Transformers Spotlight Mirage
Released: March 2008
Number of covers: One regular, one incentive
Cover price: $3.99
Writer: George Strayton (edits) Andrew Steven Harris
Artwork: Guido Guidi (colours) Josh Burcham (letters) Chris Mowry
Characters: (Autobots) Mirage, Hound, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Ratchet, Jetfire(Decepticons) Starscream, Astrotrain, Megatron, Blitzwing, Soundwave
In an alternate universe Mirage lives life as a Decepticon.
Aboard a ship in deep space Mirage is undergoing repairs. In a dream state, he sees images of the Autobots and Decepticons in a recent battle, including disturbing visions of himself as an Autobot!
Then he wakes up restored to health, and very much a Decepticon! Before long Megatron is on the viewscreen, impatient that Mirage has yet to deliver Optimus Prime and the last surviving Autobots as he promised. Mirage ups the stakes, demanding a majority share of Energon mining profits in return for absolute victory, and stating that his first loyalty is to himself.
In the Pegasus Cluster, the remnants of the Autobot army are in a desperate situation. They have a wounded a dying Jetfire and low energon stocks. Hound has been experimenting with 'zodiac energy' - a power source with cross dimensional properties (which offers readers a clue that this may be a dimension very different to the one we are used to). Ratchet recommends they surrender, but others would rather defend freedom to the death.
A security alarm sounds and Bumblebee appears on the screen. They open the blast doors and let him inside, only for him to open fire on their security array and reveal himself as Mirage in disguise. Moments later Decepticon forces burst into the room and the energy-low Autobots fight back.
Mirage holds a gun to Jetfire's head, forcing an end to the hostilities. He promises to let the Autobots live, albeit as prisoners of war, but Megatron (again via a viewscreen) orders their destruction. For a moment Mirage is wracked with guilt - forced to choose between his conscience and his self interest. He chooses the later and plunges a spear into the wounded Hound.
Optimus, who had tried to persuade Mirage to abandon the Decepticons, is enraged and charges at Mirage sending him into the zodiac energy field. Mirage comes to, and finds himself in a repair facility once again. In his dreams he was a Decepticon, but of course it was just a dream.
Review:By Omega Steve
One of the more offbeat and underrated spotlights, SL Mirage comes right out of leftfield and leaves readers full of questions. Did Mirage really experience another reality, or was it just a dream? Did the Autobots die; how come Mirage was on Earth at the end (when he isn't in the wider continuity)? There are lots to ponder on, but as much of the comic experience these days involves debating the finer points on message boards, unresolved questions are probably no bad thing.
The comic has been written by George Strayton, a writer who I hadn't heard of before. But a bit of research on Google reveals there was a George Strayton involved in writing the first two Transformers live action films so I suspect it is the same guy.
He has constructed a science-fiction heavy tale which explores Mirage's torn loyalties about what side he should be on. Long ago he chose the Autobots, but he could easily have sided with the Decepticons. This spotlight considers what might have happened if he had chosen a different path, and suggests his abilities as a spy and master illusionist - in Decepticon hands - could have shifted the balance of power significantly. So much so that Mirage is able to make an outlandish promise to deliver Optimus into Megatron's hands, and virtually end the civil war by himself. He wants riches in return and Megatron is forced to agree, despite his anger at Mirage's insubordination. One assumes he will betray Mirage when the time comes.
I rather like Megatron's characterisation in this story. He is bit one dimensional and thoroughly bad beyond redemption, but I like that in my Decepticon leaders. Mirage has a ruthless streak that we haven't seen before. He feels genuinely awful when Megatron orders him to go back on his word and execute the Autobots anyway, but not so bad that he is not prepared to carry out the order. I wonder whether Prime casting Mirage into the zodiac energy could be the trigger for the Mirage of the regular continuity to experience the other reality, albeit in his dreams. Speaking of which, at the end we see Mirage racing away on a costal road begging the question of what he is doing on Earth. He hasn't been there at any point before All Hail Megatron that we are aware of, so it is not inconceivable that this is yet another mirror universe; either that or our own reality but at some point in the future.
Criticism often levelled at spotlights is that they are too tied-up with the ongoing story and exist just to set-up or further plot threads elsewhere. SL Mirage is different as it is completely removed from the continuity, and does a fair job of exploring the protagonist's character, abilities and motivations. But it won't be everyone's cup of tea, precisely because it feels so disconnected from the rest of the series. Overall an entertaining read though.