Plots: James McDonough & Adam Patyk
Artwork (unpublished pages): Don Figueroa & Elaine To
Artwork (unpublished pages): Don Figueroa & Elaine To
|Issue 11 house ad|
Issue 12 Solicit: This is it: the return of the most popular Transformer of all time! Yes, the indomitable Optimus Prime is finally back, ready to chew Energon and kick bumper-and he's all outta Energon! But the question is: where is he? Find out in this thrill-packed anniversary issue, as the greatest Autobots leader ever faces off against the ravenous Sharkticons and their cruel masters, the Quintessons! Don't miss this special birthday issue, a perfect jumping-on point featuring Optimus Prime himself ushering in an all-new era of Transformers greatness. The countdown to 2005 begins now!"
Issue 13 Solicit: 2005 is here - and the battle for the universe begins! Created by the sinister Unicron, the lone Cyclonus has been dispatched to search the galaxy for the missing Alpha herald, Scourge. But when his mission leads him to a top-secret storage facility on Earth, will Cyclonus find the end of his quest or the business end of several high-caliber EDC-issued blasters? This initial arc - "Detection" kicks off the biggest, baddest Generation One storyline ever! Get in on the ground floor for a front-row seat to the beginning - of the apocalypse!"
Issue 14 Solicit: "The Enemy Within": The humans fight back as the “Contact” arc continues! Recovering from Cyclonus’ violent assault on their facilities, the EDC tries to equalize the odds by activating its top secret defense plan—Project Centurion! Suspecting something sinister, Marissa begins to explore the real motives behind the EDC’s newest operation. Fearing the worst, the recently revived Autobot leader Optimus Prime rallies his troops on both Earth and Cybertron for the dark future looming on the horizon.
|Issue 12 solicited cover|
Continuity Notes: Optimus Prime's return in issue 12 would have been his first appearance in action in the ongoing series, putting him out of commission for over a year, dating back to WAR AND PEACE #6.
In issues 9 and 10, the Quintessons spoke of a plan to capture both Optimus Prime and Hot Rod. Presumably, based on issue 12's solicit, Prime would have been abducted in issue 11 and brought to Quintessa in issue 12. (It's worth noting that the preview pages of #11 show Hot Rod sharing a moment with the comatose Autobot leader in the opening scene.)
Project: Centurion, which was to be activated in issue 14, was first mentioned by General Witwicky in #10.
A footnote in issue 9 pointed to the 2004 DATATRACKS ANNUAL for additional background on Megatron's air warrior clones and Cybertron's "Age of Internment". Presumably this would have factored into the short story mentioned in the solciit.
|Issue 13 solicited cover|
The significance of 2005, noted in the solicits for both issues 12 and 13, comes from TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE, which was set in the then-distant future year.
TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE also featured the first appearances of Scourge and Cyclonus, both created by Unicron. Their origins here seem somewhat similar, as the solicits hint that Scourge was a herald of Unicron and Cyclonus has been dispatched to track him down.
Also from TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE -- the line in issue 12's solicits, the "...Sharkticons and their cruel masters, the Quintessons" is a direct lift of dialogue from the film.
My Thoughts: I won't delve much into the particulars of what happened with Dreamwave, but the short of it is that the company went bankrupt, even as founder Pat Lee and his brother funneled money out into a new corporation rather than pay their talent for work already done. But that's not what we're here for. This is a look back at Dreamwave's GENERATION ONE comic, examined on its own merits, isolated from the sleazebags who published it.
After Chris Sarracini's attempt to take the TRANSFORMERS franchise in a "grown up" direction with the inaugural PRIME DIRECTIVE mini-series, James "Brad Mick" McDonough came on board with TRANSFORMERS volume 2, WAR AND PEACE. For me, both in 2003 and today, there was no better fit for the series. Here was a writer who got the Transformers. He was clearly a fan of the G1 cartoon series above all else, but didn't mind referencing the comics as well, when appropriate. Rather than taking Sarracini's "adult" approach, McDonough just put a simple modern spin on the cartoon continuity, and it worked beautifully.
I've read that McDonough didn't have many friends at Dreamwave. I don't know if he was abrasive or unfriendly or what, but when McDonough and Patyk left Dreamwave in 2004, shortly before the company's bankruptcy filing, Rich Johnston's Lying in the Gutters column posted some less-than-flattering comments about McDonough from a Dreamwave staffer. More recently, in 2012, former Dreamwave editorial director (and current UDON editor) Matt Moylan said:
"...the G1 ongoing was crap written by an imbecile, probably the biggest jackass I have met in 10 years in the industry."Granted, it's possible, and entirely probable, that Moylan is in fact the Dreamwave staffer quoted by Johnston, but the point remains that McDonough was apparently not well-liked by his colleagues. Based on these comments, I doubt I'd like the guy in person. But in this case we're letting his work speak for him, and I take issue with Moylan's idea (which seems to echo that of other TRANSFORMERS fans around the web) that the G1 ongoing was "crap".
I guess there's no accounting for taste, but I just don't see how any fan of the original eighties Transformers characters can look at the issues I just read and think that. When I started this project last September, it was with the directive to figure out "...if these things are as bad as everyone thinks." It's safe to declare, based on the past four months' worth of posts, that I don't believe they are. If you loved Sunbow's GENERATION ONE cartoons, then the McDonough/Patyk/Figueroa ongoing is just about the most perfect TRANSFORMERS series you can ask for. It's not a "reimagining". It's barely a "reinvention". It's about the purest revival of G1 I've ever seen. When you add to that the brilliant mythology McDonough and Patyk were building at the time they were cancelled, it's even better.
Were there negatives? Of course. Obviously I didn't like the PRIME DIRECTIVE miniseries that kicked things off. I felt that McDonough's little G1 "Easter eggs", especially when they came in the form of verbatim dialogue from the old cartoons, were a bit too cute for their own good. McDonough and Patyk sometimes relied too much on the toy bios over the cartoon's characterizations. The Sunstorm arc ran way the heck too long, and its focus on just a tiny handful of Autobots did no favors for the series' larger cast. And the sparse use of Megatron, and complete absence of Optimus Prime, from the ongoing series' first year -- while a brave creative choice -- was probably a bad idea. (Though I'd probably think otherwise on that last point if the series had run longer.)
Artistically, the work by Pat Lee and Don Figueroa was good, and by the end, Figueroa's work, brilliantly aided by Dreamwave's colorists, was unbelievable (though Figueroa's grasp of human anatomy and facial structure remained equivalent to that of a six year-old throughout his run). Personally, I would've preferred a much stricter adherence to the Sunbow animation models, and I really would have liked to see all Autobots with blue eyes and all Decepticons with red eyes, also as in the TV series, but that seems to be my particular hang-up, something not shared by many other fans.
And the writing improved with the art as the series progressed. The Easter egg count dropped severely around the time Patyk came along, so perhaps he reined in McDonough's more extreme tendencies. The second story arc, featuring the Insecticons, had a slightly larger group of Autobots and ran only two issues. After that, it appeared the larger Autobot cast was poised to start doing things, plus Megatron was back in action and we had the return of Optimus Prime in the wings.
Beyond that, as the solicits above indicate, McDonough and Patyk were picking up momentum with their ongoing plots, ushering in the heralds of Unicron, continuing to develop the human cast, and paving the way for something big in 2005.
Again, as I said when I started, "...there's a right way (slavish imitation of the original cartoon series) and wrong way (anything else) to do TRANSFORMERS." I just don't understand why, if you were a fan of something when you were younger, you'd want it done differently as an adult. Given a bit more depth? Sure. Done with greater attention to detail and continuity? Absolutely. But reinvented? Absolutely not. Why change the stuff that made you a fan in the first place?
So by my measuring stick, McDonough and Patyk came the closest to getting things right out of anyone who's ever touched the franchise since the late eighties. These weren't perfect TRANSFORMERS comics, but they were the closest we've ever come to that goal and remain probably the closest we ever will come. It's a shame things turned out the way they did with Dreamwave, because I'd love to own a short box of a hundred or so TRANSFORMERS: GENERATION ONE comics by McDonough, Patyk, and Figueroa.