Ca$h and Car-Nage! is the forth-sixth issue of the US G1 Marvel run of Transformers. It was once again written by Bob Budiansky, who has entered his final year with the book. José Delbo once again graduates to full-on penciler, with Danny Bulandi as his inker. Colors, as always, are by Nel Yomtov, and letters are still by Bill Oakley. The cover is a Frank Springer.
It's a fairly uninspired cover. It attempts to capture the slightly unusual feel of the book, but fails. A rather tough looking human on a spiky motorcycle weilds a spiked flail against an oddly formless Transformer, seen from behind. This puts the focus firmly on the human, who might be terrified or might just be really pissed off. From the context of the book, he's the latter, though the cover doesn't make that clear. Certainly a metal chain won't be of much use against a Transformer, so this hardly seems like a fair fight. "The Sparkabots battle the Roadjammers!" we're promised, which doesn't mean too much to us since we don't know who either group is.
The issue opens with four bountyhunters going about their business and getting recruited by the Z Foundation, a group dedicated to the destruction of Automatons. Burn-Out is recruited from a carnival, where he brings his own shotgun to a robot-shooting gallery and impresses the presenter. Roadhog, our cover character, destroys a robot-themed car at a demolition derby. Skunge and Felix, two short fellows (maybe midgets, the story isn't 100% clear on that) bring in a pair of criminals and are pointed to the Z Foundation by the local police. These pages are actually rather well done, with each page telling a brief story and ending with the bounty hunter in question in the lower right of the page, intrigued. Structurally it's well done, and quickly introduces us to our protagonists.
Soon the four of them are squabbling in New York City, at the Z Foundation headquarters. The arrival of three suits with alphabet names stops them. They are informed that there are two factions of Transformers, both of which are equally dangerous. The Z Foundation will pay a bounty of $50,000 per robot, which seems to be the going rate established by the probably-defunct III. They are given three jammers, devices capable of neutralizing a Transformer completely, and sent upstate to capture three Autobots. After the newly-christened Roadjammers leave, the three inform the head of the foundation, Mr. Z, that everything is proceeding. He initiates 'phase two.'
Dozens of light-years away on Cybertron, inside a Decepticon prison camp, six Autobots languish. Three Firecons with terrible character models show up and have three of them come forward. When they resist, we get a brief and lopsided battle. The Autobots are reenergized and rearmed, then sent to Earth via the Space Bridge. It seems that they were sent right to where the Roadjammers were looking for them. Hmmmm ......
Using their technological toys, Roadhog easily subdues Sizzle. Skunge knocks out Backstreet, but not before the Autobot informs him that he JUST arrived, sent by the Decepticons. Fizzle tries to reason with his pursuer, but unfortunately for him it's the furious Burn-Out he needs to deal with. The human shatters the Autobot's windshield with a shotgun blast, then chucks the jammer into the Autobot's passenger area. This scene is more than a little awesome.
Afterward, the Roadjammers compare notes. Felix, the real thinker of the group, is suspicious of events. Somehow they come to the conclusion that Mr. K, Mr. L and Mr. B are colluding with the Decepticons ... without Mr. Z knowing about it. It's a bit contrived, but they head back to the Foundation to try to trip up the trio. Inside the Foundation's garage they find three headless bodies. For, of course, Mr. L is Lokos, Mr. B is Brisko, and Mr. K is Kreb, three (Neublan?) Headmasters. They're in for a surprise when they connect to their bodies, though .... Felix has split the frequency of each jammer, enabling them to jam not three but SIX Transformers.
The Autobots had an ulterior motive, though. They wanted to collect the jammer devices. As they Roll Out, into the sunset, the roadjammers bemoan their loss of $150,000. Felix, though, has one more trick up his sleeve. He's already started to reverse-engineer the devices, and realizes that the Z Foundation isn't the only game in town. Once he's finished, the Roadjammers will be back in business!
Delbo's art continues to be solid, with the occasional flash of something very clever. I like his damaged Scorponok quite a lot, and most of his other original designs. The three alphabet flunkies look suitably smarmy, and I already commented on how much I like Burn-Out's victory over Fizzle. I can't even blame him too much for his terrible terrible Firecons. After all, that really is what their model looks like. Now, whomever drew those models .... you're ALLOWED to take some liberties with the toys. Those guys could have been very cool, not weird square little boxes. Ah, well.
Next month, it's a vacation at Club Con, with sun, sand, surf and the savage Seacons! Nice alteration there, Bob! It doesn't sound like much of an arc issue, but of course as the opening chapter to The Underbase Saga, it kind of is. Ca$h and Car-Nage! was recently reprinted as the last part of IDW's
Classic Transformers Volume 3, on sale now.