Transformers #7: No title

Published: May 2010, by IDW
Covers: Two regulars, one incentive (Rodimus)
Writer: Mike Costa
Artwork: Don Figueroa, Andrew Wildman (cover B)
Rating:

Characters: [Decepticons] Megatron, Dreadwind, Kickback, Rumble, Bombshell, Starscream, Shockwave, Soundwave, Razorclaw, Quake [Autobots] Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Jetfire, Blurr, Ratchet [humans] Spike Witwicky, General Witwicky, Sandra


Synopsis/review:

By Omega Steve Dreadwind is pursued by his fellow Decepticons!

The issue opens with the blackness of space and the immortal words of Megatron: "Peace through tyranny". It appears as though the former Decepticon leader is narrating the tale, even though his life was hanging by a thread when we last saw him in AHM#13. Is he functional again? It's not clear. Then again he features on both of this issues regular covers so it suggests a return may be on the cards this issue - then again it's not unusual these days for covers to bear no resemblance to the story within.

'Peace through tyranny' is a rather odd philosophy when you think about it, as it implies an imposed peace on the masses born out of oppression and fear of a ruling elite. But that is the Megatron way. Ironically, while he's been offline the Decepticons have had nearly three years of no war against the Autobots, but things are far from peaceful. Instead they are turning on themselves in a survival of the fittest struggle for scant resources on their barren asteroid.

So we see two not-seen-before Seekers sitting around and a minor punch up between Rumble and Kickback, followed by a more serious incident: the hunting down of Dreadwind by his fellow Decepticons, who suspect him of taking more than his fair share of scarce Energon rations.

Dreadwind briefly shakes off his pursuers but is sniffed out by a cat-like Decepticon (possible Rampage but coloured pink and purple instead of his usual red). Cornered, he attempts to blame the theft on his 'brother' (Darkwing presumably) before launching a failed surprise attack on his accusers which results in Dreadwind being shot in the back and apparently dismembered!

Razorclaw watches from the sidelines in silence. Megatron describes him as a "survivalist" rather than a general, and the implication is that he is happy to see Decepticons tearing apart weaker members as this will result in the strong surviving and the resources stretching - tough survival choices that Razorclaw is evidently equipped to make.

Starscream derives his authority from the Matrix of Leadership which he wears

But it's not Razorclaw who is in command here, but Starscream - who having seized the leadership following Megatron's assassination is wearing the stolen Autobot Matrix around his chest as a symbol of his power and status. The trouble is that, having schemed and toiled for so many aeons to steal the leadership, now that he's got it what does he do? From the looks of it - nothing! The Decepticons are languishing on this barren rock, either bored stiff or turning against each other, and there doesn't seem to be a purpose at all. Writer Mike Costa gives us clues as to why they are there, with flashes of Shockwave rebuilding the spacebridge and Soundwave protecting the fragile Megatron, so something is afoot, but why come here in the first place? Did the Decepticons run out of fuel and have to set down somewhere? Are they unable to escape? Or did they intentionally come to the asteroid because it has resources they need to rebuild Megatron and further their goals. If it's the latter then Starscream should leave Shockwave, Soundwave and a few troops to get on with it, and get everyone else off the rock ASAP before he has no army left. It's unfathomable that after so many years of plotting Starscream hasn't made a few plans of what he'd do once in charge. Something isn't ringing true here.

Starscream confronts his 'mad scientist' Bombshell over the lack of progress to find fresh sources of Energon. It's not a wonder the Insecticon has failed to make progress, he's been spending all his time creating devices like mini Bombshells that can render an opponent mindless. Mwhahaha!! He feels that Razorclaw's cannibalism approach should sort of the resources problem, but Starscream is conscious that he is losing soldiers!

Quake bursts in screaming 'death to tyrants'

Suddenly Quake bursts, guns blazing and screaming 'death to tyrants' in a kind of kamikaze assassination attempt. It's a bit odd, as presumably every Decepticon ruler is a tyrant by nature of the job - why is he not used to this yet? It feels to me that the lack of Energon and mind-numbing boredom has caused Quake to snap. Starsream reacts by unleashing one of Bombshell's experimental hyptnotic shells on Quake and ordering him to 'die' which he dutifully does! I hope he's not beyond repair, or Dreadwind for that matter, as it feels like a waste to discard these characters so flippantly.

After spoiling us with so much Decepticon action, its back to business as usual briefly as the story flips to Earth where Spike is introducing his father, General Witwicky, to Optimus Prime. All the right words are said but privately the general is pretty miffed that the Autobots have been set free and that Skywatch/Spike have unilaterally decided to join forces with the Autobots. Spike thinks it's the only option, particularly as the TFs have found a way around Skywatch's Transformer paralysis devices.

Spike's aide, Sandra (who we haven't seen before), gives a hint of trouble to come by warning that a senior officer named Allenby could decide to court martial Spike. She's also unhappy at having to lie to the chain of command, and we have to wonder what the purpose of her character is. Either she's setting up developments in Spike's personal story (court martial possibly) or she's being introduced at this juncture as she'll play a more important role in future. At the moment it's not clear, but the four pages of talking heads provide an unwelcome lull from the main action, punctuated by a nicely drawn panel of Bumblebee, Jetfire and the other Autobots coming 'in from the cold'.

Prime seeks to cement the Autobot-Human alliance, and, right, Megatron's slow recovery continues

Megatron, still narrating about things he couldn't possibly see from his vantage point, warns the reader of human treachery and how Prime is walking into subjugation. Someday he will know true slavery. and that day will come when Megatron finally returns! Cue a full page of the Decepticon leader in a repair bubble slowly on his way back to life.

On the adjacent page is a farewell from Denton Tipton, who is moving on from Associate Editor of IDW's Transformers Ongoing. It's nice that he gets a chance to say goodbye, but his time on the title was more ok than outstanding - presiding over the disaster that was Megatron Origin, the divisive AHM, and demise of Simon Furman, so I'm happy to see changes.

All in all not a bad issue: it's been a welcome relief to see the Decepticons back in the book (a six month absence felt too long) and seeing how they coped in a leadership vacuum with no purpose and limited Energon has been intriguing. I have a few gripes, namely the apparent permanence of Quake and Dreadwind's deaths, and Starscream doing absolutely bugger all as leader. It's great to see Megatron back, but let's see what Starscream can do for heaven's sake - even if it's no more than to launch a foolhardy all-out assault. EJ's art is heavily inked and everyone looks like they're modelling army fatigue patches, but the pencils are lovely and I am warming to this TF Animated style of drawing the Transformers.

Have you got an opinion about Transformers Ongoing #7? Please post below.

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