IDW Publishing "Autocracy" #3 Comic Book Review
Title: The Hunt for Soundwave
Cover Price: $.99 (Digital Exclusive)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: February 15, 2012
Story by: Chris Metzen & Flint Dille
Art by: Livio Ramondelli
Letters by: Robbie Robbins
Editor: John Barber & Carlos Guzman
Orion has assembled a team to bring in Soundwave. Prowl, Ironhide, Bumblebee, Hound and Silverbolt all roll out to chase down Soundwave, who is heading to the Kaon territory that borders Iacon. They manage to find him quickly and the chase is on!
One after another, Soundwave uses his cassette force to take down the Autobots. First Ravage knocks out Bumblebee and Hound (but gets knocked out himself). Rumble causes major damage that blocks off Ironhide and Prowl before Ratbat takes down Silverbolt. He then uses Frenzy to whip local citizens into a craze to hold back Orion.
Thinking he's escaped once he reaches the Kaon border, Soundwave quickly gets a lesson in pain as he is taken down by Orion. The other Autobots catch up, but before they can take Soundwave away Skywarp and other Seekers arrive, weapons drawn. He tells Orion that his boss wants to meet with him but Orion isn't convinced - until the Seeker threatens to destroy Bumblebee if he doesn't cooperate. He leaves the decision to Orion...
After two issues that featured some very heavy themes and allegories to our modern day wars, this issue takes a very different turn and becomes more of a classic Transformers "battling and brawling" story where the focus of the tale is the manhunt for Soundwave. I've felt that Soundwave really hasn't done a whole heck of a lot in the primary titles in recent years so seeing him get the spotlight in this issue was a joy. I really loved the way he used his cassette force at every turn to his advantage while showing a rather dispassionate regard for their safety. I think it's easy to dismiss any of the cassette Transformers as weak thanks to their small size, but it was fantastic to see how each and everyone of them managed to use their powers or form in a way that took down Autobots bigger (and more powerful) than they were.
I also have to give a big thumbs up to Dille's G1 cartoon influence in this issue. Every line Soundwave said sounded in my mind like it came right from the G1 television show. Telling each cassette Decepticon what "operation" they were performing brought a smile to my face and his calculation of probabilities was also very reminscent of the "dispassionate G1 Soundwave" I grew up knowing. Also kudos to the writers for showing Soundwave could hold his own against Orion (at least for a little while). Soundwave has always been touted as one of the more powerful Decepticons, both physically and mentally and seeing that in action was a treat!
I found the ending rather interesting in light of the recent fiction both in the "Transformers Prime" universe and the universe created for the live aciton Movies. In both cases, Orion is shown as a character that once may have stood side by side with Megatron, but would eventually becom ehis greatest obstacle to his goals. This bond was only hinted at in the G1 cartoon, where a young Orion Pax admired Megatron instead of being his enemy. I have this nagging suspicion that in the next issue Orion is going to get a rude awakening about Zeta's plans. I'm really curious where this particular story will turn to now!
Ramondelli gets to play with a lot more action in this issue, whereas the last issue primarily had Transformers kind of just standing around. The scenes involving the cassette guys ejecting and attacking were brilliant and I really love his updated design for Frenzy's sonic emitters. It echoes the movie universe school of design while looking unique to the character at the same time. The sequence where Ratbat takes down Silverbolt is fierce and when Ramondelli draws a damaged Transformer, he doesn't hold back! The shape Bumblebee and Hound were in towards the beginning of the issue made me doubt we'd even see them later on!
I also found Ramondelli's reinterpretation of the Seekers before they came to Earth interesting. The way their wings are shaped are rather demon-like but also echo the future design of the Sweeps seen in "Chaos". That connection is most interesting as it feels like there's a design lineage between the Seekers and the Sweeps. Excellent work on the art front.
This issue of "Autocracy" is quite different from its predecessors (more action, less politics) and gives tons of nods for G1 fans to appreciate. The artwork is bold and frenetic all at the same time. This is a good change of pace form previous issues that still helps to further the story along and I enjoyed it a lot!