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THE TRANSFORMERS: COMICS, BOOKS AND MANGA

IDW Publishing
(2005-now)
Devil's Due
(2003-2007)
Dreamwave
(2002-2004)
Club/Con
(2001-now)
Titan Books
(2001-now)
Marvel Comics
(1984-1994)
Japanese
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Other Books
and Titles

CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING

Transformers: Rising Storm #4
Reviewed by Blackjack

Issue Review

“What? But- this was my moment of triumph!” “NEVER!”
Every good that I said about the first three issues of Rising Storm cannot apply here at all. It is a horrible, convoluted mess that I am shocked that a writer of John Barber’s caliber could have messed this thing up. Firstly, all of the characters that should have been by rights be killed—the Arcee sisters, Soundwave’s Cassettes, the random toy characters—should really have been offed. While I can understand Barber wanting to keep Arcee and Chromia for potential future stories (being stuck out without comms nicely puts them out of the picture in Dark of the Moon) it does not justify Beastbox, Ravage and the others being kept alive. Why do that? It’s no better than, say, keeping Dune Runner hidden in a box somewhere in the NEST base. We don’t even have confirmation if the rest of Starscream’s crew bar poor Bludgeon are dead. Elita-One’s dialogue is simply horrible, with the ever-cringing ‘it’s a trap!’, and her sacrifice (ten to one she’s going to be resurrected in a year or two) is nullified by the fact that Jolt just called from NEST. The story jumps from one scene to another without proper explanation or justification, and guys like Space Case and Ruination just disappear without a trace. And Barricade? Did that ‘SKARUNCH’ by Bumblebee means Barricade died ignomiously off-screen after four years keeping him alive, or did he escape? The art is too terrible to tell. Not to mention that the Bumblebee-Barricade fight had dragged on for three issues without any conclusion. For somebody who keeps track of the years things happen, this is inexcusable for Barber. Really, is there any excuse in keeping someone like Beastbox or Ruination alive? And show characters confirmed to be killed off like Ravage and Arcee…

Another thing is Megatron’s monologue to an imaginary Prime. It was well done for the first three issues, or at least tolerable enough, but here it’s beginning to grate. Oh so very much. All of the characters rendered interesting in the past issues fall flat on their faces. Elita-One hardly gets her moral debate sorted out, Starscream is reduced to a whining coward that disappears after five pages before reappearing near the end, Soundwave becomes Doctor Claw, Shockwave gets rolled into an idiot ball, Brains doesn’t get enough screen time, et al. Arcee and Chromia foiling Soundwave’s plan by pressing the ever-present big red button is probably the lowest point a modern day comic can come to. The whole thing at the Soundwave/Arcee bit doesn’t make sense, Soundwave outnumbers the sisters six to two, and Arcee is wounded. Is it that hard to connect the dots and have the sisters die while taking the not-Cassettes with them? Two groups of unnecessary characters eliminated. But no, they have to survive.

And apparently all the G1-based designs for Wheeljack and Shockwave (Mirage doesn’t count, the art for him is a terrible mess) is only so that they could be beaten up and be rebuilt into their Bay designs. Okay then, excusable if they don’t have the final designs to work on yet, but kind of lame. The art is messy, even by Carlos Magno standards, and does not help any bit at all. I was thinking how the hell does Elita glow blue and suddenly end up jumping off a roof? Well apparently she was supposed to be climbing up the wall, which was not made clear at all. The humans’ faces look like pufferfish and I can’t tell Lennox and Sam apart. Do we really care that Astrotrain can triple-change, when it isn’t even made clear if Elita succeeds in killing him? Also, killing off Jolt like that… how stupid will Barber look if Jolt shows up nice and well in Dark of the Moon? A poor exit for Jolt, even though last issue we had a plausible exit (with a backdoor to bring him back), and the scene of his death could be used to kill the refugees… bah, the thing is so messed up. The conclusion is terrible, with Shockwave being taken out like a wuss and causes him to look pathetic rather than threatening. Everyone that is interesting in previous issues has suddenly flopped up like a bunch of dead fish, which really isn’t how you end a story. About the only good bit of this episode was Shockwave’s dialogue after killing Elita, as well as Wheelie and Brains at the beginning. Pity, and I was just getting psyched up with the new trailer.

Notes

The only Decepticons out of Starscream’s forces confirmed killed are Blademaster, blown out of the sky by Optimus, and Bludgeon, left with a smoking hole on his chest (and the cover featured Bludgeon too!). The rest have either escaped or killed off-screen.

Unsurprisingly, like his G1 counterpart Astrotrain can triple-change from his train alternate mode into a space shuttle. A Cybertronian space shuttle.

Throughout Rising Storm and Foundation, Shockwave’s design looks more like a straight-up detailed version of his G1 design with a larger cannon arm, while promotional images showed Shockwave as a more skeletal, triangular affair. This issue provides the explanation of the change, Optimus Prime hit Shockwave so hard his face broke apart, so it’s a fair guess Shockwave was rebuilt in the new body in the interim.

In that way, presumably so is Wheeljack and Mirage’s designs, so fanboys can’t complain if Wheeljack doesn’t have ears and a faceplate.

As of this issue, the fates of the following Decepticons are ambiguous—Barricade, Astrotrain, Space Case, Ruination and Mindwipe (Tankor survived, despite all odds against toy characters). The toy based characters could easily be passed off as dying off-screen, while for Barricade and Astrotrain we are not sure if they are really killed, the art and script is just too messy. Arcee and Chromia may have taken some of Soundwave’s minions with them but again the art and script are vague about this. Presumably Shockwave has killed the Autobot refugees as well, from Jolt’s dialogue.

Epps retires from NEST at the end of the issue. Considering trailers, this won’t be a permanent situation.

We still don’t have a name for Shockwave’s gigantic pet, so I’m still referring it as ‘Shockwave’s pet’ for the time being.

Goofs

I just realized that Elita-One is drawn with Chromia’s alternate mode all along, probably to help promote the fact that her toy is a repaint of Chromia’s toy.

Despite being killed by Mirage in issue two, Sonar appears among the remaining fleeing Decepticons this issue.

Starscream says that Soundwave was nearly killed, when in reality Shockwave was the one that was nearly killed; Soundwave was busy being a big ham.

Why didn’t Optimus and company pursue Shockwave? Or finish off Starscream?

Presumably Starscream rebelled, considering Shockwave’s dialogue in the first issue, but Megatron and Starscream are seemingly only at odds due to Starscream being used as a distraction.

 
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