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Transformers: Stormbringer #3 (of 4)
#9 of an ongoing arc
Reviewed by Denyer

Issue Review

Third issues in four-part series often fall into the pattern of just reinforcing stuff laid down in the first two, but this one also manages to cram quite a lot of fighting in-between its covers.

One comment I will make about the action is that I'd like to have seen more evidence of the fallout: both that Thunderwing was swiftly destroying Nebulos (the angle of the panels here only reveals a local scale) — i.e. that he's capable of dealing the damage that was done to Cybertron — and a bit more underpinning why he's capable of it. At the moment we're taking largely on faith that just upgrading a small Transformer is sufficient to create a world-killing monster... maybe we'll get more details in the last part, though I think this might turn out to be a MacGuffin. Ditto the Wreckers turning up in precisely the nick of time required to save the two Technobots on the surface.

Elsewhere, things are a bit more anti-climactic, with Bludgeon grinding to a halt before getting to use his shiny new pretender duds for anything. This is realistic... after all, if two Decepticon super-weapons of this calibre were on the loose simultaneously, the war would probably be over by Christmas.... but I'm glad Bludgeon gets to have a moment of imposing badassery before realising he's entombed himself and wired his brain functions directly into an unstabled and barely-tested control interface. The design here seems to take some cues from the Cybertron deluxe-size "tank" Unicron and Classics Twin-pack Megatron toys, and there's a bit of Skeletor there too in the armour.

The thing I like most is that there's always a chain of command evident... Thrust knows that he's expected to wipe out all traces of the infiltration mission if his comrades don't come back, and the group have the procedures in place for one of their number to be left behind for this role. It's all much more militaristic and realistic in the context of a Transformers story than previous continuities have been. However, there is cameraderie, with some amongst the Nebulos contingent of Decepticons showing concern for old friends, even as they prepare to abandon others on their team to possible destruction.

Though this issue was lighter on direct revelations, we do get to see a bigger picture: hubris defeats Bludgeon, and you get a sense of why the TF war has raged as long as it has — they're their own worst enemies. Additionally, if the Pretender process could be perfected so easily, there's a strong chance it already would have been. We're talking about a very long war, after all.

Hopefully Furman's not going to chicken out of blowing up Cybertron.

Character Development

Prime gets some subtle use in the Decepticon base; he's solicitous to both Jetfire and the dying Ignuanus, throwing down his gun as he assesses the situation and being there to comfort — a gesture it's unlikely any of the Wreckers would have made. In a Picard-to-Riker moment, he also brushes off Springer's rather halfhearted concerns about him tagging along on the base-crashing mission. Does Springer really know Prime that well, and what would his response have been if Prime had stayed put?

Roadbuster is probably the second-in-command of the Wreckers, judging by his orders to Whirls and sensible suggestion that Nosecone be evacuated before emergency medical treatment is administered.

Bludgeon's Decepticons aren't much more than cyphers here — Iguanus does start to say that ol' skull-face "always knows [what to do]" so perhaps they really are just milquetoasts to Bludgeon's cult leader persona.

Skullcruncher (and most of Darkwing's other Decepticons) are quite slow-witted... even after being reminded that Thunderwing almost destroyed Cybertrons single-handedly, they're still gung-ho to get out there and fight — or perhaps they really are that afraid of what Megatron would do if they lost Nebulos.

Megatron is eager to blow up Cybertron, most likely because he can smugly recall recommending it to Prime when Thunderwing went on the rampage the first time, but it may also be that sees the planet as a now-worthless husk.

Other Details

The Wreckers have quite effective shielding against cosmic radiation, as they're able to operate normally.

I think we can safely say that the planet the Autobot orbital base was next to in previous issues wasn't Nebulos, as they'd most likely have noticed a swathe being carved across the planet's surface.

The Decepticons on Nebulos report to Megatron, implying (if it weren't already clear by his actions in Infiltration) that he's high up or right at the top of the chain of command in this continuity.

Beginning to explain its deadliness somewhat, the Thunderwing revenant ionises the atmosphere just before Dreadwind and Darkwing pull out, which starts to electrically overload their systems.

The Decepticons on Cybertron don't seem to notice Topspin boring a tunnel down to the roof of their base. Does he have a silencer attachment or something? They also don't use their cloaking technology when the Wreckers surprise them in the base, which may simply reflect insufficient time to charge up the devices needed.

Whilst Ruckus, Roadgrabber, Crankcase and the rest can probably be recovered, Bludgeon's psychotic episode makes Iguanus the first most-likely-confirmed TF kill of the continuity.

Along with the house ads and Hasbro's now desperate-seeming attempts to tout Alternator Prime, we get four pages of letters — much more welcome after a month or two without them, and mostly positive feedback (not just nepotism, the feedback in general has been like this.)

Quotes of Note

Bludgeon: "In the fullness of time, we will all have unlimited power, invulnerability... and the wit to use them! [Mwuhaha. Bwahahaha. Etc.]"

Darkwing: "Listen, Dreadwind. There's a fair chance this won't go well. When it doesn't, when it looks like we did everything we could, you and I... we get the hell out of there!"

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