IDW Publishing: Reign of Starscream Issue #3 Review
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publication Date: July 16, 2008
Written by: Chris Mowry
Art by: Alex Milne
Colors by: Josh Perez
Letters by: Chris Mowry
Edits by: Denton J. Tipton
The Decepticon ship on Mars is under attack. As a small team of Autobots charge at the base, the Decepticons brace themselves for the attack. Starscream is still recovering so he orders Thundercracker to dispatch drones to soften the Autobots up before Thundercracker goes charging in himself.
Outside, Arcee leads the charge. She takes a sniper position as Cliffjumper, Camshaft, Smokescreen and Air Raid attack. Smokescreen deploys an ion smoke cloud, confusing the drones. Tearing into the drones, the Autobots make quick work of them. In the distance, Hardtop takes aim in a hidden position, but before he can pull the trigger, Arcee blasts him in the face. Things are looking good until Air Raid comes crashing down!
Overhead, Thundercracker swoops in, using a disruptive sonic blast that brings the Autobots to their knees. He begins to take out the Autobots one by one. Arcee sees this and races to the scene, remembering how she had watched helplessly on Cybertron as Megatron attacked Bumblebee and damaged his voice processor. As she approaches, she transforms and deploys her blade, tearing into Thundercracker's throat. Cliffjumper then slices into his leg with his own blades. Unfortunately, these heroic efforts are not enough as Starscream comes onto the scene and knocks out both Cliffjumper and Arcee! The Decepticons return to their ship and prepare for their return to Cybertron, warping away using the Space Bridge.
On Earth, in the Nevada Desert, Sector 7 regroups, bringing the failed Landmine drone back to be worked on. A soldier talks to a S7 agent about the battle where Salazar was lost. A look into the base reveals that there are other robots being prepared in addition to "L.M. 1". Little do they know, Barricade is outside listening in on every word they say!
On Cybertron, the Decepticons arrive at Trypticon. Starscream gives his orders as he contemplates the future. He sees himself as the future of Cybertron and a way to make the Decepticons stronger than ever. To make his point, he destroys a sculpture of Megatron's face! Dreadwing reports in, followed by Stockade who is at a site where the Decepticons are building a new Allspark!
My feelings on this issue are kind of weird. The big reveal of Starscream's plan is interesting for sure. If he can indeed replicate the Allspark using all of Sector 7's data, it would indeed be a coup and Cybertron would no doubt welcome him as a savior. It is a grandiose plan worthy of Starscream, and in that sense it reminds me a lot of his G1 namesake's schemes from the past including using Bruticus to take over leadership in the G1 cartoon and using the powerful "Underbase" to become all powerful in the G1 comic book. I'm eager to see what happens in the next issue.
Despite the "big reveal", what fascinates me more about this issue is the confrontation between the Autobots and Decepticons. In the original G1 comic books and cartoons, it was said more than once that the Autobots were not born warriors. The generation that rose up to fight Megatron were scholars, engineers and regular citizens who had to learn to be warriors in a trial by fire. Unfortunately for them, that meant the trained Decepticon warriors ran roughshod over them during the early days of the war. More recently, "Transformers Animated" showed a universe where even Autobots trained in the ways of war struggled to fight Decepticons since they were so much larger and powerful than the Autobots. This issue seems to take these concepts and carry them over into the Movie universe. I was a bit stunned to see just how much larger the Decepticons were in comparison to the Autobots. It really made them much more of a threat and brought a huge chunk of tension to the battle. I admit I'm a bit sad to see so many Autobots taken out in one shot, but it serves the purpose of driving the story forward. Despite them falling, kudos to writer Simon Furman for having Smokescreen act like his G1 namesake and create a distraction! That touch really made me smile.
The "B" story of Sector 7's Nevada facility was interesting as well. The idea that they have other vehicles other than Landmine being prepared makes sense. After studying Megatron's technology for so long, I would be surprised if the organization didn't try to build their own Transformers. How successful they are will be an interesting story for the future!
This is the first issue of this series that features a multi-page Autobot/Decepticon battle. Milne has a great grasp of making a scene exciting and portraying the menace of the Decepticons in his panel design. The two page spread of Thundercracker swooping over the Autobots is visually dynamic and scary at the same time. The way Thundercracker's hulking form crouches down just to deal with the Autobots also drives home the same point. Milne is also great at making damage look like it hurts. Seeing the gaping hole in Air Raid's chest, Camshaft sliced in half etc. are all pretty dramatic examples of damage to the characters. The way his scenes flow is also really nicely done. One of my favorite moments is Arcee transforming, deploying her blade and slicing Thundercracker's throat. It's a very smooth transition from part to part ending in an almost cathartic panel where Arcee attacks!
This issue brings us back to Cybertron and we get a look at Trypticon, the Decepticon city. The name may come from the G1 Decepticon city, but I don't think it's meant to be a Transformer. That doesn't mean it doesn't have G1 influences however. The general design of the exterior is a wide, circular shape with high walls that angle inward. This design is a fairly classic Transformers city design that was seen in the G1 Marvel comic book series. I also mused a bit that the way the bridges and balconies have several spikes lining them resemble a row of teeth in a dinosaur's mouth, reminding me of G1 Trypticon a bit. In a bit of a an easter egg, look at the floor when Starscream walks through Trypticon. The etchings feature the energy being known as Kremzeek, a wacky little thing that appeared in the original G1 cartoon!
The interior of the city features several spike shaped buildings, with spikes protruding from the sides. These building designs came directly from the flashback in the first live action movie where similar buildings were shown rising up and turning on cybertron's surface. It's a beautifully conceived city and looks fantastic.
This is one action packed issue, and if you've been waiting for Autobot versus Decepticon action, this is the issue for you. I enjoy the way hints of future stories such as Sector 7's Nevada base are sprinkled into the story while the main story expands in scope. We also get more of a look at Starscream's motivations, and while he is out for glory for himself, he seems more concerned about bringing Cybertron back to glory, giving us a good amount of depth to the tale. You can sense by the last panel with the Allspark under contruction that things are about to get crazy in the next two issues!