Issue #113 was written by Simon Furman and drawn by Will Simpson. Inking was provided by Tim Perkins and lettering by Richard Starkings. Steve White added the colour.
The unforgiveably terrible cover was by Jeff Anderson and features a badly rushed - just look at his wheels! - Rodimus Prime, in vehicle mode, being introduced by Wreck-Gar. It's supposed to be funny but I don't really get the joke. Even if it were funny, the mood whiplash between this cover and the actual story, which opens with a scene of desperate battle and closes with the destruction of a much-loved character, is far too great... Wreck-Gar looks ok.
We're still in the distant future of 2007 as we join the Autobots, led by Rodimus Prime, as they take a beating from a massive Decepticon assault. Blurr and Kup go down and things look bleak before shots come out of nowhere and despatch the Decepticons - it was a ruse. The helpless Decepticon commander, who remains nameless, but looks sort of similar to other generic Decepticons like Macabre, begs for his life, but Rodimus Prime denies his request and blasts him to pieces. When Kup congratulates him on the victory he jumps down his throat, reminding him that they have just "terminated eight sentient beings".
My first reaction to this incident was annoyance at Rodimus' schizophrenia here but then I realised that was the point Furman was making. In order to demonstrate just how bad the war has become since the destruction of Unicron we are shown that actions like these are necessary. Contrast this with the contraversial scene in Revenge Of The Fallen where Optimus Prime executes a Decepticon in similar circumstances. In the film it is unacceptable because the Autobots are the ones on the offensive, actively seeking out and hunting down rogue Decepticons. Here Rodimus' Autobots are so beleagured that they need to adopt these tactics in order to survive. Of course there is a case for arguing that these tactics undermine the Autobot cause, no matter the situation, but I think Furman does a good job here in setting up the situation and differentiating these Autobots from the ones in 1987. Either way, it does fit rather better with the slightly more brutal atmosphere of Transformers: The Movie. Furman uses a couple of phrases from Optimus Prime's battle with Megatron from said movie here ("Grant me mercy", "You who are without mercy... etc") presumably to contrast Rodimus with Optimus, but I'm not sure it's wholly successful, as there is at least one point in the movie where I think Optimus is going to shoot Megatron down, which would basically be the same as this scene. It's far from clear though, as Hot Rod spoils his aim anyway, so Furman's interpretation is certainly valid.
Rodimus is distracted by news (from a generic Autobot) that Nautilus, a rather flamboyantly designed Autobot deep-cover agent has broken cover with important news. It seems that he encountered Cyclonus and Scourge shortly after their dust-up with Death's Head and found out that both Galvatron and Death's Head have now time-travelled to the Earth of 1987! Rodimus is distraught that his actions have unleashed this threat upon the past.
We change scene to Bumblebee crouched beside a black and smoking patch of Earth. It emerges that his companion, First Aid, has disappeared to make way for a time-traveller of sufficient mass, an effect that Bumblebee is quite familiar with at this point. What he is not familiar with, however, is the deadly threat posed by Death's Head! As soon as he appears he decides that Bumblebee must be terminated in order for his presence to remain secret and, in a shocking display of firepower, blasts the loyal little Autobot into scrap!
Furman raises the stakes in characteristically shocking fashion. Ok, so it probably won't shock anyone these days to learn that Bumblebee will soon be rebuilt into Goldbug but he was a much-loved character and I'm sure many kids would have worried that he wouldn't be coming back. Not only has he been killed but he has been killed by a threat that he had no answer to. Rather than the usual comic character death by heroic sacrifice he has simply been blasted because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Other than this there isn't an awful lot of story in the issue. The only important plot point is that Rodimus Prime now knows where Galvatron and Death's Head are. Although we are not told so it seems unthinkable that he won't follow them and cause yet more time-travelling shenanigans.
I appreciate another look at post Movie Cybertron and it seems in keeping with Furman's storytelling style that things have only become worse since Unicron has been vanquished. From a logical perspective I find it rather hard to believe that in a war millions of years long these twenty have really been all that significant, but it would seem that Shockwave, in keeping with his first appearance in the comic, is just that much of a threat.
Will Simpson's art is pretty dramatic in this issue. I still have the odd criticism of his rendering of the Transformers but his Death's Head is decent and Bumblebee (before and during his untimely destruction) is basically on-model. Assuming Simpson did the designs for the one-off characters in this issue I think he is also worthy of praise, particularly for Nautilus, a colourful design that fits right into the more futuristic, fantastic style of the Movie characters.
The story continues in the next issue with Burning Sky and the pieces are certainly in place for some exciting action. The whole saga, Galvatron, Death's Head and all was reprinted in Titan's Fallen Angel collection. Out of print, but not too tricky to get hold of. Sadly it seems unlikely that IDW will be able to publish a new version as Marvel currently own the rights to Death's Head.
NEXT UP… RETCON!
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