Transformers Armada #5
Released: December 2002
Number of covers: One
Cover price: $2.95
Writer: Chris Sarracini
Artwork: James Raiz (pencils) Rob Armstrong/Erik Sander (inks) Shaun Curtis (colours)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Rollbar, Longarm, Liftor, Jolt
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Rollbar feels the squeeze after taking a nap inside a car crusher!
Our scene opens in a breakers yard just outside the ludicrously-named Science City. Workers a have filled a car crusher with various metal debris, but as they activate the machinery it appears there is something in there that's fighting back! They investigate and find the Minicon, Rollbar, inside the compactor straining to keep the walls from squashing him!
Rollbar's friends - Longarm, Liftor, and Jolt, track him down by following the screams of the two startled yard workers. They join in the futile battle with the compactor, until Liftor has the bright idea of switching the machine off! The quartet then hides out in an empty garage where they find an aging, cobwebbed TV, and power it up using old car batteries. Once on, the set fills with news images of Megatron rampaging through Science City in pursuit of Minicons. The group are visibly alarmed by the realisation that the Decepticons have tracked them to Earth.
In Sun Valley, just outside the city, Megatron has transformed into his tank mode and is eying Prime in his crosshairs. He taunts the Autobot leader about the centuries of defeat the heroic forces have injured at Decepticon hands - including the conquest of Cybertron. Prime counters that Megatron should have concluded the war long ago thanks to his Minicon advantage. Clearly he is a poor leader - something which enrages the Decepticon! Little does Megatron realise that Prime is playing for time, and suddenly Smokescreen brings down the mountain in a shower of rock.
As Red Alert and Hot Shot join the battle, Megatron bursts out and trades blows with Optimus. He unleashes a burst from his cannon sending Prime flying 50 feet in the air and slamming in to the mountain. The Minicons along with Rad, Carlos and Alexis, run for it. Megatron straps on four Minicons and throws Prime and Smokescreen with unbelievable force into the rock.
As things look desperate, Longarm, Rollbar, Jolt and Liftor arrive. They punch a hole in Demolisher's eye and then transform, connecting with four of Prime's warriors, enhancing them to Decepticon levels. Optimus challenges Megatron to a more equal fight only for the 'con's to beat a retreat back to Cybertron. The incident cements a new alliance between Autobot and Minicon, based on equality, and with the human children to help out. The Autobots know Megatron will be back to hunt for the missing Minicons and the heroic forces must find them first. It appears Earth will be their home for some time to come.
More efforts are afoot to make the Minicons appear cute and endearing as they once again provide the comedy element. Rollbar very stupidly takes a sleep inside a car crusher and gets the predictable rude awakening in the opening scenes. Instead of just hitting the off-switch, his friends battle with the machine. A picture is building of this third race of Transformers as community/team minded, perhaps even Socialist (given their community lifestyles on Cybertron) and they look out for one another. They are also clearly resourceful as demonstrated by their ability to rig-up a power-source for the knackered TV they find. Presumably it would have been easier (and quicker) for one of these robots to provide an electrical charge from his own body? One thing we don't learn is why it should be, that interfacing with a Minicon provides a power-boost for a full-sized Autobot or Decepticon. It is never explained.
The sabre rattling between Prime and Megatron ahead of their battle is very well done. It's the best scene in the comic in my opinion. Why? Because it shows a new side to Prime - a shrewd and calculating mind who is equally capable of waging war with psychology as he is fists and blasters. Prime exploits Megatron's huge ego by gifting him with a opportunity to blabber on about his favourite subject, namely himself, and knows which buttons to press to really get Megs rankled. It's all a play for time to allow Smokescreen to launch a surprise attack, and rather demonstrates why the war has dragged on so long despite Decepticons military superiority.
The counter attack by Megs, where blasts Prime to Kingdom Come and then propels him into the rock, creating a new tunnel in the process, is dramatic. My only criticism is that once the odds are even, and the Autobots possess Minicons, the Decepticons immediately retreat and thereby deny us a satisfying rout. Presumably this is done to build anticipation for the upcoming issues, now that all the Armada elements are in place, and also because the comic has used up its available pages. All things considered its not a bad issue, but I can't help thinking that the events of #3 to #5 would have been better told in two, rather than three instalments to keep-up the pace and cut out duller scenes.