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THE TRANSFORMERS: COMICS, BOOKS AND MANGA

IDW Publishing
(2005-now)
Devil's Due
(2003-2007)
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(2002-2004)
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(2001-now)
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DREAMWAVE TRANSFORMERS COMIC ISSUE GUIDES

Micromasters

|#1|#2|#3|#4|

#1- "Destined for Nothing"

[cover] [cover]
Cover A: Rob Ruffolo
Cover B: Don Figueroa
Cover Date: June 2004
Script: James "Brad Mick" McDonough & Adam Patyk
Pencils: Rob Ruffolo
Inks: Erik Sander
Colours: David Cheung
Letters: Ben Lee

Synopsis: A team of Autobot-aligned Micromasters are trying to recover the deactivated Roadbuster from Beta Quadrant, under fire from the Decepticon Race Track Patrol. They suceed, but one of Big Daddy's team, Crunch, is killed by Ground Hog. Meanwhile, Countdown and Groundshaker arrive back from Operation Containment, to find a delapidated Autobase Iacon. Ultra Magnus and Fortress Maximus are discussing the grim situation on Cybertron. Countdown tells them he tracked a Decepticon named Skystalker to the planet Paradron. Magnus refuses him reinforcements, citing the lack of resources on Cybertron. The pair of Micromasters then storm out, passing Big Daddy's returning squad. Big Daddy then storms in to see Ultra Magnus, who is unsympathetic. Big Daddy then leads his troops away. Meanwhile, the Race Track Patrol return to Decepticon HQ. There, Shockwave curtails a conference with Scorponok and Ratbat to talk to them. They claim they're being mistreated and not getting a fair share of the Energon they plunder. Back at Autobase, the Hot Rod Patrol are heckled by Sidetrack and Sunrunner, and Big Daddy snaps, leading his team to desert. They run into the Race Track Patrol in the Wastelands, and after a tense moment a brief truce seems to be reahced, but the group are then found by Ransack, Chop Shop, Barrage and Venom, who are chasing two fugitives.

Notes: Micromasters is set after the War Within comics, and before the Great Shutdown shown in G1 Vol.2 #6. "Guzzler" is a derogative term used by Micromasters to refer to full-size Transformers. Countdown and Groundshaker were the other members of Operation Containment with Jetfire and Omega Supreme [see Generation 1 Vol. 3 #5 for more on the mission, specifically the fate of the latter pair]. Countdown's rank is given as "Aerospace Commander". Fortress Maximus and Ultra Magnus seem in joint command of the Autobots on Cybertron. The Decepticons have been expanding across the universe. It's unclear whether Paradron was a Transformers world before the arrival of Skystalker's unit - the name is a reference to Sandstorm's home planet, an Autobot colony, in the Season 3 episode "Fight or Flee". Fortress Maximus is in his original, smaller body mentioned in G1 More Than Meets the Eye #2.

McDonough and Patyk take over the letters' page to explain the genesis of the Micromasters series, and include a little back-story. The Micromasters were initially downsized Autobots, before the Autobots and Decepticons decided to work together to build new Transformers from scratch, initially basing them in a specially created small city known as 'Little Iacon'. However, both sides lost patience and hurridley recruited the inhabitants. The series is set a couple of years after this. While personally I'm rather skeptical of the canonicity of this until it's picked up and "legitimised" in the strip itself, I've placed it here so you can make your own decision.

Errors: Who's the yellow car retreating with the Autobots in the bottom-left panel of page 5? It looks like Motorhead, which doesn't make much sense...

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Big Daddy [first appearance], Greaser [first appearance], Hubs [first appearance], Roadbuster [deactivated], Crunch [first appearance, killed by Motorhead], Ground Hog [first appearance], Roller Force [first appearance], Blaze Master [first appearance], Barricade [first appearance], Motorhead [first appearance], Heavy Tread [first appearance], Trip-Up [first appearance], Countdown [first appearance], Groundshaker [first appearance], Topspin, Twin Twist, Ultra Magnus, Fortress Maximus, Skystalker [first appearance, flashback], Octane, Blitzwing, Greasepit [first appearance], Shockwave, Scorponok, Ratbat, Sidetrack, Sunrunner, Roadhandler, Groundpounder [first appearance], Fixit, Freewheeler, Seawatch, Chop Shop, Barrage, Venom, Ransack.

N.B. Any debuts in the More Than Meets the Eye profile series are ignored.

Review: The script is utterly fantastic. Big Daddy has a genuine reason for his attitude for once, and the story's peppered with great moments - Motorhead's disbelief at gunning down Crunch, the burueacracy of Magnus and Maximus, Shockwave's great characterisations, Countdown's wonderful cool when talking to two 'Bots who could step on him [with full marks for not turning him into another pointless Grimlock clone], with some wonderful foundations set for a multi-layered plot which at the moment seems to fill the issue nicely - not overwhelming it, but not feeling stretched. The art is a bit of a problem, though. Dreamwave's usual benchmark colouring lends a nice atmosphere, but some of the layouts are very hard to follow - page 4, for example, makes it very unclear as to what happens precisely to Crunch - and Ruffolo's renders are often repulsive. His Fortress Maximus looks like a fan parody, and the characters often sway between looking nearly decent, and looking inflated and ridiculous. The fact it's often painful to look at sadly damages a fine story... with clearer art [imagine if James Raiz had got this one...] this would have been Dreamwave's best comic to date. As it is, it's a superb read if you can get past the art.

[image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image]

#2 - "The Gray Race"

[cover] [cover]
Cover A: Rob Ruffolo
Cover B: Pat Lee
Cover Date: July 2004
Script: James "Brad Mick" McDonough & Adam Patyk
Pencils: Rob Ruffolo
Inks: Erik Sander, Rob Armstrong
Colours: David Cheung, Josh Perez
Letters: Ben Lee

Synopsis: The Hot Rod Patrol and Race Track Patrol have a short face-off with Shockwave's enforcers before Groundshaker arrives in his tank, and drives the Insecticons away. He then takes the Hot Rod Patrol out of the Wastelands. Shockwave then appears, and offers the Race Track Team a chance to come back. They turn it down and speed off. Shockwave then leaves the remaining fugitive to the Insecticons. Meanwhile, Groundshaker takes the Hot Rod Team to meet Countdown. He proposes they join him in stopping the Decepticons that are off Cybertron invading other worlds. Big Daddy turns him down, for now. The Patrol carry on to Little Iacon, and head into a Micromaster bar. There they meet up with old acquaintances, and Big Daddy challenges Roadhandler to a race. He loses, but keeps the respect of his team and maybe learns to follow his own mind, unaware the Hot Rod Team are being tracked. Meanwhile, Skystalker and his lieutenant, Skyhopper, have arrived in Cybertron's atmosphere.

Notes: Groundshaker and Countdown were both originally full-size Transformers that were downsized. Big Daddy refers to them as "First-Gen".

The poster on the wall of the bar is the second print cover of G1 Vol. 1 #1, by Pat Lee. The blades in Roller Force's fist are clearly a reference to the X-Men character Wolverine, complete with the trademark "snikt!" sound-effect.

Errors: How does the poster in the bar feature Optimus and Megatron in their Earth modes? And why would there be a poster of both anyway? There's some dialogue from Powertrain that insinuates Blaze Master is a 'Con', when he had an Autobrand in #1.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Motorhead, Barricade, Hubs, Ground Hog, Roller Force, Barrage, Chop Shop, Ransack, Barricade, Big Daddy, Greaser, Groundshaker, Shockwave, Countdown, Roughstuff [first appearance], Detour, Slow Poke, Storm Cloud, Mudslinger, Airwave [first appearance], Powertrain, Highjump, Blaze Master, Freewheeler, Tailwind, Tote, Hydraulic [? - the guy complaining Ground Hog's high-grade Energon made his engine knock], Dropshot [first appearance], Bombshock [first appearance], Groundpounder, Greasepit, Ironworks [first appearance], Roadhandler, Hyperdrive, Fixit, Blackjack, Swindler, Skyhopper [first appearance], Skystalker.

N.B. Any debuts in the More Than Meets the Eye profile series are ignored.

Review: While not quite to the same standard as the first issue, this is still wonderful stuff. There's a little more intrigue added to the mix, but this issue is more about character. If you'd told me this would contain a scene in a bar and a race, I wouldn't have bought it, but both scenes are executed well. There's loads of great bits of dialogue spread around, and the layout of the pages detailing the four Hot Rod Patrol members in the bar are well used. The layouts in general are easier to follow, and the appearance of fewer 'Guzzlers' means Ruffolo doesn't have to call on his limited skills at showing proportion very often - though not only is his Shockwave atrocious, but every now and then characters' limbs seem to grow to twice the size they were in the previous frame. However, Roadhandler and Big Daddy are both glorious characters, and the hapless Motorhead's also good value. Another cracking issue.

[image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image]

#3 - "Recipe for Hate"

[cover] [cover]
Cover A: Don Figueroa
Cover B: Pat Lee
Cover Date: September 2004
Script: James "Brad Mick" McDonough & Adam Patyk
Pencils: Rob Ruffolo
Inks: Erik Sander
Colours: Sig Torre, Eric Burns, Josh Perez, Josh Burcham
Letters: Ben Lee

Synopsis: Shockwave welcomes Skystalker and Skyhopper to Decepticon HQ. Shockwave reveals he allowed the Race Track Team to leave in order to draw Countdown out. In Little Iacon, the Micromasters are attacked by the Insecticons. Trip-Up believes the Race Track Team sold them out. At his rocket base, Countdown monitors the situation. He argues with Groundshaker, and then tells him why their mission has changed. On Paradron he discovered a golden disc, which seemed to be a sign that Transformers were designed to benefit smaller beings. Back at Little Iacon, the Insecticons have captured some of the Micromasters, but are after some specific Autobots they're after. Barricade signs his team up to help, in return for their freedom. Meanwhile, the Hot Rod Patrol have made it back to Iacon, only to find Sunrunner and Sidetrack. Autobase's video feeds of Little Iacon are down, and the Hot Rod Patrol are refused entry. However, Stakeout, having seen the incident on the monitor, does manage to sneak them out some weapons. Back at Decepticon HQ, Shockwave is analysing strange changes in Blitzwing's physical makeup, when they're attacked by Skystalker and Skyhopper. The larger Decepticons, nearly out of power before recharging, are overpowered. Skystalker then begins to mobilise the Decepticon forces, including the Race Track Patrol.

Notes: The Insecticons are referred to as "mutants". The disc is clearly the Golden Disc from Beast Wars, also glimpsed in More Than Meets the Eye #8. The changes to Blitzwing and Astrotrain are clearly meant to be them evolving into Triplechangers - though whether it's down to Shockwave, as stated in MTMTE #8, is unclear.

The letters page is handed over to some cred, stylin' skateboard company who did some piffling little graphic for one of the covers of issue 2, just to clarify that DW are a) a bunch of idiots and b) after money, no matter the cost... Oh, and this is a good a place as any to point out that "From the Desk of... Erik Sander" is one of the most embarrassingly bad things ever to be written by an allegedly mature human being. E-Rock? I can think of other handles...

Errors: Several lines of dialogue are anachronistic - "Cap 'em", "B.I.G - is you a fool?" and "Don't play armcahir quarterback with me" really standing out. It's a bit much that the Insecticons don't seem to be able to hear what the Micromasters next to them are saying. Why does Shockwave leave it so long to recharge? Roller Force's pink is coloured orange throughout, and Skystalker's coloured wrong on the final page.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Shockwave, Skystalker, Skyhopper, Road Hugger, Big Daddy, Hubs, Greaser, Chop Shop, Detour, Mudslinger, Ironworks, Dropshot, Venom, Roller Force, Hyperdrive, Highjump, Fixit, Hubs, Ground Hog, Motorhead, Countdown, Groundshaker, Megatron [flashback], Ransack, Barrage, Barricade, Freewheeler, Blaze Master, Sidetrack, Sunrunner, Stakeout, Bombshock, Blitzwing, Thrust, Dirge, Ramjet, Astrotrain, Octane.

Review: Once again, excellent but flawed. There's more excellent characterisation - the snide Battle Patrol members, Venom's paranoia and, best of all, Chop Shop's casual kleptomania, and the plot's really interesting - especially seeing where they're going with the Golden Disc. The art's still very variable - generally it's acceptable, but every now and then someone's really deformed, or something's horribly unclear - for example, what exactly Skystalker does to Shockwave. The last issue's certainly going to be an interesting test for the writers.

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#4 - "Victims of the Revolution"

[cover] [cover]
Cover A: Alex Milne
Cover B: Pat Lee
Cover Date: October 2004

Script:
James McDonough, Adam Patyk
Pencils: Rob Ruffolo
Inks: Erik Sander
Colours: Sig Torre, Eric Burns, Josh Perez, Josh Burcham
Letters: Ben Lee

Synopsis: The Hot Rod Patrol head back to meet up with Countdown, wanting to help the battle in Little Iacon. But Countdown wants to head to Decepticon HQ instead. There, Skystalker has tricked the Decepticons into heading off to fight the Autobots, though Barricade is having doubts. At the Autobot HQ, Ultra Magnus begins to mobilise their forces. Countdown and the Hot Rod Patrol have entered the Decepticon HQ. They begin to free those captured at Little Iacon, but are jumped by the Barrage, Ransack and Venom. Groundshaker guns down Ransack, while the freed Roadhandler decapitates Barrage and Blaze Master runs Venom through. Chop Shop and the Race Track Team arrive. Trip-Up shoots Barricade, who tries to tell Motorhead to help the Autobots. His friend gets the wrong end of the stick, though, and begins attacking the other Micromasters. Countdown, meanwhile, has knocked out Chop Shop and headed off. Elsewhere, the Autobot and Decepticon forces have met in the Wastelands, and are now in a pitched battle. Countdown contronts Skystalker, who wants the location of a disk. The Decepticon tries to drop Shockwave's head on him. Big Daddy turns up to save him, but Skystalker escapes. Countdown then tries to talk to Motorhead, who has helped overpower Roadhandler and the others. Barricade turns up, and helps talk the Micromasters into uniting behind Countdown. Out on the Wastelands, the Decepticons have won, but the Micromasters arrive. After showing the Decepticons Shockwave's head, they talk them into retreating. Big Daddy then spurns Countdown's crusade, and heads off to find his own destiny.

Notes: The Meltdown Riots led to the Micromasters splitting among the Autobots and Decepticons. Shockwave is presumably repaired before The Great Shutdown. Ultra Magnus was an instructor on the Autobot-sponsored portion of the joint training at Little Iacon. Shockwave taught on the Decepticon segment. At the time Barricade was named Runner. Bombshock was already aligned with the Decepticons by then. Skystalker claims that Countdown left him to die, and killed him once. He seems to want the Golden Disk. Blitzwing was Shockwave's bodyguard, and also the subject for many of his experiments.

Errors: I think the orange guy Barricade/Runner shoots in the flashback is a miscoloured Roughstuff.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Countdown, Big Daddy, Greaser, Hubs, Trip-Up, Groundshaker, Astrotrain, Octane, Dirge, Thrust, Ramjet, Skyhopper, Growl, Dropshot, Skystalker, Barricade, Motorhead, Freewheeler, Detour, Ultra Magnus, Roughstuff [flashback], Bombshock, Roadhandler, Fortress Maximus, Topspin, Big Shot, Twin Twist, Fixit, Ransack, Barrage, Highjump, Mudslinger, Hyperdrive, Blaze Master, Blaze Master, Chopshop, Rollerforce, Nightflight, Sidetrack, Kup, Carnivac, Swindler.

Review: A decent conclusion. The ending's a little predictable, and there's a bit too much going on, but it's a good end to a thoroughly enjoyable series. Ruffolo's art finally settles down to be mediocre, and the backstory is superb. The lionisation of Countdown is avoided, while Big Daddy is likeable enough not to just be another arrogant little git. Good stuff.

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