Transformers Ongoing #2

Released: December 2009
Publisher: IDW
Number of covers: Two regulars, one Omega Supreme incentive
Cover price: $3.99
Writer: Mike Costa
Artwork: Don Figueroa
Rating:

Characters: [Autobots] Optimus Prime, Hot Rod, Bumblebee, Ratchet, Cliffjumper, Brawn, Trailbreaker, Hound, Sideswipe, Blurr, Jetfire, Mirage, Jazz, Hotspot, Prowl, Red Alert, Omega Supreme, Wheeljack, Ultra Magnus [Decepticons] Swindle, Scrapper, Thundercracker, Tankor, Drag Strip, Breakdown [humans] Spike Witwicky, Sparkplug Witwicky


Synopsis:


If Hot Rod wants to walk out on the Autobots he'll have to get past Brawn!

Albuquerque, New Mexico: Major Spike Witwicky leaves the home of his latest female conquest as word reaches him of a situation back at Skywatch HQ - Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, has turned himself in. Spike climbs into his 'car' - actually the mode-locked Decepticon Breakdown, and heads back to base.

Meanwhile the Autobots are reeling from Prime's shocking decision and don't know what to make of it. Cliffjumper thinks it's a test, while Hot Rod concludes that Prime just couldn't hack it and 'freaked out'. His bluster nearly sets-up a fist fight with Brawn, but Bumblebee steps in to calm the situation and suggests that, if Hot Rod wants to leave, it's up to him. And leave he does, but Hot Rod wants to go a step further and get off the planet altogether. He is not the only one, and quickly recruits Prowl, Jetfire, Sideswipe and others to his side.

Later Hot Rod and his band of 'deserters' locate Omega Supreme at a gorge where he has been hiding and ask his help to get off world. Omega refuses to leave, a) because he is low on Energon and b) because he is loyal to Optimus Prime and will not leave without him.

Suddenly the group are ambushed by a rag-tag bunch of Decepticons commanded by Swindle. Hot Rod takes him down, but Swindle claims he only attacked because thought the Autobots were about to launch an assault. He reminds everyone that the civil war is effectively over and there is no point in their continued squabbling - they may as well work side-by-side as Cybertronians to reach their common goal of getting space bound. An uneasy truce ensues with the Autobots unsure whether to trust Swindle but wanting to believe.

Back at Skywatch Spike is informed by his father (now a general) that he is to look after Prime while the other senior military decide what to do about the Autobot leader. So Spike decides on face to face talks with Optimus.

And meanwhile, back at the Autobot camp a secret ballot has been held to find a successor to Optimus and to Bumblebee's horror he has been elected the new leader. Ratchet reminds Bumblebee that his fellow bots trust him and need a calm pair of hands right now. But barely have those words started to sink in when a ship touches down outside, and out steps the intergalactic enforcer, Ultra Magnus!

******

Review:

By Omega Steve

Newbie Transformers writer Mike Costa builds on the solid start he made in issue #1 with even more twists, turns, and surprises. Not only has Optimus Prime walked out on the Autobots, but they have splintered into two factions led by Hot Rod (who interestingly disavows an interest in leading but does so anyway) and the democratically-elected Bumblebee. When BB says he has no desire to lead you get the impression he means it, but he is driven by a sense of responsibility to his fellow Autobots and if they want him to take charge he will do as asked.

Costa's motive is making Bumblebee the leader may have been commercially driven - i.e. because the character is well known from the Michael Bay TF films and this could help sales, or it may be simply a desire to surprise the readers by installing the 'least likely' candidate. Can Bumblebee square up to a powerful Decepticon opposite number? Probably not, but there is more to being a leader than physical strength, and it might be that Bee can bring a new dimension to the role. Unlike Optimus he will have to rely far more on his cunning and guile to bring the troops with him and outwit his opponents. We could be in for some interesting stories, providing of course that Bumblebee retains the leadership - from the looks of Magnus arriving at the end, I got the impression he was there to take over as emergency leader in Prime's absence.

Speaking of Prime, he is incarcerated and in pain for the brief time we see him, but nevertheless gets his audience with Spike - so we can assume it won't be long before he is able to convince Skywatch (through Spike) of the Autobots' good faith. Let's hope he won't end up being car crushed on TV like what happened to the Throttlebots some years ago!

Spike is a character who interests me. A lot of fans have taken against him as written by Costa (oddly enough I don't recall him being particularly unpopular in All Hail Megatron) and have seized on instances where he's been drawn with nurses fawning over him, and now leaving a semi-naked woman's home - as evidence that he's a douche bag (that honour I reserve for Cliffjumper this issue). This is not my impression of Spike, if anything you get the impression that he is overcompensating for the lack of love from his father, who is clearly desperate to impress. Instead General Witwicky is devoid of warmth or fatherly affection - quite unlike how he was defined by Shane McCarthy in All Hail Megatron, prior to the Ongoing. I think I preferred Shane's characterisations better.

Some other points: I really enjoyed seeing Omega Supreme again and the fact the comic didn't succumb to the temptation to have him transform to robot mode and overwhelm the Decepticons. Don Figueroa did a great job drawing Omega, and in fact the art is first rate throughout the comic, but it won't receive the recognition it deserves because the redesigned robots and their faces will not be to all tastes. Swindle and Scrapper look fab though, particularly when the latter unleashes his barrage of missiles - and I also note that Octane and Bluestreak are being referred to as Tankor and Silverstreak, so maybe Hasbro lost the right to the names?

Swindle's comments about the war being over and soldiers wanting to go home was persuasive and touching, and you can almost see how Hot Rod gets taken in - although it should be damn near impossible to trust someone who calls themselves Swindle, I mean the clue is in the name. His speech though, defines the question at the heart of the Ongoing so far - the war as the TFs have known it is over, so what happens now?

Lastly, as much as I am looking forward to Hot Rod the leader even if its baffling why the highly intelligent and normally loyal Jetfire has chosen to side with him, and also Prowl who as Prime's deputy would have been expected to have stayed within the mainstream Autobot camp. Interestingly Jazz, who lead the Autobots through most of AHM was not a contender. This is a rather striking inconsistency because if he was suitable before then why not now? His previous characterisation as a super commando cool dude irritated me a bit though, so maybe its as well Bumblebee got the job this time.

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