When it comes to comics, there will always be certain creative teams and writers who define a title; Grant Morrison’s Batman, Matt Fraction/Salvador Larroca on Iron Man and Geoff Johns/Ivan Reis on Green Lantern. Each defined their respective titles and often revitalised them for new readers. For Transformers, the go-to writer was Simon Furman for a long time. Until the Last Stand of the Wreckers.
Last Stand of The Wreckers is a 5-issue miniseries released by IDW and helmed by British-born James Roberts and Irish-born Nick Roche released in 2010. Roche had written and drawn for IDW in the past and brought Roberts in to help on a coda story before they were both assigned to this series. Re-assembling the Wreckers (a black-ops Autobot team) in the wake of the All Hail Megatron maxiseries, the series follows the team as they attempt to retake Garrus-9, a prison facility that has fallen into Decepticon hands and, most worryingly of all, into the hands of renowned sadist, Overlord. To quote the ‘Wreckers: Declassified’ entry for this event, this is:
“The story of ten soldiers and a stowaway who rode into the valley of death. Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them. Volley’d and thunder’d. It’s a story of sacrifice and betrayal, and of good people dying in stupid, pointless ways.”
And that sums up the series. In fact, it’s pretty much the central theme. Lies run rampant throughout; whether from the Wreckers’ superiors or the Wreckers themselves. Every character is flawed and broken, but, at the same time, put on a façade to convince the world that they’re not but ultimately transcend their problems in the face of the ultimate enemy. It’s really funny that most of the people I’ve shown the series to dismiss it outright because of it’s art-style and while Roche’s style might seem cartoony, that doesn’t detract from the horror and visceral nature of the book. If anything, it makes it all the more horrifying as the bright visuals contrast against the dark tone of the series. That’s not to say there aren’t lighter moments and our writer/artist duo does their best to inject some humour into bad situations, something that will be more prevalent in James Roberts’ future writing, whether as a guest writer or helming an ongoing series.
The themes of betrayal, sacrifice and hero worship run deep within all the characters and it’s the characters that really bring this book to life. The cast list runs into the dozens but I’ll focus on a few of the major players and do cliff-notes of some of the others. First up:
Ironfist is the fan boy proxy. He’s utterly devoted to the Wreckers and their numerous adventures, to the point where he takes on the moniker of ‘Fisitron’ to write Wreckers: Declassified, an abridged recounting of the Wreckers adventures, culled from mission reports and other sources. He is the series’ most tragic character and with good reason.
Overlord is the series primary antagonist; a Phase-Sixer, a Decepticon known for being immensely powerful and incredibly sadistic. Equal parts Caligula and walking nuclear warhead, He would be part of Megatron’s “final solution” except for one thing. Overlord defected and has spent every waking moment since trying to goad Megatron into action, taking Garrus-9 being just the latest in a long line of “whimsical displays” Overlord has taken advantage of. Shockwave put it best:
“You think you’re enjoying this, but you’re not. … The open graves. The torture chambers. All just hollow theatrics. This is an exercise in provocation. This is you trying to get Megatron’s attention.” He’s an endearing villain and the perfect enemy to fight a rag-tag bunch of suicidal Autobots.
Rotorstorm, Pyro and Guzzle round out the newbie Wreckers, all on their first mission with Ironfist. These four (along with Overlord and a bunch of Decepticon Predators) are plucked from the depths of obscurity and given their first real depiction in Transformers media. Each have their own reasons for being on the team and each get their moment to shine, for good or ill. Rotorstorm is a hot-head narcissistic aerialist with a dark past and a penchant for chiding himself in private. Pyro is a sufferer of Primus apotheosis; an acute form of hero-worship bordering on the obsessive, and Guzzle is on a mission for revenge but never really gets it, which is one of the weaker points of the book.
The rest of the Wreckers consist of veterans Springer, Kup, Perceptor, Twin Twist, Topspin and stowaway Verity (A holdover human character from IDW’s previous Transformers series)
The series is available in trade paperback and hardcover. The TPB includes an 11-page prose story written by James Roberts that expands on the characters backgrounds and their motivations, a one page strip called Dead Man’s Boots, profiles of Overlord and Snare, behind the scenes facts and more all done off the creator’s own backs.
But the hardcover blows that out of the water with 46 extra pages of content, including all the profiles omitted from single issues that were omitted from the trade plus more, series covers, script extracts, guest artwork, a page on Squadron X, a 2-page segment called “Escape”, 2 pages of promotional artwork, 2 pages of Pin-Ups, a first draft, the 5-page “Zero Point” and “In Word and Deed”.
If you choose to pick up the series, you can’t go wrong with either option.
I cannot express my love for this miniseries enough. It brought together toy-only characters who hadn’t been seen in decades and finally gave them voices. If All Hail Megatron could be equated to a summer blockbuster then Wreckers would be the cult favourite and it has very much earned that status. It’s a fantastic story with an incredibly engaging story and lovable characters. It’s no wonder this series has been heralded by many critics as “The Transformers’ answer to Watchmen”. But come back next time when I’ll be reviewing the first volume of a series that’s so much More Than Meets The Eye!
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Filed under: Articles, Jack of All Trades · Tags: article, comics, idw, ironfist, jack of all trades, james roberts, last stand of the wreckers, miniseries, nick roche, overlord, review, trade paperback, transformers