Thursday, 3 March 2016

Combiner Wars: Peace is but a brittle thing for them

Encase it might not be obvious, I have no intention on doing arcs in the order they were released, simply being because of how old some arcs are. I'd rather bounce between old and new arcs, as to me, it would be more interesting, and may shine a new light on older arcs. For now, we go back to Cybertron, and while there are many arcs between Autocracy and Combiner Wars I want to talk about, such as Dark Cybertron, Last Stand of the Wreckers and All Hail Megatron, let's see what the toy line has been up to lately, the Combiner Wars.

First, some backstory: Combiners have been a pretty scarce thing for the franchise, appearing every now and then, but have been getting rarer as time's gone on, and inflation hits harder and harder. The concept is simple, take 2-6+ robots, and mash them together into a bigger robot, with the number normally being 5. Last year, Hasbro decided to do a larger push on combiners, something that isn't easy to design, especially with what they needed to do. Each robot has to have a vehicle mode, a robot mode, and for the toy line, 1-2 combined modes depending on the class, with the main exception being Leader class, which didn't even try to have the gimmick. Limb bots could be either arms or legs for any combiner, and could connect to any torso. You could have a Superion with Defensor Limbs, Optimus Maximus with the limbs of Decepticons... which sounds very weird out of context, and more. A solid idea, however one flaw of the line was the amount of remolds and repaints. The same base toys getting re released all the time, which is something the franchise is known for, but lines like this make it more and more obvious. To my knowledge, in terms of Deluxe and Voyagers, which are the main ones that use the gimmick, the only two molds to not get repaints are Combatacon Brawl, and Voyager Sky Linx, and no I don't count Titan Devastator in that. For me, I'd be more open to the amount of repaints if they tried harder to cover it up, even if it was just more variety in them, I get the feeling they could have designed another variety of helicopter limbs, for example.

As for the in universe backstory, The 4 million year war between Autobots and Decepticons... is over. Starscream now leads the planet Cybertron thanks to the will of the people, but old alliances keep from a true peace. I plan to go into this backstory more when I tackle Dark Cybertron in the future.

Now for the actual plot: The Enigma of Combination, an ancient piece of Cybertronian technology has returned to Cybertron, and is now in the hands of Starscream along with the combiner Superion. Caminus, a lost Cybertronian colony, has been found thanks to the space bridge inside an injured Metroplex, with new Cybertronians like Windblade, Chromia and Nautica appearing from the colony. Optimus Prime now is "in control" of the combiner Devastator thanks to the head of the gestalt being Prowl who... let's just say has changed a little. Unfortunately, first contact doesn't go too well, as the enigma, thanks to Starscream, was able to once again turn the Stunticons into the mighty Menasor, who starts to attack Caminus, and is eventually stopped by Superion. For the most part, that's the rest of the arc. First it was Menasor vs Superion, then Devastator vs Superion and Defensor, then Menasor vs Devastator vs Superion, Defensor and Optimus Maximus, all the while the people of Cyberton and Caminus try to rebuild Caminus. There's not a lot here other then even bigger robots fighting eachother, but there is one thing this arc does, which I'll go into later.

Visually, the arc has two different art styles. The first is the "starry" (if that makes sense) style of Livid Ramdndelli (I hope those are D's and not O's), which does look nice and is what makes up the majority of the 6 issues, not including back story and epilogue. But personally, I prefer one of the secondary styles used in the arc. The credits for this one is longer so bare with me. Pencils by: Marceld Ferreira and Corin Howell, Inks by: Corrin Howell, Brian Shearer and John Wycough, colours by Yamashi and Thomas Deer.(I am going to start crediting the artists for these as a FYI, maybe doing full credits if I can work them in, as its harder to work roles like the Editor in fluently). Back on topic, the second style is more cartoony, expressive, overblown, which I kind of admire.  There is a third style, but I want to bring that up when I do Windblade #1-4.

Props to to all the writers, as they continue to do the one thing I love about the IDW comic series, they don't have to just pander to Generation 1 fans. There are so many little nods and references to other generations. Armada Hot Shot, Prime Knock Out, Velocitron being run by Override, just to name a few... I do question if my theory of Elita One having Bayfomers Prime's personality is on the money... because that panel is scary...

There is one thing I like about this, what I like about the IDW Transformers series as a whole. It's introducing things into the Transformers Mythos that leads to new and interesting stories, but never in a way that feels forced. I've seen people complaining about no acknowledgement of social issues in media, and here's one that has started to, and hopefully follows through with two of the biggest social issues subtly and with characters that actually feel like they belong there, not being forced there. I can see this being a set up for a racial topic in the series, as Caminus and the other colonies introduced do have their own ways, so I could see stories revolving around those kinds of conflicts happening. One even does in the Epilogue. The main story itself isn't that interesting, its what it represents going forward that has my interests. For now, we must return to earth, because, surprise surprise, Gotham is falling to pieces, up next, The Dark Knight Rises... didn't he already do that?

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