Dreamwave Comics "Armada" #15

in 2003, Armada, Comic Book Review

Dreamwave Comic Books

Armada #15 Cover
General Information
Written by: Simon Furman
Pencils by: Don Figueroa
Inks by: Elaine To
Colors by: David Cheung
Letters: Paul Villafuerte

Synopsis:
On Cybertron, the Decepticon headquarters has been raided. While bodies of dead Decepticons litter the base, four warriors stand victorious: Thunderwing, Dirge, Scourge and Bludgeon! The four warriors have activated all the Decepticon space bridges, and we learn from Dirge that "Stage Two" has begun!

Inside the Autobot base on Earth, Hot Shot questions Over-Run again as to Optimus Prime's whereabouts. The Mini-Con doesn't know, and the Space Team is doing their best to find Prime, but with only one multi-dimensional probe, it could take forever. Over-Run explains that the pod he arrived in could provide a way for him to bridge realities and give Optimus the power he needs to return. The bad news: Red Alert reports that the pod is gone!

At the Decepticon base, Megatron is trying to figure out what Over-Run's little pod is. Neither Starscream nor Demolishor can provide answers, infuriating he Decepticon leader. Leader-1 reports in and tells everyone that the Autobots have sent a probe into sub space to search for Optimus Prime. For Megatron, this presents a grand opportunity!

Meanwhile, Optimus Prime is still trying to figure out just what happened on the alternate Cybertron he has become trapped on. Spinister has gone quite mad and babbles on and on about a powerful force that devastated Cybertron on its own. Optimus can't believe one being did so much damage, but soon he will learn for himself as the Chaos Bringer returns to finish the job he began!

In he Autobot base on Cybertron, Blurr reports the Space Bridge activity to Jetfire. The Autobot second-in-command is not sure if this has anything to do with Optimus' disappearance, but he intends to find out as he readies an assault team!

At the Decepticon headquarters, Thunderwing, Scourge and Dirge agree to go to Earth to locate the Megatron of this era. Bludgeon is left behind with orders to kill anyone who dares to interfere!

At the Autobot base, a team of Mini-Cons led by Sparkplug and Over-Run prepare to go find Over-Run's pod. Over-Run has managed to detect its signal, which will lead the Mini-Cons back to the Decepticon base. Hot Shot wants to go, but Sparkplug assures him the Mini-Cons are better off going on their own since the base was designed to keep Autobots, not Mini-Cons, out.

As the Mini-Cons depart, the Autobots soon have their own problems as the Decepticons attack! Despite their best efforts and a healthy dose of Powerlinking, the Autobots are defeated one by one.

Meanwhile, the Mini-Cons have broken into the Decepticon base and found the pod, but when they try to contact the Autobot base, they receive no response. But soon they'll have more problems than that as Scoure and his team arrive!

At the Autobot base, Megatron has defeated Hot Shot and is feeling rather smug until he begins to hear his Decepticons fall one by one. When he goes to investigate, he comes across a stone faced warrior awaiting his arrival: Galvatron!

To Be Continued...

Story:
One of the things that Simon Furman is famous (and infamous) for in his Transformers writing is his ability to write in wholesale slaughter of Transformers and still write a compelling tale that isn't just a mechanoid slash fest. This issue deepends the mystery of Unicron's plan. What is he hoping to accomplish? Use the Space Bridge to transport across realities? Or can he already do that on his own? While the old Generation One comic book allowed for the existence of multiple Unicrons in
multiple realities, it seems like here we are dealing with a singel Unicron who can hop across realities. It will be interesting to see what the next issues bring.

If I have one complaint about Armada overall as a Transformers line, it's the under-utilization of the Mini-Cons. In the show, the Requiem Blaster, Star Saber and Skyboom shield are the "big prizes", but that devalues the other Minis who are shown as nothing more than general power ups, with each team giving no specific benefit. Though very cute and adorable, the Mini-Cons aren't given
much in the way of characterization. So it's a wonderful relief to see Furman make liberal use of the Mini-Cons, and escalating their importance beyond being over-glorified power-ups or cutesy characters. Along with the artwork of Don Figueroa, the Mini-Cons do have a "cute" element to them, but their characterization shows them to be brave little soldiers, as good as any of their larger
Autobot counterparts. The quiet confidence of Jolt and Longarm as the Autobots fret over their comrades was a really nice scene, showing that they are no longer the scared little 'bots we saw in Armada #1.

The "Heralds" of Unicron are used effectively here. They only appear a few times, but their presence is felt throughout the issue as we know that they are like a barrel of explosives, just waiting to go off. The final scene where Galvatron waits for Megatron promises for a very interesting issue #16!

One thing which I found most interesting was Armada Optimus Prime's total ignorance of Unicron. In the Generation One comic book, Prime was all too aware of Unicron's power and what it took to stop him. Here, Armada Optimus Prime seems to have trouble wrapping his mind around the concept of one being having the power to cause that much damage. This really separates him from the others, and in an odd way, I felt sorry for Prime. I just kept thinking "Oh man, you really just don't get it do you?"

The story for this issue is great, and it leaves a trail of questions that I hope are answered in the next issue! Is Smokescreen dead? Will Optimus Prime return at last? Will Megatron and Galvatron have a knock down, drag out fight? I'll be waiting with excitement to find out!

Notes:

  • The various Decepticon bodies seen at the beginning of the issue are not meant to be any particular 'cons. Artist Don Figueroa just drew up a bunch of "genericons" to litter the hallways.
  • This is the first issue where we see all of Unicron's heralds clearly. For those not familiar they are: Bludgeon (the guy with the skull face), Dirge (the blue "conehead"), Galvatron (the dude with the big orange cannon on his arm), Scourge (the winged warrior) and Thunderwing (the guy with a white body and gold face).
  • When the Mini-Cons are preparing to go to Silver Ridge, notice on their shuttle the numbers "2005" are written on it. 2005 of course refers to the year that Transformers: The Movie took place in, as well as a Transformers web site on the 'net.
  • On page twenty one, take a careful look at the wall towards the top of the page and you'll find the letters "A.T.T.", a reference to the Transformers newsgroup alt.toys.transformers.

Artwork:

Simon Furman may write a bloody (oily? Energon-y?) tale, but Don Figueroa and the art team have to translate that into visual form. With that in mind, the art team has succeeded wildly. No minor burns or scrapes here. Transformers are shown with parts gutted and ripped open (which seemed to be the theme of the issue). This was a very brutal issue and the art chores were done very well.

One thing which I will note is my appreciation for Don's modifications on the Jetfire design. While I love the toy, I must admit that it is a rather squat, almost SD looking type character.
Don took the toy design, gave it hips and a proper waist and streamlined it a lot, making him look a bit more formidable and if I may dare say, "cool". Interesting note: Don does not draw in Jetfire's "pupils", but the art team keeps sticking them in there anyhow.

I was also impressed with Don's take on the Bludgeon character. In Generation One, artist Andrew Wildman turned what was a rather stiff looking toy into a very dynmaic looking character (and it was he and Furman who originated the whole idea of Bludgeon carrying a sword). Don has taken the concept an extra level by making Bludgeon look a bit thinner, a bit more angled in some spots, giving him a very dyanamic look overall. He also modified to sword to look less like a Japanese katana and more like an alien sword with a uniqe design.

Another nice little art note: this was Don's chance to draw his version of High Wire, the bicycle from the Street Action Team. In his interpretation, the character rolls on a uniwheel, much like the character of Thrust from Beast Machines.

Armada #15 is what I like to call the "Impending sense of doom" issue. The last issue only gave us a taste of what was to come. This time we see that the Autobots are really in a critical situation, and at the end of the day, it may be the Mini-Cons who save the day! Pick this issue up if you want a really nice story and a visual treat.