Friday, January 8, 2016


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

The Plot: Jazz and Marissa battle the Insecticon clones while Sideswipe and Sunstreaker descend beneath the movie theater and find glowing green larvae. Elsewhere, Insecticon Bombshell works on his captive, Bumper, while speaking to Shockwave over a video monitor. When Bombshell detects Sideswipe and Sunstreaker, he awakens Kickback and Shrapnel to join him in dealing with them. As soon as the trio departs, Bumper breaks free to escape. Meanwhile, in Cleveland, Bumblebee pays a visit to Spike Witwicky and announces that he's quitting the Autobots.

Back in California, the Insecticons capture Sideswipe and Sunstreaker. Meanwhile, Jazz and Marissa find sanctuary and compare notes on the Insecticons. They then head under the city and find the larvae, which Jazz torches with his flamethrower. The Insecticons leave their lair to investigate while Bumper frees Sideswipe and Sunstreaker, then goes off on his own. The remaining Autobots and Marissa unite to battle the Insecticons, and Kickback and Shrapnel are defeated.

Bombshell plays his trump card by summoning the mind-controlled town populace to attack. Unwilling to retaliate against these innocent humans, the Autobots prepare for their demise. But Bumper, having procured one of Bombshell's cerebro-shells, uses it to fry the Insecticon's brain and free the citizens from his control, saving the day.

Continuity Notes: Bizarrely, this issue drops the huge revelation that Shockwave is still alive following WAR AND PEACE in the most cavalier way possible, as we catch him in the middle of a casual conversation with Bombshell. During the discussion, Shockwave refers to the Insecticons as "the second phase of our invasion," and Bombshell notes that the Insecticons have been in hiding on Earth for the past four million years.

Spike's son Daniel sees Bumblebee for the first time, and is told by his mother, Carly, that Bumblebee is "...daddy's best friend." It's also revealed that at some point after PRIME DIRECTIVE, Spike told the Autobots he wanted nothing more to do with them and moved his family to Ohio.

Marissa reveals to Jazz that the EDC suspected the Insecticons were behind the disappearances in San Desto, but they kept that theory from the Autobots during their briefing. Jazz later recalls that when Grimlock first caught up with Optimus Prime's crew on Earth, the Dinobot commander recalled battling the Insecticons on Earth a few million years earlier. A footnote says that this battle occurred in a story called "The Rules of Extinction", which Dreamwave never actually published.

In the same conversation, Jazz's text can be read to infer that the Earthbound Autobots met and associated with Grimlock only in the years prior to the Ark II disaster. This wouldn't be contradicted by the prior stories, as PRIME DIRECTIVE featured Grimlock solo, and WAR AND PEACE showed him reuniting with the captive Dinobots at Megatron's base in the arctic. What we don't know, however, is how the other four Dinobots went from fighting the Insecticons while Megatron and his men were all hibernating aboard the Ark, to becoming Megatron's prisoners four million years later.

G1 References: Sideswipe deploys a piledriver identical to the ones he used in the original cartoon series. Later in the issue, he also flies with the aid of a rocket pack, which was described on his character's original toy bio. (Though it's interesting to note the bios for Sideswipe and Sunstreaker were mixed up during production of the toyline, as it's Sunstreaker who actually has something on his back that could be interpreted as a "rocket pack". Sideswipe's back is bare.)

Bombshell appears to give the Insecticons orders this issue, though Kickback and Jazz both note that Shrapnel is the group's official leader. This seems to be a reference to the G1 cartoons, where Shrapnel was also the Insecticon commander, but occasionally it seemed as if Bombshell was in charge.

A restaurant sign seen during the fights in San Destro identifies the business as Cullen's, doubtlessly a reference to Peter Cullen, original voice of Optimus Prime and Ironhide.

My Thoughts: There are some weird disconnects with the script this issue. On page two, Jazz announces that he's "never seen Decepticons that have a chewy center," implying that the Insecticons are new to him (and, presumably to the rest of his crew). But later, Sideswipe knows Shrapnel by name, and recalls that he used to lead the Insecticons on Cybertron.

This is very poorly addressed in the scene where Jazz and Marissa discuss the Insecticons, and Jazz says that the Decepticons Grimlock faced millions of years earlier "...looked nothing like these things." Except that in the flashback, they look pretty much exactly like the modern-day Insecticons. Their details area bit different, utilizing Don Figueroa's WAR WITHIN Cybetronian designs, but there can be no mistaking them for the Insecticons Jazz just met.

(Also, how does Jazz know what the Insecticons looked like when Grimlock fought them way back when? Did Grimlock have video of the fight?)

Also, on page three, two of Marissa's men, Dorry and Cruz, are abducted by Shrapnel. Later, Bumper runs across them fighting the Insecticons and says that "I wasn't sure if you made it, after you took off like that..." But there are two things wrong with this scene: One, a footnote points to the men being abducted last issue, when, like I just said, it actually happened at the start of this issue. And two, Bumper was Bombshell's prisoner when the duo was taken. He should have no knowledge of their kidnapping.

But then, Bumper acts very suspiciously in this scene. First, as he tells Dorry and Cruz that he's looking for Bombshell, he says "He's, uh, colored like these things, but he's a robot, like me..." I'm probably reading too much into the "uh," but it just looks like Bumper making something up or lying (which he isn't, since Bombshell is colored like the Insecticon clones, but still -- it's just weird).

More importantly, on the page's final panel, after Dorry and Cruz tell Bumper that they saw Bombshell, who they briefly feared might eat them, we get an extreme close-up of Bumper's optics, with a really creepy convex reflection of Cruz and Dorry that makes Bumper's eyes almost resemble those of an insect.

And then, of course, on the final page, as the Autobots congratulate Bumper on a job well done, we see a license plate on a battered car in the foreground, which ominously reads "TR8R1".

Were McDonough and Patyk setting Bumper up to be a traitor? And if so, was it by his own choice or was he possibly under Bombshell's control? Or was his odd behavior here just a red herring? Sadly, we'll never know. Which is honestly too bad, because this is one of the more intriguing plot points to come up so far; something which isn't a tribute or reimagining of past continuity, utilizing a character "new" to the mythos!


  1. This storyline, I don't know.
    I still think it's a 1 issue story spread over two.
    The story is threadbare and could have just as well been done in one.
    Especially if it was tightened up a bit.
    Done in one storylines were extremely rare in the Dreamwave series, where everything was a mini series or aimed for the trade.
    IDW also has that trade mentality, but the spotlights were done in one stories and the ongoing series, also have done in one stories.

    I also think this comic as usual has too many winks to other continuities. At one point the fan wank has to stop and the stories must stand on their own two legs.

    And the whole mystery with Bumper, if there indeed was a mystery he might have been a red herring ultimately went nowhere.
    But that's not issue 8's fault and it would have been something totally new, instead of slavishly following or referencing the cartoon.
    Speaking of new, I do like Sunstreakers characterisation here.
    It's always said that he was vain, narcissistic and a borderline sociopath, but we never saw that.
    The most we got was some token vainness, but his other more unpleasant character beats never came to the foreground.
    The page where he replies with nothing more then yes and a single no, has done more for his character then the whole of G1 and the rest of the comic also shows what a truly unpleasant person he is.
    That is one thing I wish IDW kept.

    Marissa Fairborne and all the other humans are still very much, ..ehh.
    Too pseudo anime.

    As far as your comment about Grimlock and the Insecticons go.
    Maybe he did have a video of them ?
    Remember back in Marvel US issue 8 ( Repeat Performance). Ratchett was able to tap in to Slag's internal systems and view a recording of Slag and the other Dinobots confronting Shockwave.
    So maybe that was the same idea here ? ( Knowing Dreamwave I wouldn't be surprised. )

    1. Good point on the video. It's entirely possible Grimlock did have a recording of his encounter with the Insecticons.

      I agree this story could've been a done-in-one, but honestly, after the Sunstorm arc, I'm just glad they kept it to two issues rather than four or six.

      I actually didn't find all that many G1 homages in this story. I've noticed that once Adam Patyk comes aboard as co-writer, the number of "Easter Eggs" drops significantly. I suspect he somewhat reined in that particular tendency of McDonough's.

      As far as Figueroa's inability to draw humans -- I'll touch on that next time, but I definitely agree with you.