(cover "B" by Nick Roche)
Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Nick Roche
(covers by Nick Roche and Don Figueroa)
Summary: Hot Rod/RODIMUS might be impulsive, but he's not stupid. The last anyone saw of him, he was rocketing off Earth in disgrace and a stolen ship. In this issue we finally see where he went, what his plan was, and which long-absent DECEPTICONS he came up against. Mike Costa and fan-favorite artist Nick Roche deliver a stand-alone issue that sets up the entire second year of the hit ongoing series.
Comments: It's weird to review one issue then go back and read the issue before it that you missed, but that's what I did here (Hey, I was curious about Hot Rod's fate.) In this story, Hot Rod uses Ultra Magnus' ship to track the Decepticons to their asteroid base (it has advanced tracking systems). A problem with this is why didn't Ultra Magnus ever gather an assault force and do that himself? Then, he allows the ship to be blown up while he launches an attack on the base. Both of the things here seem stupid. Yes, Hot Rod is rash and impetuous but is he really willing to be suicidal to prove his value to the other Autobots? Also, who picks a fight like this only to have their first move be to allow their only means of transportation to get blown up? Hot Rod was always supposed to be like a leader-in-waiting character but they always use his "youthfulness" to justify him doing stupid things. There's no way to believe he'd ever be a leader of his people if even the most basic tenants of tactical thinking eluded him. Once he retrieves the Matrix and bests Starscream he gets blasted into space by a newcomer--it is Megatron, reborn! Hot Rod is severely damaged but almost certainly going to reappear in the future at some point. An okay story overall and it sets up the next issue I review (#15) very well. Also, not crazy on Roche's recent art...it's gotten very cartoony, frankly. I preferred his earlier stuff.
(cover "A" by Don Figueroa)
Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Don Figueroa
(covers by Don Figueroa and Nick Roche)
Summary: The most dangerous Decepticon in the universe is back... but not in a way anyone expected. What has happened to Megatron in his years away, and what is his plan for his enemies? Costa and Figueroa reveal all, as the darkest chapter since ALL HAIL MEGATRON continues!
Comments: This issue explains how things got the way they were in the last few issues. Megatron has been rebuilt with a new body because his old one was un-salvageable (which is odd, considering he was shot in the head in AHM). When Hot Rod attacks, he dispatches with him ensuring the Matrix leaves too (he feared the fact it was an unknown element and in Starscream's possession). They use the space bridge they designed to send Walter P-38 guns (created out of the remains of Megatron's former body, I believe) to Earth where the units can send data and the one that the guy who shot Bumblebee used communicated conspiracy theories to him, making him think he was nuts and he decides to go take out the evil alien. It's been said that Costa seems to have abandoned his earlier story plans and went in a new direction. I can't say for a certainty but I do like this set-up better then what he was doing before. The first story arc (Autobots/Decepticons on the run, Hot Rod as savior) had hints of potential but ended up going the obvious route ultimately. The second arc (Combaticons join up with North Korea) was boring, frankly. It felt like it was borrowed from your standard G1 cartoon... I doubt arc three will amaze us but it does have the potential to do so if Costa can exploit it right. I want to see Autobots vs. Decepticons, not some weird status quo where the giant alien robots are fleeing from the big bad humans so I'm glad we've drifted back in that direction. I also love Megatron's new design and look forward to seeing his alternate mode (some kind of space craft/jet, I think). Figueroa still can't draw humans without making them look stupid but his robots are cool (if deviating from how they should look).
(Editor's Note: The Prime prequel story was released as a digest sized trade paperback in November, in time for the debut of the Prime cartoon. Apparently, they are also releasing it as four full sized individual issues during the month of January. I have both the digest version and the first issue of the comic mini-series. This review covers both as I likely won't spend money buying the whole story again).
Transformers Prime #1 (of 4)/Digest sized TPB
Writer: Mike Johnson
Artist: EJ Su (issue #1). Various (issues #2-4)
Summary: Based on the all-new animated series! Join CLIFFJUMPER and ARCEE as they battle their way through DECEPTICON forces in a desperate adventure to learn the secrets of Space Bridge Technology! STARSCREAM, the DECEPTICON enforcer stands in their way, not just from the mission, but to rejoin OPTIMUS PRIME and his AUTOBOTS as well! This is the PREQUEL to the new hit TV Show!
Comments: I have no idea who this writer is but the story overall is decent and easily fits with the cartoon (he does seem to emphasize Cliffjumper and Arcee being partners, almost to the point of a romantic relationship while the cartoon makes it seem more like they were just intended to be friends). EJ Su's art in the first issue is pretty good and he manages to fit the new show's style very well... the subsequent chapters are hit and miss. Chapter/issue two and three have human pupils on Cliffjumper and Arcee and the art is a bit weaker. Issue four gets a bit better again (Other then Su, I've never heard of any of these artists before. Frankly, I wish Su could've done the whole series). Anyway, the story is basically Cliffjumper and Arcee meeting up on Cybertron, attacking the Decepticons (lead by Starscream) and then getting to Earth via the space bridge. It's a simple enough premise and it works fine.
(Issue #1 cover by Jose Lopez and Augusto Barranco)
(Digest Trade Paperback cover by Jose Lopez and Augusto Barranco)