Transformers Armada #4
Release date: November 2002
Number of covers: One
Cover price: $2.95
Writer: Chris Sarracini
Artwork: James Raiz (pencils) Rob Armstrong/Erik Sander (inks) Alan Wang (colours)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Starscream and the Decepticons tear through a military base in search of new vehicle modes.
Teacher Miss Ruby and her class at Allspark Power Generator Station on a school trip, and none of the kids look particularly impressed. A few bad puns from Miss seems to be the best they can hope for, but little do they know they are about to have a close encounter with alien beings!
Last issue the Mini-Con's submerged vessel was discovered by children, Rad, Carlos and Alexis, and its computer systems sent a homing signal which was intercepted by Cybertron. The Decepticons immediately activated their space bridge and teleported to Earth, and the Autobots followed suit. Optimus Prime and his warriors, Smokescreen, Hot Shot, Scavenger and Red Alert now materialise in front of the kids at Allspark power station. Cue screams of terror and a swift exit by the humans! Scavenger jokes that it's Red Alert's face which has sparked the panic. Prime introduces a serious tone and tells everyone they must find the Mini-cons and protect this Earth from the Decepticons (who are bound to be close by).
Sure enough we now see Megatron stomping after Rad, Alexis, Carlos and their four Mini-con chums, as the group desperately tries to escape on board a small flying ship. The colossal Decepticon crashes through woods, across the interstate and is only stopped from seizing them when they disappear into a tunnel. He radios Starscream, Demolishor and Cyclonis for back-up, but the three Decepticons are elsewhere scavenging for new modes. The trio invade a military base and scan tanks, helicopters and planes, then lay waste to the place for good measure.
Back at Rad's garage, the four Mini-cons also take on Earthen modes - bikes, skateboards and the like, to help them blend in. The Decepticons, including Megatron, download their new modes and set off after their quarry, chasing the small vehicles into a ravine where they bump into Prime and Scavenger. The Autobots take out Starscream and Cyclonus and are all set for a showdown with Megatron in his new tank mode!
After the nauseating introductions between the kids and Mini-cons last issue, it's nice to see some Transformers entering the fray and shaking things up. The pursuit by a gigantic Megatron was like something straight out of Godzilla and King Kong and puts into perspective how genuinely frightening a 50ft rampaging Transformer can be when you're a tenth of its size.
There were some comedy moments, like the school party's terror and Red Alert wondering if it was something he said, and the tunnel workmen thinking an ultra-speedy motorised wheelchair had just passed them (when the Mini-con plane sweeps past). It seems like Sarracini is settling into his stride and enjoying writing this book. However, as welcome as an element of humour is, I'd like to see some plot twists and turns, because at the moment it's all very predictable. The Decepticons are on Earth, hot on the heels of Mini-cons, it all looks a bit hairy for a while and then the Autobots show-up to save the day. It doesn't take a professor of physics to work out where the plot is going, and it really could do with some surprises.
The Decepticons hunting for new vehicle modes and causing mayhem in the process (at least they weren't hunting Mini-cons which is getting boring already). I like how they can simply scan an Earth vehicle and modify their bodies in seconds with the ability to transform into it. For them it seems to be as simple as downloading a new software program, which is all very well but surely modifying a robot body in such a way would require hours of grafting new parts and welding limbs? It seems the Mini-cons also have the technology, but I ask you, why bother transforming into a skateboard? What's next? Ice skates?
And having got these new modes what do the four Mini-cons do? We'll they initially introduce themselves to Rad and the readers (something they should have done last issue). Then, instead of getting as far away as possible, they go and find the Decepticons and get a chase off them! Why?? Lucky for them Scavenger and Prime are nearby, and those injuries they inflicted on the two airborne 'cons looked pretty severe (Cyclonus practically had his front cab punched in). So now we can look forward to Prime v Megatron for the first time on this new world.