With the Transformers ongoing about to begin, I thought it'd be a good idea to reread and review some of IDW's earlier efforts. My hope is that where Continuum fell short (and I can't really speak to this because I didn't pick it up), this thread will give newcomers a starting place, and will be a refresher for veterans. I invite everyone to add their opinions as well. For the most part I'll be reviewing TPBs, but in some cases they will be individual issues. So without futher delay, I present my thoughts on Megatron Origin. Megatron Origin, written by Eric Holmes, art by Alex Milne and Marcelo Matere, colors by Josh Perez The story begins with Autobot Senator Decimus traveling to a mining outpost to lay off workers. Among the distressed energon miners is Megatron. None of them take the news well, as "automation" leaves them without a job. One worker in particular speaks up, claiming that the senate would take and take until they're made to stop. He is silenced by a guard, and upon seeing his fallen brother Megatron leaps to action, attacking the senator. Hell breaks loose as Megatron kills one of the guards (he seems horrified at his actions), and the rebellion is eventually quelled. The miners are rounded up and placed on a ship to be taken to a prison. Megs befriends two miners (Rumble and Frenzy) who urge him to take action. The take the ship and escape to Kaon, "The worst place on Cybertron." A few thoughts-- in this world pre great war, it seems Autobots rule Cybertron. In other continuities, Autobots and Decepticons coexisted, like 2 sides of a coin, one opposed to the other. The lack of a clear "bad guy" allows for some shades of gray among the Autobots. The guards used excessive force in suppressing the miners, and it was clear they didn't care for the workers. I think the story loses sight of the sense of class struggle as it progresses, but the reader gets a strong sense of it in the opening issue of Origin. Chapter 2 opens with Megs fighting in a gladiatorial battle. Upon defeating his opponent (a Go-bot), he is forced to kill again, and seems remorseful. Constantly winning, he moves up through the ranks, gaining the admiration of the crowd and other bots. Elsewhere, tales of his victories catch the attention of corrupt senator Ratbat, as well as the authorities led by Prowl and Sentinel Prime. Prime vows to bring Megs down and sends Bumber and Fastback to investigate. They spy the site where Megs and crew are building the next gladiator arena. Soundwave shows up (out of the blue) to offer Megs new weapons to use in his battles. At this point, Bumper and Fastback are discovered, captured, and eliminated. Thoughts: so Megs becomes a fighter and a leader in the ring. There are notable appearances by a number of Autobots (Prowl, Prime, Hound, Whirl, one of the Aerialbots), the Constructicons, and Soundwave + minions. Also, by the end of this chapter, Megs can kill without remorse. Chapter 3 moves fast, and begins with Soundwave bringing Megatron 3 flight combatants-- none other than Starscream, Skywarp, and Thundercracker! They pledge allegiance to him, and he tells them he's got something in store for them. Flash to the Autobots-- a funeral is held for Fastback and Bumper. In attendance are Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Ironhide (resembling his toy figure), Wheeljack, Prowl, Alpha Trion, Elita One, and Optimus/Orion (resembling the Optimus later found in Spotlight Blurr). Flash to a Decimus tribute unveiling-- Starscream and the Seekers attack, wreaking havoc and kidnapping the senator. Flash to a secret location where Megs is recruiting bots to join him. In the crowd are a number of soon-to-be Decepticons, along with Autobots Sunstreaker, Sideswipe, and Grimlock. Flash to Megs stating Rumble and Frenzy have been modified for a reason... "so Soundwave it is!" one of them states. Megatron addresses the crowd, saying they must band together to fight. They must wear a badge that never comes off, that the new arena would be the entire face of the planet, and that the new badge they wear would unite them against the Autobot bureaucracy. Boom!! Prowl and crew break in and arrest them all. Back at Autobot HQ in Kaon, Soundwave is released b/c of a senate directive. In a cell, Starscream urges Megatron to say something to the imprisoned Decepticons, but he can think of nothing. Starscream then tells the guard he's got something very important to tell the senate, something that "guarantees their future and mine." He is removed from the cell, and the implication is that he is betraying Megatron. Thoughts: This was the fastest paced chapter thus far. The most interesting thing to me was that a few Autobots were considering joining Megatron's cause. It wouldn't be the last time Sunstreaker sided with the Decepticons ;-) Chapter 4 starts with Starscream facing the senate. "Through your own interests you created this. You brought us here. You didn't just make it possible-- you made it happen. All we did was give it a badge." With that he blasts at the senate (you'd think they would've disarmed him first) and releases everyone in the cells. Megs and crew arm themselves-- with Starscream giving Megatron his fusion cannon (if only he knew he'd be blasted with it more times than any Autobot)-- and they head out to attack the city. A battle ensures with Sentinel Prime rolling out to get his Apex armor. Flash to a meeting between Soundwave and Ratbat. Ratbat reveals that he set in motion the mining automation to capitalize on the chaos and instability to advance his own self interest. "Instability is just a different word for opportunity," he tells Soundwave. Soundwave then blasts him, placing his spark into a cassette. Flash back to the front line, and Prime is suited up and doing some heavy damage. An epic battle ensues between Prime and Megs, but eventually Megatron gains the upper hand and kills Sentinel (or at least badly damaging him-- it's not 100% clear, but he looks pretty banged up). Prowl orders a retreat from Kaon. Flash to Megatron and Soundwave looking over Kaon at sunrise. Soundwave says they've got an army willing to fight and a city under his command, what's next? Megatron, sitting on a throne, responds "I've got a few ideas." Thoughts on book as a whole... I thoroughly enjoyed this miniseries. Unlike the -ation series or AHM, it is self-contained, and is a glimpse at Megatron and Cybertron before the Great War. Eric Holmes tells a believable story of Megatron, while creating some serious cannon for future writers to refer to. As I mentioned above, in past continuities Autobots and Decepticons emerged simultaneously. In Holmes's story, the 'cons emerge to initiate social change in an Autobot regime. It's certainly an interesting twist to have the status quo be Autobot control of the planet. I wish Holmes touched upon the class issues a bit more-- he jumped from Megatron the miner to Megatron the gladiator a bit quickly for my tastes, and the story might've been stronger if he had picked one. I understand the G1 reference of making the 'cons military gladiators, but is that enough to cause a rebellion? If they don't like fighting, just walk away. To me, the mining cause-- the fight against the denial of sufficient jobs/care to workers-- would've been a stronger story. Were all the gladiators previously miners? What beef did the gladiators have against the regime? It's a little unclear, but certainly not so major to detract from the general story. I really liked the character arc of Megatron in this book. He's horrified at his first murder, and not terribly happy killing the GoBot. However the constant killing hardened him and made him a warrior, a murderer. It'd be interesting to read a Megatron Origins 2 which chronicled his transformation into a military strategist. I loved the brief cameos by some of the well-known bots, as well as obscure ones like Whirl. Holmes is able to set up what Cybertron was like before war, and had free reign to pick and choose any G1 character to include in the book-- nice to see the ordinary and obscure. Gotta say, I wasn't really feeling Sentinel Prime. It's probably what Holmes was going for, and I can't say I disagree with the decision, but Sentinel was pretty stiff and bland. I guess Prowl had to get it from somewhere... Glad to see Holmes play with our expectations regarding Starscream confronting the senate. As he leaves the cell you expect him to betray Megs a la any other incarnation of Starscream, but he doesn't. Maybe it was all part of the plan, maybe not, but it was good to see things pan out differently. All in all I have very few complaints about this book. With a setting before the Great War, Holmes is given free reign to tell the story he wants with few restrictions. While the book to me is more plot driven than character driven, Megatron the character is superbly done. The art, while confusing at times, rightfully captures the grittiness of it all. It's dark, it's brooding, it's Megatron. Probably the darkest part of the whole book--one that sent shivers down my spine-- was the audience chanting "Til All Are One" and urging Megatron to kill the GoBot in the arena. This is easily one of the darkest books IDW Transformers has to offer, and certainly one worth picking up.