The eighth issue of the US G2 Marvel Comics run of Transformers is, as usual, a two-part tale, though this time the back up story was placed in the middle of the main story. Very strange. Both were written by Simon Furman, with colors by Mossoff and letters by Starkings with O'Neil. The artwork on Escalation!, the main story and not the excellent IDW miniseries of the same name , was by Manny Galan on pencils with Jim Amash on inks. The Tales of Earth (part 5) artwork, pencils and inks, was done by Derek Yaniger, as was the cover.
Yaniger delivers another excellent cover. Optimus and Megatron stand, back to back, guns smoking, a sword dripping oil. They stand amid the wreckage of many G2 Cybertronians. Powerful stiff. Megatron's hip looks just a bit off, but that's a pointless nit. Even the cover text seems somewhat necessary: "Optimus Prime and Megatron: Old Enemies / New Allies!" Yes, the image shows that, but it's so unlikely that it's worth calling out. Lovely work.
Optimus is glad that the Decepticons arrived to save their butts, but of course he's worried too. Despite his lofty speech, it was the brutal edge of the Decepticons that won this battle. He and Megatron confer aboard the Warworld, attempting to build on the success of this day, when Soundwave shows up with disturbing news. Starscream is missing!
It's another decent offering, though moving the back-up tale to the middle of the issue feels really strange to me. I'm not sure just having a different title block makes the changes in artwork any more or less jarring, and clearly Furman feels compelled to keep some portion of each story on Earth. Leaving that aside, it's a pretty simple story. Good guys show up, fight, get overwhelmed, and then the cavalry shows up even though they said they wouldn't. Galan's artwork seems a bit off this time around, which in an action-heavy issue like this is quite a shame. The brutality of the G2 Cybertronians, though, is a highlight. Furman's prose does a good job of selling the beauty and wonder of the living computers of Ethos, even if Galan's artwork just shows a bunch of blobby alien creatures. The real payoff, though, is seeing Autobot and Decepticon fight together. As well, Starscream's desertion at the end is a nice way to end an otherwise fairly predictable story.
Sadly, this is also the issue where we find out that the series will end at issue 12. Shame. It took them a while to hit their stride, but they seem to have done so. This story, while not brilliant, is solid on its own. In the context of the overall story, it's really quite good, with Optimus and Megatron poised on one side and Jhiaxus on the other, and Starscream a wildcard. At least we get four more issues to finish things out, which is more than the G1 comic got after the axe fell. Escalation (and Tales of Earth 5, of course) is available for purchase in the out-of-print titan collection, Transformers Rage in Heaven.