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THE TRANSFORMERS: COMICS, BOOKS AND MANGA

IDW Publishing
(2005-now)
Devil's Due
(2003-2007)
Dreamwave
(2002-2004)
Club/Con
(2001-now)
Titan Books
(2001-now)
Marvel Comics
(1984-1994)
Japanese
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and Titles

DREAMWAVE TRANSFORMERS COMIC ISSUE GUIDES

Transformers / G.I. Joe - Volume 1

|#1|#2|#3|#4|#5|#6|

#1 - "The Line"

[cover] [cover]
Cover A: Jae Lee
Cover B: Pat Lee

Cover Date: August 2003

Script: John Ney Rieber
Art: Jae Lee
Colours: June Chung
Letters: Benjamin Lee

Synopsis: On the Fera Islands in 1938, Major Bludd leads a Cobra charge on a monastery. Bludd finds a device which activates the sleeping Decepticons. 1939, and a man named Flint is gathering together a crack group of soldiers named GIJoe. Their mission is a planned pre-emptive strike against Cobra, who have already taken the Maginot Line, Paris, Rome and Berlin. But the gathering is observed by Laserbeak, who reports back to Soundwave back at the Terrordrome on one of the Fera Islands. There, Destro advises a strengthening of the Terrordrome's guard, but Cobra Commander is adamant that the base is strong enough. The Joes are pessimistic too, following a map left by "forces unknown" on the remains of a battleship. Meanwhile, the Decepticons are planning to garner energy via their alliance with Cobra. The Joes near the Terrordrome, but are immediately pinned down and forced to scatter. One splinter group, led by Duke, stumbles across the head of Optimus Prime.

Notes: Yet another parallel universe, and for once a very good one. The Ark crashes near the Fera Islands, where the Decepticons [at least] are awakened by Cobra in 1938. Cobra have already claimed much of mainland Europe [seemingly sweeping the Nazis out on their merry way], with the UK seeming to be some sort of front line. The RAF's insignia appears to be Union Jacks instead of roundels. There's a rare example of a nice in-joke in a new Transformers comic - the map is written on part of the USS Hama, presumably named after Marvel 'GIJoe' scribe Larry. See, the key with in-jokes is not to have the whole bloody plot revolve around them... Starscream turns into a Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Megatron, Thundercracker, Laserbeak, Soundwave, Starscream, Optimus Prime.

Notable Others: Major Bludd, Flint, Stalker, Snake-Eyes, Lady Jaye, Scarlett, Hawk, Duke, Cobra Commander, the Baroness, Destro, Grunt, Roadblock, Stormshadow, Leatherneck.

Review: Quite superb. Unusually for DW, there's originality and skill on display here. It's so well done that despite a huge Joe/Cobra emphasis it's bloody great. Jae Lee's the best all-round artist to work on Transformers since, oh God, probably Bryan Hitch. The only blip is the sequence where the Joes are preparing to set off for the Terrordrome, which sounds much too similar to the opening of 'The Ultimates' #1. But the washed-out art lends it a gritty reality which contrasts wonderfully with the gaudy poster-friendly rubbish of every other post-Pat Lee TF series. Aside from the inevitable "Snake-Eyes gets all scarred up" moment, there's a total lack of clichés. Megatron doesn't even say "I still function!". Even the awakening of the Decepticons is fresh and interesting. The Joes act like a military unit rather than the Great Lakes Avengers. Rieber is just the injection of fresh writing talent [Furman isn't fresh, Sarracini isn't talented, Blaylock clearly isn't interested in Transformers...] the whole franchise needed. Genuinely exciting stuff, the best TF comic since Generation 2 #12.

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#2 - "Transformed"

[cover]
Cover: Jae Lee

Cover Date: September 2003

Script: John Ney Rieber
Art: Jae Lee
Colours: June Chung
Letters: Benjamin Lee

Synopsis: While trying to regroup, the Joes reactivate an Autobot repair satellite, reviving them. Meanwhile, Snake-Eyes sets off after Stormshadow, bent on revenge. The Joes fill the Autobots in on the situation, but they're unsure of what exactly to do. Cobra planes attack the Joes, but they're bailed out by Grimlock, causing Cobra Commander to send Decepticons in support. Elsewhere, Storm Shadow has lured Snake-Eyes into the Cobra communications centre, where he has to face Ravage.

Notes: Prime claims Cybertron has been at war for six million years, and the Autobots have been buried for three million. Grimlock turns into a Sherman tank.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Iron Hide [sic], Starscream, Grimlock, Optimus Prime, Jazz, Prowl, Bumblebee, Hound, Megatron, Ravage.

Notable Others: Duke, Leatherneck, Roadblock, Scarlett, Stormshadow, Snake-Eyes, Stalker, Destro, Cobra Commander, Zartan, Wild Weasel.

Review: It's not quite as glorious as #1, but the sharp script is so far dealing well with all the pacing failures of Dreamwave's fare so far. Jae Lee's art continues to amaze, evoking a dark, funereal atmosphere with lots of detail. The Transformers are generally drawn beautifully, with incomplete glimpses and heavy shadowing maintaining mystery without frustrating. The main beefs are the two most obviously cartoon-influenced characterisations - Starscream, casually declaring his ambitions to the stars, and Grimlock, in pillock mode. There's some sharp dialogue, though, such as Iron Hide's "Don't play with projectiles if you can't calculate trajectories" or Wild Weasel's "I thought the Death Machine Men from the Abyss were on our side?". There's also some good work on the human characters, with Cobra Commander's treatment of Destro a nice parallel of Megatron's treatment of Starscream, and the Snake-Eyes/Stormshadow rivalry is done well - especially the starting sequence where Snake-Eyes sets fire to his own face.

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

#3 - "Trial by Fire"

[cover]
Cover: Jae Lee

Cover Date: October 2003

Script: John Ney Rieber
Art: Jae Lee
Colours: June Chung
Letters: Benjamin Lee

Synopsis: The battle continues in earnest, with the Aerialbots taking on the Decepticon aircraft, driving them back. Meanwhile, Megatron attempts to rebel, but Cobra Commander uses the Matrix to bring him back into line. Snake-Eyes uses his skills to overcome Ravage, and throws a grenade at Stormshadow. Meanwhile, Zartan kills Breaker, taking his place in the team. Meanwhile, someone with piledrivers pushes back the Autobot advance.

Notes: The Decepticon Seekers are based on P-51 Mustangs.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Air Raid, Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Hound, Megatron, Ravage, Grimlock, Rumble.

Notable Others: Flint, Lady Jaye, Beachhead, Breaker [killed by Zartan], Grunt, Lifeline, Stalker, Duke, Scarlett, Destro, Cobra Commander, The Baroness, Stormshadow, Snake-Eyes, Zartan, Roadblock.

Review: After such a great opening, the series is starting to sag a bit. It's a little unclear what exactly us going on in places, and the plot's barely moved all issue. The mixture of the unfamiliar character models and shaded human faces means working out who's where is hard. The art still maintains the downbeat mood, and there are still more sharp lines than in most of DW's previous TF output combined, but it just doesn't seem to be in a hurry to get on with the plot.

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

#4 - "Wolves"

[cover]
Cover: Jae Lee

Cover Date: November 2003

Script: John Ney Rieber
Art: Jae Lee
Colours: June Chung
Letters: Benjamin Lee

Synopsis: Flint realises Zartan has infiltrated his team, and tries to fight him off, but is captured by Soundwave. Meanwhile, Prime and Duke's team get past Rumble, while elsewhere Snake-Eyes battles Stormshadow. Destro and Starscream are plotting, and have built Bruticus to give them victory once the Autobots and Decepticons have weakened each other. Back at the airfield, Jaye's team hit more trouble as Frenzy and Cobra arrive.

Notes: Bruticus is not a Transformer, simply a droid built by Destro using a mix of Cobra and Decepticon technology. Bumblebee's alt mode is a motorcycle with a sidecar; Hound's is a jeep [though presumably not the same type as the original character, which was a Mitsubishi J59, and thus both anachronistic and unlikely to be in the theatre for scanning].

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Soundwave, Grimlock, Optimus Prime, Rumble, Bumblebee, Hound, Prowl, Air Raid, Skydive, Fireflight, Silverbolt, Slingshot, Superion, Starscream, Frenzy.

Notable Others: Flint, Zartan, Lifeline, Grunt, Lady Jaye, Beachhead, Duke, Scarlett, Roadblock, Leatherneck, Stormshadow, Snake-Eyes, Destro, Bruticus, Wild Weasel.

Review: A bit average, and round about now I'm wishing there were four issues. There's a fair bit happening, but it's quite difficult to keep track of who's where and doing what at any one time... There are some good bits, and some sharp dialogue, although that bit with Grimlock hanging on the cliff with Roadblock is pretty sickly.

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

#5 - "Trenches"

[cover]
Cover: Jae Lee

Cover Date: December 2003

Script: John Ney Rieber
Art: Jae Lee
Colours: June Chung
Letters: Ben Lee

Synopsis: Snake-Eyes has mortally wounded Storm Shadow, and soon finishes off Ravage. Back in the Terrordrome, the Baroness begins her interrogation of Flint. At the airfield, Beachhead and Grunt dispose of Frenzy, and the GIJoe teams regroup with the Autobots. The latter are inititally reluctant to help, but when Prime sees that Cobra are using slaves as human shields, he agrees to help. However, as they prepare to attack the Terrordrome, Shockwave guns down Superion, a vital part of their plan.

Notes: Shockwave turns into an artillery cannon. Iron Hide's also a Sherman tank.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Ravage [destroyed by Snake-Eyes], Frenzy [destroyed by Grunt], Superion [destroyed by Shockwave], Megatron, Optimus Prime, Iron Hide, Prowl, Hound, Shockwave.

Notable Others: Stormshadow [killed by Snake-Eyes], Snake-Eyes, Dr. Mindbender, The Baroness, Flint, Beachhead, Grunt, Lifeline, Lady Jaye, Wild Weasel [killed by Lady Jaye], Major Bludd, Cobra Commander, Duke, Roadblock, Scarlett, Stalker.

Review: Lots more pace, and putting the Joes back together helps with knowing what the Hell's going on. It's far from perfect, but it's a nice fun read, with more sharp dialogue and some good ideas, with no real let-downs. It's fairly well rendered, and you can feel the hearts sinking as Superion gets blown apart...

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

#6 - "The Iron Fist"

[cover]
Cover: Jae Lee

Cover Date: March 2004

Script: John Ney Rieber
Art: Jae Lee
Colours: June Chung
Letters: Ben Lee

Synopsis: The invasion force is decimated by Shockwave's barrage, and lands fragmented. Shockwave has been ruined by the repeated firing. Meanwhile, Destro and the Baroness betray and kill Starscream, and send Bruticus to kill their enemies. Elsewhere, Cobra Commander is crushed by rubble from Bruticus' assaulted, and killed by the Baroness using Megatron. Snake-Eyes recaptures the Matrix, while Prime takes out Megatron. Prime then orders Snake-Eyes to destroy the Matrix, which deactivates all the Transformers, including Bruticus. The Joes then count the cost of victory.

Notes: Shockwave needs to recalibrate and repair himself after every shot. Flint was presumably killed by the Baroness after Zartan took his form in #5. The Decepticons used guerrila warfare on Cybertron.

Errors: Even considering the explanation of the weak spot, Starscream being killed by a pistol is hugely unbelievable [though quite funny].

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Grimlock [deactivated when the Matrix smashes], Superion [flashback, destroyed by Shockwave], Megatron [deactivated when the Matrix smashes], Shockwave [wrecked by continuous firing], Hound [deactivated when the Matrix smashes], Wheeljack [deactivated when the Matrix smashes], Skywarp [knocked out by Optimus Prime], Bumblebee [deactivated when the Matrix smashes], Prowl [deactivated when the Matrix smashes], Soundwave [knocked out by Grimlock], Iron Hide [deactivated when the Matrix smashes], Laserbeak [knocked out by Iron Hide], Ratchet [deactivated when the Matrix smashes], Starscream [killed by the Baroness].

Notable Others: Stalker, Roadblock, Cobra Commander [killed by the Baroness], Grunt [drowned], Beachhead, Lifeline, Leatherneck, Lady Jaye, Duke, Major Bludd [killed by Lady Jaye], Zartan [killed by Lady Jaye], Scarlett, Snake-Eyes, Destro.

Review: The Dreamwave ethos - that conclusions should in no way conlude things - is upheld here. On top of that it's a horribly confused mess - unacceptable considering the three-month delay for the issue. It feels like half the pages are missing, and Jae Lee's art really doesn't work with a choppy script. We see fragments of the action, and are left to work out a huge amount for ourselves - for example, it's not hugely clear whether the Matrix just takes out Prime and Bruticus, or everyone, as we're not shown or told. A little mystery is all very well, but this is just incomprehensible - and very disappointing. It undermines many of the series' better points - a very different style, which while divisive, suited the story, and lots of experimentation, as well as some gritty characterisation and sharp dialogue. A real shame.

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