Friday, January 1, 2016


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

The Plot: In a deserted small-town movie theater, two soldiers are accosted by... something. At Area 51, audio of their experience is played for Jazz, Sideswipe, and Sunstreaker by Marissa Faireborn of the Earth Defense Command. Marissa reunites the Autobots with Warpath and Bumper, and asks them to help her investigate. Jazz agrees, but orders Warpath to remain behind and keep an eye on Wheeljack and Windcharger, who are still undergoing repairs by the EDC. Meanwhile, Starscream returns to Decepticon headquarters beneath the sea to find Soundwave, Rumble and Frenzy behaving suspiciously.

After a briefing, the joint Autobot/EDC force heads for the California border town of San Desto, which is supposed to have 9,000 citizens but appears deserted. The group splits up to investigate and chaos breaks out when Bumper vanishes inside the theater. Sideswipe and Sunstreaker head inside to find him while outside, Jazz, Marissa, and the EDC troops are surrounded by dozens of Insecticons.

Continuity Notes: One of the soldiers in the opening scene has a small "bug" planted on his neck, then turns on his ally. This will be revealed next issue as a cerebro-shell, the mind-control device utilized by Insecticon Bombshell.

Marissa Fiareborn's last name is spelled correctly this issue. She tells Jazz that the EDC was founded by her grandfather twenty years earlier, shortly after the Transformers arrived on Earth. Later in the issue Jazz compares her with someone named Nathaniel. For more on the relationship between Dreamwave's Marissa and Nathaniel, and how this makes her the daughter of G.I. Joe's Flint even though Dreamwave didn't have the rights to G.I. JOE, check out Nathaniel's entry at the TRANSFORMERS Wiki.

Bumper is eager to reunite with Bumblebee and crew, as the EDC monitored the explosion that killed Sunstorm and Jetfire, but they don't know yet what it was.

When Starscream arrives at the Nemesis, Soundwave hastily shuts down a viewscreen, piquing Starscream's curiosity. (And, to his credit, he confronts Soundwave, Rumble and Frenzy about their suspicious attitudes right then, rather than sitting on it like most comic book characters might.)

As Marissa briefs the Autobots, Sideswipe spots Scourge on an EDC monitor, but the feed disappears before he can point it out to Sunstreaker.

G1 References: The film playing in the theater at the issue's start is ENTER THE NIGHTBIRD, a reference to a G1 episode of the same title. The title character, Nightbird, even appears on the movie screen.

In addition to vanity, which typically defines his character in most incarnations, Sunstreaker is also presented here as being unusually cold and merciless. This is a reference to his toy's bio, which referred to him as a sociopath (in this issue Warpath calls him a psychopath). I tend to believe it was wise to disregard this idea for the cartoons and original comics, but McDonough and Patyk apparently disagree.

Though there are only three Insecticons (Shrapnel, Kickback, and Bombshell), their ability to multiply into a clone army was established in the GENERATION ONE cartoon.

My Thoughts: Well, after six far-too-decompressed issues focused on one tiny group of Autobots, with the only other Autobot action being very short single-page check-ins on Cybertron, we finally get to see the cast increased a bit, as a few more of the heroic Transformers step into action. As usual, the dialogue is spot-on. Reading Jazz's lines, it's like Scatman Crothers lives again.

The story is fun too; throwing the Transformers into a spooky horror plot where the "monsters" are not seen in full until they show up on the final page (though the reveal is unfortunately spoiled by the cover). And, after six issues of weird religious mumbo jumbo and the saga of the unkillable Sunstorm, it's nice to see the Autobots up against a more grounded threat. For the most part, this issue could easily have been a G1 cartoon episode or comic issue, which is something I really like about it.

All that said, Don Figueroa draws horrible human beings. His establishing shot of Marissa a few issues ago wasn't bad at all, but every picture of her here includes embarrassingly huge googly eyes. It's like Figueroa tried to draw in a generic "anime/manga" style without ever actually looking at any anime or manga. I mean, these shots of Marissa look like something a middle school kid would have drawn. It's really unfortunate. Heck, Pat Lee's humans were breathtaking works of art compared with Figueroa's, which is really too bad since Marissa is such a central character in this issue.

Really, it seems like Figueroa has fallen into a trap that's plagued many TRANSFORMERS artists over the years since the Dreamwave days: focusing all his effort and skill on mastering the robots and vehicles, at the cost of learning general human anatomy. In a way it's the opposite of the majority of the artists on Marvel's TRANSFORMERS comics, who were usually superhero artists that drew humans just fine but struggled with the robots.

So this is a good, fun story so far, but it's done no favors by Figueroa's humans.

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