Last updateFri, 22 Aug 2014 12am


Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers #4 Review


lsotw4_aAs a Transformers fan, I’ve been hugely satisfied by the high quality job done on IDW immensely successful miniseries, Last Stand of the Wreckers. Though the art quality has fluctuated dramatically and left something to be desired, the story - courtesy of fan fave Nick Roche and Eugenesis author James Roberts - has remained consistently awesome. Well-placed action, wickedly dark comedy, unflinching robot-on-robot violence and overall immersive story augmented by informative flashbacks culminate into a high-standard product that has me on tenterhooks. Hit that read more button for the full story.



Story so far: on a suicide mission to the overrun Autobot max security prison on Garrus-9, suicide Autobot squad the Wreckers - along with a few new recruits - battle through the rogue Cons to acquire an unknown entity called Aequitas.


The arrival of former Wrecker leader (now escaped convict) Impactor does nothing to lighten the tension, their mission has failed, they’re separated and outnumbered, and to top it all off the former Decepticon general-turned-lone-sadist, Overlord, is running the whole show.


Also, Twin Twist and Topspin are revealed to have a branched spark – if one is hurt, the other can sense, and feel it. Oh, and one of the new Wreckers is dead. Already. What could possibly go right?

WRITTEN BY Nick Roche & James Roberts

PENCILS BY Nick Roche, Guido Guidi

INKS BY Andrew Griffith, Guido Guidi

COLORS BY Josh Burcham


ART RATING: 8.5 out of 10

STORY RATING: 9.5 out of 10

OVERALL RATING: 9 out of 10


lsotw4_01SYNOPSIS: Kimia Weapons Facility, eight months ago. Ironfist is in his lab, doing stuff and talking to Prowl via video. Prowl praises Ironfist for his datalog works on the Wreckers, jokingly calling him by his web alias, Fisitron. He informs Ironfist that of a new team of Wreckers being put together. He offers Ironfist the job, but asks him how badly he wants the job (meaning he’s probably gonna get killed).


Back in the present, on Garrus-9, Guzzle and Kup are sneaking up on some Cons. Kup asks Guzzle to hold his cygar and proceeds to single-handedly kill all four Cons. Retrieving his cygar, he opens the cell door they were guarding, expecting to see Grimlock (whom they came to rescue so he could help). But he isn’t there. Snare - the Decepticon who freed Impactor – comes up behind them and informs them that Grimlock is long gone - made to watch footage of G-9 being overrun, powerless to intervene, he was driven mad. Guzzle thinks Snare is full of it, but Snare pleads for them to listen.


Meanwhile, a few floors away, Pyro, Perceptor, Topspin, Ironfist and Verity look at Aequitas - revealed to be a gargantuan supercomputer. The Wreckers are there to download the contents of its hard drive. Topspin is furious at this, thinking the mission a fool’s errand. Verity asks Perceptor why Aequitas is so big, to which he replies that it’s a culpability drive that calculates guilt.


lsotw4_06Suddenly, Topspin goes into spasms, clawing at his face and saying, “Get out of his mouth...” Perceptor and Pyro go to boot up Aequitas, while Verity and Ironfist watch over Topspin - his “vicarious perception” will apparently last only a couple minutes. Verity asks Ironfist to tell her a story.


In the Spark Extinction Chamber, Springer wakes from unconsciousness. Impactor – inexplicably still online, informs him that Stalker, their torturer, went away to get something called an endoscopic claw. Changing the subject, Springer says he thought that Impactor would have been sent to a rehab institute for his unknown crime – or one of the open prisons. Impactor contemptuously replies that after Springer’s testimony, when he was plugged into Aequitas, tore the Wreckers apart.


Springer hates himself for reporting Impactor to command. He wants to forgive Impactor - he wants to forgive himself. But he says he can't do that until Impactor accepts that he violated every tenet of the Autobot code. Twin Twist comes online – revealed to have been horribly disfigured; he asks how the two can argue at a time like this. Stalker comes back in, holding an evil looking "endoscopic claw". He says he was thinking the exact same thing, and believes it is time for one of them to die.


lsotw4_09Back in the Aequitas chamber, Ironfist begins his story. He tells of Squadron X – a twisted Decepticon Wreckers equivalent - comprising of Crosscut, Earthquake, Fang, Ferak, Tornado, Triton, and leader Macabre. Impactor was obsessed with tracking them down. Their battles came to a head on Pova, where Springer was left trapped under rubble, in the firing line, while Squadron X advanced ever closer. Impactor reluctantly agreed to Springer’s idea of blasting at them through Springer’s midsection. It worked, and the Wreckers were able to defeat Squadron X.


With their foes in custody, the Wreckers cleaned up. Impactor fixed Springer up and calls Prowl, telling him to pick them up. Then Sandstorm staggered out of the cell, missing an arm - Squadron X was loose. Impactor left Springer and led the others into battle. They killed the entire Squadron.


lsotw4_13Back in the present, Ironfist finishes his story. That story, he says, epitomises everything he admires and loves about the Wreckers. Meanwhile, Topspin comes out of his spasms and gets up. Perceptor calls everyone over. There’s a problem; Aequitas is password-protected and the only other way to activate it is by spark donation – someone has do die to switch it on. Topspin suggests force-feeding it a Con, but Perceptor says that won't work – the donor must die willingly, or it won’t work. I can’t be Perceptor, since only he knows how to work the supercomputer. Not Topspin – no sense in he and Twin Twist dying needlessly. Ironfist resignedly says that it’ll have to be either him or Pyro.


At this, Pyro freaks out. He self-righteously says that he shouldn’t have to switching a computer. He says he’s supposed to go out all guns blazing, saving a planet of innocents or something. As he spouts his dream death, Topspin sees through Twin Twist Twist's eyes. Stalker leans over him. Pyro keeps saying that he wants to die like a Prime. Verity says that Ironfist is better than him, and that Pyro is barely an Autobot Ironfist gets angry at the two talking as if he’s not there, so Verity asks him to speak.


lsotw4_15Stumbling for words, Ironfist flashes back to his unpublished biography; of how he killed his first Decepticon, his brief meeting with Optimus Prime, his many weapon inventions that killed thousands, his closest friends dying, and how he’d do anything to live his life again. But he doesn't speak and instead prepares to die. But Topspin - seeing the pain Twin Twist is enduring - says enough is enough, and plugs himself in. Aequitas thanks him for his donation, then drains his spark. In the Spark Extinction Chamber, Twin Twist blows up. Stalker is disappointed, but shrugs it off and starts on the others. Perceptor plugs a headphone-like plug into Ironfist's head. He transfers the contents of Aequitas' hard drive to Ironfist's head and then wipes the hard drive.


Back in the chamber, Stalker is about to gouge out Impactor’s eyes when he’s blasted away by Guzzle, arriving with Kup and Snare. Calling Snare a traitor, Stalker blasts Snare's head. Springer gets released, grabs the discarded endoscopic claw and stabs Stalker through the head.


lsotw4_20Impactor watches over Snare as he slowly dies. He says that the "choice" Overlord gives you after 12 pit wins (the choice Kick-Off was given way back in issue 1) is this; either fight Overlord or commit suicide. "What’s the difference?" He says. Overlord is coming - Snare heard Stalker radio for help before he died. He asks Impactor to kill him before Overlord gets there. Impactor obliges, crushing Snare's brain module. Springer is about to ask about Overlord, but the wall promptly blows up. Overlord emerges, asking if they're ready. Springer replies, "ready".


Back in the Aequitas Chamber, Ironfist says he now knows everything, and that everything they’ve been told is a lie. With the Decepticons about to break through the doors, Perceptor suggests using Aequitas to detonate the deterrence chips inside their heads (every ex-convict has one). Pyro doesn't want to, saying that it’ll kill ex-con Impactor as well. Perceptor asks Ironfist for the casting vote. Verity scoffs that Impactor’s biggest fan will never kill him off. But Ironfist replies that everything has changed. Knowing what he does now, he says to do it. Issue ends.


lsotw4_04THE GOOD: I enjoyed this fourth issue, but R & R have changed their style a bit with this one. There’s a bit of action, yes, and some wicked gore, yes, but surprisingly, most of the story is taken up by exposition, story-enriching flashbacks and plot forwarding through dialogue. A departure from last issue, and different from even the slow-build up first two issues, but a good change nonetheless.


The lull in pace also allows us to see a little chat with Springer and Impactor on why they seem to hate each other so much. While things are still being kept in the dark as to Impactor’s actual imprisoning offence, we learn a lot more about the interaction and tension between them. From the flashback on Pova (where we know Impactor committed his offence), it’s obvious that Impactor and Springer were mates. This change from friendship to hostility has been hinted at and intrigued ne since issue 1, and R & R are doing a beautiful job of slowly revealing this subplot to us.


lsotw4_21The pacing for this issue is excellent. Expertly keeping the reader on tenterhooks, the antics of the three different groups cut at crucial moments, making you want more and read on. The whole issue reads like a well-scripted TV episode, and the flashbacks only make it feel more immersive (have said that before?). This slow-burn technique really fits this section of the story - a nice little exposition and quiet time before the doubtless-chaotic ending to this series.  


The general characterization of the bots is great. I'm loving Stalker's sadistic torturer personality - not very multi-dimensional, but very enjoyable to read. That "endoscopic claw" thing is just horrific - hooks, claws, sharp cogs, drills, little scythes and saws all on one stick. And he sticks this thing down Twin Twist's throat! His throat, people! TT's face is munted up soooo bad. He's leaking fluid from everywhere, he's missing an eye, his entire lower jaw is practically separated from his skull, and his outer shell from the top of the mouth down has been totally ripped off. Poor Twin Twist.


lsotw4_19Snare - last seen freeing Impactor from Garrus-9 - is a really interesting side-character that I honestly thought I would never see his faceplate again. Obviously trying to make amends with the outside world and attempt to stop Overlord's madness, he helps Kup and Guzzle find Impactor and Springer. His death from trying to stop Stalker predictable but interesting - the defecting bad guy gets killed for treachery. Impactor standing by his side as he bleeds out his head, the accepting death speech - it's actually touching. I feel sad that Snare has died. He died trying to do the right thing. He knew that Overlord's antics were wrong and he tried to stop it. His ending was unoriginal to the point of cliche, but R & R did it in such a way that I was touched by it.


Delving once again into their magic box of plotting tricks, R & R build even further on their character development, this time giving some limelight - and backstory - to Ironfist and Pyro. The little exposition from "Fisitron's" autobiography and the dream sequence for Pyro's end, revealing him to be a little self-righteous and uppity are nice little touches that deepen the story's substance and make it feel even more realistic.


lsotw4_12Oh, on the subject of the flashbacks ... the awesome thing about how R & R have written this issue is how they tell the main story, while fleshing out the mythos of the Wreckers in a beautifully immersive fashion. The flashbacks finally shed some light on the fabled Decepticon Squadron X (an evil Wreckers equivalent, namedropped frequently in this series but never before shown), and the battle before Impactor gets imprisoned for an incident on Pova, culminate into a multi-layered, realistic storyline that feels alive. It also holds the record for the most cameos in a single comic - Squadron X are entirely comprised of hi-then-die characters from the old Transformers Marvel comic in the 80's.


Also in the Wreckers are the unusual double robot Rack 'n' Ruin - two robots surgically fused in an emergency operation to save their lives -  and the obscure undercover Autobot spy Nautilus, shown as one of the close friends Ironfist lost in the war. All these appearances by obscure characters are a dream come true for Transfans such as myself. And it's nice to see R & R giving some limelight to more obscure characters, instead of giving us the same old core cast we've seen a million times.


lsotw4_10Now, the art. I liked it. Great battle sequences, lively dialogue that's more than just talking heads and great attention to detail. Despite the differing art styles of Nick Roche and Guido Guidi, Josh Burcham's coloring brought the art together to produce a great-looking, unified issue that didn't feel jarring at all.


Speaking of Josh Burcham ... he's done a pretty good job on this one as well. The palette is simple, natural and enhances the artwork to a stunning standard. But the true piece de resistance is the flashback sequences. I've come to regard these things as something of a godsend in this series. The muted, warm palette alone is absolutely amazing to look at, and the gritty, parchment-like texture gives it a legendary tome feel to it. On top of that the sequences just look plain awesome. I love these things. The reference to the 1986 Transformers Movie with Sqaudron X and Topspin turning grey upon death is a nice touch too.


lsotw4_14Andrew Griffith's inks are a lot more natural and soft than John Wycough's sharp black inks of the last two issues. Griffith softens up the flashback sequences - something Wycough's inks are too sharp to do - and brings to life Roche's pencils. An all-round more natural and much better looking inking job.


Nick Roche also does his usual awesome job pencilling this issue. His fluid gore and innovative layouts (namely the Ironfist flashback) give the story extra oomph and are a joy to read. Great job as always man. Kudos also to Guido Guidi for his awesome fill-in job - that panel of Twin Twist's munted head ... visceral, man. These guys have really outdone themselves with this issue.


THE BAD: Andrew Griffith's inks slipped a tad with this issue. While in the awesome flashback sequences his inks are great, in the present some pages look rushed and rough. Nothing major, just not as good as the rest of the issue. Burcham's colors, too, have slipped a bit. I've seen this guy do awesome, airbrushed coloring and I revelled in it. Now, it seems, all we get is flats with some haphazard tones thrown in. I don't hate this guy's style, it's just that I've seen him do so much better and I want him to do better. Last of all, Roche's action sequences could have done with some reworking; they're a bit jumbled and hard to follow which is a bit of a disappointment. That is all.


OVERALL: I'm very happy with the job done on this issue and can't wait for the next. R & R have continued to deliver an awesome, high quality story, and while the art still leaves something to be desired, it's still great. The identity of Aequitas was a tad disappointing, to be sure, but overall I'm ecstatic at my purchase of this. If you haven't got this series then pre-order the TPB because it's one of the greatest Transformers stories ever! Rated 9 out of 10. Next month: The endgame begins. Their teammates are dead, their mission is in tatters, and all hope is lost. Time has run out for the last of the Wreckers, who confront the maniac responsible for the atrocities of the last 48 hours. Deaths, betrayals and long-promised revelations - truly, this one has it all!{jcomments on}