Depending on your viewpoint, this is either inspiring proof that even the worst of us are not beyond redemption, or a massive change that leaves a bad taste in the mouth. True, the IDW comics had delved into Megatron’s origins and showed his initial use of the Decepticons to fight against oppression. But this was also the same character who had committed the most severe acts of villainy over the years. This was the same character who, in the All Hail Megatron maxiseries, published only five years earlier, had wiped out entire human cities without the slightest hint of remorse, glorying in the destruction caused by his Decepticons. Could such a person ever be redeemed? Should he even be allowed to try?
There are no easy answers, and the characters grapple with the questions along with the reader. The very concept is one that challenges the idea that characters have to be put into one box or another. If Megatron himself is not beyond redemption then it perhaps prove that no-one is a lost cause. But equally, after millions of years fighting against what Megatron and his forces stood for it is no surprise that some Autobots can’t accept this sudden change of heart. The situation is equally hard for some Decepticons, with loyalists like Soundwave feeling utterly let down by their leader’s actions.
Megatron’s change of heart set in motion a chain of events that are still being felt in the current comics, with characters on Earth and in space all having to reassess their goals and to whom their loyalty should lie. Rodimus, Megatron and several of their closest allies were exiled from the Lost Light after the crew, led by Getaway, staged a coup. For these Autobots the idea of working beside Megatron, someone who they saw as a living reminder of the war’s brutal destruction, was a compromise too far. While Getaway’s later actions have seen him jump over the line between pragmatist and villain, it is hard to fault the mutinous crew for this act. Autobot betrayed Autobot, and the real tragedy is that it perhaps shows that some scars from the war are too deep to ever fully heal.
That is why the concurrent Earth plotline is the perfect counterpoint, offering a glimmer of hope. In this we see Autobots and Decepticons working together and fraternizing in a way that we have rarely seen before, overcoming hostility and suspicion on both sides. Old hostilities don’t die easily, of course, but after the death of Galvatron and witnessing the incredible spectacle of Optimus Prime raising a Titan, the majority of Autobots and Decepticons now seem willing to give peace a chance. Increasingly, the common identification of Cybertronian seems to override the distinction of Autobot and Decepticon.
IDW has recently announced that its longform story will conclude in September with the Transformers: Unicron event. The extinction level threat posed by Unicron will require Autobots and Decepticons to continue their allegiance if their world is to survive. Will the aftermath of the conflict see a turn towards a more traditional version of the franchise, or will these new relationships continue to be explored? Perhaps all that’s certain is that for the Transformers, change is the only constant.
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