Transformers #6: Things Fall Apart part 5: Earthworks

Published: April 2010, by IDW
Covers: Two regulars, one incentive (Optimus Prime)
Writer: Mike Costa
Artwork: Don Figueroa, Andrew Wildman
Rating:

Characters: [Autobots] Optimus Prime, Ultra Magnus, Blurr, Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Rodimus, Red Alert, Silverstreak, Jetfire [Decepticons] Menasor, Swindle, Thundercracker, Scrapper [humans] Spike Witwicky, Skywatch troops


Synopsis:


At Swindle's command Menasor goes to work on Ultra Magnus.

Spike has been rescued from the river where he ended up following a run in with the Stunticons. As this issue opens he is aboard a Skywatch military transport and the call comes in of giant robot activity in the vicinity. Spike orders the pilot to take a look and in moments they are confronted with the awesome spectacle of Menasor pitched in battle against Ultra Magnus and Rodimus.

The plane continues on its way to Skywatch HQ where Spike goes to see the captive Optimus Prime to 'fess up that he was indirectly responsible for Ironhide's death, as he'd given the troops authorisation to use deadly force against Transformers. Despite this Prime agrees to help Spike by taking down Menasor before the rampaging gestalt can endanger human life.

Back in the desert Menasor is arguing among his component Stunticons about how to finish off Magnus, who the giant has in his grip. Swindle boasts of his achievement in mastering combiner tech, when suddenly Optimus lands on him in truck mode with all the momentum of a fall from a great height.

Seconds later Prime launches himself at Menasor, blasting him in the face, while Scrapper prepares to finish off Bumblebee. Thundercracker intervenes to save him, reiterating his stance that the war is over and they should all stop fighting, and he helpfully suggests that Menasor's weakness is the lack of cohesion between the Stunticons. The Autobots target Deadend and then Mototmaster which confuses them long enough for Skywatch agents in giant robot suits to move in.

With order restored, Spike talks to Bumblebee and offers the Autobots safe haven at Skywatch HQ in return for help in rounding up the Decepticons. He agrees. Meanwhile Swindle has escaped and when Magnus then attempts to arrest Rodimus for colluding with the enemy, Bumblebee orders him to back off making the point that he is Autobot leader now.

While Bee and Magnus argue, Rodimus hops aboard Magnus' ship and blasts off into spare, leaving followers like Bluestreak to denounce him as a coward and re-join Bumblebee's Autobots. Meanwhile Rodimus heads into deep space on a mission to do who knows what?

******

Comments:

By Omega Steve

And so ends the first arc of Mike Costa's run. It's not the best issue of Transformers I've ever read but it's not the worst either, and it at least resolves some of the themes of the series so far, namely the hostilities between the Autobots and Skywatch - with them now agreeing a truce - and the question of who will lead out of Bumblebee, Rodimus or Optimus Prime, while leaving some lingering questions for the next issues to take up (the fate of Rodimus and Swindle among them).

Menasor made an impressive entrance last issue thanks to the stunning Don Fig double page, but this time he's more like an idiotic oaf arguing amongst his component parts, and doesn't come across as a particularly credible threat. The idea that a newly formatted gestalt should take some time for its composite minds to gel is a good one, but has been done before - by Dreamwave in its second G1 arc, and McDonough and Patyk did it better (ironically in another Menasor v Magnus battle).

Swindle is shaping up to be a great villain and schemer and is one of Costa's better defined characters, unlike sadly his Optimus Prime who doesn't feel authentic enough, it's like he's missing something. That said I loved Prime's grand entrance, falling from a plane in truck mode and landing on Swindle's head! That should have caused some major damage, and I'm frankly surprised Swindle was in any position to run off by the end of the issue!

With Hot Rod stomping off like a petulant child and Prime insisting on keeping his distance, it appears that Bumblebee is the victor of the three-way tussle for the Autobot leadership. This should please some Movie fans and possibly the odd Hasbro executive too. But to my mind Bee has a long way to go to demonstrate his suitability to lead, having failed to make his mark in six issues. Sure, he is the one to order the strategic targeting of Menasor's component parts but he only does so after being gifted the strategy by Thundercracker, who all of a sudden has come over all honourable and Klingon warrior code like. In theory with his rival Rodimus off the scene Bumblebee can start to hit his stride (this is what I'd want to see in the next story arc, complete with obligatory bumps on the road) although it's difficult to see how he can escape from Prime's shadow with Optimus still in the background.

One of the themes of this six parter has been the inability of certain Transformers to change and adapt to a post-war situation (understandable in many ways as they've been stuck on the same course for millions of years). Magnus is one of the worst offenders; doggedly sticking to his policing brief with all the flexibility and discretion of a London traffic warden! I much prefer the gritty frontier lawman/sheriff character under Furman to this incarnation, who is neither resourceful or quick thinking and comes across as a bit of a dick at times. In his Spotlight Magnus was allied only to the law, and as such would pursue Autobot and Decepticon alike if they were suspected of dealing Transformers tech to other races. So his prosecution of Rodimus for allying himself with Decepticons makes Magnus much more partisan than before. I don't think it's necessarily a good thing.

Art-wise the comic has been drawn and coloured to a high standard, but I still can't find much good to say about the cadaverous faces. Don will need to listen to the readers and moderate these surely.

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