Starscream

Transformers: The Last Knight is in theatres now, and there are some characters appearing in the movie who hadn’t been seen in the trailers. Let’s start with the recurring ones…well, sort of, as they are all dead to begin with. When Daytrader arrives at the Autobots‘s hideout, one of the “treasures” he tries to sell is the severed head of StarscreamMegatron‘s former second in command (Megatron himself retrieves the head, and has a brief Hamlet moment with it). Starscream has been a prominent member of the robotic cast since the first movie, where he led the Decepticons in freeing and resurrecting Megatron (and ending up being the only survivor of the group). In Revenge of the Fallen he resurrects Megatron once again and comes back to his side, and the two flee as soon as the Fallen is killed; he’s finally killed in Dark of the Moon during the final battle in Chicago, having his head blown up by Sam Witwicky. His picture also appears in Age of Extinction, but it’s unlikely we’ll see this treacherous Decepticon again…so let’s take a mourning look at this living Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor jet.

Starscream was born on planet Cybertron, where he was trained as a warrior since his early life. He attended the Cybertron War Academy and, according to his own claim, he turned out to be their most skilled student ever, obtaining the rank of Air Commander and surpassing every previous standard. In the centuries-long civil war that was tearing Cybertron apart, Starscream joined the faction of the Decepticons, and he was put in charge of the elite squad of the Seekers, an aerial commando specialised in swift attacks. His skill as a leader allowed him to get close to the Decepticons’ master, Megatron, who took him under his wing and made him one of his most trusted men. Unfortunately, Starscream wasn’t to be considered “trusted” at all, as all his successes had created quite an ambition in him, and he dreamt of taking Megatron’s place as the Decepticon leader, believing that was what he was destined to be. Despite Starscream believed to be the most cunning plotter ever born, however, Megatron knew far too well what his true ambitions were, and he kept him close in order to keep an eye on him, all the while exploiting his and his team’s skills. While planning his mutinee, however, Starscream played the part of the loyal follower, and he obeyed Megatron’s orders in the conflict against the Autobots. Being Megatron’s second in command, he was selected to be part of the assault squad that attacked the Autobots on the Ark, their sentient ship, but the battle proved to be the beginning of a new life for Starscream and all the others involved: the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime, seeing his forces defeated, had the ship crash on a remote and primitive planet, Earth, in the hope of destroying his enemies along with himself. As a result, instead, all the Transformers participating to the battle fell into a state of suspended animation, and they awoke only millennia after their arrival, in the planet’s 1980s. Starscream found himself stranded on an alien planet, but a new, unhoped for situation was in front of him: now, only a few number of Decepticons were present to defend Megatron, and he had the perfect chance to take his place.

As soon as the Decepticons woke up, however, the difference of power between Megatron and Starscream became immediately blatant: Starscream dared to question Megatron’s decisions, and the latter nearly reduced him to scraps. Barely surviving the experience, the treacherous officer understood he had to use subtler ways to mine Megatron’s leadership. In his first attempt to overthrow him on the alien planet, he lured the Autobots to him during Megatron’s absence, so that he could lead his teammates in the following battle showing his commanding skills to them and undermining Megatron’s charisma. Things didn’t go as planned, however, as another Decepticon extremely loyal to Megatron, Ravage, discovered his plan, and threatened to reveal everything to the others. A fight ensued between the two, and the Autobots arrived (as planned…) just as Starscream was trying to kill his rival. Inevitably he was caught, but as a prisoner he demanded trial by combat in his defense, a right that was granted to him. His chosen adversary turned out to be Brawn, a remarkably strong opponent…but Starscream managed to defeat him, and was released. Ravage, however, had been following him, and he attacked him taking advantage of his weariness: he deactivated him, blaming the Autobots as he came back to the base. As a result, Megatron gathered the Decepticons in an attack against the Autobots, obtaining exactly the opposite of what Starscream had intended in the first place. He was later reactivated and resumed serving Megatron, first, and Shockwave, later, but when both the Decepticon leaders were gone he finally said out loud he wanted to be the new leader: Soundwave, however, had different ideas, and he took the leadership for himself; in the following battle with the Autobots, Starscream was deactivated once again by Optimus Prime. He was reactivated just in time for a battle against the titanic Autobot guardian Omega Supreme, but he just got deactivated for the umpteenth time. Failure after failure, Starscream finally allied himself with a time-travelling Decepticon, Galvatron, who offered him a chance to get rid of both Megatron and Shockwave…not knowing that he was helping the guy who, in the future, would have been responsible for his death.

Starscream is a clever and deceiving warrior, crippled by an overflowing ambition, an unlimited arrogance and an embarassing cowardice, traits that bring him to always attempt to betray this or that leader, but never to be able to directly face his opponent despite his remarkable power. As a Transformer, he possesses superhuman strenght, durability, stamina and longevity, but he’s also incredibly fast, actually one of the fastest Transformers ever; he can transform into a jet, obtaining the power of flight and increasing his speed to an impressive Mach 2.8; he’s also functionally immortal, as his mutated Spark is able to survive even outside his physical body. Armed with blasters, missiles and bombs, a ruthless fighter and a treacherous plotter, Starscream could be the intelligent and charismatic leader he had always dreamt of, if he only had enough courage to fight his own battles and to inspire his men on the battlefield…

Alpha Quintesson

The second character we can identify in the third trailer for Transformers: The Last Knight is apparently the big bad of this time’s adventure, Quintessa, voiced by Gemma Chan. In the movie, Quintessa will belong to the robotic race that created the Transformers, and she’ll capture Optimus Prime while he’s travelling in space…and apparently she’ll brainwash him and turn him against humans, convincing him that, in order for Cybertron to survive, Earth must perish, transforming him into a destroyer ready and willing to reform Earth’s atmosphere to make it another Cybertron (eradicating humankind in the process). In the comics the Quintessons are indeed the creators of the Transformers and some major antagonists, but there’s no Quintessa: the robotic woman in the movie seems to be a gender-swapped version of Alpha Quintesson, the tentacular puppet master behind the century-old civil war on Cybertron in the Dreamwave continuity, and whose many faces and split personalities resemble the original Quintessons from Generation-1. Let’s see together.

The being who would have been later known as Alpha Quintesson (or Alpha Q, for short) was born on a remote planet called Planet Q. We don’t know the name of the planet’s ruler, but he led his world helped by his trusted Grand Chamberlain. Planet Q’s life came to an abrupt end when Unicron, the world devourer, found it and targeted it as his next meal: unwilling to let his planet die, the king sent against Unicron his entire army, launching at the monster everything he had…but with no apparent effect, as Unicron wasn’t even slowed down by the impressive display of power. Following the orders of his king, the Grand Chamberlain sent a distress call to the planet’s allies, the Autobots led by Rodimus Prime, but nobody came (not in time, at least). Facing the inevitable destruction of Planet Q, the Chamberlain accepted his and his people’s death, but he tried at least to bring Unicron along: he detonated the planet’s core just while the world devourer was consuming it. The massive explosion failed to kill Unicron, but it was enough to damage him heavily, to the point of forcing him to enter a state of hibernation to heal himself. Of course, all inhabitants of Planet Q died in the detonation, but the king’s spark (his soul) inhabited the inhert body of Unicron. Incorporeal and alone, the king was slowly driven mad by the time passing by year after year, and with nobody to speak to his psyche was shattered into five different personalities, each one with separated characteristics and identities. Finally, using the remnants of his deceased subjects inside Unicron’s stomach, the deranged king created a new body for himself, one with five different faces who could switch place depending on which personality was in command: only one face remained hidden all the time, the original personality of the king, who only spoke when his armor was closed and he could hide himself from sight.

Naming himself Alpha Quintesson, the mad king kept studying Unicron: demented but not stupid, he was still one of the most brilliant minds from his world, and he found out that everything Unicron had ever consumed wasn’t lost at all, merely stored, ready for being reconstituted. And there was only one way to do it: energon. Energon was a natural and extremely rare element that was basically crystallized life, the essence of everything in existence: to give life back to an entire planet, Alpha Quintesson would have needed quite a lot of it. Not wanting to abandon what remained of his planet, but needing to collect as much energon as he could, Alpha Q found the remains of his heroic army and reassembled them into the Terrorcons, a team of beast-like Transformers, and sent them to Earth, where a huge quantity of energon was detected, and where the Autobots where battling the Decepticons continuing the civil war that had led their homeplanet to ruin. Seeing an opportunity for his goal, Alpha Quintesson recreated his former Grand Chamberlain in the form of Scorponok, and sent him along with the Terrorcons to take the lead of the Decepticons. Unfortunately the historical leader of the Decepticons, Megatron, had managed to resurrect himself in the time being, and he wasn’t happy to find an “usurper” in his place; trying to get rid of the unwanted rival, Alpha used some of his energon to restore to life Megatron’s enemy, Starscream, but his plan failed, and not only Megatron regained the leadership of his group, but he also exposed Scorponok as a spy. Needing to manipulate the conflict to be sure that nobody would have interfered with his harvesting again, Alpha Quintesson released his Four Horsemen, three Autobots and a Decepticon he had captured years before and brainwashed to be his servants. With agents on both sides, Alpha Quintesson could manipulate the conflict to move the battles wherever he wanted on both Cybertron and Earth, thus collecting all the energon he needed: it was just a matter of time before he could finally achieve his goal and recreate his world…

The creature known as Alpha Quintesson is a wise and devoted ruler, who only wants to restore his lost world and people…unfortunately, he’s also completely mad. With one personality (the blue face) being highly intelligent and wise, one (white face) who’s constantly happy and always tries to avoid violence, one (red face) characterised by a constant blood lust and rage, one (green face) cunning and deceiving and a last one (always hidden) who’s scared by everything and everyone, he’s quite unstable and constantly battling with himself. Mad or not, he’s highly intelligent and a superb tactician; he also possesses superhuman strength, durability and speed, and he possesses a variety of limbs ending in either sharp blades or firearms, making him quite a threat also in close distance, even if his primary resource is his long-time planning. A disgraced monarch from a destroyed world, Alpha Quintesson will do anything in his power to restore his lost domain and people, including manipulating from behind the curtains a planetary war…

Onslaught

A new trailer for Transformers: The Last Knight has been released, and it features a lot of new footage for the upcoming fifth chapter of the saga. Among the many robots seen there, just a couple of them is recognisable, starting with the massive Onslaught, voiced by a yet unknown actor (if any). Onslaught will be one of the new Decepticons following the reborn Megatron in his war against humans, and despite his massive size he appears to be one of the tactical minds behind the civil war raging on Earth. In the movie he’ll be able to turn into a Western Star 4900SF Tow truck, quite a huge beast…definitely not something useful if you’re meant to observe a battle from afar, guiding your teammates. Anyway, let’s just have a look at the original Onslaught, leader of quite a pesky sub-team of Decepticons.

The origin of Onslaught represents quite a paradox: when Buster Witwicky came in contact with the Creation Matrix (the legendary artifact containing the essence of the creator of the Transformers, given into possession to the Autobots‘ leader from generation to generation), it gave him visions of the future, a timeline in which four sub-groups from both Autobots and Decepticons were able to combine with ease creating more powerful warriors. These groups, called the Special Teams, were the Aerialbots, the Protectobots, the Stunticons…and the Combaticons, led by Onslaught. In the vision, the evil Stunticons were battling the heroic Protectobots, and the first ones combined to form Menasor; the second ones combined in Defensor, and were about to defeat their enemies, but Onslaught led his team (BrawlVortexSwindle and Blast Off) to the rescue, combining with them to form Bruticus, an extremely powerful warrior. Unbeknownst to Buster and Optimus Prime, who were witnessing the vision, they were being spied on by Shockwave, that time leader of the Decepticons: Shockwave took inspiration from the vision and put all his team’s effort into the creation of the Combaticons before their time. Onslaught was born in the present, modelled after a future self that never came to be…but also his nemesis, Hot Spot leader of the Protectobots, was built before time. The two teams were created one the dark mirror of the other, and they found themselves battling each other time and time again. Onslaught proved to be quite a tactician, thus becoming a trusted subordinate not only for Shockwave, but also for the other leaders of the Decepticons, including the evil Megatron, who always regained control of his faction in a way or the other. It was while accompanying Megatron in one of his neverending battles against Optimus Prime that he crossed paths with Hot Spot and his Protectobots for the first time.

The two teams were battling near a computer lab, and the human scientist in it, Ethan Zachary, had an idea to limit the damage caused by the giant robotic contenders; he convinced them to continue their fight by transferring their conscience in a videogame of his invention, Multi-World, with quite some risky odds at stake: the leader of the loser team would have lost his life in real life. Megatron and Optimus accepted the challenge, so Combaticons and Protectobots found themselves challenging each other in a virtual world, level after level. Despite his tactical prowess, Onslaught found himself outmatched by his hated rival, and he would lose level after level. Finding himself losing the fight, however, Megatron used a cheat code, and after being destroyed in-game by Defensor, he came back to Multi-World, challenging Optimus directly. Optimus won, but he let innocents perish in the process, so he eventually sacrificed himself ridden by guilt. Despite the “victory”, Onslaught didn’t exactly come out with his head held high . He and his team kept fighting the Protectobots, but he wasn’t tasked with delicate missions anymore…until he was dispatched to kill Galvatron, a Decepticon would-be leader. The team travelled inside the volcano Galvatron was trapped in, but they faced a trio of human women who “myraculously” (they were actually controlled by Ultra Magnus, trapped in the volcano as well) managed to take down each and every one of the Combaticons…everyone but Onslaught, who managed to take the upper hand and to defeat the women. He was about to kill them, but he was stopped by the Throttlebots, a team of six Autobots who had come there in search of Ultra Magnus. Defeated and humiliated, Onslaught gathered his team members and started an all-out war on the Throttlebots, hunting them everywhere. He finally found them, but they were trapped in the form of a car, in a used car lot. Lucky news, they were being sold in an auction…

Onslaught is a cold-hearted warrior, a brilliant tactician who relies on his mind as his first weapon in combat. As all Transformers, he possesses superhuman strength and durability, and he can transform into a vehicle, specifically an anti-aircraft truck; he has an arsenal of heavy weapons, and he can combine with his fellow Combaticons to form Bruticus, who’s much stronger than the individual Decepticons, but also much dumber than Onslaught. Usually an observer of battles who keeps his distance to study the enemies’ moves and elaborate an effective plan, Onslaught is also able and willing to actively join the fight, distinguishing himself for ferocity and prowess: quite a brain and brawn combatant.

Hot Rod (Rodimus Prime)

hotrodfilmThe second character seen in the pics revealed from Transformers: The Last Knight is a new entry, and quite a major one: Hot Rod, who has still an unknown voice actor. We don’t know much about his role in the movie, apart from the fact that he’ll be Bumblebee‘s brother-in-arms, and that he’ll be able to transform into a Lamborghini. Hot Rod is quite a pivotal part of the Transformers universe, and his inclusion was just a matter of time…let’s just hope he won’t be one of the (far too) many place-holders in the blockbuster, a random robot shooting lasers around with no true purpose. As usual, in the meanwhile let’s take a look at the original one…who’s also known by a name other than Hot Rod, a pretty revealing one.

Hot Rod was born on planet Cybertron, in the middle of the centuries-long war that put the heroic Autobots against the tyrannical Decepticons. He himself was an Autobot, member of a squad led by the gigantic Fortress Maximus; Fortress had grown tired of the war as many other Cybertronians, and decided it was about time to simply walk away from it. In order to look for other worlds that could be inhabited, Fortress Maximus sent Hot Rod and Blurr to open space, in a quest for a new home. Hot Rod was young, inexperienced and definitely arrogant, and the first hostile aliens the pair met, he faced head-on without thinking about it twice. As a result, the two warriors were severely defeated, and Blurr was even captured. Forced to escape, humiliated, Hot Rod stumbled upon another Cybertronian, Kup, a war veteran who had escaped Cybertron after becoming disillusioned with the war; the strong will and bravado of Hot Rod awakened something in the old warrior’s soul, and between the two a strange mentor-pupil relationship was born. Kup helped Hot Rod to free Blurr from his captors, then the three of them returned to Cybertron, where they joined Fortress Maximus once again. Finally, a world for a brand new start was found: Nebulos, inhabited by a peaceful race of small Transformers. Hot Rod followed Fortress Maximus there along with many others, but also an unwanted contingent of Decepticons did the same, so the war started all hotrodcomics1over again, albeit on a smaller scale. The locals formed an alliance with the Autobots, and some of them decided to help them by entering in symbiosis with the warriors: Hot Rod was paired with Firebolt, able to transform into a laser gun, and the two fought many years one alongside the other on Nebulos. Eventually, Hot Rod received a transmission from Goldbug, another Autobot, who informed him that the Autobot leader Optimus Prime was on a faraway planet, still fighting the war with the Decepticons, and needing help. The Targetmasters (as the symbiotic couples formed by Cybertronians and Nebulans were called) were needed as well, so Hot Rod abandoned Nebulos to move to another alien world: Earth.

Hot Rod and the others joined Optimus Prime’s team, and they were welcomed in the crashed spaceship Ark, now functioning as headquarters. Despite his unchanging, difficult attitude, Hot Rod developed a strong bond with Optimus, especially after he had disobeyed his direct orders and stayed behind along with him to fight Megatron and Starscream, while the other Autbots returned to the Ark as they were told. It was Hot Rod who managed to make Optimus recover from the deep depression he had fallen into when Ratchet got killed, and he was always on the frontline, facing whatever threat might wait, even when it came to battle the planet-eater Unicron. Hot Rod was among the many Autobot casualties on the alien planet Klo, but he was resurrected by Optimus’ ace up the sleeve, the ultimate warrior known as the Last Autobot, and resumed his neverending fight against the Decepticons. Apart from Kup, who still acted as a calming presence for the hot-headed Autobot, Hot Rod also became close to the female warrior Arcee, who was among the few ones able to make him reason (from time to time): although the two often provoked each other, it became quite clear that something more than a friendship was rising between them. Despite his bad attitude, Hot Rod became such a trusted and respected Autobot that he was chosen as the successor of Optimus Prime the moment the Autobot leader was killed action. Now holding the Matrix of Leadership, Hot Rod hotrodcomics2was entrusted with the wisdom and the power of his predecessors, and he became Rodimus Prime, the new leader of the Autobots. This was finally put an end to his arrogance, as such a responsibility managed to quel his spirit, even instilling into him a great insecurity about his leadership skills. If living constantly under Optimus Prime’s shadow wasn’t enough, the time was indeed a dread one, as Galvatron had assumed the leadership of the Decepticons, and seemed more than intentioned to end the war with the hated Autobots once and for all. The enmity between Rodimus and Galvatron became even harsher than the one between Optimus and Megatron, and the war was about to know a whole new scale to it, one that the new Prime hoped he was able to manage…

Hot Rod is an impulsive and brash Autobot, whose self-confidence often becomes arrogance; independent and stubborn, he even disobeys orders and challenges authority if he doesn’t see things the same as his superiors. As Rodimus Prime, the weight of command somehow quelled his arrogance, and he’s now quite self-dubious about his role as a Prime, especially since he has to replace a leader such as Optimus. Being a Prime, he’s extremely strong and durable, more than the average Cybertronians, and he can access the wisdom and knowledge of his predecessors; he’s an accomplished marksman and fighter, he can shoot photon laser beams from his forearms, and he possesses six (three per arm) retractable saw-blades he uses in battle; his most impressive skill, however, is his short-circuit ability, which he can fry an opponent’s circuits with. As the other Transformers, he’s able to transform into a vehicle increasing his speed, in his case a Cybetronian race car. A young warrior who had to grow up quickly in order to accept the responsibility of command, Rodimus Prime is an inexperienced leader for a harsh war time, and maybe his arrogance and self-confidence are just what the Autobots need to win a war they can very well lose this time…

Runner (Barricade)

barricadefilmThe first pics from the upcoming Transformers: The Last Knight have been released, and the first robot revealed is an old acquaintance, one of the longest living Decepticons in the movie universe: Barricade, who’ll be voiced by Jess Harnell. Barricade first appeared in Transformers, disguised as a police car with “To Punish and Enslave” written on the side; he chased the protagonists until the end of the movie, and he was the only bad guy to survive along with Starscream and Scorponok. He reappeared in Dark of the Moon as Shockwave‘s second-in-command, and he’s the one who executes Que; he’s apparently killed by human soldiers in Chicago, as it’s shown in an Age of Extinction cameo, but he must have survived the battle, since he’s coming back for the fifth installment. Now, let’s take a look at Barricade in the comics…the non-police car one.

Originally, the Decepticon known as Barricade was Runner, the result of a unique experiment that involved both Decepticons and their sworn enemies, the Autobots. The cross-factional project aimed to create a new generation of miniaturized Transformers, reducing their size in order to increase the efficiency of fuel consumption, obtaining the ultimate racers. The result was the birth of the Micromasters, amazing racers faster than any other Transformer, a neutral faction that would have been able (for the first time in ages on Cybertron) to chose their own faction. Runner was not only the fastest, but also the most vicious among the Micromasters, and his strong attitude managed to obtain the loyalty of three other Micromasters: Ground Hog, Roller Force and Motorhead, three speed demons who only recognised Runner’s authority…and sometimes even ignored it, consumed by the thirst for wanton destruction during the races. Everytime they disobeyed his orders or failed in accomplishing them, Runner severely punished them, imposing an abusive leadership that proved to be the barricadecomics1only thing able to control his subordinates to a certain extent. Together, the four Micromasters formed the Race Track Patrol, which soon became the most violent team of racers ever seen…needless to say which one among the two battling factions proved to be the most appealing for Runner and his men. He joined the Decepticons, and his new teammates enjoyed seeing him running, battling the rival Micromasters with both sheer speed and unorthodox tactics. The Decepticons also gave Runner a new name, praising his ability in blockading his adversaries during the races: now, he was Barricade.

The Race Track Patrol built quite a name for itself, and not only was feared by the Autobots’ Micromaster teams such as the Race Car Patrol, the Off Road Patrol or the Battle Patrol, but since in lack of enemies they often attacked other Decepticons, even the allied teams (the Air Strike Patrol, the Sports Car Patrol and the Military Patrol) learnt to stay away from them if they valued their lives. Barricade wasn’t just a great racer and a fearful warrior, however: as the leader of his team, he was also smart and intuitive, and soon realised that the Micromasters’ situation wasn’t one of equality with the other Decepticons, who considered them as some kind of funny little mascottes, not to be taken too seriously. Sure that the Micromasters would have never obtained their rightful place among the other Decepticons if not with strength, Barricade joined forces with Skystalker, a “huge” Micromaster who had become an agitator and seemed to have a plan to change the situation. Leading a rogue faction of Decepticons, that included Barricade and his men, Skystalker challenged Megatron‘s successor, Shockwave, and actually managed to defeat him and to disassemble him. Using Shockwave’s head, barricadecomics2Skystalker was able to give orders to the Decepticon factions, thus assuming control. Finally, for Barricade and the others a new world rose, one in which the neverending war between the “bigger cousins” could finally become a problem of the past, and in which the Micromasters were treated with the respect they deserved…but the return of the Autobot hero Countdown was about to foil the little Decepticons’ plan, exposing Barricade and the other rogues to the wrath of the ones they had deceived.

Barricade is a fast-thinking and fast-running Micromaster, a pitiless warrior and a brutal and abusive leader. Barricade’s iron fist is the only thing that keeps in check the members of the Race Track Patrol, and his strength (and his short temper) is rightfully feared by allies and enemies alike. Gifted with the strength, durability and stamina of his race, although he’s definitely weaker but also incredibly faster than a “guzzler” (the normal-sized Transformers), Barricade can transform into a Formula-1 race car, obtaining an even greater speed. Battling a war he doesn’t feel as his own, Barricade is only waiting for the right occasion to go against the guzzler and to create a new kind of Decepticons, not chained to the mistakes of the past and opened to a new future…possibly filled with havoc, chaos, and most of all speed.

Krang

KrangIt’s Super Bowl time and this means…a lot of new trailers!! Among them, we get a second tv spot for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, finally getting a glimpse to the last (?) new character introduced in the movie, the villainous alien Krang. In the trailer, we see Michelangelo approaching the alien’s exo-suit remarking how scarcely intimidating the thing is, only for the real Krang inside the robotic body to scare the life out of him. Despite Krang is one of the most notorious and threatening villains in the TMNT rogues’ gallery, this movie will mark his live action debut: waiting to meet him on the big screen, let’s take a look at his comicbook counterpart.

Krang was born on Utrominon, a remote planet in Dimension X. He lived in a war-torn part of the planet, and he learnt to fight from a very young age. As an adult, he was already an experienced soldier and a ruthless warlord, who had made a deal with another species on the planet, the Rock Soldiers, and had made them his personal militia, counting on the blind loyalty of General Traag and Lt. Granitor. With his powerful army, Krang vanquished any other force on the planet, and rapidly rose to power; eventually, he built the Technodrome, an unstoppable moving fortress that allowed him to conquer the entire planet. A brutal dictator, Krang built his empire on war and violence, and expanded his dominion over other planets as well, destroying the ones that refused to obey him. Always looking for new ways of expanding his power, Krang collected powerful weapons and items from all around the universe, killing millions in order to obtain them (among others, he vaporized the entire Huanu system krangcomics1while looking for the Turnstone, a powerful artifact able to modify an object’s molecular structure, transforming anything into whatever the user desired). Obviously, power didn’t come without a price, and although Krang could inspire fear and dread, he didn’t get any loyalty from his subjects, apart from near-religious fanatics such as Traag. Eventually, a revolt started on Krang’s very homeplanet, and the Utroms led a massive rebellion against the warlord. After a long civil war, the Rock Soldiers were defeated, and Krang was cornered into the Technodrome, unable to leave his own fortress: as a punishment for the innumerable war crimes he had committed, Krang was stripped of his reptilian body, and reduced to a moving and talking brain-like creature, so that he couldn’t pose any threat. Then, he was exiled to a remote planet along with the technological abominion he had created, never to be allowed on Utrominon again. His reign of terror was finally over…at least, for the time being. Even as a disembodied brain, Krang didn’t know surrender.

The remote planet Krang was exiled on, needless to say, was Earth. Lost and alone on an unknown planet, Krang needed allies to restore his former power and find a way to come back home to exact revenge against his enemies: luckily enough, the Technodrome was found by the Foot Clan, an ancient sect of ninjas aiming to world domination, a thirst that Krang knew far too well. Krang arranged a meeting with Horoku Saki, head of a splinter cell of the Foot Clan: he offered him his allegiance, as well as access to his advanced technology, in exchange of a new body for himself. Horoku Saki, always the tactician, understood that this new ally was far more dangerous than he looked, and at first he refused his offer, believing that once able to move freely again Krang would have become impossible to control. Time passed, and Horoku Saki, now The Shredder, collected failure after failure not only in the conquest of the world, but even of a single city, New York City: he clashed time after time with an old rival, the krangcomics2mutant rat Splinter, and his group of foster children, the Ninja Turtles, who managed to foil every plan of his. Eventually, Shredder found himself forced to accept Krang’s offer. The deal between Krang and the Foot immediately gave its results, as Shredder built for his new ally an exo-suit, a cybernetic body that could host the disembodied brain and react to its stimuli like a real body, giving him back the ability to move freely, without being bound to the three-wheeled chair he initially used; in return, as promised, Krang gave Shredder and his men limited access to his technology, allowing them to use his futuristic weapons against the Ninja Turtles (not with much better results than before, actually). Despite aiding him with his crusade, Krang didn’t share Shredder’s personal grudge against Splinter and the Turtles, having greater goals: now that he was whole again (sort of), he could finally resume his plans of conquest and dominion…and Earth looked like a good training ground, a perfect planet to start from in order to recreate his empire.

Krang is a ruthless and utterly unsympathetic warlord, who feels nothing for anybody, and has no problems in annihilating enemies and allies alike. He’s an absolute genius, with an I.Q. going far above the smartest people on Earth; he’s also a brilliant tactician, whose plans involve years of scheming and unraveling. A skilled inventor, he’s particularly proficient in creating new and always more lethal weapons, showing an unmatchable intellect and fantasy. In his exo-suit, Krang is also a physically dangerous adversary, as the robotic body possesses unmatchable strength and durability, and is able to modify its own structure to transform parts of its body (usually the hands) in weapons, as well as to grow in size; despite the many resources of his exo-suit, the warlord rarely engages his enemies in physical fight, preferring to manipulate events from behind the curtains. Krang’s intelligence is also his greatest weakness: he’s a genius, and he knows it, and most of the times it’s his arrogance that brings him to failure and defeat.

Ivan Steranko (Rocksteady)

rocksteadyfilmTime for The Shredder‘s second powered-up goon, spotted in the first trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows: obviously, we’re speaking about Rocksteady, the humanoid rhino we see tossing away cars like they were sheets of paper. The character will be portrayed by Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly, and he’ll be one of the two guinea pigs for Baxter Stockman‘s experiments…with the results we can plainly see from the trailer. Along with his all-time partner Bebop, this is Rocksteady’s live action debut, although the couple was originally set to appear in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of Ooze (they were ultimately replaced by Tokka and Rahzar), and even in the 2014 film. Now, before watching him on the big screen, let’s take a look at the comicbook version.

Ivan Steranko arrived to New York City with the not-so-original idea of making a lot of money as fast as he could. Obviously, with no education, no preparation whatsoever, and especially no morality at all, he ended up in the streets as a criminal, always trying to join the most powerful gang around to make himself a name. His brute strength and his street-smartness made him the perfect goon, and he had no difficulty in been recruited in the local gangs…unfortunately, his nearly total lack of intelligence also made him screw everything up anytime things got even a little bit serious, and he was always kicked out of all the groups he joined, when he didn’t cause the group itself’s disbanding. In his misadventures Ivan wasn’t alone, as he soon met Anton Zeck, another man who, just like him, wanted to make the big time in NY’s criminality. Together they formed the duo Bebop (Zeck) & Rocksteady (Steranko), a couple of brutes who sold their services to the best bidder. Eventually, they were recruited rocksteadycomics1by yet another gang, albeit a different one this time: the Foot Clan, an ancient ninja cult who was trying to expand in the United States. The world the Foot moved in was something different from what Rocksteady had known before, and he soon found himself involved in strange experiments and in old magic (not that he understood much of it). On his first mission for the Clan, he had to help a mutant fox, Alopex, infiltrate the lair of the Foot’s sworn enemies, the Ninja Turtles. Obviously, the mission was a failure, and Rocksteady and Bebop came back to their boss, The Shredder, with another defeat on their ledger. Luckily enough, Shredder’s lieutenant Karai had just come back from a mission with some stolen mutagen, enough for The Shredder to create two super-powered goons to use against the Turtles: in the following selection (a massive everyone-against-everyone brawl), Rocksteady and Bebop emerged victorious, earning their right to be mutated…and thus making an insurance for themselves never to be kicked out of the Foot Clan, becoming two (hopefully…) unreplaceable assets.

The Foot had stolen two beasts from the local zoo, and used them to manipulate Rocksteady’s and Bebop’s genes: Ivan’s DNA was mixed with the one of a rhinoceros, and he became a massive mutant with an incredible strength. Now, along with his warthog-hybrid friend, Rocksteady was a formidable threat for the same Turtles that had defeated him. The Shredder tested his new warriors on the field, and the mission seemed to be a success at first: Rocksteady’s skin proved to be too thick for even Raphael‘s sais or Leonardo‘s katanas to pierce, and he easily overpowered his enemies. When he was about to finish the Turtles off, however, both him and Bebop were blasted away by a grenade thrown by Old Hob, a mutant cat who saved the Turtles and allowed them to flee. The two brutes, following their defeat, tried to “investigate” on Old Hob, and they came across Pete, a mutant pigeon who rocksteadycomics2brought them to Hob in an effort to recruit them in the Mutanimals, a team composed by the many mutated animals of New York…Ninja Turtles included. As soon as they faced the Turtles and Old Hob together, Rocksteady and Bebop immediately launched an attack, ignoring the cat who tried to tell them they were just slaves of Shredder, and needed to get free. When Old Hob learnt that Rocksteady and Bebop were half-humans instead of full animals, however, he changed his mind and engaged them in combat. Rocksteady proved to be a formidable force to be reckoned with: he matched the powerful Slash in strength and even knocked him out throwing a car at him, he dispatched of Leonardo and Mondo Gecko with a single blow, and he even threw Raphael and Alopex off a building, all the while trying to put his hands on Old Hob, who was the one he really wanted to kill. When he was about to finish the cat, however, Master Splinter intervened, and knocked both Rocksteady and Bebop out hitting some pressure points. When the two brutes woke up, nobody was there anymore…and an entire building had collapsed on them. Rocksteady suggested Bebop they came back to the Foot HQ avoiding any mention of their new defeat…something they immediately agreed upon.

Ivan Steranko is a brutal and obtuse man, all brawn and no brain, who seldomly shows some rare sparkle of intelligence, only to bury it deep under a natural violence and a dull ambition. As Rocksteady, he’s an incredibly bulky mutant, whose strength is greater even than his partner Bebop’s one (to the point he’s able to use cars as bats); his incredibly hard and thick skin makes him nearly impossible to hurt, and his frontal horn is often used as an offensive weapon in fight; an expert of heavy guns who often deploys also a sledgehammer in combat, Rocksteady is a vicious street-fighter able to use anything around him as a weapon, and to resort to pretty much everything to overwhelm his adversary. Rocksteady, just as the rhino who gave him his genes, charges to his target head on, without thinking and without planning…and this makes him only more dangerous.