CLUB AND CONVENTION TRANSFORMERS COMICS
Transformers Timelines #2: Games of Deception
Reviewed by Blackjack
Not bad. By this point, Fun Publications has created their own universe (one of the many that Fun Publication would gradually introduce). The Classics universe is an offshoot of the Marvel comics, with everybody in their Classics bodies. It keeps in tune with the year’s theme. But does the comic stand out? Well, like Dawn of Future’s Past and Descent Into Evil, it’s plagued by an excess of unnecessary characters and those that have toys out at that moment. I mean, why do they need Strongarm when Elita-One or Springer could’ve done whatever it is he does? Yet the writers clearly can manage the characters better now. Megatron and Bug Bite get a lot of great dialogue, and Bug Bite re-introducing us to the concept of the Multiverse, after the abortive 3H attempt, is well done. While I’m not sure about using a GoBot for the downfall, it’s a nice touch. Bug Bite is pretty crazy and a great ham (he shuts Megatron up so he could monologue!). Later Fun Publications stories would pick up on this and tell more about the GoBots’ crazy misadventures. But that’s for another time.
The Decepticons are golden. Dreadwind, in particular, moaning about the state of the universe and nobody liking him, is very fun. As is Shockwave, who has become but a head and is now Megatron’s advisor. The battle between Elita-One and Ravage oozes with early Marvel comic characters fighting and talking to each other about their abilities. Grimlock continually calling Ultra Magnus ‘little Prime’ is hilarious, and Huffer electing to stay on board the shuttle is a nice touch. So is Dirge name-dropping the Underbase saga. Thundercracker gets some nice moments in, too. But the conclusion is a bit chaotic and we really don’t see which Decepticons survive. All we saw is Dirge and Weirdwolf dying for sure, and probably Thrust and/or Bonecrusher. What happened to Dreadwind? Or Thundercracker? The story isn’t perfect, it still has some pacing problems, and too much toy-driven. why do we need Elita-One when this is Marvel comics? At least she's not Prime's love interest this time. But being tied into a larger storyline—but not something that tries to retcon and involve everything like the Universe comics—makes is a better read.
This episode takes place in the first-ever alternate continuity made exclusively for the OTFCC, the Classics continuity. Here it’s set in the future of the G1 Marvel US comic continuity, but ignoring Generation 2 and the UK comics. The events of this issue take place after Skyfall and Landquake’s multiversal jump into the Classics continuity in the ‘Crossing Over’ arc of the TF Magazine story.
A variant of this comic is sold through Diamond with a new cover, as well as biographies of Springer and Bug Bite, with a preview of ‘the New World’ text story.
Bug Bite is based on the Tonka GoBots character, and is explicitly stated to be a dimension hopper. Later stories would reveal that the GoBots universe is being wiped out by a cataclysm caused by the inclusion of the Classics timeline, which in itself is caused by the Unicron Singularity (see Balancing Act). Apparently Bug Bite had arrived some time ago and had infiltrated Bludgeon’s army. How exactly he came here from the GoBots dimension will be told in later Fun Publications material.
The toys available that year, nearly all of whom appear in this story:
-Bug Bite, a repaint of Bumblebee based on the GoBot Bug Bite.
-Clear Mirage, a transparent redeco of Classics Mirage, is available, which means Mirage gets to use invisibility when his Marvel Comic self doesn’t have that ability.
-Thundercracker, Dirge and Thrust, three Seekers retooled from the Classics Starscream mold.
-Dreadwind, a retool of Classics Jetfire.
-Weirdwolf, a repaint of Cybertron Snarl.
-Huffer, a repaint of Cybertron Armorhide.
-Springer, a repaint of Cybertron Defense Hot Shot.
-Elita-One, a repaint of Cybertron Thunderblast. She will get a toy two years later.
In addition, there are also Astrotrain and Alpha Trion, retools of Armada Jetfire and Cybertron Vector Prime respectively. But since they didn’t appear here, further Fun Publications material would make Astrotrain into a Cybertron character and Alpha Trion into a Shattered Glass character.
The rest of the cast, naturally, show up in their Classics bodies. Even Swoop, who’s now downsized since his Classics toy is a Minicon. The Minicon Strongarm, released in the Classics line, also make an appearance. Snarl is in his Action Masters body, since he hates his alternate mode.
There are simply numerous call-backs to the Marvel comics, as well as explanations for the new bodies.
-Bludgeon leads the main Decepticon army, and Megatron’s force of Decepticons with Classics toys are but a splinter group.
-Weirdwolf had apparently ditched Monzo. Snarl’s dialogue might imply some violent interrogation to find out where Weirdwolf went off to.
-Dreadwind had left Darkwing behind, and he regrets it.
-According to Dreadwind, his Powermaster partner Hi-Test let Grimlock tear his arms off so Hi-Test wouldn’t have to be binary bonded to him anyway.
-Optimus Prime mentions Walter Barnett still active, and apparently behind the military forces sent to attack the Decepticons during ‘Crossing Over’.
-Dirge is disgusted that Skywarp is still serving under Starscream even after he killed Skywarp before. This happened during the Underbase Saga.
-Dreadwind references Scraplets.
-In Megatron’s chamber is Galvatron II’s arm cannon, as well as a deactivated Ratchet. Presumably since Megatron and Ratchet’s lives are tied in the Marvel US comics, Megatron can’t afford to kill Ratchet.
-Shockwave remains as a head, still able to talk and is called upon by Megatron for advice, since his off-screen presumed destruction when the Ark crashed again. Presumably, like Ratchet and Galvatron’s arm cannon Megatron salvaged them during the interval between the end of the Marvel comics and Classics.
-The Ark is still where Ratchet had crash-landed it in the last issue of Marvel comics.
-Bludgeon is last seen in Marvel comics escaping into space.
Elita-One knows circuit-su, Bugly’s martial arts discipline. She can also change her skin to fade in the background, as well as reflect light to damage poor Ravage’s night-adapted optics.
Bug Bite says that according to everybody else, Megatron has ‘no real weaknesses’, something lifted from his original G1 bio.
In the Classics continuity, the Autobots are able to fly. Well, Grimlock and Mirage are shown here but in Crossing Over everybody can do it.
Elita-One? The Marvel comics doesn’t feature genders!
Despite the Autobots choosing disguises after Elita-One telling Magnus that Optimus wants them to operate under stealth, Magnus’ crew all already have Earthen kibble on the first page.
First page, second panel. Nothing really wrong, but Springer stands so close to Ultra Magnus that it appears he’s kissing Magnus’ left arm.
At the end of ‘Crossing Over’, Rodimus was not that badly damaged. Skywarp’s nosecone wasn’t crumpled as well.
Instead of speaking in Yoda-speak, Weirdwolf now rhymes. Still funny, though.
On page five, Starscream’s font size is bigger than the others.
Even when cerebro-shelled, some of the Decepticons under his control act and behave normally. Starscream makes threats against Bug Bite, Thundercracker is happy to see Skywarp, et al.
The Ark (well, the ruins of the Ark) have five exhaust ports and a rounded hull, which is only true in the cartoon. The Marvel comics’ Ark is but a segmented box.
On page 16, Bug Bite’s dialogue ‘those of us who could fled, some seeking a solution’ should be ‘those of us who could, fled, some seeking a solution’.
Strongarm’s name is continually parsed ‘Strong Arm’.