Transformers G1 Preview
Release date: April 2002
Cover variants: Blue dealer incentive, Optimus Prime
Writer: Chris Sarracini
Artwork: Pat Lee, James Raiz (pencils) Rob Armstrong (inks)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Lazarus, Mr Ratzenberg, Soundwave, Fflax, Bix, Armada Optimus Prime, Armada Megatron, Leader 1
By Ian Arrowsmith & Steve Bax
The whining Mr Ratzenberg collapses on the ice after a grueling trek through the Arctic.
Optimus fails to spot the alien Bix as he takes the fight back to Megatron!
Somewhere in the Artic two figures are seen walking through a snowstorm. One of the men tells his companion: "They call me Lazarus. So should you." As they continue to trudge through the snow, the man following Lazarus complains of the hardships he is being made to endure. He thinks he is more likely to die than see the operation they are heading for. A one-sided conversation continues, with Lazarus' client complaining that a potential business partner should not be treated in this way, especially when he is being asked to part with $2.5million.
After he has let out all of his hot air, Mr Ratzenburg collapses on the snow-covered floor. Lazarus helps him up and hints cryptically that his operation is all about second chances.
In a form of analogy, Lazarus, talks about how a race of mighty gladiators walked the earth. While below them workmen appear to be digging somewhere into the ice. Using a laser they finally find out what they have been digging for. Finishing his spiel, Lazarus arrives neatly at the dig site for us to see an ice covered deactivated Soundwave. Immediately Mr Ratzenburg asks who he should make the check out to.
Readers who bought the reprinted version of the preview book were treated to a second story, this time teasing the Transformers Armada title, slated for a summer 2002 release. The scene opens with a crimson-bathed Cybertron as seen from space with the glow of a sun in the distance and other stars. Jetting towards the planet is the interstellar peace keeper Fflaxl and his silent, ape-like body guard Bix. The pair have been dispatched to the Transformers home-world to investigate reports of a civil war which has erupted between the dominant Autobots and Decepticons, with a third faction called Minicons caught in the middle. If the fighting were allowed to escalate it could spread to other planets and this is something that Fflaxl's bosses at the Universal Peacekeeping Committee (UPC) are anxious to avoid.
They disembark their ship and stride through a deceptively quiet region wondering if reports of a full-blown civil war were somewhat exaggerated. The red Yoda-like Fflaxl mutters observations as they walk, with his companion offering the odd grunt of agreement, oblivious to a large form flying backwards through the air - and headed right for them! The sprawling shape is none-other than the Armada universe's Optimus Prime, sent flying by a powerful blow from his Minicon-enhanced nemesis, Megatron.
Prime flies past - collecting Bix as he goes, and flattening the enforcer into the ground as he grinds to a halt. Fflaxl realises what has happened and stares in horror. His grief only magnifies when the huge form of Megatron lands a few feet in front of him and a full-scale battle ensues between the two Transformers. Punches and kicks are exchanged and Prime once again is sent sprawling. The Autobot picks himself up and battles on, until the two of them disappear into the distance. The mini-story ends with Fflaxl boarding his ship and high-tailing it out of there, resolving to leave the situation well alone and for the war to run its course. We are invited to find out how it goes when the series starts for real in just a few months.
Well an intriguing start to a new Transformers comic, only one Transformer is shown and that's on the last page. There really isn't much to go on in terms of story. Lazarus and what would seem to be his client Mr Ratzenburg are introduced, essentially all that is revealed is that Lazarus has unearthed the Transformers but the questions of how, why, where and when are unanswered. I'm certainly lured in though.
The comic does showcase how good the art is likely to be. Compared to the Marvel G1 comics it blows it away and especially using such high quality printing it really does look good. The book also contains six pages of Pat Lee's art sketches. Including pictures of Optimus, Jazz, Sideswipe, Metroplex and two Predaking pictures by Guido Guidi. While the Pictures are not all that amazing being as stated only sketches they do offer some insight into some of the thought that goes into the drawings. Also included is a short piece written by James Raiz, about the time leading up to Dreamwave acquiring the comic licence for Transformers.
Although the second print has the better content (there are two strips for a start) it is oddly the first 'winter' or 'blue dealer incentive' cover that is the most rare, and therefore more sought after. The Armada story has a lot more going for it, as it has Transformers battling, which is what the fans have waited to see. Raiz's art is excellent, particularly in the opening frames and the aliens have been well-designed with appearances that compliment their characters. Prime - for all his compassion for weaker beings - doesn't appear to notice that he has flattened Bix, which is odd. Perhaps they are simply unused to seeing smaller carbon-based life? It is a shame that a good three pages are given over to a fight scene which has no words to accompany it. A short explanation that this is not the same universe as G1 would also have helped. Otherwise many readers will have thought they were looking at the regular Optimus and Megatron and been puzzled as to how they came to be redesigned.