GI Joe vs Transformers #1

Publisher: Devils Due
Release date: June 2003
Number of covers: Three regulars + incentives
Cover price: $2.95
Writer: Josh Blaylock
Artwork: Mike S Miller (pencils) Armando Durruthy (inks)
Rating: Art / Story

Characters: Cosmos, Starscream, Cliffjumper, Sideswipe, Megatron, Soundwave, Skywarp, Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Ratchet, Jazz, Cobra Commander, Baroness, Diamond Back and Major Bludd, Hawk, Roadblock, Snake-Eyes, Cover Girl, Ace, Flint and Lady Jaye


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


Cobra is stunned to discover one of the ancient robots is alive (top). But soon Prime and the others are reprogrammed to serve the cause.

For millions of years the Autobots and Decepticons lay deactivated in the Ark, entombed within the Earth. Now, a single shaft of light invades their slumber and dances over the fallen bodies. It is followed by the hiss of a cutting torch and a battalion of Cobra troops step aboard; the first living beings to walk these corridors in an unimaginably long time.

Cobra Commander is impressed at how well preserved the ship is and his thoughts turn to who controlled the giant robots that lay scattered, perhaps the remains of these beings are nearby? Baroness is curious as to what the purple insignia on Megatron refers to, and as they wipe away the dust the Decepticon leader functions briefly.

In Washington DC some time later, Col Abernathy and a bunch of GIs (including the silent but not yet disfigured Snake Eyes) are riding in the back of a military truck. They have been called in by the US president to protect a peace conference. It's fairly standard stuff until a code red warning comes in about hostile jets en route. Then a ground assault begins, courtesy of Cobra tanks with laser mounted cannons and plough through crowds of protesters (presumably running some over).

In the skies overhead the Air Force's finest are amazed by the speed and manoeuvrability of their targets. Aboard the lead jet is Cobra Commander with Megatron (in gun form) strapped to his side. Megatron warns the human that he is unleashing a power he cannot contain, but given the Decepticon's position of helplessness it sounds like an empty threat. Thundercracker does a 90 degree turn before transforming in mid air and punching a hole in a pursuing jet.

While on the ground the Cobra vehicles transform into Optimus Prime, Ratchet, and Ironhide, and - together with Skywarp - attack the conference building. The GIs' bullets simply bounce ineffectively off the giant robot attackers. However Skywarp retaliates against one vehicle, detonating it and horribly injuring Snake Eyes' face.

Having made their point the Cobra withdraw as quickly as they arrived leaving the military reeling. The watching media, which has been intentionally spared by Cobra Commander, carries the terrorist group's message to the watching masses. And in a situation room GI Joe is formed to counter the threat, with Col Abernathy instructed to lead it.

******

Comments:

This is a series that has been much maligned but actually it starts off fairly promisingly. Writer Josh Blaylock and the Devil Due team are looking to create their own separate distinct continuity, and its only fitting they should go back to the beginning for their own version of the reawakening. In the original comics and cartoons the Ark crash-landed on Earth following a space battle between the Autobots and Decepticons. All aboard were rendered inoperative until the present day (or 1984) when an eruption reawakened the ship's systems. Here we've got Cobra intervening and setting foot on the Ark before the Transformers are reawakened, thus creating an entirely different destiny.

The question of what would happen if the Autobots and Decepticons had been discovered before they awoke naturally has never really been tackled before. It creates a number of intriguing possibilities especially when you add into the mix a ruthless terror organisation with near limitless technological expertise and resourcefulness. It's the premise of this series that Cobra was able to not only capture the Transformers and harness their advanced technology, but they made them integral to the Cobra war machine. Thus the Seekers become Cobra's jets and the Autobots are the land attack vehicles. Of course, you may say it's a stretch to think Cobra could subjugate such a technologically advanced race, and you'd probably be right. However this comic has, for me at least, the feel of a cartoon episode, ie light hearted, superficial entertainment but don't delve too deep or you'll run into numerous plot holes. It asks you to suspend disbelief and go along for the ride.

The problem with most TF/GI Joe crossovers is that they tend to favour one group or the other. If there's too much Joe then the TF fans are turned off, and presumably vice versa. For the most part this issue maintains an even split with the only really dull bit occurring early on - the troop discussion just prior to the attack. I assume this all necessary to introduce Snake Eyes as the strong but silent, non-deformed guy whose about to get his face ripped off courtesy of Cobra/the Decepticons.

The scenes in the Ark at the beginning are magical. You might think that's a bit strong, and yes the greens do have a kind of grotty bathroom feel, but I really like how the colouring in particular gives the Ark an authentic millions-of-years-undisturbed feel. Plus the cracks/battle damage and the dust on Megatron's chest (that Cobra Commander wipes away) are nice touches. The comic is worth getting alone just for the scene with Thundercracker punching out a jet. It sums up the devastating power of the Transformers (and mankind's helplessness) in one swing of a mighty fist.

Downsides? I'm not too keen on Ratchet and Ironhide being virtually identical apart from their head designs. A lot of their individuality is lost (although that may be the point) and seeing the Autobots rolling through crowds is somewhat disturbing. Its not as blatant as the original Dreamwave mini of course, where they blasted humans in cavalier fashion, under the control of Lazarus. However this brings me to another gripe: the idea of Transformers being controlled on mass by humans has been done by Dreamwave (who are not exactly masters of originality either). A couple of well placed dialogue boxes wouldn't have gone a miss either, to let us know what's going on when we switch from the Ark to what looks like Washington. There's also nothing said about how much time has elapsed between Cobra discovering the Ark and unleashing its giant robot attack. There's an fair obvious mention of George Bush at one point, indicating the events are occuring during his White House years (probably the then present day, 2003). But shouldn't it take years to understand and decipher an alien technology, much less completely rebuild each Transformer and override its free will? As I said, this series works best when you don't look too deeply into it. Let's see where it goes.

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