The first issue of Dreamwave's answer to the Marvel Transformers Universe (an alphabetical rundown of all the Transformers' profiles, strengths and weaknesses) includes nuggets such as Arcee, Alpha Trion, Blaster, Carnivac and, er, Banzai-Tron!
Issue
001
Writer
Adam Patyk / Brad Mick
Pencils
Pat Lee / Don Figueroa / Guido Guidi / Mark Brooks / Makoto Ono / Ke Jiang / Sanford Greene / Alex Lin / Matt Kuphaldt / Dan Khanna
Inks
Ferdinand Poblete / Erik Sander / Elaine To / Clayton Brown / Rob Armstrong / Don Figueroa / Makoto Ono / Sandford Greene / Matt Kuphaldt / Dan Khanna
Colours
Pat Lee / David Cheung / Blond / Rob Ruffolo / Mike Majestic / Elliot Kravchik / Twincruiser / Kenneth Martinez / Bonnie Cheung / Makoto Ono / Sanford Greene / Matt Kuphaldt / Dan Khanna
Release date
01/04/2003
Autobots featured
Air Raid, Fireflight, Silverbolt, Skydive, Slingshot, Superion, Alpha Trion, Arcee, Backstreet, Barrage, Beachcomber, Big Daddy, Big Hauler, Big Shot, Blaster, Blast Master, Blaze Master, Bluestreak, Blurr, Brainstorm, Brawn, Broadside, Bumblebee, Camshaft, Catilla, Chainclaw, Chase, Chromedome, Cliffjumper, Cloudburst, Cloudraker
Decepticons featured
Airwave, Apeface, Astrotrain, Axer, Banzai-Tron, Barricade, Battletrap, Beastbox, Blackjack, Blackout, Blitzwing, Bludgeon, Bomb-Burst, Bombshock, Bugly, Buzzsaw, Carnivac, Cement-Head, Cindersaur, Blastoff, Brawl, Onslaught, Swindle, Vortex, Bruticus
Humans featured
Origin of
Death of
First appearance
Alpha Trion, Barrage, Big Daddy, Big Hauler, Blast Master, Blaze Master, Camshaft, Cloudraker, Airwave, Axer, Banzai-Tron, Barricade, Beastbox, Blackout, Bombshock, Cement-Head
Locations featured
Vector Sigma’s chambers, Cybertron
Story synopsis
An unknown form enters the Autobot base on Cybertron. He sneaks down a long flight of stairs until he reaches Vector Sigma, a database that holds secrets and information on all the Transformers present and past.

He stands in front of Vector Sigma and it's various monitors showing images of various Autobots profiles, while he carefully looks it over he holds his hands up in great joy before uttering the words, “Ahh, Vector Sigma, at last. The hallowed Oracle that is home to the secrets of Transformers past and present...” The unknown visitor then pauses to finish adding an important note “...as well as the KEY to MY future.”


After this the pages start alphabetically, going into detailed profiles of every Generation 1 Transformers that was ever made into a toy, as well as some that made appearances as special characters in the cartoon (the Combiner subgroups are listed by the alphabetical name of their team. This is done mostly to keep the groups all together so the fans can see all the members that make up the huge combined form without having to search through every book).

Every character is listed in the same format as listed: Name (With Autobot or Decpticon symbol next to the name to show his allegiance), Primary Function, Sub Group (if they have one), Motto, Bio, Weapons/ Abilities and Weakness.

In the centre of each profile it has the Transformer in his/her robot form and towards the bottom it has a box that shows the Transformers “Alternate Mode(s)” in a much smaller scale.
Remarks
This issue was Dreamwave’s first take on an equivalent of Marvel’s ”Transformers Universe” comics that highlighted the Generation 1 Transformers character in detail. However, the original Transformers Universe was limited in that it was done while Generation 1 was still growing and coming out with more characters after that comic’s four issue set was long done. Also the paper Marvel used back then was almost like newspaper whilst the Dreamwave paper is much more glossy and higher grade, meaning much cleaner looking pages and the ability to hold up the test of time better. Dreamwave has the advantage of being able to have the complete toy line and history to work with resulting in the complete set of a who’s who in the Generation 1 universe.

That being the case there is no way to fit it all into only four issues like Marvel did originally. Originally slated for a six book set, Dreamwave expanded it even larger to an eight book set, giving the total breakdown on every Generation 1 toy ever made and any other important characters (like Arcee) in the first seven issues, with the last issue going into all the concepts, locations and important parts of the Transformers world that are vital in fully understanding Transformers history.

The one page opening story gives us an almost first person perspective, as if we are looking through the data banks of Vector Sigma as we sort through character after character. It also leaves things almost like a cliffhanger as to who it is that is looking at the files (which we will find out in the last issue of the eight book set). A new approach on things which is quite effective in my opinion.

A lot of characters in the eight issues are ones that many of the fans who lost interest in the later years of Generation 1 (as they either outgrew the toy line or didn’t like the way the toy line was going) will have a lot of fun familiarising themselves with. Micromasters are separated into single profiles even though they were sold in four packs in most cases, so this is a great way to learn about, for instance, Cement-Head, who was a Decepticon Mircomaster front end combiner dump truck - probably a toy that wasn’t exactly flying off the shelves towards the end of the line but interestingly enough he can be made into a fun character with a bio and background story put in place.

A major thing I didn’t like about this first issue of More Than Meets the Eye is that the writers seem to have a tendency to put under the Weakness category “Subject exhibits no known physical weaknesses.” For some of the characters it’s understandable, they are warriors and are your basic grunt units that aren’t weak in battle but for other characters it came off more as a cop out, as if the writers didn't know enough about certain characters to come up with logical weaknesses. I am a firm believer that only truly special characters such as leaders or giant robots or magical type characters should have such an honour. To see someone like Barrage who is a Micromaster combiner front end vehicle having no weakness is almost laughable. At least half of the characters in this issue had no weakness. Most of the ones listed with no weaknesses are characters that aren’t as popular or well known and even if corny at times some weakness could have been put in to make each character more developed.

The artwork overall is not too bad. But I have seen better and again it comes off with that rushed feeling in areas. Some of the characters are drawn great like Brainstorm and his partner Arcana (who look like they are right out of an Anime comic book), but then you look at a character like Air Raid and you wonder what went wrong? Most of the Aerialbots seem to be drawn almost too close to the way the toy looked, and not taking into effect the fact that the toys are limited in detail, while the character-models are supposed to be poetic licence induced to look more like they would have if they weren’t stuck in the limitations that the toy mold had. It is confusing when some characters are drawn as if traced from the box art while others are drawn almost exactly right.

Pretender shells also seem to get extra work in them compared to the regular robot forms themselves for some reason. Bugly for instance has venom dripping out of his bug-like face, Carnivac has saliva dripping from his maw as feral teeth are displayed, and Bomb Burst has a huge bat tongue whipping out of his glowing-eyed face. These are some of the places the art work really shines. It's little touches like Bluestreak’s glowing headlights in robot mode that set it apart from someone like Bombshock who looks like a green brick that's just painted there, and looking almost lifeless..

A good idea used that sets this apart a bit from previous character write up comic books is that for a few of the profiles, the information is described as if it was being said by another Transformer. Instead of just Vector Sigma reading off computer-like info that most of the characters have, we get Blitzwing’s profile having a little blurb under the name that would say [From the Data tracks of Shockwave] and then the entire review would follow as if Shockwave was telling someone about his bio, weapons and weakness. It's an interesting twist on things though still seems to need polishing. This would improve in future issues, adding humour and picking the right characters to profile others, and it's still a fun idea to give something more then just general breakdowns on each character..

Overall the first issue is a nice start but it is a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. Too many different artists and writers give to much variation throughout. There's no conformity keeping everything consistent so it doesn't flow so well. Some of the write ups seem to be on the short side, copied mostly from the battle tech card that was available on the back of the toy box, while others get two page spreads and give us a lot of information.

However, I think that the series is off to a good start here and it is definitely a fan favourite. It is far from perfect and needs a lot of work and is definitely centered on Dreamwave continuity (there is a notable absence of any Marvel-only characters like Xaaron or Straxus). But it does the job nicely, giving us a good write up on G1 characters from Minicars to Action Masters, and it ain’t too bad at that.
Character development
The major characters that are highlighted in the first issue in my opinion are the Aerialbots (Silverbolt, Skydive, Fireflight, Air Raid, Slingshot and Superion), Alpha Trion, Arcee, Blaster, Bludgeon, Bumblebee and the Combaticons (Onslaught, Blast Off, Brawl, Swindle, Vortex and Bruticus).

Not too many of the major characters really show up in the first issue besides these but they all get pretty good write ups even if they are minor characters.

Alpha Trion gets pretty good development and it’s a good thing too as a lot of the non-toy characters won’t really show up in these issues. Either they changed their mind on who to put in and kept it to only toys in future issues, or Arcee and Alpha Trion just break the mold a bit. Either way, Alpha Trion has an interesting back story. Called one of the oldest and wisest of Autobots it is explained that he was one of the first Transformers ever and is responsible for the Primes being chosen and for the protection of the Matrix. It also says that he has passed on but doesn’t explain exactly what the circumstances were. In the cartoon he merged with Vector Sigma but I don’t think Dreamwave will take things in that path if he does show up in the comic books. There is a connection between him, the Matrix and Vector Sigma, but that too is only danced upon. They have no transform mode for him but they did come up with a fitting quote on his profile which goes as follows: “Until that day, until all are one.” It’s almost chilling as you can almost feel him say something like that in his old wise voice.

Arcee is also put into this book and like I said before none of the other non-toy characters would be in the first 7 issues (Unicron will show up in the 8th issue however) which is a shame as I don’t think that they should have left out the other female Autobots or some of the other Seekers who have a role in the G1 universe. At least we get Arcee - she's a little different in that she played such a big role in the movie and the 3rd season of the cartoon (she would have been a toy as well but Hasbro felt that female robots would not sell with a young boy audience and it never was to be). Kup does Arcee’s profile and he babbles about how the rest of the Transformers couldn’t figure out that she was a female-styled robot and that she talked about others also existing besides herself. There wasn’t too much about her character which was a bit disappointing. It touches on the relationship that she and Hot Rod (as well as she and Springer have) but doesn’t go into Daniel or any of her personality traits for the most part. The bio is touched on and her abilities are just a paragraph of her shooting skills while no weakness is listed. I’m sure a lot of fans will be a bit let down at the lack of development here. Again it’s their first issue but they should be able to do better then this, especially considering that no more non toy characters make their way into future issues.

Blitzwing’s profile is different in that (like stated above) it is done by Shockwave and it leads to a lot of interesting details about the whole Triple Changer creation. Dreamwave seems to have Shockwave as the creator of all off-shoot Transformers like the Duocons and Triplechangers. So even Battletrap’s profile goes into how he was a failed experiment of Shockwave, in the process altering the story behind these characters a bit from what we traditionally would have remembered. While I don’t love the idea of Shockwave being the reason for Duocons and Six Changers etc I do have to give Dreamwave credit for such things - it takes a silly gimmick like the Duocons and even plays on the fact that it wasn’t one of the better ideas that Hasbro had by calling it a “failed experiment” to make one robot with two separate vehicle modes at one time. More of these Shockwave experiments references would show up throughout and would be touched on more in issue 8, but it does give a nice little extra history to the already unique gimmicky characters.

Some of the characters resemble the comic book versions while others resemble their cartoon counterparts. Some are a nice mixture of both though. Blaster for instance had a very strong personality in the Marvel comic book series, taking on starring roles as both the rebel and warrior and not being anything like his hip hopping fun loving party animal type personality in the cartoon . It would seem that Dreamwave is going for a more cartoon type of personality as it mentions that he has an enmity for Soundwave and seems to just be a rebel with a liking for music. He has signs of his old comic book self but it seems Dreamwave will be going for the more music and communications officer path like he had in the cartoon then the one who will question authority and have a strong character. It does mention a bit about his rebellious nature but like others it seemed to be more relying on information off of the toy tech spec card rather then originality for the character.

I thought one of the more minor characters who was lost in the fold of the last years of Transformers is Banzai-Tron. An Action Master who also is into the ancient martial arts of Cybertron, much in the way that Bludgeon is. He differs from Bludgeon in that he is cocky and loves to boast of his great skills in hand to hand combat. His martial art mastery is Crystalocution which mixes both his weapons and hand to hand combat techniques when in battle. This is a character that never really sold toy wise, yet given a good story and background, he becomes all that much better suddenly. He is probably the counter of Bludgeon and all who practice the ancient martial arts on Cybertron, yet they both are on the same side of evil. It was a nice little mix and homage showing that Hasbro was being creative even as the line was ending. A very enjoyable read on a lesser known character and toy.

It's interesting to note is that while in the UK comic books Carnivac ended up siding with the Autobots even though he was a Decepticon, (much in the way Blitzwing would in the third season of the cartoon series) in the Dreamwave universe Carnivac is back to his old evil ways of being the foul hunter that likes to rip his prey apart with his wolf Pretender shell. They describe him as feral and reckless and there's no mention of him having any good side or desire to join up with the Autobots. If he is even used it will be as an enemy with no reference to events in the Marvel saga.
Trivia
When the unknown stranger is entering the unknown Autobot structure that houses Vector Sigma there is a statue of Optimus Prime and Alpha Trion standing in front of the walkway.

Blitzwing was Shockwave's second Triplechanger and is called “Subject 002" in his profile. Astrotrain was Subject 001 but it isn’t mentioned in his profile as such.

There is no reference to any of the Action Masters having regular transformations before they became Action Masters, even though Axer looks exactly like one of the Autobot cars in robot mode. There is also no mention of some of the G1 characters from the early years who had Action Master forms as well (Bumblebee and Blaster for instance). While this may or may not be a mistake, I’ll give Dreamwave the benefit of the doubt, but the actual story behind Action Masters (that the Transformers gave up the ability to transform to be stronger, and their equipment would have the ability to transform) is never referenced to or mentioned in any of the Action Master characters' write ups. No Transformer was born an Action Master. It’s a process that they had occur to them. So logicaly they all should have been regular Transformers beforehand.

Broadside’s weakness is changed from what it was in both Marvel’s Transformers Universe and the toy write up itself. Broadside used to be afraid of heights and was liable to get seasick. In his bio it now states that Shockwave’s triple change process on him made him master of both elements and it is no longer a burden on him. His quote is still the same though : “I like the sea far away and my feet on the ground”.
Good quotes
“Airwave is pitifully weak, if not for my recommendation, the other Decepticons would destroy him themselves.” Megatron describing Airwave's weakness.

“The least likely can be the most dangerous.” Bumblebee’s motto.

“Crash and burn... and burn... and burn...” Cindersaur’s motto.

“The only thing for certain is uncertainty.” Chainclaw’s motto.

“To know your own limits, you must know your foe’s limits.” Bludgeon’s motto.

“Obnoxiousness is not a problem, it is an art.” Apeface’s motto.
Bad quotes
Mistakes
Story rating
7 star
Art rating
7 star
Media
Reviewed by
Pretender Bumblebee

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