Publisher: IDW Released: October 2007 Number of covers: Three (two regulars, one incentive) Cover price: $3.99 Writer: Simon Furman Artwork: EJ Su (pencils + cover), Nick Roche (cover), Zac Atkinson (colours) Rating: Art / Story
The Autobots are moments from disaster as their stricken ship plummets to Earth!
Megatron has summoned the Decepticons' ultimate weapon, the multi-transforming, planet-destroying, Sixshot, to Earth and unleashed him on the Autobots. His first act was to blow several large holes in Ark 19 and send the ship spiralling to the ground. towards a residential neighbourhood.
A few hours earlier Hot Rod his 'old friend' Dealer who asks him to pull some strings and get him posted to Earth. Soon afterwards, Hot Rod is on the road with Wheeljack heading to a scrap yard where the offline Ironhide is about to be put through a car crusher. They are suddenly overtaken by two Sunstreaker clones and promptly surrounded by several more. Hot Rod and Wheeljack are forced to take evasive action to avoid incoming missiles!
Meanwhile Ark 19 is falling to Earth at a disastrous rate of knots. Families emerge from their homes below and look-up in terror, but at the last second the ship's thrusters kick in lifting the nose, and narrowly avoiding impact. Now fatally damaged, Ark 19 is on course for a crash landing at the coastline - but not before Ratchet, Verity and Jimmy jump eject in an escape pod. Sixshot detects them and is ordered by Megatron to hunt down these survivors.
Elsewhere, at Machination headquarters in Tampa, Florida, Hunter O'Nion recovers from surgery. He's sitting, staring into space, and is dressed in some sort of robotic suit. A surgeon reports (to Mister Dante) that Hunter's conscious mind has been suppressed and he's essentially Machination property. But no sooner have the two left the Hunter wakes up and slips out of the room.
He sneaks along some corridors and spies some Machination agents watching live transmissions of their Sunstreaker clones pursuing Hot Rod and Wheeljack to an industrial plant and then transforming to robot modes. One of the 'Sunstreakers' removes its head which transforms in front the of the bewildered Autobots into a machination agent (wearing a suit similar to Hunter's).
A shocked Hunter stumbles on and comes face-to-face with the real Sunstreaker, now a decapitated Machination prisoner, who implores Hunter to "pehlease. kill me".
Phew! It's another display of awesome awesomeness from messers Furman and Su who are getting this story off to a very promising start indeed.
Issue #1's cliffhanger (with the Ark plunging to Earth) will have left readers breathless - or at the very least clamouring for more - but on opening issue #2 they'll have been met with something unexpected: rather than a huge fireball or the Ark dramatically avoiding destruction, we get a decidedly more sedate interaction between Hot Rod and Dealer.
However - if you can avoid flicking over the pages to fate of Ark 19 - this has a drama of its own, as those who've read Spotlight Hot Rod will be aware that Dealer is not the old pal he pretends to be. It's good to sneaky so-and-so, albeit briefly, as it affirms that this plot thread is still bubbling away and will hopefully reach a pay off soon.
I have to say, as dramatic the ending to issue #1 was, I would have been amazed if the Ark had actually crashed into the human settlement. Oddly for a saga about war, it's unusual for Autobots or Decepticons to die in Transformers and human collateral damage is even rarer. So I fully expected the last second reprieve we saw, although I tip my hat to EJ for making it look so breath-taking. The roof being sucked off buildings and cars being tossed in the air by the vacuum make you feel like you're watching a movie.
Other observations: Sixshot is able to detect that an escape pod is launched, but not that the Autobots have fled the Ark before detonating. Perhaps he's not equipped with sophisticated sensors which might allow him to detect life signs at a distance. The Decepticons haven't advanced too far with their plotting against Megatron. Apparently Starscream is awake but we don't see him and we don't know what he's supposed to do.
Likewise the Hunter-Sunstreaker plot seems to be taking a very long time to come to fruition, but with Hunter discovering the latter's head, it looks as though we're about to get some answers soon. That scene is highly reminiscent of the Marvel Transformers UK 23 where Buster Witwicky stumbles across Optimus Prime's captive head in not dissimilar circumstances.
I really like how EJ has redesigned Sunstreaker's face, making it less human and more robot and injecting a bit of evil there too, so that the clones look pretty scary. The headmaster transformations are also a welcome blast of nostalgia too - this being the first appearance time I've seen them in comics since the Marvel era of the 1980s/90s.
In summary, lots of drama, lots going on, and high hopes for the next few issues.