When we last left the JvTFU (Joe vs Transformers Universe), Cobra’s plan to control giant robots failed when they woke up and kicked their butt. In the interim, Decepticons thought lost ended up in the hand of government scientists, but the uninformed Autobots gave their Joe friends (also uninformed) a set of battlesuits. Cobra themselves got away with some serious knowledge about Cybertronian tech. Which brings us to the sequel series.
As Dreamwave failed after only one series and one issue of a sequel, Devil’s Due, now separate from Image Comics, continued their crossover universe. With a new writer comes a new scenario–time travel. Did they mess this one up?
G.I. Joe vs. the Transformers II
FORMAT: comic (4-issue miniseries)
DISTRIBUTOR: Devil’s Due
COVER DATES: Sept.-Dec. 2004
WRITER: Dan Jolley
PENCILERS: E. J. Su & Tim Seeley (issues 1-2, 4; Seeley does layouts for issue 3)), Emiliano Santalucia & Guido Guidi (issue 3)
INKERS: Andrew Pepoy, Sean Parsons (issue 3 with Pepoy)
COLORIST: Jeremy Roberts (1-3), Val Staples (issue 4)
LETTERING: Dreamer Design (DD participant Robin Spehar credited issue 4)
EDITOR: Mark Powers
GRAPHIC DESIGN: Mike Norton
PRODUCTION ASSISTANCE: Sean Dove
MILITARY CONSULTATION: Andrew Swenson
Two years have passed since the last story. The Joe team learns of a meeting connected to the slowly reforming Cobra organization, and break up the meeting. There they learn that the Dreadnoks have used Cybertronian technology to become cyborgs. However, they’re no match for the Joe exosuits and the Joes themselves. Cobra Commander takes the loss in stride. Thanks to Starscream, he has learned a lab in Boston has made contact with a series of wormholes maintained by the Decepticons on Cybertron, and he plans to use it to obtain more alien tech.
Meanwhile, on said planet, Shockwave and his Decepticons rule the planet. However, Optimus Prime and his Autobots are back, working to take their planet back. Back on Earth, the Joes attempt to block Cobra Commander from reaching Cybertron, but the gateway control is damaged in the fight, sending Joes and Cobras to Cybertron. At the same time, Autobots and Decepticons are teleported to Earth, but Teletran 3, the computer that maintains the “space bridge” network, sends the Transformers into Earth’s past, where they’re immediately altered to resemble Earth vehicles and trapped in stasis lock. What’s worse, the temporal feedback will destroy the Earth if they’re not returned. Autobots Ultra Magnus and Perceptor try to protect Teletran 3 while the humans are forced to team-up.
The first group consists of Lady Jaye, Zartan, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow (who show no signs of their famous rivalry), who are sent to the 1970’s to rescue Jazz, Bumblebee, Hot Rod, and Blitzwing. Roadblock, The Baroness, Beachhead, and Percy the Viper (seriously, that’s his name) end up hunting Optimus Prime and the Stunticons in 1930’s Chicago. The big problem goes to Spirit, Dr. Mindbender, Barbecue, and the Crimson Twins, who end up in the future to find one Autobot, Ratchet. However, he arrived two years earlier, to a future where the Decepticons have invaded and now rule. The Joes and Cobras are now part of the resistance, and thanks to the time travel mishap, Ratchet is the only Autobots left alive, the only ace in the hole the humans have left. So the now barely alive Duke refuses to help them, as does Ratchet, not believing in the temporal feedback. Aided by the Dreadnoks, who hope they can change this future, Ratchet is forced to return, only to be blasted by Shockwave along with one of the Twins.
The current Decepticon leader has defeated Ultra Magnus and Perceptor, and is more than willing to let the temporal feedback do it’s work, leaving the last team in the past. However, a group of the human soldiers escaped in the confusion and are able to bring back the final team, with the Dinobots in tow. The Dinobots mop the floor with the Decepticons, and allow the Autobots to take back Cybertron, or at least Teletran 3. The humans go back home, but Cobra Commander has left a little surprise in Starscream that takes down both him and possibly Shockwave as well.
Three months later, Dr. Mindbender has been captured and taken to prison, but is transfered by a agents looking to tap his expertise. However, he finds out that they’re not with the NSA, but with Cobra-La, servants of Unicron!
Dan Jolley takes over for Josh Blaylock, writer of the first series where Jolley was an assistant. He took the series into more of a science fiction direction than Blaylock, introducing time travel and taking us to Cybertron. He also brought in Unicron (who, if you ask me, is rather overused in the Transformers franchise) and Cobra-La (whose status among the Joe fan base is mixed at best). Both were the “outsider” force in the respective animated movies of the 80’s. (The Joe movie went direct-to-video after some problems scrapped the theatrical release.) One questions bringing them in, but making them a combined threat might work. We won’t find out for certain until the forth and final arc in JvTFU.
I give Jolley credit for having fun with the time travel concept, except for the dark future, where humor just wouldn’t work. We learn that Zartan “survived” the 70’s, and watching reactions from anyone nearby when the Transformers are revived. However, it’s Ganster-era Chi-Town that is the best of the travels. It’s Percy the Viper that makes it great, watching him flip out. Beachead even asks him his name, just to tell him to shut up. The Baroness also gets into that comedy situation where she says she’s not going to do something, then the next scene has her doing it. Just so much fun, but without forgetting this is a serious situation.
It’s a nice job all around storywise, but for one complaint. The last part of issue 1 feels like it needed another page or two. They’re just rushed headlong into the situation, not as if things have spiraled fast (as intended) but just to get the set-up done in issue 1. Perhaps they could have left the “arrival” scene until issue two, but issue three makes the same transition and does it better.
Even with the shift in art team for issue three (Tim Seeley’s layouts are still used), there are no complaints, except for the same I had last mini–the artists are too busy trying to recreate the “iconic” robot modes, but with different vehicle bits. Otherwise, the art is rather good. I wonder if the usual artists would have made the future as dark as the regular team. It melds well, but if they had played musical artists in the same issue, as IDW has done with some of their recent comics (I ranted about that in the weekly reviews), I think it might still have matched up, considering it took place in the Terminator-esque future.
Best Moments of the Story
Anything involving Percy the Viper!
So once again, Devil’s Due put together a great comic, but there are fewer issues this arc. One more might have been nice, as I wonder what happened in the obligitory “dino times” adventure. (Spider-Man was right again.) Next time we visit this series, we’ll let the Cobra-La/Unicron story wait it’s turn, as our nation’s brightest scientists renounce that title by making the stupidest move ever with Cybertronian technology. If I say “perhaps they should have stuck with the DNA of famous leaders”, G.I. Joe fans may know exactly who I mean, but with a technorganic twist. Because we all know creating mechanical super soldiers never goes badly, right? Right?