Released: December 2008 Publisher: IDW Number of covers: Two regular, one incentive Cover price: $3.99 Writer: Simon Furman Artwork: Nick Roche Rating:
Characters: (Autobots) Grimlock, Slag, Sludge, Swoop, Snarl, Ultra Magnus, Sunstreaker, Hot Rod (Decepticons) Megatron, Scorponok (humans) Hunter O'Nion, Weston, Agent Red, Kloss, Abraham Dante, assorted Machination minions
One minute Grimlock is battling Sunstreaker clones and the next he is teleported to Fallon, Nevada.
War is a dirty game and the Dynobots - Grimlock, Slag, Snarl, Swoop and Sludge - were once the dirtiest players around. A flashback to Cybertron's distant history, sees them obliterating some Decepticons guarding an energon silo and revelling in the violence they unleash. Their motto was 'crash and burn', and ultimately that is exactly what happened.
Fast forward to the present day and Grimlock is on New Zealand's Franz Josef Glacier, overlooking the wreck of his former ship the Skyfire. It brought them to Earth 40,000 years ago and has since been sucked down by the planet's gravitational pull. His fellow Dynobots are now captives of the humans, the team are regarded as fugitives by Ultra Magnus, Scorponok has a score to settle with Grimlock, and Megatron's Decepticons are poised to invade the Earth. All in all things look bad.
Over in Nevada the Skywatch scientist Dr Weston demonstrates the fighting capabilities of 'Thunder Lizards' 2,3,4 and 5 (aka the other Dynobots) while his boss Agent Red looks on. The reprogrammed Transformers are ready for battle, but Red is wary of a repeat of previous incidents where they lost control of Grimlock, Laserbeak and Ravage. Little does he know a spy in their midst, a Mr Kloss, has planted a virus to ensure this happens. He feeds information back to Abraham Dante, the Headmaster companion of Scorponok, who looks out of a window at his army of Sunstreaker clones. Soon the Machination will rise.
In Massachusetts the real Sunstreaker crashes out of a Machination building before blowing it up with missiles. Hunter O'Nion appears to be in the driving seat but is in fact an avatar - the real Hunter is now bonded to Sunstreaker as a Headmaster. The pair have obtained secret data suggesting a Machination plot in Dallas involving the Dynobots, and they set off in the direction of it.
Back at the Skyfire Grimlock is forced to contact some unsavoury old allies for help. Then the Sunstreaker clones teleport to the crater's edge via orbital bounce technology. Grimlock ambushes them takes out four of the enemy, before one of his opponents slaps a tracker on him and the Machination teleport Grimlock into downtown Fallon, Nevada, triggering chaos.
As anticipated, Skywatch dispatches its Thunder Lizards to deal with Grimlock, while Dante and his people turn their attention to the Autobot Hot Rod who has been spotted close to their compound.
By Omega Steve
When IDW acquired a licence to publish Transformers comics back in 2005, it brought in the accomplished writer Simon Furman to give the franchise a reboot. Three years on and the company wanted a new direction and writer, and told Simon to wrap up his storyline, which by then was extending far and wide. Most of those plot strands were resolved in the four Revelations spotlights and that just left the Earth-based threads involving the Machination, Hunter-Sunstreaker, the Dinobots, Soundwave and Shockwave to wrap up.
Maximum Dinobots is the series which ambitiously seeks to pull together and resolve all of those disparate plots, while telling a high-octane story of its own. For the most part it is a success, and it all begins with this issue (or if you like, with Spotlight Grimlock, which lays a lot of the foundations). It is also fitting that Simon's swansong series (for G1 anyway) should centre on the Dinobots who are surely favourites of his.
The story feels like a reckoning for Grimlock with all of his chickens coming home to roost. He will have to face the consequences of his reckless and non-conformist behaviour, which has made the team fugitives in Ultra Magnus' eyes, consigned the other Dynobots to 40,000 years of deactivation, and put them on collision course with Shockwave and Scorponok's Machination. I have often bemoaned the demise of narrative boxes in modern comics, so I am very pleased to see them used this issue as a means of keeping readers appraised of Grimlock's thoughts.
For absolute ages now readers have been patiently waiting for a resolution to the Machination and Sunstreaker-Hunter storylines, which have been boiling up since Transformers Escalation back in 2006. At last it is happening, albeit now by necessity as Simon is wrapping up his plotlines. Sunstreaker and Hunter are now bonded together and psychically-linked as Headmasters, and they are searching for Sunstreaker's original head (as well as revenge). Something which bugged me was that Hunter appears in the driving seat as a holographic avatar, rather than an actual human. This begs the question of where his body is; either under the seats or at a different location entirely. If it is the latter then presumably Sunstreaker couldn't zoom off to Dallas without picking Hunter up en route?
The way they learned of the Dinobot plot was a little too contrived for my liking, but it is at least bringing these two separate story strands together. And likewise Hot Rod, who stayed on Earth to try to rescue Sunstreaker, even though he never served with him in previous issues, is drawn in too. Furman in typical fashion, trots out multiple plots to run concurrently, giving the feel of lots of going on. There's also an element of mystery for those who might want to guess who the renegade types Grimlock is contacting might be.
Some other thoughts: At last Agent Red is starting to realise it is not a good idea to keep reactivating Transformers when you can't keep control of them. Not that it will stop him from screwing up again. Grimlock uses the expletive 'frag' which is made popular by the Battlestar Galactica remake; Hot Rod is in his revamped car mode, not the 1980s one he is reprising in All Hail Megatron; the Machination are able to 'orbital bounce' its Sunstreaker clones without any of the human component heads dying (ala Jimmy and Verity) so I'll put that down to the armour; and the Skyfire was buried in ice. This is quite a nice homage (whether intended or not) to the Sunbow cartoons, in which Jetfire (who is called Skyfire in the cartoons) is encased in ice for centuries. In the case of this ship its orbit deteriorated over the years and sent it crashing to Earth. Now I can imagine the Franz Josef glacier is remote but I'm surprised with all the satellite technology, nobody has detected it before.
Finally Nick Roche's art, while confusing in one or two panels, is mostly a joy to behold and like many fans I've been waiting a long time for a Furman-Roche joint production. Roll on issue #2.