24 January 2017

Review: The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers by Nick Roche, James Roberts, et al.

Comic hardcover, 175 pages
Published 2015 (contents: 2010)
Acquired August 2016
Read September 2016
The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers

Written by Nick Roche & James Roberts
Pencils by Nick Roche & Guido Guidi
Inks by Nick Roche, John Wycough, Guido Guidi, & Andrew Griffith
Colors by Josh Burcham & Joana Lafuente
Letters by Neil Uyetake & Chris Mowry

Long before the Transformers Humble Bundle came along, I'd heard of Last Stand of the Wreckers. It was described in hushed tones, as one of the best Transformers comics of all time-- and even one of the best comics of all time, full stop. And what I knew of it indicated it would appeal to me, as it is about a group of second-string robots fighting for their lives. So when I got the IDW Transformers Humble Bundle and Last Stand of the Wreckers wasn't in it, I took a gamble and purchased it-- not just in paper, but in hardback, so confident was I that I would like it.

Mottos are tough to come up with.
from The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers #2 (script by Nick Roche & James Roberts, art by Nick Roche & John Wycough)

Thankfully I was correct. Last Stand of the Wreckers takes a group of some of the worst Autobots out there and assigns them to the Wreckers, the amoral Autobot commando team with the highest mortality rate of any Autobot unit. My favorites were Pyro and Ironfist. Pyro's toy was a "redeco" of Optimus Prime's, and so the writers turn this into a point of characterization: Pyro modified himself to look more like Optimus, and spends his time making dramatic poses and trying to come up with mottos. Ironfist is a fanboy who writes up detailed accounts of Wrecker missions under the pseudonym Fistiron... only despite that, there's something darker going on with him no one knows about. (Except for Prowl, because Prowl knows everything.) Plus Verity Carlo, the young human who befriended the Autobots in Infiltration, is there too.

And they're even harder to live up to.
from The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers #4 (script by Nick Roche & James Roberts, art by Nick Roche & Andrew Griffith)

These characters are sent into a former Autobot prison that's been conquered by a depraved, rogue Decepticon. A lot of them don't make it. I don't think it's as amazing as people say (probably because I still struggle to distinguish robot characters on sight, and this volume has more than most), but it is very good. The real heroes are the people who don't think it matters, and do the right thing anyway, even if they're not always doing the right thing for the right reason. This is definitely a book about heroes.

Real life: never as good as the book.
from The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers #3 (script by Nick Roche & James Roberts, art by Nick Roche, Guido Guidi, and John Wycough & Andrew Griffith)

It's made even better by the fifty-plus pages of backmatter, which includes multiple prose short stories adding depth and nuance to the characters. These I read over a few days after finishing the main comic, and they left me wanting to reread the book all over again with these new insights in mind. These stories show that, like the best characters, even second-stringers are more than meets the eye.

Next Week: Meanwhile, in another dimension, it's the beginning of an Infestation!

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