Saturday, 30 January 2010

Last Stand of the Wreckers #1 review

Sorry for the lateness on this one; been on holiday. But finally, here's the deal on Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers #1...

SYNOPSIS: Garrus-9 penitentiary, 3 years ago. The prison is being overrun by the Decepticons. Kick-Off smells an inside job, while Fortress Maximus handles the situation efficiently. Meanwhile, Skyquake and some other Cons witness Overlord’s arrival. Overlord tries to take control of the situation but Skyquake’s having none of it. Overlord blasts Skyquake in the back and proceeds to lead the Cons to victory, proclaiming he’ll liberate and entertain the Cons on Garrus-9. Fort Max is thrown to the Con hordes. Time jump to eight months ago. New Wreckers Pyro, Ironfist, Guzzle and Rotorstorm are scolded by a superior for blowing up a fuel depot. They’re picked up by Ultra Magnus’ ship, and greeted by none other than Verity Carlo of Earth. They’re dubious as to her being a Wrecker, but Springer walks in (with Twin Twist, Kup, Perceptor and Topspin) and informs them that none of them are, yet. The situation on Garrus-9 is explained; it’s been overrun by the Cons, but any attempt by other Cons to get in has been blown out of orbit. The new Wreckers are there to investigate. Springer explains to the new guys the dangers of Wreckership. Back on Garrus-9, Overlord and some Cons chase an Autobot for sport.

A purple Con subdues the Autobot, but his cockiness catches him off guard and the Autobot leaps at his throat. Overlord kills the Autobot and then the purple Con, explaining to the others that he was careless and so wasting Overlord’s time. Elsewhere, on Magnus’ ship, Ironfist feels hyperspace-sick. It’s revealed he was a journalist who wrote extensive datalogs on the Wreckers, under the alias Fisitron. Wreckers old and new talk, while Springer notices Ironfist may be hiding something. He seems burdened by the danger of Wreckership. Kup remarks that Springer can’t stop thinking about Impactor. Springer replies that it’s hard but not impossible. Time jump to one month ago. Con Borehole and now-crazy Autobot Kick-Off are in a pit fight. Kick-Off brutally beats and rips Borehole’s head off. Overlord is pleased and invites Kick-Off into his quarters for a reward. Back on Magnus’ ship, the Wreckers go to a Con ship that sent a distress signal, where is promptly blows up. But a shadowy figure approaches the ship, riding on the explosion. Everyone’s stunned to see that it is…


THE ART: Four words can sum up this issue perfectly well; NICK. ROCHE. JOSH. BURCHAM. A creative team made in Transfandom nirvana. Take a look at the interior images on this review and see for yourself the amazing job Roche does on this issue. Elegantly drawn bots, Kirby-esque smoke and explosions and simple backgrounds culminate into one beauty of a comic. The only downside to his artwork is the thick, clunky lines of assistant inker John Wycough; his inks detract from the art and look extremely unprofessional. But the gold medal definitely goes to colorist Josh Burcham. As you can see from the pages around, his coloring has no equal. The warm, vibrant palette enhances and complements the artwork perfectly, expertly rendering everything from the bloody-red sunset of Garrus-9 to the lurid magenta body fluid and explosions that splash across the pages. He also does a crafty subtle difference in coloring style between Garrus-9 and the rest of the scenes. Whereas the scenes with the Wreckers are clean and smooth, Garrus-9 has a gritty, pastel-like texture to the colors that emphasizes the chaotic, dirty mood on the prison planet.

THE STORY: Where do I start with this one? The plot is not what would have been expected from one such as Roche (and James Roberts). Interestingly, most of the issue consists of exposition - outlining what has happened on Garrus-9 in the past 3 years, introducing new characters and old, and only in the last few pages or so does the bombshell of Wrecker leader Impactor's appearance come. And what a bombshell that was. I'm sure that in Roche and Robert's interview at One Shall, they said Impactor wouldn't be making an appearance. But this is a good thing! Roche fills out the story with a stellar cast of obscure characters from the UK and Europe - Pyro, Ironfist, Guzzle, Rotorstorm - as well as wild cards like Overlord from Masterforce and Kick-Off from the Action Masters toyline. This shows that Roche/Roberts can deliver quality characters without resorting to mainstream bots like Prime and Bumblebee. The story has good pace and the time jumps are smooth and not at all jarring. And no-one can write dialogue like Roche. The  quirky, idiosyncratic way the bots (and Verity - interesting choice to bring her back as a Wrecker) talk with each other; Pyro's calm and desire to sort out problems, Verity's brash cheeriness, Twin Twist and Topspin's ribbing each other. And Overlord's breaking away from the rest of the Decepticons is very interesting and will no doubt affect the rest of the series. Woo! So much coolness! Roche, Roberts, you rock! The results:

Script by NICK ROCHE

ART RATING: 8.5 out of 10
STORY RATING: 10 out of 10
OVERALL RATING: 9.5 out of 10

FAVE QUOTE: Pyro: "We'll be seeing you, sir."
Dipstick: "Hah! You think so? You're joining the Wreckers... what makes you think you're coming back?"[Pyro doesn't know what being a Wrecker means yet. Poor guy.]

VERDICT: Beautiful. Wonderful. An exquisitely executed issue on every front imaginable. I couldn't be more happier (well, OK. Roche could have inked the whole issue.). If you haven't yet got this issue then get off your computer and get it! Go now!

Posted by Fanbot at 12:39 pm, SATURDAY 30 January

Last Stand of the Wreckers banners

The trouser-shatteringly awesome TF artist Nick Roche has updated his blog with some banners of the hit series Last Stand of the Wreckers, done by some of his colleagues. Not really that important but they look cool so I thought I'd post them anyway.

BELOW: by Rycochet.
BELOW THAT: by Shaun Knowler.

ABOVE: by Kris Carter. Spot the trouser-shattering joke.
ABOVE THAT: by Matthew C. Adams.

Hope you enjoyed that. I know I'm stalling, yes. My review of Last Stand of the Wreckers #1 will be up very, very soon. See you then!

Posted by Fanbot at 11:57 am, SATURDAY 30 January

Friday, 29 January 2010

EXTRA! Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers #1 images

Before I give you my review of Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers #1, I thought you'd like some images from the comic. Be warned, there are spoilers, so don't scroll down if you haven't got it yet. The spoiler-ey ones are at the bottom for your convenience.

ABOVE: Overlord and the 'Cons have some fun with an Autobot. Wingblazer thinks he's very cool (even though he ain't doing anything!).

ABOVE: Ironfist makes gestures with his enormous Roche-hands.

ABOVE: Kick-Off goes crazy on a Decepticon while Overlord gloats like a typical villain.

ABOVE: Springer explains the situation to new Wreckers (clockwise from left) Ironfist, Pyro, Rotorstorm, Guzzle and Verity.

ABOVE: Only geeks read Last Stand of the Wreckers for the robots.

Hope you enjoyed those images. Nick Roche and Josh Burcham are a creative team made in heaven. The review will be posted as soon as I'm finished. Go now!

Posted by Fanbot at 10:17 pm, FRIDAY 29 January

Andrew Wildman variant cover for TRANSFORMERS #6

The variant cover for IDW's TRANSFORMERS #6, out April 2010, courtesy of the legendary Andrew Wildman! Be sure to check out his site for more.

Posted by Fanbot at 9:16 pm, FRIDAY 29 January

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Transformers: Last Stand of the Weckers preview

It came! It finally came! The Stormbringer-esque miniseries by demi-gods Nick Roche and Josh Burcham! We find out what happened to the Transformers death row on Garrus-9 in the three years between AHM #12 and ongoing #1. Here you go!

Written by NICK ROCHE

The AUTOBOT special ops crew, THE WRECKERS, are sent to investigate Garrus-9, a prison that fell to the DECEPTICONS three years ago with no communication in or out since. Who’s really behind the prison siege, and what dark secret awaits SPRINGER there? Writer/artist Nick Roche (Maximum Dinobots) does all the dirty work.

32 pages, USD$3.99.

Posted by Fanbot at 4:18 pm, TUESDAY 26 January

Hellboy: Bride of Hell oneshot review

This one had sold out at my regular shop ages ago so I didn’t get to review it when it came out in December. But I found this one elsewhere (Yay!). I’ve never read enough Hellboy to justify getting it but after this one, that might change…

SYNOPSIS: At the Bureau for Paranormal Research & Defense HQ, a TV reveals the disappearance of eighteen-year-old Teresa Cipriano. The BPRD A special branch of the US government” is reported to be involved … meanwhile, in northern France, the girl is about to be sacrificed in some sort of occult ritual. Hellboy sneaks up on it but a bear trap on his leg reveals his presence. A dark, winged figure materializes and tries to carry off the girl. Hellboy shoots it and grabs her off it, running into the forest. He wonders why the demon doesn’t follow, since it could easily get through the trees. He then sees some Christian ruins and an old monk who tells him of Saint Hagan, whose followers set up a church there, but were all killed by the demon, who followed them from the East. Hellboy leaves Teresa in the church, locates the demon’s lair and is attacked by it – the demon who turns out to be Asmodeus. Back at the ruins the monk tells sleeping Teresa of how Asmodeus was captured by King Solomon but was eventually driven into the desert, where he garnered many followers and wives who were very dear to him. But they were all killed by Hagan’s followers, so for this, Asmodeus killed them. He’d been telling the same story to Hellboy, and Hellboy remarks of how he stole many women in modern times. Asmodeus reveals they gave their lives willingly, showing his mark (which was shown on Teresa’s leg). Meanwhile, at the ruins, Teresa awakes and is horrified at the cross held by the monk. She knocks it out of his hand, shouting about how Asmodeus – her husband – will “bust him up”. The monk disappears, and his words (of how evil things in this place will die) are spoken by the corpse of a knight, rising from a nearby crypt. Meanwhile Hellboy quickly beats the hell out of Asmodeus. He rushes back to the ruins, where he sees the corpse kill Teresa, explaining that she was a “bride of hell” and must go to hell to serve the devil.

THE ART: First off let me say this. Mignola originally drew Hellboy and his simplistic, shadowy artwork was a breath of fresh air from the perfect, dream-body drawing of the Big Two. But Mignola no longer draws Hellboy, and many fans have criticized new artists Duncan Fegredo and (in this case) Richard Corben for being bad “imitators”. Dark Horse editor Scott Allie said what everyone should have figured out; they aren’t imitators. They’re artists who are telling the story in the style of Mignola. They don’t have to mimic him. And Corben does an excellent job of this. His simple lines nonetheless convey the action and pulp-horror mood extremely well. His slightly different use of shadow, greater use of lines and an overall more fluid, organic feel to the artwork. A very capable artist who expertly conveys the action. Colorist Dave Stewart does an exquisite job on rendering the art as usual, his washed out palette (with slightly more rendered tones than usual) enhancing and complementing Corben’s lines perfectly. A flawlessly drawn issue.

THE STORY: an extremely simple yet gripping tale that intrigues and compels the reader to continue. It’s a mark f Mignola’s writing skill that he can take such a simple concept (a woman being sacrificed in an occult ritual) and make a story out of it, complete with drama and events that set it in motion over 700 years ago (Asmodeus’ talk with Hellboy, p16-21). With this story Mignola proves that all is not always as it seems in the Hellboyverse – Teresa willingly being sacrificed to Asmodeus is something I hadn’t seen coming. There is perhaps a little too much exposition (10-12, 16-21) but that can be accepted since with Mignola’s style and genre of work, exposition is inevitable. So, the results:


ART RATING: 9.5 out of 10
STORY RATING: 9.5 out of 10
OVERALL RATING: 9.5 out of 10

ERRORS: Not so much an error, but something that seems amiss. Asmodeus is an immortal demon from hell and yet he seems to be decaying and not healing. The wounds HB inflicted on him shouldn’t be a problem but his whole body looks like it’s been dragged out of the ground. There’s nothing in the story which I think justifies his decayed state, but knowing Mike there’s probably a reason.

VERDICT: skillfully written and exquisitely drawn (kudos to both Corben and Stewart), this issue will delight old fans and bring new ones into the fold. A perfect introduction to Hellboy. Rated 9.5 out of 10.

Posted by Fanbot at 10:25 am, TUESDAY 26 January

Monday, 25 January 2010

Transformers: Bumblebee #2 review

OK, here we go. Another review. Ho-hum. But here we go; Fanbot's analysis of IDW's Transformers: Bumblebee #2...

SYNOPSIS: Blurr races across the New Mexico desert. After unsuccessfully trying to contact Hot Rod, he notices a figure in the distance, which makes him transform and stop right in front of Bumblebee. This startles Blurr to the point where his concentration is broken, making him speak uncontrollably fast. Bee tries to explain the situation with Skywatch and how the have to bring Blurr in, but Blurr is having none of it and blasts Bee in the chest. He’s quickly subdued by the other Autobots but Ratchet notices that Blurr’s blast hit Bee’s Skywatch badge and absorbed the blast. Bee announces they won’t be turning Blurr in to Skywatch. Back at Autobase, Colonel Horiuchi is informed by Bee that they won’t turn over Blurr, that they’re done doing his dirty work. Horiuchi tries to activate Bee’s kill-switch but because Blurr blasted it, it won’t work. However, Ratchet convinces Bee to pretend that it worked, then pretending that Bee’s stuck in vehicle mode. This will make Horiuchi send a team to fix Bee’s faulty badge. Ratchet and the others refuse to talk. Bee realizes that they’re still being monitored on the Skywatch radio; meaning Bee s the only one who can speak or move freely. Meanwhile, Skywarp broadcasts a message into space, telling Megatron of his artillery-gathering antics and how he is nearing completion of a weapon that will kill the Autobots. Back at Autobase, Blurr doubts Bee’s leadership credibility, but Bee explains that he’s asking Blurr as a comrade. Bee then makes Blurr find a substitute VW Bug for Skywatch to examine, and before leaving Autobase Bee gives a speech to the Autobots of how their dilemma with Skywatch is his fault and that he will get them out of it. He then leaves, informed by a text-only message from Ratchet that a rare secret substance called darmstadtium. Bee locates a large shipment of darmsadtium, and is investigating it when he notices a repainted Scavenger, hiding from the humans. Bee tries to convince him that they need to earn the respect of the humans, but Scavenger attacks him, disgusted at the Autobots’ weakness for lower life forms. Bee transforms and drives away into the desert.

THE ART: Though nothing special by any means, Chee steps up his artwork to another level. The artwork shows little skill in the way of perspective but is nevertheless very dynamic and in a way is very G1 in its mood and style. The chiaroscuro shadows are very well done and give a very good sense of mood, even if the figure drawing is extremely basic. Once again colorist Moose Baumann does an exquisite job on rendering Chee's dark inks. Like Josh Burcham, though in a slightly different way, his palette adds so much to the artwork. So good work on that front. But once again those Geewun body designs are butt-ugly. Inconsistency is unprofessional, demeaning and slashes up continuity like nothing else. That part continually annoys me and frankly ruins the comic.

THE STORY: I'm slightly unsure of what to think of Zander Cannon's job on this issue. The story is reasonable enough but as with the last issue shows little in the way of substance. A large portion of the issue is taken up by Bee talking and giving speeches, which is very boring to read. But at least Cannon is actually making the characters do something; characters'ctions are beginning to intertwine and new developments are being made. Skywarp obviously has some kind of plan other than stocking up on guns, though Cannon writing him wrapped in a tarp, broadcasting his voice into space is slightly ludicrous. And it does not help continuity at all that he's writing Blurr as a fast talking no-spacebar bot. Blurr's lack-of-spaces talk is extremely hard to read and blatantly contradicts previous continuity. Despite the interesting developments in this issue Cannon has let us down with this sub-par, continuity-breaking, mindbogglingly dull story. Whether or not he can rectify his mistakes in the next two issues remains to be seen, but already, half this miniseries has gone down the drain.Disappointing. So, the damage today is:

Covers by Chee, GUIDO GUIDI

ART RATING: 8 out of 10
STORY RATING: 7 out of 10
OVERALL RATING: 7.5 out of 10

ERRORS: Blurr sported an Earth-based alternate mode in "A Rude Awakening". However, here he is drawn in his Cybertronian alternate mode. Although not apparent last issue, this issue's dialogue makes it fairly clear that the badges Horiuchi gave the Autobots are supposed to be covering their Autobot insignias: Blurr claims there is something wrong with Bumblebee's insignia and is described as shooting him "dead center" (where his insignia is), and yet only hits his badge. The art doesn't reflect this, putting Bumblebee's badge on his upper-right breast, leaving his insignia unobstructed and making Blurr's dialogue and the fallout of his actions make little sense.

VERDICT: a slightly less disappointing - though this is no great feat - issue that although contains some interesting developments, is decidedly lacklustre. The inconsistencies with the ongoing only add to its shame. Disappointing. But the art is getting a lot better. Rated 7.5 out of 10.

Posted by Fanbot at 6:52 pm, MONDAY 25 January

Thursday, 21 January 2010

IDW Transformers solicits for April 2010

In another spur of goodwill, IDW has given out their solicits for April 2010. And it looks like this year is shaping up to be a year of new things for the Autobots; the return of E J Su, the return of the Spotlight. Here's the scoop for April:


Written by MIKE COSTA
Covers by Figueroa

It’s the AUTOBOTS versus the biggest foe they’ve faced since DEVASTATOR! But with OPTIMUS PRIME in captivity, do our heroes stand a chance? The action keeps coming courtesy of Mike Costa and Don Figueroa!

32 pages, USD$3.99.


Written by MIKE COSTA
Art by E J SU
Covers by Su, NICK ROCHE

The end of the war between AUTOBOTS and DECEPTICONS had profound changes throughout the ranks, even for the coldly logical PROWL. Learn of his change of heart and its impact on his actions in the ongoing series.

32 pages, USD$3.99.



The Wreckers have found Aequitas, and things have suddenly become a whole lot more complicated! As the Autobots' special ops team stands on the brink of dissolution as the fatalities mount, Perceptor realizes that drastic action is called for-but having come this far, who among his teammates is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice?

32 pages, USD$3.99.


Colors by JOSH PEREZ
Covers by Magno, BRIAN ROOD

Layers within layers are revealed as the massive global conspiracy that is Project: Nefarious continues to unfold. OPTIMUS PRIME wants answers, and he's prepared to go to any lengths to get them. But how far is too far? And by committing his forces to stopping SOUNDWAVE, is Prime just playing right into The Initiative's hands?

32 pages, USD$3.99.

See you in April guys!

Posted by Fanbot at 10:59 am, THURSDAY 21 January

Monday, 18 January 2010

Transformers: Bumblebee #1 review

Woo! This is the last review of my December haul - yes, I know its January now. Below I present to you my review of Transformers: Bumblebee #1, but first, the cover (above). I've never been a fan of Guido's cartoony style and think it demeans his artistic prowess. But colorist extraordinaire Josh Burcham colors it up something awesome with very cool-looking old style filters that make it look like an old 80's comic. Hmm? Oh yes, the review:

SYNOPSIS: The election of Bumblebee as Autobot leader is full of cheer, but within a few days, Bumblebee wishes he could give up the title. Tensions are high as the Autobots either stay in hiding, or forge out on their own. Ratchet rebukes a disrespectful Wheeljack. Meanwhile, Skywarp kills some humans who don't give him information on something he's looking for. He then teleports away from Allodyne Systems. Back at Autobase, Wheeljack receives a transmission from Colonel Gordon Horiuchi. While Bumblebee is explaining to Omega Supreme that he must hide in a very uncomfortable cave, Wheeljack listens to the Colonel, who states that he is part of a small group of rebels within Skywatch who want to work with the Autobots to capture Decepticons. Wheeljack decides to make contact.
Bumblebee and Ratchet are furious when they find out, but agree to meet the Colonel anyway. Meanwhile, At a neutral location, Horiuchi meets with Bumblebee, explains the desire to work with the Autobots, and gives them a set of badges that will mask their signal from Skywatch's scanners. Bumblebee takes the badges back to base where they are soon installed on each Autobot.

Shortly, the Autobots capture six Decepticons, the latest being Frenzy, who's lost without Soundwave. The next on the list is Scavenger, but instead, Horiuchi wants them to capture Blurr, who had earlier left the team. Cliffjumper blusters out that the Colonel is crazy if he thinks they will capture one of their own. Horiuchi has his tech activate an immobilizer built into Cliffjumper's badge, locking him into vehicle mode. The Autobots are aghast, but Horiuchi merely explains it is until he calms down. The Autobots all realize that they are now pawns for Horiuchi, who will use them as he sees fit to capture friend and foe alike.

THE ART: Chee Yang Ong's artwork as met much criticism from the fandom. His art is basic, demonstrates only basic perspective skill, and his decidedly geewun designs are inconsistent with the ongoing. As I've said before, giving employees creative freedom is great, but this is too far. It angers regular fans, confuses new readers and messes up continuity like there's not tomorrow. The hands are drawn with the skill of an eight-year-old, and the poses look unrealistic. The artwork's only saving grace is colors from the skillful Moose Baumann. His expertly rendered, highly detailed colors enhance Chee's basic artwork and make the comic look very well done. The only complaint I have would be his coloring of Frenzy (pictured above) is a very dubious, dark blue that, along with the red blood on him, makes him look like his G1 counterpart. I have no problem with this (Frenzy is red in my book) but at first glance it looks like a canonical inconsistency which, again, is something IDW seems to be doing a lot these days. Overall the art is half-terrible, half-quite-cool. Go figure.

THE STORY: Zander Cannon certainly makes an impression, though not as much as main man Mike Costa did with the ongoing. The situation of humans pretending to work with the Autobots and then forcing them to work for them is nothing new, but it's just different enough that it becomes interesting. However, there is very little substance to the issue. The first ten pages are literally 100% exposition, recapping the events of ongoing #1-3. It's very word-heavy and frankly, very boring to read. Even when the new development of Colonel Horiuchi offering the Autobots come work for Skywatch, there's three pages of featureless, blah-blah-blah of what the Skywatch badges do and why Horiuchi wants to help the Autobots. Only when you get to the last three pages does anything remotely resembling exciting happen. The only good thing about Cannon's writing is that he slots in a few obscure characters like Cindersaur, Gutcruncher, Axer and Squawkbox. So, the result for thi disappointing issue are:

Covers by Chee, GUIDO GUIDI

ART RATING: 7.5 out of 10
STORY RATING: 7 out of 10
OVERALL RATING: 7.5 out of 10

ERRORS: Silverstreak was listed as having left with Hot Rod in Ongoing # 2, but a very Bluestreak-looking Autobot is among those cheering for Bumblebee on the second page. Perhaps Silverstreak is a different character? Or maybe it's supposed to be Smokescreen? Oh, and the designs of the bots are inconsistent with the ones in the ongoing. That sucks.

VERDICT: a thoroughly DISAPPOINTING first issue that fails to impress on both literary and visual fronts. Not a good start guys. Moose Baumann is the only one who's done a decent job. Next time: Bumblebee does something! Will it be important? Probably not. Rated 7 out of 10.

Posted by Fanbot at 12:31 pm, MONDAY 18 January

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Transformers: Bumblebee #2 preview

The good folks at IDW have kindly provided me with this preview of Transformers: Bumblebee #2. I don't think anyone else has this yet so I guess that makes this article an exclusive! Awesome! But anyway, here's the pages:



Covers by Chee, GUIDO GUIDI

“Things Fall Apart,” Part 2: BUMBLEBEE’s human-allied Skywatch team tracks down their latest target: the AUTOBOT BLURR. With this forced betrayal, the team’s morale takes a deep plunge until BUMBLEBEE and WHEELJACK devise a dangerous mission to free them all from the kill-switches that compel them to obey Col. Horiuchi’s commands.

32 pages, USD$3.99.

I must say that the sheer amount of freedom that IDW is giving the artist on Transformers is getting really confusing. Redesigns, yes. Don is doing an awesome job, but frankly almost every artist (and writer) is doing things their way 100% which makes for somewhat inconsistent personalities and plotlines. The body designs for the bots have no consistency which is very annoying. I understand that IDW's giving their employees freedom and I think it's a great idea! But this is too much of a good thing. It's kinda like free beer; great if you use it wisely, but very easy to overindulge and make a mess. But anyway, this is intriguing and I'm definitely getting the comic now. It's out on January 20.

Posted by Fanbot at 10:02 am, SATURDAY 16 January