Dreamwave Comics "Prime Directives" #2

in 2002, Comic Book Review, Generation One

Comic Books

General Information
Publication Date: May 2002
Written by: Chris Sarracini
Pencils by: Pat Lee
Inks by: Rob Armstrong
Backgrounds by: Edwin Garcia
Colors by: Ramil Sunga, Gary Yeung, Alan Wang
Flats by: Kenny Li
Letters by: Dreamer Design
Pre-Press: Kell-O-Graphics

Synopsis:
The world needs Optimus Prime, and Spike Witwicky may be the only man on Earth who can bring the Autobot leader back to consciousness. As General Hallo looks on, Spike detaches a small ball from his neclace and places it into the Matrix chamber inside Optimus' chest. All the while, he is torn inside. He holds Optimus responsible for the death of Sparkplug, but he knows that the world needs Optimus Prime if it is going to have any hope against Megatron!

Smitco Oil Refinery, Arctic Division
As workers try to do their job, three helicoptors appear on the horizon and deposit a large metal box. When the door crashes open, it reveals a deadly cargo. Prowl, Ravage, Grimlock, Rumble, Bumblebee, Starscream and Soundwave; all under the control of Lazarus. They set about destroying the entire refinery, leaving nothing standing. All the while, Laserbeak is watching and beaming the images back to Lazarus' base.

At Lazarus' base, various terrorists and criminals are bidding furiously after seeing the demonstration of Transformer power. Lazarus is enthusiastic, and when he reveals Megatron, the bidding escalates. At that moment, Megatron finally awakens! He tears himself from Lazarus' machines and takes the human in his hand.

Back in the Arctic, Optimus Prime stands with the humans at the site where they found him. He removes the Matrix from his chest and using its power, he awakens Jazz, Mirage, Sunstreaker, Sideswipe, Trailbreaker, Wheeljack and Superion.

Nearby, the helicoptors from before head back to base but get no response when sending out signals to land. Then, they discover why as Megatron reveals himself, and destroys them!

To Be Continued...

Story:
This issue is a tad disappointing since all that really happens is a lot of waking up. Of course this is a critical plot point for the story arc, but what was done here in twenty three pages feels like it could have been done in half that amount of space. Part of the reason for this is that a good chunk of this series relies on eye candy. This is a highly visual piece of work, so the pacing is set in that way. At some points I felt the scene was being "dragged out" a bit, such as when Spike returns the Matrix piece to Optimus or when the helicoptor pilots are returning home.

It is an awesome sight to see the Autobots coming out of their icy tombs, but that leaves us with the
thought that Megatron still has to revive the Decepticons. It would have been cool for both sides to
have been resurrected in this issue, allowing the next four to focus on the main story arc. However,
it's quite possible by the first couple pages of the next issue the Decepticons could be running around under
Megatron's orders again.

Spike's anger towards Optimus Prime seems odd at first, but makes sense in the long run. It's not so much that he blames Prime for the death of his father. Rather, he feels anger at Optimus because Spike's rather ideal view of the world at the time was shattered. Optimus was, no doubt, a hero in Spike's eye, someone who could accomplish almost anything. When Optimus promised to bring Sparkplug back, Spike had no doubt in his mind that everything would work out. Now there is doubt in his mind. The world taught him a cruel lesson, and and he has projected that anger on to Optimus Prime. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Perhaps the best scene in the entire issue is Megatron's awakening. His line about "Nature, war, god..." qualifies for one of the most awesome things ever said by a Transformer. Even though the Decepticons are the "bad guys", we as Transformers fans want to see them acting on their own, not under the control of some rich nutjob. Megatron's line is true, and Lazarus' inability to control Megatron helps to reaffirm why he is Decepticon leader,
and feared.

The most haunting scene in the issue is the assault on the refinery. The blank looks on the faces of the Transformers as they destroyed was eerie. Seeing an Autobot kill a human was so wrong on so many levels that it works, and makes the reader understand just how horrible Lazarus' plan really is.

Continuity Notes:

  • Optimus Prime must have been riding quite a wave of happiness and trust if he was willing to give Spike part of the Matrix. It seems like a very unlikely thing to happen. Even in the euphoria of victory, Optimus must have known that the "darkest hour" had not arrived if he had not used the Matrix to achieve victory. All indications are the Decepticons were defeated by a joint human-Autobot coalition.
  • It's very interesting that when the Aerialbots awaken, they are already merged as Superion. It makes for a very cool looking scene, and brings up an interesting note on how combiners work in this Generation One universe. Traditionally, when combiners were knocked unconscious, they lost their cohesion and would split up into their individual parts. Here however, it seems that the one fused mind of the combined robot can be the one that's unconscious, allowing the giant to stay in one form. One could of course argue that the Aerialbots found each other underwater and then merged, but that would make little sense since it is a waste of energy for the sake of looking dramatic.

Artwork:

The build up continues as we get to see more and more of our favorite heroes and villains. Perhaps the best scene in the whole issue (visually) is the attack by Lazarus' group of mind controlled Transformers. Seeing the Transformers act not of their own will is very creepy. Their blank stares are done perfectly and the action in the carnage is very well done.

Showing the cartoon influence on design, Rumble is the blue and white cassette as opposed to the
black and red. He also has pile drivers, but instead of his arms transforming into the piledrivers, they are mounted on the lower arm. A nice compromise on the design of the character.

In the reverse direction, we see some very heavy toy influences on a few designs. Jazz has "wings", which are his doors in vehicle mode. Although the toy had this, the cartoon show model (and most appearances in the Marvel comic book) did not use the doors. Another Autobot design heavily influenced by the toy is Mirage. The cartoon show model used in the old show had streamlined the toy a lot. His head was made a bit smaller, his wheels were not as prominant etc. Here however, he looks almost exactly like the toy brought to life.

The key here is that character designs are not just like the toy, or just like the cartoon show models. Rather, each character seems to have been analyzed individually to find the best look for them.

This issue delivers stunning art and some awesome sequences. However, it would have been nice if this was the issue that kicked things into high gear. Still have four issues to go however, so I'm hoping for more story advancement soon! B+