GI Joe vs Transformers #4

Publisher: Devils Due
Release date: September 2003
Number of covers: Two
Cover price: $2.95
Writer: Josh Blaylock
Artwork: Mike S Miller (pencils) Cory Hamscher (inks)
Rating: Art / Story

Characters: Wheeljack, Mixmaster, Scrapper, Scavenger, Hook, Bonecrusher, Soundwave, Ravage, Optimus Prime, Megatron, Reflector, Ironhide, Mirage, Jazz, Ratchet, Thundercracker, Bumblebee, Starscream, Gears, Brawn, Long Haul, Hawk, Duke, Dialtone, Mainframe, Dr. Mindbender, Firefly, Destro, Zartan, Cobra Commander, Major Bludd [killed by Thundercracker], Flint, Flash, Bazooka, Scarlett, Snake-Eyes, Storm Shadow, Wild Bill, Rock 'n' Roll


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve

The Constructicons break free of Cobra's control and are itching to get even with Dr Mindbender.

Wheeljack has introduced a virus into Cobra's computer system and succeeded in breaking its control over the Transformers. Their free will restored, the Constructicons turn on Doctor Mindbender, while Soundwave and his cassettes attack Destro and Zartan.

Cobra Commander is cornered by Optimus Prime and discovers - to his horror - he is defenceless because Megatron (trapped in gun mode) refuses to fire. He's forced to release Megatron to battle Prime so that he can escape. Meanwhile the three Decepticons who make up Reflector force their way into Cobra's command centre and Ironhide repells a fresh attempt to regain control of his mind. Ratchet, Mirage and Jazz, have also shaken off the Cobra programming and go looking for the Decepticons and Prime. Thundercracker has also awoken, and appears to squish his human pilot (Major Bludd?) by reverting to robot form.

Meanwhile GI Joe has learned the location of Cobra's Caribbean island HQ, thanks to Wheeljack. They're about to set off via transporter planes, when generals Renegar and Horn approach Hawk and tell him there's been a change of plan. Rather than have Wheeljack and Bumblebee accompany them, the Autobots are to be incapacitated and dissected for their technology, and Cobra island will be taken out courtesy of a well-placed nuke. Hawk is extremely uneasy at betraying his Autobot allies, but follows orders, activating a device which electrifies Wheeljack and Bumblebee. As Wheeljack lays injured he warns half the planet will be destroyed if the nuclear missile ignites the Decepticons' energon stockpile!

Back at the island Megatron and Soundwave gang up on Prime, only for Starscream to arrive and open fire on his own leader. Megatron quickly repels the challenge to his leadership, but not before the other Autobots arrive to reinforce Optimus. Elsewhere Gears and Brawn (now transforming into flying drones) pursue Cobra Commander and are attacked by Storm Shadow who's piloting a huge robotic body. Likewise, Baroness (at the helm of another giant robot) comes to the aid of Zartan and Destro by flattening Frenzy.

Soundwave intervenes to save Dr Mindbender from serious harm at the hands of the Constructicons, by reasoning he may still prove useful. He orders the cons to guard the energon and form Devastator if necessary... while over at the Pentagon the generals are furious to discover the plane carrying the Autobots has changed course for Cobra Island!

******

Comments:

This is probably the best issue of the four so far. The Transformers are freed of Cobra's programming and at last become proper characters with personalities rather than walking lumps of hardware. Arguably only Megatron, Wheeljack and Bumblebee, were real characters prior to this issue, and to an extent Optimus. Not that everyone suddenly becomes three dimensional, because they don't, but the Cobra mind control was starting to wear thin and it was about time the story moved on. It's feels like the tables are turned, and this is now a Transformers story rather than a GI Joe one - and that's no bad thing.

Of course it's a bit 'fanboy', in that we've got the Constructicons (and the prospect of Devastator to come), Reflector, and Soundwave talking in the same disjointed way that he does in the cartoon, as well as producing empty energon containers from his chest. But I can live with that because the series as a whole is reminiscent of the cartoons, with a simple and easy to follow script that's long on action and not particularly deep or soul searching. If this were the only Transformers comic on the market, then its shortcomings would be a more serious matter, but Dreamwave has its own, much darker TF/GI Joe crossover on the market for those who crave more serious fare.

The scrap between Prime and Megatron starts explosively but there's not a lot to it and the brief interlude with Starscream was largely pointless. He pops up, shoots Megatron, utters his usual spiel about taking over the leadership, and gets swatted away like a bug. Why bother? It's as though this scene has been shoehorned-in in the mistaken belief that any good Transformers saga needs a Starscream betrayal, and the trouble is that constant overuse reduces the character to a clich� (as he is here). Plus he looks too much like Skywarp.

I don't particularly care for Brawn and Gears' modified robot modes. They look like a couple of guys in astronaut suits, and one has to wonder why Cobra need Transformers at all when they've got their giant robot that can be piloted by the likes of Baroness and Storm Shadow.

On the subject of clich�, the whole 'machines rebel against their masters' feels like it's been done elsewhere 100 times, and probably better. Likewise the arrogant generals who order Hawk to betray the Autobots is a longstanding theme (I'm thinking here, the Vietnam films where the soldiers are courageous and true but they're let down by politicians and top brass). Still, at least Hawk's decision to stick two fingers up to them accentuates his hero status, and could make for a nice twist (he saves the world and gets court martialled for it).

So everyone's about to meet and do battle on the island with a huge nuke inbound. It should make for a decent concluding issue except (shock, horror) there are two to come. This could be in danger of running out of steam.

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