Friday, December 2, 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: The Autobot Micromasters return to Countdown for help defending Little Iacon, but Countdown declares they will all go to Decepticon headquarters instead. Meanwhile, Skystalker impersonates Shockwave and tricks the Decepticons into launching an assault on the Autobots. The Autobots get wind of the Decepticons' movement and plan to intercept them in the Badlands.

At Decepticon headquarters, the Autobot Micromasters encounter the Insecticons and destroy them, then meet up with their Decepticon counterparts. Countdown locates Shockwave's head, detached from his body by Skytalker, who attempts to drop it on him. Big Daddy rescues Countdown but Skystalker escapes. Meanwhile, the Decepcticon Micromasters make peace with the Autobots and decide to join forces.

Elsewhere, the full-size Decepticons have defeated the full-size Autobots in the Badlands and are about to finish them off when the united Micromasters arrive and prove their might by presenting the Decepticons with Shockwave's severed head. The spooked Decepticons then retreat, and in the aftermath of the fight, Big Daddy strikes out on his own.

Continuity Notes: We learn via flashback that, as part of their training via the joint Autobot/Decepticon experiment, the Micromasters spent time being trained by both factions.

Fortress Maximus, described as a pacifist, briefly takes up arms for the fight in the Badlands, but returns to his original philosophy in light of the battle's casualties.

G1 References: This may have come up in prior issues as well, but if it did I think I forgot to note it: the Decepticons condescendingly refer to the Micromasters as "Scraplets", a species of metal-eating mites from Marvel's original comic series.

Body Count: The Deluxe Insecticons are all killed by the Micromasters. It's stated late in the issue that Shockwave is dead, and he's certainly decapitated, but prior stories have indicated he'll be functional again by the time of the "Great Shutdown" as detailed in WAR AND PEACE.

An Autobot Micromaster named Sidetrack, who was apparently a friend of Big Daddy's (though you'd never know it based on prior issues; more on that below), dies as well after the fight.

My Thoughts: MICROMASTERS feels like an idea for a good story. James McDonough and Adam Patyk are essentially trying to give us a classic coming-of-age war story set in the TRANSFORMERS mythos, with the Micromaster characters depicted as the kids who grew up together in the ghetto but are now fighting against each other on opposite sides. I like the concept. But the execution is just so bad, in so many ways, that I can't excuse it.

As noted last issue, there were tracking devices placed on Shockwave's Micromaster deserters, which would allow him to find Countdown. That plot point isn't even mentioned this time. Countdown's motivations remain weirdly incoherent throughout the entire story -- this is a plot point; his enigmatic attitude is mentioned by a number of characters -- but it's never resolved, either.

And then, as I've noted previously, there are the woefully ill-defined characters. Countdown may be frustratingly vague, but at least I knew who he was throughout the series, thanks to characters constantly saying his name. Likewise Skystalker and our ostensible protagonist, Big Daddy. But did you know that one of the Decepticon Micromasters is named Barricade and is Big Daddy's rival? I sure didn't, owing once more to the writers very rarely identifying most of these characters in dialogue, and the characters themselves having mostly uninspired and generic designs.

In general I just feel that basing a story on the Micromasters was a poor idea. I give McDonough and Patyk credit for trying something original, but the huge cast, based on a bunch of characters from the final couple years of the Generation One toyline who were tiny and therefore not easily recognizable, was not a good idea. Personally, I believe this story could've worked using the Action Masters instead -- the non-Transforming figures from the very final year or so of G1. There were a number of new characters introduced in that sub-line, and they were all big enough in scale that their designs are actually unique from one another.

But MICROMASTERS is long, long in the past at this point. This was the final limited series from Dreamwave to run its full length; the two we have remaining to cover were each cut short by the company's collapse. Nonetheless, be back here next week for the return of Simon Furman in WAR WITHIN: AGE OF WRATH.

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