A fireball smashes into Kansas and a strange monolith rises out of the ground. Meanwhile in Autobase, Sparkplug has become disillusioned with Prime and co. Elsewhere, the Street Team rescue the three kids from the bullies, Fred and Billy, but suddenly start acting weird and becoming unresponsive - putting the kids lives at risk in rush-hour traffic in doing so. Also in Decepticon HQ their Mini-Cons have rebelled and run away. It turns out all Earthbound Mini-Cons have been drawn to the strange monolith and whilst the 'cons and 'bots fight it out over them once again, all the Mini-Cons, pursued by Rad, enter the monolith, which then blasts off into space!
Tranquility, Kansas, Lincoln, South Dakota, Silver Ridge, Nebraska
The issue starts off with a large, mechanical tower arriving from outer space in a cornfield. It releases some gadgets onto the ground, which form a forcefield around the tower. A panel opens, revealing a satellite dish-type transmitting device. Some ominous sci-fi music would be good here.
Switching scenery to Autobase, we find Sparkplug in a huff. Again. Longarm comments that the 'chat' with Prime didn't go well, which gets an angry agreement from Sparkplug. While Longarm repairs a Jolt-driven hovercraft, he and Sparkplug discuss the perceived lack of respect from the Autobots and come to the agreement that they are somewhat 'second class.'
We are then subjected to the damn kids getting out of school. The two bullies from issue 3 show up and start to cause the obligatory amount of trouble. The scene is interrupted by the arrival of Highwire, Sureshock and Grindor, who whisk the kids away from the scene. Why they would want to is beyond logic.
Checking in on Decepticon HQ, we find Cyclonus getting the Mini-Cons ready for 'Lockdown.' There is a slight problem however, as the Mini-Cons aren't there. Cyclonus presses a security alert, but finds that the Mini-Cons have left a goodbye present in the form of rigging the security systems to view Cyclonus as an enemy, thus he gets bombarded with lasers. The little guys certainly know how to deal with problems.
Speaking of problems, we then get back to the kids, who have taken a burger break. When they start to head for home, their Mini-Con transportation goes a bit wonky, and they stop responding to the kids (don't blame 'em), and start moving into oncoming traffic. Rad then gets hit by a car. Kidding (damn).
Getting back to Megatron's mines of fun, the Decepticon leader is being informed of the Mini-Con escape. Cyclonus is okay, since the T-beams used were set for Mini-Cons. The Decepticon leader is a bit perplexed, since the escapees are 'tagged' and can easily be tracked anyway. He orders Starscream to follow, but not to engage, sensing that something is up.
Meanwhile, Optimus Prime is dealing with Mini-Con disappearances of his own. Red Alert suggests that they probably left to 'cool off' after the argument Prime had with Sparkplug, causing the Autobot leader to chew on perceived Mini-Con unpredictability.
We then get back to that land of Superman and tornadoes, Kansas. A large group of Mini-Cons (presumably all the Earth-based ones) have gathered around the tower, with the kids in tow. Megatron then arrives and orders the Decepticons to "begin the harvest." 'Cause they're in a cornfield, see? Get it?
Rad activates a distress signal located in Sparkplug's arm. The Decepticon efforts are put to a halt by the tower, which is equipped with defensive weaponry. Megatron transforms to his tank mode, fires his cannon, and briefly brings the shield down. It pops right back up, and the Decepticons start firing. The Autobots then arrive and engage the Decepticons, while the Mini-Cons start marching into the tower. Rad, ever the impulsive idiot, follows them and gets stuck inside right as the tower blasts off, closing the issue with these questions: What just happened to the Mini-Cons? And will we finally get rid of one of the kids?
Okay, something is definitely happening here. Furman starts off this new story arc nicely, keeping it flowing quickly and providing an interesting hook. The only flaws this issue sports are the almost-too-easy escape for the Decepticon Mini-Cons, and the kids. With the former, it's not too bad, considering that the Mini-Cons would have taken the time to know the base inside and out and the 'tags' would have nixed any escape anyway. Besides, Decepticon security is so crappy, one comes to expect much.
Megatron himself has some good dialogue, with lines like: "Oh, this is just too perfect. All these Mini-Cons, all in one place. Ripe for the picking." You can almost hear his cartoon voice actor, David Kaye. The kids are annoying, and still serve no point, but they aren't as grating as previous issues. The brief spotlight on the argument between Optimus and Sparkplug is easily the best thing about the issue and I wish we could have seen more of it. Plus, this issue has one of Armada's better cliffhangers so far.
Guidi makes his debut on Armada sporting a cartoon-esque style. While he needs to work on his storytelling, everything else is very decent.
Optimus Prime seems to be having insubordination problems. He clearly came down somewhat hard on Sparkplug for disobeying orders and it's hard to blame him. Prime clearly expects the chain of command to be followed and doesn't take to his troops disobeying direct orders, even if it is for a good reason. He admits that he may have gone a bit overboard, and he's a bit mystified when it comes to Mini-Con behaviour and also seems a bit weary of Megatron's schemes.
Megatron shows a little bit of his calm side this issue. Instead of simply hauling the escaped Mini-Cons back to base, he waits and watches where they are going. He's still confidant and doesn't give the tower much thought until it opens fire. Even then, he's not too worried.
Red Alert seems rather sympathetic to the Mini-Cons, implying that Prime overreacted when the Autobot leader reprimanded Sparkplug.
Starscream shows a bit of his sadistic side, offering to hunt the escaped Mini-Cons down, but not to hurt them... much.
Cyclonus isn't that bright, since he forgot the override code to the internal security.
Sparkplug continues to show the authority problems he had in issue 6. He views his break-in as justifiable, or at least a minor breach of orders and when Prime comes down on him, he gets angry enough to shout "I quit!" He still believes the Autobots only view the Mini-Cons as a means to an end. He also seems a bit homesick for Cybertron. He may also have some articulation problems: "I tried to explain....it just came out wrong."
Longarm shares Sparkplug's opinion of the Autobots. He calls the large Transformers "Worlds apart" from the Mini-Cons. He admits that the Autobots have been welcoming so far, but is frustrated like Sparkplug. He's also something of a mechanic.
Highwire, Sureshock and Grindor are apparently very protective of the kids. Lord knows why. Highwire almost injures one of the bullies before being stopped. He seems a bit naive as to human behaviour. He states that "friends help friends."
The bullies are, well, bullies. Obnoxious and rude, they need to be stepped on.
The damn kids were their usual selves. Rad is overdramatic with his friends, but is upset when Highwire 'saves' him from one of the bullies. He's also foolhardy enough to run into the tower, which is ironic since earlier he was proclaiming that he lived "each day as if it were my last on Earth." Alexis wants to focus on her grades and Carlos gets ready to help Rad during the school fight.
The tower (sent by the Destruction Team - more on them next issue) is equipped with a forcefield, defensive weaponry and Mini-Con mind-control via a satellite dish.
The bullies have had their names changed from Sid and Seth (issue 3) to Fred and Billy, bringing them in line with the cartoon.
The Decepticon Mini-Cons are subjected to 'lockdown' drills, which require them to get back in their cages.
The small statue Sparkplug hits after his argument with Prime is a figure holding Cybertron on his back, Atlas style. It looks vaguely Metroplex-ish and may be a historial figure, or a mythological one.
Autobase is filled with plenty of storage space and stored equipment, including a small array of missiles. It also has some Mini-Con specific hovercraft lying (floating?) around, which can go very fast. It also has security logs, which is how Red Alert knew the Mini-Cons checked out at 16:05 hours.
In the Decepticon Mini-Con holding area, a shield similar to the type Hot Rod had in the movie can be seen. This area is also packed with plenty of cages. The internal security, or 'T-beams' is a rather large array of lasers that can be set to stun and/or kill Mini-Cons, should the need arise. They can also put a dent in Decepticons (as Cyclonus will attest once out of intensive care) since the T-beams trigger-eyes and sequences were reset.
The fact that the mind controlled Mini-Cons triggered the T-Beams must mean either they'd been planning an escape anyway, or whilst under control could still orchestrate and organise an escape themselves.
The Decepticon Mini-Cons are 'tagged' with transmitters that allow the Decepticons to keep tabs on them.
Rad contacts the Autobots via a panel on Sparkplug's arm, which has an Autobot insignia on it.
In the street scene with the Mini-Cons, a few G1 Autobots can be seen, including Optimus Prime, Ratchet, Trailbreaker and Brawn.
"So, Megatron, you want me to hunt 'em down? I won't hurt 'em... much." Starscream.
"Whatever that thing is, it's collecting Mini-Cons like they were, I dunno, action figures!" Carlos. One gets the sneaking suspicion Furman is having a joke with us.
"But what about the probes?!" Rad.
Tranquility gets misidentified as Lincoln in one page.