Transformers Armada #2
Release date: August 2002
Number of covers: One
Cover price: $2.95
Writer: Chris Sarracini
Artwork: James Raiz (pencils) Rob Armstrong (inks) Edwin Garcia (colours)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Scavenger, Red Alert, Smokescreen, Starscream, Runaway, Sonar, Jetstorm
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Sparkplug struggles with his jetpack as his small band of Mini-cons mount a rescue operation.
In an alternate universe Cybertron one million years ago, the planet is about to be plunged into a destructive civil war. Megatron, leader of the evil Decepticons, has begun rounding-up Mini-con Transformers to force them to provide power for his invading armies.
Hot Shot, a member of the planet's Autobot guardians, has learned of the threat and journeyed to Cyber City to alert Optimus Prime. As the issue opens the duo are standing outside Autobot HQ observing the flurry of activity and palpable panic. It is as though the war has already come.
Prime demands an update from his warriors. Scavenger speaks of a recently- annexed Mini-con village that stood no chance. Its population have been taken. Red Alert adds a commentary on the ancient shielding they were using, and how they should have upgraded, before getting cut off by an irritated Prime. And Smokescreen has nothing positive to report.
At the entry to Cyber City the automated greetings robot, so recently bashed up by Hot Shot, is now dismembered by Megatron as he marches in with sidekicks, Demolishor, Cyclonis and Starscream.Elsewhere the Mini-con Sparkplug (last seen taking a blast in the back from a Decepticon) comes to and finds himself looking at three strange robots. They claim to be there to help, and any suspicions he has about them are soon assuaged when they remove a Decepticon tracking device from Sparkplug's body. The device promptly explodes and clearly he's had a lucky escape. The trio announce themselves as Runaway, Sonar and Jetstorm, and they have the reputation of being the only Mini-cons to evade the Decepticons.
They tell Sparkplug where they've brought him- inside the Decepticon base (or rather in their garbage level which is a sea of strewn wreckage). It is the perfect hiding place. Apart from providing a natural shield to Decepticon radar it also houses a lot of useful raw material - a case in point being the sunken spaceship that the trio has been secretly repairing. It is their ticket to freedom just a soon as they've rescued the rest of their race.
Megatron, meanwhile, is unaware of the plot and busy proclaiming himself the new leader of Cyber City. The population cowers, and the authorities arrive in the form of Optimus Prime and his Autobots. The Decepticons may be out numbered but they are not outgunned, fusing with their captured Mini-cons to become super-powerful.
The Autobots are losing the battle, and as Prime gets his head pummelled into the floor, the only choice left is to retreat. It is a Decepticon victory thanks to their unwilling Mini-con partners, but the celebrations are short lived as Starscream reveals someone has infiltrated their headquarters. Megatron sees a ships roaring into the sky and screams in fury. The Mini-cons captives are fleeing Cybertron and heading out to the universe.
It's another really solid issue making this a successful debut for the Armada comic. Whether the G1 readership can be tempted to buy regularly is debatable but this is certainly a good start.
We have cover-to-cover robots, so no annoying human kids in the way at this stage, and also a rare chance to see Cybertron in its golden era at the outbreak of war. In the Marvel universe the 'mechanical paradise' was given only a couple of pages at best, where here we have city backdrops and the highway hustle and bustle of daily life. It's odd to think that all this tranquillity can be wrecked by four robots and a bunch of captured Mini-cons, but that seems to be the situation. No doubt there are more Decepticons elsewhere on the planet but for now we just get the four. Perhaps it is a good thing that characters are being introduced in a restrained manner rather than the scatter gun effect that will only confuse the readers.
I can't get over how much like G1's Bumblebee, Sparkplug looks, even down to the horns. While the name Sparkplug is pinched straight from the father of Spike (see cartoons and comics) which makes for a strange combo. Some comedic moments for him this issue as he has a torrid time with the jetpack, and finds his new Mini-con buddies live in a landfill site. I love the attitude he gives them, like they are some sort of tramps and probably smell!
As I mentioned, there seems to be only four Decepticons, so it's no surprise that nobody is guarding the Decepticon base. The huge guns at the entrance are a nice idea but kind of a waste of time when intruders can break in from the air. It's not as though there aren't many flying Transformers around.
This issue is one of those rare times where Decepticons have the measure of Autobots in a straight fight. The scene achieves the twin objectives of making Megatron look formidable, while also demonstrating the advantage of Mini-con power to Transformers.
The art was good again, not quite as high standard as issue #1, but close and I especially enjoyed the rubbish tip background. It looks like a see of trash and a place where you could expect to find the unexpected. So it's been a good two-part opener up-to now let's see what happens when the story moves to Earth.