With the Costa's recent outburst, the end of the Chaos event and him stepping down from writing duties on the Transformers license, I think it's time we turned over his tenure on the title and frisked it for pocket change. In my mind it's not exactly been a smooth ride.
I'd hoped that the ongoing could surpass the average standards of AHM. The potential status quo (Decepticons victorious, Autobots a minority on the verge of extinction) had lots of promise for things like guerrilla warfare, exploring the galaxy at large to rescue installations and POWs, perhaps even a political schism or two amongst the Cons. Oh, wait.
Y'see, while folks are quite eager to rag on AHM for throwing Furman's -ations to the wind, they neglect to mention that Costa did the same thing to AHM. Throughout the arc characters make mention of Decepticon fleets and immense battles being waged elsewhere; for all their posturing on Earth the Autobots have ultimately lost the war...only for Costa's run to kick in and somehow they've won. There's little offered in the way of an explanation and it really doesn't gel.
The implication is that because the figurehead - Megatron - took a shot to the head the entire Decepticon faction just dissolved into a bunch of unorganised cannibals. Ignoring how silly this switch-around was, there was still interesting things that could be done with it: numerous oligarchies arising during the aftermath (even just loyalists and separatists, to say nothing of small-minded thugs who could've gathered a small following of their own). Instead we get Starscream sulking on a throne until Megatron slaps him.
So, we're off to a shaky start with the opening status quo. What about the ongoing itself? Given the insistence that the war was over, it seemed like Costa was trying to establish some unusual relationships at the beginning in hopes of generating intrigue (Hot Rod and some 'Bots cooperating with Cons, Bumblebee's promotion, Ironhide's sudden demise, Thundercracker in general) and the measure of success this had doubtlessly varies from reader to reader. Now, this next bit may only really apply to me, but after the initial six-issue arc I really hit a wall. The Combaticon-Korea stuff was just rather dire and it sapped my motivation something awful. Furthermore, did anyone ever really feel like Prime wasn't actually in charge, despite him sitting in a box most of the time? His absence wasn't long enough to make a lasting impression.
The cast. Oh my stars, the cast. You might recall the early days had those little name tags hovering beside characters, right? How incredibly useless were those? Barely anyone they highlighted did anything of note. The Autobot ranks were just so large, unwieldy and a large number of them were left with no attention whatsoever other than occasionally getting shot.
There's quite a jarring shift shortly after Megatron's surrender which sees the cast suddenly take off into space, despite spending the last several issues establishing the deterioration of Transformer-Human relations and the military bureaucracy at play in Skywatch, not to mention the unveiling of countless "Megatron guns" that were apparently manipulating human beings due to them being infused with fragments of Megatron's consciousness...or something. It's all just abandoned as the 'Bots rush off to battle some big...thing in space. While this did give us Roberts' stint on issues #22 and #23, it came across as very slapdash. In fact a recurring trend from Costa seems to be the introduction of a new plot element that is promptly neglected. It occurs with alarming regularity, actually: the cerebro shells, the Megatron guns, North Korea being able to manufacture Energon. That's pretty disappointing given that Costa had free reign on the title and (aside from two issues or so) wasn't sharing writing duties.
Chaos limped out of the gate and did not fare better as it continued, really. As an event it was poor, as a finale it was lacklustre and as the ending to an arc it feels very lacking in substance or even relevance: Costa began this thing by occupying our time with nitty-gritty politics and a large number of the cast feeling impotent and listless, only to then throw it all out the window and go completely in the other direction with battles that were supposed to feel grand by just came off as silly. The use of decompressed storytelling was also quite grating. Megatron's surrender comes across as sinister right up until you twig that Costa will never really deliver any real payoff or explanation: Megs ultimately surrendered because he had to in order to shoot things on Cybertron.
Agree? Disagree? I'd like to hear your thoughts.