Friday, November 20, 2015


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

The Plot: Starscream's Earthbound Decepticons are attacked by Sunstorm, who defeats all but Bruticus and Starscream. The Autobot ship Orion arrives and subdues Bruticus, giving Starscream an opportunity to escape. Sunstorm gives chase after shooting down the Orion.

On Cybertron, Prowl and Ironhide supervise the combat training of a handful of Autobots, then check in on Optimus Prime's repairs and visit with Ultra Magnus, whose own repairs are complete. They also receive a report from the Protectobots, who have found the lab from which Sunstorm escaped.

Sunstorm follows Starscream to the Decepticon ship Nemesis beneath Earth's ocean, while Bumblebee and his crew hook up with Brawn and Ratchet at the ruins of the Ark, unaware a human helicopter is spying on them. Elsewhere, Starscream explains to Sunstorm how he and his men arrived on Earth, then Sunstorm is ambushed by a Transformer released from stasis by Starscream.

Finally, the Autobots cloak the Orion and head aboard, but Bumblebee is stopped before boarding by Starscream and his companion, Jetfire.

Continuity Notes: Hoist notes that Optimus Prime needs only minor repairs before he's online again, but also mentions that the brief loss of the Matrix took a tremendous toll on the Autobot commander's systems.

It seems the rumors of Runabout's death were greatly exaggerated... again -- as were Runabout's. Both Decepticon Battlechargers are reported by the Protectobots as "off-line" but apparently reviveable. Brad Mick appears to subscribed to the philosophy (which I like) that it's really, really, really hard to outright kill a Transformer for good.

Starscream accesses the Nemesis with no difficulties, tossing some confusion on his disappointment last issue that without the Ark, he would never be able to get to it. Also unclear is why Starscream suddenly wants to make the Decepticon ship spaceworthy again, after it's spent four million years on the ocean floor.

The Nemesis's systems identify Sunstorm as Starscream and allow him entrance to the base, furthering the idea that he is, in fact, a clone of the Decepticon air commander. Starscream has Jetfire in a CR pod within the Nemesis, but there's no explanation yet for how he wound up there or how long he's been there.

Starscream describes his crew's arrival on Earth: Sky Lynx was unwilling to transport them until Soundwave took control of his systems. The Decepticons wanted to get the Nemesis up and running, so attacked the Ark to that end, after providing the Combaticons with Earthen modes courtesy of an abandoned military testing ground on a nearby island.

Sunstorm comes across as a zealot/prophet who says he has "been one with the oracle" and wants "unite" with Starscream in a "divine mission" to guide the rest of the Transformers "to the heavens." Starscream is understandably confused by his bizarre claims.

G1 References: The Nemesis is drawn to resemble the Decepticons' underwater headquarters from the original cartoons, however it should be noted that originally that base, while also a crashed starship, was not the Nemesis. Nemesis was the craft in which the Decepticons pursued the Autobots to Earth, and it crashed on land as seen in the episode "The Heart of Cybertron". The ship the Decepticons used as a base through the original series' first two seasons was a cruiser they constructed at the end of the pilot episode, "More Than Meets the Eye", which crashed into the sea almost immediately upon taking off.

The G1 episode "Starscream's Brigade" also featured the Combaticons getting their Earth modes from an island full of abandoned military vehicles (and, inexplicably, a space shuttle). This is the sort of subtle nod which works much better than Mick's usual pattern of recreated scenes or lifted dialogue.

Autobot Seaspray has a couple lines in this issue, and Mick stretches out some of his words to emulate actor Alan Oppenheimer's "waterlogged" speech patterns when he portrayed the character in the eighties. It's stuff like this that makes Mick my favorite TRANSFORMERS comic book scripter of all. He goes to great pains to make sure you "hear" the characters' distinctive voices when you read their dialogue.

My Thoughts: Obviously Sunstorm is the big deal in this issue, babbling about his and Starscream's shared destiny. One wonders if the rest of Shockwave's clones have similar beliefs, or if Sunstorm is a special case. And, in fact, are they truly even clones? It seems unlikely Shockwave would program his creations with weird religious attitudes, and Mick has already shown that he's looking to establish his own definitive mythology for the Transformers. At this point it seems more likely they're "original" versions of the characters we know, unearthed by Shockwave during his various expeditions on Cybertron. (He did, after all, locate several other pieces of Cybertron's ancient past, as seen in WAR AND PEACE.)

It should be noted that at this point, Dreamwave had published a mini-series entitled THE WAR WITHIN, set during the early days of the Autobot/Decepticon war, and a sequel, THE DARK AGES, was nearing completion at the time this issue was released. Both series were written by Simon Furman and were set within the Dreamwave continuity, though I believe Mick was considered the franchise's "lead writer", and picked and chose which bits of Furman's stories he would acknowledge. But in this case, I believe Sunstorm may have had some connection with a character from THE DARK AGES called The Fallen. I could be mistaken, but it's worth mentioning that there are some elements of Dreamwave's continuity I'm not touching on... yet.

Anyway -- The story here is fine, but Mick seems to have suddenly gone into a decompressionist mode. For the most part, WAR AND PEACE's issues were usually packed with information, plot points, and homages. Now, suddenly, we have two issues where very little happens. Hopefully the pace will pick back up again soon.

* 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. Aaand this is where the ongoing went tits up for me.
    3 issues in, a new record I'm sure. ( Well no, I despised AHM after issue 1 already. )
    I don't like Starscream all.
    So any story featuring him and a bloody clone of him spouting nonsense,
    ( nonsense that never got resolved ) isn't really going to win me over.

    The Decepticon cruiser crashed, not because of shoddy workmanship, but because Mirage sabotaged it though.
    Personally I always felt that The War Within mini's , were the proper continuity. Because they forged their own way and weren't trying to slavishly follow the cartoon, or make cartoon nudges and winks and obnoxious references and recreating scenes whole sale.

    I don't think Sunstorm and The Fallen have any connection to be honest.
    Though I never gave it any serious thought
    But if anything, Sunstorm is The Fallen's opposite, he is a Primus zealot and apparently had the powers to back this up.
    Doesn't make him any less annoying though, because he keeps warbling for 4 long, long issues.
    And the decompression doesn't let up it will only get worse.

    1. To be fair, a lot of stuff in this run didn't get resolved; not just Sunstorm. I don't think Mick can be blamed for the unexpected end to his Dreamwave career. I'm sure he would've gotten to some of the loose ends over time.

      I do recall Mirage's role in downing the Decepticon cruiser, but I didn't think it was pertinent to the recap above. I love his line when he lands after sabotaging it: "Sorry, Prime. The ship... was full." He says it like a deadpan joke and all the Autobots start laughing, but it's really kind of an unfunny nonsequiter.

      Good point about Sunstorm possibly being the Fallen's opposite number. It's been so long since I read THE DARK AGES that I don't really recall what his deal was, other than that he was big on Primus, and Sunstorm is also into that sort of thing.

    2. I agree, but the Sunstorm arc is the longest of the ongoing series with 6 issues. It's more then half the length of the series, so it casts a long shadow over it.
      And considering it was so long, its' so galling there were no awnsers, because they had more then enough time and space to provide them.

      The Fallen was a herald of Unicron ( and was taken out by Primus himself, a true deus ex machina that. )
      Sunstorm seems to be a primus herald\zealot ..whatever.
      He was at least The Fallen's thematic opposite, dunno if they did that in purpose or not.