IDW Publishing Spotlight #14 Grimlock Review
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publication Date: April 23, 2008
Written by: Simon Furman
Art by: Marcelo Matere
Colors by: Zac Atkinson, Liam Shalloo and Andrew Elder
Letters by: Amauri Osorio
Edits by: Andrew Steven Harris
In Carson City, Nevada, a non-descript warehouse is hiding a desperate project. Using technology from project Skywatch, a team led by Doctor Weston is preparing to reactivate a Transformer long-lost: Grimlock! They believe a series of neuro inhibitors they've placed will allow them to control the creature whom they've dubbed "Thunder Lizard 1". Times are desperate with the Transformers war escalating on Earth, and the government wants results now!
The humans "jump" Grimlock into consciousness, and he flashbacks to Optimus Prime yelling at him and him convincing the Dynobots to tackle Shockwave with him outside of Optimus' orders. He recalls the battle that led to them all being buried in lava, an end result that was largely of his own making. As he awakens, he tears out of the warehouse, transforming to beast mode and running away as fast as he can. He is confused, but not so much that he doesn't remember he has a chip that will send him back to his ship, the Skyfire if necessary. He knows the ship is most likely a wreckage at this point, but it is the one small tether he has to his old existence as he suddenly realizes he is alone.
Elsewhere, a group other than Skywatch knows of Grimlock's resurrection: The Machination! Dante, the leader of this organization has binary bonded to the Decepticon known as Scorponok, and he goes to intercept Grimlock. When the two meet, Scorponok makes him an offer to join the Machination to help blunt Megatron's plans as he makes his own arrangements to conquer Earth. He explains that the Dynobots are gone and that Grimlock himself has been branded a fugitive on Ultra Magnus' list. Grimlock isn't convinced however, and he lashes out at the large Decepticon.
The ensuing battle is fierce, and Grimlock holds his own well. However, Scorponok's new body and binary bonding give him a strength and speed beyond what Grimlock can handle. Worse, Grimlock's weapon systems are not functioning and soon, he beats a hasty retreat back to the wreckage of the Skyfire. Inside, he comes to a decision. He is going to find the Dynobots, make peace with them however he can and then destroy Scorponok's organization!
Back at Dante's base, he receives a report that the other Dynobots are going to be used by Skywatch and he laughs as he explains that once activated, it will be he who controls them, and he will use them to destroy Grimlock!
- When Dante's agent, Kloss goes through a door, the sign says "Control Room" but the artist's note to "Use better font" is still there.
- When Grimlock is contemplating what to do, the word "Strength" is misspelled.
- Despite mentioning his voice processor may be damaged, he speaks quite eloquently as he battles Scorponok.
- Once Grimlock reject Scorponok's offer, his text is incorrectly attributed to Scorponok.
- As Scorponok grabs Grimlock, Scorponok's text is cut off on the right side of the page.
About two years after the original "Spotlight" featuring Shockwave, we see what happened to the Dynobots after their titanic struggle with the Decepticon Shockwave. Grimlock's fate seems dire in the first couple pages. While seeing him controlled by humans may make for a neat Diaclone reference, it really isn't that great for the Dynobot commander as a character. The thrill of seeing him break away from Skywatch is fantastic, but then we see how utterly alone he is, and I really loved the way this story played on that theme. Like Spotlight Sixshot, Grimlock is offered a choice to change his life forever, but in my mind there was never a question as to what his choice would be. While he is rebellious, independent minded and stubborn, ultimately Grimlock is an Autobot and his hate of the Decepticons generally outweighs most other considerations. His decision to fight Scorponok instead of accepting his offer perfectly matches the Grimlock we met in Spotlight Shockwave. Ultimately, Grimlock does not compromise his own principles and he proves it again here.
The other aspect of Grimlock that is explored here is the feeling of guilt he has over having betrayed the very squad which has always been unerringly loyal to him by initiating his "back up plan" in Spotlight Shockwave. While it provided a victory of sorts to the Dynobots, it was a shocking action since he never told the other Dynobots about it. Scorponok's plan to use the recovered Dynobots against Grimlock is an ironic yet appropriate choice. This will play itself out in the recent "Maximum Dinobots" mini-series. I was glad to see that Grimlock did feel guilt at all. The IDW universe has changed some character personalities from what we're used to seeing traditionally, but Grimlock's personality seems firmly intact as a stubborn warrior who is ultimately loyal to his Dynobots and the Autobots.
Scorponok's plans interest me a lot. I like the idea of having one Decepticon on Earth working an angle that may run contrary to Megatron's plans. I also like the way he's going about it, manipulating and using humans directly instead of simply conquering them through brute force. In a very dark way, it is funny to see humans working for Dante not even aware of the threat to humanity that is right in front of their eyes.
Marcelo Matere is a name most Transformers fans may have heard before. He has worked on the Transformers line for years, serving as Hasbro's primary illustrator. If you own any "Universe 2.0" figures, you've seen his art. More recently, he provided artwork for IDW's "Animated" comic book and drew the artwork for the 25th Anniversary reissue of Optimus Prime. I've always considered Matere an awesome talent, not just because he can draw Transformers, but because he has shown an incredible ability to adapt his style to suit the needs of the project. Going from drawing Hasbro packaging to drawing something as hyper stylized as "Animated" is no small feat for any artist.
Matere's ability to adapt his style shows its strength again in this issue, which differs a lot from most artwork I've seen him do in the past. "Spotlight Grimlock" has a very rough style that suits the book. His use of a lot of overlapping lines and off center linework helps to convey action and the gravity of certain scenes. When Grimlock storms out of the Skywatch base, he stomps his leg and creates waves that are represented not only in the ground, but on Grimlock himself, as if we are seeing him through a distorted lense. When he battles Scorponok, parts go flying everywhere and armor panels are knocked out of alignment. This rough, discordant set of visuals match us up with Grimlock's mental state, putting us the audience in the right frame of mind to follow the Dynobot leader on his somewhat confusing journey.
There is also a fantastic attention to detail in Matere's work. One of my favorite scenes is Grimlock transforming into beast mode inside the Skywatch base. When he does, humans and equipment go flying everywhere. It's a very dynamic and powerful scene that gives the eye a lot to take in. I also like the way Grimlock is portrayed in the battle with Scorponok. He is not shown as some slow, lumbering force. Instead, he can run, deflect blasts and move with a blur as you would expect a warrior of his calibur to do.
The color work on this issue is intersting. Unlike other issues, the colors here are not overly bright or bold. Instead, everything seems rather muted. This is understandable with Grimlock, who isn't exactly made up of the brightest colors in beast mode. But I was surprised that even Scorponok did not "pop" off the page despite his rather loud combination of purple, green and orange. My personal preference would have been to use a stronger set of color tones, but overall the characters were colored correctly and the palette does match that of other books set in the IDW Universe.
Simon Furman has always had a love of the Grimlock character, and it is great to see him get to do a one issue comic focusing solely on the character in a context we have never seen him in before. I love how Grimlock stays true to who and what he is even in the face of a seemingly hopeless situation. Extra kudos for providing us with what is perhaps the most articulate version of Grimlock ever shown in a single issue of a Transformers comic book. Filled with action, drama and a bit of tragedy, Spotlight Grimlock is an excellent read.