Released: March 2009 Publisher: IDW Number of covers: Two regular, one incentive Cover price: $3.99 Writer: Simon Furman Artwork: Nick Roche and James Raiz Rating:
Characters: (Autobots) Hot Rod, Sunstreaker, Grimlock, Slag, Sludge, Swoop, Snarl, Grotusque, Doublecross and Repugnus (Decepticons) Shockwave, Scorponok, Soundwave(humans) Hunter O'Nion, Agent Red
Shockwave has 24 hours to do Skywatch's bidding, but the Decepticon has alternative plans.
For over two decades Soundwave has been trapped in his arcane stereo-cassette deck mode, a victim of mode-lock technology engineered by Shockwave. After a period of time in a shop window he was bought by a youth in Oregon and taken home. Now at long last, liberation is at hand as Ravage bites a huge hole in a wall and Laserbeak swoops in to snatch the paralysed Soundwave. They retreat to a mountainside where Shockwave greets them and suggests they help each other.
Hot Rod crawls out of Scorponok's compound in Dallas, his legs shattered, and his body broken. He meets Sunstreaker who has come with Hunter O'Nion to rescue his captive head from the Machination compound (where it is being used as a central hub for all of the Sunstreaker Headmaster clones). They think they can blend in unnoticed, but they think wrong - as moments later, Scorponok blows a hole in the Autobot's chest. Luckily his head detaches and transforms into Hunter who escapes into the compound.
Some thousands of feet above, the Monsterbots are aboard their ship along with the Dynobots. They recently saved the dinos from certain doom and think they should have payment. Grimlock offers data stolen from Shockwave's former ship, and the Monsters readily agree. But moments later the ship is under attack from the Sunstreaker clones and Grimlock leads the fight-back. Scorponok orders the mental controls on Slag, Snarl, Sludge and Swoop to be reactivated, but he soon discovers these have been disabled. Once again he has underestimated Grimlock!
Making matters worse Hunter succeeds in pulling the plug on the original Sunstreaker head, while immediately renders the Headmasters inoperative. With his plans in ruins, Scorponok vows revenge and enters the arena, blasting a triumphant Sludge, who looks to all intents and purposes, dead. Shockwave arrives demanding revenge of his own, and in space, a distress call transmitted by Hot Rod finds its way to Ultra Magnus. The lawman sets a course for Earth, determined that this time he will capture the fugitives Scorponok and the Dynobots.
By Omega Steve
This issue offers two artists for the price of one as James Raiz comes aboard to illustrate several of the pages. I'm not sure why it was necessary to bring a second artist in to help Nick Roche, but it could well have been to ensure it met a deadline. The result is a clash of styles but it's not too severe, and for the most part I enjoyed Raiz's contribution.
In particular the Soundwave rescue is a classic; sure we all knew it was coming but I like idea that giant menacing robots can attack anywhere, even the homes of an ordinary boy. Despite the all the destruction the lad is shocked but unhurt and I'm rather glad, because although Transformers is read mainly by adults I personally don't want to see human casualties in my TF comics unless it is essential to the story (which it isn't here). As it is the parting shot of the 'mom' running up the stairs and Jimmy looking awed is marvellous, and to see the spy cassettes in action in that art style takes me back to the early Marvel Transformers years.
Now, I said I liked Raiz's art to a point, there are a couple of gripes (fairly minor though). Ravage looks like the Terrorcon Blott on the splash page - in fact I thought it was Blott to start with - and the plumes of smoke in several panels come across as ribbons or twists of metal. There might be those who instinctively dislike the rivets Raiz draws on his robots (see the Shockwave picture here) but I don't mind these personally.
Hot Rod has been pretty inconsequential to the plot so far, and all he's done really is get beaten up rather badly by Scorponok, but finally this issue he does something significant. This is when he fires off a distress call and sets up Ultra Magnus' rematch with Scorponok. It's all very well but let's not forget that Hot Rod disobeyed Prime's order for all Autobots on Earth to join him in the mission against the Dead Universers, and this made me think Roddy would have a central role in Maximum Dinobots. So far, he hasn't.
For all of the years in the planning, Scorponok's grand scheme falls apart a little easily, as all it takes is for Hunter to pull the plug on the captive Sunstreaker head to disable an entire army of clones. So does this mean Sunstreaker is now dead, and what about Sludge after he's felled by Scorponok's sting? Seeing as death is rarely permanent in comics, and even less so for a Transformers I'm betting not.
One of the strengths of the issue - and something that has been lacking in the Transformers Ongoing comics by Mike Costa - is the uses of subplots as this gives the feeling that a lot is going on in those 22 pages. There are some nice incidentals too, like the satellite and moon buggy thing, which I wondered if these were Autobot technology or actual Transformers... and the Monsterbots' payment being Shockwave's technological secrets (illegally copied) was inventive.
In summary, a good mix of scenes (and fight scenes), some great Decepticon moments from Shockwave and Scorponok, script moving to an exciting conclusion, and some attractive artwork. Why doesn't IDW make TF comics like this any more?