Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving memories

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday. I certainly did. Normally I spend Thanksgiving with my parents. This year, though, my siblings were both out of town (Brother in Boston with his girlfriend, Sister in Jamaica with her husband) and I have a lovely new bride. So, down to Maryland we trundled to spend Thanksgiving with her Sister's family. I got to be 'Uncle Jim' for the first time. As it turns out, having the maturity of a nine-year-old works well when trying to deal with 1 to 4 year olds. A fun time was had by all.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Review: War of the Worlds, the series ep 10

The tenth episode of the War of the Worlds series is titled Epiphany. The episode opens with a heated debate between Ironhorse and Blackwood about an upcoming disarmament conference between the Soviet Union and the United States. This is interrupted by a phone call from Katya, a visiting Soviet scientist who shares a romantic past with Blackwood. After, she slips free from her KGB guard, Major Kedrov (played with aplomb by Patrick Macnee, the actor who played John Steed in The Avengers.) The aliens, meanwhile, are using the conference to attempt to 'stir up tribal rivalries' among the humans by detonating a nuclear bomb during the conference. Katya attempts to defect to the US, which prompts Harrison to bring her back to the Cottage, much to Ironhorse's consternation. Ironhorse meets with Kedrov and the two cold warriors come to an understanding. Katya is to be returned to the Soviets. His personal politics aside, the disarmament is too important to risk over a single defection. Blackwood threatens to call General Wilson (remember him?) and quit, but Ironhorse calls his bluff. Things get a little hairy when the nuclear bomb is discovered thanks to an unpaid parking meter, but Katya disarms it and saves the day. The US Government relents and allows her to stay, but after learning of Blackwood's mission, she's determined to go back to the USSR and get her government to start investigating alien activity.

The Good: Ironhorse and Blackwood continue to be the engine that drives this show. Their conflict has a great rhythm to it. What's great is, both of them are wrong as often as they are right. It'd be easy to always make Blackwood correct, but Ironhorse's concerns about bringing a defector to the Cottage were completely legitimate.

Macnee did terrific as Ironhorse's opposite number. He radiated just the right mixture of menace and competence and Russian stoicism. When the two of them meet face to face, they had great chemistry.

Their first encounter was just as good. When Blackwood leaves the compound and refuses to say where he's going, Ironhorse follows him with a camera to see who he's meeting. While he's snapping photos, he notices Kedrov for the first time and snaps some shots. Kedrov snaps the shots right back.

The boldness of the alien's plans was fun. To build a bomb, they took over three workers at a nuclear plant, walked straight in and walked out with a few cases of plutonium. When radiation poisoning overwhelmed one of the alien's host body (presumably, that wasn't clear), they pulled over to the side of the road and grabbed a cop as a new body. And then they just park the van a few blocks from the conference with the device inside.

Narrowing in, as they walked away from the van, a cute little girl ran up and informed them that they forgot to pay the meter. The alien/cop told her that no one would give a police officer a ticket, and the girl replied that even the police had to obey the laws. He apologized and went to pay, and when she asked if she could, he picked her up, grinned, and allowed her to insert the coin. It was a great scene, and foreshadowed the eventual discovery of the device.

Speaking of the device, when Katya disarmed it, there was both a timer and a motion detector. They did the timer first and got it with three minutes to spare. No last-second cliche here.

The idea of the Soviets setting up a Blackwood Project equivalent is also a fun one. Aliens DO threaten the entire world, after all.

The aliens were fun, going over a map of the US and talking about what they'd blow up first. The San Andreas fault was up there, along with the city of New York.

Finally, there's a really weird wall in the alien cave covered in clocks. I dunno why, I just really liked it.

The Bad: When the aliens failed to blow up the peace conference, they had their commander (who had also been in the previous episode) jump off a ledge into a void. While this is in keeping with their zero tolerance for failure policy, it remains cartoonish and silly. Also, the effect was just embarrassingly blue-screened.

Why exactly one of the aliens got sick and needed a new body was never made clear.

Finally, the aliens abandon the vehicle, with a blast range of 30 miles, about 2 blocks from the conference. Not only that, but the cop/alien stuck around to watch things. If he was willing to die, he'd have been better off checking into a hotel room a few blocks / miles away and detonating it by hand.

The Ugly: Sick alien, hand's down.

All told, this was a very strong episode. The pacing was good, which is sometimes a problem. There wasn't really a coincidence to be had, as it was the disarmament conference that kicks everything off. The character moments were fun, and the high stakes kept the tension high.

One note. This episode firmly establishes that the year is 1987. That's of interest when we get to season two.  War of the Worlds - The Complete First Season  is available on DVD if you care to check it out.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Ark Addendum - Webworld (part 6)

Hope you're not sick and tired of Webworld yet! This week, some of the patients who undergo the therapies of the Torkuli.

Let's see - there's an orange blob of protoplasm with a long tongue who calls everyone mommy. He gets to whack at one of his tormentors at the end of the episode.

There's a bouncing guy, who rather antagonizes Galvatron during Exo-Drama.

There is a three headed alien who sits and chants 'I have no head.'

There's a tyrannosaurus looking alien that Galvatron argues with at the beginning of the episode.

Finally, there's a six-legged insectoid centaur kinda thing that didn't make it into the episode itself. Interestingly, an actual centaur DID make it in, but alas I've got no model for it. It wasn't very prominent anyway.

Hope you enjoy! I'll probably take a few days off posting, as I'll be spending Thanksgiving with the in-laws and may have spotty access. Stay tuned for more Webworld next week.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Iván's Gallery: Sinestro Corps - Total Fear

Welcome back, faithful readers! (And to those of you who engage in infidelity ... kudos.) Iván's Gallery is back with a vengeance. This week he brings us The Sinestro Corps - Total Fear. Here's what he has to say about it:
Sinestro corps war really was the first thing I read ... and I really liked the pace and level of action.
I think it's really hard to make a comic like this, with so many characters, many places, and a level of action and excellent design.

Here we see its greatest exponents, Sinestro of course, Superman Prime, Ranx or the Anti-Monitor.
I really enjoy this reading and I was hooked to the Green Lantern universe, highly recommended.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bish's Review: Marvel UK #83 "Target: 2006" Part 5

"Target 2006" Part 5 was written by Simon Furman, drawn by Geoff Senior, lettered by Richard Starkings, coloured by Gina Hart and edited by Ian Rimmer.

The cover was also by Geoff Senior and is a fairly dynamic picture of Scourge being blasted by a mysterious character from off-panel. "Scourge is scrapped!" reads the caption, "And not by an Autobot!" It's fairly obvious that the perpetrator is Megatron if you've been following the story and you can see the end of his fusion cannon at the bottom of the cover. It's a pretty decent effort. Scourge looks suitably shocked at what is happening to him and he really seems to be in a bad way. The colours are a little strange, Scourge's blue feels a bit too bright, but that's a nitpick. It's not a classic cover, but it's well done.

The story picks up the cliff-hanger from two issues ago. The robot smashing his way out of a stasis pod is revealed to be Starscream (it's tempting to call it a CR - Chamber, but that term was first used in Beast Wars). It seems that Starscream had been stored there as a prisoner after Omega Supreme handed his skidplate to him back in Issue #71. Buzzsaw, Skywarp and Rumble are confined too, in critical condition but Frenzy and Thundercracker are nearing full recovery. Starscream hears voices arguing. He creeps through the corridors of the Ark to investigate and is stunned to discover...

...Megatron arguing with a group of Autobots. Starscream hides around a corner as Megatron and Jetfire debate angrily about their course of action. Jetfire is telling Megatron that he is the one in charge and that Megatron needs to acknowledge this. Megatron counters this by describing the series of failures that led to Ironhide's decision to enlist the aid of the Decepticons - this serves as a useful summary of the story so far for new readers.
Listening to this and learning, for the first time, about Galvatron's existence Starscream formulates a plan. He must go and seek out this being who is powerful enough to bring both the Autobots and the Decepticons to their knees and make an alliance with him! This is pure Starscream. He has only been online for a few minutes and already he is making plans to betray his former comrades and rule the universe with a new partner. Starscream is a coward in many ways but his willingness to put himself on the line in order to seek new opportunities for advancement is unmatched. He beats a hasty and unobserved retreat.

Into this mess walks Ultra Magnus and he is shocked at what he sees! He is so incensed that the Autobots are planning to follow Megatron into battle that he grows to twice his normal size (just for this issue) lecturing an inexplicably tiny Hound on why this is a terrible idea. Magnus breaks off his rant when he realises that the other Autobots don't yet know why he is under so much pressure to find Prime and the Matrix. He explains about his part in Operation Volcano and why he needs to be back on Cybertron. He understands why Hound has to follow the others into battle to find Jazz, but he cannot join them, so with a final warning not to trust Megatron, he lets him go.

Some time later, Scourge is grumbling that he has been given the task of collecting materials from a metal storehouse when he should be fighting. His prayers are soon answered when he realises that the Autobots are about to ambush him. Although Scourge is heavily outnumbered, the future Decepticon puts up a considerable resistance, forcing the Autobots to run and gun through the warehouse before losing his gun to a lucky shot and forcing his way outside, severely wounding Grapple in the process. Escape is not on the cards, however, as Scourge runs flat into Megatron who disables him with a blast of his fusion cannon.

In Galvatron's lair, Jazz comes to. He accuses Galvatron of being "Just like Megatron" to which Galvatron replies, in a revelation that stuns Jazz and shocks the reader "Not like Megatron... I AM Megatron!"

This is, of course, an extremely important issue for those readers who had not seen Transformers: The Movie, which, if is to be believed, was none of them, because it didn't come out in the UK during this. Even if it did, the release would have been nowhere near as wide as that of the comic book. The final reveal of Galvatron as a future version of Megatron has enormous far-reaching consequences for where the story might be heading and makes the inevitable future meeting between them much more potentially interesting than it might already have been. If Megatron kills Galvatron then he has given himself an expiry date, but if Galvatron kills Megatron then he has destroyed his own past and created a time paradox. We do not yet know the rules of time travel in the Transformers universe, but neither of those options sound like good ones for Megatron, and he doesn't even know it yet.

It's certainly not unexpected that the Autobots alliance with Megatron is already starting to feel strained. Of all the Autobots left it is only really Ultra Magnus with a strength of personality (and firepower) to really challenge Megatron - Jetfire just comes across as weak and Ironhide, who has brought this situation on, can only bluster ineffectually. Unfortunately Magnus has different priorities and the Autobots can really do nothing other than follow the Decepticon leader.
The action sequence with Scourge is very well staged and I love that this future Decepticon is so advanced that it takes all these Autobots and Megatron to take him down - and this isn't even Galvatron himself.

I have long been a huge fan of Geoff Senior's artwork but this issue is not his best. The main problem, as I've already mentioned, is that Ultra Magnus is far too big during his brief appearance. I suspect that Senior had been using the toys for reference, as the Ultra Magnus toy has a very tall and chunky robot mode. He is excellent at very dynamic motion, however, and his panel of Impactor in full battle rage is probably the most exciting in the issue, even if it does come from a recap.

A good issue with a little too much recapping to feel like a complete entity, which is no bad thing in a story this lengthy. Of course, the revelation at the end is game-changing and makes this issue a must-read classic in one panel.  IDW's trade of  Transformers: Target: 2006 is available from

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Ark Addendum - Webworld (part 5)

Hope you're not tired of Webworld yet. This set of models finishes out the therapy portion of the Webworld backgrounds. The upper illustration features the couch where Galvatron was encouraged to talk about his problems. This did not go over well.

On the bottom is the interior and exterior of the Exo-drama stage, a rather ominous arena where Galvatron was encouraged to act out his problems. The incessant bouncing of one of his fellow patients agitated him enough to break forth from hi bonds and go on yet another rampage, prompting the Torkuli to seek more drastic solutions ...

The top model also answers a question that people have been posting about. It's a bit hard to see, but there's a signature in the lower right of the drawing. It looks like it was drawn by Rico Rival. He certainly does Dery's style well, doesn't he? He's quite a talented artist.

Finally, this post is something of a milestone. My very first post was a year ago today. That makes today the one year anniversary of this blog. Looking back, there were exactly 300 posts in the first year (this is #301 for all time), an average of over 300 visitors per day and over 100,000 pageviews. In that time I've published two books, gotten married and seen blog contributors come and go. I like to think that we'll have as much to be proud of next year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Ark Addendum - Webworld (part 4)

Webworld continues! The fourth set of models are two rooms inside the advanced facility. Originally I was going to combine these models with the ones on the previous page, but they're just so detailed that I couldn't bear to shrink them.

The top drawing is just a corridor, and yet look how elaborate it is. The bottom drawing is the room where Galvatron's 'art therapy' takes place.

Once again, a big shout-out to Monzo for providing these beauties.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Ark Addendum - Webworld (part 3)

What a week! It's Tuesday and we're already on our third set of models. Once again, we're looking at backgrounds from Webworld, generously provided by Monzo.

These models are the exterior and interior lobby of the Advanced Facility, where some of the Torkuli's most difficult patients are treated. Doesn't the exterior look great? It's like some kind of sprawling sea-beast, just waiting to devour all comers. It's clever how there's a bulbous region right by the door, and then the lobby is dome-shaped. It's a great example of the pseudo-organic architectural style of Transformers season 3.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Ark Addendum - Webworld (part 2)

As promised, here is part two of Webworld, featuring some lovely landscapes provided by Monzo. These landscapes are where Galvatron, Cyclonus and Scourge first landed on Torkulon. There, Galvatron met some of the unfortunate victims - er, patients - encased in the living webs of the planet. In fact, if you look closely, you can read about where they landed and who's in each cell.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Ark Addendum - Webworld (part 1)

It's time for more of The Ark Addendum. All this week, and for a little while yet to come, I bring you Webworld. Webworld was a third season episode and one of my favorites. It probably was the most Decepticon-centric episode of the series, with only a brief Autobot/Decepticon scuffle in the beginning of the episode. After that, it was all-Galvatron, all the time. It lampoons the mental health system, examines how the Decepticons would chafe under an insane leader, and manages to be very funny to boot. It's also one of the few episodes where I have virtually every model. I decided to to package all of them together, so the next few days will be all-Webworld, all the time. I hope you enjoy.

This is a good time to introduce the newest Disciple of Boltax - Monzo. For those of you who don't know, Monzo is what I'd call an über-fan. Named for the Headmaster, he has devoted a good fraction of his energies to obscure facts, merchandise and characters from Transformers. Check out his website if you have a moment. He's generously agreed to share some of his findings here, so I look forward to seeing what treasures he will unearth. You can thank him for most of the background images from Webworld that I'll be displaying, including the lovely shot of the planet itself.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Review: War of the Worlds, the series ep 9

The Good Samaritan is the ninth episode of the War of the Worlds tv series. This episode features an attempt by the aliens to introduce a lethal spore into the human food supply. An ideal opportunity presents itself when billionaire Marcus Madison Mason announces a new grain his company has developed with the potential to end world hunger. It thrives in the harshest environments, grows quickly, and is resistant to radiation. That last property catches the eyes of the Blackwood team, who are attempting to develop radiation-resistant bacteria to unleash on the aliens. Mason's womanizing allows the aliens the chance to absorb him and push forward their agenda. Thanks to a bit of legerdemain (and the aforementioned womanizing), Dr. McCullough walked off with a sample of the tainted grain, and soon the team realizes that aliens are afoot. Blackwood and Ironhorse, alone, head to the docks to prevent the ship from setting sail. There's a bit of a scuffle that ends up with the aliens dead. Though a few ships were launched, the Advocacy realizes that they will be intercepted.

The Good: Lots of great character moments in this episode. Martin and Chaves continue to have great chemistry. Ironhorse goads Blackwood about his jealousy when Suzanne goes out on a date with one of the richest men in the world. Harrison won't quite admit his feelings, much to Paul's amusement.

Aliens in unusual forms. This time, it's a trio of old ladies, clucking disapprovingly at Mason's mistress.

Bad puns. We first see three aliens working at a diner, testing their poison. These same three aliens are introduced later as advisers to Mr. Mason; Ms. Marsh, Mr. Stein and ... Mr. Cook. Yuk yuk yuk.

The Bad: The pacing. This episode just sorta drags. There's little urgency or momentum going into it. I'm not sure why, it's probably a problem with the directing.

The plan. Aliens make a deadly poison, that's fine. But really, grain is sown, cultivated, and grown. That'd take months. Surely in all that time, someone would discover that the grain was toxic, no? Some farmers would notice that crows were dying at alarming rates or something. This plan was doomed to failure from the start.

The Ugly: Not much. Let's go with Ironhorse cutting off an alien hand.

Overall, a fairly lackluster effort. I just didn't care much about this episode. Mason wasn't an interesting enough villain, and the plot just sort of drags along. Also, this is an interesting episode to keep in mind when we go to the 2nd season. Here, we're talking about ending world hunger. Later, famine seems to be a real issue impacting even the team. There are certainly more obviously fracture points between the two seasons, but this one is thematically about as far removed as possible from the bleak and oppressive 'almost tomorrow' of season two.  War of the Worlds - The Complete First Season  is available for sale on DVD.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Review: Marvel G1 #36: Spacehikers!

Spacehikers! is the thirty-sixth issue of the Marvel US G1 ongoing Transformers comic. Bob Budiansky continues to write the comic. José Delbo joins the staff as artist - he'll be with the book for a long time to come. Akin & Garvey continue to ink, Albers letters the book, and Yomtov colors it. We get another Frank Springer cover.

This cover tells a decent story, though it's a tad misleading. The four human children, dubbed the 'Spacehikers' in this issue, walk a metallic plank into space. They're wearing space suits at least. Snarl and Slag stand guard menacingly. They're not the focus of the image, though. That would be Sky Lynx, bearing down on them like some vast, predatory bird! With his sharpened teeth and dangerous claws, he's actually quite scary. Great execution all around, though I'd have colored the ark a different shade to make Sky Lynx stand out all the more.

The book opens with a splash of Sky Lynx, this time in shuttle mode, warping through space. A caption informs us that it starts several hours before the end of the last issue. Sky Lynx gives us some personal backstory via flashback; he was getting tired of war without end on Cybertron, and so jumped at the chance to help out Wheeljack. He arrives at Earth just as the Ark launches from the surface. Inside the Ark, Grimlock chokes Wheeljack for not tracking down Blaster sooner. Blaster is, of course, inside Blast Off with the human children. He warns Sammy to stay away from an air lock hatch and reminds the audience that the mode lock keeps Blast Off under control. He also informs the kids that the new Autobot leader, Grimlock, is leading his fellows astray. Right about then, they notice the Ark following them and opening fire, bringing us to where the last issue left off. It's a slightly clumsy device, backing up like that. It works fine for Sky Lynx and Grimlock, but it seems like a cheat to also do it for the Spacehikers.

Blaster tries to get away from the Ark, aided perhaps by Wheeljack's reluctance to fire on Blaster. Wheeljack, though, is surprised to see Blaster apparently teamed up with a Decepticon. Right about then, Sky Lynx calls in, asking if he can help apprehend Blast Off. Wheeljack, still trying to figure out what's going on, asks Sky Lynx to hold back, which doesn't sit well with his bloated ego. Meanwhile, Blaster has come to the conclusion that he can't outrun the Ark, and so decides to give up. Sammy, though, won't condem Blaster to that fate, and chucks the Autobot out the airlock.

Soon Blast Off is brought aboard the Ark, and a cadre of armed guards are ready to greet him. The Autobots seem more concerned about Blaster than about Blast Off, which is appropriate but still somewhat funny. Only the Spacehikers are on board the Decepticon, though, and they quickly surrender.

Blaster, meanwhile, floats through space until a satellite passes nearby, allowing him to commandeer its stabilizing rockets and head for the Ark. He interrupts an episode of Sledge Hammer! along the way, which was a pretty fun and cheesy show from the 80s.

The kids are in Wheeljack's custody. When they complain about the cold, they're all outfitted with space suits (even the teddy bear Daisy.) They're still a little nervous around Wheeljack, though, perhaps understandable given their unfriendly reception. Soon the little squirts are brought before Grimlock, presiding over the Autobot Multi-Circuit Court. Grimlock doesn't think they even deserve a trial, though Wheeljack points out that ALL sentient creatures are entitled to one. Rather, he starts to point this out before Grimlock tells him to shut up. Once Sammy admits that they helped Blaster escape, Grimlock sentences them to death. Even Snarl thinks that this might be going too far, given the strong sympathies the other Autobots have for humans. Grimlock, though, is using it as a ruse to draw out Blaster.

Soon the humans are walking the plank, and Wheeljack is asking Sky Lynx to intervene again. Thus, the scene on the cover is explained, with Sky Lynx's role actually entirely benign. Blaster uses this scene to get close to the Ark, though, he gets a little fried by the exhaust when Grimlock starts to pursue Sky Lynx. The spacehikers get to know Sky Lynx for a bit, before Grimlock's pursuit forces them into a nearby asteroid field. Grimlock and the Dinobots hunt Sky Lynx, who proves too fast for them. Blaster gets inside the Ark and tries to rally the other Autobots against Grimlock. Unfortunately for him, Grimlock has outsmarted (!) Sky Lynx, surrounding him. The other Autobots are prepared to fight through to Sky Lynx, but Blaster realizes that that will put the humans in danger. In exchange for letting Sky Lynx and the spacehikers go, Blaster surrenders to Grimlock.

Overall, I find this tale uninspiring. It functions, more or less, as the climax of the Blaster rebellion storyline. As such, it's a disappointment. The actual fight doesn't happen (that'll have to wait until issue #41), with Blaster surrendering to save human kids. Grimlock comes across surprisingly well, though villainous. He's tactically shrewed, out-manovering Sky Lynx and outsmarting Blaster (after all, Grimlock wasn't really prepared to allow the humans to die.) Sky Lynx's introduction isn't too bad - it feels like it adds, rather than detracts, and that's something. Delbo's art is ... perfunctory. It's very much on-model, which I appreciate. But it tends towards static poses. That said, there are some very nice bits in there, like Grimlock forcing the Spacehikers off the plank.

Spacehikers! is available in  Classic Transformers Volume 3. Pick it up from Next month, we're told that 'A child's playthings are all that stand between the Decepticons and world conquest in "Toy Soldiers!"' After two issues revolving around children (four if one counts Man of Iron), yet another one seems like overkill. Ah, well, we'll find out soon, won't we?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Iván's Gallery: Quintesson Minions

First off, apologies for being a bit out of touch this week. I'm working on a project that's taking up much of my attention. Add in a nasty virus (computer) and you'll understand why I took a week off of posting new models.

It's times like these, though, that I'm blessed with talented collaborators. Iván has come through with another nifty drawing. This time it's some of the minions of the Quintessons. I love these guys and was glad to be able to bring to light many of their seldom-seen animation models. Here is what the artist has to say about them.

I think these races could have been exploited more ...
I liked a lot when I saw the movie ..
Although there are more than one who gives me the feeling that is a tribute to critauras that appear in the Return of the Jedi, in the Jabba´s palace. Nice.
I think IDW hinted something about the Quintessons in the Wheelie Spotlight .. but apparently .. the thing is out there.
In any case and as I always say .. in transformer there is a whole universe to explore outside Prime and Megatron, which, I must admit, now I begin to tire a bit.

Friday, November 6, 2009

25 Reviews, Baby!

I was just perusing Amazon, as I am wont to do, and lo and behold  Allspark Almanac is up to 25 reviews! What's really amazing is that every single one of them is at five stars.

I'm incredibly proud and gratified. Thanks to everyone who took the time. Reviews are a great way to help the undecided and more casual fans make purchasing decisions.  So, if you're still on the fence somehow, order your copy today!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Review: Marvel Headmasters #3: Love and Steel!

Love and Steel! is the third of the four-issue limited Headmasters series. The creative line-up remains steady: Budiansky on scripts, Springer on pencils, Akin & Garvey on Inks, Yomtov on colors and Brosseau on letters. The same artistic team drew the cover.

The cover is less inspired than the previous offerings. Some Nebulons float in bubbles, Llyra prominently among them. The others, though, look a bit too super-hero-ish. Autobots shoot at them against a black background, which makes it hard to put the image in context. "The Love That Kills", it says, which oddly is about the most interesting thing on the cover. That theme would be visited from a number of angles throughout the book. In the Marvel box, Fortress Maximus removes his head dramatically. All in all, it's an interesting idea, but the execution is lacking.

The book opens with a Decepticon attack on the resort city of Splendora. The Terrorcons and Horrorcons are trying to show the fleshlings how powerful they are by killing as many as possible. Naturally, the Autobots can't allow that and soon it's Computron vs Abominus. The Decepticons are soon driven off, thanks in no small part to the augmented power of the Headmaster process. The natives, though, are still concerned. There are, after all, still giant robots among them. Duros and Arcana attempt to convince the populace of their good intentions. One of the Council of Peers, a woman named Soriza, remains skeptical and thinks that perhaps neutral observers would be a good addition to Autobot missions.

Meanwhile, at the same remote complex where the Decepticons were first summoned, Zarak and his inner circle are locked in a makeshift cage while Scorponok's troops conduct experiments. They're working on an anti-gravity gun, designed to dump dissidents into space. When Apeface and Snapdragon return with news of defeat, Scorponok is furious. He has no patience for tales of organically enhanced adversaries. Zarak, though, proposes an alliance. He still believes that the Autobots are as much of a threat as the Decepticons. Scorponok mulls over the idea and decides that it has merit. One gets the sense that he is as interested in seeing what the impact will be on Zarak as he is in defeating the Autobots. This gives the whole scene a sort of Foustian feel. It's also an example of the love that kills - it's Zarak's love for his daughter and his planet that leads him to propose enhancing Scorponok's power. Without this bargain, it's very likely that Scorponok would have eventually been defeated and driven off Nebulos.

At the Autobot headquarters, the Council informs Galen of their intentions to observe, interrupting an examination of the weapons left behind by the Targetmasters-to-be. Duros points out the danger of proximity to battle, but Galen bends to the rule of law. Llyra arrives (wearing what appears to be a negligee) with word from her father ... he has been captured by the Decepticons and begs Galen set aside their differences and help him. The Autobots, council in tow, head out without delay.

As the prepare their assault, they're startled to see six Nebulons walk out of the fortress, with headless Decepticon bodies following closely behind. Zarak gloats for a moment, though he's briefly startled to see a Council hovercraft. Soon enough, though, he initiates the ambush and a battle begins. The battle is pretty standard comic fare, but the presence of the observers allows for some additional anguish. When the Council's craft is brought to ground, Mindwipe hypnotizes the members into heading into the complex. He then encases them in anti-gravity bubbles, allowing Scorponok to shatter the roof and send them skyward. He's horrified when he realizes that he's endangered his daughter, but that soon passes. The Autobots do their best to bring the bubbles down, shooting them (VERY carefully) and then catching the occupants. With the Autobots thus occupied, Scorponok regroups and prepares to deliver the coup de grâce. Fortress Maximus manages to save Llyra just before she floats out of range and set her down safely, only to have him and his troops laid low by the Decepticons. Here we REALLY see the love that kills theme played out. Galen's love for Llyra (and, indeed, all life) allows him to be distracted and defeated. Zarak's very love for his daughter prompted him to merge with Scorponok and then put her life in grave danger. And really, Llyra's love of her father put her in harm's way in the first place.

The Decepticons and their Nebulon allies are elated, but Zarak soon realizes that he almost killed his daughter. He wonders how she can forgive him, but fortunately for him she was so disoriented by Mindwipe's hypnosis that all she really remembers was Galen shooting at her. She embraces her father and thanks him for saving them. Ever the savvy politician, Zarak takes credit and promises that Galen won't be a threat to anyone any more.

It's a good penultimate chapter. The Decepticons now have Headmasters too. Llyra's affection has shifted back from her lover to her father. Fortress Maximus lies defeated before the Decepticons. All the main threads are twisted together, and the tension is high. Next issue, we're promised "The climactic, cataclysmic conclusion of Head Masters!" With a set-up like this, it might just live up to the hyperbole. Love and Steel! is available for sale from Titan books in the anthology  Transformers: Trial By Fire.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Iván's Gallery: Cobra Commander

It's time for more from Iván's Gallery. This week, Iván brings us a piece he calls 'Change.' I think it's pretty cool, a bit more serious than Cobra Commander usually manages to be. I think the military-style hat helps. Here's what Iván has to say about it:

Well, needless to say that I am inspired to do this ... While the lineup recently Obama, and I noticed the word "CHANGE", not very cool because I remembered that would be what would cobra commander, a change ... but he does not have the option of voting.
Looking at it almost seems to me something more comical than serious, a joke... -CHANGE ... please .... I'm tired of Joes .. I want to rule - hehehe
Will see that I have not drawn in the classic helmet or with the rag on his head ...
I always liked small mystery that generated the metal face .. so I am not fond of cloth on his head, but, the helmet I think it's only for the army , so I always put the hat on general or typical high command .. I think much more serious, realistic and better....... I think.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Ark Addendum - Blaster Blues

This week's edition of The Ark Addendum features the background models for the episode Blaster Blues. I think it's fun how wide a variety of settings we get, from the beautiful Floro Dery spacescape, to a foreboding lunar vista, to some more conventional earth structures. The Voltronic Galaxer is pretty cool too.

Catch you on the flipside!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Stark raving mad Halloween

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! This year, I went as Tony Stark. Hope you all had some nifty costumes.