Dreamwave Armada - retro reviews

Acronyms and abbreviations are fun. That, or these lines don't deserve quite enough respect for full names.
Robots In Disguise, Armada, Energon, Cybertron - there, that's their names, happy now???

Dreamwave Armada - retro reviews

Postby andersonh1 » Wed May 01, 2013 8:57 am

Armada #1

Even back when these were first published, I have to admit that I liked this book more than the G1 series being published at the same time. I didn’t want to, but the quality of story and art on this book was much better. Whether it’s because he was free to go his own way with Armada and actually tell the origin story, or whether it’s because he had new characters to bring to life rather than capturing old ones, who can say, but Chris Sarracini did a better job here than he did on Prime Directive. And James Raiz easily tops Pat Lee’s artwork.

The issue opens with Hot Shot reporting to Optimus Prime about the mini-cons being attacked. And from there, the remainder of the issue focuses on the last free village of mini-cons, who knowing an attack is coming, are attempting to defend themselves as best they can. Unlike the television show which made the mini-cons all talk in R2D2 speech and in which they were barely characters, this issue gives the mini-cons dialogue and makes them highly sympathetic as they desperately try to prepare for a fight they are unlikely to win. Sparkplug, Longarm, Rollbar, Incinerator and Jolt discuss the situation, and the infodump of the backstory is delivered fairly well in a conversation that is entirely natural and believable.

Of course, it does no good as Cyclonus bursts through the ground, disables the forcefield, and he and Demolishor capture everyone in the village except for Sparkplug, who is left for dead. The final page shows Megatron, ready to start his war now that all the mini-cons have been captured.

Worth noting: in this continuity, the Autobots are the guardians of a single city, not a planet-wide faction, and the Decepticons are an entirely new group who have been capturing Mini-cons without anyone else taking notice. This may help to explain why both groups are so small and not the vast armies we saw in G1. And we actually see the events leading up to the war. It’s not a conflict whose origins and motivations are buried in the distant past.

And despite the fact that we get another version of Optimus Prime and Megatron, the rest of the characters are new, even if Sparkplug is meant to look like Bumblebee and Hot Shot is the same kid identification character as Hot Rod and Cheetor. The situation feels fresh and new, and not like a retelling of G1, even though there are more than a few similarities.

Overall: a strong beginning to the series, and definitely superior to the G1 product Dreamwave was producing at the same time.
User avatar
andersonh1
Moderator
 
Posts: 5171
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:22 pm
Location: South Carolina

Re: Dreamwave Armada - retro reviews

Postby Onslaught Six » Wed May 01, 2013 9:12 am

The issue opens with Hot Shot reporting to Optimus Prime about the mini-cons being attacked. And from there, the remainder of the issue focuses on the last free village of mini-cons, who knowing an attack is coming, are attempting to defend themselves as best they can. Unlike the television show which made the mini-cons all talk in R2D2 speech and in which they were barely characters, this issue gives the mini-cons dialogue and makes them highly sympathetic as they desperately try to prepare for a fight they are unlikely to win. Sparkplug, Longarm, Rollbar, Incinerator and Jolt discuss the situation, and the infodump of the backstory is delivered fairly well in a conversation that is entirely natural and believable.


I actually remember contemporary stuff directly saying that the Armada comic was intended to be a prequel to the cartoon. When it became obvious that wasn't going to work out, they spiralled it off into its own thing.

And despite the fact that we get another version of Optimus Prime and Megatron, the rest of the characters are new, even if Sparkplug is meant to look like Bumblebee and Hot Shot is the same kid identification character as Hot Rod and Cheetor. The situation feels fresh and new, and not like a retelling of G1, even though there are more than a few similarities.


This is why I loved ArmEnerTron. Sure, there was a lot of weird reboot fatigue in that time, but things that were coming out were at least occasionally sort of new. Armada had a ton of great concepts in both its cartoon and comic--the whole thing of "who had the Star Saber" was a great plotline.
BWprowl wrote:The internet having this many different words to describe nerdy folks is akin to the whole eskimos/ice situation, I would presume.


People spend so much time worrying about whether a figure is "mint" or not that they never stop to consider other flavours.
Image
User avatar
Onslaught Six
Supreme-Class
 
Posts: 7022
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2008 6:49 am
Location: In front of my computer.

Re: Dreamwave Armada - retro reviews

Postby Dominic » Wed May 01, 2013 1:46 pm

Sparkplug, Longarm, Rollbar, Incinerator and Jolt discuss the situation, and the infodump of the backstory is delivered fairly well in a conversation that is entirely natural and believable.



The "are you scared?" conversation remains one of my favourite moments from the "Unicron Trilogy".


Worth noting: in this continuity, the Autobots are the guardians of a single city, not a planet-wide faction, and the Decepticons are an entirely new group who have been capturing Mini-cons without anyone else taking notice.


Were those the only Autobots, or just the Autobots who guarded that particular city? I cannot recall.

I am pretty sure that it was less an issue of nobody noticing that the Minicons were being captured as it was a question of nobody organized any real defense. The Autobots know that something is up. But, they are not going much about it.

I was always kind of bummed that Raiz never found steady work after Dreamwave collapsed.



Dom
-also tried not to like this book so much.....
User avatar
Dominic
Supreme-Class
 
Posts: 8963
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 12:55 pm
Location: Boston

Re: Dreamwave Armada - retro reviews

Postby andersonh1 » Thu May 02, 2013 12:47 pm

Armada #2

Last issue briefly introduced the Autobots but spent the bulk of its time establishing the mini-con characters. This issue opens showing that the Autobots have indeed responded to the plea for help, though a little too late. They’re examining the remains of the village we saw destroyed last time, and there’s a bit of a roll-call of characters as Optimus asks Scavenger, Red Alert and Smokescreen for a status report. Each gets a bit of dialogue that displays something about their character, and again it’s good storytelling that delivers the information in a natural way.

Then we get to my favorite part of the story where Sparkplug meets the Air Defense Team. Sonar, Jetstorm and Runway are a trio of mini-cons who live in a junkyard so the Decepticons can’t find them, have already established a reputation as “the ones who escaped” and who have a plan to break into Decepticon headquarters and rescue all the captives. They certainly don’t lack for audacity, and it’s hilarious the way that Runway is the talker, while Sonar and Jetstorm are the two “yes men” who let him talk and just chime in afterwards. There’s a lot of humor here that helps bring a lot of life to the issue. Sparkplug just thinks the three bots are crazy. But their plan works, thanks largely to the Decepticons being away from headquarters and attacking Cyber City.

The one major flaw with Armada in my opinion is that the Autobot and Decepticon casts are so small. One of the ways that the book gets around this is by showing a large civilian population in Cyber City, and by making Prime and his crew the city’s security force, essentially. It still seems something of a forced situation, with Megatron thinking of galactic conquest with his mighty army of three followers. I can just about buy his conquest of the city since the crowds clearly have no stomach for a fight, and four mini-con powered Decepticons can easily take out five non-powered Autobots. Prime’s decision to retreat and regroup is pragmatic, if not quite what we’d expect from Optimus Prime. But then this guy strikes me as something like Animated Prime, someone young and inexperienced and new to the job, who has yet to grow into a great leader.

The issue ends with the mini-cons triumphing and escaping from Cybertron, only to have one of the engines on their spacecraft explode. And that cliffhanger ends the book.

Overall: more dialogue that illustrates character, more action and some fun characterization for the Air Defense team makes a good second issue.
User avatar
andersonh1
Moderator
 
Posts: 5171
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:22 pm
Location: South Carolina

Re: Dreamwave Armada - retro reviews

Postby Dominic » Thu May 02, 2013 1:57 pm

Both factions had larger implied armies, as evidenced by them calling for supplies and troops in later stories.

Furman's run ignores the fact that the Destruction team Minicons were present for Megatron taking Cyber-City. They are not prominent, but they are clearly present.


The over-all tone and pacing of the first 5 issues really gave me the impression of a television script that was adapted in to a comic. It know that it was always meant to be a comic. But, it felt more appropriate to a (good) Saturday morning or weekday afternoon show.
User avatar
Dominic
Supreme-Class
 
Posts: 8963
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 12:55 pm
Location: Boston

Re: Dreamwave Armada - retro reviews

Postby andersonh1 » Thu May 02, 2013 2:42 pm

Dominic wrote:Both factions had larger implied armies, as evidenced by them calling for supplies and troops in later stories.


Sure, later on they had bigger armies, but I don't think that's the case here. Prime never calls out reinforcements to defend the city, and Megatron didn't leave anyone to guard his headquarters. Clearly as the conflict went on guys like Jetfire and Rhinox joined the Autobots, but I don't think that's the case in this issue.

The over-all tone and pacing of the first 5 issues really gave me the impression of a television script that was adapted in to a comic. It know that it was always meant to be a comic. But, it felt more appropriate to a (good) Saturday morning or weekday afternoon show.


It's a good opening arc. It would have made a good opening episode or two for the Armada series.
User avatar
andersonh1
Moderator
 
Posts: 5171
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:22 pm
Location: South Carolina

Re: Dreamwave Armada - retro reviews

Postby Sparky Prime » Thu May 02, 2013 5:15 pm

Dominic wrote:Were those the only Autobots, or just the Autobots who guarded that particular city? I cannot recall.

The way issue 3 phrases it, the Autobots were only the guardians of Cyber City, suggesting they were the only Autobots.

andersonh1 wrote:
Dominic wrote:Both factions had larger implied armies, as evidenced by them calling for supplies and troops in later stories.


Sure, later on they had bigger armies, but I don't think that's the case here. Prime never calls out reinforcements to defend the city, and Megatron didn't leave anyone to guard his headquarters. Clearly as the conflict went on guys like Jetfire and Rhinox joined the Autobots, but I don't think that's the case in this issue.

Yeah, if Megatron had a larger army at this point then where are the rest of the Decepticons? Their base is left completely unmanned with only automated defenses to guard the majority of the captured Mini-Cons and there is no indication that Decepticons are attacking any other cities while Megatron's group captures Cyber City. And then issue 3 explains as Megatron began conquering the rest of the planet, citizens began surrendering themselves to the Decepticons, suggesting that's when Megatron actually expands the number of his troops. As do the Autobots in order to combat them.
User avatar
Sparky Prime
Supreme-Class
 
Posts: 4676
Joined: Wed Jul 23, 2008 3:12 am

Re: Dreamwave Armada - retro reviews

Postby Dominic » Thu May 02, 2013 5:39 pm

Good point. (Ironically, I was going to start on these in the next month or so, after "Team 7" ended and "Age of Ultron" wrapped up and my comic reading would be a bit more free. I have not read this series all the way through for nearly a decade.)

I recall the kids being handled much better in the comics, (generally being less annoying, adding something to the pages they were on and having more reason to be on page to begin with), than in the cartoons. But, Anderson has a two issue head start on me, so he is probably going to beat me to the punch on this series.
User avatar
Dominic
Supreme-Class
 
Posts: 8963
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 12:55 pm
Location: Boston

Re: Dreamwave Armada - retro reviews

Postby andersonh1 » Fri May 03, 2013 5:27 am

Dominic wrote: I have not read this series all the way through for nearly a decade.)


Same here. I've picked up and read the odd issue or two from time to time, but that's about it.


Transformers preview issue - Armada story

I'm reviewing this story here, because given the events that take place it has to happen during the war and Decepticon occupation of Cybertron, which would place it sometime during the early pages of issue 3. Intergalactic diplomat Fflaxl and his bodyguard head to Cybertron thanks to rumors of a war between the two tribes there, confident they can solve the problem and settle things. Fflaxl is caught in the middle of a fight between Prime and Megatron, and his bodyguard is flattened. To which Optimus Prime says "ouch". After observing the fight, Fflaxl decides he'd better leave, and that things will work themselves out.

Pretty thin story, but for what it is it works fine at establishing the basics of the Armada storyline. It doesn't quite line up with events of the series, demonstrating that it was written before certain ground rules were established, or the timeframe for the war was firmly nailed down. Prime's a lot tougher here than he is in issues 1 and 2, again suggesting that this takes place later. And it's sort of interesting that other races know about the war and want to stop it, though that particular plot thread exists to give us an outider's point of view to introduce the conflict rather than any real exploration of what other races think of the Transformers civil war.
User avatar
andersonh1
Moderator
 
Posts: 5171
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:22 pm
Location: South Carolina

Re: Dreamwave Armada - retro reviews

Postby Dominic » Fri May 03, 2013 6:50 am

The preview book did what it was supposed to do, specifically give truly new readers and fans an introduction to the property. There are muchy worse ways to do that than by having a POV character given an infodump while reviewing his in-story notes and blundering in to a fight between and Autobot and a Decepticon.

And, while "Armada" tried to be kid-friendly (which is fine), it was hard to do a story about slavery and keep it light. I recall there being a panel in this story where Megatron pulls
Leader-1 out (I think from the leg compartment that the toy was supposed to have), and Leader-1 says something like "No, please". This weird blend of "fun little robots" and "freakin' macabre" continued up through about 2010 or so, when K-Mart released that Mincon boxed set of 10 figures with a shared profile that described them as being diaspora scattered by war and fleeing tyranny. (I am not making this up.)


Dom
-notes that Optimus comes across as a jerk in the preview story.
User avatar
Dominic
Supreme-Class
 
Posts: 8963
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 12:55 pm
Location: Boston

Next

Return to RiD | Arm | Ener | Cy

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest