IDW Publishing "Defiance" #3 Review
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publication Date: March 11, 2009
Pencils by: Don Figueroa
Colors by: Josh Perez
Letters by: Chris Mowry
Edits by: Denton J. Tipton
Trypticon city is the site of breaking and entering as Prowl manages to open the door to Megatron's chambers for Optimus. Along with Jazz, the Autobots enter to find the strange artifact uncovered earlier. Optimus looks at it with curiosity, but unfortunately the battle is over and Skyblast reports that Megatron is on his way back. The Autobots beat a hasty retreat before Megatron returns. When he does, he bows to his master, awaiting his next command. From his prison, The Fallen commands Megatron to turn his ambitions of conquest onto Cybertron itself!
Far from Trypticon, Grindcore watches on as Strongarm launches a pile of refuse into orbit. From orbit, Cosmos monitors the booster separation, calling it a success. In Optimus' lab, Arcee, Elita One and Ratchet have gathered to examine fragments of an artifact similar to the one Megatron has. They manage to piece together a symbol that is an exact match for one on Optimus - the symbol that indicates the Dynasty of the Primes is real! Optimus is stunned as he considers that he may be one of the legendary Primes.
Inside Megatron's chambers, The Fallen reveals that Optimus had broken into his quarters earlier. Megatron is outraged and orders Prowl and to seek out Optimus Prime as he sends Starscream, Thundercracker, Ironhide, Brawl and others to do what they do best!
In a desolate part of Cybertron, the Autobots are gathered to discuss the discovery that Optimus is a "Prime". The area they are in is said to have a lot of artifacts and they ponder what the site once was. Before the can contemplate further, prowl appears with a squad including Bumblebee, Smokescreen, Jazz, Cliffjumper and Camshaft. They say they are there to bring him in for treason. Prime is angry, but tells Prowl to take him to see Megatron.
As the Autobots drive along the road, they fail to notice Frenzy, who radios Starscream and the Decepticons to destroy the Autobots. Optimus feels that something is wrong, but before they can do anything the attack begins! The Autobots are in a bad position, but Optimus uses Smokescreen's smoke to cause a distraction, pouncing on Starscream and knocking the Decepticon out. As the Autobots escape, he uses an explosive charge to bring the city down on top of the attack squad, stopping them cold for now.
In the city of Trypticon, Megatron calls out to his troops to fight. He reveals the symbol of the The Fallen as the new symbol of the Decepticons! However, not everyone in the crowd is happy as we see Ironhide stalk off on his own.
There's a fantastic moment in this issue where Starscream tells Optimus that Megatron has been "chosen", and in response Optimus tells him that he too has been chosen. It's one of those spectacular moments that I wish I could see animated complete with dramatic music and voice acting. In this issue, there is no more hinting, no more beating around the bush. Things come to a head and sides are chosen for better or worse, and conflict begins between the two Cybertronian factions with erm, explosive results. In that moment, the entire "Defiance" series is pretty much summed up. Both Optimus and Megatron have faced and embraced their respective destinities, and partly because of the sheer weight their names hold in Transformers history, that is a very significant moment.
Is is also interesting to see how easily megatron was swayed by The Fallen while Optimus is almost resistant to his role as "Prime". His joke about "Records Clerk" is a funny one as it is an allusion to the "War Within" series where Optimus Prime was indeed a records clerk in a previous life when he was known as Optronix! He is humble and does not quite embrace the title right away. However, once other lives are threatened and he is betrayed by the very defender of Cybertron he once worked with, we see Optimus' resolve and anger show itself.
With regards to Megatron, I honestly feel like we are seeing the character slowly go down a sad and dark path. Clearly in previous issues we saw he had ambition, but to go from the role of "protector" to "ruler" in such a violent and destructive manner definitely shows Megatron has become unhinged. He does not see how his war will destroy Cybertron rather than protect it, and that is pure tragedy.
Super popular Transformers artist Don Figueroa takes over the art duties in this issue and it's quite a treat. I think most fans are very used to seeing Figueroa's artwork with more conventional looking Transformers that having lots of blocky parts and right angles, and he manages to make them look amazingly spectacular every time. In this issue, he has to contend with the movie aesthetic which involves a lot more tubes, layers, jagged edges and fluid designs than say, robots from G1 or even Beast Wars. So it is truly to his credit that he does such an extraordinary job of keeping continuity between the other issues and this one in terms of the overall look of the characters. They all retain their key features that make them look more humanoid than robotic as well as some of their trademark bits and pieces such as Optimus' face plate and Prowl's horns.
Where Figueroa brings in his own style is the application of some sleek designs to characters where they were a bit more bulky or even bulbous in previous issues. For instance, when he draws Optimus vehicle mode, he makes it large and wide, but the outside edges flatten a bit and then extend out instead of having him just have a comet shape that the Protoform Optimus figure and the other issues used. He also has a tendency to streamline characters, with waists being thinner than other portrayals and feet being larger, creating a fluidity that enhances the look of each robot part.
I also give kudos to Figueroa for extracting some good facial expressions out of the robot designs. He manages to take even Optimus' "battle mode" face and give it a grim, serious look that contrasts heavily with his rather curious and sad look from earlier in the issue. My favorite facial expression has to be Starscream's defeated, damaged look later in the issue which is comical and harkens back to some of G1 Starscream's follies.
While there is still one more issue to go, "Defiance" #3 is truly the issue that the series builds up to. It's where we see Optimus become Prime and where Megatron fully embraces his destructive destiny. Now that the lines have been drawn in the sand, the ar can begin! "Defiance" #3 is a great read and has some awesome art to go with it. Recommended.