Friday, January 15, 2016


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

The Plot: On Cybertron, Shockwave and his men spot a Decepticon jet clone wandering around near their base. Shockwave dispatches Astrotrain and Blitzwing to dispose of it, but the duo is attacked by the Predacons. Meanwhile, inside the base, Megatron corners Shockwave.

Elsewhere, Hot Rod and Kup conduct combat exercises in a holographic recreation of the Earth, while Springer and Arcee observe as the original Ark crewmembers depart Cybertron in a shuttlecraft. But the Autobots' movements are observed from planet Quintessa by the Quintessons.

On Earth, Jazz, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, and Bumper are reunited with Wheeljack, Warpath, and Windcharger at EDC headquarters. Ratchet arrives aboard the Orion and the Autobots depart. Meanwhile, Bumblebee and Spike drive around Cincinatti and stop a carjacking.

Back on Cybertron, Megatron cripples Shockwave then introduces him to the Predacons and reveals that he has won the loyalty of Shockwave's troops. Megatron then announces his plan to invade the Earth.

Continuity Notes: Shockwave and his troops are in hiding in a desolate sector of Cybertron called the Wastelands. The Decepticons still loyal to Shockwave are Blitzwing, Astrotrain, Dirge, Ramjet, and Thrust.

Blitzwing and Astrotrain recognize the Decepticon clone as a relic of the "Age of Internment". A footnote refers readers to the TRANSFORMERS DATATRACKS 2004 annual, which was never actually published. Another footnote, regarding the clones' exile from Cybertron, points at MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE #8. MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE was Dreamwave's version of an "Official Handbook" type of series for the G1 Transformers, and was rife with little continuity clues and references like this.

The Quintessons enigmatically discuss their plans to attack the Autobots from within, referring to Earth (or something on it) as "the target". They also discuss "secondary targets" as a monitor screen displays images of Optimus Prime and Hot Rod. Further, they hint that Arcee is the key to luring Hot Rod into their clutches.

Spike tells Bumblebee that his brother, Buster, joined the military after their father died.

It's stated that all of Marissa's team perished in San Desto, implying that the two hale and hearty men we last saw with Bumper were never heard from again. Hmmmm....

Shockwave refers to the Predacons as "legendary Cybertronian warlords" who were exiled from Cybertron at some point in the distant past.

G1 References: Hot Rod's simulation features dummies of Shockwave, Megatron, Rumble, and Frenzy, drawn and colored perfectly in the G1/Sunbow animation style. Looking at these, one wishes Don Figueroa had drawn the entire series that way. Additionally, the location of the simulation strongly resembles the lake where viewers first encounter Hot Rod in TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE.

This issue hints at a love triangle to be developed between Hot Rod, Arcee, and Springer. In the original cartoon series, Hot Rod and Arcee shared a mutual flirtation, but after Hot Rod became Rodimus Prime in the post movie episodes, he apparently moved past those feelings and Springer became Arcee's romantic foil. (For the record, I find the idea of "female Autobots" and romance between Transformers to be extremely odd and, for some reason, kind of unsettling.)

The bridge of the Autobot shuttle looks very much like the bridge of the Ark as seen in the G1 pilot episode, "More Than Meets the Eye".

The Quintessons note that Hot Rod "...share[s] the affinity with the object." Presumably "the object" is the Matrix of Leadership, and this is a reference to Hot Rod being the "chosen one" who used the Matrix to destroy Unicron in TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE.

Ratchet greets Jazz with a fist-bump, calling him "...the second coolest Autobot in the galaxy!" This is a reference to Ratchet's original toy bio, which declared that he "likes to party" (a trait rarely seen in most versions of the G1 fiction).

Body Count: Megatron informs Shockwave that Blitzwing remained loyal and refused to join Megatron's team, so he was killed. The execution is not depicted, however, nor is a body shown.

My Thoughts: In theory, this issue marks the start of a new story arc featuring Megatron's return to power -- but since the series is about to be cancelled, and since there's very little action in these pages, the issue kind of comes across as the TRANSFORMERS equivalent of that X-MEN staple, the "quiet issue". I like it a lot for that reason. We mainly just get some shuffling around as Megatron returns and prepares to head for Earth, the Autobots also return to Earth, the Quintessons remind us that they're still out there plotting, and the Earthbound Autobots are reunited at last.

As a result, the series is getting closer to a classic status quo than it's been in quite some time (circa the first issue of WAR AND PEACE, to be precise). Especially knowing that Optimus Prime was due to return in issue 12, if this series had lasted beyond the next installment, I could easily imagine a second year featuring Earthbound Autobots led by Optimus Prime battling Earthbound Decepticons led by Megatron -- which is something I would've dearly enjoyed from this creative team.

Of course, that's not meant to be. The series will be over after one more issue, and what's worse, its demise will come about due to corporate malfeasance rather than declining sales or Hasbro yanking the license.

But we'll mull that over when we get there. For now, let's focus on the positives to be found here: The story is strong as usual, and from a plotting/scripting front this may well be the strongest GENERATION ONE issue since the series started. No Sunstorm, no "tiny group of Autobots on a mission". What we have here is a large cast moving around, interacting, and reminding readers why they liked the G1 Transformers in the first place.

But best of all is the artwork. Figueroa has been improving steadily with every installment, and this issue features some of his best likenesses to date. He's really moving away from the Pat Lee archetype and developing his own superior style -- though, as noted above, after seeing him tackle the Sunbow character models for a brief half-page appearance, I would've been much happier to see him draw the series that way instead.

Unfortunately the issue's only downside resides in the artwork as well. Figueroa still can't draw a human to save his life. This has been the case for a few issues now, though I didn't touch on it last time. His Spike is hideous, as is the young woman Spike and Bumblebee save from a carjacking. I'm not one of those fans who believes humans have no place in TRANSFORMERS fiction, but in this case, if your artist simply can't draw them, it might be a good idea to remove them from the story.

(Or, better yet, why not have Figueroa sketch in the rough figures and get a professional artist with a grasp of anatomy to draw their actual features? Then Elaine To could ink the whole thing for consistency's sake and it would all look much, much better.)

But not even Figueroa's gangly, bug-eyed humans can bring this issue down as one of the best in the ongoing Dreamwave continuity.

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