War and Peace #2

Title: Brothers' Burden
Publisher: Dreamwave
Release date: May 2003
Cover variants: Autobot, Decepticon
Price: $2.95
Writer: Brad Mick
Artwork: Pat Lee (pencils) Rob Armstrong (inks)
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance: Ramjet, Dirge, Thrust, Topspin, Twintwist, Perceptor, Slag, Snarl, Sludge, Swoop, Reflector


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


Magnus' uneasy alliance with the former Decepticons boils over.

Oregon, USA, close to Autobot headquarters: One very silly ex-Decepticon throws caution to the wind and charges into the open with all guns blazing. Predictably Ramjet is cut down in a hail of bullets and crashes to the ground declaring pathetically "we got 'em right where we want em..." before going offline.

Security chief Ultra Magnus isn't about to make the same mistake. He has been tasked with arresting the fugitive Autobots and his old mentor and friend Optimus Prime. It is not something he relishes but he has pledged his to the new Cybertron order and its figurehead, Shockwave.

Inside the Ark, as Magnus' face looms large on a monitor, Grimlock denounces him as a "stuffy traitor". Jazz hasn't forgotten how Grimlock sided with the Decepticons not so long ago, and thinks he has got some nerve to be banding that title around. Prime stifles the argument and considers their next move. Could Shockwave have been telling the truth that the war is indeed over and Autobot and Decepticon are united?

In space Starscream is being taught a lesson in respect, courtesy of an energy blast from the supposedly benevolent ruler Shockwave. It is a little reminder to Starscream that his record of treachery has not been forgotten and he is to remember his place. Pretty soon the Decepticons are being unloaded in Cybertron's capital, Iacon, and ushered away by former Autobots, Topspin and Twintwist. Starscream is in awe of the rebuilt home world (his first glimpse of Cybertron in four million years) and can imagine countless possibilities if he could only dispose of Shockwave and take control.

Back on Earth, Optimus has resolved to surrender to Ultra Magnus rather than risk a battle the weakened Autobots could lose. He assigns a small unit to remain on Earth under the command of Jazz, and leads everyone else outside to give up. They are just in time to see Magnus force Blitzwing to eat dirt, when the trigger-happy triple changer suggests raising a human settlement to the ground.

The scene once again cuts away to Cybertron, as Topspin and Twintwist (on guard duty) discuss their suspicions of the new Decepticon arrivals and their mistrust of Shockwave. Perceptor contacts them, requesting to be put through to Shockwave, to discuss unexplained power readings which may be responsible for Cybertron itself moving! As he is patched through, the one-eyed-ruler instructs Starscream and co to report to Octane for a fuel-system upgrade. Once complete they will be able to siphon energy from Cybertron itself and will no longer require copious amounts of Energon.

Prime and the others being loaded on to Sky Lynx (in shuttle mode) and a brief scuffle between Blitzwing and the Autobot leader. Next thing Magnus gets involved and Optimus strikes him, calling him a traitor. Inside the shuttle he is reunited with Prowl and the other captured Autobots, who reveal that Mirage has sold them out. Prowl explains that things may not be as bad as they seem - Cybertron may indeed be at peace and war finally over. Grimlock for one isn't convinced, and we see him trekking through the Arctic to an abandoned Decepticon storage facility containing a shuttle and the Dinobots in suspended animation.

On Cybertron, Thundercracker and Skywarp enjoy an energy bath with Micromasters waiting on them, and Shockwave offers Soundwave the job as his deputy. Later Soundwave detects an intruder and dispatches Ravage to investigate. The jaguar is felled by a null-ray blast and Starscream grabs Soundwave in a headlock.

In the flight control room the three members of Reflector clear Sky-Lynx for landing and patch Shockwave through. He thas some bad news for Magnus, that the Autobots are too dangerous to remain in custody and are to be deactivated on arrival!

******

Comments:

As you can see from the amount of paragraphs above there is a lot going on in the story, and a lot of scene changes too. For the most part this is okay, but I wouldn't have minded if a few of those scenes were longer and there was less chopping around. This would make the story easier to follow in my view.

Another thing which wouldn't go a miss would be the trusty thought bubbles which we all grew up with in DC and Marvel comics. These provide an insight into a character's feelings and personal conflict. The only instance of this in the comic is where Prime is contemplating Magnus' motivations for joining Shockwave, but I would have liked an inkling into Magnus' thoughts on having to arrest Optimus. He couldn't say too much in front of his Decepticon friends, but his discomfort must have been considerable, given his violent outburst against Blitzwing during the siege. Does Magnus trust Shockwave and what are his suspicions regarding the decision to deactivate Prime and co upon their arrival? These are all things readers will want to know.

One thing I do like about Brad Mick's work so far is the way he seems able to cram in so many characters. It is a real treat to see these cameos, like Reflector manning air craft control, Topspin and Twin Twist, Sky-Lynx, later Battlechargers, and little things like including those 'copy protection' black insignias which the toys used to have.

Talking of badges, Grimlock seems to have reacquired his Autobot insignia thereby undoing one of Sarracini's questionable subplots from the previous volume. It is odd considering Grimlock was last telling Prime that too much had happened for him to return to the fold, then Shockwave turns up and suddenly he has rediscovered his loyalties. And what is the explanation for the Dinobots being held in a liquid-filled chamber in Megatron's secret Arctic warehouse? I don't mind a bit of mystery as long as these threads are properly explained at a later date, but I don't think this one ever was. There is also Perceptor's warning about power disturbances and planetary movements, which we can assume will have some significance to the upcoming plot. Could there be trouble in paradise? I doubt there is a reader out there who is convinced that Shockwave has turned over a new leaf.

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