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Transformers: The Movie Prequel #1 (of 4)

DUE OUT IN FEBRUARY [date TBC, but most likely 14th/21st]

Story: Chris Ryall
Writers: Simon Furman & Chris Ryall
Artist: Don Figueroa.
Colourist: Josh Burcham.
Letterer: Robbie Robbins.
Editor: Dan Taylor.

Quick Summary

The setup is that a short time ago, Optimus Prime and Megatron co-ruled Cybertron. It was a world at peace, prospering thanks to an alien artifact that offered it energy and, apparently, nurtured the beginning of life on the planet. This came to be known as the Allspark. Of course, Megatron wasn't prepared to carry on settling for caring and sharing, or we wouldn't have a story...

Narrating things is Bumblebee, initially seen blasting out of Cybertron's atmosphere on a determined search, the story of that search unfolding as he tells it. Megatron's bid for control of the planet's most important resource has already brought war, his separatist army making short work of those who were until recently civilians. We join the fight at the Tyger Pax, a front all but one of its defenders believe is a diversion from the real location of the Allspark. After a suicidally brave last stand, survivors are dug out of the wreckage and interrogated.

Prime's equally desperate plan, it turns out, is to launch the Allspark into space and out of Megatron's clutches, long enough for the resistance to stop him — because without it, the planet is on an emptying timer. His hope is that if things go bad to worse and all is truly lost, the artifact unable to be reclaimed, life will arise elsewhere.

Bumblebee holds out against Megatron for as long as he's able, long enough for the launch to take place, though he gets badly mauled for his troubles. Considered a hero and barely recovered, his first request is to join the search to find the Allspark... to reach it before Megatron can.


There's a pretty good chance I'm going to enjoy this more than the movie. I know, it's partly my own fault, I shouldn't have read the scripts, and if I hadn't I wouldn't be expecting the cinematic debut of Independence Day With Robots. It's a bit harder to get really stoked about a film when you're watching for the CGI and lots of things blowing up. For me it is, anyway.

Still, maybe the movie will be a hugely successful popcorn flick, and those of us interested in all the background and nitty-gritty have got books and comics like this, right? Enough of my kvetching and let's talk prequel series.

For starters, if Simon Furman ever leaves us in a freak toaster accident, we could do far worse than roping in Chris Ryall as chief Transformers scribe. The thing that got my attention the most, first time through, was that this is only the first issue of four and already there's a full background story been presented. For those who haven't spoiled themselves with scripts and all the interview tidbits and leaks, this will be the first chance to see what kind of differences Hasbro and Paramount are gambling the franchise on... and it's looking more hopeful than might be anticipated, with backstory from a creative team keen to see everything tie together and make sense. Something which goes for the art as much as the story — there are details in both fans will particularly appreciate, but everything here should be just as accessible to new readers.

On the art side, Cybertron doesn't look too different from Stormbringer or the flashbacks Don used in BW: The Gathering, lots of dark concentric rings intersecting and giving the impression of linked city-states, whilst on the ground it's derelict expanses of alien wasteland we're familiar with. The 'bots are somewhat different, but again get given a sense of continuity thanks to the choice of artist — whether Decepticon seekers, Autobot resistance or Prime/Megatron, they all seem more substantial than some of the CGI images leaked of the movie designs so far. Cues have been taken from the protoform toys, the War Within seekers, the CGI and even in one case a figure from the Energon toyline... I'll leave that one up to you to discover. Suffice it to say that some people who were upset about a character being cut from early drafts of the movie will be happy, whilst others will get their fanboy underoos in a twist. (Hint: look at the 2nd cover.)

One thing's for sure: Figueroa and Burcham have outdone themselves with the visuals, adapting designs that are quite a departure into something fans can appreciate even if they've had reservations before now.

Plotwise we get the Allspark developed a bit beyond simply being the Macguffin the bad guys and good guys are turning up to find, a reason for Bumblebee's initial voicelessness in the film, and more Megatron than we're probably going to see on-screen unless the scripts have changed a lot. I don't like the idea of a Transformer not being able to repair a voice box easily any more than you probably do, but with the story as written it's presented as if Bumblebee gets himself patched up quickly before heading off again... leaving opportunity for him to be fixed up some more later. Of course, the writer can't go as far as making those type of promises — it'll either be in the film or won't — but it's nice not to be asked to see the damage as permanent.

Other little touches are a city on Cybertron called Simfur, nods to aspects of the film that changed since early concept stages (such as the extra character mentioned above) and a raiding party leader whose grovelling to Megatron may remind people of a certain one-eyed Decepticon...

The next issue caption box says "Their world reaches our world"... by which point I was thinking: What? Earth? Already? There're three more issues before we get to where the movie story begins... and if they're as full and self-contained as this one, I look forward to 'em.

Reviewed by Denyer,

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