Transformers: Micromasters #3

Title: Recipe for Hate
Publisher: Dreamwave
Release date: September 2004
Covers: Two
Price: $2.95
Writer: James McDonough & Adam Patyk
Artwork: Rob Ruffolo (pencils) Erik Sander (inks) Sig Torre (colours)
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance:
Roughstuff, Detour, Slow Poke, Storm Cloud, Mudslinger, Airwave, Powertrain, Highjump, Tailwind, Tote, Dropshot, Bombshock, Groundpounder, Greasepit, Ironworks, Hyperdrive, Blackjack, Swindler, Skyhopper


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


The Deluxe Insecticons continue their hunt for the Hot Rod Patrol.

Skystalker and his lieutenant, Skyhopper, have returned from a lengthy mission conquering other worlds. During their years in space they learned of a disc of vast information and strategic importance to the Decepticon cause. In sending a message to Shockwave, they were forced to drain an entire world dry of energon (something the twisted Skystalker is rather proud of). Now they have returned to Cybertron to receive a warm, but not entirely trustworthy, welcome from their leader, Shockwave. As per instructions he has taken steps to locate the Autobot Countdown, by sending the Deluxe Insecticons after his allies the Hot Rod Patrol. The Decepticons hope that by putting Big Daddy's crew in danger they can draw Countdown into the open and force him to lead them to the disc.

Over at Little Iacon, Big Daddy is still smarting after his defeat to Roadhandler in the recent race. Roadhugger teases him but seconds later the Insecticon Chop Shop swoops down and snatches him the mini Decepticon off the street. Clearly his mistook Roadhugger for one of the Hot Rods, and after the Insecticons are driven off, Big Daddy and company decide to leave. Trip-up suspects their whereabouts have been passed to the Insecticons by Barricade and his Race Track Patrol, of which Roadhugger is a member.

At Countdown's mobile fortress, tensions have erupted between the Autobot and his deputy, Groundshaker, over whether they should go to the Hot Rods' aid. Groundshaker reveals his long-harboured secret, that he knew Countdown had once 'stabbed him in the back' by trying to get him transferred. Countdown hangs his head in shame and apologises, claiming it was a long time ago. He shares information about the Golden Disc located on the planet Paradron - somehow it received information directly beamed from Cybertron and indicated that Micromasters are the next stage in Transformers' evolution.

Elsewhere, the Insecticons extend an olive branch to some captured Decepticon Micromasters - if they handover the Autobot Hot Rod Patrol they can go in peace with a nice energon bath. Barricade plays along with the request in order to win his team's freedom. While at Decepticon HQ, Spystalker and Skyhopper are plotting to take down Shockwave and a readying some explosives for their eventual assault.

The Hot Rod Patrol arrives at Autobase hoping to convince Magnus and Maximus to route the Insecticons out of Little Iacon. Such a gesture may be enough to win the loyalty the Micros currently aligned to the Decepticons, but they are prevented from entering the base by Sunrunner and Sidetrack. Luckily Stakeout sees them on a monitor and comes to their assistance with a box of weapons under his arm.

Shockwave examines Blitzwing, a transformer he augmented with the ability to triple change, and believes his body is evolving. More research will be needed once they have concluded business with Skystalker. But moments later the lab is ripped apart by explosives and Skystalker and Skyhopper burst in on the attack. Blitzwing and Shockwave had no time to recharge the low energon levels and are quickly overcome. Skystalker then begins to mobilise the Decepticons, including the Race Track Patrol, for a full-scale assault.

******

Comments:

More characters are thrown into the mix in the shape of Skystalker and Skyhopper, and any more and this series would be ready to burst. On the plus side at least this pair of Decepticons have a worthwhile contribution to make other than making-up the already considerable numbers.

Skystalker is Countdown's evil opposite but it's his relationship with Shockwave which I find more interesting. Both extend the other an outward courtesy while harbouring a mutual loathing of the other. Shockwave doesn't trust him as far as he can throw him, but is arrogant enough to believe he has the upper-hand (a conceit which proves his undoing). While Skystalker's vicious nature is evidenced from the get-go with his revelation that he wiped-out an entire alien world just to get a message home.

Countdown and Groundshaker's relations experience a wobbly, as it is revealed that Countdown once recommended transferring his loyal deputy, and Groundshaker found out about it. More could have been made of this, perhaps making it a theme of previous issues with a pay-off at the end, but in the context of this series there is too-much going on, and it's no more than a point of interest on a sea of information.

At least we're finally starting to see a plot of some kind coming together, with the news that Countdown has possession of a disc that the Decepticons want, and that's the reason why Big Daddy and his crew are being hunted by the Insecticons - they want to use them to draw Countdown out. Thing is it would have been that much simpler to just go an invade Little Iacon, take some hostages and lay a trap that way. I don't really see why the Hot Rod Patrol are essential to the plan.

The bad blood between the Battle Patrol and Big Daddy's men is a nice touch, proving that even among comrades there's no reason everyone should get on. Likewise the Race Track Patrol is able to demonstrate kinship for the Hot Rods despite them wearing different badges. Micromasters is less black and white that other Transformers stories, but it's just a shame that these themes are sidelines to the script rather than driving it.

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