The Free Comic Book Day teaser (review here) aside, this is the issue that officially ends the 21 year wait for a continuation of the original Marvel Comics Transformers storyline, which was rather hastily brought to a conclusion in 1991. Was it worth the four bucks? The hype? The wait?
Yes, yes, and YES. Let’s start with the covers. Regular cover A is a nice image of Megatron sitting on a makeshift throne among Earth ruins (What’s THAT all about? Read on…), asking us, “What kept you?”, an in-joke to the lengthy wait to continue the story. It’s by Andrew Wildman, and as we learn later, is sort of a “deleted panel” from events deep into the issue. Cover B is a gorgeous ode to the 80s by Duido Guidi; if you’ve seen any of the retro designs he’s shared at Twitter or Facebook, this is right in line. It could have been an 80s cover, easy, what with the style and newsprint. The third cover is my favorite among the bunch, a Retailer Incentive by Geoff Senior, featuring a very G2 Optimus Prime being attacked by off-screen Cons Galvatron, Shockwave, and Bludgeon. Grab it off you can. The fourth, more difficult to obtain RI cover is a Soundwave bust sketch by Dan Khanna. I haven’t grabbed this one yet (my local comic shop doesn’t order the 50 copies required to get it).
Let’s get down to brass tax. We return to a Cybertron that has been in peace these past two decades, run by the Autobots, but with growing dissention among the Decepticon populace (you gotta love those wacky Cons). Of course, with the FCBD preview, we know that Soundwave has decided to end the peace with a bang, and has quite a few Cons backing him. Bring it on!
Kup, fresh off an issue-opening combat simulation in which he’s dispatched Bludgeon and Galvatron, is advised by Springer of a threat to the tenuous peace. However, Ultra Magnus disagrees with Kup’s attitude that the problem needs to be nipped in the bud, citing orders from Optimus himself, which handcuffs and frustrates Kup and his colleagues. Did I mention that the colleagues in question are the Wreckers? Fist-pump!
The threat? A handful of “Neo-Decepticons” are in possession of some deadly warheads, and are leaning toward surrendering. Meanwhile, Soundwave is up to further hijinks, dispatching the Deluxe Insecticons into the bunker where the Neo-Cons (a few G2 jets) are holed up. Props to Furman for making an effort to include some oft-forgotten-in-fiction toys/characters. Football-spike!
The Wreckers, led by an insubordinate Kup, decide to raid the same bunker, only to find the Neo-Cons have been dispatched by the aforementioned Ransack, Chopshop, and Venom, who have set the bombs off. Remember, Soundwave wants this chaos. Too late for the Wreckers to prevent, but that doesn’t keep them from easliy capturing the Insecticons – was being caught part of the plan? Thankfully, some comlink-fed help from Perceptor allows Kup to diffuse the bombs. Hand-dusting!
Ultra Magnus and Optimus discuss Kup’s insubordination, with Magnus wanting to punish Kup by the book, and Prime, predictably, calling for leniency since they did save the day. Still, Prime is subliminally contacted by none other than Unicron, who declares that he will kill Prime again. Eye-raising!
Kup, further sickened by what he feels is Prime losing his edge, storms off again with the Wreckers, declaring that he’s going to Earth and Nebulos to take care of business. What this business is is anybody’s guess at this point. Meanwhile Soundwave is contacted by none other than exiled Decpticon commander Bludgeon, who hints that he possesses the means to conquer the Autobots, but requires the communication officer’s help in gaining a last piece of the puzzle. We are treated to a hint of what Bludgeon is planning…a faintly familiar outline. Could that be Thunderwing? Gasp!
Finally, the Wreckers arrive at Earth, with the help of Berko of the Cosmic Carnival – the first of many winks to the past promised by Furman. Mysteriously, Earth is in ruins. Are any humans left alive? We don’t know – all we know is that Megatron is found on Earth, who launches nukes at the Wreckers’ ship, destroying it. Evil laughter!
As promised, this first issue recaptures the imgaination of old-school fans like me, but at the same time, Furman has clearly made the story accessible for noobz, and is already building toward new events, all while dropping in hints and clues of things to come for those in the know. Some questions are answered, but many more are raised. The best of both worlds, indeed. Applause!
What a fun way to begin the next twenty months. Next month – Grimlock returns!