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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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TRANSFORMERS TITLES FROM TITAN BOOKS / MAGAZINES

Transformers #20 [UK]: Divided Loyalties
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek

Issue Review

Now that's more like it! For too long now the comic has felt constrained by the shorter page length, which coupled with the bimonthly publishing has really hurt the title.

Here however, with the current version of the comic heading for a premature end thanks to that new lengthier gap between issues, Furman suddenly pulls a firecracker out of his arse. Easily the best issue since the alternate Universe storyline it wastes no time in jumping into the Bond style action (NEST troopers in Arctic gear on snowmobiles is very On Her Majesties Secret Service), plus some well played out characterisation for Wheelie and a nicely written line in snark for Bludgeon.

Yes, if you're a cynical old fart like me it's far too obvious it's the non-film characters who are doomed, and the most minor ones at that. Slapdash had about three lines in his his only other appearance being the most glaring. But it's still a well done nasty moment and would be a genuine surprise to kids reading.

My only real concern is that there's still an outside chance the whole thing is a massive trick on Prime's part, Wheelie is working for him (the flashback to him being shunned by Ironhide not actually turning him) and everything's a set up to fool Bludgeon and/or bring Megatron out. The death of Slapdash (which would be hard to retcon as a slight of hand) would seem to suggest otherwise, lets hope Furman sticks to his guns here, because there's a lot of potential fun to be had. In 8 weeks time don't have me tearing my hair out.

Notes

With the release of the third film a maximum of two issues (depending on how closely #22 falls to the release date) away this sees the title begin to wind up its ongoing plots to make room for a relaunch in time for Dark of the Moon. According to the Facebook page said relaunch will see the comic return to being monthly, so the fact they're making firm plans suggests that sales have remained sustainable despite the change in release pattern.

Lennox stand in Klammer was last seen in issue #16.

We're told Bumblebee and Springer found out where Bludgeon's base is in issue #18, as this didn't happen on page it must have been the result of interrogating Crankstart and company.

Wheelie returns to his Decepticon roots here, though he's never appeared as an Autobot in the comic, his one showing in issue #6 being set before the second film. Apparently Wheelie has been confirmed for the third film, so either Titan know something we don't in having him go ultra evil, it's a really big double bluff or this was written before Furman found that out. He has orange eyes when “good” and red when “evil”. He can also shoot energy beams strong enough to melt snow out his headlights in toy car mode.

Slapdash , stabbed through the back of the head, is the first Autobot to definitely die in the UK comic, and only the second toy based Transformer to be killed after Breakdown (who was also finished off by Bludgeon in issue #13). Several other characters; Springer, Tankor and Dead End; may be killed as well but as their wounds as far less definitively lethal it'll take another showing to be completely sure. Slapdash at least lasts long enough to confirm the comic is intentionally spelling his name differently to the toy. Thanks for that little fellow.

Megatron shows up for the first time since issue #25 of the first volume, over a year and a half ago. As that was an alternate Universe version it's actually the first proper showing of the regular version since his corpse was in issue #7. Indeed, he hasn't had a proper non-dead, non-flashback, non-alternate reality appearance since the second issue!.

For the first time the central poster isn't based on the cover (or at least some variant/unused version), being instead a double sided affair with a CGI Bumblebee on one side and a Decepticon group shot with mini-profiles on the other.

Goofs

Dead End shows up without explanation as one of Bludgeon's Decepticons despite being captured by the Autobots last issue, and speaks perfectly normally rather than in his “Braaaaaaaaaaaains” style zombie patter.

Wheelie would probably be more convincing in his claims of being an Autobot if he weren't still wearing a Decepticon symbol.

So the Autobots got their information during issue #18. You've gotta wonder how they conveyed this to NEST, considering it was done during a top secret unsanctioned mission by a group that isn't supposed to exist. That must have been fun.

The way the mask free gift is put in the bag means the cover is completely obscured.

Fantastic Free Gift

A faction symbol mask (chose between Autobot and Decepticon), some badges with comic art of Megatron and Starscream on them and a MYSTERY GIFT!

SPOILER! (select to read)
In the case of my copy it's a reuse of the Disc Shooter Watch from #3. Based on the Wiki entry some issues are including Animated stationary, presumably reused as well. Who knows how many exciting variants there are?


Extras

Competitions for the 2011 Transformers Annual, a Nighthawk scooter plus various Power Core Combiners and Deluxe and Voyager Transformers toys;
Bumblebee's Guide to the Solar System finishes of the planets with Neptune (come on now, Pluto's not a planet any more. Get down with da kids);
Rampage Profile;
A double sided poster (see notes);
Optimus Prime Speaks, spoof interview that doesn't really work as it has Prime as overly literal and profaced. Does that sound like the “My bad” face stabbing maniac we all know and love?;
Megatron's Mind Maulers!;
Law and Disorder.

 
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