Does your busy life keep you from picking up all the books you want? Do our (mostly) spoiler-free reviews leave you scratching your head at what you missed? Don’t worry; PoP! is here to fill in the blanks on the stories that were TL;DR
This is far from the first I’ve said on the topic of IDW’s All Hail Megatron, however – considering PoP!’s coverage only started with issue 8, and we tried to remain as spoiler-free as possible in the past – I’ve decided to give Trans-fans a rundown of exactly what it is they missed in this epic of epic… are we sick of that yet? Okay, let’s just get on with the show.
Transformers: All Hail Megatron
Issue #1 dropped on July 10th, 2008 and the series continued until June 24th, 2009. After this, 4 “Coda” issues came out, filling in gaps and preparing readers for the launch of the Transformers Ongoing title, currently being published by IDW. Continuity-wise, the story takes place one year after the events of IDW’s Decimation story-arc.
AHM was initially a 12, then later 16, issue reboot of a reboot. While IDW had started their own continuity when they took control of the Transformers license, it had very quickly become very muddled. This had sort of been the plan of Simon Furman, who’d sought to create an elaborate tapestry of interwoven plot points. In a time when accessibility is key to gaining new readership, however, IDW wanted a story that was a little less bogged down with continuity and one which offered a bit more instant gratification. While major reveals would have to be waited for, holy crap moments came fast and furious over the early issues of the series.
The first few issues take place exclusively on Earth (and primarily in NYC), where the Decepticons go unanswered in their conquest of the planet. Eventually, we find ourselves on Cybertron alongside the defeated Autobot forces, and from that point we bounce back and forth, before finally reuniting both Cybertronian factions back on Earth for their final confrontation.
… did it happen?
In the wake of the Dead Universe story that ran through Simon Furman’s IDW Transformer titles, the Autobots and Decepticons had a single, massive, final showdown. Betrayed by one of their own, the Autobots were defeated and banished to their dead home planet of Cybertron. Left to their own devices, the Decepticons convalesced before launching an all out bid for conquest against the natives of Earth.
… is it important?
While some of the Furman penned Transformers plot points have been gently retconned away or simply swept under a rug to be forgotten, the events of All Hail Megatron are the foundation of IDW’s Transformers Ongoing. This book established Megatron as a credible threat both to the Autobots as well as humanity as a whole; for the better part of the series, the Decepticon leader wages a war of terror against Earth, asserting his dominance while the Autobots licked their wounds light years away. To understand the psychology of fear and themes of change that Costa is playing with, one must look back to the landscape that McCarthy created – a world terrorized by giant metal monsters and a story that dictates all Cybertronians broaden their definition of transformation.
- Drift: Appearing alongside the Wreckers, this sword-wielding Autobot remains a bit of a mystery until appearing in his own Spotlight issue, and later (now) his own mini.
- Spike: Absent from any prior IDW offerings, Spike makes his first appearance here as a soldier caught up in the Decepticons’ brutal invasion.
- The Swarm: A Decepticon experiment gone awry, the Swarm are a near-mindless subset of Frankensteinian Insecticons, driven only by their hunger for Cybertronian “flesh”
… is featured?
McCarthy plays with a huge cast, and little time is wasted on irrelevant characters. Still, the real stars are:
- Megatron: As if you couldn’t guess, the titular character is key to the story and how it unfolds. McCarthy picks up the character beats from Megatron: Origin, and creates an ideological rift between the Decepticon commander and his first mate that gives substance to the latter’s constant betrayals
- Starscream: You can’t have Megatron without Starscream, and over the course of this series, the sniveling second-in-command finds time to steal the spotlight – if only temporarily – by proving how terrible he is at bringing about a coup.
- Devastator, Astrotrain, Frenzy: If one of the most important effects this series had was establishing the Cybertronians as legitimate threats to mankind, then these three are in a tie for MVP. Devastator floods the Holland Tunnel after putting his fist through it (drowning the humans within), Astrotrain collapses a subway station on a cluster of humans who mistake him for a means of escape from the carnage, and Frenzy single-handedly dispatches military ground forces with his drill bit arms and hallucination-inducing sonic attacks
- Bombshell: Megatron’s chief scientist, Bombshell is not only integral to the Decepticon leader’s plans, he’s also among Starscream’s potential recruits
- Sunstreaker: Enraged at the humans’ treatment of him during Furman’s run, Sunstreaker betrayed the Autobots just so they wouldn’t be able to prevent the Decepticons’ destruction of the human race. On Cybertron, ashamed of his actions and the suffering he’s brought to his friends as a result, Sunstreaker sacrifices himself to save the Autobots from the Swarm.
- Optimus Prime: The spirit of the Autobots, it isn’t until Prime is revived (somewhat miraculously) that the Autobots rally and get their trunks in gear
- Hot Rod and Omega Supreme: Stranded on Cybertron and low on Energon, Hot Rod never gives up hope that his distress signal may bring help. And help it brings as Omega Supreme arrives to not only save the day, but transport the Autobots back to Earth for a final battle
- Thundercracker: One good turn deserves another, and as Megatron plans to unleash a nuclear strike on New York City, this Seeker – disenfranchised with the current state of the Decepticon “cause” – turns against his brothers in arms and saves the day
- Rumble: Maybe.
- Sunstreaker: Sort of.
- The Swarm: Some of them.
- Humans: A lot of them. Some of them even have names.
- Hunter O’Nion: Sideswipe puts him out of his misery after discovering what Bombshell had done to him.
- Megatron: Just kidding. He still functions.
The Transformers Ongoing has been ongoing strong for a little under a year now, with minis running concurrently to further flesh out the fates of the assorted characters. On Earth, humanity is terrified of Cybertronians and working against Autobots and Decepticons alike. Everyone except Spike, of course, who manages to form a tenuous partnership with the Autobots’ new leader. On Cybertron, Alpha Trion has resurrected Sunstreaker and – no, that would be telling – to send each on their own important missions, whatever they may be. And in the far reaches of space, Megatron is healing while Starscream is strutting about with the Autobot Matrix and no real plans for the Decepticons’ future. Oh, and Galvatron’s back. Well, “back” in our universe, but still off the collective radars of the other Cybertronians. Connections that have popped up between various otherwise unrelated issues indicate an over-arcing plan for the Transformers titles, though what that is still remains unclear. For now, at least.