Transformers: Micromasters #4
Title: Victims of the Revolution
Release date: October 2004
Writer: James McDonough & Adam Patyk
Artwork: Rob Ruffolo (pencils) Erik Sander (inks) David Cheung (colours)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Ian Arrowsmith
Countdown convinces the Hot Rods to accompany him to Decepticon HQ where strange things are afoot.
Countdown welcomes Big Daddy and his Hot Rod Patrol, not at all surprised to see them back. But they are not there to sign-up to his cause, rather to seek his help in routing the Decepticons out of Little Iacon. Hubs is concerned that by teaming-up with Countdown they are simply getting involved in another unending circle of violence like they experienced with the Autobots, but Big Daddy persuades him that the only cause is helping their comrades. But it seems Little Iacon won't be their first port of call because Countdown has it on good authority that Decepticon HQ is currently vacated.
Elsewhere, Shockwave addresses his army over a monitor, informing them that (despite the crippling fuel shortage) it is the time to mobilise for battle. Little do his listeners know, this isn't the real Shockwave. It's his head alright, but it's been wired-up by the Decepticon Micromaster Skystalker, who has taken command. And he's hoping to seal his position of power by having the original Transformers wipe each other out.
The Decepticon Barricade listens to the broadcast and is sceptical. He recalls the trials he went through from his creation from Autobot to joining the Decepticons. He was good but he could never match the 'guzzlers' (larger Autobots and Decepticons) and now has a chance to achieve something worthwhile.
Meanwhile in the Autobot headquarter Fortress Maximus wrestles with his demons and wonders why Cybertron and its people are caught in an endless cycle of conflict.
Big Daddy and company reach the Decepticon HQ and work to free their fellow Micromasters (held prisoner by Shockwave) before being attacked by the Insectiocns. Somehow with a bit of teamwork they outmanoeuvre and defeat their larger foes. Skystalker appears and a shot downs Barricade, he tries to tell his comrades something but they get caught up in the moment and carry on fighting.
Countdown see's Shockwave's severed head and Skystalker standing by it. The pair exchange shots but neither can beat the other, so Skystalker shoots at Shockwave's head, causing it to tumble towards Countdown, who is saved by Big Daddy shoving him out of the way. When the rise again they find Skystalker has escaped. So Countdown has to settle for the next best outcome, unifying the remaining Micromasters and convincing them to stick together and confront the warring Autobots and Decepticons at the battlefield. They show-up in force and throw down Shockwave's severed heads. His troops including Octane, Ramjet and Dirge, cease their bravado and flee. So does Fortress Maximus, who has finally had enough of war and walks off into the distance, leaving Magnus alone.
Countdown tries again to get the Hot Rods to join him but Big Daddy declines. He is fed up with people trying to use his team, and this time he is determined to find his own direction.
This issue probably the worst in the series but ironically one of the better in terms of the art. Rob Ruffolo is up against it with the amount of space that is taken up by text, but he's able to deliver more so than in previous issues. The writing is the real let down mainly because of the sheer quantity of threads they tried to put in. It's like there's too much happening and the reader can't keep track of who's doing what and why. Although they have done well to communicate their central theme that Micromasters have a rebellious streak, there are always dictators and always choices.
Micromasters had potential to be a really good platform for one of the most-underused Transformers character subsets. Credit where it's due, the writers did manage to flesh out a fair number of them and give the whole scenario a good background, with lots of nice touches. I think where they failed was trying to do too much and feature too many characters - it would have been better to have a smaller, better-developed cast.
With the story they came-up with I cant help but think it would have worked better in two or three volumes, one telling the Micromasters' origins and then telling of their disullisionment with the Autobots and Decepticons and a fitting conclusion. Unfortunately, on balance, the series falls short of its potential.