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Thread: Transformers Devastation #4

  1. #1
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    Default Transformers Devastation #4

    My apologies for beginning my reviews with #4 rather than #1. It's only a recent thing that I decided to do and it'd be too tedious to go back and do a review for all of those.

    For those that read trade, I'll also do a trade review too b/c I get both singles and TPBs/HCs of most TF stuff. As Digger stated in the other thread, the reading experience is vastly different when one reads in TPB and I'll do my best to capture the best of both in my reviews. Anyways, onwards...

    __________________________________________________ _______________

    Transformers Devastation #4

    By: Simon Furman, Robby Musso


    Covers: We have two covers here. Neither of which is done by the interior artist which must be a first for IDW's mainline TF series. And both of them are quite disappointing.

    The Su cover is awkward but the better of the two. The cover causes a lot of confusion because on first glance it might appear to feature Grimlock. Well, that's a mistake. It's actually Sixshot's beast form. To add to the cover, the two humans are just poorly position. They're supposed to capture the sense of the Transformer war being brought into the open on Earth. Instead, the girl's like an albine anorexic, the collapsing building just looks awkwardly positioned. However, this cover does give us an imposing Prime that will lay the smackdown so that's always a plus and hence my preference.

    The second cover is by Nick Roche who is a mixed bag for me. I think there are superior artists in the stable to him personally. Anyway, this cover has a better sense of atmosphere. It gives us a look at Sunstreaker's head behind Hunter who is to become his headmaster. It is really quite eerie and the red glow really works. However, it's not the type of cover I like and it just doesn't appeal to me but I can see others really digging the mood the cover gives.

    Plot: I'm going to list this:
    Central plot: Sixshot vs. the Ark 19 Autobots; featuring Six Shot vs. Prime.
    Subplot 1: Hot Rod and Wheeljack continue their race against time to save Ironhide
    Subplot 2: The humans authorise nuclear strikes against the Transformers.
    Subplot 3: Hunter (a human friend of the Autobots) takes the last step to becoming Sunstreaker's headmaster.
    Subplot 4: The Reapers assault the Decepticons.
    Subplot 5: The return of Starscream
    Subplot 6: What has Soundwave been up to?

    Art Robby Musso has a shot at finally drawing the mainline Transformer comic. You can see that he's adopted his style slightly so that it is closer to EJ Su. However, Musso's distinctiveness is still there. He also drew the Ramjet and Ultra Magnus one shots. He's a stronger DW style artist, closer to Don than Su. It's obvious he's mimicking Su to a degree so as the Trade Paperback's flow won't be impeded by the sudden change in artistic styles.

    It's a compliment to him that he does mimick Su well. I didn't think about it to I went back the credits page myself. I was originally very excited by Musso being solicited for this issue and was hoping to see him add his style to this. But his ability to capture EJ Su's style (which is likely also helped by the dullish colouring) shows his versatility. He is better than Su in my mind. He really gives the Autobots more spark than Su who is far more mechanical.

    One thing that constantly bugs me about the Infiltration, Escalation and Devastation arcs is the dull colouring. It's just so out of sync with the Transformer spotlights. It may capture the dreary sense of war better but it takes some life out of the art.

    Appearances of Interest: Optimus Prime, Megatron, Ratchet, Hot Rod, Wheeljack, Soundwave, Ravage, Laserbeak, Jazz, Prowl, Bumblebee, Nightbeat, Blitzwing, Astrotrain, Sixshot. Hardhead, Sunstreaker.

    And for those interested human appearances: The General from the Escalation series, the Autobot's human friends: Verity, Hunter and Jimmy.

    Issue Review
    There's a lot going on here. isn't there?

    And that's the crux of the problem. The plot fails to materialise into something substantial because it dabbles into so many subplots. Subplots work well when they build towards the larger plot in a way that you can't wait for the subplot to meet the central plot. However, readers of the comics will no doubt be aware that Sunstreaker subplot has been building up since Escalation as has the Ironhide one now. Furthermore, the search for Ironhide subplot doesn't seem to be adding anything substantial to the main plot. And if it is, there aren't enough clues that make you want to be interested. As it stands, the subplot devolves into nothing more than a question of whether Ironhide will survive intact. And that's just lame. Wheeljack and Hot Rod's interaction do much to save the subplot but at the end of the day, there's no substance and you can't dress it up with well executed interplay.

    The human subplot entails the Autobot's human friends discovering that the humans plan to nuke the Transformers, good or bad, and then letting the Autobots know. As necessary as it is the Autobot's know, they've been patched into the human's communications systems for a long time now. Surely they'd be watching the transmissions carefully when they know their war has been brought out into the open. That aside, Verity and Jimmy delivering the news to the Autobots is cumbersome and detracting. It takes more than a page. There is an awful attempt at a comical moment. It is underwhelming.

    The core of this issue is battle royale between the Autobots and the machine of destruction that is Sixshot. Unlike the Megatron and Optimus battle in Escalation or the Starscream vs. Megatron and the Autobots in Infiltration, this fight fails to intrigue or captivate our imagination. The subplots around it detract too much from the battle. You just don't get a sense of the enormity of this. This is a battle that reveals to humanity the existence of the Transformers. This is a battle that puts them out in the open. Exposed. This is unconventional use Sixshot in the war between the Autobots and Decepticons. Normally, Sixshot is called in to level planets at the devastation stage. We are supposed to question what has forced Megatron's hand to call in his heavy hitter so soon. We are supposed to feel the Autobots are up against the wall.

    Do we get that?

    No.

    What we do get is a sense of frantic panic. Not desperation, just panic. The purpose of the authorised bombing of the Autobots is obviously to heighten the tension. You just never feel it as a threat though. Sixshot virtually wipes the floor with every Autobot, showing why he's a machine of destruction. He goes toe to toe with Prime. However, beyond that we don't get the aforementioned elements. What's even worse? The way the battle ends. It's anti-climatic for what is supposed to be a battle that's been building up for 4 issues. now. You as a reader cannot help but feel you have not been rewarded for your patience and sense of expectation.

    I've harped on about why the subplots cause the book to suffer. I do want to say though that that's not because they're useless, it's because they're not constructed well enough for you to care in the now. They happen but without drawing you in, attacking your heart strings. Making you wonder how this will affect the larger universe. And in 16 issues between the 3 series now, Furman has yet to answer all these subplots. Your patience is drying up.

    Do I Buy it Now or Do I wait for the Trade?
    Wait for the trade. There is nothing compelling enough that demands you buy it now. The plot meanders along rather than building a sense of expectation and excitement. The outcome will be interesting but there's nothing in the journey that really makes you feel as if you need to know now. There aren't elements that you'll appreciate less if you buy the trade.

    Overall: 6/10
    Good art but as stated, the story is too busy. It's nice that Furman is attempted to weave so much together but he's pushed the limits of that. What Furman really relies on is nostalgia. He doesn't portray the Autobots in the main title in a way that we care about them enough. The Spotlights are far better and read together in a sitting this will help your appreciation. However, reading this solely, you aren't left feeling your $7 is well spent.
    Last edited by STL; 6th February 2008 at 11:12 PM.

  2. #2
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    I liked this issue, it showed how powerful Sixshot is, while setting all the subplots STL mentioned all being setup for some kind of conclusion in the next two issues.

    As STL said you do get a sense of panic, but you know full well that the bombing raid will not really affect the battle. The Autobots take a real beating, and I think it will weigh heavily on any decisions that Prime has to make in issues 5 and 6.

    And there is a huge twist concerning the humans, I didnt see it coming, and I doubt many people did.

    It's a setup issue, and it does that well.

    Musso did a good job on the art, not as technical as Su, nor does he have the emotion that Roche added to Issue #3, but I think that may be from him trying to imitate Su's work more than anything else.

    The impact of all that happens in this issue will be considerably lessened in the trade, as you dont have to wait weeks to find out what is going on.

  3. #3
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    I didn't like Musso's art all that much. Didn't dislike it, but just don't like it as much as Su's. As I was reading I felt frustrated that they'd switched to what I perceive as an inferior artist. Then I saw the photo of Su's baby girl and went, "awwww."

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    My complaint about this "mini-series" is the number of plots running through it as STL has listed. Seven plots is a lot for an ongoing series but technically this isn't. I wish they did just make it an ongoing instead of trying to boost sales with new issue 1s every six issues.

    My favourite thing from this issue: Hardhead's new (non-Cybertronian tank) earth mode. The new design looks good in both modes.

    Having read issue five this afternoon I have additional comments but will wait to post those in response to STL's issue #5 review. It brought to mind an infamous event in the X-Men comics.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paulbot
    I wish they did just make it an ongoing instead of trying to boost sales with new issue 1s every six issues.
    +1!

    And I'm still waiting to see what happens to Nightbeat when his... erm... neural implant or whatever was done to him is activated. I suspect he was abducted by Quintessons personally... we'll see.

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    Well, while I enjoyed this issue, I didn't enjoy it enough to defend it against STL's critisisms. It feels very much like a link in the chain issue, the battle against six shot was good, but everything else felt like it was just a lead up to the next issue.

    As has been echoed by others, I wouldn't mind all the many plots and subplots if this was an ongoing series, but as a miniseries, with a 4 month hiatus, it's feels really stop start, and I tend to loose focus between miniseries. Nonetheless I look forward to resolutions of some subplots, particularly the Reavers, and the Machination, (who I'm sure is Scorponok). The plots that interest me most are the more unusual ones that fall a bit outside of the usual TF universe. But I guess they have to fill each comic with a certain quota of classic Autobot action so the more easy to please fanboys will buy it.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoktimusPrime View Post
    +1!
    And I'm still waiting to see what happens to Nightbeat when his... erm... neural implant or whatever was done to him is activated.
    You sure it hasn't already been?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paulbot View Post
    You sure it hasn't already been?
    Yeah, I'm pretty sure it has too. Everytime i see Nightbeat now, I get slightly suspicious. Like in the Blaster Spotlight, it just felt dodgy the way he was sitting there even if it was only for a panel

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  10. #10
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    There was certainly a scene in Escalation that made Nightbeat look very dodgy, and a similar event in the reviewed issue.

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