Comics

Transformers: Requiem of the Wreckers – Comic Review

The final part of the loose trilogy formed by 2010’s Last Stand of the Wreckers and 2015’s Sins of the Wreckers, Requiem is another outing for the Autobots’ other favourite team of black ops misfits (after the Dinobots), a specialised task force sent in on slim-to-no-chance missions and boasting an impressive body count of both enemy combatants and their own members.

We open with Springer and human ally Verity keeping a low profile, Earth still very much in open animosity towards Transformers following recent conflicts. IDW did some heavy deconstruction of the concept of all humans treating Autobots as friends, instead mining much story juice from having humankind rightfully wary of any giant transforming robot clomping around it planet, particularly with the incalcuable collateral damage suffered during Megatron’s occupation of the planet (as seen in All Hail Megatron). It works here to have the two amigos rightfully worried about being found out, and refreshingly clueless about how to react to the rising anti-Cybertronian sentiments in global news.

Via some gloriously-rendered flashbacks that invoke the bright colours of classic Transformers comics, we see how Springer was recruited into the ranks of the Wreckers by then-leader Impactor, a fearsome warrior and presently embroiled with Mayhem, the Decepticon answer to the Wreckers. Seeing this old school style rendered so faithfully fair brought a wistful tear to my eye – damn IDW and their knowing push of my nostalgia button.

Springer is abducted as he and Verity set out to reconnect with Impactor, and Verity next sees a mind-controlled Springer (courtesy of Mayhem) as he publically shoots Megan Guiglione, a prominent anti-Transformer campaigner (IDW’s answer to X-Men‘s Bolivar Trask). Except! Twist. Guiglione is actually terrifying Decepticon warrior Overlord, and he quickly massacres every member of Mayhem in attendance.

A lot of the ‘massacre’ happens off-panel, and seems strangely muted in the aftermath as Springer and Impactor reunite. If this is meant to be a shocking portrayal of Overlord’s unmatched power, it comes off flat – his overly-eloquent rambling makes him come off as one of those pantomime cartoon villains of yesteryear, always ready with a glib speech but rarely afforded enough animation cels to truly let rip.

Overlord abducts Verity and takes him to his underground lair hidden within a volcano – yes, really – and reveals Tarantulas, the two having conspired to create first organic alt-modes to allow their agents to move freely amongst the humans, and a ‘Phase Two’ that they descend into bickering over in front of the bewildered Verity.

If all this is starting to sound like bad Transformers fanfiction then you’re approaching the feeling I had reading through this. Verity is an obvious cipher for the average teenage reader – feisty, defiant, inventive and also both friend to the good robots and willing to shoot blasters into the faces of the biggest, baddest ‘Cons without any consequence. She’s the closest IDW has to a ‘Mary Sue’ and that is never and will never be A Good Thing.

Overlord’s Grand Plan is revealed as first messing with history using time travel, and then a simple revenge plot of assassinating Megatron, irregardless of the havoc this will wreak on spacetime. At least Bludgeon’s plans make sense – Overlord’s appearances over in More Than Meets the Eye/Lost Light established him as an unstoppable badass, cruel and sadistic and something to be rightly feared. Here, he’s a cartoon series villain of the week.

Springer, Impactor and sole Mayhem survivor Carnivac bicker over Impactor’s recent (terrible) plans, before storming Overlord’s base in a standard Heroic Rescue. Overlord escapes in the melee as Impactor is pinned under rubble, which feels like a great time to have another Flashback Chat. Springer’s backstory had a big retcon during the Wreckers series, revealing him as an artificially-created Transformer courtesy of Tarantulas, but the twisted father-son dynamic it meant to explore never has room to get off the ground here.

After Impactor sacrifices himself to save Springer, Verity helps him send Overlord’s two alt-mode halves to opposite ends of the timestream, a fate from which he will almost certainly return intact when IDW deem it convenient to do so.

Springer decides to Sam Beckett his way to redemption by travelling into the past to attempt a low-key, person-to-person adjustment to the Great War, though not before sending out a video message to all surviving Wreckers telling them to disband the unit for good. Verity visits her estranged mother in a final coda, and with that, the Wreckers are done within IDW.

This is a hard annual to recommend, largely because the Saturday morning cartoon plotting and heavy reliance on story threads from previous serials make it feel narratively light – as though the seeds of a stronger character story are in there somewhere, but buried under a blanket of ‘safeness’. I accept that not every IDW Transformers story can hit the highs of their usual standard, but this feels more like a throwback to the Dreamwave era of Armada and Energon – the dark times of the early 2000s that we prefer not to talk about.

Stick with Last Stand of the Wreckers for a solid story featuring this crew, and I’ll allow this a commendation for the faithfully-recreated art style of the flashbacks, but otherwise you can safely skip this story.

Transformers: Requiem of the Wreckers is now available from IDW Publishing.

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