Dreamwave Comics "Armada" #18

in 2003, Armada, Comic Book Review

Dreamwave Comic Books

Armada #18 Cover
General Information
Written by: Simon Furman
Pencils by: Guido Guidi
Inks by: Elaine To
Colors by: David Cheung
Letters: Ben Lee

Synopsis:
Time is up, Unicron has come, and it is time to act! On Earth, Optimus addresses the gathered Mini-Cons, telling them that he needs their help to defeat Unicron. He cites their destiny and power to either save or destroy the universe. A Space Bridge has een set and Optimus asks whomever agrees to help to join him. Corona Sparkplug chimes in, telling them about Over-Run's journey from another dimension. Over-Run explains that the Mini-Con Matrix has the accumulated Spark energy of all the Mini-Cons from his world, but as powerful as it may be, he still needs the help of the Mini-Cons in this universe to stop Unicron.

Optimus is saying his good byes to Rad, Carlos and Alexis. He explains that the other Autobots went
ahead to Cybertron, and that Smokescreen is in critical condition. Suddenly the Decepticons appear on the scene! Everyone goes on alert, except Optimus. He invited the Decepticons to join with the Autobots to fight Unicron. Having experienced the destructive power of Unicron first-hand, Megatron is ready to join the cause, and as a peace offering, brings the captive Mini-Cons the Decepticons have been using.

Rhinox reports the Space Bridge is becoming unstable, so everyone quickly rushes into it. The bridge is set to self destruct after they have gone through. The Autobots provide an automated vehicle to take the kids home, and with that, the Transformers are gone.

Cybertron:
Time is up. A dimensional gate opens and Unicron comes out of it, declaring his intent to destroy Cybertron and everyone on it. He tells the shocked Transformers that their leaders are gone, unaware that his heralds have been destroyed. Optimus realizes that Unicron believes Cybertron is defenseless, and at that moment an armada departs from Cybertron to confront the Chaos Bringer! They begin their attack, some holding their own, others destroyed right away.

On Cybertron's surface, Megatron straps on a pair of boosters and heads off to Unicron. His goal is not to stop him, but to acquire his power! Off in the distance, Scavenger, Hot Shot and Red Alert see Megatron take off, and go after him with one thing in mind: revenge!

Elsewhere, Optimus and Jetfire Powerlink with Sparkplug and Commetor respectively. Then they combine and take off, intent to do as much damage to Unicron as they can! As Jet Prime blasts big holes in Unicron's armor, Rhinox leads Terrorsaur, Cheetor and Airazor to do some damage on the surface of Unicron - until he sucks them in! Unicron is sensing something is wrong in this universe, and he intends to use the beasts to find out what!

On Cybertron, the Mini-Cons have gathered, and they all join together to focus their strength through the Matrix. Over-Run holds it up and at the right moment, unleashes its great power on Unicron! The beam of power cuts through the giant planet, seriously damaging it. Jet Prime sees this and orders everyone to get off Unicron immediately.Not too far away, Megatron contemplates his potential deal with Unicron - until he runs into Red Alert, Scavenger and Hot Shot! The three Autobots exact their revenge, blasting Megatron with heavy firepower, sending him falling into Unicron as they depart in a ship. Unicron vanishes in retreat - for now...

Afterwards, the Transformers are celebrating their victory. But Optimus knows that they must be ever vigilant against
evil!

Story:
The strength of this issue is that it does exactly what it should do: be a set up for the next series: Energon. It does not fall into the trappings that many apocalyptic Transformers tales have utilized over the past two decades. The usual answer to a Unicron problem? Blow him to Kingdom Come by the end of the tale. Here, I liked the fact that Unicron is only wounded, and is making a tactical retreat.

There are some wonderful set up points here for potential future storylines. The beasts being taken is one. Could they be turned into the new heralds as Hasbro suggested at OTFCC 2003? And with Megatron gone, it paves the way for Scorponok to take over leadership. Will Smokescreen become Hoist? Also we see key characters having survived such as Jetfire, prime, Demlishor etc. What role will they play in future tales? These are all great points that will be fun to see addressed in Energon (if at all).

I'm also very fond of the Matrix being a Mini-Con Matrix as opposed to an Autobot Matrix. And having it contain the power of all the Mini-Cons from Over-Run's universe is really neat as well. Unlike previous stories where a Prime would have to do the Matrix scene, here Over-Run did it, aided by the Mini-Cons gathered around him.

I also like the idea of Transformers fighting on Unicron's surface. It really brings the battle down to Earth (so to speak). Also finally having an actual "Armada" involved in "Armada" was a plus.

There are a few things I wish they could have done, and I believe would have been done had the series ran one more issue, or had this one been double sized:

  • We could have seen Smokescreen return as Hoist.
  • Tidal Wave and Megatron could have had a chance to combine.
  • Overload could have given additional firepower to Jet Prime.
  • Unicron may have had a chance to show us his robot mode (guess the cover will have to do for now).

There are some intereting story points here that seem to indicate this Unicron is quite different than others fans have seen in the past. First, he does not seem to have a (for lack of a better word), telepathic connection to his Heralds to the degree the Unicron from Transformers: The Movie did. When he popped into the Armada-verse, he declared that his Heralds had done their jobs and assumed that the Cybertronians were just going to panic. If he did share a connection with his Heralds, you would think he would have known they were destroyed already. Also, this Unicron was not destroyed by Matrix energy, merely wounded. It will be intereting to see what Unicron is up to later on in Energon.

Notes:

  • This issue firmly establishes that Sparkplug, Commetor, Prime and Jetfire can keep their new forms beyond the initial power up time.
  • Tidal Wave makes his one, and only appearance in this issue.
  • The Land Military Team's call of "Battle Protocol" is a nice nod to the same declaration used often in "Robots in Disguise"
  • We finally get to see many Mini-Cons that have been absent in past issues including: Nightbeat, the Emergency Team, Wind Sheer and Liftor.

Artwork:

Guido Guidi's artwork returns for this final issue of Armada. As always, his artwork looks like screen shots of a television show on paper. This issue required a lot of detailing, between the beat up surface of Cybertron to the ship battles with Unicron. Unicron's entrance was particularly well drawn. What I like is that Guido did not bother with embelishments on Unicron, the way he looks in the comic is the way the actual toy looks.

Sharp eyed viewers will note that Guido tossed in some nice little homages here and there when it comes to the Armada fleet. On page thirteen you'll find sytlized versions of Bumblebee's Cybertronian form as well as the triangular Cybertronian Seeker forms from G1. Page fourteen has the Predacon ship from Beast Wars design in it.

Guido's strength is that he draws figures that look like they could move if you just stare at the page long enough, and for a "final battle" issue, that's the best way to go.

The best part about this issue is that it isn't a conclusion or an end really, it's more of a bridge from one series to another. Now on to Energon!