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THE TRANSFORMERS: COMICS, BOOKS AND MANGA

IDW Publishing
(2005-now)
Devil's Due
(2003-2007)
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(2002-2004)
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(2001-now)
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(2001-now)
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(1984-1994)
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CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING

Transformers: Movie Adaptation
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek

| Notes for issue #1 | Notes for issue #2 | Notes for issue #3 | Notes for issue #4 |

Summary Review

What this adaptation really makes you appreciate is both the changes made to the script and the ability of the acting cast to bring the roles to life. Agent Simmons in particular is a pale imitation of his cinematic counterpart, but just about everyone is much less fun/interesting and the plot seems more pedestrian and less entertaining.

It doesn't help that entire subplots and scenes have been cut but with set-ups and references to the missing material left in. It creates a choppy narrative that never builds up any steam.

Milne's art is functional, and nowhere near as bad as his Megatron: Origin work, but it can't even come close to the film's groundbreaking effects. It has to be said the character designs don't really work in a stationary 2D pose, they're designed to be seen moving at speed and work best that way.

It's ultimately entirely irrelevant and throwaway, and it's probably worth waiting for the trade version to show up cheap rather than paying the full price. Disappointing.
 

ISSUE #1

Notes

This miniseries was published weekly, the first Transformers comic to do so since issue #310 of the Marvel UK Comic back in 1991. The trade paperback was published at the same time, in another first for IDW.

This was developed from a slightly earlier draft of the film that was finally used -- in practise there's very little difference between the two beyond what the adaptation leaves out, but there are minor differences in a few characters and situations.

The car lot includes cars based on G1 Sideswipe and Brawn, as well as Alternator/Binaltech Skids.

As well as a Milne cover this issue also had two retail incentives, a sketch of the main cover and a photo cover showing Frenzy in all his CGI glory. By way of extras the issue has a Blackout poster; an Autobot logo pin up, a Frenzy pin up, an interview with Tom DeSanto, photos of the Bumblebee and Blackout toys and a Milne poster on the inside back page.

The main differences between film and adaptation are:

- Prime's opening narration establishes the Allspark was lost 1 million years ago, and that it emits a signal once every thousand years.

- Most of the banter between the soldiers about their perfect day is gone, as is Captain Lennox's conversation with his wife and daughter.

- Sam's school project is no longer present, and all references to eBay have been carefully removed. The business of Bumblebee blowing up Bolivia's other car windows has been simplified to the car dealer just agreeing to the lower price.

- All appearances by Maggie Madsen (with one exception in issue 3) and Glen Whitmann and their subplots are gone from the whole series. This reduces Keller's role to an extended cameo. Glen and Maggie still manage to get on the covers though.

- Bumblebee no longer plays any songs, presumably in a effort to save in copyright payments (though oddly the Prequel comic was happy to shell out)...

- Frenzy no longer has his bit of comedy moving about Air Force 1.

- Sam doesn't make his phone recording about Bumblebee transforming.

- In order to cover the loss of Maggie two soldiers outside Air Force One have a conversation establishing the virus placed in the Government computers by Frenzy.

- Mojo is also completely absent, so we lose the joke about his pills in the police station (though the officer's list of drugs Sam may have taken includes Whippets.) Once they leave the station Sam and his Dad have a conversation about Captain Witwicky, and if his condition could be hereditary.

- The soldiers don't have their local child guide and are just following the phone cables to civilisation.

Goofs

[Referring to new ones created by the Adaptation rather than those inherent to the film.]

Prime tells us the Allspark sends out a big signal every thousand years. It's been missing for one million. How the hell did the Transformers fail to find it for so long with a homing signal pointing them in the right direction? You can see why they dropped that.

The exposition of the soldiers outside Air Force One is hugely clumsy. How do the lowly grunts know so much about it and that no anti-virus will work against it when Frenzy just put it there?
 

ISSUE #2

Notes

This issue's photo cover is of Barricade. Extras include a poster of the Autobots, a Decepticon logo pin-up, a Barricade pin-up, an interview with Kris Oprisko, photos of the Barricade and Decepticon Brawl toys, and a Milne back page poster.

Cars based on G1 Ratchet, Ironhide, Trailbreaker and Wheeljack can be seeing throughout the issue. As Barricade first transforms a car behind him has the registration plate ALXMLN.

Differences from the film:

- Lennox having to deal with the Indian phone operator is absent,

- Sam's "Auction site" username is Hotstud 217 [a Shining reference?].

- Mikaela decapitates Frenzy with a chainsaw, and Bumblebee defeats Barricade by pushing him off a cliff, whilst Sam maintains dignity by not losing his trousers.

- Mikaela makes her comments about Bumblebee's alt mode before getting in the car. He them selects the 2008 Camero from some sort of internal database rather than scanning a passing one.

- Optimus Prime's first words are to reassure the humans he won't harm them, and that "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings".

Goofs

It's insanely easy to phone the Pentagon from the Middle East. The page layout makes it look as if Lennox doesn't even have to dial. Was the Middle Eastern man already speaking to them?

Why is there a dangerous unfenced cliff edge right next to an in-use car park?
 

ISSUE #3

Notes

The photo cover is of Optimus Prime facing off against Megatron. Extras include a poster based on that cover, a Autobot logo pin-up, a Megatron pin-up, an interview with computer game designer Daniel Suarez and a back cover Milne poster. There's also a offer for $5 off the computer game at Best Buy stores.

Differences from the film include:

- Mikaela coins the term Autobot. Optimus Prime makes it crystal clear that the Autobots are under assumed names as their real ones have no translation. Prime also refers to Megatron as a brother during the hologram recording. Prime has his faceplate throughout rather than his slightly freaky lips.

- The business of Sam coming home and the Autobots outside the house is considerably shortened. We also lose the masturbation conversation. Shame.

- Agent Simmons and Sector 7 are played straight with most of their comedy bits gone. Most obviously, he isn't forced to strip to his underwear. The techno virus means their phones don't work after leaving the Witwicky house.

- Keller makes his first appearance and is a General rather than Secretary of Defence.

- The subplot about Mikaela's father is no longer in the film despite it being referenced when she was working on fixing Bumblebee in issue 1.

- Optimus Prime locates the Allspark and outlines his plan immediately after Bumblebee is captured and before sunrise. He also calls the Autobots his brothers at this stage (so either he just means brother-in-arms whenever he says it or Mama Prime had wide hips.) He doesn't have the "Roll out!" line.

- Thankfully one of the more irritating factual errors in the film is corrected -- the ESA Mars probe Beagle 2 is no longer specifically called a NASA project (or indeed called by name.)

- Maggie makes her one and only appearance on the helicopter talking to Sam and Mikaela about finding the virus.

- Frenzy doesn't get within the dam. Instead he calls the other Decepticons from outside and asks them to bring his body. The dialogue of the Decepticons checking in is gone, meaning Megatron and Starscream are the only ones named in this adaptation.

- Simmons agrees to only use passive scans on Bumblebee in exchange for Sam's help.

Goofs

Really, what was the point of including Maggie for one panel? It refers to a subplot that has no bearing on the rest of the comic and makes no sense by itself.

Why are the Autobots just standing under the bridge listening to Prime's speech about his planned sacrifice when Sector 7 are still after them? Wouldn't it make more sense to escape and regroup to plan later (as they do in the film)? Why do Sector 7 just bugger off when what they consider to be the enemy is just standing there chatting?
 

ISSUE #4

Notes

This issue has an influx of extra credits. Presumably Chris Mowry handled the letters on all four issues, though the fact he's only credited here makes it hard to tell whether the additional colourists worked on more than one issue or just this final part.

Ironhide makes the photo cover. Extras are a poster of the Decepticons, a Bumblebee and Barricade pin-up, an Allspark pin-up, an interview with Hasbro toy executive Michael Verrecchia and a Milne-drawn Allspark poster on the back cover.

This issue was published just a week before the film's American release.

Differences from the film:

- The scene of Lennox and his men being summoned to Hoover Dam is gone, they do turn up though.

- The direct reference to Nokia is removed, as is the chat comparing Wolverine and Freddy Kruger's claws.

- Megatron has much more dialogue when he awakens, clarifying he was aware of everything happening to him whilst frozen. He's also much friendlier to Starscream and deduces the Autobots have the Allspark from the way they flee rather than making a stand.

- The Autobots go to the (unnamed here) city without any plan, they're just running.

- Optimus kills Bonecrusher by the dam [but see Goofs], and instead of his Energy axe he retracts his hand to reveal what looks like a gun of some sort.

- We then get two sequences filmed but deleted from the final film (though the second made it into the IMAX version): Optimus fighting and killing Barricade, and Captain Lennox going to a pawn shop for the shortwave radios.

- Jazz gets off lightly as Megatron doesn't rip him in half. In fact, there's no firm confirmation of his death and he could just as easily be in need of repair at the end.

- When Sam runs he again has no firm destination in mind, he just ducks in the building to get out of the open.

- Optimus doesn't get his throwback "One shall stand line". But to make up for it he gets to be more proactive by telling Sam to shove the Allspark in Megatron's chest rather than his own.

- As well as dropping the Decepticon remains into the ocean the US Government drop a nuke on top for good measure.

- The disturbing image of Sam and Mikaela getting jiggy on poor Bumblebee's bonnet is thankfully toned down to them just holding hands.

- The end credit sequences are entirely absent, meaning it's not clear what does happen to Starscream, nor if the Witwickys were ever released from Sector 7.

Goofs

The absence of Lennox getting brought to the dam means he and his men just appear out of nowhere.

Optimus' fights with Bonecrusher and Barricade are confusingly laid out -- Prime seems to kill Bonecrusher outside the dam, then fights Barricade straight away... but when he kicks his head away it goes across the freeway outside the city. So either the city is right on top of the dam, Prime performs a very long kick or he takes the head with him for a bit before chucking it.

In the Movie the military taking the battle into a highly populated are is a bit dubious, but at least they had a plan. Here hundreds if not thousands of people must die simply because their panicked retreat takes them through the city.

On the page of the Autobots and humans standing by Jazz's body, Megatron is drawn so insanely badly he looks more like Starscream (if not for the fact Megs should be there I would have thought it was the Seeker.)

Optimus tells Sam to shove the Allspark into Megatron's "spark" but unfortunately there's nothing drawn on Megatron to indicate to Sam where this might be. Not even a glow -- but he still gets it right. What a guy.

Who thought the big pink heart behind Sam and Mikaela's first kiss was a good idea?

 
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