Friday, December 11, 2015


Writers: Brad Mick* & Adam Patyk | Pencils: Don Figueroa
Inks: Elaine To | Colors: Espen Grundetjern | Letters: Ben Lee

The Plot: Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, and Jetfire check on the defeated Omega Supreme and Jetfire explains how he and Omega wound up on Earth. Leaving Cliffjumper behind to guard the recovering Omega, Bumblebee and Jetfire take off to find Sunstorm. Meanwhile, on Cybertron, Prowl and Perceptor discuss the mystery of Vector Sigma and Sunstorm's escape, and Prowl enters a meeting with several top Autobots.

Back on Earth, Jetfire and Bumblebee find Sunstorm forcing Starscream to open a seal on the ground in Alaska. The seal opens and the Decepticons enter, followed by the Autobots. Underground, Jetfire defeats Starscream but Sunstorm takes Bumblebee hostage. However Starscream reveals he was playing possum and takes out both Sunstorm and Jetfire.

Continuity Notes: Suddenly the series has begun to include editorial footnotes. This issue references MICROMASTERS #1, WAR AND PEACE #6, and GENERATION ONE #3.

Jetfire explains that he and Omega Supreme were dispatched from Cybertron some time ago to find the missing Ark and detected its energy signature on Earth -- but as they approached the planet they were attacked by an unknown Transformer (shown to readers as Scourge). Jetfire trapped the hostile in a stasis pod in Alaska and both were apparently caught in an avalanche, but the story is interrupted before Jetfire can explain what happened next.

Perceptor and Prowl recall that Shockwave uploaded Vector Sigma's programming to his clone lab in WAR AND PEACE as a last-ditch effort, and the lab was unequipped to handle the supercomputer's data, leading to a portion of its code being written onto Sunstorm's brain when he activated. It's also made clear this issue that the Cybertronian Autobots have only now realized Sunstorm escaped to Earth.

During his story, Jetfire notes that, in addition to the Ark, he also detected "...a massive Decepticon-like energy signature, located miles below the [Earth's] surface." This seems to be the hatch unearthed by Sunstorm, who uses Starscream to open it. The reason Starscream can open it, according to Sunstorm, is that he has "an untainted portion" of Megatron somewhere within him. Whatever this thing is, it is likely the secret connection between Earth and Cybertron which Shockwave hinted at in WAR AND PEACE #6.

Starscream reveals that he tinkered with his "null ray" weapon, based upon Jetfire's energy siphon device from issue 3, in order to make himself a match for Sunstorm.

G1 References: Starscream makes an aside to his and Jetfire's shared time at "the academy," calling to mind their history as colleagues from the original cartoon series.

My Thoughts: After a few issues with way too much padding and not nearly enough plot, we suddenly come across this gem of a dense chapter! I will maintain that this arc has run way too long, but that's mainly the fault of issues 2, 3, and 4 all being far too sparse. I would argue that those three, plus this issue, could have probably been condensed into two issues by spreading some of the exposition around into other scenes (Mick is quite fond of info-dump conversations) and only having two fights against Sunstorm instead of a zillion.

But we've covered the shortcomings of the previous few issues already, so let's focus on this one -- it's quite good! At last we get a little more about Sunstorm: We already knew he was a clone of Starscream, but now we understand the pseudo-religious fanaticism was a result of corrupted programming when Vector Sigma downloaded partially into his head. We also learn where Jetfire and Omega Supreme came from (though still no word on how Jetfire wound up Starscream's prisoner in issue 2), and Mick ties their story back to the appearance of Scourge in WAR AND PEACE. It's almost like he planned all this stuff out from the beginning!

It's unclear exactly when Jetfire arrived on Earth and how long Scourge was lying in stasis in Alaska, but at least answers are beginning to come. I don't need (or want) everything delivered to me at once, but this sort of information should be flowing fairly regularly. It's almost like Mick was in a holding pattern for a few issues and the arrival of co-writer Adam Patyk has energized him -- but whatever the cause, I couldn't be happier.

I should add that I really like the storytelling gimmick here where the Autobots on Earth are fighting Sunstorm with very little idea of who or what he is, while on Cybertron, Prowl and Perceptor have pieced together his origins but are unable to communicate that information to the Earthbound Autobots. I enjoy when two sides each know something but the reader is the only one with the full picture, leading to a sense of anxiousness for both groups to get together and compare notes.

The art and colors in this issue deserve special notice as well. Figueroa's work continues to impress, and suddenly Espen Grundetjern's colors look better than ever, with a real "cel-shaded" flavor that fits Figueroa's art beautifully.

After a few "off" installments, this series has suddenly achieved the potential WAR AND PEACE promised. Let's see how long it lasts.

* 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.

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