Publisher: IDW Released: January 2008 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
In a last ditch attempt to escape the Machination, Hunter undergoes the Headmaster process and becomes bonded to Sunstreaker!
In a flashback to the past, Megatron and Starscream watch Sixshot on a monitor screen as he unleashes his particular brand of devastation. Starscream cautions Megatron that their new 'ultimate weapon' could be a threat if ever he turned on them, and Megatron reveals that he's taken precautions against such an eventuality.
Fast forward to the present day and the Decepticon base on Earth is coming under attack by a powerful, though rag-tag coalition of 'creatures' called The Reapers. Their purpose is to destroy, and in Sixshot they feel they have found a kindred spirit. All they need to do is destroy the Decepticons and Sixshot will have nowhere else to go but to join them.
Megatron orders his troops to take a shot of 'ultra energon' to boost their abilities for the forthcoming battle. Meanwhile Astrotrain has gone behind Megatron's back and revived the traitor Starscream, who thinks the situation with the Reapers could be used for his advantage.
In the skies above Sixshot roars on to the scene, blasting a gaping hole in the Reapers' saucer-like ship, and even higher up, in Earth's orbit, Ratchet succeeds in restarting Jimmy and Verity's hearts. Jazz is overjoyed, and with the humans on their way back to health he can get off to a repair chamber and get his missing arm reattached.
Back in Warsaw, Indiana, Hot Rod and Wheeljack find out that the simple matter of locating the non-functioning Ironhide in a scrap metal yard is harder then they think. It's especially problematic when the Sunstreaker Headmasters show up and start knocking over piles of car wrecks. The Autobots seem a match for the Headmaster clones, but they may yet be overwhelmed by sheer numbers.
Elsewhere (at Machination HQ in fact) Hunter discovers new abilities when he punches out an enemy scientist and then bashes through doors. The robotic suit he now wears grants him superhuman strength, and pretty soon he finds his 'ticket to ride' - one of the headless Sunstreaker clone bodies.
Meanwhile, back in Oregon, Sixshot battles the Reapers, but in the midst of battle he falters and begins to listen to the Reaper argument that he belongs with them (his soulmates?). However it's Starscream to the rescue, as he transforms to jet mode, and squares up to Sixshot in the air - saying a code word and shutting down Sixshot. Megatron and the watching Decepticons are emboldened.
Meanwhile Prime drops a bombshell - an intergalactic prison housing some of the most dangerous Transformer criminals is under attack and the Autobots must leave the Earth now... and Skywatch prepares to activate its latest captured robot... Grimlock!
Simon Furman once again demonstrates that he's a master of juggling several balls at once and making it look effortless. The effect of multiple plots and the constant scene changing is to give an impression that there is a lot going on. And indeed there is, which is no small feat for modern comics where there are less panels per page than there once was.
One of the plots given decent airtime is Sixshot and the question of whether his loyalties lie with his Decepticon masters or somewhere else. We've seen his destuctive capabilities earlier in the story arc and we know from his spotlight that he is a loner who's feared and avoided by his fellow Decepticons. Sixshot is programmed to destroy - it's part of his make-up, but does it make him happy or contented? I would say not, and while he's not exactly falling over himself to feel sorry for his victims, he is unhappy with his life being about nothing more than blowing stuff up. It's not like his boss is exactly grateful either - Sixshot is merely a weapon to be deployed as Megatron sees fit.
The Reapers seem to think they can offer Sixshot the sense of belonging he currently lacks, and an outlet for his destructive instincts with the moral reassurance that he is wiping out war mongering worlds and therefore working towards intergalactic peace. At least that's how it seems to me, kind of a "peace through tyranny". Maybe they should try recruiting Megatron.
It may be that Sixshot wouldn't join them before due to a sense of loyalty to the cons, or maybe it was his programming, or a fear of Megatron? Perhaps Sixshot realises Megatron has his shutdown codes? Or maybe he doesn't, but if he does know he's vulnerable it makes his decision to turn on the Decepticons practically suicidal.
Furman's come up with a good device for re-introducing Starscream, by introducing an external threat in the form of the Reapers. I was wondering what excuse Mr F could find to justify Megatron taking Starscream back after the last betrayal. Arguably he could have killed Starscream back in Infiltration 6 when he blew a hole in the 'traitor', but instead he ordered him taken to a CR chamber to recover. Perhaps Megatron thinks Starscream has his uses and is worth keeping alive.
Speaking of alive, I'm relieved that Jimmy and Verity were revived. I'm not sure what the point of 'killing' them last issue was, other than maybe some cheap shock value, but their deaths would have served little purpose, save for placating some fans calling for the 'annoying humans' to go. My view is that we're only able to see the Transformers as alien and vastly more technologically advanced than us, thanks to the human characters being in awe of them.
The flashback with Megs and Starscream on Cybertron was welcome - it's always enjoyable to see snapshots of the war's early days - still quite an undiscovered territory. But I'm getting fed up with Hot Rod and Wheeljack still on their way to save Ironhide and still dicing with the Sunstreaker clones. Thankfully they've now reached the scrap yard, but it feels like this plot has been going on for ages and ages (because it has). At least with next issue being the last in the arc there's a chance of it being resolved. Likewise Hunter's escape from Machination compound appears to have been a long time coming. So now, as widely expected, he is a Headmaster and is bonded to Sunstreaker (either his actual body or a clone body) and has some Transformer firepower in his corner. The stage is set for the unavoidable confrontation with Scorponok.
And just when it seemed like there was enough going on, Simon weaves in two fresh plots - namely the bombshells about the intergalactic emergency requiring the Autobots to abandon Earth, and Skywatch preparing to reactivate Grimlock. There's a lot to resolve in the final issue and expectations are running high, so bring it on!