Chapter by Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were a reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.

When we last left this book, the Autobot and Decepticon factions were in full realization–as was the war. This time something interesting happened; it’s not a numbered chapter but Alpha Trion recounting various events in the early days of the war. I have to say that it’s very well written. Too bad it was poorly researched.

Yes this time I get to write the review as I intended when I started “Chapter by Chapter” and just review one chapter, as this “interlude” (next chapter resumes numbering where the last chapter left off) is the length of a full normal chapter. Too bad I don’t have a formula for how this will go so let’s play it by ear.

As I said, we start with Alpha Trion writing in the Covenant of Primus. We get an explanation as to why data clerk Orion Pax became Optimus Prime and it makes more sense here than “Optronix” in Furman’s first The War Within series for Dreamwave Comics. Orion has earned his place as Optimus and while I still prefer the original cartoon origins (where he wasn’t a data clerk but an Energon transporter), I’m satisfied with this origin.

Unfortunately, the rest of it has it’s ups and downs. Alpha Trion tells of the various events in the war with so much “famous” namedropping that I’m not going to link to all of them. It begins with two major Decepticon victories before the Autobots start having wins. The Cons are still winning the most battles but by the end of the chapter the Autobots have two rather strategic areas. The Decepticons, however, have destroyed Crystal City, an important scientific area, and are now laying siege to Iacon.

Irvine’s recounting of events, through Alpha Trion, is at times scattered. Very few times, but we’re introduced to the destruction of the Combiner Bruticus Maximus (the name coming from the Energon line, as a Decepticon Combiner team which has shown up in other Transformers toy series after that) before being introduced to Bruticus Maximus. Sometimes Alpha Trion repeats himself when recounting events, going into better detail the next time. We do get a moment to see how the other data clerks now look upon their former colleague, Orion/Optimus, which I thought was a good moment.

But where the research fails are some of the characterizations. In War For Cybertron we see how Starscream joins the Decepticons but from what Trion says Starscream is a full Decepticon now. He still maintains an interest in “Trypticon Station”, which would otherwise be in keeping with the events of the game, but other things are off as well not just the game but Transformers lore in general. For example:

  • Ultra Magnus appears to be closer to his UK comics appearance, forming and leading the infamous Wreckers, but he carries the super-powered hammer of his Animated counterpart.
  • Bumblebee is already welcomed to Optimus’ side, but that doesn’t happen until the events of the game, in fact the first cutscene of the Autobot campaign. Also, we’re told that Jazz and Ironhide (who doesn’t appear to be Optimus’ bodyguard) are his mentors. Maybe this does end up happening during War For Cybertron or Cybertron Adventures, the Nintendo Wii game that spins off from WFC. However, tech specs usually tell us that Bumblebee “idolizes the bigger Autobots, including Optimus Prime and Prowl” or words to that effect.
  • Speaking of Prowl, he gets better treatment in one paragraph of this book than Furman has ever given him in any Transformers comic I’ve read from him.
  • The Constructions seem to be a “catch-phrase” for the Combiners, even calling Onslaught (a Combaticon by history) a Constructicon. Also, Devastator is traditionally six Constructicons, not seven (although this could be attributed to faulty data received by Alpha Trion, who admits the info isn’t clear).
  • The All-Spark launching into space is added here. This is from IDW’s (and a UK story) version of the early day of the Movieverse. While I have yet to complete the game, I don’t remember the All-Spark launch being part of the game thus far. The “Well of All-Sparks” is still name dropped, which just shows more confusion as to just what source Irvine is using here.

So it is at this point that I will now decide that this absolutely is NOT the history of the video game universe but an original universe that just borrows elements from the other series in the mythos. It doesn’t feel right for the game, and the research into the elements he’s namedropping have gotten worse as time goes on. I know the book is already written, as it sits here in front of me, but please stop fanboy namedropping. You’re not helping the story.

Next Time: The numbering–and the short chapters–resume with Chapter 16. Join us next time and see where things are heading.

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About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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