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Transformers Animated: The Arrival #4
Reviewed by Blackjack

Issue Review

The light-hearted Bulkhead story is okay, but the conclusion is a bit too convenient. Basically Powter just copies Bulkhead's alt mode, markets it, Bulkhead gets pissed, and tricks Powter into recalling the 'Bulkhead' vehicles. Unlike some of the other light-hearted stories in Arrival, this one is pretty much a throwaway. A pity, since Bulkhead is pretty much one of the funniest characters in the show. Also, Powell is also dull in this episode, whilst Professor Princess is thrown in for no good reason at all. Bulkhead didn't even apprehend her. The only good parts in this story are the Angry Archer's lines. That's all.

The other story, however, is great. (Are we sensing a pattern here?) 'A few loose strands' follows up from a scene in issue one, and gives Lockdown and Blackarachnia some characterisation. While it's nothing new (Lockdown's a bounty hunter that hunts upgrades, Blackarachnia is an angry girl hunting her ex), it's definitely better than the throwaway humour stories that Arrival had been dishing us thus far. More good points include Decepticon 'politics', with Blitzwing hiring a bounty hunter behind Lugnut's back. Lockdown delivers a nice monologue, making this the closest thing he has to a spotlight issue. Blackarachnia's shorter monologues describe her as a vengeance-ridden Decepticon opportunist, a la IDW Arcee, though she's not that fanatical. Boo's art manages to tell the story rather well—he does do better in Animated than, say, Movie stuff (i.e. Starscream's Militia), although he does have a habit of drawing exaggerated facial expressions, but, again, since this is Animated... Overall, a nice Decepticon story that gives supplementary information and sets off the mood for two episodes.


The Insincerest Form of Flattery:

The Bulkhead vans come in a large variety of garish and non-garish colour schemes, but none of them (for once) are homages of earlier Transformers.

The Witwicky family, recurring characters in the TV show, are based on season 3 Spike, Carly and Daniel from G1's cartoon series. Carly is named in the comic.

The Angry Archer has a Bulkhead van deco-ed with his face. Cute. Also, the Archer's line 'My kingdom for a hybrid' is a parody of the line 'A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!' from Shakespheare's Richard III.

'Pimp my Bulkhead' is a likely reference to MTV's 'Pimp my Ride'.

Powell refers to the Bulkhead as "unsafe at any speed", a reference to Unsafe at Any Speed, a 1965 expose of the auto industry by Ralph Nader.

A Few Loose Strands:

This issue takes place directly before 'The Thrill of the Hunt' (Lockdown's Animated debut) and sets up events for 'Along Came a Spider' (Blackarachnia's second appearance in the TV series).

Oil Slick makes an unspoken cameo as an unlucky Decepticon who gets reprimanded by Lugnut for suggesting that Megatron is offline.

Also, Lugnut's 'Punch of Kill Everything' is a name given by fans to his attack in the TV show. Apparently this name is so awesome that it became canon, established in this issue. Ironically, the punch hasn't managed to kill anyone yet.

In Lockdown's flashback, the wall behind Blitzwing has Movie Optimus Prime's sword and a G1 Seeker cannon mounted on the wall. From the dialogue, it seems that those weapons are Lockdown's down-payment. On Lockdown's ship there are a few trophies—G1's Matrix of Leadership, a white horned Animated Bumblebee-esque head, and a one eyed green alien.

The final panel is a homage to Spider-Man. Even Blackarachnia's webbing looks similar to the webbing in the Spider-Man comics. But then, this isn't the first time we see her doing this.


The Insincerest Form of Flattery:

Come on. Cartoon or no cartoon, Powell is seriously short of a few brain cells if he thinks he could market SWAT assault trucks as a van. The general public are idiots as well to buy SWAT assault trucks that quickly.

Professor Princess is supposed to be a super-villain, but she appears to help Bulkhead stop Angry Archer. Bulkhead doesn't apprehend her, though.

The disguised Bulkhead's paintjob is different in robot mode. In previous shots, it's merely garish colours, but as solid blocks. After he transforms, the colours swirl around randomly.

A Few Loose Ends:

This issue chronologically is set before Lugnut and Blitzwing arrived on Earth, yet they have their Earth bodies.

Also, Blackarachnia is drawn using an earlier character model. This early character model, which involved her having additional kibble behind her shoulder, having a yellow insignia and having two pairs of legs on her back instead of one pair. Strangely the black belly from the character model isn't present. The early character model is used in Blackarachnia's appearance in the pilot episode, though she was silhouetted in that episode.

Quote, Unquote

The Insincerest Form of Flattery:

Powell: "And I suppose you've registered the patent and copyrighted your name and image."
Bulkhead: "Uh... No."
Powell: "Good. 'Cause it wouldn't have helped."

Angry Archer: "Forsooth! Yon green gargantuan approacheth with vexing velocity!"

Angry Archer: "Curse this unwieldy gargantuan! My kingdom for a hybrid!"

A few Loose Ends:

Lockdown (monologue): Only leads I got workin' are a couple 'a rumours, and a whole lotta luck, most of it bad. But that last part's about to change. Just another solar cycle in the life of a bounty hunter.

Lockdown: "Hmm... I've alays been kinds partial to your buddy's explosive punch."
Hothead Blitzwing: "Miserable bounty hunting scum! You want me to pay you off with Lugnut's 'Punch of Kill Everything'?! You want me to betray a loyal servant of Megatron, just so I can tear some puny little Autobot's spark out and crush it with my bare servo?!"
Random Blitzwing: "Sounds crazy! Let's do it! Hahahahahahaha!"

Lockdown: "Hey, I know you. You're the techno-organic mutant freak."
Blackarachnia: "Nice to know my reputation precedes me."

Lockdown: (monologue) Forget her. She ain't important. Keep yer eyes on the prize.

Blackarachnia (monologue): Wonder if I should warn him Lockdown's coming for him... But then who'll warn him I'm coming for him?

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