The cover is quite nice. A blue-faced and green bodied Megatron smirks at the reader as he holds Cobra Commander's scowling form up. Simple, effective, and gets the job done. It looks like a Transformers baddie is aligning himself with the forces of Cobra. The coloring in Megatron is a bit intriguing, though. If one were inclined to be slightly churlish, one could point out that the anatomy on Megatron seems a bit off. Try to hold up your hand like he's doing; it's difficult to do so naturally. Still, I'm inclined to let that flaw go as the composition of the image works really well, demonstrating both scale and emotion and theme.
While Cobra Commander and Zarana flee, Biggles-Jones strikes back with her rail gun, firing a projectile that bisects Megatron and continues to go into orbit! Yeah, pretty impressive tech, that is. Megatron think so too, and quickly identifies the source of his pain. Before he can smash the 'disgusting carbon-cycle creature cluttering it up,' though, Cobra Commander stop him by informing him that she is the very designer of the not-quite debugged weapon system that's caught his attention. Megatron proposes a trade; the contents of the Ark for the rail gun and a complete system refitting and upgrade. After all, he looks like he's still suffering from the impact of a forced planetary landing, with cracked armor, exposed wires, and two new rail gun holes in his chest.
Back to the robots, though! Megatron is being disassembled, with much exposed wires and circuitry. I rather like the various pieces of detritus being carried away by pulleys, including part of his back and his beloved fusion cannon. (Note - I don't quite get why Megatron would give up the fusion cannon though. Sure, a shoulder-mounted rail gun is nice, but why not both? That's why the 17-year-old me got a spare beat-up Megatron from a comic shop and did some surgery, adding back his fusion cannon to the G2 Megatron toy. By the way, it looks AWESOME! The G1 Megatron toy's cannon was always a bit too big for his arm, but it looks perfect against the monster that is G2 Megatron.) Zarana suggests pushing Megatron around now that he's at their mercy, but Cobra Commander opts to stick to the letter of the deal... which amuses Megatron. Somehow I don't think he's quite as helpless as Zarana thinks, disassembled or no.
Unlike the last book, this one squarely splits the focus between the Joe cast and plotline and the appearance of Megatron. While I can see how that might have been frustrating for long-time Joe readers, as a Transformers fan like myself it's like a breath of fresh air to read about these characters again. Hama's writing and Batista's artwork feel very much like the latter-day Furman/Wildman collaboration in tone and style, which helps keep a feeling of continuity. Hama really nails Megatron's personality, running from hot to cold very very quickly. He's really a very different kind of villain than the political and conniving Cobra Commander. Megatron is shrewd but mostly gets what he wants through force of arms. Cobra Commander is far more devious. Hama does write Megatron a bit robotty in places, especially the line "I need to reconfigure for optimums efficiency! Anthropomorphic dexterity and mobility are also unessential for present tasks... which are best accomplished by a dedicated weapons system!" OK, it's a fair bit of rationalizing him turning into a gun, but I have a hard time believing Megatron would actually say that. Shockwave, sure, but not Megatron.
On the Joe front, the Scarlett / Snake-Eyes plot seems mostly to be on hold. Since that was the main emotional driving force of the past few issues, that's unfortunate. We don't really advance from where we were last issue, except to know for sure that she'll live. I suppose we see a bit of Snake-Eyes' reaction to stabbing the woman he loves, which is nice, but it feels like there should be more of that. I suppose that toy concerns brushed that aside. After seeing how effortlessly Furman seemed to dance around the new-toy requirements, it's slightly jarring to go back to something a bit more akin to the middle Budiansky period of awkward (re)introductions.
So, overall, a fairly strong offering, both from a hardcore Transformers perspective and a casual Joe perspective. Great writing, great artwork, and a mostly pretty good plot marred only a bit by corporate concerns. Sadly, this book has not been reprinted to my knowledge, but who know? IDW owns the publication rights to both Transformers and G.I. Joe, so mayhaps it's possible they'll reprint this rather fun little tale in the future. We can hope, anyway. "Next: Dr. Mindbender?!?" Let's see how that works out, one week from today!
This was a fun issue for me to get back into the groove of things. And it helped elevate my interest in G.I. Joe, too-- previously, my exposure was little more than the cartoon. I never even saw the GI Joe crossovers until years later.
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