Sometimes a comic lets you down. Sometimes Transformers stories start out great… and then lose their way. Sometimes, no matter how much you wanted to like a series, it just doesn’t live up to its promise.
Other times, things rock so hard they threaten bladder control and you’re forced to seek counseling after reading them because you realize that it is unlikely anything you read will ever rock quite so hard, ever again.
Last Stand of the Wreckers #5 and the series it concludes, are in the latter category. (The Doctors say I’ll make a full recovery.)
Issue 5 brings us to the titular “Last Stand” of Last Stand of the Wreckers. It’s a stunning ending that solidifies Wreckers place as (arguably) the new apex of Transformers fiction. The body count doubles, mechfluid flies, and the tragedy unfolds.
It’s not a comic for kids. Not just because of the graphic nature of the violence, but because the emotional subtlety of the story would be lost on most of the under 13 crowd. (Note: I’m sure many kids out there are advanced enough to enjoy the book properly, I merely suggest parents use judgment, lest they find them selves in need of a therapist and/or rubber sheets.)
Every page turn brings another shock, revelation, or gut wrenching assault. It’s not entertaining because its fun. It’s engaging because it’s visceral. It’s compelling because it rings true. This is a complexity of story that Transformers fiction has rarely, if ever, even touched, much less explored. From the first panel on, the whole issue carries this horrible feeling of inevitability one can only normally experience by falling off of a cliff.
Death looms around every page, and you’ll be surprised to see who survives. There is an emotional truth to this ending. Sublime Pathos mixed with the futility of violent conflict. That’s what distinguishes Last Stand in the annals of Transformers media, its depth. This is quality writing, the kind people win awards for.
As always in Wreckers the dialog is amazing. They even worked in some text from The Charge of the Light Brigade and, if I’m not mistaken, a line from Red Dwarf. It’s a rare and gifted writing team that can find room for both Tennyson and Grant/Naylor in one comic.
The characters, most second stringers, who had little more that a name, a blurb, and a quote 5 issues ago, are now like old friends. Most top shelf Transformers have less character after 25+ years in the lime light. With out that believability of character even a story this rich would fall apart.
Roche and Roberts achievement here is simply stunning.
Frankly it’s better than we have any right to expect from a comic deriving from a toy license. This is the Transformers answer to Watchmen.
The art this issue provided solely once again by Mr. Roche, with colors by Josh Burcham, is amazing. The past few months of Transformers comics have shown us that there are many ways to bring G1 Transformers to the page, some great, some not so much, Nick Roche gets it right. It’s cartoonish with out lacking detail. Expressive faces, even mouth-less ones, that conduct such accessible emotions and define personality so well, you might not even notice how distinct they are.
More goes on in one Roche panel, than in some recent series. He has a fantastic sense of, scope and Mise-en-scène. No panel is just there to attach the dialog bubble to. You get your money’s worth out of every page.
This masterpiece is not for the faint of heart, Roche had developed a positive gift for mechanical evisceration, dismemberment, and terminal rupture. This is what that neighbor kid in “Toy Story” did to his Transformers.
Issue 5’s definition as the Climax of this series is more than just due to the place it occupies chronologically, it’s also the best issue. Even if you’re waiting for the trade, run out and pick this one up, you’ll be proud to have it in your collection. Plus it’s got THREE awesome character profiles that we’re told will not appear in the trade!
This series has come together perfectly. It’s practically flawless. In fact, a moment spent actively attempting to contrive a flaw just now met with no success. It’s not the sort of story you can tell every week. What Wreckers is, is a superbly constructed tragedy. It’s a comic book about giant robots fighting that still conveys human truth, about war and death, futility and hope, about making the wrong decisions, and learning.
Yes, I’m still talking about the comic book.
If Kurosowa made a Transformers Movie, this would be it.
Roche and Roberts have created a work that is nothing short of genius. More than once, I have had my distaste for the lesser elements of Transformers fiction challenged by the ludicrous question, “Well, what do you want from the Transformers? Shakespeare?” Of course not, that’s silly.
I want Nick Roche and James Roberts. I want the Wreckers.
|Date||May 18th 2010|
|Score||(10 out of 10)|