Seibertron.com Reviews IDW Transformers Spotlight: Megatron
Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 6:37AM CSTCategories: Comic Book News, Reviews
Posted by: Blurrz Views: 23,144
(Spoiler free, just ask Starscream)
With 2013 signalling the rebirth of the Spotlight issues, it is fair to say that IDW's character driven one-shots are phenomenal so far. The events that occur in past and current Ongoing series broaden the possibilities for the Spotlight series, and with a myriad of talented Transformers gurus at IDW HQ, we are in for a treat. Enter the third issue of the new era of Spotlights, and covers aside, Nick Roche, well known for his work with the Last Stand of the Wreckers, is a one man wrecking crew, providing the artwork and the written component for Spotlight: Megatron.
What amazes me is that it took this long into IDW's tenure for a Megatron spotlight to be released! Albeit, many of the issues prior to this one, in series such as the previous Ongoing and the All Hail Megatron series, dive deep into Megatron's character. Yet as much as I do want to know even more about Megatron with an extrapolation of the Transformers (Ongoing) #22, (Ongoing #23 spawned Orion Pax stories in RID, MTMTE's Shadowplay and his own spotlight) this issue is as much about Megatron, as it is about Starscream.
The more I stop to think about, the more I realize that much like Megatron and Optimus Prime - Megatron and Starscream are just as inseparable. I believe we know all of this as Transformers fans, but Roche shines new light to this. Much like his compatriots in Roberts and Barber, he is able to twist and turn our heart strings, and bring emotion to play. In this issue alone, he makes us feel compassionate not just for Starscream, but for Megatron as well.
In context, this comic happens before the events of Ongoing #13. The significance is more or less Starscream's actions in the comics we have read from #13, up to this point. Stylistically, I have to say, wow, Megatron's new alternate mode has so much meaning to it. Well done IDW.
Overall, Roche provides a stunning display of story and artwork that far exceeds expectations of a characterization for the renowned Decepticon leader. Worth the price of the issue!
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Posted by El Duque on February 6th, 2013 @ 4:40pm CST
PAGE 1: This story starts off just after Megatron has received a new body during the TRANSFORMERS ONGOING series from a couple of years ago. Why set the tale in this time frame? And did you have to research all the old designs again?
NICK ROCHE (writer): Well, I just write the thing. It doesn’t bother me what the designs for the characters are like. I just sit back, lash any old nonsense out, and watch the accolades come cascading in.
As for the timeframe, IDW and Hasbro were looking for a Megatron SPOTLIGHT to feature the same body that the character currently sports in the TRANSFORMERS: ROBOTS IN DISGUISE ongoing series. Of course, he’s a little dinged-up over on that title, and has foregone more of his personal grooming routines. But it’s essentially the same character design. Now, almost every nano-second of that iteration of Ol’ Megs has been accounted for – from him coming online in TRANSFORMER ONGOING #13, to his climactic farewell in the “CHAOS” series. I had to pull a trick that Simon Furman has made his own, and find an empty story-corner to craft an idea; tell an off-panel tale, as it were. And it allowed me to address what must have been huge disappointment and frustration on Megatron’s part upon discovering the undignified and embarrassing mess Starscream had made as leader of the Decepticons.
NICK ROCHE (artist): The script was pretty loosely written, so I had to second-guess the writer’s intent a lot of the time. He’d just send a hand-scrawled note on greaseproof paper that said, “’bot 1 punches ’bot 2.” I had to do a lot of work to put any shape on the so-called story.
Piecing together the “script” did involve me having to do some research and capture the look that the ONGOING-Era Decepticons had on their Vacation Asteroid. But every comic – and every TRANSFORMERS comic especially – involves a lot of back-checking and cross-referencing on pre-existing designs. Because I had drawn Megatron and a few of the other cast members in these designs before, it wasn’t a complete slog, and didn’t slow me down too much.
PAGES 2 and 3: Did you find it difficult to write Megatron’s character at this point in time, bearing in mind everything he went through in All Hail Megatron and just after that?
NICK ROCHE (writer): Not prohibitively difficult, but it was an enjoyable challenge marrying up the Megatrons of two different writers (Shane McCarthy & Mike Costa) and have him pointing where the current writer (John Barber) has him positioned. It was interesting to read back over both eras of Megatron and reconcile the words and deeds of one with the other. I think I managed to not contradict anyone as I pulled my Megatron into place.
Barring weaving other versions of the character into this one version though, I tried to think about how Megatron would feel at having all that is sacred to him – his Decepticons; The “physical manifestation of his ideology” – absolutely driven into the ground. His star system-trouncing warriors are reduced to a whimpering mess, so let’s discover what affect this would have on him. If the Decepticons are defeated, he feels it, because to him, the Cause and The ’Bot are one and the same.
NICK ROCHE (artist): Is there a question for me? No? Oh, it’s all about the writer, yeah? That guy…
Well, let me tell you about stuff anyway. I drew these pages. Was it easy? Nothing is, working with that guy. He didn’t even specify which ones some of them were. “The Blue Cassette and a Broken Clone” was pretty much all the direction I got for this spread.
This was where some of the referring back to earlier issues paid off. Like, I tried to keep the wounds that Razorclaw suffered in his skirmish with Starscream back in ONGOING #13 consistent with the wear-and-tear shown here. And then I added little nods to the cannibalization that was rife during this period too. You can see that Sunstorm (on the left of the image) is sitting down, because someone else is probably using his lower legs…
PAGE 4- What would you say set this issue apart on terns of the challenge as apposed to the other issues that you have written and drawn yourself?
NICK ROCHE (writer): Oddly, this page represents the real departure from previous solo excursions, in that there is some Editorially-mandated content. The through-line between this current batch of Spotlights is a connection to Metroplex and the Space Bridge technology he possesses. We know that this new body Megatron inhabits has the ability to traverse vast interstellar distances. Where did his restoration crew gain that technology from? Well, now we know. And as a dutiful Megatron nerd, I couldn’t bypass the opportunity to refer to the character’s oft-cited ability to access a Black Hole in deep space. What potential side effects could those powers unleash with this new Space Bridge ability? It’s all touched on slightly here. In dinner terms, this page is the Science Starter, the rest of the issue is Red Raw Main Course. Things…get messy. Bring a bib.
Though you have no idea how giddy a writer can get when they realize, “Wow! I’m writing a conversation between MEGATRON and SHOCKWAVE!” Workdays don’t come any better than that.
NICK ROCHE (artist): “Make the One-Eyed One argue with the Bucket-Head One.” That’s literally all he wrote.
It was hugely enjoyable to realize that I was drawing two of the heaviest-hitters (maybe THE heaviest?) in the Decepticon army having a typically terse one-to-one. It was massive fun to draw a similar scene between Shockwave and Overlord in LAST STAND OF THE WRECKERS, but as popular as Overlord is now, he didn’t have the same weight of responsibility to draw then. Whereas this scene – which has a sulky, skulky Soundwave too, for flip’s sake! – made me regress to seven-year-old status. (I usually operate at full-on nine-year-old.)
PAGE 5- Megatron sets his sights on Starscream for the first time since he’s seen just what Starscream did as leader in his stead. This is one of Transformers classic relationships. Had you always in your mind wanted to do these scenes, and did you always know how you wanted them to be?
NICK ROCHE (writer): I didn’t think I had a burning desire to explore this relationship, but that’s sometimes the best way to be. A part of me worries I’ll choke or wobble (or both at once – a “chobble”) when the day comes to write some dialogue for Optimus Prime. But because of when this story was set, and because of the events that lead us here, this confrontation was unavoidable. I had no choice but to just write it, and I think that can often be for the best. Out of all the iterations of TRANSFORMERS lore over the decades, this relationship between Megatron and Starscream is by far the most constant and enduring. Prime has different lieutenants or right-hand-guys in different shows, but Starscream is eternally cursed to be the thorn in Megatron’s side.
For me, the question at the heart of this relationship is as fundamental as “Why DOESN’T Batman just kill the Joker?” Why does Megatron keep Starscream around? What possible thought-process could allow a liability like him to linger and lurk, constantly undermining and unraveling your progress? It became apparent very quickly that this was what the story had to be about. And I think I’ve managed, in the pages that follow, to explore – and even explain to some degree – what this relationship is really all about.
NICK ROCHE (artist): My thinking here (because ONE of us had to do a bit of that) was that upon discovering Megatron’s resurrection in ONGOING #14, Starscream fronted it out a little with the returning boss, and then retreated to his rinky-dink throne room, where he’d squandered three years piffling about with the Autobot Matrix. So, I wanted to show a Starscream that’s beaten before Megatron even makes a start. The heft of his own fear of Megatron has literally crushed him, and where better to reflect on his potentially final moments than at the foot of the seat of his power. Interesting though that he doesn’t flea; he stays to face the music. The rest of this issue gets down to the nitty-gritty of the odd and dark relationship that these two share. I think. I dunno, I just draw the pictures.
Posted by Mindmaster on February 6th, 2013 @ 4:52pm CST
Posted by Henry921 on February 6th, 2013 @ 8:24pm CST
Posted by Ultra Markus on February 6th, 2013 @ 8:31pm CST
Posted by padfoo on February 6th, 2013 @ 8:55pm CST
Mindmaster wrote:Something about Starscream's pose in the last panel is... unsettling.
Yea he looks like the little Bit@# that he is.
Posted by Mindmaster on February 6th, 2013 @ 9:10pm CST
padfoo wrote:Mindmaster wrote:Something about Starscream's pose in the last panel is... unsettling.
Yea he looks like the little Bit@# that he is.
Too far, bro. Too far.
Posted by MINDVVIPE on February 6th, 2013 @ 9:49pm CST
Mindmaster wrote:padfoo wrote:Mindmaster wrote:Something about Starscream's pose in the last panel is... unsettling.
Yea he looks like the little Bit@# that he is.
Too far, bro. Too far.
Posted by _Anshin_ on February 6th, 2013 @ 11:01pm CST
Posted by Abraxsis on February 6th, 2013 @ 11:55pm CST
Posted by M3Gr1ml0ck on February 7th, 2013 @ 3:21am CST
Posted by Va'al on February 7th, 2013 @ 4:13am CST
_Anshin_ wrote:So question. If I wanted to catch up before reading this what are a few back issues I should read?
The story is set during the previous IDW ongoing, following from the events of All Hail Megatron, International Incident and before Revenge of the Decepticons. But apparently, it also fits in with current ongoing, Robots in Disguise.
If you haven't read any of them, I'd say use TFWiki to catch up!
Posted by Treetop Maximus on February 8th, 2013 @ 10:12pm CST
Posted by Va'al on February 14th, 2013 @ 12:53pm CST
Treetop Maximus wrote:Holy crap, Spotlight: Megatron was amazing.
I agree. And I agree with Blurrz' comment on it being as much Starscream's story as it is Megatron's.
Interested to see how it'll tie in with the next issue of Robots in Disguise, actually.
Posted by Va'al on March 25th, 2013 @ 9:38am CDT
Posted by Antron on March 26th, 2013 @ 11:27am CDT
Posted by Va'al on March 26th, 2013 @ 11:40am CDT
Antron wrote:Are we sure this isn't the 1 that is going to come with the generations deluxe that's coming with a reprint?
The cover we saw from the Toy Fair has already been revealed, and it's the one with artwork by Clayton Crain. This seems to be another, as far as we know.
Posted by Va'al on March 27th, 2013 @ 3:41pm CDT
Nick has now confirmed that the cover for the reprint will not be entirely new, just a minorly edited version of the one's we've already seen.
He also posted a rough sketch of his original cover to celebrate the second print!
Posted by Va'al on April 23rd, 2013 @ 8:15am CDT
The issue is out tomorrow, so if you didn't get a copy first time round, now's your chance! If you're still on the fence, read our review here.