Thursday, 4 February 2010

Last Stand of the Wreckers

The first issue of Nick Roche and James Roberts' Last Stand of the Wreckers sold out within a week. That's not surprising considering anticipation for the duo's new miniseries built up to epidemic-level just prior to its release. Some male fans of Roche's previous writing posted oddly homoerotic messages to him on public message boards, while others began to exhibit the aggressive beheaviour of drug addicts. When it finally arrived in the shops, I myself bought two issues, each with a different cover - something I have never done before.

Part of the strength of feeling comes from how ably and generously Roche (and now Roberts too) abates long-term Transformers fans with little references to past continuities and skilful use of forgotten characters. He is, more than perhaps any other writer a Transformers comics has enjoyed, a TF nerd and proud of it.

But to keep on about that aspect of the work is to do both writers an injustice. The real triumph of Last Stand of the Wreckers is that it's a wonderfully written adventure story.  New characters are memorably drawn (literally and figuratively) within just a matter of panels. The principle villain, Overlord, takes over an army after murdering its general, then leads a military assault on an outer space prison outpost, only to then turn the planet into a sort of sci-fi Ancient Rome, with himself as the mad, masochistic Emperor (Caligula, if you like, though I'm something of a Caligula apologist). The heroes, the Wreckers, are an elite commando squad who are on their way to liberate said planet, with little idea of exactly what they're letting themselves in for, since all communications are cut off. Just before doing so, they pick up four new recruits, each of whom bring a different dynamic to the team, and one of whom may carry a troubling secret.

In other words, replace the Transformer characters with human characters and it would still be a ripping yarn. Although for my money, for visual impact, you can't beat giant, mechamorphic robots in this medium - especially when Roche's art imbues them with such personality.

The second printing hits UK comic shops next Thursday. Try it out. Even if you're not a Transformers fan, this is as good as comics get.

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