Friday, October 2, 2015

TRANSFORMERS: WAR AND PEACE #2

"BROTHERS' BURDEN"
Writer: Brad Mick* | Pencils: Pat Lee | Inks: Rob Armstrong
Backgrounds: Edwin Garcia | Layout Assists: Ferd Poblate
Colors: Espen Grundetjern & Alan Wang | Letters: Paul Villafuerte

The Plot: Ultra Magnus's team surrounds Autobot headquarters and demands the Autobots' surrender. Meanwhile, the Decepticons return to Cybertron, where Shockwave prepares to reintegrate them into society. On Earth, Optimus Prime surrenders his forces to Ultra Magnus, but not before secretly dispatching seven of his warriors to nearby Portland for an unknown purpose.

On Cybertron, chief scientist Perceptor finds that the planet has left its orbit and is moving. Meanwhile, Shockwave explains to the Deceptions that all Transformers now possess energy converters which allow the planet itself to provide them with unlimited power. On Earth, Ultra Magnus loads the captured Autbots aboard his shuttle, where they're reunited with Prowl's group, and takes off. In the Arctic, Grimlock finds a secret Decepticon base where Megatron was constructing a space shuttle, and sees his fellow Dinobots there as well, in stasis.

On Cyberton, most of the Decepticons join Shockwave's cause, while Starscream plots against him and captures Soundwave. Ultra Magnus makes his final approach to the planet and is informed by Shockwave that the Autobots will be deactivated upon landing.

Continuity Notes: Ultra Magnus's Security Team Dion consists of the second generation of Decepticon jets, Dirge, Ramjet, and Thrust. Grimlock somehow knows about Megatron's secret Arctic base, but how he came by this knowledge is unexplained, nor is his reasoning for leaving the Dinobots trapped there for a year or more before coming to rescue them.

The Autobots dispatched to Portland are Jazz, Ratchet, Brawn, Sunstreaker, Sideswipe, Wheeljack, and Windcharger. Ultra Magnus's shuttle, though not called by name, is the Autobot Sky Lynx.

Aboard the shuttle, Cliffjumper calls out Mirage, who surrendered Prowl's group to Ultra Magnus last issue, as a traitor -- a reference to their antagonistic relationship in the Generation One episode, "Traitor". It's also noted that Trailbreaker was injured when Ultra Magnus captured Prowl's team, and is in a CR chamber recovering.

The story's title refers to "brothers" and later in the issue Optimus Prime calls Ultra Magnus his "brother in arms". As will be controversially revealed in a few issues, these are not just figures of speech.

G1 References: Cybertron (beautifully illustrated, I presume, by background artist Edwin Garcia) is completely based on the Generation One cartoon series. Shockwave's base is Iacon, the planet's capital city from both the original cartoon and comic books.

When Optimus Prime surrenders, he symbolically removes the Autobot sigil from his right shoulder and lays it upon the ground. The character did something similar -- though not with a symbol which had been previously attached to him -- in the Marvel Comics series.

The idea of Cybertron falling out of orbit and drifting aimlessly through space dates back to the first issue of the first TRANSFORMERS comic series.

My Thoughts: My thoughts on the previous issue apply to this one as well: Mick* is doing some interesting stuff; I just don't think I would've gone this big, this fast. But the characters are still written superbly and I'm able to forgive the big concept because of that.

That said, there are some plot holes beginning to crop up. Optimus Prime sends seven Autobots into Portland before surrendering. Shouldn't Ultra Magnus have a manifest of exactly who he's here to arrest? Some of this group was seen by Shockwave last issue, so it's not like Prime could claim they were all killed in action or something while on Earth. And apparently Grimlock snuck out of Autobot headquarters as well before the big surrender. But none of this bothers Ultra Magnus, who simply loads up the few Autobots he did capture and leaves Earth with them. And then of course there's the matter of Grimlock leaving the Dinobots as Decepticon prisoners for the past year, as noted above. (Assuming they were taken by Megatron after the Transformers' reactivation by Lazarus, and not years earlier.)

What I will say, though, is that you get your money's worth in terms of words in these comics. Mick's wonderful cartoon-inspired dialogue fills the page, sometimes at the expense of the artwork. But it's such a pleasure to read the characters' words spoken in their proper "voices" that I can't complain.

Let's quickly touch on the artwork: It's still, surprisingly, pretty good. I have recollections of Pat Lee's art dropping off in the second series, but it hasn't happened yet, at least. I still don't like the strong toy influence on most of the characters' visuals, but at least they generally look like who they're supposed to be. And the backgrounds from Garcia are quite nice, too.

This issue mostly just moves characters around, with a little exposition and one big event -- the Autobots' surrender -- but, and I'm sure this praise is already getting old even only two issues in -- it's so wonderfully written that I can excuse almost any other shortcoming in its pages. Brad Mick's Transformers are the Transformers. Accept no substitutes.


* Due to working in Dreamwave's editorial department, writer James McDonough scripted his first several TRANSFORMERS comics under the pseudonym "Brad Mick". My reviews will use the Brad Mick name until the point where McDonough is officially credited by his real name.

2 comments:

  1. There are plot holes all over the place, but we can assume that v2 was a set up for the ongoing, ( why not just have an ongoing right away ? ) and the plot holes would be taped over.

    But I got a no prize explanation for Magnus laize a fair attitude.
    Namely that his heart or fuel pump if you prefer wasn't really in to it.
    He was aware there were 7 Autobots missing, but decided to turn a blind eye to it. Just in case things didn't work out after all.

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    1. Yes, it's very weird they went with another miniseries which basically served as the first story arc of the ongoing. We don't even see Jazz's team again until the first issue of volume 3!

      Your explanation for Ultra Magnus's actions here makes a lot of sense. We learn as the series goes on that he doesn't trust Shockwave, so perhaps he did leave Jazz's team on Earth as a sort of "wild card" against possible betrayal.

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