Friday, November 13, 2015


Writer: Brad Mick* | Pencils: Don Figueroa | Inks: Elaine To
Colors: Espen Grundetjern & Rob Ruffalo | Letters: Ben Lee

The Plot: Somewhere in Oregon, Starscream gloats over the defeated Earthbound Autobots but notices two are missing. He sends his minion, Bruticus, to track them down. Meanwhile, Ratchet and Brawn make their way back to the Ark and attempt to slip past its defense systems, on guard against any intruders.

On Cybertron, Runabout and Runamuck explore Shockwave's laboratory and accidentally release a mysterious robot who destroys both of them and leaves the planet. Back on Earth, Bruticus invades the Ark and releases the imprisoned Soundwave, Skywarp, and Thundercracker. Brawn contacts the Autobot relief shuttle Orion, en route to Earth under Bumblebee's command, and explains the situation on Earth. Meanwhile, Ratchet blows up the Ark to keep it out of Starscream's hands.

Starscream subdues Ratchet and Brawn while the Orion enters Earth orbit. But the shuttle is passed by the robot from Cybertron, revealed as a jet of the same type as Starscream and company.

Continuity Notes: The story begins en media res, though Brawn fills in the blanks later on. It seems the Ark was assaulted by Soundwave, Skywarp, and Thundercracker, but the Autobots defeated and captured them easily. This attack turned out to be a decoy, however, and the Combaticons ambushed the complacent Autobots, taking all of them out except Ratchet and Brawn.

Turns out Runabout wasn't killed in WAR AND PEACE after all; just "...nearly torn to shreds..." But his stay of execution lasts barely longer than it takes him to reveal he's still alive.

Shockwave's lab contains several cloned Transformers, including Ultra Magnus, Soundwave, Blaster, Perceptor, and Jazz.

Body Count: Runabout is killed. Again. And this time Runamuck goes with him. Also, the Ark is destroyed.

G1 References: As noted last time, even I will admit some of these "homages" are getting a little too cute for their own good. This time, Starscream is seen fantasizing about himself wearing a crown and cape a la TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE, and he even uses a line from that scene, "Who disrupts my coronation?" (Though his question is cut off halfway through the final word by Bruticus.)

All of Shockwave's clones are based on alternate versions of old Transformers toys. For example: the Ultra Magnus clone is painted in his Diaclone colors, Diaclone being the toy line from which most of the original Transformers' molds were cannibalized.

The clone of Starscream, to be named next issue as Sunstorm, is based on a yellow variant of the Starscream animation model which appeared in early G1 cartoon episodes.

Bumblebee's crew consists entirely of the GENERATION ONE "mini-bot" toys. Among them is a character named Bumper, previously unnamed but often referred to by fans as "Bumblejumper", who debuted in the G1 toyline under peculiar circumstances.

As he goes into battle against the Decepticons, Brawn dons a battle mask which looks like the face of his original toy. Also, Ratchet refers to the Ark's central computer as Teletran-1, a reference to the cartoon series -- though a series bible unearthed after the publication of these comics has revealed the correct spelling to be "Teletraan".

G1/BEAST WARS Hybrid References: Starscream chastises Bruticus for allowing the Ark to be destroyed, saying "Now we'll never make it back to the Nemesis. In BEAST WARS, Nemesis was the name given to the Decepticons' spacecraft from the G1 pilot episode, "More Than Meets the Eye". Though why Starscrem needed the Ark to get "back" to the ship is unclear, especially since when last we saw him he was flying around in Sky Lynx.

My Thoughts: This may be issue #1 of the ongoing series, but Mick treats it like just another issue of the overall storyline he began in WAR AND PEACE. It feels a little odd to get a first issue with absolutely no setup to speak of, but when one recalls that Mick wrote WAR AND PEACE more like an ongoing anyway, the approach makes sense. Plus, we did get #0 to recap what had gone before.

Strangely, though, this may be the least dense of all Mick's stories so far. It's pretty much straightforward action following Ratchet and Brawn, with only the little check-in on Cybertron to give us a glimpse at Shockwave's previously established schemes (and even that scene ties in with the main story when Sunstorm arrives on Earth).

So there's not a lot to say about the story this issue, other than one nit I must pick: The destruction of the Ark. This is the first major misfire on Mick's part in my opinion. He's writing a series fueled by nostalgia, and for this reader at least, there's no warmer nostalgic blanket than seeing the Autobots relaxing in front of Teletraan-1 inside their cartoon headquarters. The removal of that "set" from the storyline rubs me the wrong way.

And then there's the artwork: Pat Who? I noted previously that Pat Lee's artwork wasn't as bad as I remembered, but he's got nothing on Don Figueroa. Figueroa puts his own spin on Dreamwave's house style, making his Transformers a bit broader and more angular than we've previously seen, but keeping them unmistakably on model. For close to a decade, Figueroa would become the definitive TRANSFORMERS artist, his influence lasting well beyond his work on this short-lived series, as he provided toy box art and even fully transformable figure designs for Hasbro.

Here, Figueroa debuts with a massive splash, giving us perfectly rendered Transformers in breathtakingly illustrated action sequences. His work is easier to "read" than Lee's, and his robots are much more pleasant to look at, too. If nothing else can be said about Dreamwave's GENERATION ONE ongoing, we can at least thank it profusely for introducing the world to Don Figueroa's art.

* 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.


  1. I'm sure it will come as no surprise, when I say that I dont' mind the destruction of the ark at all.
    It means that this series wont play it totally safe.
    Just mostly.

    And it's here where all of these callbacks to the original cartoon are starting to get really annoying.

    But Figueroa debuted with The War Within, in 2002\2003 before he was moved to the Generation 1 ongoing in 2003\2004.
    While Andrew Wildman took on artistic duties, for The War Within, The Dark Ages.

    1. Yes, I think I meant to note that this is Figueroa's debut for us in this review series, not for the franchise in general.

      I understand Andrew Wildman didn't enjoy working on THE DARK AGES due to Dreamwave inking and coloring his artwork to fit their house style. I recall seeing some of his penciled pages way back when, and I can see why he was miffed. A lot of detail was removed in the process.