Transformers Volume One #1 Review

Reviewer: Jesse Baker
Story Title: Untitled

Written by: Chris Sarracini
Penciled by: Pat Lee
Inked by: Rob Armstrong
Colored by: Various
Lettered by: Dreamer Design
Editor: NA
Publisher: Dreamwave Comics

Welcome to the Nexus everybody! My name is Jesse Baker and I’ll be your snark-fueled comic reviewer this Monday morning! Today we will be looking at the first ever issue of Transformers, produced by the people at Dreamwave Comics. In my previous reviews for the second Transformers: Generation One mini-series, I was heavily critical of V2’s writer Brad Mick. But even at my most critical, Brad Mick’s writing can not compare the God-Awful, Hack Writing of Chris Sarracinni. Seriously, Sarracinni’s writing is horrible and a classic example of hack-writing if there ever was one.

The Skinny
The issue opens in the jungles of South America, as two rebel soldiers are brutally killed by a mysterious robotic hand. There deaths are followed by an explosion that is seen in an overhead shot of the jungles.

We cut back to Ohio as Spike Witwicky gets ready for another day’s work in the coal mine. As his son Daniel (who in his new anime-lite form looks less annoying than he did in the Transformers cartoon) hands him his helmet, a bunch of soldiers barge in the house. Daniel is sent upstairs as Spike sits down and is told that the US Government is hauling him off to a military complex. Faster than you can say “Camp X-Ray”, Spike has a hold put on his head and he’s tossed into a jeep and driven up north to Canada. Along with him is an evil scientist who in cheesy B-Movie fashion, declares that his name is Lazarus. We then get a spirited debate as Lazarus declares Spike a terrorist in his eyes and basically he doesn’t care about what happens to Spike.

The jeep stops and the hooded Spike is taken out of the jeep as they walk towards the top secret government compound. Lazarus brags about how no one knows about the place as the jeep transforms into the Autobot Hound. Sadly the transformation is drawn so we barely see Hound once he transforms.

Lazarus (who’s got a scar on his face) continues ranting and raving like a pathetic B-Movie villain and leads Spike inside. Spike has his hood removed and reacts in shock as he sees a robot in front of him. Again, we only see the legs as we then get two pages of ads and a crappy poster that has more Transformers on it than issue one has inside of the actual first issue.

We cut back to the Pentagon as Spike reads an article (major plot point alert) as a janitor (major plot point alert) mops the floor. Spike is called in to talk to a general, but not before the janitor (Major Plot Point) warns Spike to be careful, because there’s “more than meets the eye” towards everything at the Pentagon. And water is wet, the sky is blue, and grass is green.

Spike meets the general and we get lip service to the infamous “Buster/Spike” debacle (where the Marvel Comics TF series had a “Buster Witwicky” as it’s human lead character instead of Spike, resulting in Spike being retconned as Buster’s black sheep sibling) as we get comments of a mysterious “accident” that happened in 1999. We learn that the Autobots and a crew of humans headed out to Cybertron only to have their spaceship explode moments after launch. Oh and Spike’s dad was on the ship and died, which is why Spike is ultra peeved at the government.

Anyway, Spike is shown top secret footage from the jungles of South American. It turns out that the mystery robot was Megatron. We then cut back to Canada as we see that the second mystery robot we saw several pages earlier was Megatron. We learn that Lazarus has lobotomized Megatron and that now Megatron obeys his every command. Lazarus then makes Megatron kneel before him and gloats at the fact that the Mighty Lazarus has Megatron as his personal bitch. After this display of power, Lazarus orders Megatron to shut down. But as the two leave, Megatron’s eyes start glowing again and you can tell that Megatron is plotting to kill Lazarus first chance he can.

We are now in the desert as any sort of continuity for the issue is out the window for the issue. Anyway, the General talks about how Lazarus is evil and being Megatron’s South American rampage and that he’s got control over a slew of Transformers. But the US Military has a back-up plan to deal with Lazarus and his band of Transformers: Optimus Prime…

The issue ends abruptly with this reveal as we then get a two page version of the article Spike was reading earlier about the “1999 Ark Explosion”. Written as a filler piece to explain the backstory of the mini-series (which was originally intended to take place in-between the twenty year gap of Transformers seasons two and the TF Movie).

In 1998 the United Nations voted to force the Autobots into aiding them in “Operation Liberty”, a multi-nation attack on the Decepticons to bring an end to the war between the two sides. The battle ended only when a brave Canadian pilot sacrificed his life by way of him crashing his fighter jet into the Decepticon’s base, which threw the Decepticons off-balance and allowed for the Autobots and their human allies to capture all of the Earth-based Decepticons. After the victory, the Decepticons were loading into a new Autobot spaceship (called “The Ark II”) and along with a skeletal crew of humans left for Cybertron. Unfortunately the Ark II exploded and “killed” all of the Transformers and their human crew, which included Spike’s father “Sparkplugg” Witwicky.

OK a really, really bad issue to start the series as Dreamwave stumbles from the get-go with this awful issue. Too much focus on human characters and too little of the Transformers. One of the biggest problems with the handling of the Transformers franchise over the years is the fact that many people believe that fans of the series don’t relate to the actual Transformers and must have human characters to be given the bulk of the attention. This isn’t true in the least bit and if anything it is an insult to the fans of the franchise, depriving them of actually seeing the Transformers and giving too much focus on one-dimensional human characters no one cares about.

This goes to the main problem with this mini-series as the Transformers are cast into the background while the human characters are rammed down the reader’s throats. Indeed, the entire issue situates the entire Transformers as lobotomized pawns of the humans and their schemes and dreams.

Further complicating things is the haphazard nature of the writing as we are shown Spike being in two different places. Not to mention the extremely clichéd backstory for the mini-series, which creates confusion for those wondering which if any of the existing Transformers continuities Dreamwave is using as the basis of their franchise.