Transformers: Micromasters #1

Title: Destined For Nothing
Publisher: Dreamwave
Release date: June 2004
Covers: Three regulars (plus 'gold foil' incentive)
Price: $2.95
Writer: James McDonough & Adam Patyk
Artwork: Rob Ruffolo (pencils) Erik Sander (inks) David Cheung (colours)
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance:
Countdown, Groundshaker, Skystalker, Greasepit, Hot Rod Patrol: Big Daddy, Greaser, Trip-up, Hubs, Crunch, Race Track Patrol: Motorhead, Ground Hog, Roller Force, Barricade, Battle Patrol: Sidetrack, Sunrunner, Rescue Patrol: Fixit, Seawatch, Construction Patrol: Groundpounder, Race Car Patrol: Roadhandler, Free Wheeler, Air Patrol: Blaze Master Monster Truck Patrol: Heavy Tread, Deluxe Insecticons: Chop Shop, Barrage, Venom, Ransack


Synopsis:

By Ian Arrowsmith

Big Daddy hauls the deactivated Roadbuster out of the warzone.

Big Daddy swings a chain over the giant, deactivated form of Roadbuster, who has run out of Energon on the battlefield. He is being attacked for his fuel cells by Decepticon Micromasters, and The Hot Rod Patrol is under orders from Ultra Magnus to save him. Race Track Patrol leader Barricade ambushes Big Daddy, and the adolescent members of each of the teams engage in a tit-for-tat battle until tragedy inevitably strikes. The Autobot Crunch is shot in the back by the Decepticon Ground Hog, who is shocked by what he's done, and the Decepticons move out leaving Big Daddy and his crew to haul Roadbuster and their fallen comrade home.

A UFO appears in the sky above Cybertron - it is actually a ship bringing Autobot Micromasters, Countdown and Groundshaker, home following a long and fruitless search for Optimus Prime. They had evidently blasted off many years ago on the trail of the Ark and at one point Jetfire and Omega Supreme had left them to follow a lead (they ultimately found their way to Earth). Meanwhile Countdown and Groundshaker had gone after their nemesis, Skystalker, who was busy conquering other robotic worlds, including Paradron. Countdown fought a duel with Skystalker on this imprisoned world and defeated him - but Autobot reinforcements are needed to ensure the security of the planet, and so the Micromasters have returned.

But the welcome home they expected is not to be: they find the Iacon base deserted and the Autobase HQ looking worse for wear. Topspin and Twintwist, who are standing guard, grant them an audience with Autobot leader Ultra Magnus and his number two Fortress Maximus and catch them discussing Cybertron's worsening energy crisis. Countdown learns that deep-space communications have been offline for some time and his messages have not been getting through. Jetfire and Omega Supreme never returned, and neither did Prime, and Magnus cannot spare troops for an off-world offensive. Countdown and Groundshaker are furious and storm off.

Moments later Big Daddy is venting his frustrations at Ultra Magnus after losing a member of his team in the disastrous Roadbuster mission. The Autobot leader doesn't appreciate the backchat from the lower ranks and the Patrol is suspended from duty.

Meanwhile the Decepticon Micromasters are also getting a rough deal from Shockwave's regular-sized warriors. Barricade's Race Track Patrol find Blitzwing and Octane kicking around a fuel-starved Micromaster, while gleefully swigging oil. Barricade complains to the Decepticon leader, Shockwave, but gets a brush off. His team also walks out and heads for the wastelands where they run into Big Daddy and his team. The Hot Rod Patrol recently had a run-in with the pompous Battle Patrol in the locker rooms and it proved to be the final straw. At the wastelands Big Daddy and Barricade agree a truce and are about to head-to 'Little Iacon' together, only for Shockwave's 'assassins' - the Deluxe Insecticons, to arrive.

******

Comments:

This series had so much potential. The Transformers "G1" toy line is full of evolutions of characters and toys, from Head and Targetmasters, to combining robots, Pretenders, and transforming Pretenders. The original G1 cast has been so well used that most of these newer breeds of Transformers have never been that well explored. I never felt that Micromasters were introduced that well in the old comics so this series had a chance to change that.

In part they McDonough and Patyk have succeeded - they've come up with a decent reason to introduce them to the fold; namely that Cybertron has an energy crisis and smaller forms are much more energy efficient. In such a climate of scarcity it seems reasonable enough to downsize, and as the writers acknowledge on the back pages, it gives them a chance to explore how newly-created 'adolescent' Transformers react to be thrust into a centuries-old war which is not of their making.

While I like and agree with the concepts I'm not so keen on the execution. The writers have tried to squeeze too much into the first issue, and maybe they should have gone for a longer series or kept to the same length but been more focused. Some of the problems with using Micromasters as a group of characters is that there are SO many of them. To make matters worse readers aren't that familiar with some of the obscurer ones and it's not easy to pick-up who's who, or what team or faction they belong to from the dialog. After reading I could barely remember any of the characters names.

It also seems like squad members who don't feature heavily are just there for filler and used out of obligation. It's almost like the writers are trying to impress fans by seeing how many Micromasters they can cram in, and making the story harder to follow in the process. While on the art front, it's okay but frankly nothing spectacular. Clearly Ruffolo can draw Transformers but whether he can tell a story though his art, I remain to be convinced.

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