Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bish's Review: Marvel UK #76 "In The National Interest" Part 3

Bish asked me to post this for him, but make no mistake, this is his review. All I did was pick out some images to share. HERE'S BISH:

“In The National Interest” Part 3 was, naturally, written by Simon Furman, drawn by Will Simpson, inked by Tim Perkins, lettered by Anne Halfacree, coloured by Gina Hart and edited by Ian Rimmer. Andrew Leary is credited as “Art Assistant” which probably means he did some touch-up work. Perhaps Simpson was especially busy that week.

David Hine provided the cover. It’s not a bad effort, depicting Swoop straining to lift the camera-crew’s van skywards as we, the viewer, take aim at him through the crosshairs of a rifle scope. The caption reads “Swoop up up... and BLOWN AWAY?!” and it’s all quite dramatic. I am not very fond of having so much black space on the cover, but of course this is necessary to keep the crosshairs theme going. Pleasingly, this cover is very much in the spirit of all those comic covers that misled you as a kid. Remember the ones? You’d have Batman holding a gun to Superman’s head or something and you’d be assured that a hero would definitely DIE this issue. You’d then turn the page and find out they were just rehearsing a play, or playing a birthday prank or something. In Swoop’s case the rifle is only going to hit him with a simple, harmless, tracking bug. At least they had the decency to put a question mark in the caption.

Swoop wakes up lying in a pile of bricks with a pounding headache. He goes through the classic “must have been a heckuva party” internal monologue which gets us up to speed on the events of last issue while giving us some idea of the mixed up state he’s in. Oddly he does most of this narration with red caption boxes. I have no idea why, and it is something of an eyesore. Swoop’s perception comes roaring back to the present day with the revelation that “That was no dream!” and we pull back to see that Megatron and Centurion are still locked in combat.

Megatron is not doing all that well, and decides to transform in order to let Mixmaster use the superior firepower of his gun mode. Centurion goes down and Megatron, returning to robot mode, starts piling on the punches. Although I dislike this depiction of the Decepticon leader for aesthetic reasons I do appreciate the way Simpson gives us a look at Megatron’s naked rage here as he pounds Centurion’s head unit over and over again, before punching him (implausibly) clean through a building.

With Megatron distracted Swoop is able to grab the humans’ van and take to the sky, narrowly avoiding Megatron’s grasping hands (why he doesn’t use his fusion cannon is anyone’s guess). Unknown to the Dinobot, the Triple-I agent on the scene manages to shoot him with a tracking bug, even as Swoop expresses his relief that no-one will be able to follow him.

Meanwhile, back at the Triple-I laboratory, Professor Morris has managed to go rogue while still being contained within a single room. Grady, the agent looking after him, let slip that the room was impregnable and contained enough food and water for a year. Morris is determined now. In Centurion he has been given the weapon he needs to wipe the slate clean and rectify his mistakes (like forgetting to plead guilty to murder perhaps, eh Professor?). This naturally annoys Walter Barnett, who is already concerned that Centurion’s rampage in Portland might draw attention to Triple-I and that they will face prison sentences if The President finds out. It’s interesting to speculate just how independent Triple-I is. Clearly they have some kind of governmental remit and are separate from the CIA or the NSA but exactly how much of what they have been doing in this story has been properly sanctioned is unknown. The picture becomes a bit less bleak when you realise that Barnett is acting without presidential authority. On the other hand, the fact that the government would set up a group like Triple-I and promote a man like Barnett is probably damning enough. Is it more or less cynical to suggest that the president does not know about all the nasty little black projects that go on under his nose? I am undecided.

The Dinobots are convulsed with laughter. Swoop has delivered the humans safely, but is stuck mid-way between robot and pterodactyl mode. Grimlock and Joy Meadows prepare for the interview while Sludge just stares at her adoringly. Slag reports that it was the homing beacon stuck to Swoop that was causing his transformation problems. He destroys it, but too late, the Decepticons have already arrived! They stride out of the sea like conquerors and don’t even fire at the Dinobots. This fight is going to be up close!

Joy instructs her team to hide their footage as the Dinobots prepare to go to battle. There is a very nice panel of Grimlock holding his sword up to his face in a kind of salute - a very dramatic pose and then the Decepticons charge, and again, although I do not like this depiction of Megatron, I do like the final image of this story, as he comes surging out of the sea, smoke and flame pouring from his fusion cannon and a phalanx of Decepticons backing him up.

I am really enjoying this story. The Dinobots are always fun characters and Furman writes them well. He always endeavours to make the recap pages a little less jarring than they sometimes are, and I enjoy the approach of “Swoop with a hangover”, mostly because I can imagine Swoop with a hangover. He also gives Professor Morris his time to shine. Just when it appeared that being in control of Centurion had overwhelmed him and brought his addiction back with a vengeance, he fights back, letting the humans get away and battling Megatron before sealing himself in and dedicating himself to the destruction of Triple-I. Of course, this is very much a phyrric victory, as much as it is a moment to cheer. Morris is not only sacrificing his freedom for revenge and justice, he is also, probably, sacrificing his sense of self. Only being in control of Swoop for a little while sent him towards madness and he has only just managed to maintain his sanity when faced with Centurion. It seems unlikely that much of Professor Morris will remain after a year in control of his robotic avatar.

I am growing used to Will Simpson, even if I still cannot say that I am a fan, and in my synopsis I highlighted some of his more inspired panels. I will say without reservation that the massive throwdown between Centurion and Megatron is the highlight of the issue and this is much more down to Simpson’s work than Furman’s as Centurion does not speak at all and Megatron says very little. The colouring is up to the usual UK standard. I am pleased to say that the rushed colour job of Issue 60 has not yet been repeated. The UK book retains its usually elegant brushwork.

A solid third part in what has become one of my favourite Transformers stories. Check it out at, it's available from IDW as part of  Transformers: Best of the UK - Dinobots  collection.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read this issue in the Titan reprints and was pleasantly surprised to see Megatron transform and a Decepticon held him. Was this issue the only instance of this occurring in the comic?