Thursday, 31 December 2015

Transformers Infiltration 06 Review

Transformers Infiltration 06

Summary :
Starscream is taking a full on hit  of Ore 13 in preparation of Megatron's arrival. 
While back  in Iowa, Ratchet is ferrying Jimmy, Verity and Hunter back  to  the ark 19. 
Prowl  decided to sideline them  and Ratchet couldn't agree more. 
Jimmy and Hunter are onboard  with this idea as well, only Verity  seems to be the voice of  discontent. Until she relents as well  and  gives in to  her post traumatic stress with the whole situation.  

The other Autobots in the mean  time are heading over to the Oregon bunker where Bumblebee is already situated, just in time to see Megatron orbital bounce in. 
When Megatron confronts the Infiltration unit, they all stand down.
Only Starscream has the struts  to  confront Megatron, but  despite  unleashing a barrage on him and  juiced up on ore 13. Starscream is left wanting, Megatron is  not impressed  and meters out Starscream's punishment by turning him in to a hole in one.  

The Autobots end up being nothing more then bystanders, but are in time to  rescue  Bumblebee after he has been spotted. 
The Autobots make their way  back  to lake Michigan, where they are spotted by agent Drake. 
Down inside ark-19 Prowl thinks its time to get the heavy hitters in. They need Optimus Prime. 
Optimus Prime however, is already here. 

Notes :
This cover will be cropped and becomes the cover of  V1 of the Premier Collection released in  2007  and collecting 16 issues. 
This  book was  expensive when released and is still expensive on the secondary market. 
This cover was reused again  for the Phase One Omnibus in  September  2014  collecting  Infiltration, Escalation and Devastation. 
The  holomatter avatars for the Autobots  are as following: 
Wheeljack  : a balding white Caucasian male, in the mad professor mold.
Jazz : an African American man, sporting a soul patch. 
Sunstreaker  : a blonde Caucasian woman. 
Ironhide  : an middle aged, slightly heavy set greying  Caucasian man. 
Prowl : a slightly sedentary redheaded  police officer with  shades.
First  mention and  showing of an orbital bounce, which is short range teleportation.  

Credits : Writer : Simon Furman, 
Artist:  E J Su,
Colors by : John Rauch and Josh Burcham,
Letters by :  Tom B Long and Robbie Robins.
Editor  : Chris Ryall.  

Review :

So here we are then, the last issue of  Infiltration, the end of the arc and of Phase One. 
This is the issue where Jimmy, Verity and Hunter more or less  become sidelined.
They still appear in a few issues to come, but their headlining days are effectively over
and I am okay with that. 
I like them as characters and think they are the  best human characters, this side of Buster Witwicky 
But it's time for the human characters to step aside.
Something  a lot of Transformers series  have had trouble with, especially the cartoons. Where gormless idiots  just wander on to the  battlefield  and  NOT get  squashed.
Or get involved with  20 meter tall alien war robots, which  can only  turn out very badly for the squishies involved. 
Prime and Masterforce are particularly bad in this regard, even if  Masterforce turns out to be a mecha show, under the guise of a Transformers series. 
Like Buster, Verity Jimmy and Hunter, are only too  glad to be sidelined and  they do  not go looking for trouble. 
Trouble comes to them. 
And this is a very important distinction. Their  association with the Autobots makes  them  natural targets and not just by the Decepticons. 
So them being sidelinded is perfectly natural. 
Including their reaction to it all. They are shellshocked, dejected and twitchy, on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
And Verity finally lets her  emotional state, which was bubbling below the surface,  come to the  surface  where it cracks. 
Amazingly depicted by Su in  3  panels, where Verity goes from rebellious to cracking up, before finally giving in.  

The majority of the  issue however, is given to the  part  we have all been waiting for. 
Megatron confronting his Infiltration unit and above all Starscream. 
And despite  being all juiced up, Starscream is the only one who has the struts to attack Megatron. 
Who once again  takes the attack with out flinching and proceeds to  turn Starscream in to a hole in one. 
This is a scene I always internally stand up and cheer for. 
I  don't like Starscream. 
I really, really, really don't like Starscream. 
I don't  like him because his a noxiously nasally voiced annoying  usurper that  backstabs Megatron any chance he get's  and then backpedals when Megatron  isn't  quite dead.
While Megatron keeps him around for some reason. 
Even worse, Starscream has become a cliché of himself, a stereotype of himself. 
When he is around  you can be sure he will backstab Megatron. 
Not if, but when. has a page up  called The Starscream, which just drives the point home how much of a  cliché Starscream has become. 
And it's always refreshing to see him buckle this trend. 
Not so much in Infiltration though, but at least here it has a purpose, to make  G1  fans feel like this is the Transformers of  yore, without being too alienated by the new status  quo. 
Sadly as  the IDW series continue to go it's way, Starscream continues to fall in to his  old wellworn patterns. But as I said before Infiltration, can't be faulted for what the series in it's wake do. 
Sadly despite perforating Starscream, Megatron lets him live repeating  a mistake all Megatron's have done so before him.  

However the ease with which Megatron takes down  a  fully  juiced up Starscream does underplay  the  importance of  ore-13 a bit.  Even if it  builds up Megatron  as an awe inspiring supremely  powerful being  and  it really stacks the odds in the Decepticons favor. 
One odd scene however is that Megatron  lets the 6 Autobots, pretty much all of  Prowl's detachment that are literally on the sidelines watching,  go. 
Maybe he doesn't care about them interfering or wants to  secure the base and ore 13.  But it is a bit odd that Megatron just  lets  6 Autobots  go unmussed  especially, considering his  attitude towards  Autobots later on. 
But this  can be chalked down to his detached demeanour, it's the bigger picture  Megatron  is concerned with not the small  fry.  

There is another odd  scene with Sunstreaker and some forced humor,  where he expresses disbelief  that they are going to let the Decepticons go. 
It doesn't really add much, nor shed any light on Sunstreakers  personality. 
Though later on back in the ark  19 we get to see again, that Sunstreaker isn't overly fond of humans.
If he only knew what was in store for him.

The Machination subplot  gets  some lipservice, but it doesn't really come to the forefront untill Escalation and later arcs. 
Regardless, Infiltration is already busy  setting up future storylines. 
This issue also represent the end of a small conceit I always liked and which will be carried over briefly in to the Spotlights and Stormbringer. 
And that is that earth, isn't the pivotal main frontline it is so often depicted as being,
but just another backwater world, in a backwater solar system, somewhere in the galaxy.  Just another minor note to be ticked off in a galactic cold war, making the whole  conflict feel a lot bigger. 
With Megatron on  earth and ore 13  making its presence known, this sadly falls by the way side and for the coming years until 2012, earth will be the focal point. 

And in this issue we get our first  look in this series of Optimus Prime in all his resplendent  G1  glory. 
And so ends  issue  6  and  phase  1.   

Now Infiltration  is often  accused of being  decompressed and  slow  moving. 
And this is not entirely true or accurate for the series.
While it's true that the series could have been  compressed in to a  5  parter easily. 
And at times its pace is a bit too leisurely, the action sedate and it repeats it self a bit too often, while  spreading things out too much. 
It is still a well paced story,  with  several  amazing  cliffhangers.
And neither issues 1 nor 2  can be called slow, with the best will in the world. 
It's  3 and 4  that  let the side down, before 5 and 6 pick up the slack and finish it with aplomb. 
It lays down the foundations  of the complete and utter  IDW verse. Whatever follows next, this is ground zero this is where it all began again. 
This is what IDW Transformers is build upon and it's a good solid foundation, whish the  series work off for years to come. 
Dropped plotlines not with standing. 

And so ends Infiltration  and  my last post for 2015. 
Thing have started well enough, but as usual  even the best laid  plans of men and mice  go awry, and things didn't pan out as planned.
Regardless, I did manage to make a decent start of things.  Even if you wouldn't say so  with all the new issue one's and the paucity of  reviews, but all in all I put down  21  reviews.
And at least I managed to end  2015  with finishing up Infiltration and the gold digger mini series. 
Next up:
Spotlights  !
Gold digging !
Green skinned cops, with fins !
And escalations  !

Transformers Infiltration 5 Review

Transformers Infiltration 5

 Summary :
Megatron regards Verity with mild disinterest, before disregarding her as  the whole bunker starts to collapse. 
The bunker is turning in to a sinkhole, everybody manages to get out alive though Verity  almost  is swallowed by the collapsing dirt and debris. 
As the Autobots turn tail and get  out  of  there, Megatron smashes his  way  to the surface, to the  dismay of both Decepticons and Autobots. 
The Autobots however aren't even on Megatron's radar.  He deals swiftly and harshly with  the two Decepticons before continuing his way to  Oregon, to put his house back in order. 
Ratchet relays his theory as what  has happened to Prowl. 
Starscream's infiltration unit by accident discovered a rich new energon  variant, they could use directly. Exhausting the seam they vacated the Nebraska bunker in favor of the Oregon bunker  which has a much  riche seam  engaging siege mode to protect  their  latest find.
and the Autobots are stuck in the middle.   

Credits :Writer : Simon Furman, 
Artist:  E J Su,
Colors by : John Rauch and Josh Burcham,
Letters by :  Tom B Long and Robbie Robins.
Editor  : Chris Ryall.  

Notes  :
Ore 13 is  finally  mentioned by name and what it does exactly. 

Yes, result  !
In a  slightly lopsided  manner,  but after  the plot spinning it's wheels in 3 and 4  it's finally moving forward again.
However, let's get the bad out of the way first. 
Issue 5 is still  partially spinning it's wheels and at least half the issue is given over to the  Nebraska bunker, turning in to a sinkhole and nearly burying Verity and Hunter. 
It has to be dealt with, but feels rather perfunctory.  
And  it takes too long on the whole, but that's as far as the bad  points go.
Issue 5  also  gives us the conclusion to that cliffhanger of issue 4.
And while Verity  can only stare, she and  as such the whole of humanity simply don't rate for Megatron. 
He glances at her, mentally dismisses her and then proceeds to ignore her.
She simply isn't worth the time and effort to threaten or kill. She simply doesn't matter. 
And it's not hard to believe that Megatron considers the rest of humanity in a similar manner.  

This is a huge  paradigm shift  for the character  and the first time he has been depicted in this cold detached manner.
Turning him in to a more then credible threat. The previous Megatron's have been depicted in various states, but  never  quite  as a credible threat save for Beast Machines Megatron and that's because  he was  turned in tot he Cybertronain equivalent of  Hitler that  came so close to winning it was scary.  * 
The Beast Wars Megatron on the other hand, was a  shade too vaudevillian  to be  threatening and the cartoon G1 Megatron was simply a tit, that  is in no way  to be taken seriously. 
Comic G1 Megatron  veered wildly between a psychotic lunatic and  a campy  wannabe villain, which makes it harder to take him serious as well. Though the later reGeneration series  rather amped up  his  psychotic tendencies to the nth degree.
What happened to Megatron  later along the line in the IDW series,  in More Then Meets The Eye  and a character turn I  certainly do not  care for, nor support, nor believe in,  (  but we will see that when, we get there along the line  )  not withstanding. This is a paradigm shift for the character, showing him to be cold  calculated and detached.  

The issue  further ramps up Megatron's  threat level  by  having him take out Skywarp and  Blitzwing in  quick brutal  succession, with nary a scratch  nor flinching. 
They, like Verity simply do not rate and he takes them out  as  easy  as  swatting a fly.
Megatron is  able  to  decimate  two Decepticons  the  Autobots  had  trouble handling, 
the Autobots are out of their depth and they know it. 
Which finally  forces Prowl's hand  to do something.  Even if that something might not be  much  beyond trying to contain  the conflagration at best, or becoming collateral damage at worst.  

The whole reason  for this series to be there, the mysterious  power source finally gets it's name  in ore 13. 
Unfortunally,  other then appearing  in a few arcs. A mention in a spotlight or two  and  fuelling  Stormbringer ore-13  is one of the balls that  will be getting dropped until John Barber picks  up  the thread  and  runs with it at least  5  years later. 
Infiltration 5 can't be faulted for that, but hindsight is always  20-20  and  in the long run ore-13,  like the facsimiles  don't  fulfil their promises.
We also finally  get to  hear what's going on. The infiltration unit broke protocol under  the lead of Starscream, engaging in siege mode to protect the seam of ore 13.
Megatron himself has  come down to earth to put his house on order. 
Which is where the issue comes to an end. 

I am running out of superlatives to describe EJ Su's art, so suffice to say that it's as  great as ever. Even id the  sinkhole section of the  issue stretches out for far too long.   The depiction of Megatron and the frightening ease with which he takes out  two of his own Decepticons with no hassle or care  is breathtakingly realised  even a decade later.
Infiltration might have been spinning its wheels a bit and it could have been  compressed a bit more without losing much, but it's still a well paced, well illustrated story. That is currently  heading for it's  conclusion. 
Issue 5  is a return to form. 
( *Hi Godwin)

Gold Digger Color Remix Issue 4

Gold Digger Color Remix Issue 4 

Summary :
While Armageddon stands around bwahahahahing down in Atlantis. 
Gina uses the lull  in the  action and the  24 hour deadline  to  formulate a  plan to counteract the nefarious and dastardly and just plain no good Gyphon.
They involve flowers. 
And  the solution  comes with almost  insultingly  comical  ease.
Meanwhile, Brittany nearly puts Strype into traction during a  training  exercise and Strype feels somewhat inadequate compared to her. Though does manage to get on well with her father, doctor\ professor Diggers. 
Whom seems to like Strype more, then previous suitors. 
Eventually to  deal with  Gyphon and his dastardly  plans, the Diggers sisters and Strype have to  travel  to  the garden of Eden, to harvest the flowers they need.
But there are guard dogs, literal guard dogs in the form of werewolves.
things once again go downhill from there  

Notes :
Release date  : 1 march 1991
This issue is once again 34  pages.
This is the last issue of  Gold Digger, until June 93 with the start  of  the ongoing. 
First appearances of :
Dr Diggers, in the flesh, 

Credits :
Story\Art: Fred Perry
Color : Guru FX
Editor : Doug Dlin

Review  :
And Armageddon  still does nothing  ! ( Even though he  has set an ultimatum to  have the princess and her allies brought before him for nefarious  ends  !   And a million dollars.  )
But this time that's alright, because that's the joke. 
It's not so much as an apocalypse as the slowest moving apocalypse. The crapocalypse, as it were, which  gets taken out in the  most ridiculously hilarious way possible. 
Death by flowers from the garden of Eden ! 
No, Armageddon isn't  the  real  threat here. 
..Issue 3  could have made that  more clear. 
Nor is he the real focus,  the characters  sleep through the whole crisis and don't seem to be in a  real hurry to deal with  Gyphon's  latest little  trick. 
And it gets more and more ridiculous, which is the  point,  because  this is a humor  series and issue 4  really drives that  point home.  

Instead we see Gina's father  Theodore Diggers  and delve more in to  Brittany's  obsession with Strype, as well as Strype's doubts about this relationship. 
Which is an  good idea to put the brakes on it a bit, because things have gone so  fast and so hard that Brittany honestly seems a bit overbearing  and desperate through out.
I am going to suck every bit of tension out of this right now. 
After this minor wave, Strype makes his mind up and  those two will never ever waver  again. 

The  highpoint of the comic however is the introduction of the two werewolves, Jetta and her husband Thabain  and the absolutely  bone crunching  fight that follows. Where  Gina, Strype and Brittany are  outclassed and overmatched and still manage to hold their own, if barely. 
The two werewolves even have  a reason to be there, to be  literal guard dogs of the  garden of Eden  and they perceived  Brittany as a threat. 
Jetta's  zeal  was a bit off putting though.  

Armageddon continues his crapocalypse  and it ends it the most hilariously ridiculous  way possible.
 Gyphon's death by  flowers as he  bwahahahah's his way  to victory.  

Brittany threatens to  tear up Gina's  pin ups and Jetta wonders w y her husband, never  picks her  flowers while they live in the garden of Eden.  

Absolutely brilliantly ridiculous. 
Issue 2 was  slightly off,  issue 3 is a misstep,  but   issue 4 redeems the series to it's  former gloriously silly self, with an amazing action scene to boot. 

And finally  the  original 1993  cover  from Comicvine 

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Transformers Infiltration 04 Review

Transformers Infiltration 04


A flash back to  3  years ago  sees a younger Verity  sitting through a lecture while a social worker, discusses her case. 
Present day Verity is  slowly lowering down a chasm in to the  underground Decepticon bunker.  

Before being followed by Hunter and Jimmy. 
Armed with communication patches, light sticks and camera's they all 3  go their own way, to cover the maximum amount of ground possible. 
Ratchet is reluctant to risk their lives, But bumblebee in a show of detached pragmatism  justifies it, that  if worst comes to worst these 3 are acceptable losses compared to  billions.  

In Dallas, Texas a man named drake meets with  the leaders of Epsillon holdings which turns out to be a front for something,  ...more. 
More then meets the eye even. 
Mr Drake is assigned a team and  told to investigate the recent happenings. 
They have also located the  position of the ark 19,  thanks to a homing device in the  sm-40.  

At the former command bunker, Verity deals with the situation by pretending she is a reporter, before coming across  what she describes as a large  tree with metal tubes.
Jimmy has no idea what he is looking for, or at, at his end. For all he knows he  could  be looking at the Cybertronian equivalent of snappy meal packages.   

Inside one of these tubes she discovers a corpse dressed in a military  uniform  and almost breaks down, before she manages to compose her self  insisting to Hunter and Jimmy, that she is fine.
She can do this.  
Above ground Bumblebee and Ratchet wait, while Bumblebee proclaims he is bored now. 
Ratchet is feeling awfully exposed.
Suddenly out of nowhere,  Skywarp and Blitzwing appear bombing  the base. 
The Autobots order the  humans to evacuate the base immediately, but Verity ignores them. Removing her communicator and  digs deeper in to the base.  

Above ground the Autobots  take on the Decepticons. Bumblebee manages to take  Skywarp down, but even though Ratchet manages to shoot Blitzwing down but 
he is NOT out. 

Down below, Verity comes face to  face with Megatron himself. 

To be continued. 

Credits :Writer : Simon Furman, 
Artist:  E J Su,
Colors by : John Rauch,
Letters by :  Tom B Long and Robbie Robins.
Editor  : Chris Ryall.  

Review  :
And Infiltration is spinning it's wheels again. 
Despite the fact that  this issue brings a lot of new things to the table. 
A glimpse in to Verity's emotional state.
Some of her backstory.
That her  prickly attitude may or may not be a front, to cope with things. 
The introduction of the facsimiles,  which despite a few interesting ideas  and  tangents. Such as  hinting that the Decepticons have infiltrated  the USA government with  facsimiles, unfortunately go nowhere, beyond Escalation and a few spotlights. 
While Infiltration can't be faulted for this, with hindsight facsimiles are  one of the balls that are being dropped.  

This unfortunately is a  problem Furman has always had. 
A hell of a  opening arc, great  build up and then he fumbles it at the conclusion.  (  Target 2006  springs to mind now. The War within  has a awfull conclusion too. )
I can't help but feel that it's once again in a  holding pattern, with the  base part of the story being  overlong  and not adding much  to the proceedings. 
And I feel that  with some editing  and denser plotting,  Infiltration issue 3, 4 and 5  could have been contracted down to two issues. 
It does however end on a hell of a cliffhanger.
Verity stumbling upon Megatron, doing his own investigation as well as hinting that  more is going on here.
Stormbringer which  is up next, runs concurrently with Infiltration. 
Bumblebee gets some unexpected characterization as well. 
That of a pragmatist and concedes, that if something may happen, these three are acceptable losses.
Which  coming  from  the once kid friendly, kid appeal character  comes as  quite a shock.  

The Epsilon holdings part of the book is more mysterious human  organisations,  aware of Transformers or at least extra terrestrial activity.  Which is all fine and dandy but the only new  information the 2 pages give us  are the names of  some of the people in charge
Sending a Mr Drake out to investigate Transformers up close  and  our mystery sales man finally gets a name. 
Must be a Dracula fan. 
Other then that, these two pages tell us nothing we don't know already  and  are mostly wasted. 
The reveal of the dead facsimile  (  or  donor )  is suitably gruesome,  but on the whole  issue 4 is still treading water.
Even Bumblebee lampshades it's extraneous length, by proclaiming, "bored now." 
Followed by a fight scene between two Autobots and Decepticons, but even this bleeds in to issue 5. 
Issue 3 and 4  at the very least could have been contracted together, mostly because they  cover the same ground. 
The fight scene it self is  the usual high standard we can  expect from EJ Su and the  kid friendly kid appeal character is actually capable of holding his own against Skywarp. Which was unthinkable in Marvel G1  or even Dreamwave G1.  

Issue 4 is a  holding pattern with long dreary sections, (  the underground base  parts of the issue  )  repeating the same information or just stalling.
This is  where the slow burn of the story starts to hurt the proceedings, especially when read in monthly installments.
It doesn't work when reading it in a TPB or one go. 
It's a step up  from issue 3, mostly because of the  well  laid out action scene and all the  new information it brings to the table. 
But after issues zero, one and  two,  it's a definitive let down. 
But this last  pages makes up  for a lot.