Transformers Escalation #3

Publisher: IDW
Release date: January 2007
Number of covers: Two regulars, one incentive
Cover price: $3.99
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: EJ Su (pencils) John Rauch (colours) Chris Mowry (letters)
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance: Hardhead, Georgi Koska


Synopsis:
By Jon Nickson


Megatron launches his bid for global conflict with help from his artificial human, Georgi Koska.

Our story starts in the Soviet state of Brasnya, with the Decepticon facsimile (that's clone to you and me!) Georgi Koska driving off from his base to meet with Megatron et al. We get our first view of Megatron's transformation into his new Earth form - the classic Walther pistol - aided by Ore-13. Armed with Megatron, Koska blows a hole in the fuel line connecting Russia and Brasnya, alerting soldiers from the opposing forces. Skywarp at this point flies off and Blitzwing goes into stealth mode.

At Autobot HQ, Prime, Ratchet, Prowl, Ironhide and the other 'bots discuss tactics. Prowl isn't happy with Prime's decision to call in reinforcements, but after discussion goes with his decision. Ironhide wants to follow up Sunstreaker's disappearance, but Prime vetoes it and tells him to remain monitoring Decepticon shenanigans.

We return to Brasnya where a team of Russians have turned up to investigate a 'technical fault' with the fuel line. They realise it is sabotage, at which point the Brasnyans open fire - including Koska blowing their cars away with Megatron. Reinforcements are called.

Switch back to Ark-19. Jimmy is investigating the remains of a Sunstreaker-esque car the 'bots picked up back in issue 2. He realises that the chassis is built from an alloy that is only made in three places. He and Verity convince Ratchet to let them get access to the Autobot computer mainframe to see if they can get any further info from the companies networks. But just as Ratchet agrees, a security camera clicks onto him!

Meanwhile, Prowl is showing Prime satellite images of the conflict in Brasnya. He immediately recognises the discharge from Koska's weapon as Megatron. Prime orders Prowl to ready a strike team. And back in Brasnya, Russian reinforcements are arriving. They are convinced that politicians will sort things out and they'll be home in time for tea and biscuits. Things don't go so smoothly however, as Blitzwing comes out of stealth in his tank mode and starts nuking their tanks. The Russians open fire!

Meanwhile, the Autobots appear in Brasnya via orbital bounce. Prime goes off to draw out Megatron while Prowl readies the rest of the team to capture the facsimile. Prime reminds them of the importance of capturing the facsimile alive, as his cellular template is the key to every facsimile on Earth at the moment.

As Koska and Megatron discuss the next move - which is that Koska is to be 'decommissioned' - the Decepticon leader receives a communication from Blitzwing that Prime has arrived and is within his sights. Megatron tells him to stay out of sight and make a move when Prime is in range. At the same time, he tells Skywarp and Astrotrain that it's likely that there are more Autobots, and to make a move when they make theirs.

Above Earth, we move to Ark-32, where we see Nightbeat, Hot Rod and Hardhead who have been instructed to sit tight until they get their bearings. Of course, Hot Rod and Hardhead aren't going to listen to that!

We switch back to Ark-19, where Verity and Jimmy are going through the manufacturers of the ultra-light alloy used to make the custom Sunstreaker. They find a likely candidate and decide to head out - at which point Ironhide enters the room and says they're not going anywhere without him!

******

Comments:

A pretty slow-moving issue to begin, but this is less of an action part of the story, and more setting the scene for events to come. Interesting to see the interaction of Prowl and Ironhide when Prime tells IH to monitor Decepticon movements. Prowl pulls him up and says they'll have to have words. Clearly there's no love lost between these two, and that's something that Furman might expand upon in future issues - perhaps there's an incident in their past? Or maybe Prowl is simply feeling a bit stupid by arguing against Prime's decision in the first place and decides to take it out on poor ol' Ironhide!

Personally, I love the characterisation Ratchet is getting in the IDWverse. He's acting a bit like an ambassador between the 'bots and the humans, and this is further expanded upon here, with Ratchet going against Prowl's wishes and letting Verity and Jimmy have access to the 'bots mainframe system. He knows that this could easily land him in hot water but does it anyway, as he knows it's the right thing to do. In this way, he's the easiest to empathise with - while you've got the almost-aloof Prime and Prowl and hot-headed Hot Rod, for example, you've then got the 'human face' of the Transformers, Ratchet.

It's also interesting to see how everyone reacts to Prime in the issue. Since he was absent throughout Infiltration series except for the very last panel, these past few issues have been all we've really seen of him. Everyone treats him with the respect you'd expect from troops to their commander, but also with an almost god-like awe. For example, when Prime is announcing that he's called in reinforcements, and Prowl starts arguing that with Prime there, they can handle it - after Prime says "I had no choice but to pull resources from elsewhere. I do not do so lightly", Prowl asks for forgiveness. Prime isn't just seen as the boss, he's almost held in reverie by the 'bots. I don't think up to now there's been enough of Prime to comment on whether he plays up to this or not, but from Furman's previous incarnations of him, I don't think that this'll be the case.

It starts to pick up a bit around two-thirds of the way through the issue, when Blitzwing decides the time is right to blow up a load of Russians. Prime and the 'bots spring into action, and we see the first mainstream appearances of Nightbeat and Hot Rod outside of their spotlights, and Hardhead rearing his head for the first time as well. They appear to be the cavalry called in when Prime needs backup, a bit of a strike-force if you will. However, since the last time we saw Nightbeat he was strapped up into some machine having his circuits tinkered with (see his spotlight), it leaves interesting questions as to how he's going to behave.

All in all this issue pulls together the story for the rest of the arc, and sets up a few events which should prove rather interesting - not least the first confrontation between Prime and Megatron on Earth. That's gonna be a doozy!!!

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