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Transformers #5: Enemies of the System
Reviewed by Blackjack

Issue Review

"Didn’t you learn anything from Colonel Horiuchi?"

Some good, some bad. The Spike/Optimus dirge in the first seven pages are dirge, and a far cry to the good scripting we had on last two issues. Costa displays that he really couldn’t write Optimus Prime, struggling between someone who has given up and the 'heroic' leader. Also, is it really necessary to waste an entire page so that Spike can say ‘It’s a beautiful day out there?’ Complete bollocks for that first half of the issue. There are also several plot threads dangling. Why did Optimus like Spike so much if he takes down Autobots? What happened to Hoist and the others? The whole Spike/Optimus conversation is repetitive, and reeks of padding. The pacing also feels slow, and Costa uses this issue just to get everyone into place for a climax.

However, the rest of the issue, barring the weak beginning, delivers. We get a sympathetic character in Costa’s Bumblebee, by the way Magnus keeps dissing him off and undermining his authority. It's an improvement to the miniseries. Ultra Magnus comes off as too much of a jerk (and a little repetitive), in the way he commandeers the Autobots like he’s in charge. ‘Get Huffer to bring me some energon!’ References to the Bumblebee miniseries are made, but thankfully, other than the fact that Bee is in a new body, you don’t need to read it to understand this issue. The street battle against the Stunticons, however awkward (with Spike Witwicky hauling that oversized gun) is a nice scene, once you get over the daftness that Spike uses Breakdown as his personal ride. The pacing is still a little too slow, though, and most of it due to the banal, trite Optimus/Spike speech in the beginning.

Swindle is still golden, especially when he breaks the alliance with Rodimus. Meanwhile Rodimus is still realistic enough. Not by any means great, but better than how he's acting in issues two and three. Wildrider is nicely done, being a maniac who shows no regard to himself or Breakdown. Menasor’s introduction is handled spectacularly, with the two-page spread transformation sequence being rendered breathtakingly by Don. The sheer danger of a gestalt is finally shown again, after that whole crap with Devastator being defeated in three frames in AHM. It’s a shame that Thundercracker didn’t even say anything this issue after all the glorious characterization he’s received in issue four, but I guess that can’t be helped. The suspense is built nicely, and the whole threat and size of Menasor is handled well for the inevitable climax next issue. Who knows, Costa might save the series if the quality goes on like this.


The events of Transformers Bumblebee are referenced several times, such as Blurr being recently traumatized (possibly referring to the Autobots attacking him), Bumblebee having a new alternate mode, Rodimus referencing Colonel Horiuchi. This issue obviously takes place after that miniseries, so it could’ve taken part during the events of the fourth issue.

Breakdown has fuzzy dice in his vehicle mode.

There is a lot of graffiti on the ravine that Spike jumps into, but the only Easter Egg I can see to Transformers is ‘NOOB’, a reference to the Headmaster from TF Animated. The rest are seemingly random squibbles like 32nd Street, SC, Loco…

Ultra Magnus’ license plate is STACK04, a reference to his late voice actor Robert Stack.

Bumblebee’s alternate mode is basically similar to the first Camaro alternate mode in the movie. Jazz’s alternate mode is now missing his stripes, and is completely white, possibly, like Jetfire and Bumblebee, to make him more similar to the movie version. Ratchet’s new alternate mode, glimpsed for a scene in the first issue, is seen also here. Again, it’s closer to the movie version in design, but in G1 colours.

Like Guido’s Devastator, Don’s design of Menasor explains where those limb kibbles come from. Motormaster’s cab sections form Menasor’s feet, while parts of his trailer form the lower arms. Menasor’s design has been tweaked a little so he doesn’t look like he has overlong limbs. That little roller car on Menasor’s chest that came with the toy is missing, though, like Devastator’s chest armour.


On page 17, panel two, Silverstreak is coloured blue. And he's still called Silverstreak. Why, yes- it's going to be my own running gag. Dalek can have one, why can't I?

Just why did Optimus have so much respect for Spike? In issue three, he captured Tracks and the others, and so far they haven’t been seen again.

How did Rodimus know all about Colonel Horiuchi? He was absent for the events of the Bumblebee miniseries.


Optimus Prime: “We needed to change.”

Ultra Magnus: “This is a charge of treason. It is a legal matter that supercedes your authority as commander of this team. We’re heading out in ten minutes. Get Huffer to bring me some energon.”

Spike: [to Breakdown] “If I took the suppressor off you, would you sound like Abraham Lincoln, too? Yeah, I’m guessing not. But you sure do handle like a dream.”

Wildrider: “How fast do you think I’d have to go to squirt the human out of the window from a broadside? I say 200 mph.”

Swindle: “No, really, ‘Rodimus’. I’ll take it from here.”
Rodimus: “Swindle, this isn’t helping us.”
Swindle: “There’s no ‘us’ anymore.”

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