Friday, January 6, 2017


Though the Dreamwave TRANSFORMERS/G.I. JOE: DIVIDED FRONT mini-series ended in 2004 following only a single issue when the publisher went bankrupt, issues 2 through 6 were all solicited with covers shown for 2 through 5. In addition to #1, these issues are covered below for the sake of completion. All solicits courtesy of the Transformers Wiki, though they can be found elsewhere online as well.

Dedicated to Larry Hama!
Writers: James McDonough and Adam Patyk | Pencils: Pat Lee
Breakdowns: Nick Kuslian | Background: Edwin Garcia | Inks: Rob Armstrong
Colors: Anthony Washington and Alan Wang | Letters: Ben Lee

The Plot: At New York City Harbor in 1985, a group of G.I. Joes led by Flint battle Cobra forces under the command of Destro. The villains escape, and later, at G.I. Joe Headquarters, Flint is reprimanded by his commanding officer. Meanwhile, a spacecraft crashes in Oregon. Cobra gets wind of this and sends agents to investigate, while Starscream does a flyover of their island.

Later, Flint is assigned a new mission: he leads a team of Joes to Oregon where they fight Cobra once more and locate the unconscious body of Autobot Blaster. Soon, back at Joe HQ, Flint is called before his elderly commander, Duke, who introduces him to fellow members of the original World War II era Joe team and begins to explain the team's past with the Transformers.

Issue 2 Solicit: The secrets of G.I. Joe and Cobra's pasts are revealed as the greatest arms race in history intensifies, blazing a path across the world. Desperate for an equalizer, the Joes raid a top-secret Cobra bunker located in the Everglades. But when Cobra's newly hired Dreadnok biker gang intervenes, will the Joes be too late to gain the advantage and, more importantly, save their Autobot allies?!

Issue 3 Solicit: FAN-FAVE FIREFLY DEBUTS! Snake Eyes is a hard ninja to kill -- which is why COBRA Commander has called in one of his biggest guns to do the job: the assassin Firefly! What is the history behind this COBRA'S rivalry with Snake Eyes? And can the Joes' ninja overcome this deadly saboteur in time to help his teammates retrieve the stolen Transformer technology from COBRA'S secret Arctic base? It's chaos on the ice as the Autobots face off against Destro's deadly COBRA/Decepticon hybrid warriors, with Starscream waiting to pick up the pieces!

Issue 4 Solicit: AUTOBOT vs. AUTOBOT! It's a robot riot as the new Cold War over the Transformers really starts to heat up! The G.I. Joes and their Autobot allies try to reconcile their opposing views and unite against COBRA -- but can they? They're not the only ones whose tempers are flaring, as members of COBRA prepare to foil their increasingly deranged leader's top-secret project -- if the mutineers can make it past Firefly and the elite Crimson Guard, that is!

Issue 5 Solicit: What is the terrible secret buried beneath Cobra Island? Whatever it is, Starscream and Soundwave want it bad -- bad enough to destroy Cobra Commander if he doesn't give it to them! Flint and the Autobots must prepare an all-out assault of the island themselves to prevent the villains' evil plans, but can the G.I. Joes count on Snake Eyes to help them -- or will his vendetta against Firefly doom them all?

Issue 6 Solicit: COBRA's plans for domination are in full effect and, thanks to Destro, the Autobots and the Joes are now public enemy #1! Even so, will our heroes be able to thwart Destro's plans? Maybe...but you won't believe who going to help them out. The ultimate retro crossover is about to go out with a bang!

Continuity Notes: As noted above, this story is set in 1985 and is a direct sequel to Dreamwave's first TRANSFORMERS/G.I. JOE series, which took place during World War II. As a result, Duke, Scarlett, and Stalker, who all appear on the final page, are considerably older than their fellow Joes.

Given that characters named Flint, Snake-Eyes, Destro, and Cobra Commander were all included in the original mini-series -- and all appear here as well -- one wonders exactly who these versions of the characters are. Destro is simple enough to figure out -- he is a legacy character, with every head of his family wearing the same distinctive steel mask -- but the rest are unexplained, at least in the first issue.

Though it's made clear Cobra and G.I. Joe have been at odds for some time, this story presents the initial battle as the Joes' first meeting with (this) Destro.

As Duke reprimands Flint, he tells the younger officer that "...Nathaniel never gave apologies... he gave results." Over the pages of the GENERATION ONE ongoing, it had been established by this point that Marissa Faireborn's grandfather was named Nathaniel, and here in this parallel universe, Flint is compared with someone named Nathaniel. Given that in the original cartoon series' continuity, Marissa was intended to be Flint's daughter, it's pretty simple to connect the dots and discern that McDonough and Patyk intend Nathaniel to be Flint's father.

When Blaster's ship crashes, he's speaking with someone other unseen Autobot aboard -- dialogue pretty clearly lets us know this is Perceptor, and it's not too much of a stretch to assume the characters have come to Earth in search of Optimus Prime and his crew.

G1 References: Blaster and Perceptor landing in Oregon, near a volcano named Mt. St. Hillary, is a reference to the Marvel Comics series which had the Ark crash there.

G.I. References: G.I. Joe Headquarters is drawn to look pretty much exactly like its Sunbow Animation incarnation -- a massive above-ground structure with a huge laser cannon sticking out of it -- but reference is also made to the Pit, the group's subterranean complex from the original Marvel comics. Presumably in this universe, the Pit exists beneath the cartoon HQ, which is a nice melding of the two continuities.

Pat Lee's depiction* of Joe tank driver Cover Girl seems to borrow from the contemporaneous Devil's Due Publishing version of the character, who had long hair rather than the bob of her original action figure and cartoon counterpart.

Alpine and Bazooka begin to form a "buddy" relationship similar to the one they shared in the G.I. JOE cartoon series.

My Thoughts: On one hand I like this story; I think, based on the first issue, it shows a promise that the first Dreamwave TRANSFORMERS/G.I. JOE lacked. As I said when I covered that initial outing, I don't begrudge anyone who liked it, but for me -- on pretty much all levels -- it failed. Setting a Joe/TF story in the eighties may be the obvious choice, but it's also the choice that works best. If you're going to cross these two properties over, I want to see them in their original incarnations.**

But I do have an issue with this series too: why make it a sequel at all? Why not disavow the first TRANSFORMER/G.I. JOE, let it remain a one-off adventure in its own continuity, and start over? There's no reason to keep going with that universe in stories set forty years later. And furthermore, why even bother with a parallel universe at all? The initial Dreamwave TRANSFORMERS series, PRIME DIRECTIVE, established that the Autobots and Decepticons had crashed on Earth in 1984, and it was implied both there and in the subsequent stories from McDonough and Patyk that the war played out on Earth in this continuity much as it had in the original Sunbow animation and early Marvel comics (with the exception of any additional characters joining the stranded Transformers on Earth).

So why not use this mini-series as the vehicle to tell some in-continuity untold tales of the Transformers during that timeframe? With the whole Nathaniel/Marissa thing established in the G1 ongoing, it would've been nice to see this story introduce the actual Nathaniel referenced there. It would've been nice to see the likes of Duke and Flint side by side, teaming up with Optimus Prime. It seems like a great way to both have an actual, honest-to-goodness Joe/TF team-up set in the eighties, and a way to flesh out the past of the ongoing Dreamwave universe as well.

But instead we get this sort of half-baked tale which tries to fit into the prior mini-series even though I don't think it actually wants to, and which doesn't "count" toward the main continuity either even though it's written by that continuity's primary architects. It really feels like a missed opportunity -- but I suppose I can't complain too much since it was canceled after only one issue. In fact, where right now I view DIVIDED FRONT as a curiosity and a missed opportunity, if it had been a "real" story as I outlined above, I might actually be upset that the rest of it never saw publication!

* If indeed we can truly call anything "Pat Lee's depiction" since I believe he was notorious for using ghost artists, especially late in Dreamwave's lifetime.

** I know this isn't G.I. Joe's "original" incarnation; but what I mean is that it's the original version of the "Real American Hero" Joes of the eighties.

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