Transformers Ongoing #3

Released: January 2010
Publisher: IDW
Number of covers: Two regulars, one Jetfire incentive
Cover price: $3.99
Writer: Mike Costa
Artwork: Don Figueroa
Rating:

Characters: [Autobots] Jetfire, Hot Rod, Ratchet, Hound, Wheeljack, Seaspray (first appearance) Cliffjumper, Bumblebee, Ultra Magnus, Huffer, Optimus Prime, Ironhide (dead), Hoist, Tracks, Beachcomber, Blurr, Red Alert, Mirage [Decepticons] Dead End, Motormaser, Wildride, Bonecrusher, Hook, Onslaught, Swindle [humans] Spike Witwicky, Pennington, and unnamed Skywatch troops


Synopsis:


Jetfire is getting seriously bored of the Earth and turns to drink!

The issue opens with Jetfire drowning his sorrows with barrels of fuel. His keen scientist mind has been going crazy being trapped on Earth, and he has joined Hot Rod's breakaway faction in the hopes of getting off the planet.

Hot Rod comes to ask a favour: he needs Jetfire to develop a means of counteracting the human's weapon which paralyses Transformers in their vehicle modes, just like Wheeljack is doing for the Bumblebee-led Autobots. He also reveals that the 'get off Earth faction' has new allies in the form of Decepticons who have been recovered from human captivity.

Meanwhile at the Autobot base, intergalactic law enforcer Ultra Magnus has come to investigate the death of Ironhide, apparently by humans armed with adapted Transformer technology, and he expects cooperation. His presence is unsettling for many of new leader Bumblebee's warriors, and provokes Hoist and three others to walk out before they get arrested for something.

At Skywatch HQ Spike Witwicky visits the captive Optimus Prime and tries to get on the ex-Autobot leader's good side - hoping to obtain information that will help him when his father General Witwicky arrives. Prime would rather wait to see the general, so Spike switches to plan B and instructs his Skywatch troops to fan out and capture some Autobots. He thinks that without Optimus they are likely to be in disarray and this might present opportunities.

Sure enough Skywatch soon runs into Hoist, Beachcomber and Tracks, who they paralyse in vehicle mode. But Blurr escapes thanks to his immense speed. The new captives are towed back to the hanger to be used as a bargaining chip against Optimus.

******

Review:

By Omega Steve

I read this initially in January 2010 off the back of the first two issues where we'd had a surprise death, Prime's resignation, Hot Rod's walk-out and Bumblebee's unexpected election. So perhaps not surprisingly the comparative drop in pace this issue made it feel like a let-down. However on a second reading my opinion has risen a little. The plot does advance to a degree, and there are a couple of nice touches to behold, such as a seriously bored Jetfire drowning his sorrows, and the reaction of the Autobots to Ultra Magnus - one of fear and suspicion.

I have to admit I raised an eyebrow last issue when I saw Jetfire joining the deserters. It didn't feel right that this highly intelligent and normally loyal Autobot scientist would desert at the first opportunity - especially with Hot Rod who is proving to be a bit of a knob in this new continuity. So I'm pleased to see Costa addressing his motivations this issue and offering something near a plausible explanation. For the high-tech scientist Jetfire, being trapped on a primitive world such as Earth, with its comparatively slow pace of technological advancement must seem a kind of purgatory. It might also be the first time I've seen Transformers getting drunk since the days of the Old Macaddam's oil house in Transformers UK.

Hot Rod seems to be taking to his new role with gusto and has an interesting almost Animal Farm style of command. He's winning the affection and respect of his fellow deserters by treating them as brothers and equals, while disavowing leadership intentions. I wonder if Costa's plan is to have him evolve over time into Rodimus Prime (certainly seems so if the Andrew Wildman B cover is anything to go by) and become a rival to Bumblebee or even Optimus? That said the seeds of his downfall are already present in his naive acceptance of Swindle as a partner. He seems to think that just because the war has been over for three years, and they have a shared goal in getting off the Earth, they millions of years of war and trust each other. I have no problem with Swindle pulling the rug out from under Hot Rod at an opportune moment, and I would expect it really, but it's unrealistic to think Roddy's wouldn't be at least alive to the possibility and taking steps to avoid it.

Other thoughts: The new modernised vehicle modes for Hoist, Tracks and company look stylish, but I would have preferred Blurr's to at least have some resemblance to his familiar form. His speedy departure from issue #2 and what happens next will be played out in the four part Transformers Bumblebee spin-off comic. Meanwhile Spike's motives for getting Optimus to spill the beans seem more rooted in winning approval from his dad than for actual intelligence reasons. General Witwicky was a much more personable and likeable guy when written by Shane McCarthy in All Hail Megatron, but in the Ongoing he has turned into a stricter and colder figure, and I think explanation is needed as to how this has happened. Perhaps the promotion to general and responsibility for Transformers security threat is the answer, but it needs to be clear.

What did you think of Transformers Ongoing #3? Are there any points I've missed that you spotted? Share your views by posting a comment below.

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