With the Transformers Armada comic coming to an end I thought it was well past time to return to the mini-comics Dreamwave produced for the toys. In our last installment we found a very lackluster story. Whether it was the space needed to include the catalog or the insistence to have all three package languages (English, French, and Spanish as I recall) in the comic taking up much needed dialog space I can’t say. I can say it was lame. Although the same restrictions exist here, maybe this one will be better?
Not really, no.
Transformers Armada Vol. 2
Dreamwave/Hasbro (2002)WRITER: Chris Sarracini ARTIST: Guido Guidi COLORISTS: Chris Walker & Matt Kuphaldt LETTERING: Dreamer Design
Scavenger and his Mini-Con partner, Rollbar, are on a mission to create a satellite to monitor the Decepticons. At least that’s what the comic calls it. It looks more like a satellite DISH than an actual satellite. Megatron finds out about it and sends the Destruction Team to deal with it. This should already tell you that the comic doesn’t take place in the Dreamwave continuity. This is odd since the only person here not part of Dreamwave usually was co-colorist Matt Kuphaldt, or as we knew him on alt.toys.transformers, Jackpot. You really need to find this guy’s work if you can. His Transformers fanart looks like it came of one of the better-produced episodes and it’s a shame he hasn’t gotten to do more Transformers comic art than he has. As much as I like Guidi’s art, Jackpot is not being used to his full potential, although the coloring work he and Walker do in this is really good.
Scavenger manages to save Rollbar from the Destruction Team but Starscream, with Swindle connected (and this isn’t pointed out except that Starscream has his Mini-Con activated blasters out), destroys the satellite
dish. Scavenger and Starscream fight until Scavenger transforms into his earthmover mode and plows Starscream off a cliff and into the snow below. Note that there is no snow anywhere on the green cliff and Starscream TURNS INTO A JET! Being plowed off since he’s in robot mode I get, but he couldn’t transform? Is it because his other Mini-Con-activated weapon is a sword formed from one of his wings?
The Destruction Team also beat it and Scavenger and Rollbar vow to build the “satellite” again because “Autobots never quit”, ending the story. That’s one odd thing in this tale, that the Mini-Cons seem to follow factions willingly, which Saraccini himself didn’t have in the stories he wrote for the shelf comics. The Destruction Team doesn’t even come with one of the larger Transformers. They were a separate set. While factionized Mini-Cons would pop up in (as I recall) the Universe toyline having them choose a side seems odd, especially after what the Destruction Team does in the shelf comics.
The art is well-done, which isn’t a surprise with Guidi and Kuphaldt on the team. The story is really lacking, and it’s not just the need to fit three language of the same dialog into one balloon (which doesn’t help) or the space needed for the catalog. It could be why “dish” is removed but from the guy who wrote the first arc for the shelf comic of Transformers Armada I kind of expect more from him. This feels dumbed down instead of just squeezed down for the space. I’m not expecting something along the lines of Gary Cohn’s Masters Of The Universe mini-comics because he’s just that good, but I expect something better from the guy who has worked on Armada comics already. We never even get to see Rollbar activate Scavenger’s gimmick. It’s a lame gimmick but the whole figure is a piece of junk thanks to his lame sound and automated “walking” gimmick and I can see why Hasbro would want to use the comic to fool kids into buying this waste of a toy. Rollbar doesn’t even climb into Scavenger, which the toy could do, which we hadn’t seen since the old Headmaster days, and they don’t even demonstrate that.
In short, this wasn’t a good story, even by mini-comic standards, it wasn’t a good enough promotion for the line’s weakest toy (yes, I’m including the mediocre Sideswipe…Scavenger is worse than that one), and outside of the art isn’t worth tracking down. Oddly, the next time I look at the Armada mini-comics in the hopes they improve I’ll either be reviewing or finished reviewing the Energon comics from the shelf comics, and they did go as far as Energon before Pat Lee completed sinking Dreamwave into the muck. Please get better Transformers mini-comics. Outside of a little comic strip to promote the Decoys in the classic line these were the only Transformers mini-comics not produced in Japan and I would like them to stop being bad. (And yes I may review the Japanese comics from the “Unicron Trilogy” since translated scans do exist.)