I have to admit. I did not dive into my back issues for this first feature quite yet. I partially cheated and read the collected graphic novel of the first Transformers story produced by Dreamwave. My first impression is that I had to completely been taken by this series when it was first released. Basically the only reason that I own this graphic novel is it has sneak preview of the next series, and I needed more, so I spent the 12.99!
Here is the image that completely captured my imagination. The incentive cover. Looking back I never noticed that unlike many comics, this cover really captured an amazing battle that happened within the story, granted it was far from the initial issue, however I got to see this battle take place in the pages before the end of this event which was incredible.
I turned the pages and was delightfully surprised to see the preview was included prior to beginning issue 1. Once again i was caught up in Lazarus' offer and wanted more. I had completely forgotten that Dreamwave used a semi-zombie story until i really poured into the pages and saw the night attacks by Megatron in the jungle.
Then finally we get to meet Spike, applying that yellow hard hat that we all know so well. I really like how they let us know he was back, and they even combined the cartoon and the comic Spike, as in later pages he was asked about his younger brother Buster, yet his introduction he retained the characteristics from More Than Meets the Eye part 1. We even get to meet his son Daniel, another great call back from the cartoon. I can vividly remember at Botcon 2002's comic panel being told that "Carly is at her mother's house... we will tell you the story soon." Another broken promise from the team.
The fist issue moves about a nice pace, but focuses on Spike, and ominously hints at a tragedy that struck in 1999. You can catch a small bit of the story if you try to read over Spike's shoulder but we are provided with the article at the end of the story. Basically the Autobots won the war and decided to go home with their captive Deceptiocons. As a thank you they were taking human researchers to share Cybertronian technology, Sparkplug being one of them. The Ark II ended the same way as the Challenger, and all aboard were killed, sending Buster into a downward spiral, and putting Spike into a bad mood.
Well it turns out that the bots and cons on board were scattered, and not killed. And the United States Mass Weaponry Board (or some made up division) needed Mr. Spike Witwicky's assistance. He was ordered to come with the commanding general and shown the video of Megatron attacking. Spike is then taken to a secret holding facility where Optimus Prime's lifeless body is revealed to him. I have to say that panel revealing Prime has to be some of my favorite art. It saddens me that there is a chance that Pat Lee did not create it and an amazing artist was slighted the credit that he deserves. Spike then removes his necklace that holds a piece of the Matrix and pressies it inside the Matrix in Optimus' chest, waking the giant.
When Optimus awakens he is told of the horrible atrocities that his Autobots are performing and uses the Matrix to revive all of his fallen comrades not under control of Lazarus. Meanwhile Lazarus decides to cash in his chips. He calls together all of the scum of hte world (think Batman and Robin) and holds a bidding war for these programmable titans. However not wanting to be sneaky, he brings out Megatron as the first bid. As the scum are screaming their bids, the very much awake Megatron makes his grand entrance and wipes all of them out, except for his new "dog" Lazarus.
Optimus ans his crew are made aware of the Decepticon location, and decide to finish things once and for all. They stage an attack on the base and are welcomed by Megatron and his crew. The battle is fast however and ends in the Deceptcons scattering and the Autobots infiltrating the Decepticon base. Inside Optimus is informed by a damaged Ironhide that Megatron has unleashed a mechanical virus that will take over the earth. Megatron is not resting on his laurels however and has began to attack a coastal city with the help of Devastator. Optimus rallies his troops and sets one group to battle the virus while he travels with Superion to battle Megatron.
The bots discover that the virus is Techo-Organic and the only thing that can stop it is their energy so Wheeljack creates a blaster that drains their energy to battle the building virus. The only issues is that they will need to use all of their energy to stop it, possibly killing them all.
Optimus reaches the city and defeats Devastator stylishly before addressing Megatron in person. The battle quickly escalates, until Megatron and Optimus share their opinions of humans. Megatron tries to crush Optimus' belie in humans, until one ghost-drives a fire truck into Megatron giving Optimus the advantage he needed.
While all of this action was happening we get a glimpse of Spike who was jailed, freed by the guilty conscience janitor, and informed of Lazarus. Spike is then told that Lazarus partner was none other than the General he has been dealing with this whole time (WHOA Major TWIST!!!). The general sees the destruction and decides that he will send a nuke to end this issue once and for all. Que To Be Concluded!
The final issue addresses all three story lines. The president finds that Nukes have been ordered, so the General is addressed, and eventually killed in front of Spike. The Autobots battling the virus are attacked and begin to intercept tank shells intended for the virus, and Optimus realizes that a nuke is on its way for him, but keeps fighting Megatron.
Our story hits its climax in a beautiful Optimus quote that as a leader you enter battle and vow to lose no one, but some take things into their own hands as Superion intercepts the nuke with is chest and Wheeljack hooks himself up to a satallite dish and sacrifices ever inkling of his energy to stop the virus. Megatron then gets away to free room for more and Grimlock finds the Decepticons ditched him but does not rejoin the Autobots.
The story I feel tried to do to much at once. At points it was hard to follow, and I had to second look what seemed like th US government had Megatron and used him for missions, but it was just the similarity of Pat Lee's humans. Some of the bot artwork is marvelous, and yet some leave me desiring more. I am pretty sure this series sales were almost fully on nostalgia, but the story was decent. I just feel it bit off more than it could chew in points.
I feel they did a very good job of instilling the type of character that Optimus is, yet I feel this Megatron was easily a tyrant. I think that IDW have completely changed my view of Megs with their characterization.
All in all this was the title that relaunched the Transformers Comics, however the pull of Transformers: War and Peace no longer has as much pull. I feel like i may be jumping to IDW much quicker to re-establish the history of the new comic cannon.