Transformers #4

Publisher: Dreamwave
Release date: July 2002
Cover variants: Autobot and Constructicon
Price: $2.95
Writer: Chris Sarracini
Artwork: Pat Lee (pencils) Rob Armstrong (inks)
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance: Devastator


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


A human family recoils in horror as Devastator rampages through downtown Sanfrancisco!

Freed from Lazarus' control, the Decepticons have unleashed a nightmarish virus that will turn Earth into the new Cybertron. It is spreading outward from the Canadian northern territories and converting every living thing it touches into metal. Determined to stop it, Optimus Prime and his Autobots battled Megatron's forces (now bolstered by Grimlock's defection) but the US military arrived and dropped a payload of bombs on everyone!

As the comic opens we learn that the resulting explosion was fortunately absorbed by the virus and solidified into a huge metal dome which encased the Transformers. Slowly but surely Optimus Prime breaks out and Wheeljack and Mirage rush to his aid. Prime learns more about the virus from his chief technician Wheeljack and they resolve to find the source, and hopefully end it there. The scene cuts away to a submarine patrolling the Pacific ocean 52 miles off the western coast of the USA, where something huge has appeared on the radar. There is no time to react as suddenly a gigantic fist punches through the sub! Meanwhile Prime and the Autobots have broken into Lazarus' base and found their comrades plugged up to the virus, having provided it with its initial kick-start. Since then it has become self-fuelling and will be even harder to stop. They get to work repairing the fallen Autobots and Wheeljack is assigned to come up with an antidote to the cyber-virus. As Ironhide regains consciousness he tells Prime that Megatron has one more surprise for everyone... and it is really bad!

Sure enough Devastator surfaces off the coast of San Francisco sending tidal waves at passing boats and stomps past the Golden Gate Bridge onto land. He knocks down buildings with a swing of his powerful arms and Megatron appears ordering an all-out attack. New recruit Grimlock dutifully transforms into dinosaur mode and crushes a car in his jaws while people run for their lives. On a roof top a man, woman and child cower from Devastator who extends a hand towards them - only to be stopped in his tracks! Superion catches his arm and then lays out Devastator with a mighty punch before jumping and landing on the Decepticon's chest plating! Grimlock's rampage is soon ended when Trailbreaker decks him with a giant steel girder, telling him he backed the wrong side. Megatron's plan to lure Prime into battle seems to have worked as the pair square-up for a showdown, and Starscream and the jets soar overhead and reign missiles down on Superion. The explosions break him into his component Aerialbots who scatter to the ground unconscious.

As falling debris threatens a bunch of humans, Prime steps in and scoops them up then puts them down out of harms way. They label him a 'monster' like the others, just as Devastator appears ahead of them, still functioning and looking as bad as ever!

******

Comments:

After a good albeit slow start it finally feels like the miniseries is going places. We have Earth under threat from the Decepticon virus on one front and a pitched battle in a densely populated city on the other. Topping it off is the fact that two of the main combatants are Devastator and Superion - a showdown made in heaven for the fans. Grimlock rushing into battle and transforming into his T-Rex mode is a great moment. The blurring effect signifying motion looks great and his transformation into dinosaur-mode is true to the toy, finshed off with awesome colouring and backgrounds. I really liked the part where Trailbreaker swings a girder like a baseball bat and tells Grims that he picked the wrong side. It almost made me forgive them for having Grimlock join the Decepticons.

One thing I am a little concerned about is the fact that the story seems to have evolved into something totally different from what it was. In issue #1 readers were led to believe they were getting a 'what if the Transformers could be controlled and used for evil' scenario. I expected this to build up over the six parts with a revelation about who the mysterious Lazarus was at the end. Maybe he is a demented Buster Witwicky or Sparkplug miraculously back from the dead. But in the space of two issues Lazarus is off the scene (turned into a metal statue) and the story is suddenly about a cyber virus and Megatron trying to forge a peace with the Autobots. Is he sincere in his attempts to end the cycle of conflict? I can't be sure. It appears that his strategy is based on exploiting the Autobots' deep-rooted disappointment at never being accepted by mankind despite all their sacrifices. At least it shows that Megatron has many ways to manipulate an enemy and doesn't only rely on his fusion cannon and brawn.

Other points of note: since when has Superion been able to fly? How come Prime and company look so tiny on his back? When they aren't combined, the Aerialbots are smaller than the average Autobots and the same goes for the Constructicons.

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