Released: August 2008 Publisher: IDW Number of covers: Two regulars and one incentive Cover price: $3.99 Writer: Simon Furman Artwork: Dan Khanna, Liam Shaloo (colours), Chris Mowry (letters) Rating: Art / Story
The chaos engulfing the Autobots presents Dealer with a new opportunity to get his hands on the Magnificence.
Mid-way through the Revelations saga and the Autobots have many questions that need answers: who reactivated Thunderwing and what is he guarding on Corata-Vaz? What is the Benzuli Expanse and its connection to the crew of the First Ark, and why does their very touch cause spontaneous death?
Enter the Decepticon spy Dealer. He doesn't have the answers but he assures Optimus Prime that he knows what does - the Magnificence!
The Magnificence - a mystical object which knows everything was found by Hot Rod on the dusty plains of Ki-Aleta many years ago, and subsequently hidden by the Autobot (see Spotlight Hot Rod). The discovery had come a heavy price with the deaths of Hot Rod's entire team, save one, Dealer. Unbeknown to Hot Rod, Dealer had betrayed his comrades in the hopes of getting his hands on the Magnificence and that ambition has not dulled in the intervening years. Now with a mandate from Optimus Prime to accompany Hot Rod to recover the mystical orb he may at last have his chance.
Over on Gorlam Prime, the twisted scientist, Jhiaxius, initiates the next phase of Nova 'Nemesis' Prime's plan, and uses portals to transport Dead Universe warriors Lord Straxus and Grindcore to Earth where they start drilling, presumably for Ore 13. While, on the prison planet Garrus-9, Optimus senses correctly that his long-dead predecessor Nova may have returned. Sure enough Nova/Nemesis has infiltrated the compound and is busy unleashing death on everything in his way.
On Ki-Aleta, Hot Rod reviews the ill-fated mission of years ago in his mind and tries to figure how things fell apart so rapidly. One moment all was well and the next his men were wiped out by the Omega Guardians (huge robots who guard the Magnificence). Little does he realise it was Dealer who activated them and he's now plotting to murder Hot Rod.
Elsewhere in the Wreckers battle Thunderwing, and Optimus Prime squares up to Nemesis Prime and the dark Matrix he wields. Jetfire, meanwhile, initiates a plan that will coat four Autobots with synthetic shells, allowing them to cross into the Dead Universe and withstand its necrotising effects.
Back on Ki-Aleta Hot Rod climbs a mountain surrounded by unstable thunderclouds, with an increasingly paranoid Dealer following behind. At the summit Hot Rod is reunited with the Magnificence and asks the question: "Did Dealer betray us?" On hearing the answer he spins around and guns down Dealer - sending him over the precipice and causing him to explode.
Just as Dealer prophesised, the Magnificence has the answers and the Autobots are able to learn of Nemesis Prime's dastardly plan to merge the Dead Universe into regular space using the three Nega Cores - currently guarded by Thunderwing, Monstructor and Sixshot. The power supply for this process is on Earth and Jhiaxus is coordinating everything from Gorlam. What's more he has a back-up agent in the form of a Decepticon sent mad by the unstable Pretender process: Bludgeon.
Doubledealer is generally considered the weaker of the Transformers Revelation Spotlights but it's actually my favourite. The mid-point in the mini-series, it doesn't have to set the scene as much as the previous two issues and thankfully that keeps things simple. Sure there are numerous scene changes which interrupt the main narrative, but at its heart Spotlight Doubledealer is a good solid, easy to follow tale.
It's been said many times and many different internet forums that writer Simon Furman was done a disservice in having to wrap-up his by-then quite convoluted space epic in four issues (rather than the 12 we all expected). Then to rub salt in the wounds, its decided that those four issues will have to be spotlights, meaning a decent amount of the story would have to be given over to profiling one character or another. But in this issue Furman confronts those limitations, embraces them, and succeeds, if you'll pardon the pun, magnificently!
SL Doubledealer, probably more than the rest of the series, does what it says on the tin and shines the spotlight on Dealer/Doubledealer but not to the detriment of the wider Revelations plotline. Furman's description of the character on the second page is inspired. Doubledealer is not a character I had strong feelings about one way or the other before, but you can't help but be interested in him from the billing Furman gives him. He's smart, very smart, and manipulative. He's two-faced, never revealing his true self, and will stab others in the back for self-advancement or profit or just because he can. Now how can you not love a villain as wonderfully wicked and self-serving? He's a different kind of baddie from what we usually see though. I mean take Megatron for example - as evil as he is he's nevertheless pretty up front about his intentions, but then he can be because he's one powerful Decepticon. Doubledealer on the other hand is quite a bit weaker as we see when he gets taken out by a single blast from Hot Rod and a fall from which causes him to explode.
Hot Rod hints in the issue that there might be a price to pay for using the Magnificence - some kind of side effect maybe? It would have been nice to see this avenue explored a little, or perhaps picked up in a later story. With the Magnificence in their hands the Autobots could seriously gain the upper hand on the Decepticons and anticipate their every move, except they don't so Hot Rod presumably hides the Magnificence away again. Why does he do that? We've still to find out unfortunately, and with Furman currently off the main book it may never come to light.
I can't say I enjoyed Spotlight Hot Rod that much. For me it was the least enjoyable of the original five spotlights (yes even worse than Sixshot) but I couldn't put my finger on exactly why. Doubledealer, which is effectively its sequel, ought not to have worked either, but there's no convoluted story on Ki-Aleta. They turn-up traverse a desert and climb a mountain, and Hot Rod is on a mental journey which leads him to the doubt over Dealer's sincerity, which is confirmed devastatingly by the Magnificence. I enjoyed how Dealer also goes on a mental journey during the quest, except he grows ever more paranoid that he's a whisker away from discovery. If only he hadn't encouraged Hot Rod to ask the Magnificence a question before blowing him away - silly boy!
Elsewhere, it's good to see the Autobot Pretenders making their debut and there be a decent reason why they might volunteer for shells. And Optimus Prime battles Nemesis Prime to boot. Normally this would be a momentous confrontation that would be the main focus of the story, but such is the limitation of the spotlight format that it can't really be.
Still, there's lots of good things happening this issue, and with the Magnificence putting the heroic forces in the picture as to what's going on (and putting the mind-scrambled reader in the know too!) everything's speeding towards a satisfying conclusion.