Dreamwave Comics "Generation One" #1
Title: Night of the Combaticons
Cover Price: $2.95
Publisher: Dreamwave Productions
Written by: James "Brad Mick" McDonough
Pencils by: Don Figueroa
Inks by: Elaine To
Colors by: Espen Grundetjern & Rob Ruffolo
Letters by: Ben Lee
Starscream is gloating. Not to anyone in particular, but true to form, he is staring at his reflection in water, imagining a crown and cape, that is until Bruticus interupts him. The giant has brought another fallen Autobot, Jazz. Starscream approves, and takes an inventory only to realize that two Autobots are missing! He immediately orders Bruticus to go back to the Ark and capture the two remaining Autobots: Brawn and Ratchet.
Nearby, the last two Autobots still functioning race towards the Ark. Unfortunately, during the last battle the Ark's computer systems were damaged, and thus its defense systems see everyone as intruders. The two Autobots try to make it through, but Ratchet succeeds, and Brawn is left staring at a cannon right in his face!
Runamuck and Runabout are alive. Both are inside a laboratory looking for a repair chamber. While Runabout tries to activate it, Runamuck takes a look around and finds several chambers with clones of prominant Transformers in them, including Ultra Magnus and Perceptor. Suddenly, one of the clones wakes up and grabs Runamuck! With the Decepticon disposed of, the mysterious figure moves on to Runabout and takes him out before launching himself into space!
Starscream and Bruticus stand over the Ark. Ratchet and Brawn have made it inside where we learn that Ratchet coated Brawn in coolant to preven the cannon from seeing him long enough for him to escape. They pass several Decepticons in prison, including Soundwave and Skywarp. They quickly upload a situation report as Bruticus begins to rip into
the Ark. He has come to free the fallen Decepticons!
The Autobot shuttle Orion is near Earth. The crew receives Brawn's message where he updates them on the carnage the Autobots have faced. Bumblebee orders the
shuttle to get to Earth at top speed.
Ratchet and Brawn know what they have to do. The Ark cannot fall into enemy hands - so they have to destroy it. They set a self destruct and manage to run out of the volcano just as it explodes! Unfortunately for them, the Decepticons are waiting and knock them both out. Bruticus crawls out of the wreckage of the Ark, but is heavily damaged and disengages into the individual Combaticons. Starscream is enraged, his plans now literally lying in ruin.
The Orion has arrived in Earth orbit, but before the Autobots can do anything, the clone from Cybertron enters the fray! He has a mission - and he's not going to let anything stand in his way!
This first issue benefits from having had two previous mini-series preceed it. We don't need any big set up or explanations, and the issue assumes you know who's who.
This works out perfectly as it generates an issue that hits the ground running and doesn't stop. There's quite a bit going on actually, and it's cool to see
things work at such a frantic pace. Between Sunstorm's awakening and Starscream's bid for power on Earth, the Autobots certainly have their hands full!
I really enjoy the shades of "Starscream's Brigade" that permeate this issue. Like that episode, Starscream has revived the Combaticons for his own use (they were last seen being carted off in the previous G1 mini). Not only that, but they have been reborn with their combination ability intact, and they make for a very powerful character. Bruticus is used effectively here in that we see some of the best Autobot warriors go down facing him. There are no last minute miracles that defeat him and send the
Decepticons running. This reminds us why combiners were once among the most feared of all Transformers (until the cities came around of course!).
I am a huge fan of Mini-Bots, so seeing a ship full of them, and commanded by my favorite Transformer, Bumblebee of all 'bots was a treat! I've always felt he should hold some level of seniority since he was counted as one of the "heroes" who left Cybertron with Optimus. No way does one become the best Espionage Autobot by being dumb or inept.
That said, it was a thrill to see Bumper as an official character in a comic! For quite some time, "Bumper" was just a fan name, a combination of "Bumblebee" and "Cliffjumper", the two toys that this distinct sculpt was often mistaken for. Excellent nod.
The character dialog is solid. I can actually hear all the G1 voice actors saying the lines in my head, and that is not always an easy thing to get down on paper. Very nice.
- As a bit of a joke, when Starscream is looking in the water, even the word "Thoom!" is reflected.
- The crown, shoulder armor and cape Starscream imagines on himself are all taken from his "Coronation" scene in Transformers: The Movie.
- As Brawn and Ratchet approach the Ark, we see a comic book in Brawn's seat with the "Dreamwave" logo on it!
- The "clones" that Runamuck sees in the lab are all redeco versions of the original characters. The Ultra Magnus is the Diaclone Magnus, the Perceptor is the Diaclone version while Stepper, Twincast and Soundblaster are visible as well!
- The design of the shuttle Orion is based off of the Japanese exclusive "Galaxy Shuttle" Transformer.
- The cannon that Ratchet picks up in the Ark is based on the missile launcher from the Ratchet toy's "repair bay".
- The mask that Brawn dons before fighting Bruticus is based on the toy's face, which is different than the regular one used in this comic.
- As Ratchet and Brawn exit the Ark, look for a Maximal symbol on one of the plates on the door. This is an obvious reference to the time the Maximals spent
inhabiting the volcano where the Ark rests in the third season of Beast Wars.
Don Figueroa's artwork rocks, and the coloring and visual effects in this issue worked very well. What I always appreciate about Don is the perspective he works from as an artist. He draws with a love for the robots as individuals. He makes sure to give each one a distinctive touch based on either past model sheets or something on the toy itself. A great example of this can be found on Powerglide, who is shown as having machine guns on his chest here. Of course, the toy has small protrusions on either wing, which Don then makes into weapons. Giving Ratchet his "mobile bay" missile launcher as a weapon is another example of this care.
Don is also very good at storytelling from panel to panel. At no time did I feel lost or confused. Every panel flows into the next with ease. Nothing is forced and he never trades style for good storytelling. That is crucial. Often, it is too easy for an artist to get so wrapped up in doing splash pages, that he forgets he is trying to give us a visual narrative. That doesn't happen here.
This issue starts with the Autobots in a very bad place, and that is the perfect springboard for a new adventure. Interesting things are afoot, and I can't wait to see what's next!