IDW Publishing Spotlight #10: Ramjet
Title: Transformers Spotlight: Ramjet
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publication Date: December 2007
Written by: Stuart Moore
Art by: Robby Musso
Colors by: Josh Burcham
Letters by: Chris Moway
Edits by: Chris Ryall and Andrew Steven Harris
Tearing through the skides, Skywarp jumps out of warp next to Ramjet. The two discuss his plans to eventually acquire power. Ramjet tries to convince Skywarp of his superiority, but Skywarp tells him he has one day to prove there is substance to his plans and leaves. Ramjet returns to his own base where his Mini-Constructicons are hard at work on a device. As time passes, we see Ramjet laying the seeds for his plans including having a human facsimile planted in the Pentagon and laying out listening devices inside advanced energy development facilities.
The layers of Ramjet's plan involve destroying the United States of America utilizing stolen missile codes, waiting for the humans to develop an energy source that can be converted into Energon and of course, taking over leadership of the Decepticons. As time passes we see several events pass including Megatron's defeat of Optimus Prime in battle in Brasnya. Just when he thinks his plans are about to come to fruition, he is attacked by Megatron! The Decepticon leader makes quick work of the Seeker and before long he is torn to pieces, his Spark removed from his body!
A lot of eyebrows were raised when it was announced Ramjet of all characters would get a Spotlight story. Here was a Decepticon whose claim to fame in the Transformers universe was smashing his nosecone into things. However, part of IDW's initiative with the Transformers license is to show new takes on characters we have met before. Ramjet certainly qualifies as a character who is ripe for a new treatment and coupled with his receiving a new figure in last year's Classics assortment, I think this was simply "his time" to shine.
Unlike many of the other "Spotlight" stories thus far, this one takes place on Earth and spans several events that have passed in "Infiltration" and "Escalation". I really enjoyed seeing Ramjet lay down the groundwork for his plans. You spend most of the issue really thinking that he may just be on to something. By showing Megatron in various "flashbacks" as he pushes the Decepticon agenda forward, one assumes that Megatron is so busy dealing with the various events we've already seen that he knows nothing of Ramjet's plans. It also helps that during "Infiltration" and "Escalation" we never saw Megatron deal with Ramjet. By playing on this assumption, a good bit of tension is created.
I really enjoyed this portrayal of Ramjet. It is very easy to saddle Starscream with the role of being the deceitful and treasonous Decepticon, but the fact is the entire allegiance uses a name based on the word "deception". Just as the Beast Wars Predacons expected treachery often, one would imagine the Decepticons do the same on a regular basis as part of their culture. This proves that Starscream is not the only Decepticon with ambitions beyond his station. I also found the play on "Mini-Cons" being "Mini-Constructicons" very cool, and in I wonder if this will be touched on again in the IDW-verse.
While the issue focuses a lot on Ramjet and Megatron's ultimate victory over him, I am left wondering if the various seeds planted by Ramjet will grow into some storyline to be explored later. If Megatron knew of Ramjet's treachery, I have no doubt that he knew at least some of Ramjet's plans and it would not surprise me if he decided to hold that information until he needed it. Having these threads dangling is a good thing as each Spotlight so far has been a self contained tale that leaves threads that can be picked up later in other Transformers books.
Robby Musso is without a doubt one of the strongest artists in IDW's arsenal. He has a great eye for detail and camera angles. He draws as if he is storyboarding at times, with very cinematic type shots. Utilizing nice techniques such as "speed lines" on the borders of panels and overlapping panels, he creates a very dynamic visual experience. I really enjoyed seeing his use of Classics Ramjet as the design for this issue. While I love E.J. Su's designs for the various G1 characters in the IDW-verse, the Classics design is very nice and detailed. I really love how he incorporates everything from the fans built into his chest to the lower parts of his wings being attached to his lower legs in robot mode.
Another design I enjoyed were Ramjet's "Mini-Constructicons". They had a cutesy, quirky design that evokes the Mini-Cons from "Armada". Their small size also reinforced this image, and I'm sure was quite deliberate.
The coloring work on this book was really nicely done. I particularly enjoyed the flight with Skywarp and Ramjet talking. They switch from place to place as the day goes along, showing both characters in different lighting conditions from a sunny day to sundown. I also dug the use of the classic "neon green/purple" color scheme from the "real" Constructicons on the "Mini-Constructicons".
There was only one oddity that technically doesn't fall under "art" but it does affect it. For some reason, all of the text and bubbles in this issue were about a third smaller than the ones found in other IDW books. I compared it to an issue of "Beast Wars The Ascending" and the difference was amazing. While I'm able to read such small text, I have to admit it is distracting. I thought at first that it may have been because of some effort to obscure as little art as possible, but I honestly don't think that was the reason.
Truth be told, this entire issue felt a lot like a light hearted story despite some of its more dark overtones (nuking the entire US qualifies as dark in my book). Like a joke, the build up is Ramjet's planning and the punchline is quite literally delivered by Megatron (painfully so). Ramjet's "not quite right" human facsimile just reinforces the comedic aspect. Overall a fun issue that takes an unexpected character and actually has some fun with him.