PUBLISHER: IDW, 2008
WRITER: SIMON FURMAN
ARTISTS: NICK ROCHE, JAMES RAIZ
ARTISTS: NICK ROCHE, JAMES RAIZ
As IDW wanted Simon Furman far, far away from their main Transformers title but presumably still around to fuck up the movie tie-in stuff and the awful ReGeneration One he was allowed four Spotlights and the five-part Maximum Dinobots to finish off as many storylines as possible before the decks were more or less cleared for Shane McCarthy's All Hail Megatron relaunch.
The template was simple - use one for the Earth-based stuff and the other for all the bits in space. The problem is that he got it wrong. Whereas the four part Revelations has more plot than a George R R Martin novel, the five part Maximum Dinobots is deathly dull and features pages and pages of padding.
There's an interminable attempt to play to Skywatch's idiocy for intrigue when they once again unleash some captured Transformers which they then rapidly lose control over. Naturally the captivity of the other Dinobots was something that was going to be addressed sooner rather than later but at this stage at least having Grimlock break in and free them would have been a change. And as for giving one of their inept agents a bigger role in an attempt to address their idiocy - examining the issue only makes it even more glaringly dumb. And then it's all topped off by the organisation choosing to lob Shockwave out there. It beggars belief.
The Dinobots themselves are also poor. They drown in a sea of late-Marvel angst as Grimlock moans about betraying his team, Swoop moans about Grimlock betraying the team and The Other Three take turns at having a perfunctory line from time to time. If this is the crack team at their maximum it's obvious why no-one really missed them for aeons. Swoop especially is a pain - after a long history of being an interesting character in the Marvel material here he's a whiny stuck record. Nick Roche is a talented artist but his Beast Wars-influenced character models are a disaster with Swoop the worst culprit - allied to his bitching it's hard not to want to reach into the page and mash your thumbs into his stupid emo steampunk goggles in the hope you'll kill him or at least shut him up.
But then the comic isn't really about the Dinobots. It's more concerned with the Machination storyline which has been awful from the start and gets no better here. As with Skywatch there's an attempt at lampshading the absurdity of it all by having Scorponok spend what feels like 20 pages explaining his plans to Hot Rod (whose dramatic commando operation ends hilariously when he parks outside Scorponok's stupid factory and is promptly beaten to a pulp) in a fashion that's meant to be a spoof of badly written villainy but reads as badly written villainy.
Into all this Furman throws the Monsterbots for no good reason. Like the Dinobots they talk a good game, being bigged up by the script in a way that makes McCarthy's writing of Drift look subtle but do absolutely nothing necessary - like Cloudburst and company in Revelations, you lose any sympathy for the writer's compacted plans when he's throwing stuff like this in of his own volition. By the time Soundwave, Shockwave and Ultra Magnus have been worked in you're just numb to the contrivances and convolutions.
Even worse is the last rushed gutless coda as it's revealed that basically everyone is fine - Sunstreaker's fine despite having a hole blown in him (are CR chambers the single worst idea in Transformers fiction or what?), Hot Rod is fine, Hunter is fine, Sludge is fine despite being picked at random for death in a sad attempt to ramp up the stakes and look here's Verity and Jimmy and Optimus and Ratchet and some crap jokes and let's make sure Furman's never given a gig like this again please.
Maximum Dinobots? Minimal Excitement.