The Autobots are busy constructing a huge shield generator for Earth, as chief engineer Ironhide oversees the project. Ironhide and Cliffjumper then head off to check up on another project when Tidal Wave appears and ambushes the two! Cliffjumper is knocked out and Ironhide is forced to confront his POW past during the Autobot/Decepticon war. Tidal Wave then forces Ironhide to reveal the location of Megatron's seismic doomsday warheads. Ironhide does so, but it turns out that Ironhide had sabotage the warheads, rendering them useless! The two fight, Tidal Wave flees and Ironhide finds out what it means to be an Autobot.

Issue
024
Writer
Simon Furman
Pencils
James Raiz
Inks
Rob Armstrong
Colours
Jong-Im Lee / Josh Perez / Elliot Kravchik
Release date
01/06/2004
Autobots featured
Ironhide, Jetfire, Rodimus, Cliffjumper, Landmine
Decepticons featured
Tidal Wave
Humans featured
Origin of
Death of
First appearance
Cliffjumper, Landmine
Locations featured
The Badlands, Cybertron
Story synopsis
After the Decepticon attack on Earth, Optimus Prime has ordered the construction of a planetary shield for the humans. Overseeing this project is the engineering genius and Autobot rookie Ironhide. However, Ironhide seems to be distracted by memories of the past until Landmine snaps him out of his reverie. Jetfire then approaches asking for a status report on the project and he tells Ironhide not to let Optimus Prime down. Jetfire then flies off to get resources and funding from regional Cybertronian governors. As Jetfire flies away, we pan out and see Tidal Wave watching Ironhide from afar.

Some time passes, and we see Ironhide and Cliffjumper heading out to the smelting plant. However to do so, they need to pass through The Badlands, an area heavily scarred by the Autobot/Decepticon war. Ironhide is still fearful of the area and Cliffjumper is there to provide both military back up and emotional support. We also learn that Ironhide had once been a prisoner of the Decepticons for some time.

As the two travel a portal opens in front of them and out pops Tidal Wave! The Decepticon blasts Cliffjumper, causing the Autobot to fall off a cliffside and knocking him out. Ironhide tries to fight back, but Tidal Wave laughs off the damage and calmly informs Ironhide that, “I own you, body and spark. The war may be over, but you never stopped being my prisoner…”

Tidal Wave then tells Ironhide that he is to assist the Decepticons in retrieving a Seismic-Shock warhead, a warhead Ironhide once built for the ‘cons! When Ironhide initially refuses, Tidal Wave reminds the Autobot that when he tried that before, as a prisoner during the war, innocents died! Not wishing to have Cliffjumper fall prey to Tidal Wave, Ironhide has no choice but to aid Tidal Wave in finding the weapon.

Back at the main shield construction site, Jetfire is looking for Ironhide, but no one seems to have any idea where he is. Jetfire, clearly worried, sets off in search of the Autobot, but as he does so, he flies right over the damaged Cliffjumper without noticing him…

Meanwhile, Ironhide and Tidal Wave have reached an abandoned spaceport where the warhead is buried. We find out that Ironhide was forced to create these weapons as Megatron’s 'no-win option' should the war turn out to be a defeat for the Decepticons. Ironhide then asks why the Decepticons want the warhead now, clearly confused as to why they would want to use the weapon on Cybertron. Tidal Wave calmly informs Ironhide that the weapon is to be used on Earth, which will result in massive geological damage, but simultaneously exposing Earth’s Energon for the taking. Ironhide wants to resist Tidal Wave, but the Decepticon merely mentions possibly destroying a nearby Mini-Con village and Ironhide is once again forced to work with Tidal Wave.

Ironhide activates a harmonic key and sets it to repeat, in order to bring the weapon out of its silo in the ground. Up in the air, Jetfire picks up the harmonic signal which leads him to Cliffjumper. Jetfire orders Rodimus to bring a squad to rescue Cliffjumper, while he goes after Ironhide.

At the doomsday weapon, Ironhide accesses the control panel, making it seem like he is going to take the warhead out of the silo casing, but instead Ironhide arms the device! Tidal Wave looks in horror as the weapon starts to charge up and explode, and openly wonders what Ironhide has done, to which the Autobot replies that with nothing to lose, he has nothing to fear from Tidal Wave!

Ironhide manages to get the jump on Tidal Wave and starts punching away at the Decepticon. He tells him that he’s no longer, “the scared little civilian you coerced and brutalised; I’m an Autobot!” Tidal Wave clearly not liking where things are going, powerfully shoves Ironhide off him, activates his portal to Unicron, and escapes to safety.

At that point, Jetfire arrives just as the warhead seems to be powering down! Noticing the remains of the warhead and the battle damage incurred by Ironhide, Jetfire notes that they need to talk.

Later at Autobase, Ironhide tells Jetfire that when he was a prisoner he did make the devices, but he also made the casings for the weapons. In doing so he had designed the casings to dissipate the energies of the seismic wave harmlessly, while still looking as if the warhead was going to explode, in order to fool the Decepticons. Ironhide never told any Autobot about the devices because of the shame he felt in aiding the ‘cons, but now, as an Autobot himself, he’s ready to face the music. Jetfire congratulates Ironhide on finally acting like an Autobot and all is well.
Remarks
Finally. An issue of Energon that gives us great hope for future issues. There are many things to like about this issue. Let’s start at the top.

Firstly, this is the first Dreamwave Transformers issue of any kind to be a stand alone issue in a very long while. Every Transformers story to date has been either a 2-parter, 4-issue storyline or a 6-issue mini-series. It’s nice to get an issue that is resolved after the 22 pages are through. Not only does doing so avoid the problem of having too little plot over too many issues, as was the case with G1 Volume 1, it also serves as a great issue to give someone to introduce them to Transformers comics, without forcing them to read 4 to 6 other issues. That’s not to say it doesn’t advance Energon’s overall plot, rather it does so much in the same way Beast Wars had stand alone episodes that still advanced the overall storyline. For instance we learn that Ironhide is overseeing creation of a shield generator for Earth, and that Jetfire is gathering the resources necessary for the endeavour.

Secondly, the dialogue for everyone is great and Furman gets some excellent characterisation out of Ironhide and Tidal Wave. Tidal Wave comes off very well as the sadistic brute, while Ironhide progresses from a weak-willed individual to one willing to fight back. When Ironhide screams back at Tidal Wave while pummelling him with punches, it stands as a genuinely great moment to cheer on the little guy. I personally wanted to start a “Rudy” chant when Ironhide started fighting back against his clearly superior foe.

Thirdly, Raiz showcases why he should be on Energon art duties full time. His art is crisp, shows action very well and he draws one badass Tidal Wave. He even makes Ironhide look cool, which, given Ironhide’s ridiculous looking upper torso, is a tough task. The action scenes are lots of fun, and the leading protagonists nicely detailed and vibrant.

Fourthly, the Mini-Cons return! Admittedly there are only two of them, but at least Furman hasn’t forgotten about them! Here’s hoping they play a larger role in the future.

My only complaint, and it is a small one, concerns the introduction of Rodimus, Cliffjumper and Landmine. They simply appear, mumble some words, and are shuffled off stage left. Although it would have been nice to get some information on them, at the same time one realises that in doing so, Ironhide and Tidal Wave’s storyline would have suffered.
Character development
Tidal Wave and Ironhide’s relationship goes back a long way, when Tidal Wave was the captor and Ironhide the captive. Upon the Decepticon's return after all these years, their dynamic continues where it left off, with Tidal Wave threatening innocents to make the Autobot do his bidding (Ironhide accedes to Tidal Wave’s new demands when his comrade Cliffjumper and later a Mini-Con settlement is threatened).

However, Ironhide is now a changed Transformer and subsequently tricks Tidal Wave by telling him he’s activated the doomsday weapon. As he says to Tidal Wave, whilst punching away at him, “I’m not the scared little civilian you coerced and brutalised… I’m an Autobot!” He's matured into the role - where once he would have acquiesced to Tidal Wave, now he fights back, and although he’s outmatched, he fights anyway, in the true style of an Autobot. He was once a civilian scientist forced to construct powerful doomsday weapons for Megatron. However, even though he was scared back then, he had the foresight to design the warhead casings to harmlessly dissipate the energies of the blast.

Ironhide starts the issue showing a habit of daydreaming while at work. But it seems more likely that he is haunted by his past, and it weighs heavily on him. The Badlands also bring back bad memories amd, “still send contra-pulses up my primary strut.” The work he did for the Decepticons (against his will) is obviously his guilty secret. He’s happy to put the shame and fear finally behind him at the end of the story, saying, “It’s time to put the whole sorry affair out of the shadows and face up to the consequences.” When Jetfire tells him that he sounds like an Autobot, Ironhide beams with pride.

Ironhide also tends to blabber on about engineering details, similar in style to Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Tidal Wave is manipulative, cruel and extremely condescending. He was apparently Ironhide’s overseer during his imprisonment, and abused the poor civilian into doing whatever the Decepticon’s wanted. He also shows that he is perfectly willing to kill innocents in order to get Ironhide to do what Megatron wants: “Every time you nobly said no, every time you dauntlessly defied my will… someone died!” He ultimately gets fooled by Ironhide’s bluff, and runs away to save himself.

Jetfire has a no nonsense approach to following Optimus’ orders. When Ironhide tells Jetfire of the difficulties in constructing the generator, Jetfire simply tells Ironhide to get it done and not let Optimus down. He also doesn’t like listening to Ironhide’s techno-babble. He seems to be a good mediator, and has gone to some lengths, “sweet talking local and regional governers, trying to get the necessary resources and funding.”

He seems to know Ironhide quite well (being his combining partner probably has something to do with it), and when Ironhide doesn’t show on time Jetfire knows something’s wrong. He immediately goes off to search, though he does mutter something about youngsters always getting themselves into trouble. He seems proud of Ironhide at the story’s close when the younger Autobot admits to his past.

We don’t see Optimus Prime, but apparently he’s put a lot of faith in Ironhide.
Trivia
Time is measured in Cycles (Sub-Cycles, Mega-Cycles), identical to Beast Wars.

As has been mentioned before, the Autobots are not merely a faction of Transformers dedicated to an ideal, they happen to be the military/police branch of the civilian Cybertronian populace. Although in the Marvel comics, numerous Transformers were created as Autobots, here one is simply a neutral and must decide to become an Autobot. Ironhide mentions how he was sworn in as a peacekeeping officer.

Tidal Wave is able to use a remote control device of some sort to activate and use space bridge portals to travel around at will.

Transformers have olfactory modules.

Large scale engineering is Ironhide’s forte.

The Autobots are constructing a planetary shield array, and are making base units for transport to Earth. Apparently Ironhide’s task includes making sure, “each of the five base stanchions… support six million G-Loads per cubic kig. We’ve had to reinforce the primary exo-struts with a compacted polymer skin.” Come again?

The Badlands are unclaimed old war zones.

Ironhide was held captive by the Decepticons for over 50 Mega-Cycles.

The Doomsday bunkers with the seismic-shock warhead need excavating to be reached. They were designed and built by Ironhide (under duress). They’re powerful enough to tear Cybertron apart (Megatron’s ‘no-win’ option) and wouldn’t do Earth much good either: “the mantle will split… tectonic plates will smash into one another. Continents will fall, seas will rise.” The molten remains would leave the Energon there for the taking. However, Ironhide built them with shock-absorbers, or as he describes, “an echo cavity, a tritanium-lined resonant space, the shockwaves are counter-polarised by charged ions and bounced back to source. The warhead is subatomically pulverised and thereby rendered safe.”

Cybertron has solar wind (heh).

Transformers can be tracked by their resonant spark echo.

Autobot bases use a data log to record when people check out of base (these were also used in Armada).
Good quotes
“It’s your past squirt, come back to haunt you!” Tidal Wave.

Ironhide – “Why can’t you leave me alone?”
Tidal Wave – “Because I own you. Body and spark. The war may be over, but you never stopped being my prisoner.”

Ironhide – “I-I…”
Tidal Wave – “What? Won’t? Can’t? You tried that before, remember? And every time you nobly said no, every time you dauntlessly defied my will…someone died!”

“You made a mistake, Tidal Wave, a critical error! I’m not the scared little civilian you coerced and brutalized… I’m an Autobot!” Ironhide.

“What’s it to be this time? Defiance… or compliance?” Tidal Wave.
Bad quotes
Mistakes
Page 21, panel 1 – the text is mistakenly attributed to Tidal Wave instead of Ironhide.
Story rating
7 star
Art rating
7 star
Media
Reviewed by
Computron

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