CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers: Foundation #1
Reviewed by Blackjack
“Sentinel taught us both, together—each pushing the other to greater heights.”
Hands down the best ever Movie-related comic I’ve ever read. Megatron has so far been neglected other than being portrayed as the Big Bad Decepticon, and after Revenge of the Fallen, seems to have been relegated to ‘simple warlord manipulated by the Fallen’ status. This is made worse in that in most comics, Megatron is absent. The Titan comics ignore him until very recently, Nefarious and Tales of the Fallen don’t feature Megatron at all… and as such, it is nice to have him be the star of the show. John Barber, returning after the fun Sector Seven miniseries, astounds with his knowledge of the Transformers universe. As usual, he pays meticulous attention to detail, neatly interconnecting Tales of the Fallen with Defiance with Revenge of the Fallen and hopefully the new Dark of the Moon movie script as well. Megatron’s monologue runs throughout the issue, and it is simply astounding. No longer is Megatron just a one-dimensional manipulated warlord, he’s got ambition. And a ironic streak reminiscent of his Beast Wars counterpart.
The art is astounding as well, with the normally hard-to-decipher expressions of the Movieverse designs expressed well. There are some parts where it is edgy, but Andy Griffith does his work so spectacularly, especially after seeing Carlos Magno’s messy and lumpy art. Andy Griffith, I daresay, is on par with the likes of Don Figueroa or Alex Milne. Optimus Prime himself is consumed by vengeance and a need to kill Megatron (give me your face psychotic tendencies, anyone?), something that Megatron is well aware of. Their ‘brother’ status, most likely as brother students under the tutelage of Sentinel Prime, is being delved upon. Megatron is clearly jealous of Optimus Prime being given said title by Sentinel early on.
Again, and I cannot stress this further, it ties and interweaves with prior material so well, instead of creating lots of continuity problems like what Simon Furman did with the whole Nefarious shebang. And unlike Defiance, the background isn’t littered with random toy-based generics that no one actually cares about. I mean, Strongarm and Signal Flare and Grindcore and Breakaway and all… they didn’t give any function to Defiance’s overall plot. Now Foundation, on the other hand, cuts down any such cameos, and even the Decepticons are reduced to generic repaints of the toy models. This has the effect of causing Ironhide, Elita-One and Shockwave to become more prominent, while in Defiance major guys like Jazz and Ratchet all get lost in all the random toy characters.
Ironhide is well-characterised, with his initial meeting with Optimus Prime being shown in a grand way. The whole reviving the AllSpark scheme by Sentinel Prime, who seems to be quite the quirky old mech, is well done. Both Sentinel Prime and Shockwave, who both are going to be main characters in Dark of the Moon, are introduced and had nice lines. In fact, most of the lines, including the monologue, are so well scripted. Shockwave’s sarcastic remark about the sun hurting his eyes is particularly a favourite of this reviewer. Elita-One and Optimus’ little romance, if it could be called that, well… I’m not a fan of robot romance, but this is nicely done enough that I can’t complain. Nice to see Elita-One getting some screentime, especially with the (presumably Hasbro-mandated) retcon in Rising Storm that the Arcee sisters are three Autobots instead of a Reflector-esque one-soul-in-three-bodies Arcee that IDW has previously established. Poor Chris Mowry. That aside, Elita-One is pretty independent and acts as Optimus’ voice of reason, which promptly gets ignored, past romance or no past romance. Sentinel Prime and Optimus talking about destiny and the Prime lineage, and Megatron’s subsequent eavesdropping of it, are nice hints of what is to come in Defiance later, which would make somebody reading the whole thing at once get it much better than just reading Defiance.
This is a great stand-alone story. There is a sequel hook with a promised confrontation between Optimus Prime and Megatron, but the story could end here and it’ll be fine. Spotlight: Megatron. Perhaps it’s because I have a soft spot for the Movieverse franchise, and Megatron in general, but this is
a very well written piece of story. There is a lot of revelations relevant to IDW’s struggling Movieverese comic universe, but are given in slow amounts and are in well done. John Barber is certainly earning whatever IDW’s paying him. Character-centric, yet has a lot of plot going on. And best of all? You don’t have to read Defiance Tales of the Fallen Reign of Nefarious Alliance Rising Storm or whatever to understand it.
Whoo-ee. There’s a whole lot of this. First up, chronology. The bookending bits, with Optimus going after Megatron, happens during the Autobot-Decepticon War, but after the Primes’ death in Tales of the Fallen #3 and #4. it is set sometime after Defiance #3 and the first half of #4, but before the AllSpark was launched into space in Movie Prequel #1/Reign of Starscream #1/Defiance #4. The past, with Sentinel Prime and the AllSpark being brough back into life, happens considerably a long time before the events of Defiance.
Cybertron has corrosive rain.
Optimus’ Cybertronian form is based on the body with an alternate mode seen in Defiance (the more sensible design by Don with four wheels seen in #3 instead of a rolling Protoform truck in Defiance #1 and #2), but is coloured red and blue in some parts. This body is present in both the past and present scenarios, meaning that before Defiance Optimus traded in for an alternate mode that looks like a brick with truck windows, before switching back to it again in Defiance #3. The colours are a big improvement, though.
Optimus’ rifle is based on the original rifle of his G1 toy.
The Decepticon soldiers are all based on toys of the movie line, but are intentionally miscoloured and are confirmed to be generics, since they all get chopped up by Optimus but needs to be alive later on. There are two Payload-models (coloured gray), a bunch of purple and gray Dreadwind-models. These two have drone armies, so it’s fine for them to be used as generics. But we also have a green Crankcase, a gray Brawl (the tank, it’s his Cybertronian alternate mode in Defiance), a gray Hardtop, a purple Ramjet, a yellow Ramjet with a faceplate, and most prominently a yellow Stockade.
First appearance of Movieverse Sentinel Prime anywhere. He is the descendant of Primus, the ‘first Cybertronian’. It is unclear whether he is part of the Seven Original Primes or not, but from Megatron’s dialogue it seems to imply that Sentinel is a separate bunch. He will appear in Dark of the Moon.
Likewise, Shockwave makes his first appearance here. He has a hexagonal head, ‘ears’, and a giant cannon on the right arm. Instead of a giant gun, he transforms into a Cybertronian jet with a giant gun strapped onto its hull, kind of like his appearance in the War for Cybertron video game. We all hope he’ll retain this look in Dark of the Moon.
First appearance of Wheeljack as well. Whether this is a foreshadowing for a character set to appear in DOTM, or just another G1 Expy like Prowl or Cosmos remains to be seen.
The AllSpark needing to feed on stars to survive is of course because the Primes normally use a Solar Harvester to destroy stars to feed it. But with the Primes’ death on prehistoric Earth, Cybertron has apparently been drifting aimlessly in space and civilization has broken up into tribes.
Wheeljack mentions ‘seventeen dimensions’, based on a throwaway line about said seventeen dimensions when Sam has his AllSpark induced mental breakdown in the ROTF Movie. Also, in the same breath Sam had mentioned ‘the Sentinel Prime Expedition’, which may or may not refer to this expedition.
The idea that Cybertron is tumbling through space is very similar to Cybertron’s fate in the original G1 Comics. Although in G1, the planet was knocked out of orbit by nukes, here the planet somehow tumbles through space without the AllSpark being reinvigorated. Or rather, the other way around—the AllSpark is not reinvigorated because Cybertron tumbles through space.
Note that all the Thetacons have arm cannons a la Ironhide. So it’s a tribal thing.
Sentinel Prime coins the term ‘Freedom is the right of all sentient beings’, Optimus Prime’s catchphrase and motto ever since G1, and reused throughout the Movieverse material. ‘Freedom’ is apparently a super-awesome word in Cybertronian, though.
Optimus and Elita-One’s little romance-not-romance is of course based on their G1 counterparts’ romance during the original G1 cartoon. It’s likewise being lampshaded in Rising Storm with the retcon that the three Arcee bikes are really
Arcee’s sisters, although their personalities didn’t emerge until after ROTF. Although it only happens for one episode. I’m sorry, it’s just that I don’t like shipping as such.
We see healthy hatchlings, instead of the sick ones we saw in ROTF. However, they are handled by the crazy scientist Flatline, which can’t bode well…
Again, in conjunction with Rising Storm, Elita refers to her ‘two little sisters’, likely referring to Arcee and Chromia. While it’s because of ROTF, it actually pretty fitting, considering how vengeful Arcee was in Reign of Starscream when seeing Elita-One die.
Wheeljack says that they have ‘five minutes’ left. How can a Cybertronian know about human analogy when we are but a bunch of half-sentient monkeys without any culture?
Also, the star that Wheeljack teleports to feed the AllSpark is called ‘Sun’ numerous times, although Sun is technically the name of the star that Earth orbits. Ergo, it’s a specific name instead of a general term like sun.
Megatron’s optics are red throughout the Sentinel Prime era, even though Defiance has him having blue optics until meeting the Fallen for the first time.
Trypticon is mis-spelt Tripticon when Sentinel speaks to Optimus.
Likewise, in the same page, the ‘T’ in government is not italicized while the rest of the word is. Must be a page that missed the editors’ eyes.
The Brian Reed cover uses Megatron in his ROTF body, despite the fact that in all prequel material Megatron uses his first Movie body.
Megatron: What do you feel, valiant Optimus? Anger? A lust for vengeance? For victory at any cost? There’s a purity in that, my brother. One that you’ve always tried to deny.
Megatron: When the time comes, o my brother… it will be you and I alone, the universe be damned.
Wheeljack: “I am relativistically warping space-time in seventeen dimensions to within a tolerance of three microns—I’ll need at least five more minutes.”
Megatron: If we couldn’t travel to the stars…we would make a star travel to us.
Optimus: “This is literally the dawn of a new era, Megatron. We were all born into ancient superstitions and tribal prejudices. And now we shall all rise past them. Together.”
Sentinel Prime: “There is a word… an ancient Cybertronian word spoken by my forefathers, the Primes, and not heard for many generations. That word shall be our pledge.”
Megatron: “And what is the word, Sentinel Prime?”
Sentinel Prime: “Freedom. And it is the right of all sentient beings.”
Optimus: “We can all build our future into whatever we wish, Elita-One. We can change our lives as easily as we can our shapes…”
Megatron: “And you too, Shockwave? I find you basking in our new Sun?”
Shockwave: “It sears my optical processor, Megatron. I do not like it.”
Megatron: Perhaps Sentinel was not the last of the Primes. Perhaps. But he was, without doubt, the last great Transformer. I know you wouldn’t believe me if I told you of my respect for him, Optimus, but it is the truth… and, anyway… I no longer care whether you believe me or not.
Optimus: “Megatron’s death is all that matters.”