• Let's Review: The Magic of Cybertron #3

    Unlikely alliances abound as the ponies try to navigate Cybertron's landscape. There's music, shouting, tours, and confessions.

    Check out the full review after the break but beware! Cybertron's layers hold many spoilers.

    Normally, I'd start with a recap. But Octavia's doing a fine job on her own.

    Hi Fluttershy! You're still my fav!

    Such a dear. Let's tackle the musical ponies' meeting with Soundwave.

    Hi Soundwave! You look bloody terrifying!

    Sick Beats
    Unexpected gathering here. I knew about Soundwave teaming up with Vinyl and Octavia from just the cover, but I wasn't expecting the Student Six as well. They'd barely gotten to feature in the last adventure alongside Cadance. Now they're an even greater cause of conflict than the giant robot trying to steal their magic.



    This story is both written and illustrate by Tony Fleecs, which offers a fun chance to see story and art united without miscommunication issues. Fleecs' practice is in full form as he renders Octavia and Vinyl and he faithfully depicts the Students. The curiosity comes in when I look at the environment surrounding them. Some panels emphasize the size disparity and add to the sense of smallness that makes Ocellus and Silverstream want to go home immediately. In other panels, the landscape seems crafted with their size in mind. This can help Soundwave look more giantic but I have to remind myself that Cybertron is scaled to a giant robot's perspective.


    Those lights would only illuminate the Cybertronian's toes.

    Fleecs once stated in an interview that drawing these two franchises together can cause a stylistic overlap. The ponies might seem a bit more rigid while the giant robots have more organic curves. There are some cases where I think Soundwave is influenced more by the pony style than the reverse, but he never feels off-model. It's more prominent when he deploys Laserbeak and Ravage. I think a more angular approach would make the cassetbots more threatening, though that might clash with this comic's theme: harmony.

    Ah, Ocellus. Never change.


     Musical ponies are a perfect way to approach this; yet a display of harmony needs to contrast against disharmony. We saw in "Slice of Life" that Vinyl and Octavia can communicate through music and action. This comic takes it a step further in that Octavia seems to be able to read Vinyl's intend with just a glance. It's the students who provide the disharmony as they have divided goals before Soundwave appears and accidentally buries them all.


    And I would have gotten away with it
    if it weren't for you pastel youths!

    Despite the grave situation of being buried alive, the humor on display here is the best. The students' arguements against one another and Soundwave's deadpan replies flow together and create some believable–if also silly–interactions.


    Yona, you're so much more than one joke.

    This all forces Vinyl and Octavia to the background until it's time to attempt a unified effort. I've talked in the past about Soundwave's flexibility despite his Decepticon allegance. It still makes sense that he above all other Decepticons would ally with organics, even short-term, if it meant survival for himself and his charges. He does all this not yet knowing that Megatron and Rumble Frenzy are controlled by Sombra. I went back to check and confirmed that Soundwave was not visible in issue #1.


    They should meet Blaster.

    His reference to "Operation: Jericho" was more of a head-scratcher. While "Jericho" is a name that can be traced across history and cultures, I think it's a reference to the World War II Operation Jericho. It was an Allied bombing run against Amiens prison in Germany-controlled France. It was an attempt to liberate resistance fightes, POW's, and political prisoners with a very daring, low-altitude approach. Just from this summary I can see how the same idea applies to the buried beings on Sombra-controlled Cybertron. However, Soundwave has neglected the "Allied" aspect, so his combined efforts with Vinyl and Octavia could be seen as the true analogy.


    The audience is now deaf.

    In a lot of stories, it would be the disharmoneous students who liberate the group. Their own resolution comes just before the alliance as they become friendship's advocates. So while they'r e the central focus for 2/3 of this story, it's the trio of Soundwave, Octavia, and Vinyl Scratch who get to shine at the very end. This is a fun chapter with some great humor and interactions. Yet if we're going to talk characters, there's another Decepticon who's worth gushing over.


    I appreciate this nod to the fandom.
    And am insanely jealous that I shall never match that moment.

    The Beauty of Cybertron 

    We've had an interesting balance of Autobot/pony and Decepticon/pony alliances. Now it's time to get a little of everything!


    Two Robots and a Pony.
    The newest sitcom!

    In an opposite view of Fleecs' work, we once agian have artist Priscilla Tramontano on deck. As before with Starscream and Rainbow Dash, her skill at drawing Transformers shines through but some of her work with ponies is unfamiliar. There are several times where Rarity appears more rigid. What's curious is that we witness a set of organic creatures on Cybertron that are part of a cosmic migration. We witness organic creatures that have a more boxy silhouette but are still believable creatures. I get the sense that Tramontano is trying to conform to the FiM style, which is not as simple as it first sounds.


    Breakdown likes to compliment their beauty, but is repulsed by their mating habits!

    That said, her depictions of Knockout are also a bit different because Knockout is from the stylistic era of Transformers Prime. In fact, I'd argue that he's one of the best things about that series. Due to a greater emphasis on curves and overlapping armor, Knockout is a very different style than the G1 boxy Ratchet. Knockout's emotions and reactions are never in doubt, but I get the sense we're witnessing a forced style rather than one that's been long-practiced.

    "Appreciator?" Sir, she makes the aesthetic!


    "Style" is an important word when dealing with Knockout. It's what sets him apart from other Decepticons. Unlike Soundwave, Knockout isn't motivated by a sense of empathy. Like many Decepticons he is selfish, opportunistic, and possesses a sadistic streak. We saw him cut plenty of deals in Prime and how much he enjoyed seeing Autobots and humans squirm under threat of violence.


    Fishnets do come back in style now and again.

    Unlike other Decepticons, however, Knockout feels no need to follow through on such threats. He enjoys the sense of power, not the act itself. His sense of style compels him to choose an automobile alt-move over any military or espionage choice. He may switch to the winning side (likely the reason he became a Decepticon in the first place), but it's surprsing how willing he is to stick with it even when the balance of power tips. Knockout once claimed he never had good role models. It's unknown how true that might be or if reformation is even possible. Yet Rarity's encouragement hints that he's not a pure narcissist. There may be as much depth to him as Soundwave.


    There's something appealing about characters who
    stick true to themselves even when ethically dubious.

    Ratchet isn't banking on that chance. While drawn in the G1 style, this war-wear medic is more of the cranky personality we witnessed in Transformers Animated and Prime. He is stuck in the role of straightman as Rarity and Knockout exchange pleasantries and observations. 



    And rock throwing!

    As noted in the MLP Annual, Rarity needs someone to keep her focused on a goal. Her eye for beauty and design often leads her astray. Knockout doesn't even want to be there until he sees Breakdown is one of the brainwashed Cybertronians. Ratchet's role is thankless as he keeps things moving while the other two steal the show.

    Don't fight the fabulousness, Ratchet.
    Just accept it.


    What's nice about this story is that the main characters are proactive. I have no idea how Rarity and Ratchet met up, but they're trying to free everyone from Sombra's control. Until now, our protagonists have been reactive to immediate threats. This story–along with Knockout's honesty–sets the stage for the conclusion next month.


    That's one awkward perch.

    Til All Are Fun! 

    While each issue has had fun elements, this is the most comical issue thus far. Conflicting personalities often make for great humor and the characters match wonderfully. I'm going to be sorry to see this series conclude, but I am curious to see how ponies, Autobots, and Decepticons will rally to finish Sombra again. Meanwhile, definitely check this issue out!


    Uh... Do you two need some time alone?

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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