All Hail Megatron #2

Released: August 2008
Publisher: IDW
Number of covers: Two regulars and one incentive
Cover price: $3.99
Writer: Shane McCarthy
Artwork: Guido Guidi
Rating: Art / Story

Characters: (Decepticons) Skywarp, Ravage, Laserbeak, Soundwave, Megatron. Astrotrain, Hook, Frenzy, Starscream, Thundercracker, Scrapper, Scavenger, Longhaul, Mixmaster, Bonecrusher, Devastator. (Humans) Col. Witwicky, Andy, Sarah, Bridge.


Synopsis:


Frenzy unleashes his own brand of fear and chaos on the US army.

Colonel Daniel Witwicky is at his wife's garden party when a military helicopter touches down on the lawn and whisks him away to New York City, scene of a devastating Decepticon attack. So far the air force has been powerless to repel the invaders and one pilot, Commander Andy Reid, bailed out and is now being pursued through the streets by Ravage. He saves a woman from a volley of laser fire and is in turned rescued by a fellow survivor, who attacks Ravage with a petrol bomb.

Meanwhile ground forces engage Megatron's men in Central Park. At his leader's request, Soundwave unleashes the maniac Frenzy who inflicts violent hallucinations on the troops and attacks while they are disorientated.

Shortly afterwards Col Witwicky and the senior commanders receive word that their entire ground force has been wiped out. Seeker jets then destroy the bridges linking Manhatten and the mainland, while the Constructicons transform into Devastator who begins to collapse the tunnels. New York is now cut off.

******

Review:

By Omega Steve

Issue #1 did a good job of setting the scene in New York, with echoes of 9-11 as Megatron toppled a skyscraper and planes fell out of the sky. Unlike regular Transformers adventures where the Autobots turn up and save the day, there are none around here and so for once we get to see what unfettered Decepticon aggression looks like.

So far so good but if you are expecting issue #2 to move the plot forward and step up a gear you may be disappointed. Last time the Decepticons laid waste to New York and in this issue they are still at it, with not much new other than the ground battle and the Decepticons cutting off bridge and tunnel access to Manhattan.

The tunnel attack annoyingly happens off panel, which is a shame because it's Devastator's IDW debut and all the action is off panel. It's all the more galling that pages are expended showing Ravage hunting down a pilot and we never find out why he cares so much, or even what this pilot's importance is to the story. He still feels like an incidental character. A Star Trek red shirt if you will who dodged death.

I've a bit of an issue with the proportions of Devastator because the Constructions are the same height as the regular Decepticons and yet massively tower over everyone in combined form. Possibly this is the same kind of mass shifting we get from Astrotrain when all the Decepticons climb aboard his shuttle mode. Another point worth noting is that a year or so earlier, Monstructor, was the only gestalt, so the technology has clearly got around in the intervening months. It's a shame there are no flashback panels to explain this, but presumably this wouldn't fit with the new strategy to win new readers which appears to avoid anything in the past that might muddy the water.

One of the better scenes and probably THE moment of the issue is Frenzy's brutal and unnerving attack on the soldiers. Shane has re-imagined this character with brilliance - evolving Frenzy's sonic wave powers into an ability to paralyse the enemy with horrific hallucinations, leaving them vulnerable to physical attack. Even Frenzy's fellow Decepticons are not immune, which is a nice touch.

And speaking of re-imaginings, that brings us neatly to Daniel Witwicky, who is apparently no longer the child who befriended Hot Rod, but rather a middle aged army commander/action hero who would like to punch out his wife's more boring party guests, and comes over as something out of GI Joe. It turns out this is not Daniel from the Transformers Animated Movie but rather Sparkplug, father to Spike and granddad-to-be of Daniel. Sparkplug is a bit of an odd name (unless you're a Transformer) and this is more likely a nickname so it makes sense that he'd have a regular name, ie Daniel, and Spike might choose the name for his own son. Just to be clear though, there's no little boy Daniel in this IDW continuity, only Spike and Sparkplug for now - and unlike the Marvel comic or Sunbow cartoons they are not rig workers or an auto mechanic and college son, but a pair of military types.

All in all not a bad read, but undoubted good bits are let down by pacing, stuff going on off panel, and no continuation of the Autobot storyline introduced at the end of issue #1.

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