Chapter by Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
Yay, more Mini-Cons! Even though these chapters are only six pages long, they’re still longer than the chapters in our last book. Heck, the prologue is longer than most of the chapters in our last book, and I want something easy to get through before the next big novel. This is a book for kids. I expect the chapters to be shorter here.
In previous reviews I’ve already looked at how the Armada Mini-Cons were introduced in US comics, minicomics, and the UK comics. Now we’re going to see how the prose world introduces us to the little Transformers with this book.
Prologue: Cybertron, Four Million Years Ago
Oh no, not more timestamps!
I’m seeing more in common with the TV series than with the comics. The history of the Mini-Cons on Cybertron is truncated and the two main factions call a truce and mutually agree to send the Mini-Cons away. In the comics the Mini-Cons build their own ship and head for space, while in the show it was a mutual decision, or so the narrator told us. We also get a reference to the Creator, which I’m assuming is Primus, but I don’t know if they planned to bring Primus to the Unicron Trilogy at the time. I’ve gotten ahead of myself a bit so let me pull back.
In this incarnation the Transformers were explorers, using their ability to turn into vehicles and their advanced space-faring technology to visit other worlds. They would then return with that information and download it into the citizenry, sharing the new knowledge. They also downloaded it into the planet itself because in this version the planet itself is alive, possibly another reference to Primus, but it’s not clear if the Transformers are aware that Primus is the Creator or the planet. Considering that they somehow all forgot the Mini-Cons despite presumably having lived during that time (Transformers last longer than my dad’s currently nonfunctional car) they probably forgot that as well.
We get a bit more as to how the Autobots and Decepticons considered and treated their smaller kin. We’re still told that the Mini-Cons can boost power but again the physical abilities they might offer (headlights as flashlights, extra armor and weaponry, various other potential gadgetry) are ignored. They’re still just power boosters, which makes me sad. When the Decepticon faction rose into existence they treated the Mini-Cons as slaves and were cruel to them while the Autobots considered them tools, which doesn’t seem that much better but the Mini-Cons don’t develop their own intelligence until they’re loaded into the ship to be sent off, so many of them together basically forming the same kind of joint download the big bots already had with themselves and Cybertron. They’re also said to have been created by the Creator, which is the only difference since they’re usually depicted as the creation of Unicron who turned against their creator and fought to save Cybertron at the end of the other versions. And somewhere Primacron is laughing his head off. (Congratulations to anyone who got that reference. I appreciate your readership.)
It’s here that continuities merge (except for the minicomics, which lack an origin story). The Mini-Cons’ ship crashes into the moon, this time blamed on the warp drive messing with their navigational systems. For a space-faring race in this version you’d think they’d be prepared for that. Half the ship crashes on the moon and the other half sent to Earth, which it acts like the G1 Transformers and stays asleep for four million years. Earth advances and the rest of the story will take place in 2010, The toyline and media came out in 2002 so this was set just slightly into the future, which is now our past and I guess the war must have stayed secret because I don’t remember seeing this in the papers.
So here we have the book opening with a quick history lesson, establishing the backstory quickly so we can get to the kids and start the main story. I like the lore set-up here. It establishes a mysterious creator, possibly forgotten along with the Mini-Cons, the early split between Autobot and Decepticons, and the fate of the Mini-Cons. We also learn that the Transformers were a race of explorers who could download their findings into each other and their living planet, which is something new to Transformer lore. Usually transforming was a result of the war but here it was an ability created to explore a planet that turned into a weapon of war, and I think that’s actually pretty cool. It’s a nice addition on writer Michael Teitelbaum’s part. What will wake up the Mini-Cons in this version. Based on the chapter titles we’ll have to wait a bit because we have a few characters to introduce first.
Next Time: The Cosmo Kids
Oh good, no more timestamps. I am way past being over timestamps right now.