With this week's Spotlight: Hoist release, the Spotlight series seems to have concluded as far as we know. So we decided to go back and make sure all the issues have been reviewed! Read the Megatron and Trailcutter ones, and come back later this week for Thundercracker and Bumblebee.
And now, starting from the beginning – Spotlight: Orion Pax!
BEFORE OPTIMUS PRIME—there was Orion Pax! Four million years ago, the future leader of the AUTOBOTS disappeared into the Cybertronian wilderness to save a friend. What happened next would take him to the very brink—and have startling repercussions on the current comics!
I'm on a ..shuttle
This story takes place before the events of Autocracy. This story is written by James Roberts. This story is about Orion Pax trying out a new body before being upgraded to the Matrix-holding one. This story starts with Orion Pax tied to a shuttle. This story is actually quite cool.
He does look weird without a faceplate
We are reintroduced to Zeta (sorry, Zeta Prime), Rung shows up for the first time before the war, and there a bunch of other interesting cameos scattered around the issue. Roberts writes in some interesting action, and fairly nice twist, and we get to look at
Alpha Trion, you so cool
While Orion Pax definitely gets some character development, including some referential jokes to his ordinary look in the franchise, the other big element of this one-shot is undoubtedly Alpha Trion, with his know-it-all-been-there-done-that attitude. And there's the hint at Metroplex and the Metrotitan plot from the Annuals, almost shoehorned in.
How subtle can you be with a city?
The story sets up nicely the rest of this iteration of the Spotlight series, and is a nice one-off featuring Orion Pax and some of the major players later in the war. But it does feel as if something is missing. Roberts' Alpha Trion almost makes up for it though.
Steve Kurth is on pencils, Juan Castro on inks, and they do a fairly decent job of portraying a younger Cybertronian environment and cast. Zeta has just upgraded to his Autocracy body, we're introduced to a couple of old friends, and Alpha Trion is the big name here, and boy does he look good.
He even turns into the Batmobile! With a cape!
J. Aburtov and Graphikslava provide the colours to the issue, and I have to say, I like them! They're quite lightly saturated, and give a somewhat dusty feel to the whole story – which works really well in the desert scenes and the arena, and also fits nicely in this pre-pre-prequel one-shot. Lighting is handled really well too, and Shawne Lee does some nice work in the soundword department, especially with aerial scenes.
See? Within the lines
There are a couple of issues with some of the action scenes, but they can be overlooked quite easily, as at least we can tell what is going on. The colours are nice, and Orion does look weird without the face-plate... but then, that's the whole point.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
It's a fairly decent issue, with some good Roberts humour, some nice characterisation for Orion Pax, and it helps set up the coming issues and the plotline running through them. The action scenes are nice, and the events are well tied in with pre-existing continuity.
Thundercracker, you're next
The only problems this encounters is that the main plot is not the actual plot, but the conswequences of the twist feel a bit forced at times. All in all, though, a decent return to the Spotlight series, and a nice move to focus on Orion Pax after The Death of Optimus Prime. Next, please.
WAR CRY! The conquest of IACON begins in earnest, as SCORPONOK’s game-changing strategy threatens the very nature of what it means to be AUTOBOT... Or DECEPTICON! And HOT ROD begins his own personal odyssey to the very heart of CYBERTRON—where ancient forces are stirring!
So. That's the plot
So Grimlock has accepted Scorponok's offer, and is on his way to Cybertron. After a demonstration of what the Gene Key can do, at least. He's back in his old body, happy as larry, bashing and gnashing, and he has a plan to carry out.
Grimlock, you scoundrel
Meanwhile, Optimus decides that he'd rather stay on Earth and think things through, thank you very much. I suppose this could have been a worse decision, but it does seem to slow down things a lot. Every other character on the planet(s) keeps asking 'what would Optimus do?' - apparently, nothing. Just go for a stroll. Good to know.
But you can abandon everyone on Cybertron. Cool, cool.
And of course, Hot Rod tried keeping everything under control back at home. Even though Grimlock is a bit of a trouble-maker, Scorponok's vanguard has arrived, and there's definitely something going on in the basement.
O hai Primus
The idea of Scorponok changing the moral compass of all Cybertronians is intriguing, but the execution is a bit puzzling. What exactly does the Gene Key do, and why does it even work? If morality is not a black-and-white thing, as they explicitly said in these issues, surely the result would not be this one? Or would it?
Again, it's Wildman and Baskerville on pencils and inks, respectively, and there's quite a wide cast this time round. Some have complained about the three headmasters not looking like their usual selves, or at least previous incarnations, but they do resemble their toys in this form. The usual concerns about expressions do arise, but there's something particularly off with Perceptor.
Bove really shines in this issue though, especially when the skies are concerned. Something I didn't notice on the first read: the Cybertronian sky progresses through this story arc, from a very very dark night to something else for its conclusion, following the pacing of the events. A nice touch, JP.
The artwork seems to work a lot better in this issue! Yes it's Andrew 'Screaming Robots' Wildman, but the human facial expressions have more of a variety this time, and really help convey what is going on in the story. And I like screaming robots, anyway.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
The issue is enjoyable actually, and it does a lot more than the previous one. There are some concerns both in terms of plot devices and artwork, such as the exact functioning of the Gene Key and Perceptor. Poor poor Perceptor. But overall, the story works.
Contemporary cultural reference!
There are some extra bits I haven't mentioned in the review, about some other characters still on Earth, of whom Starscream is one and the others are ..well, I'll leave it to you to find out. Overall, not a bad issue, a good read, still fairly slow but appropriately so this time. Let's see what Scorponok has in mind for next month, shall we?
Disclaimer: while the review is relatively spoiler-free, the discussion in this thread may not be. If you do not want to ruin your reading experience, please do not read the comments until you've picked up the issue!
AFTERMATH! The battle for the Lost Light is over. As the survivors bury the dead, one Autobot begins a secret journey that will change everything. This special issue marks the beginning of “Remain in Light”—the game-changing finale to the first More Than Meets The Eye mega-story arc!
Aaaand we're up to speed
There's a definite lack of exclamation marks this issue, whatever the solicitation may say. Overlord and Rewind are dead (it seems), Ultra Magnus is dying (apparently), Rodimus, Chromedome and a lot more are hurt and hurting. Get your tissues out, there's some emotional stuff going on.
U sad bro?
I'd say there are three main plots running through, with all the usual addenda. Rodimus having to deal with what has happened behind his back and yet right under his nose (try working that out, physically): I love the portrayal of him in this issue, I simply love it. He's furious and feels, justly, betrayed, while still trying to keep a level head as captain of the ship. Drift is complementary to this section, and quite rightly has not a lot of excuses to offer.
Cameo appearance: Rotorstorm!
Ultra Magnus, on the operating table, with the Death Clock, surrounded by his 'friend' Swerve, Ratchet and Tailgate, who is having a real hard time keeping everything together. Somehow, Swerve's usual humour does not seem to work, and all of this issue is, fortunately, toned down. Tailgate, actually, gets some nice lines, and serves his function heartbreakingly well. (And those initial pages provide some rushed but good background to all his obsessions, too.)
Skids sure does talk a lot
Chromedome, trying to get over Rewind's death. There are some excellent moments here, unsurprisingly. The scenes with Skids outside the ship, hinting at the real ties between him and Rewind, the talk after the funeral revealing a big secret, the final pages. Especially towards the end, although a tad confusing in some frames.
Artist on board this time is Agustin Padilla, who has previously worked on the Rage of the Dinobots miniseries, with Jose Aviles on inks. While I do like the work overall, something does quite feel right in terms of proportions and scale, especially with the smaller bots like Tailgate and Swerve.
Someone went to the Hasbro masterclass on scale
Burcham's colours really are something. This issue is toned done, almost muted, in remembrance of the events from the previous one, and the colouring just makes sure we get the gravity of the situation. There isn't that much space for Long to play around with lettering, but the captions in the final sections of the issue are really well executed.
Overall, the artwork leaves me a bit unsure, but there are some gems in there, and the colours really do help. The images really suit the text, in hue, tone and saturation, and not just for flashbacks. The amount of work going into those last pages is impressive, and needs commending, though.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
I liked it. I really liked it. I appreciated what Roberts did in the almost final pages, although it was a bit confusing at times. I'm glad there was no need for subtlety. I enjoyed how everything was turned down a notch, in terms of action, pacing and even colour saturation. One minor negative point I do have concerns the artwork, which doesn't always work. But it is a minor point.
I'm still unsure at the Overlord situation having been resolved so quickly, and similarly with Ultra Magnus' condition – although it wasn't entirely unsurprising, actually. The final page, while it will undoubtedly work in upcoming issues, felt almost forced after Rewind's message. We'll see where this goes, and whether what is left of the crew will indeed Remain in Light.
Site sponsor Kapow! Toys has posted their pictorial review of Transformers Generations Voyager Class Blizwing. Contrary to some of the previous video reviews, Kapow! Toys give this figure high marks, check out their review and images below. He's in-stock and ready to ship at the following link:
Having watched and read some reviews on this guy from the last few days I've got to be honest I was dreading this morning and fully expected the devil in plastic so I'm happy to report I was pleasantly surprised. Right off the bat yes the shoulders are annoying, the left one seems to be the fave that does not peg in when in robot mode and it does mean the shoulders can roll when moving the arms, is it a deal breaker ? no, its just annoying, nothing more nothing less and was improved with a quick dab and dry of super glue. Blitzwing is a lot more complex than Springer, you can see the sheer amount of work which has gone into getting a robot to switch between robot, tank and jet, its a lot and it can't be ignored, sure he is far from perfect but whoever designed this guy must have cared about the character and for me they have done a good job.
In robot mode he looks like a Blitzwing should do, bulkier than his counterpart Springer and standing a little taller giving that feeling of imposing foe rather than easy opponent. The sword is a faithful update of the original whilst the gun comes off as a little weak, its quite tiny and sits rather awkwardly in his fist due to clearance issues it is however a good fit for a tank machine gun so maybe they were trying to strike a balance for both modes. Leg articulation is very nice with ball joint ankles, swivel and hinge knees and ball joint hips. There is no waist swivel due to the nature of the transformation and the fact the turret barrel and jet nosecone switch between this area for storage depending on what vehicle your picking. With regard to the 3 faces they are a nice touch and very cool bonus feature but don't interest me personally.
Jet mode comes across as very Alpha Fighter which in my book is only a good thing, it clips together well and the empty area some have complained about can actually be filled with the sword and then the machine gun plugged on top, the turret barrel can flip from exhaust to weapon in an instant adding play value for kids and big kids alike.
Tank mode is small but nicely formed, again if you transform it correctly it all clips together nice and tight, the tread transformation is quite nifty and another example of the level of thought and effort that gone into this toy. He freewheels nicely across the desk and the turret does pivot but at an awkward angle, does this bother me too much ? no because I've got 3 modes from 1 toy when I'm normally getting 2.
Overall Blitzwing scores 8/10 he's scoring this high due to the fact he is a design triumph for Hasbro and they have really thought about how its put together however if things like the shoulder issue really annoy you then chip off another point which will bring it down to a 7/10 and help make your mind up about a potential purchase, I don't purchase my figures to play with them anymore, its more about the design and engineering so I don't want to mislead any fans that do like to spend some time with their figures.
Site sponsor Kapow! Toys has provided us with a great pictorial review of the new Transformers Generations Legends Class Optimus Prime with Roller. The figure brings loads of articulation to the table for it's size, and Roller pulls triple-changing duties as a vehicle, robot, and weapon. Check out the images and review below.
Coming in at the Commander class size scale Optimus is based on the IDW Comics design and is pretty awesome thanks to this. I've really enjoyed the last 24 hours with these little guys, far more than any Legends style figure I've owned before. The main figure is nice and solid and features a good level of articulation along with a solid transformation.
Both truck and robot mode are a success with the only grumble being about the constantly closing chest section and some clearance issues with the backpack created by moving the wheels up. Roller is basic but does his job, he doesn't really transform from truck to robot more than stand up but when it comes to the weapon mode he has a neat little folding mechanism which requires a gentle pull to change him into Optimus Primes double barreled cannon. He is too heavy for Optimus to wield comfortably in robot mode but these are primarily made for kids who will love them, the play value is huge and I think the fact you get 2 robots in the set makes it well worth picking up if your a parent or collector.
FINAL BATTLE! The leadership of Cybertron will be decided once and for all! It’s all-out war against the forces of MEGATRON! Will the Autobots wrest control from their attackers—or will the DECEPTICON flag fly over Cybertron forever? Heroes will fall, and nothing will stay the same.
That cliché inhibitor really was crushed
Everyone's fighting, robots are fighting, there is some fighting and some more fighting too. So far, mostly fighting. And talking. But no Shockwave. Superion's gone, Prowlestator is on a rampage, things look bad for most characters. Did I mention fighting?
Oh, and this happens
Apparently, this is supposed to be the conclusion to the first story-arc, started in issue 1, after the split from MTMTE. And I guess it does do that, after a fashion. There is a sense of closure for some of the storyline's aspects that started with the series' inception, but not really that much, and some aspects of the plot are just left hanging, in my opinion.
The boxes are yellow too!
Bumblebee's voice is the narrative thread running through the entirety of the issue, in the usual Barber caption commentary. I understand the need for something other than pure action sequences, but having the little boxes showing up all over gives me the impression of trying to fit too much into one arc/issue/volume.
Megatron's cliché inhibitor is also awol
Mind you, the writing in the captions is good, but some of the scenes in the issue really didn't do it for me. Either too silly, or predictable, I feel. There are some good points, though, like the legacy of other Cybertronians we've seen so far, and a little resolution, plus a set-up for a promising expansion of the setting for the series in the near future. And a good, if not entirely surprising, conclusion, too.
The artwork, on the other hand, is gorgeous. While I have still some concerns with some of the characters' faces, I really enjoyed the details that Griffith, Shearer and Ketcham added to each of the players in the battle: damage, scarring, cracks, creaks, and so on and so forth – no one is as clean as after a Hollywood movie battle scene, and that is an excellent thing.
See? Battle damage redeco all over
There are some amazing soundwords too, and the lettering for them is brilliant. Lee has really put himself into these! Additionally, Perez' colours, especially in some of the bigger resolution moments – which I will not spoil for anyone – are gorgeous. And I love the tones of the last pages, especially in the final panel.
So yes, the art-colour-lettering jobs definitely bring up the issue a notch, allowing it, in my judgement, to pass. They're not just aesthetically pleasing, they're well done, and convey exactly what this type of situation would entail in a physical scenario.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
I wasn't a fan of this one, I have to admit. There was the same sense of prolongued fighting as the previous issue, and it tried inserting some tension relief with secondary characters like Swindle and the Dinobots, which may or may not have entirely worked. The conclusion is not entirely unexpected, but pleasing enough, though!
Er.. can we?
There are some loose ends still to tie up (and where is Shockwave?!), but there are some excellent scenes in terms of artwork, colouring and page-span. There were ups, and as I said, this may lead into something a lot better, but for now, I'm a little disappointed. Here's hoping for better with the next arc.
TOO LITTLE—TOO LATE! As Scorponok’s Dark Reign comes ever closer to spreading right across Cybertron, Grimlock launches a desperate counterstrike, in the face of almost innumerable odds. Does the Dinobot commander really have one last ace up his sleeve, or does his “plan” amount to a glorious—but doomed—last stand?
Best laid plans of dinos and bots
So this is the conclusion to the second arc of the conclusion to the whole shebang, started way back when in the Marvel US run. I have to say, a definite improvement to the previous issue, in my opinion! (Not that it was particularly bad, mind you, just a bit slow, and felt as though something was lacking.)
Do something! Anything!
This issue finally completes the gene key-cum-Grimlock-versus-Scorponok plots, as well as setting up the next one. With Shockwave, Galvatron and Starscream, in all likelyhood. And Magnus' team. And Rodimus. Rodimus still doesn't seem to know what he's going to do, though. Magnus and the Wreckers have yet to reach Cybertron. Galvatron and Starscream are on the Ark with Shockwave, who is now connected to the ship.
Coming out of the woodwork
So all attention is pointed towards Grimlock and his gang of adorable misfits, and Scorponok’s conquering mania via activating the planetary gene-key. The concern I had about the story is that the outcome is pretty much expected, even though we were (sort of) proven wrong with Megatron's death earlier on in the series. I know the Autobots are going to win, so I expect Furman to give us a little more than that.
Wait for it...
And, in a way, I think he did. I will not spoil the issue for anyone, but there are a couple of minor twists, and if anything, they left me with a smirk on my face. I do believe, however, that the best parts of the issue are Galvatron, Starscream and Shockwave's moments, with the addition of a fourth player.
Wildman and Baskerville are good together. There is a lot of difference between the pre-80 and ReGeneration One, even though Wildman worked both then and now, and I like what they're doing with an old-but-new style. I'm not too sure about some facial expressions, as they seem to be rather limited in range of emotions, but I also won't complain too much about them, either! Mowry on lettering does add some nice touches though, especially with Grimlock rampaging all over the place.
Jeff Goldblum would love it
The colours are always my favourite part of ReGeneration One, and this time round, John-Paul is helped by James Stayte. They really do pop, and that to me is a very very good thing. It separates the series from the other two ongoings, and helps the new-ness of the old-but-new, and really does help some of the bigger action shots.
Oh the paratext the paratext
And, I have to say, I love the frames in this issue. They work with the action, they work with time-scale, the flashback ones are excellent, from right angles to rounded ones, jagged edges for particularly incisive moments, and they don't always follow the grid.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
I enjoyed it! There were some issues with it, and it still feels a little rushed, trying to tie up all loose ends, but I think it's setting up the coming story-arcs nicely. My biggest problem with it was how quickly the Grimlock-Scorponok diatribe is resolved. Also, some of the various “twists” in the story were not exactly mind-blowing, but did the trick. And come on Hot Rod, do something.
Or next month, we're flexible
But all in all, a good issue. Nice artwork and paratextual stuff, excellent colours, the story runs well and we get some really juicy hints at what might happen next. We're halfway there, and Furman has made it clear more than once that this is it, so buckle up, and wait for next month's cataclism. It looks to be a big 'un.
. - out of
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