By Spencer Ellsworth
Dark Cybertron has been disappointing thus far, following the trend of many an overblown crossover. Drawn mostly by fill-ins and relying on rehashed plot lines, the event shows at least one bit of promise: the forthcoming series teases, for the event named "Dawn of the Autobots." The teaser photos and promos created a good bit of speculation among us Transfans.
Let's head down to Swerve's place and put our shanix, standard Cybertronian currency, on the future. Betting areas include the potential repair bill, and, of course, the possibility of grandstanding speeches.
Tickle my axles! Megatron, that archetypal arch-villain, will be joining the crew of The Lost Light, in James Roberts' stellar series More Than Meets The Eye. MTMTE has been the stand-out Transformers series of the last few years. It started with a simple quest: find the mythical Knights of Cybertron. The journey has proven to be just as enticing as the destination. Exploring robo-therapy, heist tales, apartheid, PTSD, and plain old space battles, Roberts knows how to provoke thought in the sci-fi tradition. Now if only Alex Milne would get back to his extraordinary artwork on MTMTE. Fair prediction: we are in store for the best Megatron stories in years.
Repair bill: Expect lots of dents and spilled energy as Megatron "ingratiates" himself to the crew. Parts ≈ 10k shanix, Labor ≈ 5k, with some free drinks at Swerve's thrown in.
Grandstanding Monologues: Can Megatron's evil monologues outdo the heroically tiresome speeches from Rodimus Prime? 50 shanix on Megatron—sorry, Rodimus, but evil is more eloquent.
The most controversial of the new series will no doubt be Windblade, which brings that tricky subject of robo-gender to the Transformers. Transfans are violently split over this one, between those who maintain a sexless reading of the Robots in Disguise, and those who maintain that the cast of the series has always defaulted to male, and it's time to redress the balance.
This isn't a matter of some TFs having pistons and some having cylinders. (Or sprockets/chains. Hm. Imagine the possibilities.) TFs are sexless and have always reproduced through welding, wiring and elbow grease, but recent stories like Spotlight: Arcee have introduced the idea of gender. If you want to lose a good two days of your life, you can read up on both sides' arguments on IDW's forums. Take your side on one weird feminism debate.
Personally, I have faith in this one. Writer Maighread Scott has done well with the Prime series and knows her giant robots, skirts or shorts.
Repair: Parts ≈ 3k shanix as Windblade proves herself, puts the Decepticons in their place, and fixes those silly heels. Labor ≈ Well, if the TFs are really going to go gendered, what kind of, ahem, "work" are we talking about? Things get too steamy, you'll have to buff out the stains for 60 shanix more.
Grandstanding Monologues: Hopefully Ms. Blade will be a woman of action first, but we all have a little seventh-season Buffy in us. 50 shanix says at least one multi-panel inspiration.
Optimus Prime retired in 2012, reverting to his previous identity of Orion Pax. It looks like Robots in Disguise will bring him back to Earth. Once again, fans are split. We all love Optimus, but Robots In Disguise has been an up-and-down series, ranging from brilliant to confusingly bad, and TF fans were generally enjoying the lack of Earth and lack of puny humans in recent stories, after Mike Costa's disappointing Earth-centric run in 2009-2011.
This series, right now, is the most likely to disappoint. But I have faith that writer John Barber can turn things around and pile on power plays and plot reversals. Issue #2 of Robots in Disguise is still one of the best single TF issues in history, given its backdoor politics, secret murders and role reversal for Starscream.
Repair: Parts and labor both at a minimum, as Barber's characters tend to scheme, not shatter. But expect a little wear and tear as the Cybertronians are distinctly unwelcomed on earth. ≈ 2k shanix, and another 1k for new upholstery as Orion Pax upgrades back to Prime.
Finally, a special mention for ReGeneration One, the resurrection of the old 80's Marvel comics (think X-Men Forever). This comes to a halt in March with issue #100, and it's been a nostalgic fun ride. So many plotlines are crashing together that fans have begun hoping for a ReGeneration Two to keep the fun going.
Repair: This epic battle marks the possible end of Simon Furman's run on the TFs. Expect a slew of explodey deaths. Call the Universal Bank for a parts and repair bill that leaves Cybertron in crippling debt!
Grandstanding Monologues: As many as you can handle, 80's style, including the power-mad frothing of Galvatron.
As the Autobots say (Megatron might want to practice), may your luster never dull, and your wires never cross. Unless you're into that sort of thing. Not judging—pistons or sprockets, we're all just metal.