Transformers #9: International Incident part 1: The land of Ironclads

Published: July 2010, by IDW
Covers: Four including incentive and Swindle convention exclusive
Writer: Mike Costa
Artwork: Guido Guidi, covers by N Roche and Don Figueroa
Rating:

Characters: [Decepticons] Onslaught, Brawl, Vortex [Autobots] Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Jetfire, Cliffjumper, Ratchet [humans] Spike Witwicky, Campologno, Kim Yong-Nu


Synopsis:

The Combaticons breach the South Korean border.

The Autobots under their newly elected leader Bumblebee have made peace with Skywatch (an Transformer-busting wing of the US military) and have been helping to round-up rogue Decepticons.

Now a new threat has emerged from the secret communist state of North Korea. Spy satellites have detected Energon production plants, and soon afterwards the Combaticons roll across the border into South Korea and open fire on the troops. Leading the charge, Onslaught transforms to robot mode and is vulnerable to a blast in the chest from a tank - an insult which is quickly avenged by Brawl. Vortex meanwhile, takes care of aerial resistance. Their swift repel allows the North Korea forces to sweep in, including leader Kim Jong-nu. With Combaticon help he expects the capital city, Seoul, to fall.

Back at Skywatch HQ, Spike Witwicky ponders the dangers of rogue states teaming up with the Decepticons. Intelligence says there are 17 Energon facilities in North Korea, capable of powering around five Cybertronians. Spike appeals for help from Bumblebee and former Autobot leader Optimus Prime, who agree to assemble an assault team against the Combaticons.

However a spanner is thrown in the works when the President of the United States declares on TV that nations colluding with Transformers will be considered to be harbouring 'weapons of mass destruction' and dealt with by the West. It means Skywatch cannot be seen to be openly fighting alongside the Autobots. There's only one thing for it: they will still go to Korea to confront the Combaticons but the Autobots will have to do it in disguise!

******

Comments:

By Omega Steve

If Transformers #8 was a low point in Mike Costa's run then this issue is an improvement, although not by much. It's enjoyable on one level to see the Combaticons taking centre stage, but readers will despair at an overly long-winded and visually repetitive opening page, followed by seven pages of an action with next to no dialogue! As appealing as Guido's art is, the lack of words turns this book into a very quick and ultimately unsatisfying read.

Swindle and Blast-Off are conspicuous by their absence, perhaps they will appear in the second half. It appears the Combaticons are now in the employ of North Korea, acting as mercenaries in return for a supply of Energon. The idea of Autobots and humans teaming up is nothing new, but the Decepticons very rarely make alliances with humans, least of all Governments, and it feels like the comic is charting some new territory here. Sure, the Decepticons can take what they need but it so much the better if they are having it made to specifications, and all they have to do in return is destroy an enemy army, hardly a chore!

I rather like the idea that Transformers can be considered weapons of mass destruction. Each has enormous destructive capability after all, and the US president's response, while a parody of our times sounds plausible. What does stretch believability though is that the president appeared to be unaware that Skywatch and the Autobots are now colluding. Wouldn't the President be informed about a major development such as this? Wouldn't someone have checked what the US military's own activities were before setting out a doctrine effectively labelling those who collude with TFs as terrorists?

Spike's confusion over who is leading the Autobots, whether it's Bumblebee or Optimus mirrors that of the readers. It doesn't appear that BB has stamped his authority on the leadership and Optimus is such a big figure that anyone else is dwarfed. Costa needs to address this point it just feels like Bumblebee's leadership has been quietly ursurped and you wonder what the point of it all was. The Autobots may as well have welcomed Prime back as the leader with Bee stepping down.

The idea of Transformers having to escape detection by adopting a disguise is welcome, it's like the series (and Costa) reconnecting with what the series was supposed to be about. So all in all not an awful issue, some good artwork certainly, but way too-fast to read, and this is unforgiveable in a monthly comic.

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