Transformers Stormbringer #3
Release date: September 2006
Number of covers: Two regulars, one incentive
Cover price: $2.99
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Don Figueroa (pencils) Josh Burcham (colours)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Razorclaw
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Bludgeon is reborn as a Pretender but can his mind survive the process?
Bludgeon and his followers have retrieved Thunderwing's gigantic body from a ravine on Cybertron where it fell centuries ago. They have reprogrammed this unstoppable force and sent it to Nebulos where it unleashes a devastating attack on the planet's cities and air defences.
On Cybertron Bludgeon monitors his weapon's progress with growing satisfaction. He orders Iguanus to switch it to autopilot and turns his attention to the next phase of his plan: the group are preparing to follow in Thunderwing's footsteps by undergoing the Pretender process and encasing their bodies in techno-organic shells.
Meanwhile Afterburner and Nosecone are being attacked by Bludgeon's sentry robots on Cybertron's surface. Salvation arrives in the form of the Wreckers who drop in and even the odds. With the enemy defeated, the Autobots turn their attention to infiltrating the Decepticons' underground base and freeing Jetfire and the Technobots (who were captured in Stormbringer #1).
As Nebulos continues to be razed, Darkwing and his band of Decepticons (who are stationed on Nebulos) realise they have no choice but to break cover and attack the invader, else Nebulos and its precious resources will be lost. Ruckus and Crankcase attack from the ground and get stomped, while a third Decepticon (possibly Roadgrabber?) is sent careening through a building in a ball of flame. Darkwing and Dreadwind, realising the battle is lost, decide to collect Thrust and prepare to abandon world.
Back on Cybertron Scoop and Twintwist tunnel to the underground lair, and the Wreckers pile in, catching Finback, Skullgrin and Bomb-burst unaware. Iguanus transforms to bike-mode and speeds off in seach of Bludgeon - who he finds now fully encased in his experimental Pretender armour. But the interface between Bludgeon's mind and the shell is not working as it should - so-much-so that when Prime and the Autobots arrive, Iguanus has been sliced in two and Bludgeon is on his knees, desperately trying to extricate himself from the shell.
They rescue Jetfire and the others and blast Bludgeon's axis cradle (the machine he used to control Thunderwing) to bits. While on Earth, Megatron contacts the Predacons and orders Razorclaw to take "whatever steps necessary" to end erradicate Thunderwing once and for all - even if it means blowing-up Cybertron.
The scenes where Thunderwing razes Nebulos are truly apocalyptic, but aside from a few pictures of burning planes we see virtually nothing of the battle from the Nebulan perspective. It's a shame because this and the previous issue, are the first time since 1988 that Nebulos has been seen in a comic. And by the end we're no closer to knowing any more about them as a people - how they react to a crisis, whether they have prior knowledge of the Transformers, what their strengths are, or how similar or alien they are compared to humans. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised, after all IDW billed the series as wall-to-wall robots, but personally I would have liked to have seen something of the Nebulan response to Thunderwing.
On the other hand I did enjoy seeing the Decepticons riding to the rescue for a change (even if their motivations were less than benevolent). The destruction of Ruckus, Crankcase and the jet whose identity is unclear, were spectacular, and the battle reminded me a lot of On the Edge of Extinction, that classic Marvel story where the Autobots and Decepticons fight Unicron. I'm not sure if the Decepticons who get totalled here are fully dead or likely to be repaired. But if Darkwing and company are abandoning world, it's likely that the bodies of their fallen comrades will fall into Nebulan hands, thereby exposing the Decepticon infiltration effort. It's the basis of a future story I would have thought.
Once again, great artwork, particularly the frame with Roadbuster and Topspin parachuting in with guns at the ready - pure class. We see a bit more of Prime's pre-Earth design, this time with a back view revealing a cab and assortment of guns on his back. Bludgeon also looks menacing in his new Skeletor-like Pretender threads, but his arrival is something of an anticlimax as he barely lifts a sword against the Autobots. It's disappointing but perhaps preferable and simpler than having two indestructible Pretenders squaring-up to the Autobots.
Overall a fine job by Furman and Figueroa with a minor confusion at the end: it looks like Razorclaw is on Earth being contacted by Megatron, but I'm pretty sure it's the other way around. Mid-way through Infiltration we saw Megs arrive on Earth and put down Starscream's rebellion. I'm guessing that he then received word about Thunderwing's reappearance and mobilised the Predacons. Likewise Prime's arrival on Earth at the end of Infiltration #6 comes after the events of Stormbringer, perhaps days or weeks.