Monday, October 19, 2009

Transformers: All Hail Megatron vol 1&2 TPBs

Sometimes I amaze myself at how dorky I am. I spent the weekend burning through the last two Transformers Spotlights and the first two volumes of All Hail Megatron. I was pleased as punch. What I finally realized is that IDW is publishing Transformer comics that are exactly what I want. Not the near-miss of the old Marvel days (which had decent stories, but average art) and not the great-looking but ultimately hollow Dreamwave launch. The IDW Transformers universe has all the characters acting the way I expect them to from watching the cartoon, but the stories have grown up a bit from the silliness on Saturday morning. Not to say these are too "adult," most of the killing and such happens off-screen. But the stakes are high and bots actually get taken out. I need to get my friends who love the movie to look at these. This is the closest I can explain to what the Transformers "should" be.

The actual story of the two volumes has Megatron's Decepticons taking over the Earth after exiling the Autobots on Cybertron. They'd planned on finishing them off there, but of course Prime and his gang turned things around and at least they're loose on the dead world. The problem is that they're being stalked by the Swarm, a huge number of cannibal Insecticons. There are some neat moments (with a nice payoff) showing how Thundercracker feels about these aberrant Transformers. He's furious that the Decepticons are using the flawed Insecticons when only 3 of them were even debatably sane. It's a cool reason to introduce a brand new split in the 'Con ranks. Starscream is also maneuvering to take over, but that's to be expected, isn't it? There is plenty of screen time for the bad guys. The jets, Soundwave, the tapes, Devastator, the triple-changers, they all have their time to shine.

The Autobots meanwhile are at each others' throats while they search for a traitor. The cast of bots is all the Generation 1 classics (Jazz, Ironhide, Ratchet, Prowl, etc.) with the odd addition of Tracks. That crew eventually meets up with some movie-era 'Bots led by Kup. These guys include Blaster, a souped-up Perceptor, Hot Rod, and more. If all these names just sound like nonsense, then you are in for a treat. Shane McCarthy does a great job dropping just enough dialogue to give you a feel for the huge cast.

The pacing did feel a bit off; as I thought things jumped from Cybertron back to Earth in a jarring fashion. After taking so long to build things up, I think I would have liked a bit more of a resolution in the final conflict. But we are left with a neat new status quo and more than a few dead Transformers.

The art by Guido Guidi is great. His robots look imposing while still retaining their cartoon roots. The coloring really excels too, especially with the glowing eyes. The humans don't look as good, but who cares, this is a Transformer comic, right?



Artillery MKV said...

I'm reading the firt of the two TPBs of this, and it IS great. I agree the transitions back to Cybertron are a little rough, but the story is good enough to forgive it.

My favorite moment so far: a group of autobots narrowly escape destruction and bump into a previously lost friend. They're all sure they're going to die soon and the new comer says something along the lines of: "Great! You're here to rescue me!" Meaning full glances among the 'rescuers.'

Good stuff.

Timbotron said...

Those little moments are what is selling the series. In that same sequence, Wheeljack talks about his distress signal; a momentary blip on a screen back at HQ. Bumblebee worries that no sane bot would sit around watching a dark screen for a quick light and that they're in trouble.

Cut to HQ where Cliffjumper is just sitting there, staring at the screen. When he sees the beep; "All right!" Good stuff.