IDW Publishing "Ironhide" Chapter Three: Any Old Iron
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: August, 2010
Written by: Mike Costa
Art by: Casey Coller
Colors by: Joana Lafuente
Letters by: Neil Uyetake
Edits by: Andy Schmidt
Assistant Editor: Carlos Guzman
Ironhide is fighting a desperate battle across Cybertron. As hordes of Insecticons chase him, he tackles them with firepower and sometimes hand to hand combat. He takes out several with an overloaded battery pack, but more appear. He finds an old shuttle that he uses to blast even more into scrap, until they overwhelm the ship, eating away at its exterior. Even when he makes the ship self destruct, more Insecticons remain. Eventually he whittles their number down to about two hundred or so and Alpha Trion tells him to lead them back to Metroplex.
When Ironhide arrives, Metroplex transforms into his gigantic robot mode and smashes the Insecticon horde with one strike of his hand, shocking Ironhide. When Ironhide asks what Metroplex is exactly, Trion tells him that he is his personal guardian. Ironhide wonders why they didn't just use Metroplex to begin with, but Alpha Trion explains there was no way to destroy them all before they would eat away at Metroplex's vital systems. When Ironhide suggests Alpha Trion could have fought them, Trion acts as if such an assertion is absolutely absurd. He then reveals that he has (for the most part) repaired Sunstreaker. His legs do not work yet, but he intends to keep working on him.
Wen Ironhide questions the next steps, Alpha Trion explains that he and the others are leaving. He gives Ironhide a power cell that can theoretically last forever. He also explains there are still hundreds of Insecticons that need to be hunted down, ones that separated from the main swarm. He alludes to more work being needed, and that his role on Cybertron is over, having spent time scrubbing the atmosphere of excess energy. Ironhide persists with questions but
Alpha Trion acts dismissive until Ironhide finally decks him!
This stops Trion from his ramblings for a bit, and finally he explains that Ironhide's part in a larger plan is to clean up Cybertron. He has a larger task elsewhere. He gives Ironhide credit for saving Cybertron, claiming he is the only other Cybertronian who can say the same. When he is about to leave, Sunstreaker refuses, choosing to stay instead. Respecting his choice, Trion, Scamper and Metroplex leave for parts unknown.
On Cybertron, Sunstreaker wants to tell Ironhide what has happened to him and what he's done, but Ironhide asks to be left alone for a little while and he walks away to think among a ruined city and a pile of scrapped Insecticons.
Wow. Talk about a let down. I've really been a fan of this series since the first issue, and I've enjoyed each issue thoroughly as its gone along. Unfortunately, while this issue kicks off with a bang, it ends on a very weak whimper. I really enjoyed seeing Ironhide kick Insecticon butt, and his ability to improvise is awesome. It really shows us why Ironhide is considered one of the toughest Autobots out there and I felt he shined very brightly in this issue. The climax of the battle was wonderfully done, showing us once and for all that Trion's city is indeed Metroplex.
Where things go downhill is Ironhide's last conversation with Alpha Trion. There's a fine line between making a character funny and eccentric and just making him an ass, and in this issue Trion crosses that line with gusto. Is he a genius? Sure. Is his master plan most likely going to save Cybertron? Absolutely. However, he's so busy insulting our hero (you know, the guy the mini-series is named after) and being cryptic that you have zero investment in his mission because we the reader have no understanding of the criticality of that mission. In this respect, Ironhide was acting as the voice of the reader, asking many of the questions we had going through our heads, but ultimately getting only frustration in return. Imagine if Trion had just said something like "Ironhide, your role is small but it is vitally important. I need you here to fight this fight because you are the only one who can do it. My mission must continue elsewhere..." See? That tells us that Trion respects Ironhide, that Ironhide's role is critical and that Trion has an important mission elsewhere. As it stands, we have to infer a lot of that while dealing with Trion insulting Ironhide. As of right now, if we found out that Alpha Trion was destroyed a month later, I'd have little care because I would have no idea what he was up to after this issue.
And there's a couple of logic holes I've had issues with. One is a minor one since it can be explained away, but it really surprises me that Trion can fix up Sunstreaker to the level he did and not fix his legs. I mean, he built Ironhide a completely new body, and I'm sure Metroplex has amazing medical facilities. This one was a stretch for me, but I can imagine maybe he just needed more time or something.
The bigger logic hole involves the very mission Ironhide is being asked to fulfill. So Trion leaves him a battery, okay. that's great. How about some more weapons? How about material to build a shelter including tools? What about tactical maps of where these left over Insecticons may be? Don't tell me Metroplex can fly through space but doesn't have any advanced sensors built into his systems to map a planet. Leaving Ironhide with a generator and nothing else but a hoverchair bound Autobot seems purely idiotic makes no sense to me whatsoever.
While the story may have left me underwhelmed, the art in this issue is absolutely brilliant. We get a ton of action in this issue, so the type of art goes from a lot of close up, character reactions to wider scale action set pieces. I really loved the use of overwhelming looking hordes of Insecticons dominating several panels, drawing emphasis to just how outnumbered Ironhide was. I also really dug the use of the Autobot shuttle model we have seen in many previous stories, originating in Generation One's "Transformers: The Movie" theatrical film. Of course, among the most striking panels in this book were those featuring Metroplex smashing the Insecticons and changing into his battle mode. It is quite a sight to behold and not one we get to see very often. Everything I said previously about the art team stands here, and I was happy to see the quality of the art continue to the very end.
I'm sure we'll see Ironhide again, and I'm sure this will eventually tie back to something bigger down the road. I'm also sure we'll find out Ironhide scrounged up weapons and found a way to perform his duty. However, as a last issue of a mini-series this was beyond unsatisfying.