Starscream has trashed the Earth-based Autobots, with the help of Bruticus, though Ratchet and Brawn have slipped the net. On Cybertron, Runabout and Runamuck get flattened by Sunstorm, a mysterious new Transformer who they come across in Shockwave's lab. Sunstorm then blasts off in Earth's direction. Bumblebee and a crew of 'bots are also headed that way, and get contacted by Ratchet and Brawn at the Ark. Bruticus catches up with the two 'bots, but they set the Ark for self-destruct, and escape. It blows up, and then Sunstorm turns up.
Issue
Vol 3 001
Writer
Brad Mick
Pencils
Don Figueroa
Inks
Elaine To
Colours
Espen Grundetjern / Rob Ruffolo
Release date
01/01/2004
Autobots featured
Bumblebee, Bumper, Cliffjumper, Cosmos, Powerglide, Jazz, Wheeljack, Ratchet, Brawn, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Windcharger, Seaspray, Stepper, Twincast
Decepticons featured
Starscream, Bruticus, Onslaught, Swindle, Runabout, Runamuck, Soundwave, Thundercracker, Skywarp, Rumble, Soundblaster
Humans featured
Sunstorm
Origin of
Death of
First appearance
Bumper, Sunstorm, Stepper, Twincast, Soundblaster
Locations featured
Oregon, Earth, The Orion, and Cybertron
Story synopsis
"My fellow Decepticons, feast your eyes on your new leader!" With those words, Brad Mick has the task of leading off the new Ongoing Dreamwave Generation 1 Comic! The location is Earth, near the Ark, where Starscream is having delusions of grandeur that are rudely interrupted when Bruticus approaches bearing a gift of sorts - the captured Autobot, Jazz! Jazz tries to verbally spar with Starscream, but the would-be leader will have none of it, and smugly orders Bruticus to deactivate him. However, his pleasure is short-lived as Starscream notices that not all the Autobots are accounted for! Ratchet and Brawn have managed to escape towards the Ark in the hopes of preventing the Decepticons from capturing it!

Racing at top speed, the two Autobots head towards their Earth HQ in the hopes of destroying it, rather than letting it fall into the hands of Starscream and Bruticus. However, the Ark's defensive systems have gone haywire and the IFF system (Identify Friend or Foe) is no longer functioning! Risking everything, the two decide to try and speed past the blockade of defensive weaponary. While Ratchet makes it through, Brawn finds himself pinned down at point-blank range by the gun-turret! The turrets are based on thermal and motion detection target acquisition devices, and Brawn has little time left before the turrets fire!

Back on Cybertron, deep within Shockwave's fortress, the Decepticons Runamuck and Runabout are searching for a CR chamber to use in order to repair and recharge themselves. Killing what little opposition they face entering the structure, Runamuck goes off in search of other survivors that Shockwave may have left down in the depths. Entering a room full of stasis pods, Runamuck is drawn towards the golden light emanating from the last stasis pod in the room. Upon wiping away the dust and condensation from the chamber, an arm breaks through the glass, grabs Runamuck's neck and crushes it.

In the meantime Runabout has been searching through Shockwave's files when he suddenly feels very weak. He turns to see the now fiery form of Sunstorm approaching him, and yet is powerless to stop him. Sunstorm merely touches Runabout, and the Decepticon is deactivated. Sunstorm then accesses Shockwave's files and in an explosive burst of light, rockets off into space.

On Earth, Starscream and Bruticus have trailed Ratchet and Brawn to the Ark where Starscream gives a simple order to the Combaticons: capture the Autobots and the Ark!

Inside the Ark, Brawn and Ratchet head deep inside while removing thermal dampening foam from Brawn's exterior. Ratchet, in a quick thinking manoeuvre, had used the foam to allow Brawn time to survive while he disabled the motion sensors. As the two head deep inside, they notice that the Decepticons they had captured earlier (Soundwave, Thundercracker, Skywarp and Rumble) are still in their holding cell.

However, their reverie is cut short as Bruticus continues his assault on the Ark itself! Ratchet orders Brawn to radio a warning to the other Autobots while he uploads footage of the attack in the hopes of someone being able to stop Bruticus. Bruticus has other ideas, as he effortlessly breaks through the Ark's thick armour plating and frees the captured Decepticons within.

Meanwhile, on the Autobot Supply Ship Orion, Bumblebee is commanding a crew of Minibots on a resupply mission to the Ark, when Brawn's distress call comes in. Brawn informs the crew that a few Decepticons had attacked earlier in the day, but had been easily captured. However, it was all a trap, for as soon as their guard was distracted, Starscream and Bruticus had moved in, capturing everyone except Brawn and Ratchet! The signal then cuts out, and Bumblebee immediately orders the hyperthrusters to come online in order to save the Autobots on Earth before it's too late!

On Earth, Ratchet and Brawn are fighting a desperate battle against Bruticus while they attempt to set the self-destruct on Teletran-1. Brawn buys them the time they need by throwing a huge chunk of the Ark's armour plating at Bruticus' head, heavily damaging the combiner. The two then escape out a rear door in the Ark, just as the entire ship erupts in flame and explosions! However, their victory is short-lived as Starscream immediately shoots the both of them with his null ray, disabling them. Bruticus, having suffered immense damage in the ark explosion, then literally falls apart at the seams, as the beast reverts to its individual Combaticon forms.

The Orion then exits transwarp just in time for a huge golden beam of light to pass them on the way to Earth! Unbeknownst to them, Sunstorm has decided that Earth will be the beginning of his crusade!
Remarks
Brad Mick has a lot riding on his shoulders for this new Ongoing. Not only does he have to write with the knowledge that many Transfans will be comparing his work to the original Marvel ongoing and the Generation 2 series, he also has to deal with making sure a repeat of Dreamwave's Generation 1 Volume 1 series does not occur. To avoid such a fate, while living up to the desires of the fandom, is no doubt a tricky load to bear. While he's had Volume 2 to practice, the Ongoing will be the first real test of his abilities.

To this end Mick does his job, however there are of course problems. First the good. Characterisation is effectively spot on. Starscream, Bumblebee, Brawn and Ratchet all act like you would expect them to act. For instance, Ratchet, ever the guardian of all forms of life, shows concern for the Decepticon captives and the Ark, while Brawn couldn't care less. Secondly the absence of Optimus Prime and Megatron is a huge plus. Without the two, we get a comic that focuses on the other, just as interesting, characters in the Transformers universe. Finally the addition of Sunstorm is interesting and more importantly makes the reader want to see what is going to happen.

So, to the problems. Firstly the continuity errors. At the end of Dreamwave's Generation 1 Volume 2, Starscream was escaping Cybertron in a shuttle... however that shuttle happened to be Sky Lynx! We didn't find out his fate either last issue, or this issue - of course Mick is deliberately saving that story for a later occasion, but dragging it out proves annoying, whilst also making the reader wonder if they'll ever know, or if he's forgotten about it completely (we eventually find out next issue, though that still doesn't eliminate the rather jarring sense that hits the reader when Sky Lynx is so noticeably absent from the storyline).

Secondly, and of equal trouble is the 'Hammer of Nostalgia.' Simply put Mick either works in fan references amazingly well, (for instance the character of Bumper based on the little known Minibot toy), while at the same time working in references that bludgeon the reader with blatant fan service. For instance, the clearest example in this issue is easily the opening scene with Starscream wearing the crown and gown from Transformers: the Movie, and even quoting the same lines. Another moment includes the 'Hall of Repaints' in the CR chambers. Some of the more obscure references have a real potential to confuse less hardcore fans - I'm willing to bet a lot of people were confused by the Diaclones since they look like Magnus, Soundwave and the like. Mick would do well to stick with the Bumper-style references.

Thirdly, Sunstorm. Character wise, the idea is fine. A Cybertronian zealot, almost an Anti-Beast Machines Optimus Primal, has good possibilities for the overall story. However, was it necessary to make him a Seeker jet clone? We already have Starscream getting a lot of screentime, and now his fellow Seekers are joining him. In addition we have the Seekers on Junk, with Megatron, who will vie for screentime in the future. With Sunstorm we'll have four to six Seekers each grabbing for attention by Mick. Although this problem pales in comparison to the other two previously mentioned, I wish that Mick had either had Figueroa design a new 'con, or simply used another mold.

On an aside, how exactly does Ratchet, a robot, forget the pin code for the Ark? Furthermore the stuff about the Ark's defences makes no sense - they have motion and and thermal trackers - so dousing Brawn's heat signature shouldn't make a difference. Its an ill thought through set up and another weakness on Mick's part. However, it is not a glaring critical weakness that torpedoes the storyline, thankfully.

Whilst Brawn's mask is a nice touch (to represent his toy mode) there seems to be no obvious reason for it. Don also did this for Bumblebee in the War Within series. In addition, the explosion of the Ark seems a bit... smallish, considering a giant alien starship just exploded.

Speaking of Figueroa, his art has only looked better once, and that was in the Armada Worlds Collide story arc. The atmosphere is perfect, the 'bots and 'cons are incredible, and the expression of emotion and attention to detail on every little bit of the comic is highly praiseworthy. There is virtually no room for complaint here. In addition Figueroa's drawings of Optimus Prime (on the cover) and Ratchet completely blow Pat Lee's illustrations out of the water.
Character development
Starscream - nothing new here. Delusions of grandeur, wants power, same old stuff really.

Ratchet is definitely combat capable, but unlike the others, he is always thinking of saving lives. Where Brawn was eager to leave the Ark, Ratchet could not help but think of the Decepticons left behind to potentially die.

Brawn is a soldier's soldier. Even when faced with going one on one with Bruticus, Brawn simply puts on his combat mask, and dishes out the pain. Courage and bravery are in steady supply here.

Bruticus is dumb as a rock and twice as ugly. Makes up for it with incredible durability, strength and a die hard conviction to follow Starscream's orders.

It's Bumblebee's first command, but he's still more than capable. Slightly unsure of himself, but his quick responses to the crew provide clear evidence that Bumblebee, despite his stature, is capable of command.

Sunstorm is a zealot. He's clearly convinced that the Oracle has spoken to him and given him a holy mission to complete. Whether this is the same Oracle from Beast Machines is unknown.
Trivia
The Ark is destroyed.

In the CR tanks we can see Diaclone Perceptor and Magnus. There is also Stepper (Japanese Target Master Jazz), Soundblaster (Japanese Soundwave recolour) and Twincast (Japensese Blaster repaint), all with their Japanese names at the bottom of the tanks.

This is Bumblebee's first time leading a real mission. He does so aboard the bridge of the Autobot supply vessel, the Orion.

The holding cell with energy bars may have a dampening field that keeps prisoners in stasis - hence the fact the 'cons seem to 'wake up' when Bruticus rips open the cell.

The Orion appears to be loosely based on Armada Jetfire's shuttle mode.

The crown on Starscream's head, and the gown he wears, are identical to those he wears in Transformers: the Movie. In addition, his dialogue is nearly the same as well.

'Slag' continues to be a strong epithet for the Cybertronians, as supported by Starscream's reactions to Jazz's insults (which reinforces just how badass the Dinobot Slag is).

Brawn has a Dreamwave comic, pink fuzzy dice and a personal communicator screen in his truck mode. Seriously.

This is actually the third time that Ratchet has kept the Ark out of Decepticon hands in Transformers history. The first time was in the early Marvel run, when Ratchet (with the assistance of the Dinobots) prevented Shockwave from keeping the Ark. The second time occurred late in the Marvel run when Ratchet purposely crashed the Ark into Canada in an effort to keep Shockwave, Galvatron, Starscream and Megatron from using the Ark to their own ends (there was also that time when he stopped Megatron blowing it up, but I digress...). Clearly this mere medic is more than meets the eye, a major reason for his popularity amongst comic fans.

The Ark Defense Grid uses thermal and motion tracking target acquisition devices. It also is ammunition based, rather than laser or energy based.

Brawn helped initially to set up some of the Ark's defensive weaponry.

Ratchet has thermal dampening foam.

The Ark's main computer is Teletran-1, like the cartoon.

Ratchet is able to quickly access Teletran-1 using small, highly dexterous, fingers that pop out of his hand. This is similar to Scrounge's fingers in the original Marvel run, and more recently Hotshot's in Armada issue 1.

Sunstorm is able to access the CR chamber computer by mere physical proximity alone.

Sunstorm is also capable of extraordinarily rapid interstellar travel.

Brawn uses a combat mask during his battle with Bruticus that looks a lot like his toy face.

The Orion is equipped with Hyperthrusters for Transwarp travel.

Bumper was a rare Minibot toy incorrectly packaged as Bumblebee and Cliffjumper back in 1984. Not to be confused with Bumblejumper, who was a miscoloured combination of the two toys.

Sunstorm was originally a special orange coloured e-hobby exclusive Decepticon Seeker toy. In addition he was featured in the Transformers 1984 cartoon during an episode in which the Autobots had to return to Cybertron to recover spare parts for Optimus Prime.

As Ratchet and Brawn escape the Ark, the doorway they escape through has the Maximal insignia on it! This signifies that Beast Wars does indeed exist in DW's G1 universe (in the cartoon, the Maximals used the Ark as a base in prehistoric times). Ratchet's reaction also suggests that he has no idea why that symbol happens to be there. However, surely by now some Autobot would have seen that doorway? Ratchet acts as if it is the first time they have ever seen it. On the other hand it was an emergency exit, so perhaps it is possible no one had noticed it. However, it is a nice addition and firmly grounds Beast Wars into Mick's continuity.
Good quotes
"Now come to the light - and embrace the peace of eternal rest." Sunstorm.
Bad quotes
"Oh cry me a river." Ratchet.
Mistakes
Story rating
6 star
Art rating
9 star
Media
Reviewed by
Computron

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