a comic book which inherently doesn't get a musical element, that's all that will be said about that.
The voice cast for the original movie was comprised of a great mix of the talents from the Sunbow cartoon, interspersed with Hollywood stars such as Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Idle, Orson Welles, and even the pop-culture star John Moschitta - the "Micro Machines Guy". Some could say it's odd to bring this up when setting the frame for why a comic disappointed me, and there's some merit to that. This said, the "voice" of a comic is found through elements such as the art, coloring, scripting, and even the letters. More on this later.
Same goes for the animation of TF:TM and the merits of bringing that up as a comparison element in this writing. While a comic is by the very nature of its own medium a static entity in visual presentation, recent works have set the bar extremely high for pencil, ink, flat, and coloring work, with outliers in quality usually relating more to stylistic choice rather than, well, any perceived quality.
Hopefully this has so far established the level on which I revere 1986's Transformers movie. If it didn't, hopefully that "revere" word tells you what the last few paragraphs may not have. I really, truly consider TF:TM to be that era's magnum opus for Transformers material, as it hits almost every beat in perfect harmony with what you'd expect out of Transformers while being simultaneously fun, scary, tragic, celebratory, uplifting, depressing, piquing, and imaginative.
Given this, works that have come out over the years which have expanded on or had fun with TF:TM have been both welcome and fantastic. We've had DVD commentaries expand greatly on the production and decisions made through out it. We've had the amazing material unearthed and preserved by Paul Hitchens, whose YouTube channel is the gift that keeps on giving. Then there was the 20th Anniversary's retelling of the movie from IDW Publishing. While more or less faithful to the original work, this gave us something extremely cool: a two-page spread showing Omega Supreme, Superion, and Defensor defending The Ark from a Decepticon attack staged by Menasor and Bruticus. Retcons can be dubious, but this one was quick, effective, and satisfying.
It hasn't all been perfect either. Let's not forget the "Battle in Space" toy pack-in comic from 6 years ago, which had additional canonical material involving Tracks, Grapple, and Warpath, and while that wasn't the best in production either it's also not something anyone wanted me to spend extra money on. The set cost the same as two deluxe toys did at the time anyway, and now I can imagine that those guys had something going on during all that. Autocracy also did some fun stuff with the iconic Optimus v. Megatron battle, though that was more homage (in fact) and Flint Dille apologizing (in tone) than anything else. Even then, that was also only dedicated to a few pages of a work that was setting out to accomplish something completely different.
I could keep listing examples of works inspired in ways good and bad by TF:TM for eons, but that's not what this is for. Suffice it to say that if you need any objective measure of its impact, look no further than the amount of times Transformers fiction will trot out lines such as "One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall."
This all leads us to the announcement of Transformers: Deviations. Part of a series of one-shot comics for various properties for which IDW has licensing rights, the Transformers iteration of this little side non-canon "What If?" series was going to deal with The Transformers: The Movie and the pivotal battle between eternal rivals Optimus Prime and Megatron. As anyone reading this site is surely aware, Megatron not only defeats Optimus Prime, but kills him, albeit not right there on the spot. Optimus survives on an operating table long enough to pass the Autobot Matrix of Leadership on to Ultra Magnus. All the while, Hot Rod, the Autobot that many Transformers fans "blame" for Optimus' death just because he failed at run-in interference during that fateful battle, stands by observing.
The rest, is silence. Er, the rest is history. Sorry, Beast Wars Anniversary and all that on the brain.
Deviations' premise is set to have fun with history and imagine what would have happened had Optimus Prime lived through this encounter. This is immediately where disappointment started to creep in upon publication of the book's standard preview pages released online in advance of its print publication today. The most predictable thing to do is to say "well, guess Optimus would have killed Megatron if he hadn't died himself, right?" That's ok though, predictable stories can still be entertaining and there's still a whole world of interesting paths to take beyond that with the rest of the movie's material. Still, from the outset the book pigeonholes itself into path B leading to path C, when instead path B could have lead to paths D, E, F, G, 42, Z, Primax 1023.1 Alpha - really anything at all.
If you can't tell, my biggest gripe with this book is the story. I'll come back to it to wrap things up, but let's get the production elements out of the way.
The colors, letters, and in fact most all of the art is fantastically done and lives up to the legacy of TFTM to which it will be compared. These parts of the book's "voice" are, generally, very good. The disappointment sets in with a handful of pages/panels where the pencils and inks are just not the quality one would expect from a real talent like Tramontano. The inconsistency is even more glaring when I think about how really, truly beautifully done some other parts of this comic are. If this is due to deadlines happening then I can forgive.
Let's pause to consider some of the worst offenders in inconsistent style such as:
Leaving off Astrotrain's wing upon takeoff on Page 6
Ultra Magnus' downright weird looking glare on Page 7
The entirety of pages 20 and 21
The downright goofy looking Rodimus Prime in the last two panels of the book
If these were stylistic choices, then in my opinion they were poor ones. I could find more, but again, the production of the book outside of plot/story and dialogue really aren't the big issues that led to my disappointment.
It's the story. It's the characterization. Deviations stopped being a fun "what if" and turned into the worst kind of parody, and it did so in one glaring moment: the first time Ultra Magnus speaks. This is where the voice of the comic got overridden despite many of its other elements being sound. The message behind the voice wasn't of reverence, it wasn't of disregard for one factor (big as it may be) of the original story, it was one of bitter disregard for what had otherwise followed Optimus' death in TF:TM.
If you're going to change an existing story based on one element, in this case Optimus Prime and Megatron's fates being swapped, and then choose to start things out en medias res then you better approach the setting of the rest ceteris paribus. Or at the very least, honor the little bit that came before that was not re-written. Magnus' first words to Hot Rod felt wrong. Off. They just weren't a thing this Ultra Magnus would say. Would Kup? Yes, so why didn't he?
Changing gears to paint my disappointment another way, I'll admit, I really did enjoy Megascream. I really wanted to like this book and I really tried to have fun with it. I kept trying to have fun with it when the Dinobots pre-emptively attacked the Sharkticons, or when the Decepticons combined just like Trailcutter told us they would for no reason, or when Unicron just sort of snacked on dead Decepticons such as Thundercracker and Skywarp instead of reformatting them.
Yet this is where the disappointment mounted and the book started to spiral into a bad place for me. For every Megascream there was cringeworthy dialogue meant to evoke TF:TM that instead bastardized the original intent of the words. For every Dinobot attack there was the underlying pointlessness of their presence on Quintessa and a potentially super fascinating storyline with Kranix of Lithone (which couldn't even get spelled correctly - and it was done twice so tell the wiki folks to put that one under "errors") that was dropped like a hot potato. For every Decepticon combiner there was confusing scene building accompanied with overly busy layouts. What Moon Base got eaten? One? I think? For every Unicron snack, there was the realization that this "What if" was not a well-informed, "pick up the ball and run with it" dream engagement for the author, it was an indictment on the movie I love so dearly.
"Indictment" is a rather strong word, and maybe it isn't the right one since I don't think there was any ill intent, but that's really how it came across to me emotionally. Clever dialogue turned shallow. Alien worlds humming with the otherworldly imaginings of Floro Dery instead used as mere set pieces for your Action To Come After These Messages. Fascinating, fun new characters like Springer and Arcee thrown into the Planet Junkion in a flaming, doomed Autobot shuttle, barely to be mourned. At least they got to show up at all, and at least then without having their characters assassinated.
That's the other part where I felt like this book was an indictment of its forebear: the complete and gratuitous character assassination of Hot Rod.
If you didn't like Hot Rod as a kid, I understand. If you don't like him now, I understand. Hell, my wife doesn't like Hot Rod. "Hot Rod's a punk bitch" is probably what she'd tell you, or something to that effect. All the same, the best versions of Hot Rod through the years all make you "love him or hate him" but they keep one factor pretty consistent: he's competent and brave. While Deviations hits the brave factor, it does so while putting Hot Rod into the part of The Fool. The Hot Rod one should expect here is the one that yes, indeed, shot at the attacked shuttle carrying the Decepticons into Autobot City, but that Hot Rod knew what he was shooting at. That Hot Rod had a plan when trying to help Optimus while he fought Megatron, even if it backfired. That Hot Rod had a semblance of leadership skills, and could bank a shuttle into a safe crash onto Quintessa then regroup and find his friends, "And then save Cybertron!"
This Hot Rod insults fallen comrades, makes shuttle damage worse to the point where the thing explodes, has to be told to get Daniel to safety, then runs in and saves the day at the last minute by a stroke of luck and not of guts and will like the Hot Rod that defeats Galvatron within Unicron's innards. Then he dies so he can personally redeem his earlier failure, because he's so incompetent this time that he can't escape? What even happened there?
At the end of my reading of the book, I felt the tinge that every geek like me into any Sci-Fi property does from time to time of what's colloquially known as "nerd rage". I had to take a few hours to calm down from this to collect my thoughts on what exactly I didn't like, because I could certainly "nerd rage" for hours and not do anyone any good in the process.
But after some days of processing it and then re-reading my paper copy today, I was able to distill my disappointment and find its source. The author of this book was well intended, and was clearly just trying to have fun, but ultimately penned an indictment on one of the Transformers franchise's most important works. If you're going to just have fun, go hire Tom Scioli to do the art and go absolutely crazy, then I can follow the intention. The accompanying poor dialogue choices, inconsistent art, and sometimes positively confusing scene building makes this a book I won't look back fondly on, rebuy three times, and pine for years for more like Last Stand of the Wreckers, it makes it something I'll file away and never read again like Continuum.
There's a certain subset of Transformers fans that will love this book. Some of them are on this site, hell even in this very thread. Enjoy it. This is your G1, the version that basically doesn't exist after early 1986. This book is for you and this post is my last word on it, because no one likes a hater.
But for me? I enjoy the rich history of all soon-to-be 32 years of The Transformers. Ups and downs alike, I can find something to enjoy. I found some things to enjoy in this book that I never want to read again! While I can appreciate the idea of Deviations, the execution of the book left me so bitterly disappointed that it led to a realization. That is this: the creative team behind The Transformers: The Movie all those years ago realized that the brand had to evolve or die. Optimus dying wasn't a choice, it was a necessity. Since it's NCAA Tournament season, we'll say the franchise had to "Survive and Advance". IDW has helped some of our favorite Generation One characters survive, by advancing and evolving the narrative scope and quality of their ongoing books. Deviations is an indictment on this progress as well, and looking on social media, the loud corner that wants "G1 back", despite it being here all along, often twice a month for the past decade, wants you to go buy this book in triplicate so you can vote with your dollars.
Do that if you want, but also realize the subtle indictment it implies.
Filling in for Dr. Va'al--news crew and admins have been working very, very hard to get everything back to speed--is me, the old review guy. Here's my take on the 'How can I follow up issue #50?' follow up issue, Transformers #51. *Cracks knuckles* Here we go! Sorry, it's a little tongue and cheek... Va'al will be back.
THE STORY SO FAR…
Last issue dropped the literal and figurative bomb that we’ve been waiting for. Optimus Prime is freeing Earth from itself. Actually it’s a bit more along the lines of trying to repair the damage that the Cybertronian war has done to the planet, and at the same time, to give the Earth and its people a volun-told invite to being a part of the Galactic community, establishing a new presence on Earth. Details to be determined. It seemed like a good idea, right?
Sure you are big guy...
And to no one’s surprise, the puny earthlings still don’t like being told what to do. WE RULE!
TUNE IN FOR!
Excitement abounds as the most important thing to know from this issue is that Superion separates and we have not just an Alpha Bravo sighting, but actual dialogue! Dr. Va’al is pleased, right?
I AM faster than a speeding bul... guess not.
SOME OTHER IMPORTANT HAPPENINGS
The continuation of the Autobot presence on Earth is our main story point (although Alpha Bravo) and how ‘we the people’ react. The response by Earth’s governments has not been to reach out with the olive branch and doves and welcome with man hugs and high fives.
But the Autobots will not let Optimus’ vision fail. For some reason they love to follow the big galoot… Trying to show the people of Earth that they are not here to just take over, the Autobots head out to do many things of good and right many wrongs despite danger to themselves-- taking special care to harm no one--. Good stuff, right? Sorry no, humans are like elephants…long memories, and we’ll take care of our own thanks. ‘Cause we were smart enough to befriend Decepticons, a few times, and that did not go badly at all…at least until those Autobots showed up.
We're good, we got this...
EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!...WIFI to cure disease next!
NEW CHARACTER ALERT[/b]
Aileron, while not entirely new, has really been stepping forward to make herself known. The little Camien has done a lot of work in a little bit of time to ‘drive’ the story (and the spaceship). Giving us an outside perspective and insight to all of this, she also doesn’t quite understand it all, but that doesn’t stop her from going a little Evil Gobot Renegade Crasher and being pretty much the opposite of helpful this time. Her growth has been exponential and more than acceptable. A nice compass for ‘The Prime’.
*Clearly did not get the memo*
Why so serious?
What is up with these humans? I’m having a hard time understanding some of their actions. Faireborne’s on the Autobot’s side—- oh no, she’s not— wait she’s sticking up for them— no wait she’s shooting them… And the Earth coalition don’t/can’t/won’t see or believe the obvious message. It's like someone did something to make them mistrust all aliens and transforming robots forever. If only the humans would ever find themselves in a position to actually realize there are some robots, like people, who are good-natured, altruistic, and trustworthy... maybe some day.
I got an idea on how we can get our message across to humans...I saw it in a movie once.
CHECK IT OUT
The art is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G throughout the issue. Superb, wonderful, and a slew of other positive adjectives! Andrew Griffith really has a hold on drawing Optimus,and other bots like Victorion and Jazz.
There are examples all over the issue of beautiful, well-drawn and expressed panels of action and emotion. The robots' and vehicles' details are so well done--not extraneous, and not lacking--. The colors work flawlessly to help convey the mood and setting in every section-- despite having three different colorists working through the book, not a beat was missed--. Excellent story-telling through the art.
I’m not sure if I've decided if it was over-the-top, or well done, but the use of many relevant real world issues for the Autobots to help resolve was interesting--and somewhat off-putting for this DETROIT-er for one particular choice of action--. I feel like we are coming back to the 'been there done this' part of the show. Autobots have been on Earth before, they have been scorned by the humans, but helped the humans despite themselves, then they have left, and come back again and helped the humans in spite of themselves, yet again. They've tried to play nice with the humans and things go south. They leave again and come back again. Clearly the destinies of Earth and Cybertronians are intertwined, but I feel like I’m starting to watch a re-run here.
A good issue that expands on Aileron a bit more, but ultimately doesn’t do much more than show that the humans still hate and mistrust the Autobots...they’ll still shoot ‘em, just like yesterday, and last week, do whatever it takes to show that humans DO NOT need Cybertronians. Prime's plan doesn't seem like much of one yet...maybe he needs to spend more time on the re-charge slab to get some more guidance from his dreams. More like, I need to be patient and let the story develop.
4 out of 5 (the art!)
Mr. Tigertrack, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
Fellow Seibertronians, fellow Seibertronian Optibotimus has released a video review of near-final production samples of the Botcon 2016 box set figures Seaclamp, Ramhorn, and Cicadacon, otherwise known as the Tri-Predacus Council from Beast Wars. They, along with Ravage and Tarantulas will combine to form Tripredacus, but for now, Optibotimus only has the members of the Tri-Predacus Council. Seaclamp is a recolor of Combiner Wars Scattershot, and sports a new head, based on his appearance in the show, as well as the new Tripredacus head, which Optibotimus kindly shows off in the video. Ramhorn is a recolor of the Combiner Wars Technobot Nosecone, complete with the new drill weapon and new, show accurate, head; while Cicadacon is just a recolor of Combiner Wars Skydive, he still looks accurate to his show appearance. Are you excited for this Boxset? Check out the video and leave your comments below.
Fellow Seibertronians, following our own recent gallery, fellow Seibertronian Optibotimus has released a video review of a near-final production sample of the TFSS Ramjet figure. Ramjet is a retool of Generations Armada Starscream, retooled with a new head and recolored to look like his counterpart, Universe Ramjet. So check out the video and leave your thought below.
THE DYING OF THE LIGHT—PART 1! Since joining the Lost Light, MEGATRON has rejected everything that once made him the most feared and hated Cybertronian of all time. But penitence has a price, and before the ex-Decepticon can find true redemption he must first confront his darkest legacy—the Decepticon Justice Division.
I said this already in the counterpart review to this one, for The Transformers #50, how impressively impressive it actually is to see both the ongoings to have reached such an impressive milestone. Two very different titles, with MTMTE being the space opera-turned-sitcom-turned-horror-turned-sadgayrobots - and all, ultimately and listed in order in the Previously section, building up to this point. Right here. Now.
Sneaking up to it
James Roberts has been seeding the presence of the DJD and Tarn's discontent with Megatron's change of heart for a while now, if not since their very first introduction. We have also had a number of other plotlines weaving in and out of the main arc, and they all appear to feature, in one way or another, in here. Seeds seeded aplenty, and the DJD is not the only discontent to show up in the wider MTMTEverse.
If it looks like I'm stalling here, it's because I am, a little. There isn't much I can really say about the book without ruining at least a number of reading experiences for someone, so I'm keeping comments to the comments - that said, what was to be expected does happen, but not as soon as one might initially think. Roberts fuels a slow fire. A slow, painful fire.
With some funny bits, of course
The weaving is one the key features here, and how the characters have interacted with each other up to this point, and how they will clash, merge, unite or fight when the pressure is applied - as it does in issue #50: positions are taken, roles are assigned, dynamics shift dramatically, and it does so in a turbulent and terrifying fashion, before inevitability and acceptance set in. For some.
The art duties on the bulk of the story are by regular co-cospirator Alex Milne, with an assist from Brian Shearer on inks. And if ever we had emotion shown under faceplates and optic visors, this is even more the case. The multiple colourist team, of course, helps to bring Milne's vision to vibrant life, even in the darkness of the latter stages of the story - Joana Lafuente, Priscilla Tramontano, John-Paul Bove did some stellarly blending and combined work on those pages, with some particularly amazing splash pages.
Plus this.. er.. guy
The tail-end story 'No Guns, No Swords, No Briefcases' addition sees some sparkwrenching work from other regular artist Brendan Cahill, delving into some backgrounds of characters we have and haven't seen in a long time in the series, and showing yet more emotion where a small breather was needed. All topped by some warmly executed colouring by Joana Lafuente.
..more like guidelines
Where the humour and visual cues of the lighter side really show up is, once again, through the font magic of Tom B. Long's lettering work. Scenes like the below, the excellent title page, the various captions, the highlights he brings to the overall work with the small space he's given - it's always a stunning effect.
Visual game is strong
With an issue this big, and as important as it, the various number of covers is to be expected, and anticipated. The main cover by Alex Milne and Joana Lafuente sets the tone for the entire story, and upcoming arc, while James Biggie, Mike Choi, and even Casey Coller and Hayato Sakamoto, with Yamaishi on colours, take on the catalyst of the story: Megatron. We also finally get the final piece in the six-parter by Milne and Perez, and a variant (thumbnailed) by Nick Roche and Josh Burcham showcasing the main cast of the issue.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
The split in stories, in paths, in narrative arcs seems to be working on a number of levels - from the temporal rest and background build-up of the later part to the building cliffhanger of the first, via the multiple seedings of current and potentially future storylines, and reconnecting of the publication with its earlier and preceding iterations. It works, but it will work much better in the longer run. Roberts is also able to stop the humour, welcome throughout where used, before the more serious part, avoiding some emotional whiplash that would really have jarred otherwise.
The entirety of the issue, in all its aspects and angles, is to be lauded. The editorial and creative teams have brought so much of their game, that some minor glitches were to be expected - and yet did not occur at any stage. Visually, this is a great book to look at, with some creative layouts and structure, which perhaps loses itself in the format of the single issue and the ambition of the writing. It's very, very good though. Very.
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done. Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that!”
Story so far:
Earth is gone. The last remnants of humanity- the G.I.Joe team- joins forces with the heroic Autobots to battle Earth’s destroyers- the Decepti-Cobra alliance. Whatever hope remains races from the center of Cybertron- into an uncertain future!
Deceptions starting to eat humans as a delicacy, the planet Cybertron coming alive, and the Earth is gone… this shift just got real, and it’s about to get realer (well next issue, maybe).
Spoiler free review (try anyway):
It’s time for a BRO-mance. Bro-hugs around. Brobots before Deceptifoes!
Get to the chopper!
Sadly, this issue is very, very JOE-centric (sad to the TRANSFORMERS FAN anyway). The meat of the story is about DUKE and his relationship with his brother (step), one Lt. Falcon. DUKE leads the next generation of greenies through the Joe’s Decepticon stomping boot camp, told in a flashback—which writer Scioli states he was not going to have in his stories, and yes, he admitted to breaking his own rule- and his little brother is recipient numero uno of all of his angst, fear, frustration and love. The growth of their relationship, the motivations, and some heavy realizations make this possibly resonate with those with a sibling or two that they have either tried to live up to their older sib’s accomplishments, or tried to teach the younger sib the ways of the world along with a heaping dose of humility. DUKE meet FALCON. FALCON…DUKE.
(MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Topspin, Twintwist, or Tracks and Needlenose- none to be seen though-.)
Part ‘Rocky’, part ‘Patton’, part ‘Stripes’, we see Scioli once again shine in the writing and art as he takes a break from homaging his favorite comic artists and writers to now pay tribute to some of his favorite inspirational war/combat related movies. The only problem is, unless you’re big fan of those things, you don’t really catch the subtleties until you read his recap of the the pages at the end (a welcome piece to the experience, as always).
This gag never gets old...and you thought they called him Cutter because he was in the Coast Guard! Ha hah.
And as I mentioned, Transformers fans may be bored for about 10 of the middle pages or so ‘cause it’s all JOE and mainly DUKE (and I loathe the Duke character, even though I'm a big fan of Michael Bell's Prowl). But the beginning (as seen in the preview pages) and most certainly the events happening in the end involving both franchises, continues the epic NOW BECOMING COSMIC implications of Megatron’s ambitious desires… And I’m not sure where it will all head…seriously.
Where are we going next?
I give this issue a pretty average rating. It’s an issue that slows down a bit from what’s been happening lately, focuses mainly into one or two Joe characters, and the story progression…well, it makes it look like the next issue is going to be HUGE anyway! I’ve never been a huge DUKE fan, but I do love me some obstacle course action!
"Dunk this, Big Lob!--Meowwwwrr!!!!"
There are always great easter eggs here and there for both the Transformers fans and G.I.Joe fans to enjoy, and for those who know the G.I.Joe movie, and the squad of guys that Lt. Falcon was training with in it, you’ll have some fun. It’s nice to see Springer, becoming a part of the story. His alt mode is something between fan-favorite helicopter the Tomahawk, and Springer’s Cybertronian helicopter mode.
The series still feels like something I wanted to cook up as a kid and a fan--with much more thought put into it-- and that’s why I’m still reading it. I also really like reading what Scioli thinks and does in his creation of each story.
*I really wish Colonel Flagg would lose the VERY slouched cap, though. Please.*
This picture of Quarrel reminds me of some portrait of a female before, I just can't place it.
ALL HAIL OPTIMUS—PART 1! Backed by an army of zealous followers, OPTIMUS PRIME declares Earth to be a part of CYBERTRON’S Council of Worlds—and the DECEPTICONS and the people of Earth don’t won’t take it laying down! The story starts here, but the repercussions will last forever.
Fifty issues. Think about that. Fifty. That's over half the original Marvel US run. And this is but one part of the wider TF universe running over at IDW. What John Barber, with the other creators, have done, is impressive. And what he brings to the table this month, even after the weirdly disappointing issue last time, is equally impressive, and a testament to the world-building that has taken place up to this point.
Plus, Bob and Buster are here
Overall, I really enjoyed the issue. While we may have seen a lot of Optimus' introspection of recent (and since DOOP, to be honest) the new turn in the story allows for that to be externalised in such a way that it actually affects the wider universe - and perhaps most importantly, the characters who inhabit it. Things are changing, and changing drastically and swiftly, by the looks of it.
I will get the 'negative' thoughts about the issue out of the way, too, as it mostly has to do with the latter part of the issue and the overall length - and I'm taking cues from fellow staffer ScottyP here, too: the pacing is something to behold, until we hit the Spike Witwicky bump. Again. We do not like Spike, we are not supposed to, but he's made to be some sort of necessary prick evil for the series and human-Cybertronian relations (not always in the most diplomatic of ways). I like how much I dislike him, but.. I still dislike him, and his arc throws a lot of things off.
Just shut up, will you
That said, the human (more or less, in some cases) factor in the issue is well developed, and coming in as late as it does, plus the afterstory, it helps to show the at least two sides of where the story might go from here. Humans are no longer just that, just as Cybertronians are no longer just aliens - and the ramifications, from a socio-political and narrative perspective, are fascinating.
The art side of things is really interesting, with Andrew Griffith, the first artist, taking on the majority of the book and its weightier, meatier (metal-ier?) substance. I am still really quite impressed at his take on some of character designs, and the collaboration with Josh Burcham, Josh Perez and JP Bove on the colours brings out the sinister side of some of the action taking place, and helps locate the controversial position of Optimus' decision: practically everyone is weary, worn out, and exhausted. You can feel it.
The coda, of sorts, that Casey Coller offers, is a wonderful addition (with the above proviso about pacing, perhaps) for the human side of things, and a refreshing look with Joana Lafuente's colour work - though maybe with some overly heavy inks by Jamie Snell in places, given Coller's really quite fine pencilwork - at the multiple Cybertronian repercussions of the events on Earth.
Political Power Grab!
All that, as well as Sara Pitre-Durocher's brief stint in what has led up to this point, in the Previously section of the book, wonderfully crisp in its recap. As crisp, of course, as the work that the two letterers bring to the exasperation, adrenaline, frustration, anger, and force of the voices in the book - the effort that Tom B. Long and Chris Mowry put into this is not to be underestimated.
Extra image, because Sara Pitre-Durocher
With the landmark status of the book, we were bound to get a slew of covers, from the main Griffith/Thomas Deer annexation, to the Coller/Bove Optimus triumphant variant, via big shots Jonathan Hickman and Mike Choi's interpretations of the AHO concept - plus, of course, a special Comicave variant by Livio Ramondelli, with a twist on a familiar theme (thumbnailed), and another piece of the Alex Milne/Perez mural.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
There are so many very things I have chosen not to talk about in the review, to allow readers to enjoy the experience of one of the most fast-paced, action packed, politically charged, arc-tying, positively tiring, visually enticing pieces of Transformers fiction. As arcs go, the beginning of All Hail Optimus promises very very well, and has managed to bring the conflict and Earth back together in a rather poignant and significant manner. Applause all round for the team, truly.
Optimus Whine is back!
A lot of the things I was thinking about as I read the issue, and as I was writing the review, are pretty much covered in Barber's lovely words at the end of the book. I really do recommend taking some time to look at that afterword - but in case you don't, this part stands out in particular: a comment from Michael Kelly, from Hasbro, as AHO was pitched. 'Make sure these characters are people, and you guys have done it. You wouldn't be able to do a story like this if you hadn't.' Even with all the slips, the stumbled events, the jarring moments in the series, The Transformers have undoubtedly conquered Earth once more - here's to a peaceful coexistence, and productive dialogue with us as readers.
Fellow Seibertronian Bridgemagnet took a bullet for all of us and bought Transformers Platinum Optimus Primal to review it and tell us that it is not worth the price. He goes though the sound effects and a description of the deco and articulation. Note that the robot head in beast mode can be more hidden than it appears in the video, but that would mean that the gorilla head would be facing down.
Bridgemagnet wrote:Here is my Review of
Year of the Monkey Optimus Primal Platinum Edition figure
As always, it is in 4K UHD.
SHUTDOWN! A vengeful god stalks the corridors of the Lost Light, murdering everyone who makes eye contact. The crew must answer two questions: Why have they been singled out for punishment? And how do you stop someone who can kill you just by thinking about it?
..sure, that'll work
We have reached the second part of the final arc before the 50th milestone, and the last chance to see what is going in some of the Lost Light's crew members' heads. Quite literally, with James Roberts' newfound torture instrument for our regular space-opera-meets-horror-meets-sitcom-meets: the Transformers god of death, Mortilus, and its vessel, the biggest mnemosurgeon around, Sunder.
With the horror side of the story (more on the other side below), Roberts actually brings us a lot closer to the initial arcs of this particular ongoing. A lot of the issue, in fact, feeds back into an older vibe for the book, also given Skids' first introduction to MTMTE as an outsider to the situation, and his clearly pivotal role in the grand scheme of things.
The problems I had with the issue, and I find myself repeating a previous thought, are with the pacing - and with the fact that this is another conclusion that feels rushed, even actually cut short. I understand that the length of the comic can only allow so much. But still, some things feel like they're lacking a part to them, or that more could be said and told.
Oh, and Tailgate's in it too
That is not to say that I don't realise and understand that there are, obviously other developments to be expected, especially with the preview and covers being what they are and featuring who they do. We will be seeing how a lot of what happens in here will affect the rest of the crew, of the series, and probably of the TFverse, without too many doubts on that last part, either.
We've seen what Hayato Sakamoto can do in previous issues, and in his work on the TFCC and Takara Legends comics - what we get here is a shift further into the latter style, and something which feels more his, with some significant manga traits, and some definite horrorific, twisted, Junji Ito/Neon Genesis Evangelion-esque moments that add to the already present early feel of the MTMTE run streaming through this particular issue.
Nightmares on the house
Even with the usual vibrancy of colours that Joana Lafuente brings to the palette, the choice of darker reds, blues, purples and oranges (interesting combination there...) really does add to the space horror elements this time round - though at times perhaps too bright for a ship that is supposedly in dim light to avoid eye contact.
There are oodles of lettering scattered around the book, with Sunder's voice bubbles and the multiple ...noises. And Tom B. Long has the arduous, but surely satisfying given the result, task of capturing them all, each and every time. The two main variant covers are as fitting as you would expect, with Tailgate and Thunderclash taking main stage for Alex Milne and Josh Perez, Rung staring down Sunder in the Nick Roche/Josh Burcham one - and then we have another piece of the gigantically glorious Milne/Perez puzzle in the retailer incentive variant (thumbnailed).
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
The not entirely new, but slightly modified/shifted visuals in the book are very fitting to the overall themes present in the issue, and offer a good background to the major narrative trajectories for Tarn, Skids, and their enabling link through Sunder - though, obviously, no resolution yet. This is still Roberts we're talking about.
On that note... Much like everything else, from solicits to coverage, surrounding this issue, I have steered clear of any of the major turns taking place in the story, other than Skids' own tale, above. I'll take this last paragraph to just point out one little aspect that will lead to very interesting paths, if kept consistent, for The Dying of the Light and everything after issue #50 - Megatron's development, Tailgate's direction. Very interesting paths indeed.
. out of
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