All Hail Megatron #6

Released: December 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: (Autobots) Jazz, Kup, Prowl, Mirage, Sunstreaker, Ironhide, Roadbuster, Drift, Perceptor, Cliffjumper, Hot Rod, Ratchet, Bumblebee, Blurr, Tracks, Trailbreaker, Blaster (Decepticons) Megatron, Starscream, Skywarp, Bombshell, Kickback, Shrapnel, Thundercracker, Blitzwing (Humans) Anonymous world leaders


Synopsis:


The Autobots' newest warrior Drift weilds his sword against the Swarm.

Last issue Kup's unit, comprising of the Wreckers and other assorted Autobots, hooked up with Jazz and his warriors on Cybertron. As this instalment opens, Jazz and Kup are having a quiet word about the stolen Matrix (now in Megatron's hands) and fear that if word gets out then the Autobots will regard it as the end of their movement and degenerate into factions.

On Earth the Decepticons are also on shaky ground, despite conquering half the globe by now. Megatron stands amongst ruined buildings in Israel and is approached by Starscream who wants to know where next for the Decepticons, because it feels to him like they have lost their purpose.

A few thousand miles away in China, Skywarp squares up to Bombshell. He's just killed half the population of Beijing and the Insecticon will be next if he keeps being annoying. Bombshell continues to wind him up, claiming the Seekers are now out of favour and Megatron has new favourites in the Constructicons. Kickback and Shrapnel arrive to back up their fellow Insecticon, and Thundercracker lines up with Skywarp. Eventually the Insecticons are put to flight but it seems that Starscream's warning to Megatron, that victory is a curse may be coming true.

Meanwhile on Cybertron Ironhide and Roadbuster catch sight of a Swarm - a grotesque, mutated Insecticon clone, which is one of thousands dumped on Cybertron by the Decepticons. This one is a scout and is sure to bring others. Luckily new Autobot recruit Drift is on hand to lop the creature's head off with his sword, while sharpshooter Perceptor takes out another Swarm from long range.

On Earth world leaders meet to agree a final solution to their Decepticon problem - they are going to nuke New York!

******

Review:

By Omega Steve

What happens to warriors when they no longer have an enemy to fight? For humans they might return to the homeland and their families or enrich themselves on the spoils of war; but what of the Decepticons? Many have known no other way of life than to fight Autobots and conquer, and quite possibly they have been programmed to do nothing else, so where do they go from here? It is an intriguing question and one which this issue raises quite successfully even if it doesn't provide a conclusive answer.

Firstly we have Skywarp indulging his inner bully by laying waste to Chinese civilians (off panel of course) and then picking on the physically smaller Bombshell. And then we have Starscream pressing Megatron on where the army goes next - they have defeated the Autobots and the humans so what now? Clearly Megatron wants his men to saviour their victory but the Decepticons are a restless bunch and Starscream can see trouble on the horizon. He obviously thinks Megatron has no plan for the peace, or very little idea of where the next challenge/fight is to be found. It might be that he's fulfilling the role of the guy who isn't afraid to tell the leader when he's in trouble (if Megatron sees SS this way it might explain why he keeps him around) or else he's labouring the point to maximise Megatron's discomfort in the hopes of engineering a coup. Either way it is an interesting new take on the Megatron/Starscream antagonism, and makes Screamer appear that bit more intelligent and cunning than his usual comedic portrayal.

It's a bit disappointing that Megatron doesn't have a plan for the peace after all his motto (one of them) is 'peace through tyranny' which suggests that peace is his ultimate goal and that he has a idea of how he would manage the peace. Whether Starscream has an alternate agenda or is simply just exposing Megatron's lack of imagination is unclear.

Meanwhile Thundercracker seems to be developing a conscience, or at least finding the behaviour of his fellow Decepticons dishonourable. There must surely be trouble brewing for him if he can't reconcile himself to his comrades.

I have to admit I'm finding the Jazz and Kup bickering a little tiresome. I thought they had resolved their differences last issue, but here we are an issue later with more nonsense. I can't really relate to Jazz being this serious commander dude with SAS capabilities, and who is suddenly outranking Prowl. It seems at odds with all his pre-AHM appearances, and likewise Kup is not usually a commander, more an old soldier. Although at least in his spotlight we were given an insight into his special legendary status in the Autobot army as a teacher/instructor to high ranking types like Springer.

I was a bit disappointed that we didn't see a continuation of last issue's cliffhanger with Spike Witwicky coming ashore in New York. I appreciate his story will pay off later but a scene or two of what he's up to would have kept that particular plot on the boil and created the impression of lots more going on besides the main events.

Speaking of which, we finally meet a member of the Swarm and find out that these are Insecticon prototypes. Quite why it is so difficult to create an Insecticon I don't know, especially as they are not outwardly much different to regular Transformers. It turns out that only Bombshell, Kickback and Shrapnel were suitable to join the Decepticons and the rest had to be dumped on Cybertron as they are too dangerous.

We also get to see Shane's much-hyped new character Drift lop the head off a Swarm robot, in what is admittedly a very unstated 'less is more' cool scene. It's just a bit odd given the hype, that Drift is not more of main character. Whether this is a conscious response to the backlash from fans (who complained of a character being forced down their throats) or what Shane intended all along I can't be sure. But I would like to see more of a role for Drift, if for no other reason than to justify his inclusion.

Some other questions as they occur to me: what is the Matrix in this continuity (the essence of Primus?) and why is it important to Autobot morale? How and when did Kup recover his sanity and how come Perceptor now a sharpshooter? The later two questions will be revealed in the AHM Coda additional stories (actually AHM 13-16) but again, some flashbacks would could have done the job and provided some additional depth.

Overall it is not a bad issue but it does feel a bit slow in places. Half way in its time for the pace to pick up and answers to be forthcoming.

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