The deadly treachery of Zartan has struck and the Joes suffer a greivous defeat that they may not recover from. Meanwhile, Rumble continues to play havoc with the ambushed Autobot/Joe forces, until the bravery of a small yellow Autobot, and a fiery red-haired woman arrive to do battle with the evil Decepticon - sexual tension not withstanding, Bumblebee and Scarlett make a good team it seems. Kinky. Meanwhile, due to Flint's ominous capture by Soundwave, Beach Head takes command of his team and continues their trek towards an airfield radio control tower... only to encounter Frenzy, who is understandly annoyed at the fleshies. Violence ensues as Beach Head fights off the cassette. But all these heroics could be for naught should the mighty Bruticus, spawn of Starscream and Destro's evil minds, be awakened... Oh that sneaky Starscream. Won't he ever learn?
We begin right where we left off, as Breaker has been killed and now impersonated by the Cobra psychotic, Zartan. However, despite Zartan’s attempts at information gathering, Flint quickly realises something is wrong when he notices that Breaker’s radio isn’t the same one he had earlier. Flint then grabs Zartan and the two fight when suddenly the radio transforms into Soundwave! The giant Decepticon grabs Flint, Zartan hops aboard and they take off for the Terrordrome.
Meanwhile, Flint’s team now needs to find a radio in order to call in the rest of the Allied fleet and as such approach a nearby airfield’s control tower and Anti-Air Artillery emplacements.
Back with the other group of Joes, Rumble is causing all sorts of damage to the Autobots as he tears up the ground around them with his pile drivers. Scarlett and Bumblebee join forces, with Scarlett driving the Autobot motorcycle up and over Rumble, while leaving behind a grenade. The resulting explosion vaporises the Decepticon’s arms, neutralising his threat potential to the Autobots and Joes. However, Grimlock and Roadblock are in trouble, as their portion of land is collapsing into the sea due to Rumble’s earthquakes! Try as they might, and even with Roadblock's sergeant-like commands, the two are steadily losing ground when Optimus Prime commands the Aerialbots to join and form Superion! The giant gestalt easily saves the two, much to everyone’s happiness.
Meanwhile, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow continue their battle when Storm Shadow lunges at Snake Eyes, taking the two of them over a cliff and into the ocean. While submerged Snake Eyes reminisces on all that Storm Shadow has taken from him - his face, voice, and his future. As they battle, Snake Eyes moves at the last moment as a shark bites Storm Shadow, wounding him severely.
At the Terrordrome, the treacherous pair of Starscream and Destro look over final preparations for the unleashing of Bruticus - an amalgam of Cobra and Decepticon technology, combined together in terrifying proportions.
Up in the airfield control tower, Beach Head is just about to reach for the radio when Frenzy transforms from a hidden grenade and knocks aside the Joe commando! However, Beach Head isn’t out of the fight, as he takes a live electrical cable and lunges at Frenzy, lighting up the entire control tower for hundreds of yards. Lady Jaye sees this, and assuming the worst, takes off in a Cobra Fighter in order to use the plane’s radio to bring in the fleet. Unbeknownst to her, the Cobra ace Wild Weasel is following…
One would have to work extremely hard at not having fun with this issue. There are plenty of excellent one liners, art and action to please even the most jaded fan. By no means is it perfect, but this issue is straight up fun.
Plotwise we have some excellent advancement and characterisation from all sides. Flint’s quick thinking, bravery and his fight with Zartan started the issue off briskly and with excitement, which led very nicely into Rumble Vs the Autobots a few pages later. Rieber’s use of Scarlett and Bumblebee to take down Rumble was extremely fun to watch, as their dialogue was funny (“Don’t tell me you’ve never been driven before. That’s so sweet”), while Rumble’s dialogue truly brought out the arrogance of the little Decepticon: “My name is Rumble, meat!” However, it is a bit unrealistic that a simple grenade takes out Rumble or that the rest of the Autobots couldn’t get a shot off. However, the fashion in which he is taken out is entertaining enough that such a grievance can be overlooked.
My only concern plot wise with this issue is the shark during the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow fight. Now admittedly, that fight needs to be wrapped up, and it does get closure of sorts, but the manner in which it occurs is simply too random. It would have been far better for Snake Eyes to simply get the final slash with his sword rather than have 'Jaws' appear and take a bite out of Storm Shadow.
Artwise we get some incredible moments in this issue. The very first page, panel 4 where Flint states, “That’s not our radio,” is so well done that one can palpably feel the tension in the air as Zartan’s deceit is finally known by the Joes. One can imagine Flint stating it ever so softly. Masterfully done.
Next, Bumblebee and Scarlett get some great action shots as they take the battle to Rumble, particularly on page 7 and 8. Rumble himself gets an incredible art makeover by Lee, especially page 9 during the close up of Rumble’s face and the accompanying “Huh?”
Two more panels are worth mentioning - page 19 and page 21. On page 19 we get an absolutely beautiful portrayal of Bruticus, a mindless giant controlled by Destro and Starscream. Finally on page 21, my favourite close up of the series so far, is of Frenzy’s face in the airfield control tower. The artwork manages to not only exude tension, but also fear in the reader as the soulless eyes of Frenzy stare right at Beach Head. Well done to Jae Lee.
Snake Eyes is committed to ending Storm Shadow once and for all ("Now it ends. Your lies, your treachery.") There seems a hint of regret, as Snake Eyes admits he has nothing left to lose... except his brother.
Flint is a quick thinker and excellent fighter. Picks up on anything out of the ordinary with extraordinary celerity.
Zartan fancies himself as a master of interpreting the personalities of other people. He seems pretty fearless, undetered by Flint's attempts at violence and interrogation.
Lady Jaye has faith that Flint will never talk to the enemy under duress.
Beach Head take no prisoners - damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead. Even when Flint is captured by Cobra, he quickly takes charge, assumes the worst and goes on to complete the mission objectives. Beach Head is fearless when up against the might of Frenzy. Easy to see why he’s a Joe Commando. Beach Head also trained Flint.
Rumble is an arrogant little guy with an intense hatred of “Meat.” ie. humanity. Characterised as dumb by Bumblebee and according to him, no one likes Rumble except his brother Frenzy.
Frenzy – Arrogant, and also hating of “meat” in general. A lot like his brother then.
Scarlett is completely calm in the face of conflict and eminently reassuring to her comrades. She's also a driving expert and enjoys calling Rumble several names.