Transformers spotlight 5
On Zull Ultra Magnus, apprehends the war criminal Swindle for selling Cybertronian technology to alien races.
Swindle however dangles the location of an even bigger war criminal in front of Magnus` nose in exchange for his freedom.
Despite going in against all of his principles and wondering if he breaks his principles, where exactly it will end, Magnus agrees and cuts Swindle free.
The information leads Magnus to Nebulos, where he find that Scorponok is using the Zarak consortium as a front.
Magnus infiltrates the consortium and finds among other things, a Nebulan who appears to be able to transform.
Shortly after that Magnus, his holomatter avatar is revealed and destroyed.
Nagnus forces his way in to the facility in his robot form, where he encounters Scorponok.
Though Scorponok normally flees when found out. This time around he is on the breakthrough of something enormous in scope and is willing to take Magnus on.
In the ensuing battle Scorponok's business partner, Mo Zarak is damaged and seemingly killed.
Magnus makes use of the distraction to shoot Scorponok in the face.
Damaged and stymied in his endeavour, Scorponok flees via an randomised artificial wormhole generator.
29 cycles later Magnus finds swindle on Burgas and takes him in once more.
Swindle once again tries to bargain and Magnus wonders once again how many compromises he is willing to make.
Writer : Simon Furman
Artist : Robby Musso
Colorist : Kieran Oats
Letters : Neil Uyetake
Editor : Chris Ryall, Dan Taylor.
Released 17 Jan 2007, the first Transformers comic of 2007 along with Escalation 1.
The report Magnus gives at the end, is received by Prime during Escalation 1
This issue takes place in 1988, except the last two panels which take place in 2006.
Despite being an Autobot that has always been in the spotlight to a degree:
From being the temporary new leader in the 1986 animated movie.
Rodimus' second in command in the cartoon.
The pivot of Operation Volcano and a powerhouse in TF UK. ( That often got his tailpipe handed to him by Galvatron )
And the leader of the Wreckers in Dreamwave.
Ultra Magnus actually never had much of a personality, in any of the G1 incarnations beyond generic brave noble Autobot.
The only personality he had, came from his bio where it was said that he would rather be lead, then lead, but was a born leader and it was a shame that he didn't realise his himself.
As such, Ultra Magnus is one of the first characters in the spotlight issues, that actually gets completely reinvented.
Future spotlights such as Kup, Wheelie, Blur and others will do this as well.
While others are all to happy to riff off the spotlighted characters original personality, such as Shockwave, Hot Rod, Grimlock etc.
And that is fine, because their original characterisations were rock solid to begin with.
Shockwave after all, has always been portrayed as a being of utter logic.
While I am all for moving on and reinvention in Transformers, some characters are iconic in their own right.
So Magnus his complete reinvention then
He is a complete and utter bureaucrat, who does everything by the book and follows the rules to the letter.
Straight laced and unwilling to bend him or his principles for anybody
He works for the Tyrest Accord, a shadowy nebulous ill defined greater burocracy, that gives Magnus the authority to go as he pleases and take out rouge Cybertronians.
Magnus himself is portrayed as unflinching, incorruptible, willing and able to do anything and waltzes through the defences of several alien species, as per the opening pages of the comic when he takes Swindle in.
Being a straight-laced less fascist, certainly not as violent, version of a robotic Judge Dredd. Magnus is unfortunately a bit bland and boring.
While the idea of a lone cop, making sure that an accord between Cybertron and the rest of the universe is duly followed and enforced if necessary. So that the conflict doesn't spill over too much is a very interesting idea and plays handily in to the cloak and dagger cold war backdrop, Furman has been setting up these past 20 issues or so.
Magnus himself however, is far too straight-laced to be interesting.
He is borderline boring. ( Revelations later on, in More Then Meets The Eye, that turn him in to a bit of a joke not withstanding. )
Furman wisely and immediately breaks Magnus straight-laced persona and has him question his own principles, when Swindle tempts him with Scorponok. A rouge Decepticon, which happily and all too willingly flaunts the codes of an interplanetary accord on sharing Cybertronian science.
And flaunts it quite happily and brazenly.
Which brings us to the most interesting part of the story.
The infiltration of Scoponok's deep cover, the Zarak consortium.
Which lies on Nebulos.
And we get a second and so far, last glimpse in on Nebulos. Where the Nebulans are once again the bald aliens of the cartoon.
Though thankfully they aren't all green.
We are also introduced to Zarak here, better known as Mo Zarak, ...no don't laugh.
Mo Zarak himself, is a direct copy of the Rebirth 3 parter, Zarak.
And his apparent demise is more then enough to cause Scorponok to tuck tail and run.
Swindle here is also a perfectly serviceable character, who is in his G1 old self and again that's fine. It's not just his most memorable characterisation, with a name like Swindle he can't be much else. ( Oh, but later down the line he tried. )
As a character Ultra Magnus is rather cut and dry.
Too simple and too focused to be interesting, but when he is forced to break his principles, it gets more interesting. Because sooner or later he will break them again and again.
Until he crosses the lines he is supposed to uphold.
Where does it stop ?
This is a problem Magnus himself ponders and wisely, Furman doesn't offer any awnsers.
With the book ending on a loop.
Magnus has arrested Swindle again and Swindle wants to deal again.
Spotlight Ultra Magnus is an intriguing look in to how the rest of the universe, deals with these sentient robots and their cold war.
With perfectly serviceable art, but it still suffers from Dreamwave disease with dubious anatomy, ballooning Transfromers and dull surprises expressions.
Musso's art would improve later on, when he tackles Spotlight Cliffjumper.
Other then this interesting look at how other species deal with Transformers and how rouge transformers wheel and deal their way across the cosmos.
Spotlight Ultra Magnus doesn't really do much with the reinvention of Magnus himself.
He is too dour and dry to be a main character.
And Furman never does much with him and why is he the only enforcer of the Tyrest accord ?
Wouldn't it make sense to have more then one enforcer ?
Spotlight Ultra Magnus is propped up by interesting ideas and notions.
The reintroduction of Scorponok and the reinvention of Ultra Magnus as an enforcer, rather then by the actual execution.
An interesting experiment that just is a bit lacking.
It's a light meditation on compromises, to get at a goal, and how far one is willing to go to achieve it.
Spotlight Ultra Magnus is a solid entry in the Spotlight series and its not a huge misfire, such as Sixshot.
But you wont miss much by skipping it all together either.