Dreamwave Comics "Micromasters" #2
Title: The Gray Race
Cover Price: $2.95
Publisher: Dreamwave Productions
Written by: James "Brad Mick" McDonough & Adam Patyk
Pencils by: Rob Ruffolo
Inks by: Erik Sander, Rob Armstrong
Colors by: David Cheung, Josh Perez
Letters by: Ben Lee
The Micromasters are in trouble. In the Wastelands of Cybertron, the cannibalistic Decepticons Venom, Chop Shop, Barrage and Ransack are attacking the Micromasters, and only Roller Force and his team are armed. They try to hold off the larger Decepticons, but the four do not relent until Groundshaker races onto the scene in his attack vehicle! He chases the Decepticons away and offers to take in any Micromasters who want to join him. Big Daddy and his team agree to go while Barricade and his gang stay behind.
As the Autobots leave, Shockwave suddenly appears to the Micromasters. He tells tries to apologize to them, but Barricade's group doesn't fall for the act. A fellow Micromaster does, and as Barricade and his team leave, Shockwave tosses that unfortunate Micromaster to the waiting Decepticons who devour him with zeal!
Meanwhile, Big Daddy talks to Groundshaker as they head towards Countdown's base. He confirms that Groundshaker was one of the original Micromasters, Transformers who were originally larger but sized down. Groundshaker tells them that the Wastelands are too dangerous for them to be running around they way they were and finally, they arrive at Countdown's base.
Inside, Big Daddy's team meets Countdown who explains to them that the Transformers have focused far too much on the war on Cybertron. He talks about how he has discovered that the Decepticon threat is just one of many in the universeHe asks Big Daddy and gang to join him in his mission. Big Daddy isn't sure yet, and the team leaves.
Outside Little Iacon:
The Hot Rod patrol arrives and enters Little Iacon. Inside, Micromasters of all different forms are busy partying and having fun. Each member of the Hot Rod patrol goes off to do their own thing. Hubs talks to Motorhead about Crunch. Ground Hog and talks to Greaser about joining forces to steal energy. Trip-Up and Roller Force start with each other while Big Daddy thanks Barricade for his help in the Wastelands.
Big Daddy sees Roadhandler and begins to taunt him for not siding with him back at the Autobot base. The two agree to a race, and all the Micromasters go outside to watch. The race begins and for a while, it looks like Big Daddy is going to win - but he stops short of running into a pile of scrap and Roadhandler manages to win. Hubs isn't happy as the other Micromasters laugh at Big Daddy's loss, but he is not as concerned, figuring that he and his gang are not important enough for anyone to really care about.
A ship touches down and its two dimunitive passengers disembark. They are Skyhopper and Skystalker - and they are here to take over!
This is what I like to call a "setup" issue. Pieces are being moved into place for something big to happen, and that's always kind of fun because there's an underlying tension that permeates the entire issue. The two scenes that allude to this the most are the Hot Rod Patrol's encounter with Countdown and Skystalker's appearance. Countdown's speech fits his character profile from G1 very well, showing him as a well travelled Autobot who has seen endless amounts of battle on different worlds. His perspective is not one with blinders on, it is expansive beyond Cybertron, and I really like that aspect of the character. Skystalker is obviously there to cause problems, and there's no way that you can have the "conqueror of worlds" around without some big trouble starting up. I also like him having Skyhopper as his assistant, a counter to Groundshaker (both toys came out in the same assortment
back in the 80's).
One thing that disappointed me was the race. I mean, it wasn't all that exciting as written. There's much talk of how good Roadhandler is and how this is going to be an incredible race etc. But really, there weren't that many obstacles and it's not like there were death traps on the route of the race aside from scrap piles. There was no sense of urgency for either Micromaster in that race, which is sad because that could have been quite spectacular, with Roadhandler spouting lessons at Big Daddy the whole way.
- The Micromasters who get eaten are the Decepticons "Flanker" and "Falcon" from the Sixwing combiner group. I guess Sixwing dies with them...
- When we see Little Iacon's interior, Mudslinger has a Unicron faction symbol from "Beast Wars Neo" on his wrist.
One thing which bothers me about artwork from an artist is inconsistancy. There are moments here where the artwork shines, and there are others where it crashes and burns. Having that much inconsistancy within one issue of any comic is pretty bad.
I'll start with what I liked. I enjoy the level of detail that the art crew put into the Micromasters during close ups. The very first page is a prime example of this. Nice detail with tech detail and damage marks all in one shot. This is seen again as the Hot Rod patrol listens to Countdown's speech. It really gives you the sense that these guys are robots built out of several modular parts instead of just one big sheet of metal. The cracks and scuffs help to give each character a nice and weathered look, which fits the rough and tough lifestyle they lead.
Unfortunately, that's where the good stuff ends. The first thing which bothers me a lot are the lack of proportions in many scenes. In most scenes that Countdown appears in, his head is this tiny, tiny thing on this big, thick body. These guys are Micromasters. Their bodies are not supposed to be thick and bulging to the point where they look like they're going to explode. But that is seen everywhere, perhaps the most egregious example being Skystalker at the end. His feet look so impossibly big against the rest of his body they actually look like he's wearing armor or something.
Unfortunately, this also leads to the "puffy" look I have mentioned before. Shockwave suffers from this in his brief appearance. Instead of a fairly thin, sleek looking character, all the rounding and puffing out of parts makes him look like he's put on a few pounds.
The other thing which I'm not crazy about are a couple of the Micromaster redesigns. For instance, Groundshaker is supposed to have wings on his back (which become his vehicle mode wings), but here they are made into these stubby green things that look more like handles to grab him by than wings for an alternate mode. Another example of this is Skyhopper, who also lacks wings of any sort on his back. I'm sure they're there as small grey stubs, but having the wings on his back gives him a sweeping look, like he has a cape on or something. Taking it away makes him look more plain somehow. Now, I'm guessing part of the intention here may have been to make these guys look as purely robotic (no hints of an alt mode) in robot mode, but it wasn't necessary. Just because the Transformers have tires or wings in robot mode, it does not automatically make them ugly or anything. I really feel the artists should have stuck more with the actual look of the Micros than trying to "fancy them up" too much.
What frustrates me is that there are many pages/panels where you see the art done right and then a whole bunch where it just makes you shake your head and wonder what the heck is going on. This inconsistancy really hurts the issue.
If you're invested in the Micromaster story, than this is worth picking up. However, if issue one failed to grab you, then you may want to skip this as well as things haven't really picked up much.