Friday, October 9, 2015

TRANSFORMERS: WAR AND PEACE #3

"COLD WAR"
Writer: Brad Mick* | Pencils: Pat Lee | Inks: Rob Armstrong
Backgrounds: Edwin Garcia | Layout Assists: Ferd Poblete
Colors: Espen Grundetjern, Alan Wang, & Gary Young | Letters: Paul Villafuerte

The Plot: In the past, somewhere on Cybertron, Shockwave is attacked by Sharkticons and rescued by Scourge. In the present, Shockwave has the ancient Autobot Alpha Trion prisoner. On Earth, Jazz's team searches Alaska for Scourge's pod, but finds no trace of him or of it. They are secretly observed by human military operatives who have captured Scourge.

The Dinobots crash-land on Cybertron, observed by Autobots Hot Rod, Blurr, and Springer. Meanwhile, Shockwave sends Rumble and Frenzy on a secret mission, then argues with Ultra Magnus over the fates of the captured Autobots. Elsewhere, the Dinobots are found by Decepticons Octane and Sixshot. In a Decepticon detention center, Rumble and Frenzy carry out Shockwave's mission -- freeing the captive Stunticons -- but are stopped on their way out by Starscream.

An Autobot council debates Perceptor's recent findings that Shockwave's machinations may be behind Cybertron drifting through space. Ultra Magnus urges them to challenge Shockwave's authority, but the meeting is interrupted when it's discovered the Stunticons are wreaking havoc elsewhere. Ultra Magnus gathers a team to stop the escaped prisoners.

The Dinobots, having defeated Octane and hijacked Sixshot, head for parts unknown. Meanwhile, Shockwave orders the Autobots brought to him while Ultra Magnus is occupied. But Autobot loyalists free the prisoners instead, taking Optimus Prime one way and the rest of his team another. Meanwhile, the Dinobots lay siege to Iacon. In tunnels beneath Cybertron, Prime's guide, Sandstorm, is killed by the Decepticon Runabout, who is in turn eaten by a Sharkticon which turns its attention to Optimus.

Continuity Notes: Jazz references Wheeljack's "death" in "Prime Directive" as "...dodging that big junkyard in the sky."

In order to sway public opinion against the captive Autobots, Shockwave releases footage of their brutal fight with the Decepticons in "Prime Directive" for public consumption.

Body Count: Brad Mick isn't as bloodthirsty as Simon Furman, but since a few Transformers bought it this issue, I figured I'd bring this category back. In addition to the above-mentioned Sandstorm and Runabout, Octane is apparently killed off-panel by the Dinobots (they're seen playing around with his decapitated head when we catch up with them later in the issue).

G1 References: Alpha Trion was the "first Autobot" in the Generation One cartoon continuity. He also turned Orion Pax into Optimus Prime in the episode "War Dawn". In this continuity he has some connection with Scourge, as Shockwave notes that meeting the mystery Decepticon was the first step in tracking Trion down.

Mick's Dinobots seem to be based on those of the G1 Marvel comics. Grimlock is the only one with a primitive speech pattern, while the rest all speak normally. I will reiterate from my REGENERATION ONE reviews that I've never liked this take on the characters. I prefer all my Dinobots to be dumb as bricks.

Hot Rod spots the approaching Decepticon shuttle, piloted by Dinobots, from the ground in what could be considered an homage to his spying an Autobot shuttle piloted by Decepticons in TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE.

Rumble and Frenzy refer to the Stunticons as "psychopaths", consistent with their portrayal in the G1 cartoons as a bunch of insane daredevils. The idea of this group being locked up by the Decepticons themselves for being too dangerous is borrowed from the Combaticons' backstory in the episode "Starscream's Brigade" (though we will later learn that the Combaticons are also incarcerated in this continuity).

The team Ultra Magnus assembles to deal with the Stunticons is the Wreckers, of Marvel U.K. G1 fame. Also from the comics: Shockwave is seen to use a smelting pool to melt down disagreeable Transformers. The smelting pool first appeared in the Marvel series.

My Thoughts: It's insane how much story Mick crams into these issues. This stuff was published when Marvel was moving into "decompression" mode, padding out stories simply to fill trade paperback collections. But the trend hadn't caught on anywhere else yet, and Mick's work is as dense as -- if not more dense than -- anything from Marvel's storied past. The issues are quick reads, but there's plenty of plot crammed into the story and tons of scene jumps thanks to short, tight scenes which convey their information quickly and succinctly. I love it.

However I should probably level at lest one criticism at the writing, so I'll say this: Mick has a habit of bolding the wrong words in his dialogue. Every so often he gets one right, but more often than not, this is the case and it makes for some awkwardly stilted sentences.

Though I suppose it's possible that's more of an editorial issue. There's certainly one late in the issue when the Auobots are rescued while the Dinobots attack Iacon (?) elsewhere. Optimus Prime asks, "What in the name of Cybertron is going on up there?" and an overlaid caption box dialogue in the next panel, showing the Dinobots in battle, says, "...have decided to pay our fair city a little visit." I'm pretty sure some balloon or caption box was dropped there.

But above all, my favorite thing to come out of this issue is Mick's essentially disavowing Chris Sarracini's work on "Prime Directive". When Shockwave releases his footage from that mini-series, he states that the Earthbound Transformers "...completely lost control of themselves. They were consumed by their most primitive... most violent urges." (See what I mean about those mis-bolded words?)

Reading between the lines, it sounds to me like Mick knew Sarracini had gone too far with the Transformers causing all that death and collateral damage, and he's taken a moment to point it out to the rest of us. It doesn't take much for a reader to connect some dots and assume that, perhaps, the Transformers in "Prime Directive" were still suffering ill effects from Lazarus's brainwashing, leading to their being a bit more bloodthirsty than normal. In other words, we now have a canonical reason for all the out-of-character behavior in "Prime Directive".

That's the way I'm going to read it, anyway.


* 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.

5 comments:

  1. Yeah this one ..hmm, in the middle of the six parter.
    I don't have much to say about it to be honest.

    Personally I like my Dinobots intelligent. Because intelligent thugs are dangerous thugs, more dangerous then a couple of imbeciles wandering off.

    The cartoon did the Stunticons and Aerialbots for that matter, right.
    But then again the comic never gave either much of a spotlight.

    The vehicle the Dinobots go joyriding in is mostly likely a homage to Sixshot because its one of his alt modes.
    ( Dreamwave G1 comics are so replete with homages and nudge nudge wink wink, fanwank it's often hard to see what is and isnt an easter egg. )

    I mostly see wheeljack being alive and those comments about V1 as retconning the most egregious parts and then ignoring the rest. ( Easily done because v1 operated in a vacuum and is so ..forgettable. )
    But i am all in favor of ignoring V1 anyway.

    This issue and the whole mini series really was released in 2003. So that means it was released at the height of Ultimate Spider-man's popularity.
    I mostly blame that series for decompression and writing for the trade.
    Along with Planetary, The Authority and the Dreamwave transformers mini's which were all high profile decompressed wide screen comics.
    marvel later also ranw ith ti with the punisher max series and the ultimates
    But Ultimate Spider-man was the most high profile and most successful.
    With each story line running at a snails pace, being decompressed and slowed down to near breaking point.
    The original 11 pages origin of Spider- man was inflated to encompass 7 issues.
    154 pages
    Which seems a bit excessive.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, I don't know what Sixshot's actual deal is here. Much later in the ongoing series, he shows up again, mostly off-panel, and Astrotrain and Blitzwing have dialogue about how Shockwave has "completed" him. So it seems like the Sixshot seen here is either -- as you said -- a prototype, or it's the unfinished actual character.

      Good point about the ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN influence. WAR AND PEACE is pretty dense, as I said above, but as soon as we hit the ongoing, Mick goes into "full decompression" mode, padding his Sunstorm story out way too long.

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    2. I think this Sixshot is just an easter egg, or the in universe explanation could be that Sixshot just transforms in to a generic, for Cybertron anyway, assault vehicle.

      V2 might be so dense because they wanted to wash away the bad taste of V1.

      I am not ....a fan of the Sunstorm arc and thats a bit of an understatement'.
      I'm indifferent at the best of times about the Skyraiders ( I refuse to call them seekers. ) And I dislike Starscream.
      So a storyline with Starscream in a main role and with a skyraider repaint that lasts for 6 issues, is not going to win any favors with me.
      But I will air those grievances when we get there.

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    3. I don't know how or why the term "Seeker" became so widespread among fans. I don't like it either. In G1, there was no term for the characters; they were just the "Decepticon jets", which works fine for me. But if a term must be applied to them, I prefer "Air Warriors", since Starscream's Tech Spec calls him the "Air Commander" while Skywarp, Thundercracker, Dirge, Ramjet, and Thrust are all identified as "Warriors". Plus, in subsequent years, the generic light purple jet clones have come to be called "Air Warriors" as well.

      But I agree -- whatever they're called, I refuse to call them "Seekers".

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    4. The "Seeker"term seems to have come from a 1984 JC Penny catalog of all things, according to the wiki, who has done some extensive research on the subject.

      http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Seekers#Origin_of_the_term

      Their original Sub Group name was Decepticon planes or Decepticon jets.
      Personally I like the G2 term SkyRaiders.

      Unfortunately, in 2002 Furman used the term Seekers in a War With in, issue and made the term canon. ( drat and double drat )

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