GI Joe vs Transformers #5

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

Characters: Optimus Prime, Megatron, Wheeljack, Bumblebee, Sunstreaker, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Sideswipe, Cliffjumper, Dirge, Soundwave, Reflector, Hook, Scrapper, Bonecrusher, Mixmaster, Devastator, Hound, Starscream, Ironhide, Jazz, Mirage, Ratchet, Gears, Bluestreak, Prowl, Trailbreaker, Ravage, Brawn, Duke, Hawk, Mercer, Flint, Scarlett, Lady Jaye, Doc, Snake-Eyes, Dr. Mindbender, Storm Shadow, President Bush


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve

Autobot and Decepticon do battle as the US prepares to bomb Cobra Island.

A quick recap of the story so far: Cobra discovered the fallen Autobots and Decepticons 'reprogrammed' them to attack Washington. Soon the Transformers regained their free will thanks to a virus introduced by Wheeljack, and now they're battling one another at Cobra Island.

Our story opens as a sky is full of GI Joe jets arrives above Cobra Island, aware they'll probably be court martialled for disobeying orders. They find visible evidence of a raging battle between the Autobots and Decepticons, with Cobra forces abandoning the scene.

As the Joes' land forces go ashore, hundreds of miles away at the Pentagon, President George W Bush is under pressure to nuke the island and end the robot threat, while they're all conveniently in the same location. The word goes out, just as Dr Mindbender (being strong-armed by Reflector) activates a satellite and a beam of intense solar energy(?) fills the room, populating stacks of waiting energon cubes. If a nuclear missile were to strike now the resulting explosion could be catastrophic for mankind.

Nearby, Cobra troops are busy trying to repel the GI Joe invasion force and get a helping hand from Devastator. The giant Decepticon takes out Hound but comes under a sustained counter attack. And Starscream also comes off the worse in a one-to-one with Snake Eyes (the ninja shattering one of Starscream's eyes with his sword and then stuffing a grenade in the gaping hole). The Decepticon goliath falls over a waterfall in a panic over his sudden blindness.

As the Autobots take on Cobra Commander's allies, who are at the controls of giant robot suits, a battle-damaged Optimus Prime crashes into Megatron's lair and scatters the energon cubes. He punches a hole in Soundwave's chest and crushes Ravage, but Megatron flees (so much for the brave Decepticon leader).

Meanwhile Devastator is in bits and the tide seems to be turning. But 250 miles away a US submarine gets the order to fire its nukes.

******

Comments:

Hands up if you think its either a) cool or b) remotely likely that Storm Shadow could chop off Prime's head wielding a couple of swords. Not too-many takers I'd imagine, but strangely enough that is precisely the image on the A cover of issue 5. A good many readers will have picked up the book on the strength of cover and I reckon some could feel cheated because at no point does this event occur happen. You might say this is a good thing (and you'd be right) but it's a slightly dishonest practice to imply on the cover that something is happening when its not. Devils Due are not the only ones - Dreamwave is guilty too, certainly in its first two G1 volumes.

Anyway, on to the matter at hand: thoughts and reflections on the story and art. I've no real issues with the artwork. It's clear and easy to follow, dramatic in places (Ravage crushed in the palm of Prime's hand perhaps) but not especially exciting. Story-wise things are building (slowly) to a crescendo but - to say there's a nuke inbound - I'm not feeling any tension particularly, or finding myself caring much whether the bomb hits or not.

I think the problem that by this point the story is starting to drag and really needs to up the tempo quite considerably to stop the reader's eyes from glazing. Putting Devastator in battle for a couple of frames, and then cutting back at the end to see him in bits is not how to do it. Who cut him down and how is never shown, but we do get a rather pointless punch up between the Autobots and Cobra forces in giant robot suits. Why not just have the bots fight the Decepticons? It smacks of the writer trying desperately to please fans of Transformers and GI Joe by ensuring each has roughly equal cameos and are evenly matched. In reality the humans should be getting trampled.

That said, we then get Snake Eyes taking out Starscream, armed just with a sword (where have I heard this before?). On paper this deserves to be the single stupidest moment in the book, but funnily enough its actually the issue's best scene. Why? Because it's a real David versus Golliath moment - up pops Starscream, supremely confident that he has the upper hand by virtue of his vastly greater size. But he's done in by a mixture of his own arrogance coupled with Snake Eye's ingenuity and outright courage. Rather than flee (as Starscream expects) he attacks, shattering the giant's eye and bunging a grenade in the wound. It's a lot more believable than Snake Eyes decapitating Laserbeak with a sword (he's made of dense metal for goodness' sake - just how sharp is that blade?). On the downside though, Starscream is all in black, and you'll think he's Skywarp.

Nice to see George Bush in a comic rather than a generic made-up president, although I almost imagine he'd be more gun-ho in real life.

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