Wednesday, March 23, 2011

#3 - TRANSFORMERS: For All Mankind/Things Fall Apart

Welcome to Comic Book Clash were characters, teams & companies clash for supremacy! And how shall we continue that? Why by going towards the independents. We are going to look into some of the books that make the independent scene wet itself with excitement. And which are we tackling first, why none other than IDW’s new Transformers Ongoing series. Yes. Transformers cause they are more than meets the eye.

(Ongoing) Issues #1-6
Story Arc(s):  . . . For All Mankind, Things Fall Apart Parts 1-5
Written by Mike Costa ; Penciled by Don Figueroa
IDW Publishing

            Transformers have been around for nearly 30 years now. Starting out as a hybrid of Diacone, Transformers origins lay with both Japanese & American creators. And yes, I do consider it anime. The popularity of the original (Generation 1) Transformers was so massive that Marvel Comics started a comic book series. It went from mini to ongoing, gaining so much popularity over seas that Marvel UK made its own stories, instead of reprint American stories after a while. Over the decades, the Transformers property seemed to root itself in pop culture and into the lives of at least 2 generations. The property has gone through massive changes but its longevity is UNDENIABLE. With nearly over 700 episodes of cartoons, several movies, specials and conventions all over the globe, Transformers is truly a marvel.
            Over the last five years, IDW gained the license to the popular franchise after Dreamwave crashed thanks to artist and extortionist, according to many, Pat Lee. Since then, IDW slowly but surely built up the Transformers comic book franchise with a series of minis, followed by an extremely popular maxiseries (Transformers: All Hail Megatron) where the Decepticons actually won and took over Earth for a time. Earth starts to moblize its own rebellion in the form of Gundam sized robots in a group called Skywatch while the Autobots fight back and Spike seemingly KILLS Megatron.  Yes. That is not a hoax. That is not a lie.



Anywho, after the Autobots and Skywatch defeat the Decepticon occupation of early, the evil faction disperses all over the galaxy, with a majority of them falling under the command of who else . . . Starscream. Who has the matrix. And all you really need to get this information, if you want to jump into the ongoing, is collect all those issues or get the Transformers Continuum: The Definitive Chronology that gives you a recap of all the IDW stories til now. Onto the new Ongoing.
            Two years have passed since the end of  Transformers: All Hail Megatron Maxiseries, and Skywatch has full US Government backing. Their mission. To capture or destroy all Cybertronians, whether they be Autobot or Decepticon. The Decepticons are scattered about. And the Autobots are in hiding. Welcome to the beginning of the new Transformers ongoing.
            The series opens to telling us all these information till we find the Autobots, particularly Prowl begins to watch Skywatch capture Breakdown. Prowl tries to stop Skywatch only to find that . . .

            Been wanted to use that for a while. Anyway, Spike and Skywatch were seemingly waiting for Prowl and capture him too, trapping him in his vehicle form. Meanwhile, Optimus Prime gets into a heated argument . . . with Hot Rod. Yes. Hot Rod arguing with Optimus. Let the haters of Hot Rod emerge. Optimus states that he wants Wheeljack to come up with technology that will make them immune to Skywatch’s tech that makes Cybertronian’s stuck in one form but Hot Rod argues why the Autobots are still doing on Earth. Optimus replies that they are there to make sure the Decepticons don’t come back, that they should stay hidden to protect the Earth. Hot Rod yells that the Decepticons are NOT coming back and that they are being under attack but the humans who they are suppose to be protecting. Hot Rod is antsy and they need to save Prowl. So Optimus orders Hot Rod to lead a squad to rescue Prowl from Skywatch. Ironhide gets ordered to go along to make sure Hot Rod doesn’t go to far. And that turns into a frelling mess, as Prowl does get broken out but Skywatch starts a fight and KILL Ironhide.  Seriously. These sons of bitches KILL Ironhide. All this with narration by Optimus himself that when the other Autobots come back with the dead carcass of the classic G1 character. This, in response, throws Optimus Prime into a depression and he QUITS the Autobots, stating he is no longer fit to be in command and gives himself over to Skywatch. Wait . . .whut?
            After a very civil conversation between Optimus and Spike, Optimus is locked up. Back with the Autobots, Hot Rod is fed up and wants off of Earth. He says he is tired of the humans and that Optimus turned his back on them. Cliffjumper states they should hold an election on a new Leader but Hot Rod wants none of that. Hot Rod says he is tired of paying for stuff that Megatron did just cause humanity is afraid and says he follows no one. Hot Rod states he plans on building a new spaceship and getting off  Earth and anyone is welcome to go with him. He states that he figures that he is not waiting for the humans to shut him down and park him next to Prime. So Hot Rod leads a group of Autobots, including Prowl who is technically supposed to be in charge, away to build a new ship to get off planet. The rest of the Autobots stay. First place Hot Rod’s group goes is to Omega Supreme and ask the giant rocket ship & base Autobot about leaving Earth. But Omega refuses to leave unless Optimus gives him the order. While this exchange is happening, Swindle, Thundercracker, Scrapper and several other Decepticons that did not leave with Starscream are overhearing Hot Rod & Omega Supreme’s exchange. Omega tells his Autobots about them and they begin fighting only see Hot Rod & Swindle having an interesting exchange as to why are they even fighting; the war is over and they all want off planet.
            Meanwhile, unlike what Hot Rod had though, Spike actually gives Optimus respectful treatment while trying the pump the old Autobot leader for information. Yet, Optimus sees through it and merely states he is doing what he can to protect his soldiers which Spike comes to respect. The elections ends with Bubblebee getting voted in as the new leader then Ultra Magnus showing up on a spaceship.
            It seems before Hot Rod & Prowl defected, Prowl had called in Ultra Magnus as standard procedure with an officers murder. So yes, playing NCIS investigator is none other than Ultra Magnus, who makes the Autobots uncomfortable and makes good ole’ Bumblebee into a Bumblemouth; the smaller Autobot falling all over himself. Ultra Magnus makes the other Autobots so uncomfortable that he ends up causing another group of Autobots, this time lead by Blurr & Hoist to defect. Great job Ultra Magnus.
            Hot Rod talks Jetfire and convinces him to help him and his band to build the spaceship . . . but reluctantly as Jetfire as he sees Swindle and his group of Decepticons. Meanwhile, to make Optimus talk, Skywatch catch all but Blurr of Hoist’s little band of Autobot. Swindle & Hot Rod chatted some about this being a new age and asked Hot Rod’s permission to get some more Decepticons to help with the construction. After some coaxing, Hot Rod approves of it and Swindle proclaims Hot Rod a new leader of a new era, Rodimus Prime.
Wait?! WHAT?! First, Hot Rod said no leaders but he is obviously in charge of this group. And now, after all that bullshit, Swindle is the one to make Hot Rod say he’s Rodimus Prime. FUCK YOU SWINDLE!!!
            Thundercracker continues to lament over why fighting the Autobots, the war and all this bullshit about leaving. He goes over what had happened to him between the end of All Hail Megatron and now. Spike gets depressed cause even with the other Autobots, Optimus has not said much. The Autobots under Hot Rod’s little band are uncomfortable with the Decepticons but are working hard on the space ship till NCIS, I mean, Ultra Magnus shows up, conducting the investigation on Ironhide. Hot Rod . . . excuse me, Rodimus Prime chats with Ultra Magnus about the operation till he states that Rodimus cannot build his spaceship cause he does not have leave from his commanding officer. Prowl steps in saying that he is next in line in terms of succession and stated that he granted Hot Rod . . . Rodimus an emergency license. Then Ultra Magnus sees Swindle and some Decepticons working with Autobots and accuses Rodimus and the others of treason. Rodimus tells Ultra Magnus to kiss off and that he does not have any real authority here.
            Spike and Optimus have a heart to heart about what Optimus and the Autobots have been doing on Earth and why Optimus turned himself over. The two trade over ideals on what makes a great leader and the differences and similarities of their wars, getting a better understanding of each other. Magnus runs back to Autobot HQ, where Magnus asks assistance of Bumblebee’s troops to arrest the Deceptions . . . and Rodimus and his Autobots.
            Spike decides to drive Breakdown to where Optimus and the other Autobots that were captured are being held. Yet, the help that Swindle was thinking of, two more Stunticons, knocked Spike out of Breakdown and freed him. Ultra Magnus, with Bumblebee’s crew, returns to face off against Rodimus.  Ultra Magnus says he is arresting him and his crew from treason while Rodimus says that there aren’t anymore sides. Rodimus and Ultra Magnus continue to debate when suddenly Swindle says he will take care of things and then we find that all 5 Stunticons are together . . . and merge into Menasor.
            It seems the main reason for Magnus’s hostilities before against Swindle was not only because he was a Decepticon, but he stole Gestalt (aka Combiner) Technology. And yes, Swindle installed it into the Stunticons, making IDW’s debut of the Stunticon gestalt.     Menasor’s attack on the Autobots attracts Skywatch. Spike and Optimus finish their conversation as Spike admits that he ordered lethal action against the Autobots just to prove a point. Out of respect for Optimus and the situation with Menasor, Spike basically drafts Optimus to help Skywatch against Menasor. While Menasor has Ultra Magnus in hand, the individual Stunticons argue what to do with him. Swindle goats as Menasor seems ready to kill Magnus when Optimus Prime transforms into truck mode and literally drops on top of Swindle. The other Decepticons begin fighting as Scrapper holds Bumblebee by his throat, only to get blasted by Thundercracker. Wait . .. whut?
            Thundercracker tells Bumblebee that he looks for honor, unlike most of the others and plans to help Rodimus. Bumblebee notices the lack of cohesion between the Combaticons so he orders Optimus to break them apart. Optimus tells Bumblebee to give the others the order and does so. Skywatch, Optimus and the Autobots forces combined defeat Menasor. When Skywatch turns to the Autobots, they look to Optimus. Optimus in turn says talk to their new leader, Bumblebee. Bumblebee and Spike work out a deal to work with Skywatch with the Autobots being free as long as they share Cybertronian tech with them. Magnus comes back to the picture after being damaged from the fight wanting to find Swindle. When he finds out Swindle got away, Ultra Magnus gets on his high horse again and tries to arrest Rodimus. The Autobots that were with Rodimus complain that they were fine till he had added the Decepticons to their plans. Before Rodimus can answer & Magnus can try to arrest him, Bumblebee puts Ultra Magnus in his place. Bumblebee goes as far as saying that on Earth, Magnus answers to him and that they have to start accepting things as they see them, not as they are remembered; and until they get the Matrix back and it chooses it next leader, Bumblebee is the head honcho.

To mirror Silverstreaks reaction: WOW.

Bumblebee turns to talk to Rodimus, who steals Ultra Magnus’s craft and goes off to space, ending the storyline.


            So yeah. Transformers ongoing. How do I feel about it? Let me say that the overall story was both interesting and engaging. It gave an interesting new twist in the relationships of the Autobots, the Decepticons and humans. The war, at least for the majority of the issues, is three fold. Yet, it becomes very scrambled very quickly. Hot Rod’s evolution was oddly fine and well thought out. It gave a great new twist on a classic character that while some people hated, others respected. That seemed to be a very big occurrence across the board. Giving new and fresh dimensions on classic characters to make the read interesting and fun. From Optimus Prime’s attitude of respecting life making him give up leadership and willingly be imprisoned by humans Rodimus’s attitude towards humanity and their situation to becoming a strong leader that is kind of an ass. Bumblebee’s evolution to passive to a new and worthy leader of the Autobots.
            I am particularly annoyed at Ultra Magnus which I give kudos to Mike Costa. He turned a rather bland imitation of Optimus Prime into an annoying, by the book, condescending ass. The last time I remember Ultra Magnus being this interesting was in the Transformers anime, Transformers: Robots In Disguise (aka Transformers: Car Robots). From his first appearance to the Autobots, to the last issue of the storyline, Ultra Magnus was this driven, through, anal prick of a cop. And as annoyed as I am at the character, that makes Ultra Magnus that much more memoriable.
            Spike definitely conveys a lot whenever we see him. He looks at the war and the Cybertronians and really learns how different the Autobots and Decepticons are. His relationship that builds with Optimus makes for some great interplay and character moments. This Spike is more daring than the original and seemingly, a bit more edgy. He is driven yet compassionate.
            Thundercracker went on about nobility and what this war has cost him over time. It gave him a great new dimension. There were a lot of great character changes that seem true to the original characters but a great evolutionary jump from previous personalities or just great reboots.
            Optimus Prime taking Ironhide’s death so very hard after being questioned so much by Hot Rod made a great set up for where Optimus ends up by the end of the story. He is working on redeeming himself; to the humans and his Autobots.
            Yet, while the character interplay was well done and the story itself was well paced and engaging; there were some gripes I had. Why . . .why . . . did Prowl decide to stay a second in command or take the back seat when he, by his own admittance, was supposed to take the reins as leader in Optimus’s absence. WHY?
            I understand why the election happened if that had started after Prowl left but they were talking elections before Hot Rod and Prowl left. What kind of cooky crap is that? Costa saves himself with Prowl explaining why he joins Hot Rod, yet a lot of this storyline happens because Prowl decides to not be in charge. And if we are continuing to talking about following succession, who was supposed to be in charge after Prowl? Hot Rod?
            The election just seems like an odd choice. The Autobots clearly are running things like a military operation. So why an election? Then there is the other thing that bothers me but not sure whether it is good or bad. Swindle being the one to coin Hot Rod as Rodimus Prime. There is a lot of what Swindle was saying was true. Hot Rod was ushering in a new era. Problem was that Hot Rod (or Rodimus Prime) is so short sighted when it came to the over all big picture. His biggest concern is survival and prestige as he takes the name Rodimus Prime with little debate; he clearly thinks little of Optimus after he turns himself in. These character traits were both entertaining and well done but still somewhat off. And getting Rodimus Prime from Swindle, as a reader and as a long time Transformers fan, felt very dirty.
            Artistically, the book looks pretty damn good. Don Figueroa has a new art style for this new ongoing. At first glance, I was not a fan. Yet, as the issues went on, the new style really grew on me. The humans were not too bad and were distinct enough to tell one person from another. Yet, the transformers were hyper detailed. It looks at if Don Figueroa has fused his old style with a bit more attention to detail, like the live action movie Transformers. There is more detail on the faces and bodies and it is noticeable with each panel. Optimus’s body has gears and large windows as well as a large wheels. The Transformers all look as if they are detailed and more alien than before. J. Brown did an amazing job giving vibrant colors to Don Figueroa’s pencils. The backgrounds are colorful and lively. The humans are well toned. The transformers look amazing. Heck, Hot Rod is colored like the awesome character that he is and not the fusha mess he was in comic books past. Figueroa needs to work on his humans a bit more.
            Transformers ongoing draws people in with a new status quo and a brand new look at the Autobot, Decepticon war. Humans react very differently this time, with some of them still against any Cybertronian. There are some weird inconsistencies with the story but nothing that takes away from the storyline. Costa will have to learn to be careful with any future storylines he tells to make sure there is not anymore story hiccups. And Figueroa’s humans just need a little more time with them but over all, a great starting point for new and old friends alike.

            That is why I am giving Transformers Ongoing: . . . For All Mankind & Things Fall Apart enter in an Intercontinental Contenders spot.

No comments:

Post a Comment