Friday, May 20, 2016


Written by: Brandon Easton | Art by: Priscilla Tramontano
Colors by: Priscilla Tramontano & John-Paul Bove | Letters by: Tom B. Long
Edits by: John Barber | Publisher: Ted Adams

Set in the TRANSFORMERS: GENERATION ONE cartoon continuity, this one-shot features a "What If?" scenario springing out of TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE -- how would the film's events have played out if Optimus Prime had not died defending Autobot City from Megatron?

Writer Brandon Easton posits that things would have turned out more or less the same as they originally did, but with several more characters dying than in the movie. The entire chain of events springs from a point in the movie where Optimus Prime has the upper hand on Megatron, but the impetuous Hot Rod interferes in their fight when he sees Megatron reaching for a gun out of Prime's view. Here, Kup holds Hot Rod back and Prime dodges Megatron's laser blast, then blows the Decepticon leader's head clean off.

With Megatron dead, he and his followers are not transformed into heralds of Unicorn, which means this world features no Galvatron, and thus Galvatron does not kill Starscream for usurping his command. But when Unicron shows up, as in the movie, to devour Cybertron, Starscream confronts him and is transformed instead, into "Megascream". Megascrem and his minions attack an Autobot shuttle en route to Cybertron and when Hot Rod attempts a dangerous maneuver to outwit the Decepticons, the vessel is destroyed, taking Ultra Magnus, Springer, Arcee, and Perceptor with it.

Hot Rod redeems himself in the end, however, by grabbing the Matrix of Leadership from an injured Optimus Prime and sacrificing himself to destroy both Megascream and Unicron with its power. Thus the great Cybertronian war is ended and Unicron is finished.

On one hand, I appreciate Easton's idea that TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE would have had the same ultimate outcome regardless of whether Optimus Prime lived or died: Unicron is defeated and the day is saved. Easton doesn't cheat the movie's destiny angle either, which is appreciated -- TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE makes clear that Hot Rod is the chosen one who will use the Matrix to light the Autobots' darkest hour, and he does exactly that here, as well.

I also have little problem with Easton's handling of Hot Rod here as a well-meaning bumbler who can't do anything right, because -- let's face it -- Optimus Prime is just a better leader than Rodimus Prime. Even the cartoon series itself makes that clear in its third season, where Radius Prime is frequently shown to be unsure of himself in Optimus's long shadow. So I'm all in favor of a little character assassination of the johnny-come-lately leader if it's done to prop up Optimus Prime.

Where I'm less in sync with Easton is in his scripting and his general handling of certain characters. He seems to have Optimus Prime's "voice" down pretty well and the same can be said for a few other characters, too. But his Soundwave is weirdly verbose and casual in his speech patterns and sounds nothing like the GENERATION ONE cartoon character. And his Ultra Magnus is, for some reason, presented as a gruff, authoritarian A-hole, completely at odds with his G1 characterization. Granted, most of Magnus's ire is aimed at Hot Rod in the issue, and Hot Rod certainly does a few things to justify the attitude, but this just isn't anything like the original animated Magnus. He feels wrong.

The artwork here is mostly pretty good, though. Priscilla Tramontano clearly referenced the Sunbow Animation model sheets while drawing this thing, which is a big plus in my book. That said, she takes a few liberties here and there, such as giving Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus gigantic bulging forearms, which take me straight out of the illusion that this could be an actual story set in the G1 cartoon universe. I really don't understand why it's so hard for so many artists to draw Transformers on-model, without adding their own little flourishes. The Sunbow crew got the characters one hundred percent right when they designed them for animation; there should never be any reason in general to deviate from the Sunbow look, and that goes double (or more) when drawing a story set in the Sunbow universe.

The colors are unconditionally beautiful though, really evoking the cartoon, and the letters are nice too, using the old Marvel G1 balloons which are, to me, really the only way Transformers should be shown speaking in a comic book.

I picked up TRANSFORMERS: DEVIATIONS because I hadn't read a new Transformers comic since I finished with REGENERATION ONE a couple years back, and because it's set in my favorite Transformers continuity. It's not the best Transformers comic I've ever read and I think it could've been handled a bit better on both the writing and artistic sides of the equation, but -- it's the G1 Transformers in the G1 cartoon universe, drawn more-or-less in the Sunbow style, so I can't complain too much. If nothing else, this Deviation provides a decent diversion for few minutes.

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