IDW Publishing: "Robots in Disguise" #11 Comic Book Review
Title: "The End of the Beginning of the World"
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: November 21, 2012
Written by: John Barber
Art by: Guido Guidi
Inks by: John Wycough (Pages 19-22)
Colors by: Priscilla Tramontano
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Edits by: Carlos Guzman
Starscream visits Omega Supreme, seeking his endorsement for leadership based on Metrotitan's shocking claim that Starscream will lead Cybertron. Circuit and Longtooth are on hand acting as reporters, broadcasting the scene all over the planet. Omega doesn't go along with it but Starscream isn't concerned as he keeps up his bravado, claiming he is the right leader for this time. The Autobots watch with concern as Bumblebee loses confidence he'll win an election. Prowl assures him he will win.
Meanwhile, Starscream tries on different crowns as Metalhawk speaks with him in his tower. Metalhawk sees significance in Metrotitan's appearance but Starscream isn't convinced. Suddenly, as the two look on - Omega Supreme explodes!
Autobots quickly arrive on the scene, with the Protectobots taking point and Fixit arriving to keep Omega Supreme alive. Starscream is annoyed, but races to the scene to grab the spotlight. The citizens are no longer on his side however as they suspect the Decepticons did this. Metalhawk tries to defend him but Bumblebee jumps in, tired of Metalhawk's meddling. Arguements go back and forth but ultimately Metalhawk tells everyone he does not want to become "another Ratbat", to which Prowl challenges him to come up with proof that he had anything to do with Ratbat's death.
Inside the Decepticon base, Swindle and Dirge are watching the news footage. Dirge is nervous about what his knowledge may have started. Between Shockwave stealing Turmoil's ship and trying to destory Omega Supreme, he fears the worst is coming. Swindle tries to calm him down.
Soon, Starscream arrives at the Decepticon base and he calls out Shockwave, who greets him with Soundwave, Astrotrain and Blitzwing backing him up. Starscream tells him he knows he stole the ship and that he needs to stop trying to tear everything down that has been built. Shockwave tells Starscream he has chosen his course and that he is no longer welcome. As Starscream leaves, he runs into Dirge and Swindle, who both seem tired of war. Dirge tells Starscream if he can protect him, he has information that will put Starscream on top!
Back at the Autobot base, Bumblebee tells Prowl he needs the truth behind who did this. Prowl seems to have his mind made up that Starscream is involved, but Bumblebee doesn't believe so. When Prowl steps out on a balcony to gather his thoughts, Starscream is waiting. He tells Prowl that he knows everything he's done including the destruction of the Constructicons. However, he's not there to accuse, he tells Prowl they have mutual goals: a prosperous Cybertron. And to that end, he is willing to help.
Soon at the Decepticon base Ravage is talking to Shockwave when suddenly Arcee attacks! She destroys Rumble and Ravage before using a bomb to knock out everyone else. Prowl orders them taken to the "Black Room" and then orders her to set off the explosives to destroy the base. He does not want Bumblebee knowing he has prisoners. It turns out Prowl is right outside the base. Behind him are several Autobots including Warpath and Sideswipe. He tells them to stay behind him as he goes in, warning of booby traps. Once he steps in, he takes gets caught in the blast set up by Arcee - all part of his plan!
Starscream watches the carnage below, knowing that the building has been decimated enough that there won't be any forensic evidence. He plans to share power for a while, but slowly move up until Prowl is no longer a problem. Before he can complete his thoughts, Arcee shows up and questions his motives, and also lets him know that she knows where Dirge is hidden and that she keeps watch over her city. Starscream tries to get to her but she is gone before he reaches the ledge. Then he looks down and sees something he never expected again...Megatron!
The first ten or so issues of this series felt like "Transformers Political Drama" but with this issue, I can see the title edging more towards a more action/war based title, akin to the goings on in "More than meets the eye". Omega Supreme once again takes it on the chin (boy, he does get picked on a lot doesn't he?) but I'm glad he's alive, and I hope to see him up and about later on in the title. Still, it serves as an interesting catalyst to the coming events. Starscream's credibility is reduced and it shows us Shockwave and the others are still up to their old tricks. Given how far forward the story has moved in the last ten issues, it's almost quaint how Shockwave is continuing his planning as if this were the "old days" of the war. In fact, I'm a bit surprised Shockwave is the one doing this at all. You would think that logically he would follow a plan akin to Starscream's: manipulate, win an election, then slowly eliminate all those who would oppose you either through violence or political means. It's kind of interesting because it shows even a "logical" being like Shockwave can get "stuck" in a particular train of thought and behavior.
I enjoyed Starscream playing the politician in this issue. He made sure to appear "on camera" as much as possible, taking advantage of tragic situations and showing his amazing ego in the form of his "winged" tower and the crowns he tried on. He is totally written as a stereotype here and I really enjoyed it. Even better? The old trope of Starscream's ego getting in the way of him seeing potential problems pops up again. He assumes no one will know where he is hiding Arcee, he assumes Megatron will never return. His ego can't allow him to see such possibilities and when they creep up, he is taken by surprise...again. His characterization is nailed in this issue.
The other feature character here is Prowl, who, let's face it - has done some pretty nasty stuff all because he doesn't feel 'bee has the steel ball bearings for it. He (seemingly) believes himself to be a sort of "necessary evil" and in that sense, Prowl's own logical sense (much like Shockwave's) seems to work against him as a character. Quite simply put: he's not acting very much like an Autobot, and this is not the kind of behavior I think Optimus Prime would have approved of. In his own way however, he's a victim of his own tendencies. He's a logical creature who computes in his big brain that this is the right path, but doesn't consider other paths to securing the peace. I'm sure in the next couple issues the results will be bad...real bad.
Megatron's return is something I have been dreading, mostly because I do not want this title to just turn into a shoot'em up title where Megatron creates some type of "Muhahaha" plot or worse, sits there and yaks at Bumblebee for half an issue. Now that he's back, I hope he's used creatively as an evil manipulator. He nearly died fighting for Cybertron, I'd be curious if he finds a way to use that to his advantage without just kicking off "Great War 2.0".
The artwork in this issue is stellar as I'd expect from Guido Guidi. He throws in some excellent robot designs as background characters. Easter Eggs include an "Omega Spreem" action figure at Omega's "prayer" site and the Gundam head tops being used as crowns by Starscream are playful and cool all at the same time. I do notice a very different look in the inking in the pages done by John Wycough. Whereas most of the issue is quite bold in the inking, his lines are a bit tighter and more delicate. The art is consistent, but if you look for it there's definitely a change at page nineteen. Color-wise the book is on point. The aforementioned "Omega Spreem" figure gets painted just right and I love the use of the exaggerated lens flare type effect for the "glowing eyes" on the characters. This is used to great effect when Starscream and Prowl confer.
This issue is a great return to form for the title. I'm nervous about what is to come, but I enjoyed the character study on Shockwave, Starscream and Prowl presented here. I'm looking forward to the next issue!