Publisher: IDW Released: November 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
It could be the end of the road for Ratchet, Jimmy and Verity as Sixshot closes in for the kill!
The national security council meets at the Pentagon to discuss the sudden appearance of an alien spacecraft on radar - one which spectacularly exploded moments later. Little do they know it is the Ark and it was shot down by the living weapon Sixshot. One of the generals excuses himself and reports to Senator Holt, the facsimile human who serves Megatron.
In Alabama, Ratchet detonates his escape pod and flees the scene in ambulance mode with Verity and Jimmy aboard. Verity is hurt and Ratchet performs surgery as he goes. Suddenly Sixshot roars overhead and spins around to close in for the kill: his orders are that nothing should survive.
While in Indiana Hot Rod and Wheeljack are confronted by a legion of Sunstreaker clones. They're actually headmasters and each robotic body is being controlled by a Machination agent. Not only are numbers on the enemy's side, it also has access to all of Sunstreaker's knowledge, making the headmasters formidable opponents. Luckily Wheeljack has a trick up his sleeve in the shape of an exploding gyro-inhibitor shell, and its enough of a distraction to allow the Autobots to escape.
As they resume course to a breaker's yard where an injured Ironhide is about to be car crushed, at Machination HQ Hunter finds the real Sunstreaker, or rather what's left of him. His head has been sliced open and his mind is being used as a hub for the Machination to control its Sunstreaker clones. He implores Hunter to put him out of his misery, but the youth has a better idea.
Ratchet, meanwhile, continues to flee Sixshot and may simply be delaying the inevitable. When two US fighter jets attack Sixshot it is an opportunity for Ratchet to zoom away, but his attempts to blend in within a built up area are doomed to fail when his Decepticon pursuer transforms into jaguar mode and sniffs him out.
Ratchet heads to the last whereabouts of the Ark in Florida, offloads Jimmy and Verity for their safety, drives to the end of the peer. He's got the ocean at his back and Sixshot in front, but just as he braces for death a laser beam zaps Sixshot... it is Bumblebee and the other Autobots.
There's no EJ this issue, so it's a rare chance for another artist to show his stuff on the main book. Nick Roche steps into the breach and does a very capable job indeed. I have to admit I did wonder whether his more cartoony style would fit Devastation but having seen the end product I'm pleasantly surprised.
One of my favourite sequences is where Sixshot soars overhead above Ratchet and almost sucks him off the ground. I'm not sure he should be as large as he appears he, certainly I thought he wasn't that much bigger than Ratchet, but size discrepancies aside the action is suitably dramatic. If you feel a certain deja vu from seeing Ratchet out in the open, with humans aboard, getting pursued by a Decepticon, you aren't imaging it - the plot is very similar to TF Infiltration in that respect.
A couple of minor irritations: three issues in and Hot Rod and Wheeljack are still no closer to rescuing Ironhide. Granted they've been distracted by the headmasters, but I'd rather some plots come to a speedy resolution rather than drip feeding through the six issue series. Although it reads fine in a trade paperback, in monthly instalments it can feel like some plots are taking a long time to resolve. Likewise the Hunter and Sunstreaker captives of the Machination sub-plot, truly is going on forever. At least we get a bit more explanation about how Sunstreaker fits into their plans (they're using his head as a hub to control the clones), and presumably Hunter was operated on as a guinea pig for the process.
We still don't know who the 'head' of the Machination is, well actually we DO as pretty much everyone thinks its Scorponok, but no big reveal as yet. Again, another aspect that'll work well in the trade but demands possibly a little much patience from a singles collector.
Some things I did like: Ratchet proving he can multi-task by tending to Verity's wounds while running for his life, and talking to Jimmy about Sixshot. The latter's final pursuit in big cat mode along the highway was heart in the mouth exciting too - as is the punch the air final page where the Autobots show up.
So this is the mid-point. The series will either capitalise on its strong start and crank up several gears before going out with a bang, or it'll stall. Here's hoping for a second half that's at least as good as the first.