I'll be honest. Dark Cybertron has been the series over which I have been crying, "Why, oh why did I not wait and just buy this in trade?" Like a lot of earlier IDW TF stuff, it's just not as well-served when delivered in small chunks. But with what went down in this latest issue -- and because Kikyuu
came on over to my page and posted, "Looking forward to a journal from you about Orion and Megatron developments in the newest issue of Dark Cybertron!" (It's your fault!
) I decided to go read all the issues out so far in one go. I took notes. 5 pages
And I can happily report that the re-read went far better than the piecemeal experience.
The purpose of this journal is two-fold:
1.) Get all the "Ah-ha!" moments and theories posted. (Hey, I'm just as addicted to the allure of being proven right as anyone!)
2.) Really get into the Roddy & Prime exchange that happened in #9. Because it was GOLDARNSLAGGINGAWESOME!
So! Onward we go with Objective #1.
I said it at first, and it still holds true: Andrew Griffith's (glovestudios
) art on that first Shockwave part of DC 1 is his best work ever. Ever. It blew my mind then (you know, a long 4 months ago
), and it still does now. But the man who deserves the most props for making the whole series glow -- literally -- is the Burritoman himself, Josh Perez (dyemooch
) His colors are the glue that holds together all those disparate artists. And especially on a mass read-through, they really serve to make the story sing. He is the true master of purple. And glowy skies. And that EPIC two-page explosion? Yeah -- let's give that to him as well, although the lineart worked well too.
I've been bagging on Atilio Rojo, the newcomer artist in the bunch. But I've got to say that with Perez keeping the boat afloat, his art bugged me A LOT less this time through. He manages to be similar enough to Andrew to make it go over. All except (imo) issue 7 where Galvatron's posing like an action figure, and the flying bots look like dangling Christmas ornaments, and the teleporting ship is a full-on
. And Starscream's weird small head. Other than that, he really does hold his own. There are some really great splash pages of tortured Megatron that are amazing, and a lot of great close-up expressions. I think in general he gets better as he goes along -- finding more ways to be expressive and pull in close.
Robert Gill was the biggest disappointment. His two pages at the end of #4 were STELLAR... and then when he got a whole buncha pages in the next issue he did this really stylized look that just ended up seeming like a cartoon gone horribly wrong. I'd been SO stoked once I'd seen his first work, that I felt really let down. But hey -- we'll always have Boogie Shockwave!!
I will hear no disparagement of James Raiz. Well, other than an irate gripe that he COPY-PASTED ART in his first few issues. (There is no forgiveness. Once I see it, it takes all the punch out of a scene.) I acknowledge that his style does not always fit the stories it's been used for. (MTMTE 22 anyone?) And I also think he's been getting better as he goes along as well. And let us all take a moment to envision that Magnus-Roddy-Prime scene at the bar in the hands of ANY other artist. ANY. It would not have had NEARLY as much emotional clout. As it stands, it is my favorite "Prime/Pax-the-regular-dude-with-an-Impossible-Job" scene in all of TF comics ever. It's the first time anyone has EVER managed to get Prime to look like a regular guy. He even pulled off the mouth-and-removable-faceplate thing. (Huh -- that's yet another example of little things these writers have taken directly out of my brain and "made real" on the canon page. We pause here for a small squee of fulfillment.) What I'm sayin' is that, despite his faults, I like his work. I like that I can really get in there and chew on it a while.
Livio... is Livio. I hugely appreciate LivioRamondelli
for his creative and unusual approach to TF art, and have since he first started posting sketches. But it doesn't always work. Infamous case in point, the Kup reveal. (Which I will now take this opportunity to state publicly that I totally realized that it was Kup, art or not art, when not even the Underbase Podcast peeps got it!! Ha, I win.) There's also the point made on the Underbase that Nightbeat's creepy black face/glowy eyes "Follow me" in #5 would have been a visual tip-off that something was amiss in any other artist, but means nothing in the general dark of Livio's art. That said though, when properly placed into an appropriate story, his art is PERFECT. I cannot IMAGINE anyone else tackling the Dead Universe, may-it-die-forever-and-never-return. He made that place look CREEPY AS SLAG. Which is what it requires in order to be taken seriously. His art in this series was hit-and-miss, but his colors are almost always awesome. And he pwned into the ground
the scene I will discuss below. I actually stalked him enough to give him a well-deserved "Rock on, my good man!" on that one.
Nick Roche's teeny contribution was my second biggest disappointment. His art just did not work for me -- especially the action/anime lines in the Percy panel. Too much for the tone of what he was saying. But in reading the whole thing at once, I realized what really sank that issue -- it's not colored by Josh P. I get that Romulo Fajardo was trying to convey the feel of being underwater in a red ocean. But I'm afraid he strayed into the Dreaded FAILBROWN region of the colorwheel. Digital coloring just cannot support that kind of mixing where everything's desaturated and muddy. Pick a key color, and commit to it! Mud is for amateurs! And besides, it's ugly. Sorry, but there it is. I have no patience for it, and I respond with rage when it appears. Color is my thing.
Casey's covers have been epic. But then, Caliber316
can always be counted on to bring the Epicsauce. #4 is my least favorite, but it's the fault of the colors. The lineart alone is stellar. Overall, Joana's cover colors are great, but I whinge about #4 being so red it becomes silly, and #2 being too brown (though I do get what khaamar
was going for there.) My fave covers so far are... all the other ones. Well done, guys! (I do reserve the right to laugh forever at Emo Starscream on principle, though. He is hilarious.)
ITEMS OF NOTE:
--In DC1, Prime says to himself in captions at the end, "The future is forged not by our predecessors, but by us." Well done boys. Well done. By this latest issue, he's learned to mean that!
--Page of Prime in spaceship (DC1) copies directly the layout of Prime leaving pace in Death of Optimus Prime issue (MTMTE 1). Cool homage.
-- Swerve was right -- Ultra Magnus DOES prefer a "weak energon spritzer." (DC2)
--DC2 pg 1 Necrotitan page is one of my favorite artistic things ever, and I wish someone would do a series in that flat, graphic look. I am a slave to it.
--I saw somewhere a version of Swerve taking a picture, where he said, "[all three o' y'alls] in my bar? D*mn right I'm taking a picture!" I really wish they'd left the naughtier word in. "Too right" went all weirdly-accented in my head and threw me out of the scene for a sec.
--Prime's thing about a "new approach" re: Megatron has new resonance when you realize why he was so determinedly leaving his Primal identity behind.
--They really did need to show better the why and wherefore of Scoop's turn from Starscream-worshipper to Starscream-hater. I got this time that Rattrap kinda put him up to it. But the whole thing's really hazy. Did it really all turn on SS talking to the titan? Does not farm.
--Issue 6 has my favorite DC opening of all. I have never thought of Astrotrain as a "fuzzy*" mech, but give him binoculars and nearsighted vision... and then have him and the Dinobots in triage, and I'll be all over it.
--The idea that a Titan can be dead on the inside, but the outside doesn't know it yet, is Eugenesis-level creepy.
--Along with Scoop, Prowl is another one whose characterization doesn't always flow. He goes from total-spaz "KILL ALL THE CONS!!!1!" to full-Spock "We Must Logic!" with no explanation. I needed more of an inciting incident to show why he snaps out of it.
--Kup should be full-on fragged-up in every possible way. He's got no Cygar, so he should be in DruggWithdrawal (unless Shockwave's got some of the Kup Spotlight ore to spot 'im.) He's also infected with ZombieVirus! from Infestation. He was all pasted on the slab and hooked up to Spaaace. And yet suddenly he got all better? I am not convinced.
--I will feel annoyed if the girls' backstory (how they're girls) is not at least quickly explained until the Windblade series.
--I am having so darn much fun watching Bumblebee and Megatron working together. Bee's finally getting a handle on being The Guy, and Megs is being more than just "HATE ALL OF YOU TO DEATH!" BY now, Megs has finally gotten to be the hero, and Bee's made a big move to trust him. (Oh man -- that panel of Bee's little slump when Megs has just teleported off was so good.)
--I can't believe that I-Prime pulled a whole long "Emo-on-the-moon" stint since Death of Optimus Prime, with the whole "I'm not Prime!" thing, and that it was Roddy who pulled Me out of it........ and I never even thought to complain about it till my goodpal coraxonyx
whinged to me about it. That Furmanistic emo!Prime approach always used to bug the heck outta me. And the insistence on being Pax had seemed forced to me, right up until the whole thing with Nova where I saw just why Prime might have come to a place where he thinks the whole heritage is a bad thing, and wants to "try an new approach." I think his attempt is an honorable one. But yeah -- the fact that it was Roddy to bring him back into the game -- usually a HUGE rage-trigger for me, since I resent Roddy for takin' over after me and doing a bad job of it -- was Totally Negated by how FRAGGING AWESOME that speech was. I mean, it takes all the love we have as fans for OPTIMUS PRIME, addresses how the title itself cannot make anyone half as good in our eyes, and puts words to the love and trust we have for "the true Prime" (Galvy's words) even when he's taking faces in the Movieverse, moping ineffectually in the Furmanverse, or trying not to be a Prime in this one. We all hold him as this true, pure thing, and feel that he is always that true thing underneath, even when he m esses up. I have to give MAJOR kudoes to the guys for writing all that out so well. I am slave to a good scppech, and love 'em wherever I find 'em. But this one was on o' the best ever. I went around in high glee for DAYS after reading this. It heals things in my heart.
"You're wrong. I never wanted to be "Rodimus Prime." Not deep down. Deep down, I always wanted to be you. The real you -- not Orion Pax. All this talk about a corrupt lineage... When you became Optimus Prime—when you assumed the title—the world didn't know the truth about Nova and Nominus and the rest. Back then, being a Prime meant demonstrating—no, actually—embodying certain standards of behavior... it meant decency and integrity and—and morality—and all sorts of things that chancers like me pretend are unfashionable because deep down they scare us... and they scare us because we try to live our lives by them but wecan't. Well, guess what? You can. You can and you do—every day. Thanks to you, the word Prime still means decency and integrity and morality. Listen. The world will always need a Prime... but only if that Prime is you."
THEORIES, QUESTIONS, & PREDICTIONS:
--Rodimus gets crushed/halved in Shockwave's vision. Still to come... I waffle between predicting that Roddy'll be the one to die in this, to thinking they might actually have the guts to kill off Bumblebee. But I don't think Prowl or Ultra Magnus are either in serious danger. We shall see..... It's one of those 4, according to solicits.
--Does Skids's vision in MTMTE have any correlation with the way Metroplex has been talking with brain color code? Just wonderin'....
--I'm still very bothered by how the Titans have been uniformly brutalized in this story. There had better be a good reason for it, or the TFs are guilty of genocide.
--I have never felt as straight-up angry at a comic as I was at #3. The writers remind us of all the Cyclonus & Tailgate fuzzies in MTMTE 21, then drop the bomb that he's now trapped in the dead universe. I've been saddened by comics, frustrated by them, disappointed. But this was pure rage. Because This Story Has Not Earned The Right to take Cyclonus from MTMTE. I felt cheated and betrayed. I'm still clinging to the "Cyclonus is key" phrase from the crew roster of MTMTE, in conjunction with the whole "clavis aurea sect" (golden key sect) thing mentioned in the same accursed issue. I am hoping he will not die. But if he does, it will be heroic, and I will never recover. Because I will be robbed of FEELING IT by the way this series does not have the build-up and grounding that MTMTE manages.
--Why does Ultra Magnus have a sense of deja vu in Metroplex's empty brain chamber?? What does it mean???
--Ammonite prisoner says Shockwave "needed an army in case the dead were not enough." Does this mean he's going to get everyone who's ever died out of the Dead Universe, and use them? Creepy....
The Ammonites were a people in Biblical times. From Wikipedia: According to the biblical account, Ammon and Moab were born to [Lot's family] in the aftermath of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible refers to both the Ammonites and Moabites as the "children of Lot". The Hebrew tradition makes this tribe related to the Israelites. This is reflected in the name usually employed in the Old Testament to designate them, Ben `Ammi, Bene `Ammon, "son of my people," "children of my people," i.e. relatives. Throughout the Bible, the Ammonites and Israelites are portrayed as mutual antagonists.
Knowing James, I'll bet anything that this is not coincidental. (I still don't know what the Terradores name came from, if anything.)
--Will anyone (please no!) be infected with Metroplex's death plague??
I cannot wait for April. If Prime and Megatron can come to a kind of understanding, I will be the happiest nerd in the nerdery. Like, feet not touching the floor for hours at a time. It's slowly working in that direction. Please, writing gods, make it happen! He and I have the capacity and reason to respect each other. If we can just get past all the fightfightfight, we can do great things together. Come on! Make it so.
OK -- not all the dialog was James-a-riffic in this series. Even some of the humorous bits felt forced and bugged me. But there were a few bits that were total glee. And most of them were Whirl.
"Poor Cyclonus -- sworn to reject a world that hates and fears him." (So X-Men. Very winning.)
"Oh come on! He just called you a coward! Bare minimum you should threaten to kill him when he least expects it!"
There's no way I can put in everything worth noting from this series. But if you have made it this far through this mess of random exclamations, I salute you. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Now go play outside!
Some Favorite Art Finds from the last month: