Transformers Stormbringer #4

Publisher: IDW
Release date: October 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: Rampage, Divebomb, Headstrong, Tantrum, Triggerhappy, Misfire, Spinister, Pointblank, Crosshairs, Override


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


Thunderwing returns to Cybertron to unleash more global devastation!

Thunderwing proceeds at warp speed to Cybertron where the Autobots are mobilising. Jetfire informs Optimus Prime of a powerful energy source beneath the planet's surface that Bludgeon used to reactivate Thunderwing. Prime tells his men it may be necessary to sacrifice Cybertron to stop Thunderwing.

Concealed by one of Cybertron's moons is the warship Thantos, where Razorclaw is having similar thoughts. He's been ordered by Megatron to destroy Cybertron if necessary, and initiates a countdown which will end with the ship unleashing a enough missiles to explode the Transformers' home world.

Thunderwing, still not quite alive, relives memories of developing the Pretender technology and his rebuff from Megatron. The creature crackles with energy, siphoning it directly from the ultra energon sources beneath Cybertron. Prime and Broadside run for cover, Springer and Whirl attack, and so do Topspin and Twin Twist. But the tactics of hit and run are lost on Twin Twist who sticks around a little too long and pays the price - squished by Thunderwing!

Broadside, Scoop and Roadbuster are dispersed by a burst of wind or sonic energy, as Razorclaw watches from orbit, impressed by the brave stand being taken below. He orders Divebomb to mobilise the Decepticons and join the attack, but if things go wrong they are to retreat before the missiles launch.

The battle rages-on with Springer getting caught by Thunderwing and thrown to the ground. Divebomb arrives, aided by Triggerhappy, Misfire and Spinister, attacking from the air while Headstrong leads the charge on the ground. Prime and Dogfight enter the fray aided by an army of Bludgeon's sentry robots. Their tactic is to unleash a massive assault that will cause Thunderwing to use up all the energon and burn-out, in effect cutting his power supply.

The creature transforms into its ultra mode unleashing all manner of destructive energy, and finally it comes down to a face-to-face showdown with Prime. The Autobot leader is all guns blazing and Thunderwing rocks on his feet and then grinds to a halt. It's over. In orbit, Razorclaw cancels the missile launch.

The Autobots begin their inquiry into what Bludgeon and his crew were doing. With Jetfire's help Prime learns that worlds have been seeded with supplies of powerful, but unstable energy, such as the source Bludgeon found on Cybertron. Many of the computer files have been erased but the trail leads to Earth - Prime orders his crew to set a course.

******

Comments:

Big explosions, heroics, and heavy losses, some questions answered and others remaining - all in all a suitable ending to the series. The hints about mysterious energy sources and a trail leading to Earth all conspire to set the scene nicely for what's to come in Escalation. Reading the comic took me back in places to Furman's 'On The Edge of Extinction' story for Marvel in the early 90s, in my view the pinnacle of his run on the US comic.

But I'm left wondering what happened next for Thunderwing, Bludgeon and the Decepticon would-be Pretenders. Did the Autobots leave them on Cybertron where they fell, or take them away for research, as prisoners, or some other purpose? Why did Bludgeon send Thunderwing to Nebulos to lay waste to the place? What advantage could he have got from that? Come to think of it Razorclaw had a golden opportunity here, to strike a blow for the Decepticon cause by missiling Prime, the Wreckers and Thunderwing, at the close of battle. I can only assume his respect for the courageous way they fought made him reluctant to do the dishonourable thing. It's interesting that a Decepticon commander would think this way, and nice to have bad guys who are more rounded. It's also a matter of speculation whether Thunderwing was ever actually alive in this mini-series, because the shell responds to memories of the robot at its core, and Prime almost apologises to Thunderwing for not listening to his warnings about Cybertron's impending doom - ironically while letting Thunderwing have it with both barrels.

A trademark of the series has been the cameos from a wide cast of characters who all make their mark in greater or lesser ways. This time it's the turn of Divebomb, cocksure in battle, the militaristic Dogfight - ever respectful of the chain of command and in awe of Prime, and Razorclaw respecting his enemy and displaying nostalgia for Cybertron. As he says, its one thing colonising alien worlds, but there's no place like home.

With the series coming to a close I'm almost disappointed it wasn't a six parter because there seems so much that could have been expanded on. The back-story of Bludgeon and his men, Thunderwing's transfiguration, and the alliance between Megatron and Prime, were all worth expanding on. In a sense Stormbringer is something of a side show, an adrenalin rush between the main events of Infiltration and Escalation. At the very least the story has gone some way to answer those critics who felt Infiltration moved too slowly and wondered if IDW was inclined, or capable, of delivering the epic fan-pleasing battles that Dreamwave was always happy to provide. I think those readers will have been happy with this series and will look to Escalation with a renewed enthusiasm.

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