Dreamwave Comics "Micromasters" #1

in 2004, Comic Book Review, Generation One

Dreamwave Comics

General Information:
Title: Destined for Nothing
Cover Price: $2.95
Publisher: Dreamwave Productions
Written by: James "Brad Mick" McDonough & Adam Patyk
Pencils by: Rob Ruffolo
Inks by: Erik Sander
Colors by: David Cheung
Letters by: Ben Lee

Cover A Cover B Cover C (Front) Cover C (Back)

Synopsis:
On the battlefields of Cybertron, a warrior has fallen and his comrades desperately try to get him off the scene of chaos. The warrior is Roadbuster, and his comrades, the Micromaster Hot Rod and Monster Truck Patrols! Suddenly, in the middle of the battle, one of the Autobot Micromasters is destroyed, and everyone is shocked. This buys the Autobot teams time to get Roadbuster out of the area.

Elsewhere, in the Iacaon Autobase, a shuttle lands. From inside, two figures emerge: Micromasters Countdown and Groundshaker! It has been a long time since the pair has set foot on Cybertron, and they are both worried that no one is at the spaceport to greet them. Suddenly, the Jumpstarters appear and try to stop the two until they realize who they are. They let the two pass, a bit confused.

Inside the base, Ultra Magnus and Fortress Maximus discuss options regarding the war that is draining far too many lives and resources on Cybertron. Suddenly, Countdown appears and everyone catches up. Coundown explains that he was never able to find Optimus Prime, and instead he chased down the Decepticon Skystalker and his followers until he defeated them temporarily. However, the realizes that the Decepticons are beginning to spread like a plague across the galaxy, and that they must be stopped! Magnus cannot find any way to spare reinforcements however, and Coundown leaves, convinced he's made a mistake approaching the two commanders.

As they leave, the Hot Rod patrol comes in, and Big Daddy is not happy. He tells Magnus that Crunch perished on the battlefield today, but Magnus is more concerned with protocol than anything else. He tells the Micromasters to go check in their weapons. They're not happy, but they do as they are told.

Decepticon HQ:
The Race Track Patrol roars towards Decepticon HQ. There, they find Blitzwing and Octane drinking Energon, but abusing Greasepit. Barricade is not thrilled, and he leads the Race Track Patrol to complain to Shockwave, who shows very little concern for the Micromasters. Barricade decides he has had enough, and the Race Track Patrol follows him.

Iacon:
The Autobot Micromasters are not exactly getting along. The Battle Patrol is berating the Hot Rod Patrol as the Race Car Patrol and Rescue Patrol watches. Big Daddy tries to convince them that they are just pawns being used in a war they never asked to be a part of. The others stay behind, but Big Daddy and his team decide to go it alone.

The Wastelands:
The Hot Rod Patrol drives away from their now former home. Suddenly, they run into the Race Track Patrol! The two sides are about to fight, but they all suddenly realize that they are all lost sheep. Before they can do anything else, a group of Decepticons appear to make them disappear forever!

To Be Continued...

Review:

Story:
I fully admit that when I began to read Micromasters, I was biased in favor of the book. While the general collecting public turned a blind eye to Transformers in the late 80's and early 90's, I was really, really enjoying the likes of Action Masters and Micromasters as concepts. The classic G1 comic book series from Marvel did a good job of introducing the two, but they were used very sparingly. Micromasters received a bit more attention than Action Masters, but they were never made central characters such as Optimus Prime or Grimlock. A comic series that would do that had nothing but my biggest admiration and enthusiasm.

Now I'm just confused.

I've re-read Micromasters #1 about five times before writing this review, and a few things just don't jive right. First off, in my opinion, this should have been an origin issue. Even if the Micromasters were already active at the beginning of the issue and then did a flashback, it would have been better than a text summary in the back. I really sort of feel a bit cheated that we didn't get to see the birth of these tiny warriors.

But that aside, the very story of their birth seriously disturbs me. In it, even the writer admits that the Autobots probably made a mistake when they decided to create the Micromasters. Never mind the huge leap of logic that they didn't have the Matrix but still created Transformer life (perhaps Vector Sigma tied them into the Matrix energy), why the heck would Autobots ever agree to a plan that Shockwave proposes? What if all the new warriors decided to go to the Decepticon side? The Autobots would be seriously screwed. It just doesn't make sense. But here's the thing, I could sit here all day and speculate on just how the plan made sense, but without us witnessing the events, we just don't know. This is a glaring hole that I hope is patched
in future issues.

I'm also not very happy with Ultra Magnus or Fortress Maximus' portrayal in this story. Magnus comes off as a non-compassionate bureaucrat, and Maximus is just a yes man. When Big Daddy tells Magnus that a Micromaster has fallen, the fact that Magnus basically had a hand in the creation and recruitment of this warrior into a war should have warranted some level of emotional reaction in Magnus. Even a thought balloon would have been nice. Instead, he gets all cold and tells the guys to check their weapons. What?! Now, Maximus' portrayal is slightly better. He does care about the Micromasters, but he doesn't seem to have a tough enough hide to stand up to Magnus or even offer an alternate suggestion. He just basically stands there and lets things happen. I did like the one hint of his "known" personality from Marvel's G1 series when he proposes an alliance to end hositilities, something the pacifist Maximus we know would have done back in the 80's. That was a nice touch and good to see.

Okay, okay, so story-wise, is there any good? Sure, there's plenty. First off, I like the concept of the Micromasters being treated like dirt by their superiors. It's a good idea, and a believable one. Basically they're a glorified military project of the
Autobots and Decepticons, and they are treated as such (though I still say the Autobots should act differently). I like the independent streak of the Micromasters on both sides and how they are willing to strike out on their own.

Regarding the Micromasters, it's nice to see Big Daddy be the "front and center" Micromaster. He has been a fan favorite for years, based almost solely on his rather unusual name. It was also a treat seeing the Monster Truck Patrol dragging a Transformer out of the combat zone, something their tech specs mentioned back in the day. One surprise this book did hold was the way the Micromasters interacted. Unlike their larger counterparts, they don't seem to fully have their
hearts (or fuel pumps) dedicated to destroying each other. It's almost like they're doing it because they're told to, not because they want to. Their interaction will be a major selling point for me in issues to come.

Artwork:

I hate giving bad art reviews. I really, really do. This is especially true when I think the artist is good, and can do better than the final product. You will find this true when I review Manny Galan's artwork in the Generation 2 comics. Now I find myself doing it again for Micromasters #1.

It took me a lot of thinking and staring at the art before I realized what was happening. To me, it looks a lot like Ruffolo is attempting to emulate Pat Lee's style, to perhaps give the Dreamwave books a more cohesive style. Unfortunately, the results generate artwork that goes from really nicely done to absolutely horrid all in one issue.

I'm going to be fair here and point out what I liked first. Ruffolo manages to convey the huge size difference between the larger "guzzler" Autobots and the Micromasters very well. The two page spread where the Micromasters are fighting over Roadbuster's body is fantastic. Everything looks spectacular there.

Ruffolo also does an awesome job of detail work. One of my favorites is a small vent on the pink portion of his upper body near the shoulders. He manages to keep this detail consistant from panel to panel (among others). I really appreciate this level of detail, and he keeps it flowing throughout the entire issue, not just in one or two splash panels.

Now, the not so good. While the artwork in the issue starts off very nicely, it suddenly goes haywire a few pages in.

One of the biggest problems in this issue is proportion. I'm not a big fan of the whole WE HAVE HUGE LEGS AND TINY HEADS look. It's distracting, visually unappealing and overall, it just doesn't make ense. Almost every character suffers from this at some point in the issue. The most notable example is during one of the conversations between Ultra Magnus and Fortress Maximus. While Maximus' body is large and bulky, his head is suddenly super tiny, when a few pages previous, it was the right size.

Personally, I'm also not really into what I call the "puffy" look. Why does everyone have to have limbs and parts that seem to be ready to burst at the seams? And why can't any joints have simple right angles instead of the beveled angles used on everything from arms to thighs to portions of robot heads? Sometimes this just looks really, really bad, like the Transformer is swollen or something. This is found throughout the issue, and it too is quite distracting.

I do suspect that some of this issue was rushed for a deadline. While some panels/pages show a painstaking attention to detail, others just blow consistancy out of the water. The most glaring example of this are the loss of Groundshaker's wings towards the end of the issue. At first they're there, then all of a sudden they disappear for no reason. Also, when Octane and Blitzwing are shown, I was surprised to see them in their "Earth form" robot modes already.
This brings to mind the question: When is this story taking place? Is this right before the second G1 mini series? Magnus is still in his "War Within" form, so why wouldn't they also bein those forms? It's a bit perplexing to say the least.

Overall:
Micromasters #1 has a lot of problems. I really wish I could say I loved this book, go buy it now etc. etc., but it may be worth waiting to see if a trade paperback or something comes out so you can get all four issues at once. By itself, this book is pretty weak.