Wreck And Rule!

The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers
Written by Nick Roche and James Roberts
Art by Nick Roche

“It’s a story of sacrifice and betrayal, and of good people dying in stupid, pointless ways”. – Verity Carlo

Last Stand of the Wreckers took me by surprise. The last 2 years or so of Transformers comics have been, admittedly, lackluster. They haven’t been bad by any means, but they haven’t been that great either. Bogged down by continuity errors and innumerable ret cons, it’s been hard to really single out any one story arc as fantastic. Enter Nick Roche and James Roberts. With Wreckers they took a 180° turn from the status quo, and in doing so have crafted one of the best Transformers stories I’ve ever read. Actually, it could be one of the best comics I’ve read, full stop.
A little history lesson might be in order for those that don’t know who, or what the Wreckers are. Essentially, the Wreckers are a special Autobot unit comprised of the toughest, die-hard fighters around. If a mission has little or no chance of victory, the Wreckers will be there, and they’ll probably win the battle. Not without casualties, however. One thing about being a Wrecker is that survival is not always guaranteed. Membership is basically a revolving door. If you get killed in battle, there are two more guys waiting to take your place.
I’m not going to give away the whole story, since it’s a 5 issue series. Covering all of that, while trying to keep this from becoming mind numbingly long would be impossible. So, I’ll give you the set-up. Just enough to get you interested. Three years ago, Garrus-9 Penitentiary was taken over in a Decepticon assault. Overlord, known and feared by Autobot and Decepticon alike, arrives on the scene and quickly assumes command. He kills the former bot in charge and turns the prison into a hunting ground of sorts, allowing those who follow him freedom “in every sense of the word” as he puts it. This means, of course, that any Autobots still alive on G-9 are now prey to be hunted, and killed as the Decepticons see fit. Cue the Wreckers. With every attempt to penetrate Garrus-9 ending in failure, it now falls to Springer, commander of the Wreckers, and a group of young, inexperienced, but skilled Autobots who must get the job done.
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Something that took me by surprise with this mini-series is the surprising lack of A-list characters. You won’t see Optimus Prime and Megatron fighting it out for the umpteenth time. In fact, with the possible exception of Kup and Springer, every member of the Wreckers team is a relative unknown. The same can be said for the Decepticon side of things. This doesn’t hinder the storytelling at all. Quite the opposite, actually. Using characters that are unknown provides the opportunity to start fresh, and makes you learn about about them as the story moves forward. I had no emotional, or nostalgic connection to these characters starting the book, but from page one I was invested in their stories. When someone dies (and they will… a lot), you will feel it, even if they’ve only been introduced the page before. There’s even a human element in the form of Verity Carlo. A stowaway, who followed Ultra Magnus from earth with the hope of finding her place in life. Verity has been around since the beginning of this current generation of Transformers comics (2005, I believe), and I’ve never seen her as much more than an annoyance. But she really comes into her own in this series, and actually becomes vital to the events that occur. It goes to show that a character is only as good as the writer can make them, and Nick Roche is one hell of a writer.
He is also a great artist. Pulling double duties on Wreckers, Nick puts as much thought and passion into his drawings as he does his storytelling. Every character design is unique, and full of personality. It’s cartoony in style, but never childish. At times, it can be downright disturbing. The violence is extreme, and you can tell Roche was having fun drawing robots getting killed. Decapitations, gladiatorial battle scenes, and bots getting ripped in half are just a few examples. It may seem a bit overkill, but that’s the point. The idea going in was to point out that Garrus-9 is out of control, and that being a Wrecker, no matter how skilled you are, is not a steady job.
I know I can get a little carried away with my Transformers adoration, but Last Stand of the Wreckers is different. First and foremost there is a beautifully crafted, gorgeously drawn story here. One that can be enjoyed by anyone, whether you’re a fan of giant robots or not. All five issues are out now, and there is a trade paperback coming out that will collect the entire series together. If you’re a fan of good characters, and an engrossing story, then pick it up and give it a read. If for no other reason than to send a message to the publisher that the Transformers can actually tell a good story. Maybe then, the main books might step up their game a little.

Wreck and Rule,
Kurt

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