Transformers #4 and 5
September 27th, 2010
More than meets the eye! More bad art, more stupidity...
(Open on Linkara poring a bookshelf, while a replica of Tom Servo is displayed in a nearby glass case. Linkara pulls out a piece of paper that reads "3:00 - Be Ready". Behind it is a Transformers comic)
Linkara: Huh. Willis, I thought you were made of sterner stuff. Why throw away these comics so recklessly?
(Ten minutes later, Linkara throws the comic at the wall, then storms off, passing by camera as he does)
Linkara: (glaring at camera) That's a question I didn't have to ask.
(AT4W title sequence plays, followed by title cover for this review, with the theme for the old Transformers show playing in the background; cut to Linkara sitting on his Futon)
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. So, Transformers.
(Footage of the old cartoon show is displayed)
Linkara (v/o): I'm sorry to say that I was too young to catch the very original cartoon back in the day. No, I was a child of the '90s, and as a result, I was a fan of...
(Cut to the title for...)
Linkara (v/o): ...Beast Wars and Beast Machine when they were around.
(Cut back to the original show)
Linkara (v/o): Thanks to the Internet, though, I was able to watch a good chunk of the cartoon...
(Cut to footage of the Transformers spinoff movie)
Linkara (v/o): ...and, of course, the awesome, if incredibly goofy, animated movie. And let's not get into any flame wars around here about any of the Transformer series. I expect my fans to be a lot smarter than to be irritated about Optimus Primal not being a truck, or that the newer anime-esque Transformers are too kiddy, or nonsense like that. And no, I haven't watched any of them after Beast Machines, which I liked, though Beast Wars is better, just to stave off the eventual thousand comments asking what my opinions are on the various series.
Linkara (v/o): For those who somehow have missed out or simply don't care about kids shows advertising toys from the 1980s, Transformers is the story of two factions of living robots, usually Autobots and Decepticons, engaged in an eternal war for dominance. Eventually, their fight brings them to Earth, and for one contrived reason or another, they must take on an alternate mode they transform to and from. I always found the ones that transform into tiny objects the most laughably implausible. Sure, Megatron and Soundwave are completely awesome and badass, but if they had the ability to shrink themselves into a life-size gun and a boombox, respectively...
(Text pops up: "Tape player, not boombox. I misspoke.")
Linkara (v/o): ...why even bother with the transformation when you can just shrink down, go into Optimus Prime, and rip him apart from the inside out? And yes, I'm sure there's some explanation for that, but I don't care, since I'm here to talk to you about comic books.
(Cut to a montage of covers of Transformers comics)
Linkara (v/o): Like many other franchises, Transformers is no stranger to comics, and as a result, I've gotten quite a few requests to do Transformers comics. The question comes down to which ones should I do. A particular favorite for people to request is from the old Marvel Transformers comic titled "The Car Wash of Doom", which pretty much says it all. Or there's always the issue where Optimus Prime feels he dishonorably won a video game and thus wants to commit suicide! But a young computer geek saves his brain on a floppy disk. Yes, that description is accurate.
Linkara: And yeah, I might still get to those somewhere down the line, though I've still got a soft spot in my heart for the old Marvel issues.
Linkara (v/o): About five or ten years ago, I found a website that had scanned every issue of it. This was before rampant comic piracy and the like. And I just went through them like mad. The plot twists, the defeats, the victories, it was all fun and glorious to me.
Linkara: And I kind of want to reread them before I start tearing them a new one, but thankfully, we have an alternative. Let me tell you a bit about Dreamwave. (smiles smugly)
(A new montage of comic covers, this one by Dreamwave, is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Back when Image Comics first started, it was actually divided into various studios. Rob Liefeld had has his own studio, Todd McFarlane had his own studio, etc., etc. In 1996, Pat and Roger Lee created Dreamwave Productions under Image, and several years later, broke off to an actual comic publisher with the same name. They had a mixture of licensed and original properties, but probably the most noted was when they acquired the license to do Transformers comics. The revival of the Generation 1 characters proved wildly successful. Sure, they weren't breaking the top ten, but for an independent company, they were doing pretty damn well. But nowadays, if you look up "Dreamwave", you might notice that they're not around anymore.
(Cut to a shot of Pat Lee wearing a shucked coat and no shirt underneath)
Linkara (v/o): Well, that's because the guys who ran Dreamwave – in particular, today's artist Pat Lee – were a bunch of jackasses!
(Text appears reading: "Learn how to wear a shirt, Pat!")
Linkara (v/o): There's a lot to go through here, but let me try to summarize as best as I can. Pat Lee, despite being a self-described "superstar artist"...
(The montage of Lee's work on Dreamwave comics, Transformers or otherwise" is shown)
Linkara (v/o): ...only actually drew the Transformers themselves for many of the issues, leaving other people in the company to have to draw in backgrounds and other characters. What's worse, his involvement in outside projects had him hire other artists to do the issues... and then never credit them for working on it. Speaking of hiring other people, as the years went on, many freelance artists and writers who were doing work for the company filed a lawsuit against Dreamwave for not paying them. At all! And there's a very good reason why they didn't... hmm... Okay, there wasn't a good reason why they weren't getting paid, but there was a reason. The owners of Dreamwave were spending money on personal items and charging it to the company. For example, Dreamwave had a company-owned...
(Cut to an image of a...)
Linkara (v/o): ...Porsche! And naturally, they didn't tell their employees that their company was going down the toilet...
(Text appears reading above the Porsche: "Yeah, this is obviously something a comic book company needs.")
Linkara (v/o): ...and in fact, lied to them and said the company was doing great, even when they had over a million dollars IN DEBT!!
(More shots of Transformers comics are shown)
Linkara (v/o): By the time the company declared bankruptcy, they had transferred most of the assets of the company to themselves, including the Porsche...
(Cut to a shot of a Canada dollar, with the following text plastered over it: "It's Canada's fault we suck!")
Linkara (v/o): ...and blamed the failing Canadian economy on the death of Dreamwave.
(Cut to the logo for a new company called "www.DreamEngine.ca")
Linkara (v/o): To make matters better, they also started a new company called Dream Engine and proceeded to do the exact same damn thing, to the extent where Pat Lee...
(Cut to a shot of Pat Lee's girlfriend)
Linkara (v/o): ...even spent company funds to promote his girlfriend...
(The following text appears: "Wouldn't YOU steal company money to make this woman Miss Hong Kong 2006?")
Linkara (v/o): ...in a beauty pageant.
(Cut to another Lee comic: "Widow Warriors")
Linkara (v/o): And Pat Lee is still around. After an interview about a ridiculously dumbass series he wants to make called "Widow Warriors", I decided it was finally time to tell you all about him and his embezzling ways.
(Cut to a shot of the Short Packed blog)
Linkara (v/o): And a very special thanks to David Willis of Short Packed fame for donating these issues to me.
Linkara: And with that very long introduction out of the way, let's dig into (holds up two comics of topic for today) "Transformers #4" and "#5".
Linkara (v/o): So, you're probably wondering why I'm starting from issues 4 and 5 and not from the beginning, or just doing a look at all of these issues. Well, I'm doing these ones in particular because they're kind of a microcosm of everything wrong with Pat Lee's artwork. And I admit, I'm actually one of the first people to overlook bad art if the story is good, but when you fail at basic storytelling methods of sequential art, and make Rob Liefeld look talented by comparison, there's something wrong here! So here's a quick summary of the first three issues: fans of the original Transformers comics and TV series may recall that the Autobots and Decepticons were fighting on Earth to gather energy resources, with the Autobots operating out of a ship called "The Ark". Now, don't ask me what continuity these comics are supposed to be following other than their own, but apparently, in 1999, the Autobots, with the assistance of humans, managed to defeat the Decepticons and build a new ship, the "Ark II", to take them back to Cybertron, their homeworld. They also were bringing along a crew of humans as a peace envoy, including Sparkplug Witwicky, one of the fleshy humans who no one cared about because he wasn't a giant robot. However, there was some sort of accident on the Ark II that caused it to explode, supposedly killing all the humans and the Transformers on board it. However, some years later, the American military recruits Spike Witwicky, Sparkplug's son, when they obtained footage of Megatron attacking a South American military encampment. Megatron and several other Transformers, were taken by a man named Lazarus, who has gained control of them and is using them as a kind of mercenary force, destroying an enemy without any loss of life for the buyer. The American military, in turn, have located Optimus Prime, and Spike is able to reactivate him. Naturally, Lazarus' plan to control a whole bunch of alien death machines goes haywire pretty quickly, while Optimus Prime summons up the disabled Autobots to stop Megatron. To make matters worse, Spike decides to go all emo and yell at Prime that the Transformers war is always going to cause human deaths, the military guys start turning evil, and Megatron uses some sort of device to mutate some humans. Issue 3 ends with Spike getting dragged away and the military starting "Operation Clean-Up", which seems to involve bombing the Transformers.
Linkara: In concept, the story is nice and simple for starting things over again. Where it fails is the off-kilter dialogue, the bad art, and the dumb plot twists that started with issue 3.
Linkara (v/o): The thing is that in the '80s and leading into the '90s, comic book characters had their own particular way of talking that can come off as rather stilted, for those who have never read them before. However, these books were published in 2002, and dialogue these days is written a lot more realistically. These comics, however, have words being spoken that don't match up with how these characters should be talking.
Optimus Prime: Who did this?
Spike: Transformers, Prime. Transformers.
Linkara (v/o): One, why is Optimus Prime who destroyed an oil refinery when he's already been woken up and briefed on the situation? Two, why is Spike simply referring to them as Transformers when he knows they're not responsible their own actions, and the people who really did it were human? Three, why is Spike suddenly indignant towards the Transformers? The Transformers didn't blow up the Ark II, and he knows the difference between Autobots trying to stop the wholesale slaughter of lives and the Decepticons who care nothing for other forms of life. But hey, this has gone on too long; let's talk about today's particular issues. The covers all suck, just shots of Transformers posing, usually with their legs splayed out and beefy like they were wearing parachute pants and trying to imitate MC Hammer.
(Cut to a brief clip of MC Hammer's "Can't Touch This" video, before cutting back to the comic proper beginning)
Linkara (v/o): Issue 4 opens with Spike being taken to the Pentagon, and the evil military guy, General Hallo, orders him to be taken to C Block.
Linkara: Um, General Hallo, you were the one who brought him in originally. If you think he's an enemy now, why not just shoot him? If you need him alive, for some unexplained reason, then why are you taking him back to the Pentagon when he's a security risk? Lock him in some remote military base somewhere!
Linkara (v/o): The general orders some random blond guy to erase all records of Operation: Clean-Up. Chain of command? What's that? We cut to the explosion site, where the blast has become a big metallic bubble, indicating that something stopped the explosion before it could stop the Transformers. Optimus Prime pulls himself free of the mass and– HOLY CRAP!! Optimus Prime's lower leg is as big as his torso! Oh, yes, allow me to introduce you to the Pat Lee School of Robots, and this isn't even his worst example. Now, one might have been able to say that it's just perspective, since his leg is closer to the reader, buuut then take a look at the other leg, which is equally as huge, but going away from the reader. As the Autobots are pulled free, Wheeljack explains that it's some kind of virus that's converting everything around it into metal. To make matters worse, the Autobots see an imprint of the bubble shaped like Megatron, indicating that he's already gone. We cut to a submarine in the Pacific Ocean where an officer is reading from a book.
Officer: Oh man--Sir! I think you need to see this!
Linkara: (as officer) Seriously, sir, Bella's daughter reverse-imprints on that werewolf guy! This thing is messed up!
Linkara (v/o): No, he's actually the radar operator who detects something coming at them very quickly. All they know is that it's huge, and that it's headed for a nearby city... right before it smashes the submarine in half. We'll get back to this in a minute.
(Through a transition scene from the old Transformers show to the next panel showing the Autobots again)
Linkara (v/o): Now let's see if we can decipher these panels and decide, is this sequential art? We cut back to Prim and the other Autobots moving through Lazarus' base. Panel 1...
Optimus: Everyone stay alert. The Decepticons could be anywhere.
Linkara: (as Optimus) Which is why we're all crouching like trolls.
Linkara (v/o): Panel 2: Optimus Prime steps on what appears to be a steel beam, bending it under his weight and making a "WHOOM!" sound. Panel 3...
Optimus: No... Get them down. Now.
Linkara (v/o): Panel 4: Optimus asks for a status report while we see some more of the Autobots getting put on the floor. Um, what just happened? Get who down from where? Yes, I know, in the previous issue, they were all tied to a wall, but Optimus' tone makes it sound like something horrible had happened to them other than that, but they look no worse than the rest. Plus, why were they crouching, what did he step on, and why was he looking down if he was ordering the others to "get them down"? Where was he looking down from? The Autobots are alive, but their energy has been drained. The humans are dead, having been transformed into solid metal. Wheeljack finds the original ignition source for the virus, but it's inactive now, meaning that the virus is able to fuel itself. Well, technically, I'd imagine they mean that the virus is able to feed off the material it converts, and that's how it's spreading, but the point is that things aren't looking good. We cut to San Francisco and something rising from the Bay. Two guys are talking on a dock.
Dock worker: ...I'm tellin' you man! Those Transformer things...they ain't no good! Hear what they did to those poor oil workers? Why? Just doin' their jobs man! That ain't no way to go.
Linkara: The oil refinery attack couldn't have been more than an hour or two ago. How the hell do these random people know about it?
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and now let's see what's emerging from the Bay: Devastator, the Gestalt Transformer made of six Decepticons joining together. Look how freakin' huge he is! This would be a pretty damn disturbing picture if not for a few things: one, get used to that expression on his face; I'll get into that more in a bit. Two, his size is insane! Look, the Transformers' vehicle modes are supposed to be roughly the same size as the real deal, but look at that thing! Yeah, Devastator is big, but this is just ridiculous! Remember that sub that was destroyed six pages ago? It looks like it's punching through it, but something that friggin' huge would take up the ENTIRE panel to match that scale. Oh, and speaking of things that are absolutely silly, enjoy this image of Optimus Prime riding on the back of Superion, another Gestalt Transformer!
Optimus: Faster Superion!
Linkara: (as Optimus, reaching his arms out) Whee! This is the most fun I've had in my entire life!
Linkara (v/o): Okay, seriously, how many Transformers survived the Ark II explosion? We've got at least two dozen giant robot that survived a big honkin' blast, and yet they all seem none the worse for wear. So the explosions didn't do any serious damage to their bodies, since they all look pretty intact, yet it's somehow knocked them all offline for years?
Linkara: Yeah, they're alien robots and all, but if they're just shrugging off explosions like this, how come none of them woke up earlier?
Linkara (v/o): Megatron and the Decepticons arrive in San Francisco to survey the carnage.
Megatron: Decepticons, attack!!
Linkara (v/o): (as Megatron) But first, crouch! It looks like there's more action if my knees are bent for no reason. (normal) So Devastator attacks the– (laughs as he gets a good look at Devastator) Oh, my God, really? Okay, Devastator, as someone who eats far too much fast food for his figure, lay off the McDonald's! I mean, look at that, people! He looks like he's toppling over just from raising his arms too quickly. Oh, and apparently, the Golden Gate Bridge is made of Graham Crackers because when Devastator smashes it, it breaks into tiny pieces that explode outwards in all directions. Devastator proceeds to, well, devastate as we see more badly-drawn pictures. Apparently, that size-changing thing I mentioned earlier is in effect all the time, since now Devastator's torso is really wide but short, and his arms extend out at least half a mile. Oh, and consider how tall he is in this panel compared to the other buildings. Either Devastator is standing on his knees or his legs got shrunken into stumps for this to match the proportions we're seeing. Oh, yeah, and Grimlock of the Dinobots decided to join Megatron because he's tired of risking his life for the puny humans. It's pretty pointless and meant only to set up stuff that happened outside of the miniseries.
Linkara: And now it's time to play "Insert Your Own Dialogue Here Because The Comic Creators Forgot To"!
(Cut to a panel of the comic showing a man, a woman and a baby on the roof of a building. Devastator, whose mouth is agape, is climbing up the building, the man is looking out towards him as the woman tries to console the allegedly crying baby)
Linkara (v/o): (as man) Hey, honey, wasn't it a great idea for us to have a picnic on the roof of our building, since there's no other reason why we'd be here in the middle of a giant robot attack? Speaking of which, I think there's a giant robot coming right at us, but I can't tell; his proportions keep changing every time I blink. Why does it have its mouth open like that if it's not roaring or anything? Is it gonna eat us or something? Gee, it's awfully quiet for something this devastating and horrible. I mean, you'd think there'd be like sound or something and–
(A second panel is shown, with the man now standing closer to the woman and the baby while Devastator is raising his arm in the air)
Linkara (v/o): (as man) Oh, hey! Check it out, honey, I can teleport! I mean, that robot's barely moved, and yet now I'm back towards you and the baby without any indication of me moving in between.
(A third panel is shown, showing another Transformer's arm reaching into frame; the family has not moved from their positions)
Linkara (v/o): Oh, wow, speaking of teleporting, now there's some other giant robot's hand there! Man, that guy moves really fast despite being bigger than a skyscraper. I mean, neither of us have changed our positions, either. Say, do you think I should be hugging you or something? Hey, where'd the picnic blanket go?
Linkara: Feel free to add your own dialogue as well.
Linkara (v/o): Superion, having arrived with Optimus, promptly decks Devastator and then leaps into the air and slams right down on top of his chest. The physics on display here have entered the realm of completely, utterly, nonsensically impossible, but I can't say that I care since one giant robot just smashed down on another! The only way this could be cooler is if Neutro entered the fray alongside the Megazord! Oh, and the other Autobots are there, too. I guess they were clinging to Superion's crotch or something, since I didn't see them on him earlier. Oh, and another thing I'll give credit to for this comic: badass dueling Optimus and Megatron speeches.
Megatron: Perfect timing, Prime. Just in time for the festivities. I knew you'd come. You always do.
Optimus: You should have killed me when you had the chance Megatron.
Megatron: Kill you? But we have so much to discuss.
Optimus: Save it. (WHAM!)
Linkara (v/o): However, that's kind of undercut by the goofy expression on Megatron's face here. Again, I'll get to that in a minute. Three Decepticon jets fly in and shoot at Superion, which is apparently all it takes to knock off his entire torso. Again, this is the robot that just leapt into the air and landed on Devastator without a scratch! I mean, just look at how goofy this is with Superion's torso popping off like that, as if he were made of Legos. Back with Wheeljack, he's studying the virus.
Wheeljack: The virus seems to be a combination of human DNA and Autobot central circuitry. It grows as though it were organic but solidifies to metal almost immediately upon expansion.
Linkara: That doesn't even begin to make sense, but then again, this is the comic that featured a massive robot punching a submarine in half.
Linkara (v/o): Prime manages to save some humans from falling rubble, but of course, instead of being grateful or traumatized by the events transpiring around them, they proceed to throw rocks at Optimus. Why? Because in comic books, civilians suck and are idiots. I mean, from an emotional standpoint, you might understand why they'd be mad at him, but why in the hell do they think throwing rocks and yelling at the giant robot is the smart thing to do? However, that point quickly becomes moot when they and Optimus look up into the sky and proclaim, "Oh, my God." Dear God, what is it?! Okay, they're all looking up, their mouths are open, and Devastator is looking up, too! So what is it?! WHAT ARE THEY SEEING?!?
Linkara: Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Linkara (v/o): The implication is that they're looking at Devastator, but then why is Devastator looking up with the same shocked expression? Well, that's because it's not a shocked expression. This is that face thing I've been hinting at. Ladies and gentlemen and others, allow me to introduce you to Pat Lee's Cavalcade of Emotions for Robots. Or rather, the one expression he keeps pasting on them. It's a little something that Transformers fans have dubbed...
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000)
Crow: (reading from a card) Dull surprise!
(Back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Yes, dull surprise, where their mouths are just hanging open as if they were howling or expressing an emotion, but what the hell emotion is it? It's all the same emotion. Dull surprise. And another thing, what the hell is Devastator holding? If they're all supposed to be shocked at Devastator, for no real reason since he's been there the entire time, then it must be because he's doing something, which, in this case, is holding a single Transformer. It can't be a part of Superion because it'd be way too small. By the way, Devastator's proportions have changed again, plus that purple thing on his chest got smashed when Superion landed on him.
Linkara: This is why I chose these Transformers comics over the others. This one of the only times where the art seriously interferes with the comic for me!
Linkara (v/o): And so issue 4 ends with Spike locked in some cell, but somebody slips a note under the door that simply says, "3 O'Clock. Be Ready". And what is Spike's reaction to this?
(Cut back to the MST3K gang again)
Crow: Dull surprise!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, the issue just stops! Not even a "to be continued" or anything. Issue 5 begins with some random humans in the Northwest Territories. They spot the virus coming their way and flowing towards them. If it's a physical force that's spreading this fast, how come we haven't noticed it until now? And when I say they spot it, I'm only guessing that, since we see like a teensy bit of it in one panel. For all I know, it's the Evil Dead that's haunting them.
(Cut to a clip of The Evil Dead, with a zombie jumping out and attacking a human, before cutting back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): They run into the rebuilt Autobots and immediately hightail it out of there. Wheeljack has come up with a counteragent to the virus, but the trick is that it's using up their own energy to do so, meaning they'll get weaker as time goes on. They start shooting, but get a distress call from the battle in San Francisco that things are going badly. And they most certainly are, as Devastator is smushing and crushing everything in sight. And of course, with such a horrifyingly powerful entity like Devastator, they choose to give him this expression...
(Cut once again to the MST3K gang)
Crow: Dull surprise!
(Cut back to the comic once more)
Linkara (v/o): Optimus is monologuing the whole way through.
Optimus: (narrating) They've had enough victories to know when one is impossible.
Linkara: Well, okay, that makes a lot of... Wait, what?
Optimus: (narrating) But they fight anyway. For them. Even though they've seen enough death to know that it could mean their own. Retreat. Surrender. These words don't compute.
Linkara: (as Optimus) They really need to download the update.
Optimus: (narrating) We're Autobots. We fight. That's what we do.
Linkara: (as Optimus, his arms bent) We also exercise. (moves his arms in and out) Come on, work those pecs!
Linkara (v/o): Optimus continues his monologue by, of course, doing a badass transformation as a truck and launching himself out. It is so badass and such a big damn hero moment that I am shocked, SHOCKED that they didn't even put in the lyrics to "The Touch", like from the movie. As such, I shall supply it myself.
("The Touch", from the Transformers animated movie, plays in the background as the comic displays Optimus' truck form races down the highway, then jumps the edge of where it breaks off and lands, turning back into his robot form as he does so)
Optimus: I am Optimus Prime. I am a soldier. I fight. That's what I do.
Linkara (v/o): (as Optimus) I shoot down giant robots single-handed straight to the face because I am Optimus Prime! (beat) Bitch. (normal voice) Oh, and behold this glorious sound effect... (which is made as a Transformer falls in the water) "DOOOOSHH!!"
(Cut to a clip of the infamous commercial for Summer's Eve Freshness)
Girl in commercial: Do you ever feel, you know, not so fresh?
(Cut back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): However, such an awesome spectacle means that Optimus has used up his badass points, so he just crashes to the ground like a rag doll and crawls back up to be met by Megatron.
Megatron: ...Let's have that talk, shall we?
Linkara: (as Megatron) When two robots love each other very much...
Linkara (v/o): Back with Spike, he's consigned himself to thinking that it was General Hallo who gave him the note just as a show of power, and that's why he didn't kill him. However, 3:00 comes and... it's someone else that we don't get a chance to actually see.
Linkara: I'm just shocked that we didn't get a closeup of Spike's face doing this... (opens his mouth wide in imitation of the Transformers' dull surprise)
Linkara (v/o): Back in Canada, some of the Autobots are collapsing, due to a loss of power, and to make matters worse, the Canadian military has arrived. A tank rolls right up to one of the Autobots and pokes it with its barrel.
Soldier in tank: Attention Transformers! This is the Canadian military! We will not allow a Transformer attack on Canadian soil! Put down your weapons!
Linkara: You know, you can get away with General Hallo's actions being stupid because he's completely out of his gourd, as we'll soon see, but it's an entirely different matter to have a tank just drive up to a giant robot and poke it with the gun barrel! They know the destructive power of the Transformers; they apparently know about the oil rig destruction, too; and yet you're just gonna drive right up to point-blank range to get at the best shot at killing you instantly?! Plus, from a strategic point of view, now that tank is blocking the other two tanks and is in the way if they need to open fire!
(Cut to a clip of Patton, showing Patton looking out through a pair of binoculars)
Patton: You magnificent bastard, I READ YOUR BOOK!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): And to top off the stupidity, why are they engaging the Transformers when they're clearly doing something you don't understand without gathering some intelligence first?! Back at the Pentagon, it turns out that the guy who's smuggling Spike out of his cell is the janitor, who appeared in, like, one panel back in issue 1 and was rambling like a madman.
Linkara: Because, you know, having your janitor be one screwdriver short of a toolkit just makes perfect sense of the Department of Defense!
Linkara (v/o): The janitor reveals a confidential file to Spike. How did he even get Spike out of there? He uses a key card, but does the janitor really have unrestricted access to holding cells? And why wasn't Spike guarded or have any security cameras placed on him? The file is about "The Lazarus Project", which makes absolutely no sense as a code word, as we'll see. The mercenary Lazarus was actually an engineer named Adam Rook, who General Hallo had hired years ago to build intelligent transforming robots like the Transformers.
Janitor: (narrating) 'Cept they couldn't pull it off. My brother was one of the technicians working for them. Said they must've created about fifty models. Each one a disaster.
Linkara: (scoffs) Well, what do you expect from a knockoff?
Linkara (v/o): Since they failed there, General Hallo instead had Rook figure out a way to control the Transformers. The program he used apparently worked on the captured Decepticons, but they knew that the Autobots would never allow them to use the Decepticons like that. As such, he rigged the Ark II to explode instead. The janitor's brother wanted out when he found out what Hallo was going to do and was killed. However, he gave the janitor copies of the files as evidence. After the Ark II's explosion, Rook went AWOL and took the control technology with him because... uh, I have no idea. And why exactly did Rook change his name to Lazarus? Spike suddenly gets pissed at the janitor.
Spike: Dammit! Why didn't you do anything?! You knew! You could've stopped it!!
Linkara: Well, not really. Sure, he could've leaked the files, but there's no guarantee that anybody would have believed him.
Linkara (v/o): The janitor explains that he was frightened for his life after what happened to his brother, but Spike just continues to be vindictive to the guy who just saved his ass and steals his keycard. And yeah, I guess I can understand a little, since Spike lost his father and all, but that's just false pathos. If we're supposed to agree with Spike, then this stuff is just tacked on, since we've only seen this guy one other time in the entire miniseries! If we're supposed to sympathize with the janitor, it's even more tacked on, since it could have been handled as just being a guy who thinks Hallo is nuts and wants to do right. Back in San Francisco, Megatron begins his big villain speech to Optimus Prime, telling him that he no longer hates Optimus, but pities him for being so stupid as to want to help the humans. He shows that the humans are busy looting and being dicks to one another in the wake of all the destruction.
Megatron: For the last time...join me. Forget the humans. They're worthless.
(Cut to a clip of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, in which Darth Vader famously confronts Luke Skywalker)
Darth Vader: We can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.
(Cut back to the Transformers comic)
Linkara (v/o): I'm not kidding with that Vader clip, either. It's almost line for line what Megatron says. We leave off on him asking Optimus for an answer. And so, our comic ends with General Hallo deciding to nuke San Francisco to stop the Transformers. The soldier with him – there are actually supposed to be two, according to this panel, but we only see the reaction of this guy – tries to stop him, but Hallo points a gun at his head and pulls out the key for the nuke. I'm pretty sure there are supposed to be two keys to prevent this sort of thing from happening, but whatever.
Linkara: (holding up both comics irritably) These comics suck! If it seems like I'm being a bit nitpicky with a couple of points, well, fair enough, but I read the entire miniseries.
Linkara (v/o): The artwork is bad and confusing a lot of the time. The characters are pretty one-dimensional, with no actual character arc throughout. Spike goes nuts at the drop of a hat, berating Prime one second for bringing his war to Earth and then the next moment, wanting to help the Transformers save people. The virus plot thread is pretty damn pointless in the actual miniseries and wasn't necessary whatsoever. We could've had those Autobots fighting in San Francisco or working to restore the other damaged robots. There are moments of awesome here and there, but only because of concept, or because I'm already familiar with the characters. Otherwise, a lot of the actions don't make much sense, and what could have been a simple story got convoluted and stupid real fast, with unrealistic dialogue and dumb plot points.
Linkara: (holding up comics) Bottom line: bad comics made by an asshole who still hasn't paid people what they're owed! (slams comics down, gets up and leaves)
So if General Hallo's plan was just to bomb the Transformers, why even bother bringing in Spike in the first place?
And if the Decepticons were travelling from the northern reaches of Canada, why did they head for San Francisco instead of hitting any other coastal city along the way? It's a bit of a trip, isn't it?
Other Pat Lee quirks I didn't get to: -"Say, metal cracks like glass, doesn't it? Yeah, sure it does, so I'll add immense amounts of detailing and cracks for no real reason."
-Smiling for any reason will not be abided. Only a little kid gets away with it in the first issue, otherwise everyone must look bored or clinically depressed.
-Robots are puffy, huge things that more resemble the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man than any actual robot from the franchise.
(Stinger: the clip of Mystery Science Theater 3000, in which Mike shows Crow a picture of Kathy Ireland)
Mike: I'm gonna say... dull surprise.
Crow: Dull surprise!
Tom Servo: Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding!
(Mike holds up another picture of Ireland)
Mike: Uh, dull surprise?
Crow and Servo: Yes!
Crow: Dull surprise!
Mike: Yes. Dull surprise, dull surprise, dull surprise, dull surprise! Boy, I'm making up the points! Ding dong, dull surprise, dull surprise! We'll be right back! Dull surprise!