Friday, November 25, 2016


Writers: James McDonough & Adam Patyk | Pencils: Rob Ruffalo | Inks: Erik Sander
Colors: Sig Torre, Eric Byrns, Josh Perez, & Josh Burcham | Letters: Ben Lee

The Plot: Decepticon Micromasters Skystalker and Skyhopper, returned from their expedition to deep space, meet with Shockwave and form an alliance. Meanwhile, the Insecticons descend on Little Iacon and attack the Micromasters gathered there. Big Daddy and the Hot Rod Patrol escape while the rest defend themselves.

Elsewhere, Countdown argues with Groundshaker and reveals a discovery he made during their expedition to planet Paradron. In Little Iacon, the Insecticons force the Decepticon Micromasters to help them search for the Hot Rod Patrol, while elsewhere, Skystalker reveals to Skyhopper that the alliance with Shockwave was a sham, and he plans to bomb the Decepticon commander.

The Hot Rod Patrol reaches Autobase in Iacon, where they're taunted and turned away by fellow Micromasters on guard duty over their desertion. But another Micromaster named Stakeout arrives and gives the Hot Rods back their guns, which were confiscated when they left Iacon. Elsewhere, the Decepticon Micromasters discuss plans to turn on the Insecticons.

At Decepticon headquarters, Shockwave runs tests on Blitzwing but their conversation is interrupted by a bombing. Skystalker and Skyhopper defeat Shockwave and Blitzwing and the Decepticon Micromasters return soon after to find the Decepticon forces preparing for war under the command of Skystalker.

Continuity Notes: Shockwave reveals that he's trying to track Countdown's location by planting a tracking device on the Decepticon deserters in hopes they would link up with the Hot Rod Patrol and make their way back to him. (I think...? More on that below.)

It's revealed that Countdown sent a memo to Autobot command suggesting the removal of Groundshaker from his crew. Per a footnote, this memo appeared -- of all places -- in an issue of the MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE "Official Handbook" style series (a handful of the character profiles in that series were written from the points of view of other Transformers).

The Insecticons (remember, these are the "Deluxe" Insecticons, not the usual crew) are referred to as "mutants." Later, Shockwave explains to Blitzwing that he seems to be mutating, his body somehow re-forming itself. Blitzwing reveals something similar is happening to Astrotrain.

BEAST WARS References: Countdown reveals that he found a golden disk on Paradron, an ancient artifact which seemed to hold information about the future in its datatracks. The golden disk was a major component of the BEAST WARS series (which featured Transformers from the future sent to do battle on Earth in the distant past).

Body Count: A Micromaster is possibly killed (or maybe just drained of energy) by the Insecticons.

My Thoughts: Okay, things are getting kind of muddled here. It doesn't help that the characters are still practically indiscernible from one another or that they are very rarely called by name when they appear on a page for the first time. But beyond that, we're getting into the realm of bizarrely convoluted storytelling, to boot. For example: Shockwave is trying to find Countdown. He figures Big Daddy and company have been to his base, so he'll plant a tracking device on his own Micromaster deserters so they'll link up with the Hot Rod Patrol and return to Countdown together. But then, at the same time, he also sends the Insecticons to attack Little Iacon, which sends the Hot Rodders into retreat... without any of Shockwave's Micromasters to tag along.


The Insecticons even make it clear in dialogue to one another that their attack is a fakeout, so presumably Shockwave has some plan in mind -- perhaps he hoped the Autobot and Decepticon Micromasters would retreat together for Countdown's base. But whatever his plan, this is a lot of guesswork for Shockwave, which is highly out of character for the logic-minded strategist. Shockwave would leave nothing to chance in any scheme, yet here he does exactly that. He seems to be throwing various plots against the wall in hopes one will work -- but none do. Not only do the Autobots retreat without the Decepticons, they don't even go back to Countdown in the first place! They head for Autobase.

At any rate, I appreciate the nod to BEAST WARS -- it was a great series, and at the time these issues were published, not all that long off the air -- and I recall at the time getting very excited to see the golden disk (which had already appeared in McDonough's previous GENERATION ONE work) show up here. Unfortunately, not even an overt continuity nod like this can save a sub-par story starring boring characters.

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