Dreamwave Comics "Armada" #17

in 2003, Armada, Comic Book Review

Dreamwave Comic Books

Armada #17 Cover
General Information
Written by: Simon Furman
Pencils by: Don Figueroa
Inks by: Elaine To, Rob Armstrong
Colors by: David Cheung
Letters: Ben Lee

Synopsis:
In the Decepticon base, the Mini-Cons have found the Null Reality Pod. Over-Run and Sparkplug need one more Mini-Con to go with them to find Optimus Prime. Commetor agrees to be that third Mini-Con, especially since he is used to exploring.

In another reality, Unicron is about to consume Cybertron. Spinister, now completely mad lets the Dark God take him. Optimus doesn't give up, but it looks helpless until Unicron stops drawing him in. He senses Optimus is from another reality and demands an explanation. Optimus has none, unsure of how he even arrived here. Unicron explains that this universe had an Optimus Prime as well, and that he sent him to the Armada Universe on the brink of death as a calling card, a foreshadowing of what is to come. Optimus then realizes that Unicron intends to invade the Armada Universe next. The gateway has already begun to open.

At the Decepticon headquarters on Cybertron, the Autobots led by Jetfire bust into the Space-Bridge Nexus. They see that each bridge has been activated, showing windows into other realities. Jetfire sees a flash of a reality where Optimus Prime is, but then sees another "Prime" in his place. Blurr can't shut down the controls, so Jetfire decides to destroy the facility.

On Earth, Scourge, Dirge and Thunderwing stand over a wrecked Thrust. Thunderwing suddenly realizes the Space-Bridge Nexus has been breached, and the three decide to return to Cybertron.

Nearby, Megatron is laughing victoriously as he stands over the wreckage of Galvatron. With the Star Saber in hand, Megatron is too dangerous. The Land Military Team sees this and decide to take action. They fire at his wrist, allowing the Air Defense Team to break free. They contact the other Mini-Cons who are searching for Optimus - and they finally find him! The Null Reality Pod quickly vanishes as Over-Run, Commetor and Sparkplug go to get Optimus Prime.

On Cybertron, Blurr is trying to set a desctruct code, but the computers refuse to lock. As Rhinox and Overload try to stop Bludgeon, the situation grows critical. Finally, Jetfire orders the others to leave so he can set the code manually. Meanwhile, they see Scourge and company returning through one of the Space Bridges! The other Autobots escape, and as Scourge and the others come through the Space Bridge, Jetfire activates the destruct sequence and jumps into the Space Bridge where he saw Optimus! The base explodes, taking Unicron's heralds with it.

Jetfire lands on the Cybertron being consumed by Unicron. Optimus can't believe that he's there.
All seems lost until the Null Reality Pod appears! Sparkplug Powerlinks to Optimus as Over-Run hands him the Mini-Con Matrix, the essence of his world's Mini-Cons united in one form. Suddenly, Prime changes, his outer coloring different than before, and his internal power boosted. The same has happened to Jetfire, and the two then combine! They use their newfound power to damage Unicron.
But they realize they can do no more and with the help of Over-Run and Commetor Powerlinking to them, they escape back into their reality.

Back on Cybertron, the Autobots regroup. Autobase Earth is in bad shape, but Red Alert manages to report that Hot Shot and Scavenger are almost operational, but Smokescreen is critical. Optimus orders Smokescreen to be transferred to Cybertron. His last command is to have Longarm issue a general Mini-Con call to arms. The time has come to prepare for the end of Armada!

Story:
This is the penultimate issue of Armada, but what's fantastic about it is that there is no sense of finality about it. Most fans know by now that Armada is going to lead directly into the Energon comic book, and writer Simon Furman makes sure that we don't think this story is over. Although he has been a looming threat for several issues, we still only get small glances at Unicron. He clearly presents himself as a major threat here, but at the same time just how he's going to enter
the Armada-verse remains to be seen since Jetfire and his team destroyed the Nexus.

Kudos also go to scripting a very exciting scene for Jetfire and the gang as they tried to destroy the Nexus. I loved the fact that Bludgeon was tough to destroy (despite using Overload and Rhinox's considerable firepower). Also, the threat of having the other Heralds coming back just gave this added edge that made the scene work very well.

Of course, the centerpiece of the issue was having Optimus become "Final Battle" Optimus and merging with "Powerlinx" Jetfire. Granted their "power ups" were not as dramatic as Hot Rod to Rodimus Prime, but this was a great nod to such a classic scene. What I found to be a great touch was that the blast from the combined Autobots didn't destroy Unicron. That's right, I'm glad the
chaos bringer survives since that leaves him open to play a larger role in future Transformers stories. The implication seems to be that despite there being multiple Transformers Universes, there is only one Unicron bouncing between them and consuming them. This makes him even more of a threat if you consider that he's devoured other realities which had heroes such as Optimus Prime.

I'm glad there's one more Armada issue left to tie up (or set up) storylines for Energon. The key here is that this issue by no means feels like we're near the proverbial end. Rather, it feels like we're near a new beginning.

Notes:

  • Spinister has his Japanese name written on his back, a little thing that artist Don Figueroa likes to do now and then.
  • When Jetfire is looking into other realities, we see (from left to right): Tigatron and Rattrap in a "Beast Wars" reality,
    Prowl and Optimus Prime from a "Robots in Disguise" reality and a Tank Drone from a "Beast Machines" reality.
  • After Jetfire spots "his" Optimus Prime, the next reality he sees shows Big Convoy from Beast Wars Neo.
  • Towards the end of the issue, it looks like a word balloon is going the wrong way. As Red Alert reports, the word balloon looks like it's going to Blurr.

Artwork:

Don Figueroa brings us another wonderfully illustrated issue of Armada. However, what makes me particularly happy with this issue is that the storyline gave him the chance to flex his artistic muscles beyond drawing the same characters he's dealt with the past few issues. I love the peeks into other realities, giving us a hint of what Don would do with characters such as Big Convoy, RiD Optimus Prime and Tankor.

I also love the "schematic" drawing done of Optimus Prime as he became "Final Battle" Prime. Not only is it a really nice "tech" look at Prime (including a mouth!) but also the scene is reminscent of Transformers: The Movie where Megatron is turned into Galvatron by Unicron. I only wish there was one more page so they could have showed the Jetfire/Prime combination step by step! Also, I love the fact that Sparkplug became "Corona Sparkplug" since he was bonded to Prime when he "upgraded".

This issue leaves you with a sense that you've just seen something really cool happen, but that there is much, much more ahead - and that's what a good issue does in my opinion.
Now to brace for the end of Armada!