Dreamwave Comics "Armada" #16

in 2003, Armada, Comic Book Review

Dreamwave Comic Books

Transformers Armada #16 cover

General Information
Written by: Simon Furman
Pencils by: Don Figueroa
Inks by: Elaine To
Color assists by: Espen Grundenetjurn, Rob Ruffolo, Shun Curtis
Colors by: David Cheung
Letters by: Paul Villafuerte

Synopsis:
The Autobots have fallen, Megatron's forces have (for the most part) been defeated - yet the battle rages! As the Mini-Cons look on, Megatron and Galvatron continue their titanic struggle. Even augmented by the power of Leader-1, Megatron appears to only be a match for Galvatron, and not his superior. Galvatron tells Megatron that he has defeated his namesake across many universes, and that while he is better than some of them, none of them ever equalled his power!

Inside the wreckage of the Autobot base, Sky Blast and Payload are still searching alternate realities for Optimus Prime - but time is running out.

On Cybertron, Jetfire's team has reached the Decepticon base, only to find everyone inside wrecked. This worries Jetfire. What is also worrying is that all the Space Bridges have been activated, causing holes in the space/time fabric.

Back on Earth, Sparkplug and his team hide out as Scourge, Thunderwing and Dirge spot Thrust via the Decepticon base scanners. They leave to capture the Decepticon in the hopes of extracting information from him. Once they've left, Over-Run explains that they brought death and destruction, paving the way for ultimate destruction. But there is hope - if Optimus Prime can be found.

Back on the alternate Cybertron, the planet is being torn apart, and Spinister is continuing to ramble. Prime tries to snap the Decepticon out of his madness to come up with some way to fight back, but the end is looming closer...

Back on Earth, Megatron is losing his fight. As Galvatron transforms to blast him, the Air Defense Team roars onto the scene, hitting Galvatron with firepower, and then transforming into the Star Saber for Megatron!

In the Decepticon base on Cybertron, the Autobots walk through a dark mess of bodies. Suddenly they are attacked! Their attacker is too fast and manages to blend into the dark. First Jetfire is hit, then Blurr's weapon destroyed and Sideswipe's is struck. Dropshot tries to get a bead on Bludgeon, but the warrior slices him in half first! Jetfire figures out that Bludgeon is using the darkness to his advantage. He orders the Autobots to transform and use their lights to illuminate the room. Once they do, he transforms, targets Bludgeon and lets loose with firepower! When he stops firing, all that remains of Bludgeon is his Pretender shell - but where is the robot within?

On Earth, Galvatron is unleashing his full might on Megatron, but using the Star Saber, Megatron is able to block the blast! The two continue to struggle. When Galvatron tries to take the Star Saber,
he is rejected and surge of energy repels him. Payload asks the Land Military Team for a status report, and Wreckage reports that Megatron has apparantly defeated Galvatron - but he's changed color somehow.
Is this a victory? Or the start of something worse?!

To Be Continued...

Story:
There is a tendency among the Transformers fandom to almost deify the original Generation of Transformers. That ranges from any Transformer from 1984 up to the Generation 2 era. It's not hard to find a Transformers fan who believes the original Megatron is the most powerful ever, or that the original Optimus Prime is virtually unstoppable (although he does tend to come back to life rather often doesn't he?).

With this in mind, this issue of Armada soundly turns things on its head. We knew from the end of the last issue that Megatron and Galvatron were going to tussle. But many people believed
right off the bat that Galvatron would stand victorious. Indeed, the first few pages of the comic don't give us any reason to doubt that. Galvatron seems to be more than a match for Megatron, even with Megatron Powerlinked to Leader-1. The battle is brutal, and seeing them tear down large chunks of boulders and rock with them just gives a nice sense of scale to their
two 'bot conflict.

What's interesting here is that we see that there are limits to Galvatron's powers when it comes to using Mini-Cons in battle. The Star Saber, an "ultimate power" of sorts in the Armada universe is so powerful, it manages to block Galvatron's cannon blast, something unexpected. It also rejects Galvatron's attempts to get close to it. Could it be possible that the Matrix and the Mini-Cons are the key to stopping Unicron? If so, Over-Run's tale is a rather sad one. One presumes that he, being a Mini-Con, must have lived in a universe with other Mini-Cons, perhaps another Star Saber etc. However, if his Prime was killed before the power of the Matrix could be brought to bear, it makes Over-Run's mission seem that much more critical. Here, it seems, not any old Autobot can just take the Matrix and become -imus Prime and save the day. I like the fact that this stresses the importance of Optimus Prime as a component of fighting Unicron.

Bludgeon taking on Jetfire's group was great. It showed that these Armada 'bots are not pale imitations of previous (or alternate) Transformers universes, they are powerful in their own right. I was ecstatic to see Rhinox in the team! It was also neat to see him using his "vehicle mode" to boot! Having Bludgeon's Pretender shell take a brunt of the firepower (so the inner robot could escape) was a great touch. Bludgeon is so often seen in his "shell form" that it's easy to forget there's a robot inside there.

Notes:

  • The word balloons at the beginning are from the Air Defense Team. Their unique way of talking amongst themselves is used with amusing results throughout the issue.
  • Dropshot is based on a real Transformer that was never released. Back in the G1 days, Takara toyed (heh) with the idea of releasing a triple changer robot that would become a jet, robot and horse. This can be seen in the Japanese Transformers "Generations" book.
  • When Jetfire and his team enter the Decepticon command headquarters, there are bodies everywhere. Two of the ones hanging on the ceiling are Cy-Kill and Coptor from the old Tonka Go-Bots series!

Artwork:

The artwork in this issue takes full advantage of the carnage offered by Simon Furman's story. Seeing Megatron and Galvatron fight is great as both become more worn and torn as the battle progresses. By the end, though victorious, Megatron looks pretty roughed up, something few comic artists manage to do well.

This issue is also the first we see of Rhinox and Overload on the Autobot team. Adding in the non-released Dropshot is a nice touch that Don has used since the War Within series. I love how Don took Rhinox's horn weapon and turned into a gun, with the bullets in the "horn-clip" no less! Another thing I really like is Don's level of detail. In close ups of faces, you see a lot of fine details such as rivets on Jetfire's face or all the tech details inside Bludgeon's Pretender shell.

Color-wise, this issue sparkles as well. It takes us from light to dark, back and forth nicely. The shots of Galvatron's cannon power really demonstrate the sheer energy this character has. It was also a nice touch to see the Air Defense Team become the "Dark Saber" when in Megatron's hands (something they did do originally many issues ago). The heavy use of lightning effects may seem heavy handed, but they do help convey the amount of power being used here. With Bludgeon's attacks, the bright colors contrast against the gloomy, dark background and make the injuries look that much more painful. The final panel showing electricity flowing from Galvatron to the Star Saber is fantastic work.

Final Thoughts:
We're coming close to end of the Armada comic book series, so it's nice to see things bumped up a notch. They could have easily just called this issue "Galvatron versus Megatron". I do wish Prime had more exposition/time in this issue, but a lot is happening at one time. It's worth your time to get this and its previous two chapters. I looks like Armada is going out with a bang!