GI Joe vs Transformers #2

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

Characters: Cobra Commander, Megatron, Dr Mindbender, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Wheeljack, Hawk, Snake Eyes, Scarlett, Mainframe, Quick Kick, Road Block, Mercer, Jazz, Thundercracker, Dirge, Lady Jaye, Baroness, Destro, Skywarp, Cliffjumper, Soundwave, Rumble, Frenzy, Ravage, Laserbeak, Ratbat


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve

Cobra scientists hope to learn why Prime (aka HISS-14) is malfunctioning.

Last issue Cobra attacked an international peace conference in Washington DC using its army of enslaved Transformers. The incident caused the US military to wake-up to the new threat and it created a highly specialised and dedicated team to meet the challenge - GI Joe.

Later, at Cobra's secret headquarters on an island in the Caribbean, Dr Mindbender is busy dissecting Prime's head to try to iron out a 'malfunction'. His opposite number, the Decepticon leader Megatron, is trapped in gun form and strapped to Cobra Commander's leg. Megatron claims Prime is operating fine but is simply resisting his new masters. Likewise, as soon as he is able to regain control of his body, Megatron intends to squish Cobra Commander like a bug. For now Cobra has the upper hand but it will need to synthesis energon soon to fuel its captured army.

At the GI Joe base martial arts expert Snake Eyes is reporting for duty. Not only was he horribly disfigured in the 'robot attack' but his parents and twin sister were killed too. His tragic story touches Scarlet, who wonders how he can go on. Elsewhere, Bumblebee and Wheeljack are camped out in a car park biding their time and monitoring radio news reports about Cobra. Somehow these two escaped the fate of their fellow Transformers.

Back at the island Mindbender makes the fatal error of interfacing with Prime's using Cobra's mainframe. Almost immediately there is a power outage and the system becomes erratic, suggesting the Autobot leader has introduced a virus. Cobra Commander calls via a mobile phone to ask about the power surge. Then, at the HQ of Echelon 5 (a group which monitors every phone call and email in the US) a worker detects something interesting (perhaps the location of the Cobra Commander call, although it's not stated) and rushes in to Mainframe clutching a pile of printouts.

The Joes get acquainted with one another, with Snake Eyes demonstrating his extraordinary skills by sparring with Roadblock and Quick Kick (both at once) and defeating them. The general walks in with Lady Jaye, Hawk, and a Cobra defector called Mercer who briefs everyone on the Transformers - that they are alien and he should know because he's been on their ship. We then discover that the Ark is now being dismantled and studied at Roswell.

At Cobra Island, arms dealer and benefactor, Destro, arrives and is welcomed by Baroness. Skywarp transforms and lands, with Cobra Commander on board. Destro is then given a guided tour by Mindbender and the commander, seeing Jazz transform, and learning that one of the robots has been modified to provide a mobile remote control station function. They introduce the Transformer in question - Soundwave (and his cassettes).

******

Comments:

So far so good - writer Josh Blaylock has been able merge two distinct franchises of Transformers and GI Joe into a single coherent property. As things stand it's a hell of a lot better than the awful, longwinded train wreck that was Marvel US crossover in the 80s.

On the downside it's another scene-setter type issue where the plot doesn't advance greatly, but there are a few significant events. We learn that Prime is resisting Cobra's control and may have already taken steps to thwart their plans (namely by virusing the buggers), Bumblebee and Wheeljack are at large although we don't know how they escaped capture, and Cobra urgently needs energon to power its Transformer soldiers. Snake Eye's origin story has been integrated into this crossover.

Soundwave's entrance is dramatic but quite why he's deserving of this build up is not explained. We're told he'll to handle remote communications on the battlefield, which doesn't sound that exciting. It's most likely that devoting a full page to Soundwave and his cassettes is what's known as a fanboy moment (doing something blatantly and often pointlessly to get the more rabid fans excited). Mindbender's decision to involve Soundwave in a strategic position may prove significant as the story moves on and it wouldn't be the first blunder Cobra has made. First they let Prime interface with the mainframe and then Cobra Commander and Mindbender are chatting on a mobile phone (which looks weird by the way) at the very time when the world and his dog is monitoring for a sign of Cobra's secret hide out. Expect a well polished nuke to drop shortly.

The dynamic between CC and Megatron was enjoyable. They are both as insidiously evil as the other and perhaps there's an underlying respect (Megatron welcoming Cobra's humiliation of Prime) but at the moment it's a battle of alpha males to see who'll come out on top. Megatron has the size and power advantage, but so far its Cobra Commander with the superior know-how who's in control. I can't help sensing that Megatron's warnings are prophetic though - it surely won't be long before he's uncoiled himself from CC's leg and is in a position to stomp him. That wouldn't be a bad thing either.

At the moment this crossover seems marginally more about Transformers than it does GI Joe/Cobra, but I do believe the writer is trying to give both a fair crack. Of course with such a potentially large potential cast it was always going to be a problem to give them proper characterisation. In fact the only ones to receive any kind of characterisation so far are Megatron, Prime, Cobra Commander, Snake Eyes and possibly Dr Mindbender.

Random iritations: the cover has Destro, Soundwave and cassettes on it, but both only appear briefly at the end. Each time the scene changes the reader is left wondering who and where this is, there should be text boxes to explain this is Cobra Island or the Pentagon or wherever. Oddly, every issue has at least two covers (three in the case of issue 1) but issue 2 has just the one cover. It's not a big gripe but I'd have preferred an even two covers per comic.

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