Transformers Stormbringer #2
Release date: August 2006
Number of covers: Two regulars, one incentive
Cover price: $2.99
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Don Figueroa (pencils) Josh Burcham (colours) Rob Ruffolo (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Skullgrin, Finback, Searchlight, Springer, Roadbuster, Topspin, Broadside, Whirl, Twintwist, Scoop, Crosshairs, Sureshot, Dogfight, Darkwing, Dreadwind, Skullcruncher, Ruckus, Crankcase, Thrust, Roadgrabber
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Roadbuster and fellow Wreckers battle Decepticons on a distant world.
A dark shadow falls over Nebulos striking fear into the hearts of the green-skinned city inhabitants. Thunderwing, the harbinger of doom, has arrived to destroy their world.
On Cybertron, some hours or days before, Jetfire is horrified to learn that Bludgeon and his cult have recovered the remains of Thunderwing and are attempting to reactivate the creature. The skeleton-like Bludgeon hopes to control Thunderwing by imprinting his mind and instructions on its lifeless form. He warns ominously that "worlds will burn" in his quest to restore Cybertron to its former glory. Jetfire attempts an escape. But despite taking down Skullgrin, his hands are bound by energy cuffs, and Iguanus quickly pacifies the prisoner with his spear.
At the Autobots' orbital command hub, Optimus Prime receives disturbing news about the disappearance of the Calibi-Yau (last seen getting torpedoed by Bludgeon's missiles). Even more disturbing are reports of an energy source at Thunderhead Pass (the final resting place of Thunderwing) which might indicate he has returned. He sends orders for the Wreckers - currently in action on Varas Centralus - to rendevous at Cybertron's second moon.
Springer and Optimus Prime discuss the military situation en route via a comlink. If Thunderwing has returned then the best course of action is to burn Cybertron and the "monstrosity" Thunderwing with it. Prime is reluctant to destroy Cybertron and his thoughts return to a similar conversation he had with Megatron when the Autobots and Decepticons were allied against Thunderwing the first time.
Back on Cybertron, it turns out Afterburner and Nosecone survived the destruction of the Calibi-Yau and made it to the planet's surface. But without shielding from the toxic atmosphere they may not last long - especially as Bludgeon's sentry robots are patrolling the area and ultimately locate them.
On Nebulos, the local Decepticon infiltration unit picks up an incoming craft. It has approached using interstellar drive and could be a threat. An image appears on screen and leaves Ruckus and unit commander Darkwing reeling - it is Thunderwing, alive and as ominous as before!
A really enjoyable issue - the art is top notch, it's well written, and the plot is picking momentum like a boulder crashing down the hill. The comic is also highly significant in explaining what is going on in the grand scheme of the IDW transformers story. In Infiltration we learned the Decepticons had established a covert presence to gather data and undermine governments. We didn't know much about why they were there or what the rest of the Decepticon movement was up to. Likewise, the Autobots' role in the wider war was largely untold.
Now, with this issue of Stormbringer the picture becomes clearer. Cybertron is ravaged and uninhabitable (that much we discovered last issue) and now we can see the effects: the Autobots and Decepticons have migrated their war to the stars, waging battles on a myriad of different worlds. Nebulos has an infiltration unit in the early stages, and Varas Centralus is in the grip of siege mode - a dangerous stage where the gloves come off. We learn that Bluestreak commands the counter-infiltration unit there, and requires the help of the big guns - namely the Wreckers!
Speaking of which, it's personally very satisfying to see those crack commandos in action 20 years after Furman originally unleashed them in 1986. They made a great impression in the Target 2006 story and the writer was able to wheel them out in Dreamwave's War Within: Dark Ages story. So it's great to have them in IDW as well. Back in the day they were the great hope of the Autobot resistance on Cybertron, led by Impactor (then Springer). Sadly for his many fans out there, there's no Impactor this time, but it's great to see the old team of Whirl, Roadbuster, Topspin and Twintwist all-guns blazing, and a new recruit in the person of Scoop.
In fact there are numerous characters making their IDW debuts this issue, from the Wreckers to the bots on Prime's ship, and the cons on Nebulos. Yet they are introduced in a natural, almost effortless way, so that the reader's not overwhelmed and doesn't feel detrimental to the flow of story. There's no sense that they've been shoehorned in just to get fanboys foaming at the mouth. The story has also stepped-up several gears from Infiltration, where the plot was a 'slow burn' and readers were drip-fed characters. It wasn't everyone's cup of tea but I'm sure its detractors will be much happier with Stormbringer.
Another big plus is the return of the celebrated Furman- Figueroa partnership, a combination that worked well in the War Within (possibly Dreamwave's most successful TF series). Fig impressed a lot of fans back in the day for his skill at re-imagining characters like Prime, Grimlock, Starscream and Megatron, and giving them pre-Earth Cybertron forms and transformations. This time he's gone further, sprucing up the previous naff robot forms of Bludgeon and the Pretenders and making them look like robotic versions of their shells. Bludgeon himself looks decidedly skeletal with parts of his face and bodywork missing, giving him a corpse-like appearance. The same is true for Finback, who has been given a new head design, similar to his nautical shell. I can't be sure looking at this, whether they've already undergone some Pretender formatting or always looked like this. But their more animalistic appearance works well. Roll on issue three.