IDW Publishing "Last Stand of the Wreckers" #2
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Written by: Nick Roche and James Roberts
Story by: Nick Roche
Pencils by: Nick Roche
Inks: Nick Roche and John Wycough
Colors by: Josh Burcham
Letters by: Neil Uyetake
Edits by: Andy Schmidt
A long time ago...
The Decepticon Overlord is on the battlefield, and Autobots swarm him in an effort to take down one of the greatest Decepticon threats they've ever faced. Among them is Kup, who despite his bravery is easily swatted aside. Overlord soon becomes bored after taking out about a dozen Autobots and heads to the Decepticon camp just in time for a meeting. Inside, holograms transmissions of Megatron, Sixshot and Black Shadow await. Megatron explains that he has initiated the "six-stage infiltration" plan, and that each of the Decepticons present are meant to serve as the sixth phase of those plans, meaning they would visit a world on the brink of collapse and crush the enemy! Overlord is not too thrilled with this plan however, but Megatron tells him he either follows his orders or dies.
Present day, onboard Ultra Magnus' ship
The new Wrecker recruits are gathered in a room, preparing for the coming battle. Pyro is working on a motto, but most of them wind up being derivitive of Optimus Prime's. Guzzle claims to not need a motto while Ironfist shows his appreciation for the simple "Wreck n' rule" war cry started by Impactor. Speaking of whom, the group is excited over the return of the former Wrecker leader, though it remains a mystery as to why he ever quit being leader of the team to begin with.
Inside the repair bay, Perceptor is inspecting the inside of Impactor's head as he and Springer talk. As it turns out, Springer was the one responsible for Impactor's incarceration on G-9, though the younger Autobot was not aware of the consequences of his actions at the time. On his part, Impactor has not forgiven Springer, though he seems fine with the other Autobots present. Perceptor discovers a device inside Impactor's head, meant to disable any prisoners attempting escape from G-9. However, only Fortress Maximus knew the code to activate it, so it remains dormant. When the Autobots inquire as to how he escaped, Impactor flashes back to his last day of captivity. The Decepticon Snare freed him, explaning that he is just as much a prisoner on G-9 as anyone else. He fears Overlord and thinks Impactor may just be the Autobot to stop the madness from continuing.
Ultra Magnus and the others are suitably impressed that their target includes the infamous Overlord. Springer decides to rethink their strategy as Impactor is ordered to go get his right hand fixed up. After he leaves, Ultra Magnus and Springer talk as Verity eavesdrops. Ultra Magnus is going to leave, despite the help he could provide, he prefers to turn a blind eye to the mthods of the Wreckers. He is heading to Earth at Prowl's request, but he also intends to bring Verity, who has other ideas. Magnus decides to take a shuttle, leaving the larger (and slower) ship to the Wreckers. On a final note, he mentions a name that holds significance to both himself and Springer: Aequitas.
Later, the Autobots gather to discuss strategy, and Ultra Magnus gives the bad news: It's not Skyquake who's in charge on G-9, it's Overlord. All the Autobots know what high level threat the Decepticon represents, but Verity doesn't. Kup explains that Overlord is the most powerful Decepticon deserter, and that ages ago when Megatron gave him a choice, he chose to leave the Decepticon army. He is sadistic and only enjoys pain and killing. Based on Impactor's information, the Autobots learn there are a bout fifty Autobot prisoners along with Aequitas. The goal is to free all of them and get out. The new plan is to drop two pods into the planet to break past the prison's force field and blast their way in and out. Pyro is surprised the plan isn't more sophisticated, but Springer explains this is how the Wreckers function.
In the hour leading up to the mission, everyone prepares in their own way. The Jumpstarters talk about something called "vicarious perception", Verity writes a letter to Ultra Magnus, the new recruits prepare their weaponry and Impactor broods alone. Once the mission begins, Ultra Magnus launches the pods and the clock begins to tick!
Inside one shuttle, Verity reveals herself, complete with an Exo-suit! Pyro thinks she's just a stowaway, but she makes the point that she is there to help as a full member of the team. Soon, the shuttle pods break through the force field, only to be met by a torrent of firepower! A hole gets blasted through the pod with Perceptor in it, so he has Topspin hold his legs while he dangles out, firing away at Decepticons with deadly precision. Each pod has guns on the bottom, so Twin Twist mans the gun as Impactor offers additional cover fire. The pods eventually crash and the Autobots survive, only to find themselves face to face with Overlord!
I generally read through an issue of a comic several times before typing out a review of the story. What struck me about this issue is that I was utterly captivated by it every time I read it. Sometimes it was the action, other times the humor and other times it was the tense atmosphere of a crew heading into a virtual suicide mission. What struck me the most however was that for most of this issue does not rely on action to keep your attention. What this issue does is build tension through situations and dialogue without having to fully rely on explosions until the last few pages, and that takes skill and imagination. There are a few stories going on here at the same time, and they flow smoothly into one another. You have Overlord's mysterious plans, the untold tale of what happened with Impactor and of course, the mission free G-9. I enjoy the way each story gets a bit more information thrown in, but the larger mysteries still abound. With Overlord's rule, sure we know he rules G-9, but to what end? And is Snare the only Decepticon who is living in fear there? Regarding Impactor, not only do I want to know what he did, but where will he go from here? Of course, the more immediate story is, with Verity facing down a rather upset Overlord, will the mission be successful? Sometimes having this many questions at the end of an issue means the writer did not do his or her job, but in fact they did, giving us more information than we had before, but leading us down new paths of inquiry and I'm enjoying the ride.
Anyone who has ever watched and episode of the classic 80's show "The A-Team" knows there's always a moment in the show where the team puts together some wacky gadget/thing that helps them complete their mission. It was cool to see echoes of this before the mission as the team puts together weapons and Ironfist hands out experimental guns. Does the mission seem wacky most of the time? Sure, but that seems to just encourage the team more. I enjoyed seeing a similar amount of bravado in Springer when he addresses Pyro's concern that their battle plan is not well thought out enough. Frankly, I've had enough of brooding and angst in the main storylines and leaders who do nothing but surrender or complain. Springer is a 'bot of action and he's taking his fight to the enemy with guts and firepower, and there's a certain amount of daring involved there that has been missing from the IDW universe line of Transformers stories for a while now.
On another note, I really have to say Guzzle is fast becoming one of my favorite characters. I always loved the toy, even as a kid. However, his appearances in the G1 comic book by Marvel were minimal at best. Here he pretty much steals the show over and over. When Springer asks about the secondary objective and Guzzle responds "Kill Overlord!" with enthusiasm, I laughed. I think when we finally get to see Guzzle let loose with his weaponry, it's going to be an impressive sight and fun to boot!
While it is not the focus of the issue, the final battle scene is full of fun moments. I love the idea of Topspin holding on to Perceptor while he blows away enemies upside down. Having Impactor save Twin Twist is another nice touch and I think it's gutsy of Verity to have joined the Wreckers in battle instead of staying safe with Magnus. I also admit chuckling a bit at the sheer enormity of the Decepticon response to the Autobot intrusion. It felt almost comical as to just how much power was being thrown at two pods but it made one impressive scene!
I already went on and on about the artwork in the last issue, and the same team brings the same quality from the last issue and into this one. Instead, I thought I'd comment on something I noticed in this issue more than others, and I think part of the reason is that this was more of a "talking" issue with many non-action scenes. The art team has done a fantastic job of portraying characters and their emotions. This is not always easy with Transformers. Three of the Wreckers don't even have mouths, so in the cases of say, Guzzle and Pyro all their expression is through their eyes and body language. When Guzzle is frustrated, you see him with his arms out as if in agony. Pyro's entire body leans back in frustration when he's trying to figure out his motto. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is the panel where the team learns of Overlord's presence. Eyes are wide, heads cocked back and looking down all convey moods wonderfully.
The other interesting thing I noticed in this issue is the amazing amount of detail in the artwork. Look at Impactor's scars and damage marks or even the small details on Springer's fingers when he holds them up. In concert with line details and small flaws here and there in the metal plating of Ultra Magnus' ship my eyes were constantly drawn to just how detailed the artwork is. Kudos to the art team.
I mentioned it earlier, but I have to reiterate my favorite panel in this issue is the Decepticon response to the Wrecker attack. The sheer amount of firepower being thrown at the Autobots is quite a spectacle and it felt like there's some humor behind it as well.
"Last Stand of the Wreckers" #2 does not disappoint. It takes the stories from the first issue and expands upon them while keeping the same mood. It manages to capture the team's tension very well before their big mission. It's also nice to see Verity step up and take a more active role in the Wreckers and I enjoy seeing Overlord in action again. He's an interesting character who differs quite a bit from previous Decepticons we've met, and I look forward to learning more about him. If you enjoy great art, fun characters and some action tossed into the mix, this is the comic for you!