Publisher: IDW Released: December 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
Sixshot kicks Autobot butt, and an emergency teleport has a devastating effect on Jimmy and Verity.
Megatron's ultimate weapon - the planet-levelling Decepticon Sixshot - has destroyed the Ark and scattered the Autobots. His orders were to terminate any survivors and so he pursued Ratchet, Verity and Jimmy... but just as his prey is cornered, Optimus Prime and the Autobots arrive. A TV helicopter hovers above to record the epic confrontation about to unfold.
In the secret headquarters of Skywatch in Washington DC, Agent Red is alarmed at the worsening situation. The Transformers appear to have broken cover and engaged in all-out open war, and it will take some heavy artillery to stop them. The solution appears to be the so-called 'Eureka acquisitions' - six Transformers (Shockwave, Slag, Snarl, Sludge, Grimlock and Swoop) which were recently excavated from the ground.
Ratchet and Wheeljack, meanwhile, have succeeded in giving Scorponok's headmaster clones the slip, and have travelled to a scrap yard where they hope to rescue Ironhide from the car crusher, and back in Pensacola, Florida, Verity has sneaked past a police cordon to get close to the Autobots and Sixshot.
Prime engages the Decepticon in hand to hand combat while ordering the other Autobots to teleport back to Ark 32. They all beam up - along with Jimmy and Verity - just seconds before a wave of US military jets carpet bombs the area. But once aboard the ship it becomes apparent that Jimmy and Verity did not survive the surface to ship transport!
The scene switches from a distraught Ratchet back to the Decepticons' base as it come under attack from The Reapers - powerful and mysterious aliens who live to destroy, and want Sixshot to join them. Luckily (or perhaps not) the cons have a reinforcement as Starscream steps out of his CR chamber and into the arena.
It's one Sixshot versus seven heavily armed Autobots - hardly a fair fight you might think and you'd be right. Except this time it's Prime and his men who are outclassed. Given all the hype and build-up surrounding Sixshot it was essential that he backed it up with a bit of action. Taking down the Ark was an eye opener as to his destructive capabilities, and this issue we get multi-transforming hand-to-hand combat. Plus - interestingly - an explanation from Sixshot as to why he's such a hard nut: it's all down to his armour that was forged from the compacted subatomic matter of a collapsed star. Um okay. It all sounds a bit fancy and far-fetched to be honest, but it does set up a lovely moment where Hardhead demonstrates in far-fewer words, exactly why he's who he is. Would you believe he's got a very hard head?
Sadly I found the clash between Prime and Sixshot somewhat lacking, given the expectation generated by the comic's A cover. All that happens really is the trading of a few cursory blows and Prime ordering everyone to beam out. Compare that to some of the epic encounters in the Marvel era - Magnus v Galvatron, Rodimus Prime v Galvatron, Megatron v Shockwave - even allowing the for nostalgia, those fights are far more memorable.
Sixshot's demonstrates his wide array of alt modes almost like he's got to prove the point that he's a six-changer (is it me or does that sound dodgy?) by flitting between every mode, but not being particularly impressive in any of them. Or maybe it's just that the Autobots are taking hits and not getting injured (Bumblebee excepted). Yes, they have armour and tough hides in some cases, but this is supposed to be a Decepticon with enough firepower to devastate entire planets!
Jimmy and Verity are good in their supporting roles, playing the ever loyal human allies who put their lives on the line to warn the Autobots. It's good to see Verity has lost none of her guile since 'going straight', and truth-be-told I've come to be quite fond of the human characters. That's why it was so shocking to see Jimmy and Verity apparently "terminated" during teleport. I was like "whoah I didn't see that coming". We all know that Transformers never really die as they can usually always be rebuilt, but when it's a human that is pretty shocking. I - like most other readers - rather hoped that Ratchet could do something to revive them. Interestingly there were some readers on the IDW boards who wanted them killed off permanently, to give the series some more grit and realism. I have to say I can't see a lot of point in killing off two characters, who by their presence give the TFs a sense of scale and alien-ness (is that a word?).
By my reckoning there are no fewer than five subplots running concurrently this issue, namely: Soundwave, Sixshot's battle with the Autbots, Hot Rod and Wheeljack's race against the clock, Hunter/Sunstreaker (which seems to have barely advanced since the last mini-series), and the Decepticons under attack. It's great that there's so much going on, and it all reads brilliantly in the Devastation trade paperback where everything is compiled in one volume, but as single issues it can feel like some of those plots barely advance from one comic to the next. In the case of Soundwave wrestling control of Ravage and Laserbeak from Skywatch, it's a one-page snapshot that's not revisited the rest of the issue, which is a shame.
Overall though, lots going on and while some things could be better, it's still a very solid issue.