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G.I.Joe vs The Transformers IV: Black Horizon #1
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek


Joe Colton is based on the legendary "Kung Fu Grip" GI Joe toy whose reissue is currently available. "Adventure Team" was the catch all name for the bulk of the Joe toys released in the 1970's. It's implied his name inspired that of the modern GI Joe, though there's no firm confirmation of that and Pythona may well simply be guessing wrong. He knows Hawk at least.

Cobra-La and Unicron were the new foes in each respective franchise's 1986 Movie.

The present day segment is — according to a newsreader — a year after the events of the first crossover. Assuming that was set in 2003 (tying in with the publication date and the fact two characters talk about Eliza Dushku and Jennifer Garner suggesting it's set around the time of the former's guest spot on Angel that year) this is late 2004 at most. The American public still believe that the Autobots and Decepticons were simply mechs controlled by Cobra, and Hawk's attempts to convince them otherwise and to bring to light his government's illegal use of Cybertronian technology (creating Serpent O.R.) has resulted in him being branded a traitor and a loon. Firewall seems to be the only other Joe who resigned in the aftermath of the third mini, perhaps surprisingly considering her limited involvement there. Snake-Eyes is still with the main Joe's, but the fate of everyone else who went to Cybertron is as yet undisclosed (though it's fair to assume that Snake-Eyes would only stay if Scarlett did as well.)

Though Optimus made grand proclamations about Hawk changing the future of humanity so far he's only used his Matrix power to fiddle with his TV [not unlike Buster when he became a Matrix bearer in the Marvel comic] and to have vague visions of doom. His love life is suffering as a result. Sadly he seems to have ditched the nice green cloak he picked up on Cybertron.

Prowl's group of Autobots are operating from a spaceship under the sea, and are on a mission to retrieve all the rogue Cybertronian technology whilst avoiding the main Joe forces. Firewall is a good enough hacker to break into the main Joe mainframe when they do need that extra help though.

Cobra-La have been based in Tibet for millennia (the Tibetan translation of Cobra-La appears to be the amazing Kohbrala), secretly watching over humanity until they're ready for Unicron (who here also keeps slave workers in his innards as opposed to just eating them.) As per the Tibetan cliché they have a Yeti, who marvellously looks like a man in a unconvincing monster suit.

Despite their seclusion they do have some contact with the outside world, they can contact Destro without him asking what the **** they are.

Bludgeon's attempted assassination of Optimus as he became Prime seems to be based on a event seen in the Dreamwave War Within comic — though in that case it was a nameless generic Decepticon who was caught in the act and killed. The Pretender shell is something given to him by Cobra-La, presumably to stop his mechanical nature contaminating them. He's also mastered Metallikato since leaving home. There's no indication as to how he and the Monster Pretenders came to Earth. Hawk distracts Bludgeon by filling his head with Cybertronian songs, the lyrics to one of which goes Protoform, Protoform, what will you be? 1110001**.

Despite claiming not to understand his own base's computer Duke is obviously tech-savvy enough to get some action on Myspace.

Though there's a reference to him being banished from his world, there's no direct linking to the Primus / Fallen Gods Marvel origin for Unicron. Though there is a link to the old comic in Prowl's blue for black colour scheme. In a cartoon homage Prime uses the Energon Axe first seen in More Than Meets The Eye.

Earth is apparently a fair bit away from the nearest "United Universe" outpost — a name that suggests inter-galactic travel is possible (it could hardly be a United Universe if confined just to the Milky Way.) The space pirates are obviously familiar with Unicron as they respond to the sight of him with a resigned "Oh... Crap" (a likely reference to Spike's "Oh ****" under similar circumstances in the 1986 Transformers movie.)

This arc, which follows on from the cliff-hanger to volume 2, was originally mooted by Tim Seeley as the plot for what became The Art of War. At the time it was rejected, but here has been rejigged to include stuff such as Hawk's Matrix power. Despite the sheer number of them in recent years Seeley here becomes only the second person to have written for both franchises at once on more than one occasion, following in the footsteps of Simon Furman (who penned Ancient Relics and a couple of issues of the Generation 2 comic featuring the Joes.) It was originally intended to be a four part mini, but was compressed to two bumper size issues so as to avoid competition with the various Movie tie-ins latter in the year.

Artist Andrew Wildman's debut Transformers work was the cover to Marvel UK #183, with interior work following on 198. The free booklet with issue 200 described him as a relative newcomer but someone who's going to be around for a long time — prophetic words as he subsequently drew the robots in disguise for Marvel US (including the Generation 2 comic and part of the preceding GI Joe arc featuring the characters), Dreamwave, Panini, covers for IDW and now Devil's Due. Only Furman himself has matched the same number of companies (replacing DD with Fleetway.) It seems he turned down the chance to do IDW's Hot Rod Spotlight to work on this, his first significant Transformers work not written by Furman.


The deal between Cobra-La and Unicron is rather odd — it entirely favours the chaos bringer even though Cobra-La have the ability to destroy him. Effectively they have to give up their ownership of Earth, go into hiding, let the technology they hate consume the planet and then allow Unicron to strip mine the place when he returns. What exactly are they getting from this?

Why do Cobra-La attack the Chinese jets at the start of the issue? It's possible they come to close to Cobra-La's hidey hole, but surely they can't blow up every jet that flies overhead without attracting attention?

Optimus is consumed with guilt over Bumblebee’s death. Hey Prime, how about all those robots (including crazed caffeine eyed guy) who died in the attack on Capital City in that mini whilst in attendance of a party thrown by you? No guilt there? What about, say, Trailbreaker who died back in the first crossover? Why such guilt over Bumblebee when you weren't even there when he died?

What was the point of Cobra-La breaking Mindbender out of jail back in volume 2? All he seems to contribute is saying "Yes Sir" to Golobulus. And what exactly is he getting out of the attempted genocide of his race? Even Destro, who has no idea of the full plan, seems unnerved by helping them with the mushrooms because he senses they’re up to no good. Considering he’s a scientist who deals a lot with machinery he’s effectively putting himself out of work at least.

Nit-picking time: if the events of the first crossover were "last year", and the second picked up the action a year after the first, that means the last three minis have happened in a insanely compressed time scale.

If Hawk is trying to keep his current involvement with the Autobots a secret, how does he explain a UFO regularly picking him up from his back garden to his neighbours?

Ultra Magnus is missing his mouth on his first panel. On the one below Hot Rod joins him.

For some reason Prime's groin is dark grey throughout [Has he had it repainted since the last mini?] and whilst it's a nice touch Prowl's black bits were actually black last time as well.

Where did Bludgeon learn Metallikato on Earth? Considering their hatred of non-organic technology it’s not a likely name for a Cobra-La invented martial art.

How did Colton recognise the name Hawk? The code name was assigned back in the first crossover in 2003. And where did he get that spear from on the last page?

Issue Review

The Art of War was a very pleasant surprise last year — after the first two crossovers no one expected much from it but it delivered entertaining if daft fun. This doesn't equal that for the most part — despite having the page count of two issues and taking us to the half way mark not a lot actually happens and it feels very drawn out.

However, there's still lots of entertaining daftness, from Eject and Firewall watching bad TV through to the cliché of Colton marking the number of days he's been in prison on the cell's walls.

Though his art does have a lot of rough edges (absent mouths and all) Wildman's Bludgeon shows why he was so well regarded back in the day. He also does full justice to the Cobra-La characters, making them appropriately gross.

So... not brilliant but above average; hopefully the conclusion will provide a more satisfying read.

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