The Autobots are confused, especially Hot Shot. Megatron is confused and angry, Prime is confused and about to be eaten. The Autobots are trying to track down their Prime when the 'cons attack in full force. The 'bots fight back, but without Prime they're quickly beaten, and beaten hard! But as Megatron is revelling in his victory the mysterious assailant (read: G1's Galvatron) returns and confronts him!
David Cheung / Espen Grundetjern / Alan Wang / Stuart Ng / Susan Luo / Rob Ruffolo
Optimus Prime, Hot Shot, Red Alert, Jetfire, Blurr, Smokescreen, Scavenger
The fun starts with Decepticon HQ on Cybertron looking a bit like swiss cheese. The harbingers, Bludgeon, Thunderwing, Dirge and Scourge (minus Galvatron, who's busy giving Unicron that foot rub) have wiped out resistence and are preparing for stage two. Ooooh, foreboding!
Back on Earth, a rather roughed up Hot Shot is questioning Over-Run about Prime's location and is dissatisfied when Over-Run can't give an answer. Astroscope chimes in to say that Prime was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and he vanished due to the "clash of realities." Astroscope goes on to say that since they only have one temporal probe, it's going to take awhile to find Optimus in that vast ocean of realities. Hot Shot still isn't pleased and wants to know how they can get Prime back. Over-Run takes this moment to show his usefulness by announcing that the ship he used can get Optimus back when they find him. Slight problem though, because Red Alert informs the group that the 'Null-Reality Pod' wasn't where the Autobots left it.
Cue Megatron's playhouse, where we see the Decepticon leader a tad upset with Starscream and Cyclonus over their failure to retrieve Over-Run. It's so hard to find good underlings these days. Leader-1 shows up to announce some 'happy' news - he monitored the Autobots launching a probe into sub-space and decoded its mission parameters to find that it's looking for Optimus.
Speaking of that noble Autobot leader, we find him grilling Spinister for information about what has happened. He gets the usual ominous babbling required for all post-apocalyptic locales. The inquisition is brought to an end by the ground suddenly breaking apart and floating into the air. Hmmm, whatever could cause that?
Back on Cybertron (the Armada one), the space around the planet is starting to look like swiss cheese. Blurr informs Jetfire that space bridge events are pecking away at local space. Once he learns that Decepticon HQ is the emanating point, Jetfire decides to saddle up.
Meanwhile, the four harbingers have decided to take a trip to Earth. Y'know, to see the sights, eat the food, take some pictures before it gets eaten. And, of course, to find this dimension's Megatron. However, since he's just so horribly ugly, Bludgeon gets left behind to guard the portal and "Kill anything that approaches." Woo-hoo, Bludgeon on the warpath!
Once again returning to Autobase, some Mini-Cons are prepping a transport to take them to Silver Ridge. Hot Shot expresses concern, but Sparkplug is nonplussed, since the Decepticons still haven't learned to lock their screen door, even after how many break-ins? Shortly after the Mini-Cons leave, Megatron's playpals approach Autobase and just as Red Alert tries to calm Hot Shot the console in front of them explodes due to incoming fire.
Immediately aware that the Decepticons know Prime is missing, Red Alert, Smokescreen and Scavenger head out to show some opposition while Hot Shot, Sky Blast, Payload and Jolt stay behind to secure the fort. Megatron is having a jolly good time and Demolishor runs Smokescreen and Scavenger off a cliffside. Smokescreen has the very bad luck of landing at the wrong end of Megatron's cannon. Red Alert is now the only one defending the base, but is quickly removed by Starscream. The aerial Decepticon is prevented from going into the base by Megatron, who wants the final privilege all to himself.
Over at Silver Ridge, the Mini-Cons have entered the Decepticon base to find it deserted. Not for long, since three certain harbingers have just arrived via space bridge.
Getting back to Autobase, Hot Shot and Jolt go out to provide one last modicum of resistance, but Sky Blast and Payload soon hear a rather ominous 'KA-CHOW!' With the base in the palm of his hand, Megatron briefly ponders what Hot Shot was guarding but is interrupted by some odd transmissions from his soldiers. It seems someone is taking them out one by one. Someone Starscream recognizes. Rather frustrated, Megatron goes to find out what's happening and finds none other than Galvatron! Place your bets now! 3-1 in favour of the spawn of Unicron!
Things really start to pick up speed with this one. While it's a bit odd that the Autobots wait to pick up Over-Run's pod, and Scavenger's defeat is rather pathetic (the cliff isn't that high), the issue still shines - everything else is just right.
Megatron's attack on the base is well-crafted (aside from the bit with Scavenger) and Hot Shot's last stand is very well done. The off-panel encounter and the overheard 'KA-CHOW' is just so fun.
Of course, the fight next issue is what we all want to see and the cliffhanger this issue would have been very effective, if the monkeys at Dreamwave hadn't messed up a word balloon. Still, just a very good issue and one of the best to come from Armada.
And all bow down to Don Figueroa! His Megatron conquers all! His last page is drool worthy! Though I'm not sure about his High Wire, who is drawn with a wheel instead of legs.
Optimus Prime finds the idea that one being could destroy Cybertron unbelievable. He, of course, is spoiling for a fight.
Megatron toys a little with Starscream and Cyclonus before insulting them and losing his top, calling them, "incompetant, brainless wastes of space!" Once he realises Prime is missing, he seizes the opportunity and actually manages to capture Autobase. He, rather smugly, goes in to savour victory and eliminate the last bit of resistance, and orders the other Decepticons to stay out. Once inside, he senses that the Autobots are protecting something. He approaches Galvatron at the end with a kind of frustrated curiosity.
Hot Shot does not find the idea of wading through this business with alternate realities very fun. He gets a bit frustrated with Over-Run at the beginning and says "This parallel, quantum, alternate reality hoo-hah cranks my shaft!" Later, he worries a bit about the Mini-Cons going into Silver Ridge and immediately recognises the reason behind the Decepticon attack. He hangs back to defend the probe, but his last stand is rather pathetic.
Over-Run is at a loss as to Prime's location and is rather bland when speaking with Hot Shot. He pipes in with a solution for transporting Optimus, though.
The harbingers are confined to some one-liners this issue, and its basically a lot of vague references to a plan as well as a trip to Earth, but Scourge seems to be in charge in Galvatron's absence. You could easily see them saying "yes", "indeed", "yes", "indeed" over and over again. Galvatron doesn't appear much, but he easily takes out the Decepticons off-panel.
Astroscope continues to be the go-to guy for information on all things pertaining to alternate realities. He also pilots the hovercraft.
Sparkplug is rather nonchalant about getting into Silver Ridge, mainly because it has been done before.
Red Alert tries to ease Hot Shot's nerves about the Mini-Con mission to Silver Ridge and when the Decepticons attack he gets right to work on the automated defenses, for all the good it does. He is the last of the outside defenders to fall.
Jetfire is ready to charge into Decepticon HQ when he learns of the space bridge activity there.
Spinister has gone off the deep end and has no hope for survival, which is a departure from his take-no-crap portrayal at Marvel.
Decepticon HQ on Cybertron is home to the Nexus, which controls space bridges and can punch holes in space.
Alternate realities found: 1567 at the beginning of the issue, 1,656,901 by the end.
The Null-Reality Pod Over-Run uses is designed to bridge the dimensional wall and can give Optimus the power to come back. It also has a locator beacon and can be used to teleport to any spatial coordinates once they are uploaded from the probe. A temporal probe is used to locate Prime amid the various alternate realities.
Autobase: Earth has automated defenses.
After being used as target practice by Megatron, Smokescreen spends the rest of the Armada run deactivated.
Megatron has a Mini-Con sized conveyor belt set-up with a buzzsaw and laser torch.
Astroscope mentions smelting pools. The smelting pools were introduced in Marvel's 'Return to Cybertron' saga, being a way of melting down prisoners into usable material.
The Decepticon base can monitor when the Autobots have launched a probe into sub-space, which Leader-1 can then decode.
Unicron's nicknames: Lord of Eternal Night, Prince of Nothingness. He's a hit at parties.
Astroscope can detect spark traces and he has a chair attached to the ceiling of Autobase with a monitor for observing the probe's findings.
Leader-1 has a hovercraft for eye-level contact with Megatron.
A hangar at Autobase goes right out of the cliffside.
"Every dark deed, the sum of our fears. Our sins remembered, final judgement pronounced, the heavens opened... and we reaped, I say, reaped the whirlwind!" Spinister.
"Yes! Good! Give me everything you've got, it won't be enough! Not this time. Not without Prime!" Megatron on the warpath.
"So it ends. With both a whimper... and a bang!" Megatron eliminating Smokescreen.
"What NOW? Really! Can't I leave you alone for a... moment? Hn. And who exactly... are YOU?" Megatron, meeting Galvatron.
At the end, one of Megatron's word balloons gets printed twice.