Dreamwave G1 read-through

The originals... ok, not exactly, but the original named "The TransFormers" anyway. Take THAT, Diaclone!
Generation 1, Generation 2 - Removable fists? Check. Unlicensed vehicle modes? Check. Kickass tape deck robot with transforming cassette minions? DOUBLE CHECK!!!
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Sparky Prime
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Re: Dreamwave G1 read-through

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Interesting. I don't think I've seen this art before, thanks for posting it. Makes me disappointed we never saw an RiD comic with James Raiz. Looks like it would have been really cool.

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Re: Dreamwave G1 read-through

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RID was current at the time (mid-02). The toys were gorgeous, and deserved better media than the cartoon.

I really wanted that RID comic. (The 5 issues of "Armada" from Saracinni and Raiz are still some of my favorite TF content.)

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andersonh1
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Re: Dreamwave G1 read-through

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Judging by Raiz's art, an RID comic that he drew would have been visually amazing. I'd love to have seen it. Even a one-shot. All we ever got was that story in the Summer special that just was not well-drawn at all.

Transformers #3
Written by Chris Sarracini, Pencils by Pat Lee, Inks by Rob Armstrong, Erik Sander, Ferdiand Poblete

I note that there is a background artist and four colorists for this book, so it's very much "art by committee". Once again, the colors just pop right from the opening splash, which does a great job of contrasting the size of the Transformers compared to humans. Optimus speaking normally and still hurting the radio-operators ears in a few pages also emphasizes his size and power versus a human. Optimus tries to reason out what happened with the refinery attack while Spike just lashes out, blaming both sides for the death and destruction. Spike really should know better, and maybe he does. Then the power mad General Hallo, being the cliché that he is, has to step in and spout an even worse argument about "the weak" and "sacrifices" and "breaking eggs to make an omelet". Hallo really is the embodiment of the cardboard, hollywood military man, and it just rubs me the wrong way every time he appears. It's such lazy writing. When Prime picks him up and demands to know where enemy headquarters is, it's a well-earned moment of humiliation for Hallo, even though Prime doesn't necessarily mean it that way. I'm not letting Optimus off the hook here either, he's a bit too naïve here. He should understand Hallo perfectly, having fought the lusting-for-power Megatron for a long time now.

The page where he names every Autobot is a nice introduction, and Spike immediately has to face the consequences of his earlier lashing out as Prime refuses to wait for human backup. We get a cartoon reference with "Autobots, let's roll out."

So we switch to the base where Lazarus had kept his brainwashed Transformers where Megatron has him on a chain and collar like a dog on a leash and is mocking him. It's always struck me as very odd to read Megatron swearing, using phrases like "What the hell". It seems like something the human characters would say, certainly, but it just never feels right for the Transformers. And Starscream taking about how much fun evil is going to be really seems off. All through this book so far we get an uneasy mix of trying to look back and draw from the G1 cartoon while at the same time trying to be more "adult" with violence and swearing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it simply doesn't. And Lazarus, his usefulness to the plot having ended, is killed off halfway through the issue. I can't help but think that he needed to last all six issues and contribute more to really exist as a character rather than a plot device. We know nothing about him and we never will, as what appears to be liquid metal powered by dormant Autobots begins to flow from a cauldron and cover everything. As an aside, I think Megatron's dialogue here confirms that it was Lazarus's command to bow that broke Megatron's conditioning. "I bow to no one, dog. Ever. Soon your world will understand that, I promise."

We get another great centerfold poster here, Beast Wars this time, with Megatron front and center dominating the page. Then it's back to the story as Prime and Megatron meet and exchange words and philosophies as it's revealed that Grimlock has sided with Megatron. A blast from Prime's rifle does nothing to stop the liquid metal, which continues to expand outward in all directions. The fight begins, and much to Spike's dismay, Hallo drops a massive bomb on all combatants, Autobot and Decepticon alike.

So I'm going with more positive than negative here, even though I have a lot of problems with the issue. The art is inconsistent, with many good panels and some poor, but by and large it generally works for me, while the coloring continues to be superb. A lot of the characterization and dialogue feels off, and not quite right for the characters. Killing off Lazarus after he was built up as the prime mover who got this whole plot rolling without revealing anything about him or why he did what he did (other than "for the money") is a strange storytelling choice. I appreciate that we get attempts by Saraccini to give Spike, Optimus, Megatron and Hallo each a different philosophy and point of view to undergird their actions, but as I noted before, that too is flawed and Hallo is as shallow a cliché as they come. After 3 issues of teasing however, seeing Transformers meet and interact and fight makes up for a lot. I think if I had to grade this issue, I'd give it a C, maybe a C-. Not a failure by any means, but could use a lot of revisions and improvement.

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Re: Dreamwave G1 read-through

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Once again, I got the Autobot cover for this issue. Nice group shot of the minibots.

I remember being somewhat confused when I first read this issue, I felt like I was missing something with how quickly General Hallo goes from helping the Autobots, to wanting to kill them all. I think the conversation Hallo has with Optimus about gaining power and sometimes needing to sacrifice the weak is somewhat misleading. Despite his talking about obtaining power, I don't think it's meant to show Hallo is power mad, but rather, that he's willing to accept losses if it means winning, setting up he's willing to kill good guys and bad guys alike at the end of this issue... But going from recruiting Spike to help them revive Optimus in the previous issue, to dropping a nuke on him by the end of the issue is jarring. Why bother reviving Optimus and the other Autobots to help them out if he had this plan to just nuke them all anyway? It's too quick of a turn for a character we're made to think is a good guy, just for him to be as bad if not worst than the bad guys. I also didn't like how quickly Lazarus is killed off by Megatron. I mean, there really wasn't any need for the character any more at this point, but they essentially replace him with General Hallo as the human villain. It seems a little redundant.

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Re: Dreamwave G1 read-through

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Transformers #4
July 2002
written by Chris Sarracini, pencils by Pat Lee, Inks by Rob Armstrong, backgrounds by Edwin Garcia

General Hallo returns to the Pentagon, has Spike imprisoned with orders to keep it secret, and is angry that anyone knows about his secret missile launch. As an aside, I presume he didn't fly halfway around the world in that helicopter, because I doubt it has the range, and this won't be the last time I wonder about time and distance. In the Arctic, the bomb did not kill the Transformers, but it did create a dome out of the liquid metal, and Wheeljack theorizes that the fact that it absorbed most of the explosion is what kept everyone alive. Wheeljack defines it as "a metallic virus that solidifies as it grows" which is "impervious to firepower". He's never seen anything like it and doesn't know how they're going to stop it.

Cut to a sub in the Pacific off the west coast which detects something huge approaching fast, which smashes right through the sub. Its identity is not revealed here, but will be soon enough. It's not hard to guess that it's a Decepticon of course.

The Autobots find their imprisoned comrades who had been used to jumpstart the metal virus, along with the humans. While the Autobots are in bad shape, they're still alive, while the oil refinery employees did not survive. The virus is no longer being fueled from here, it's self-sustaining. Ironhide delivers a message from Megatron to Prime, and it makes sense to me that he's the first to wake up, given how tough the character is meant to be. It also demonstrates that much of what follows is a deliberate goading of Prime by Megatron, not just a random attack or an energy grab. Despite the vacant expression on his face, I do really like the two page spread of Devastator bursting up out what appears (due to the bridge) to be San Francisco Bay.

Superion is still in combined form taking Optimus to San Francisco, where Megatron lectures Soundwave and Grimlock about how this is a lesson for the Autobots about how foolish it is to fight for humans. There's a grammatical error here where Megatron talks about showing Prime "the Err of his ways" when of course that should be "error of his ways". He orders an attack, and while Devastator (who is really enormous here) smashes buildings, Grimlock joins in on the street level destruction. Superion arrives and engages Devastator, while Prime and several of the Autobots take on the rest of the Decepticons. I don't think we've seen Superion fight Devastator very often in any Transformers fiction, not that I can think of off the top of my head anyway, and we certainly haven't seen Trailbreaker take on Grimlock. So we're seeing some character combos that aren't common, which I enjoy. Starscream, Thundercracker and Skywarp attack Superion and force him to disassemble, which is a major problem. While I like the battle scene with toppled buildings around Superion and Devastator, it does put the two of them at nearly the size of Metroplex. Even in a series that isn't consistent with scale, that's a bit too large!

Back in the Arctic, Wheeljack talks with Jazz as he tries to understand the metallic virus and how to combat it. The other Autobots try to revive their injured comrades. In San Fransisco, the battle is not going well as buildings collapse, humans scream at Autobots to get away, and Devastator... well, I guess he's meant to be roaring triumphantly, but everyone who criticizes his expression on this page is right. It's pretty free of any emotion. Megatron looks like he's just about to smile, and honestly the expressions for Prime, Sideswipe and Trailbreaker are fine, even if I'd like something more pronounced. But yeah, Pat Lee dropped the ball on Devastator here, garbling what should be a major cliffhanger. But there's one more page, as someone passes the imprisoned Spike a note. "3 o'clock. Be ready."

The two page centerfold poster in this issue is all Combiners. I see Abominus, Computron, Menasor, Superion, Defensor, Predaking, Bruticus and what appear to be some of the individuals who compose these combiners. One of the nice things about reading these books for the first time in years is that I had forgotten all of these mini-posters were in them, so it's a nice surprise to see which characters we get in any given issue. The back of the book promotes the next issue, along with Armada #2, several posters and Dreamwave's other series.

So, I definitely enjoy the fact that the focus is almost entirely on the Transformers this issue. I have some issues with the time frame, i.e. Devastator walking all the way from the North Pole faster than Superion can fly, or Hallo taking his helicopter from the Arctic to Washington DC (how did he cross international borders on the way, or did he stay over the sea? Minor points, but these things stand out to me.) I guess I could believe that a combination of the Decepticons recovering first and the Autobots delaying to investigate the scene of the explosion and recover their injured comrades accounts for it. The scale of the Combiners is off with both being way too large, but again that's a minor thing. Overall I think the issue is largely successful in setting up multiple threats that the Autobots have to deal with and this gives the various different characters something to do. I like that the entire cast is not present for this story, it gives many of those that are present and active more significant things to do. Despite my questions and quibbles with this issue, I liked it. We got explanations, we got plenty of action, and for the most part the art ranges from adequate to good, with size problems and facial expressions being the main downsides. Some of the backgrounds could use more detail as well. I appreciate Megatron trying to engage Optimus on a philosophical level as well as physical combat, and if not convert him to his point of view at least weaken his determination to defend the humans.

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Re: Dreamwave G1 read-through

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Sparky Prime wrote:
Wed Aug 31, 2022 6:11 pm
Once again, I got the Autobot cover for this issue. Nice group shot of the minibots.

I remember being somewhat confused when I first read this issue, I felt like I was missing something with how quickly General Hallo goes from helping the Autobots, to wanting to kill them all. I think the conversation Hallo has with Optimus about gaining power and sometimes needing to sacrifice the weak is somewhat misleading. Despite his talking about obtaining power, I don't think it's meant to show Hallo is power mad, but rather, that he's willing to accept losses if it means winning, setting up he's willing to kill good guys and bad guys alike at the end of this issue... But going from recruiting Spike to help them revive Optimus in the previous issue, to dropping a nuke on him by the end of the issue is jarring. Why bother reviving Optimus and the other Autobots to help them out if he had this plan to just nuke them all anyway? It's too quick of a turn for a character we're made to think is a good guy, just for him to be as bad if not worst than the bad guys. I also didn't like how quickly Lazarus is killed off by Megatron. I mean, there really wasn't any need for the character any more at this point, but they essentially replace him with General Hallo as the human villain. It seems a little redundant.
That's a good point about Hallo, though I think he wanted Optimus revived not so much to help the Autobots as to get him to do the fighting against the Decepticons that the human military typically can't do. He's never one of the good guys, he's a dangerous threat from his first appearance in issue 1. I saw the bombing in the Arctic as a desperation move to stop the Transformers and their war from escalating again.

But maybe it's just poor characterization. I know he's going to shoot a nuke at San Fransisco in the last issue, if I remember right, so he's not done with his "kill 'em all" attempts.

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Re: Dreamwave G1 read-through

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andersonh1 wrote:
Sat Sep 03, 2022 11:41 am
He's never one of the good guys, he's a dangerous threat from his first appearance in issue 1. I saw the bombing in the Arctic as a desperation move to stop the Transformers and their war from escalating again.
I mean, he doesn't exactly come off as a nice guy in the first issue, asserting that he's not asking for Spike's help, he's telling him. But considering what he needs Spike's help for turns out to be a way to revive Optimus Prime... It seems to me we are meant to think of Hallo as a good guy at that point, albeit kind of a jerk. The only warning Spike gets about the situation at the time is from the janitor, which pretty vague. I dunno, I just wouldn't say Hallo's actually revealed to be a dangerous threat until issue 3. The conversation he has with Optimus about being willing to 'break a few eggs' being the first real warning sign, ultimately leading to the missile attack at the end of the issue.

Transformers #4
This is the first issue where I went with the Decepticon cover, nice group shot of the individual Constructicons. Never been a fan of the Lambo-brothers cover this issue also had.

Ah, the infamous "dull surprise" issue.

The Transformers surviving thanks to the metallic virus seems a little far-fetched. We've seen how the metallic virus is able to absorb energy, so ok, but shouldn't the initial energy of the explosion still damaged the Transformers before the virus absorbed the energy? They are enveloped in the metal of the dome when they come back online after all, the energy of the initial explosion should have vaporized some of them at ground zero, where the virus hadn't reached where they were fighting yet.

Not sure why the Decepticons go to San Francisco. If their plan is to let the virus cover the planet, why go hang out in a human city, waiting for the Autobots to catch up to them? It does give Megatron the opportunity to point out the conflict brings out the worst in (some) humans, reasoning that Optimus shouldn't be fighting to protect them, which I really like that this issue does, and sets up for a good contrast for the rebuttal from Optimus we'll get in the next issue.

The page with Prime, Sideswipe, Trailbreaker and Megatron all looking up at Devastator, who is also looking up, all with the exact same expression is absolutely terrible. It gave me the impression that a Cybertronian ship was arriving that'd be revealed in the next issue the first time I'd read this, because they all seemed to be looking up to the sky in surprise, rather than they were all looking up at Devastator who is... roaring in victory? I'm not sure what this page is actually meant to convey because they all look vaguely surprised looking upward. Not to mention the scale issues... Why is Devastator so huge on this page? He's got an Arielbot in his hand who should be (and just moments ago, was) about as big as one of his arms/legs. And he's towering over nearby skyscrapers. I have to wonder what Pat Lee was thinking when he drew this...

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Re: Dreamwave G1 read-through

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Transformers #5
Written by Chris Sarracini, Pencils by Pat Lee, Inks by Rob Armstrong, Erik Sander, Backgrounds by Edwin Garcia

So is Pat Lee only drawing the actual characters? I keep seeing that "Backgrounds" credit, and I assume it's as straightforward as it appears to be and someone else draws the backgrounds.

So our "take us seriously!" Transformers comic throws some hints about sex in the opening scene ("... nothing can touch you." "Nothing?" "Well... maybe not nothing...") before the two lovebirds have to run from the hissing liquid metal and run smack into a group of Autobots consisting of Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Huffer, Brawn, Jazz, Mirage, Wheeljack and Red Alert. Wheeljack has devised a method to counteract the "metallic virus", but it draws energy from the Autobot firing it, meaning the longer they fire, the weaker they get. They might have just enough energy between the eight of them to finish the job, but just barely. I've always enjoyed the camaraderie of this group of Autobots in this scene. Forget the sniping and personality conflicts we often see in other stories, here they just dig in to get the job done, each one supporting the others and giving it their all, as I expect from Autobots.

The situation gets worse when Trailbreaker calls for help and Jazz can't send backup. With Superion down, Devastator has no one to hold him back. Once again Prime's "voice" feels off here and misjudged, though him attacking Devastator and succeeding where the other Autobots failed feels authentic.

Spike feeling scared is realistic, and I appreciate that he's thinking of his wife and son (Carly finally gets named) in what he's afraid are his last minutes as he thinks Hallo is coming to kill him, because who wouldn't be? But it's not Hallo who enters the cell, though we don't get to see who it is just yet...

And when the Autobots are getting close to stopping the virus, the Canadian military show up to complicate the situation. I always chuckle at that scene, but given that the Autobots really can't afford to be distracted, and given that fighting the virus has weakened them, what ordinarily wouldn't be a threat to them actually is.

It's the janitor that rescued Spike, and here's where I enjoy the fact that I haven't read these issues in years, because details can surprise me. We do get an explanation for who Lazarus was, when I thought we wouldn't after he was killed, because I had completely forgotten this part of the story. His name was Adam Rook, and the janitor fills Spike in on Rook and Hallo's plan to control and weaponize Transformers after their attempt to build their own continually failed. Rook came up with the program to control Transformers, but knowing the Autobots wouldn't permit it, Hallo blew up the Ark to try and get all the Transformers, killing Sparkplug and the other humans in the process. The janitor's brother collected the evidence (which is where the janitor got it to give to Spike) but Hallo had him killed before he could turn whistleblower. And we even get an explanation for why Hallo needed Spike, because Rook went AWOL and took the tech with him, leaving Hallo no way to find or stop him. Spike calling out the janitor and leaving him to wallow in his guilt for doing nothing to stop it is well-deserved here.

The scene cuts back to Megatron, and I like that the three main plotlines all get some decent forward movement in this issue. Megatron lectures Prime about how worthless the humans are, and how they're not worth protecting. And it appears that he's gotten through to Prime.

And then the walking talking military cliche, General Hallo, decides to drop a nuke on San Francisco. Never mind that it will kill millions, as his subordinate screams at him. Never mind that not all of the Transformers are even in San Francisco, meaning Hallo isn't making sure of his target before he fires. Never mind that authorization to fire a nuke has to come from the President. This man is a law unto himself who screams about not losing again and doing it his way. Worst written character (and I use that term loosely) in this book, by far.

So for the most part, a solid issue with some good character moments (Hallo excepted) that keeps the all the various parts of the plot moving forward towards its conclusion next issue. Despite the weaknesses in some of the writing and some of the art, for the most part I'm enjoying the series and looking forward to the final issue, where I'm sure I'll have some thoughts on the series as a whole.

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Re: Dreamwave G1 read-through

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andersonh1 wrote:
Fri Sep 09, 2022 1:10 pm
So is Pat Lee only drawing the actual characters? I keep seeing that "Backgrounds" credit, and I assume it's as straightforward as it appears to be and someone else draws the backgrounds.
It is interesting to see some of the original art pages. Volume 2 page 9 for an example, you can tell the Transformers were drawn separately from the backgrounds, like they were pasted over the background. Page 4 of the volume 2 preview, pretty sure Optimus is the only thing Pat Lee drew on this page, and some details, such as the clouds in the background didn't get added until the coloring phase. Or Armada #7 page 22 as one of the most egregious examples of Pat Lee barely doing any work whatsoever, leaving notes for someone else to fill in the artwork later.

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Re: Dreamwave G1 read-through

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Transformers #6
Written by Chris Sarracini, Pencils by Pat Lee, Inks by Rob Armstrong, Backgrounds by Edwin Garcia

I looked up Chris Sarracini's nationality, and he's Canadian, which may explain why he gives the United States a defense minister when we don't have one, and why he is off on "Central Intelligence" as a term instead of CIA, who I doubt would ask about a nuclear launch instead of the Pentagon and the military. At least we do learn that Hallo somehow faked the authority of the President to launch the nukes. Meanwhile the situation between the Canadian military and the Autobots goes downhill fast, and in San Francisco, Megatron confirms that he attacked the city in an attempt to show Optimus how unworthy of protection the humans are. There's a lot going on as this final issue opens, and it feels like more needs to be resolved than can be.

Optimus Prime's defense of humanity has good and bad points. I'm not sure the idea that Transformers are guided by "programming" is a good one, though I suppose it was present in the story the whole time or else Lazarus would not have been able to control them with a program. I've become so used to simply seeing them as living creatures, even if they are mechanical, that the idea that they are "programmed" just seems wrong. And yet they clearly have free will. Grimlock chose to switch sides, and Megatron believes he can change Prime's thinking, so this feels like a concept that wasn't entirely thought out. On the other hand, I love that Prime confirms that he's well aware of evil choices that humans make, but that he's not blind to the fact that there's more to them. I like this Optimus Prime's moral certainty far more than I like Marvel Optimus Prime's constant self-doubt.

And thankfully some of the onlookers, firemen in this case (and I wonder if we were still riding the post 9/11 sentiment at this point with first responders very much seen as heroes) choose this moment to help Optimus by ramming their fire trucks into Megatron, buying Prime time to free his troops.

From the excellent to the lowest part of this series: General Hallo, wild-eyed and sweating as he tracks the nuke, ranting about how he won't be controlled. Spike tries to threaten him with the information about the Ark II, but Hallo is a desperate madman at this point and could care less. There's an interlude with the Autobots and the military here, but I want to skip ahead and note that Hallo goes down fighting, essentially committing suicide by inviting himself to be shot. Not that he didn't know something like that was coming. I think Sarracini was trying to give him a rational point of view as he discusses the horrible things he's done in the name of keeping people safe, but Spike doesn't buy it, and neither do I. So long Robert Hallo, military cliché that you were. I won't miss him.

Meanwhile Prime is actually attempting to kill Megatron for once, but the nuke changes things as the Aerialbots assemble into Superion and we get a parallel between his sacrifice and Wheeljack's as they end the threats of the nuke and the metallic virus by giving their lives (though Wheeljack gets an Ian Malcolm death, for those of you who have read Jurassic Park and get the reference). And I can't help but think that Superion could just have grabbed that nuke and sent it out into space instead of committing suicide to stop it (which would still release fallout over San Francisco, right?)

So the art feels very rushed in this final issue, no more so than in these final pages. The explosion over the ocean isn't bad, but the tidal wave and the perspective applied to the city on the next page are very bad, and the cut and paste Canadian troops are laughably bad. The art has been a mix of very good and flawed throughout this series, but it's ending on a low note, I'm sorry to say. And how does Spike get to San Francisco in less than three hours? The ending feels rushed, a rushed finishing of the artwork, a rushed tying up of loose ends (the Decepticons just leave), rushing Spike implausibly quickly to San Francisco so he could be there when Prime recovered... at the very least, I think the final page with Grimlock refusing Prime's offer of forgiveness and the shot of a dead Wheeljack are a strong finale that leaves us not with a "the good guys won" ending, but a much grimmer one. I've thought all along that this felt like it was taking a lot from the Sunbow cartoon where no one ever died, and there were a lot of "everyone laughs" endings (though not always, of course.) Taken from that perspective, Grimlock walking away and Wheeljack dying are a solid "things are different now" wrap-up.

I don't know how exactly to rate this issue. Like the series itself it was a roller coaster, going from great to poor and back again. I appreciate the attempt to up the stakes with the nuke added to the threat of the metallic virus, and I appreciate Optimus Prime's defense of humanity. On the downside, this feels like a very unfocused series that went in several directions, and which was tied together more by Spike and Hallo than anyone else. The mind-controlled Transformers and the selling of them as weapons drives the preview and the opening two issues, and that really seems like it should have been the main plot all the way through given how important it is early on, but it's dropped and forgotten quickly and the story becomes about Megatron attempting to pay back all of humanity for attempting to control him, and to try and convert Optimus over to his side. I think both of these ideas could have sustained a mini-series of their own, but jamming them together in six issues makes things feel a bit crowded.

I'm still more positive than negative about this flawed first attempt at reviving Transformers comics after a decade without them (something I never thought we'd see when Generation 2 ended), and I think points have to be given because this kicked everything off for nearly twenty years of Transformers comics. I'm going to rate this 6.5 out of 10, both for the issue and the series as a whole. A success, not a failure, but not an unqualified success. Baby steps, and I'm glad we got it, but I'm glad future stories will improve on this.

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