Release date: May 2002
Cover variants: Autobot, Decepticon, reprint
Writer: Chris Sarracini
Artwork: Pat Lee (pencils) Rob Armstrong (inks)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Grimlock, Bumblebee, Starscream, Rumble, Prowl, Ravage, Laserbeak, Mirage, Jazz, Huffer, Bluestreak, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Trailbreaker, Wheeljack, Superion
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Lazarus made a big mistake when he tried to control Megatron and now he is about to pay!
Four years after a huge explosion destroyed Ark II and scattered the Autobots and Decepticons aboard across the Arctic, the Transformers have started to return. Megatron was caught by a spy satellite laying waste to an army of human revolutionaries in South America and a renegade agent named Lazarus is thought to be involved. The US military decided they needed Optimus Prime and retrieved his body from the sea but General Hallo and his men have been unable to revive the legendary Autobot. In desperation they have turned to the one man who might be able to help - Spike Witwicky.
Spike asks the military men to open Prime's chest while he grasps a small trinket on his necklace. It is a piece of the Matrix, which Optimus gave him when he boarded the Ark II with Spike's father Sparkplug. He promised to take it back when they returned safe and sound. He lied. The ship blew up in orbit and although the Transformers survived, Spike's father did not, and for a moment he wonders if he should leave Prime to rust. But it is only a passing thought and Spike reunites the fragment with the rest of the Matrix and it begins to bathe Optimus in blue light.
At the Smitco oil refinery in the Arctic it is business as usual for the workforce until four Chinooks appear carrying a huge metal box. It opens and seven reprogrammed Transformers come rampaging out like wild animals and begin tearing the place apart. Grimlock and Soundwave destroy structures, Starscream shoots anything that moves and Rumble shakes up the ground. As Ravage pounces on a group of humans, one terrified worker flees in terror and bounces off Prowls leg. His last images are of the Autobot's huge hand surrounding and crushing him! Meanwhile pictures of the carnage are being relayed, courtesy of Laserbeak, to Lazarus' secret base, where an auction is about to begin. The crowd includes representatives of terrorist outfits and likeminded political groups who could use Transformer muscle to achieve their objectives. The first under the hammer is the deadliest of all, none other than the malevolent Megatron! Bidding soars to $85 million and then Megatron speaks... accusing the humans of arrogance and stupidity. With that he demonstrates he has broken his reprogramming by getting up and seizing his erstwhile master, Lazarus. The bidders run for it.
Not too far away General Hallo, Spike and Optimus Prime have returned to the frozen shoreline in search of more Autobots. The general is impatient to go after Megatron but Prime knows he will need some old friends to help with this mission. He takes out the Matrix and unleashes some of its healing energies into the ocean, which seek out and revive the fallen Huffer, Mirage and Jazz. Moments later Sideswipe and Sunstreaker burst out of the ice followed by Trailbreaker and Wheeljack. The ocean bubbles and the colossal Superion also rises. Nearby the four helicopters are returning to Lazarus' HQ with their cargo of Transformers when they see an explosion rip through the base. Moments later Megatron emerges and turns his fusion cannon in the direction of the choppers.
Anyone who was disappointed by the lack of actual Transformers in the first issue will be a bit happier this time around. What they might not appreciate is the shortage of words - with no fewer than five pages given over to art and no speech bubbles. The comic is visually stunning but there is no question that it is let down by being such a quick read. The average person could whip through it in five minutes flat and some people would do it even faster. This is not a good thing for a publication that has a four-week waiting period for each issue.
A couple of gripes are a) Lazarus. Why aren't we given clues as to the background of this intriguing character, or at least some insight into his private thoughts and the demons that drive him? B) His audience looks way too clean cut to be revolutionaries or hardened terrorists. They weren't scary enough. C) I just can't see the Prime we know and love talking the way he does he. As if the noble, serious and authoritative Optimus would say to his fellow Autobots: "Welcome back boys." Boys? Something like "Hear me Autobots, Megatron lives again and it falls to us to stop him or die trying" is more the dramatic tone I would expect. D) The comic suddenly ends without warning just as Megatron fires at the helicopters. I turned the page thinking there would be more but found only the adverts. There should be a 'to be continued' box or a teaser for next month so the reader knows that is it for this issue.
One thing I did like though was the idea of Spike using a tiny piece of the Matrix to revive Optimus. It was a novel way of fixing him and emphasises the alien nature of Transformers - that the best scientists in the US couldn't repair Prime but Spike with his Matrix fragment can. I also like the scenes with the Autobots bursting out of the ice but it a shame we couldn't see Superion separating into his Aerialbot components. It is alarming to see Autobots mixed up in the slaughter of innocents but in it does illustrate the fact that the Dreamwave target audience is older than Marvel's. This comic has adult readers in mind and is prepared to be more realistic in its portrayal of a giant robot rampage, while in the Marvel universe such things would go on but nobody other than the TFs themselves ever really got hurt.