Hey, people, welcome back to Super Reads! If you're wondering why this one has taken so long, it's because I'm incredibly lazy.
Oh, I was also on vacation. And this issue sucks. All good reasons!
Now that I've been totally up front on how I feel about this comic, let's get this out of the way:
There are SPOILERS ahead.
I suppose I should have said how bad this issue is AFTER the spoiler warning... live and learn.
Let's learn about the Junkions!
In IDW continuity, the Junkions aren't from Cybertron. Instead, they hail from the planet of... Junkion. Well, they're excellent at naming things, at least.
Junkion (the planet) once enjoyed a Golden Age of prosperity and enlightenment that made them think that their happy days would never end. So everyone was super surprised when they suddenly ended and the planet was left without proper energy resources. For a time, the Junkions (the people) attempted to maintain their way of life by bartering off their riches in order to continue living the high life but you can only do that for so long before descending into a corrupt, lawless, dystopian society. Which is how things eventually ended up for Junkion (the planet).
The Junkion story became one of those terrifying campfire tales little Cybertronians would tell around their campfires to scare each other. Y'know, a tale of not properly planning for the future with strategies involving renewable energy sources and proper wealth maintenance. When Megatron found himself exiled to Junkion (the planet), he learned that the horror story was real. Megs also learned that he could kick all sorts of Junkion ass. He used his Junkion ass kicking skills to sway whole swaths of the population to join with his armies in a concerted effort to conquer Cybertron.
While that effort would ultimately fail, it opened Cybertronian eyes to the very real threat that the Junkions could pose. Almost as a side story, the Decepticon Shockwave and the Autobot Prowl waged war on Junkion (the planet). Shockwave was trying to further the Decepticon's alliance with the Junkions (the people) while Prowl was trying to make certain that the Junkions (still the people) weren't a viable threat to the continued war effort. While history is unclear of what EXACTLY happened, the end result is that Junkion (the planet) was destroyed in the conflict, leaving the Junkions (people) nomadic wanderers from a once great, now destroyed civilization.
From here, the Junkions (always the people from here on in) show up sporadically throughout the Cybertronian Great War and its aftermath. They sometimes mix in with the Cybertronians... or in the case of Wreck-Gar and Rum-Maj, keep their distance. Both of those two led a contingent of unalligned Junkions for four million years until they ended up on Earth, looking for fuel. And revenge.
See, at this time, Optimus had claimed Earth as part of the Cybertronian Council of Worlds and since THEIR world had ultimately been destroyed by the Cybertronian Great War, why not frickin' attack the Autobot leader and his allies? They just needed to wait for Prime to do something stupid to justify their actions which he did because Optimus does something stupid on a weekly basis. Using an army that was filled to the brim with enslaved Sharkticons, the Junkions attacked. During that conflict, one of Optimus Prime's followers (Slide's brother Oiler) was killed and Wreck-Gar lost his body before a ceasefire and compromise could be reached.
That compromise led to this group of Junkions settling on Earth in a community dubbed "Little Cybertron." Since the Junkions had killed her brother and faced no repercussions for those actions, Slide held onto a bitter grudge, quickly losing faith in Optimus Prime.
G.I. Joe is the code name for America's daring, highly trained special mission force. Its purpose: to defend human freedom against Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world.
Well, that USED to be their purpose. Nowadays, G.I. Joe is all about keeping Earth safe from extraterrestrial threats. Because most of IDW's Hasbroverse books feature aliens of one form or another, it means that different Joes can possibly appear in each book. In order to contain the threat of those vicious aliens. In ROM, Joes Beachhead and Grunt went rogue in order to end the threat of that Spaceknight. In Optimus Prime, a special taskforce was assembled specifically to deal with Optimus Prime and his Cybertronian allies.
That's the group we'll be dealing with in this story and, IMO, it's also the reason that the ACTUAL G.I. Joe book had such problems finding its own niche (besides raging politics-- there will ALWAYS be raging politics). If different teams of Joes can appear in EVERY book, why do I need to buy their OWN book? Especially when the "main" team isn't facing off against Cobra but is instead wasting time fighting furry magical giants?
But I digress. The Optimus Prime Joe team consists of Talon (the Chinese squad leader who formerly led a field unit for China's People's Liberation Army Mecha Force), Spike (as in "Witwicky," an amoral machine-hating asshole who thinks he's starring in a movie as the main character-- he's also a former commander of Skywatch, a UN sponsored military unit tasked with hunting Cybertronians), Flint (a former G.I. Joe squad leader and father of Marrisa Faireborn who serves on the Cybertronian Council of Worlds as Earth's Representative), Mainframe (more on him later), Hi-Tech (one of Bumblebee's old allies who has had a place in multiple Cybertronian related task forces), and Chameleon (a former Cobra agent-turned Joe who doesn't actually appear in this issue so... nevermind?).
This is the G.I. Joe team specifically tasked with handling threats and other situations related to Optimus Prime's Cybertronian presence on Earth. So they stay amazingly busy. And they don't need to fight fuzzy magical giants! It's probably the best Joe team except they have to serve with Spike.
If you aren't familiar with the IDW version of G.I. Joe, then you'd be forgiven for not realizing how awesome Mainframe is. But he totally IS awesome. For one, he's one of the first members of G.I. Joe who figured out that Cobra was a thing. He went on to be intergral in PROVING that Cobra was a thing.
And that's important. See, at the time, G.I. Joe was a secret government organization where it's members had to give up any semblance of a real life and be declared legally dead just to join up. Cobra upped that ante considerably by being impractically INVISIBLE to any form of detection. They worked so far behind the scenes that the only thing that was known about them were whispers that got chalked up to folk tales. Which is too bad because someone went to a lot of trouble designing uniforms and cool Cobra insignias that no one would ever be allowed to see outside of the organization.
Mainframe used his tech wizardry to track down the elusive group and then led G.I. Joe right to Cobra's door. And then he started seeing Scarlett! That doesn't happen in other continuities!
While Scarlett and Mainframe wouldn't last as a romantic couple, they remained on good terms, serving on the revamped G.I. Joe team that replaced the Earth Defense Command (which replaced Skywatch). While Mainframe had only negative feelings towards Cybertronians as a result of Megatron's invasion (from All Hail Megatron), he was able to get beyond his prejudices and formed a strong bond with the Decepticon Soundwave.
Since the events of Revolution, Mainframe has served with Talon's G.I. Joe squad and is tasked with more of the technical aspects of defending Earth against potential alien invasion. But don't let the tech stuff fool you. Mainframe has battlefield skills as well.
So he's pretty bad ass.
Optimus Prime #23
"Time Will Rust"
Writer: John Barber
Artist: Priscilla Tramontano
Colors: Josh Burcham
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Editor: David Mariotte
This issue in a nutshell: As visions of flashbacks dance through everyone's head, the colonist stage a rescue of Jazz, lives are lost, and Unicron looms large over planet Earth.
• Six months ago, the natives of Devisiun explain how awful Cybertronians are and how they ruined the planet by not caring one bit about the original inhabitants.
• Presently, the Joes have Jazz chained up in a South Dakota compound that's also home for the Dinobots and Trypticon.
• Yeah, they have him chained up.
• The G.I. Joe named Flint rages about how terrible the Cybertronians are.
• Here to prove that point, Sky Lynx arrives, unloading a bunch of half trained colonists intent on rescuing Jazz.
• Slide recalls her past on Devisiun and how everything was ruined when she joined up with Optimus Prime and her brother, Oiler, was killed.
• At Little Cybertron, Rum-Maj and Wreck-Gar decide to stop the Cybertronians from guiding Earth down the path to destruction by enlisting the help of an army of Sharkticons.
• Jazz remembers how he was the first Autobot to land on Earth and how he blames himself for calling more Autobots in to deal with the Decepticon threat.
• Jazz breaks out of his stupid chains in order to save everyone.
• Gimlet kills Mainframe and, as a result, Gimlet is killed by Slug.
• Slide attacks Slug, breaking the Dinobot leader out of his rage by inducing a flashback.
• Slug feels really bad about delivering justice to Gimlet.
• Rum-Maj, Wreck-Gar, and the Sharkticons arrive to settle things down.
• That somehow actually works but Slide still ends up bitterly yelling about how life is unfair and Optimus Prime is to blame.
• Unicron looms large in the sky as the end draws near.
Super Reads Transformers: Unicron #0
Super Reads Transformers: Unicron #1
Super Reads Optimus Prime #22
Super Reads Transformers: Unicron #2
Super Reads Transformers: Unicron #3
Super Reads Transformers: Unicron #4
The bulk of this issue takes place concurrently with Transformers: Unicron #4. So bear that in mind.
Our story begins six months ago on the Cybertronian colony world of Devisiun. It has to take place in the past because Devisiun has been devoured by Unicron as of Transformers: Unicron #1. What we see is a run down old forest populated by Devisiun's natives. Those aren't Cybertronians. In fact, one of their elders is describing what the world was like prior to the arrival of these mechanical invaders.
Short answer: things were ok. Not terrible. Not great. But the planet was forested and the local population wasn't threatened by invaders. But it gets worse! The Cybertronian's Titan crash landed on the planet, dying on impact. The surviving Cybertronians disembarked, explored the planet and began the process of cyberforming it to something more... covered in metal. As far as the natives, the Cybertronians didn't even waste a thought on them because some robotic species are racist and don't think biological life forms count as real life.
So that's how Devisiun's turn as a colony world began. As we already know: Cybertronians are awful. With a few exceptions.
Let's skip ahead to what passes as the present and join up with the Autobot Jazz and the G.I. Joe team charged with watching over him. Last issue, Jazz ended up surrendering to authorities at the South Dakota facility that is currently home to the Titan Trypticon and the Dinobots. He did this in order to secure passage for his buddy, Spaceknight Rom, to Cybertron and ultimately to the Solstar Capitol world of Elonia. So that's why he's sitting in a room in chains, guarded by Talon and Spike.
They chained Jazz. How are these guys the best of the best?
Spike remembers a time when he was in charge of Skywatch and had Optimus Prime as his prisoner. The two talked and eventually became allies. For a while. Spike... is not an easy man to work with on account of him hating machines, playing both sides, and having a massive ego. The two talk about how Spike used to buy Cybertronian weapons (from the Decepticon Swindle) and how Jazz has pretty much made it his mission to keep Cybertronian weapons out of the hands of humans. Since Earth is now part of the Cybertronian Council of Worlds, dealing in Cybertronian technology should no longer be illegal (under Cybertronian law) but Jazz keeps on doing what he thinks is best, regardless of the official company line. The Autobot makes mention of how he's not Optimus Prime's biggest fan these days (who is?) but both of them are trying to make the universe a better place in their own magical ways.
Spike's done talking. After all, the reason Jazz is all chained up is not because of the Autobot's personal mission to rid Earth of Cybertronian weaponry. He's here because way back in the day, Jazz killed a human who had just finished threatening Bumblebee's (who was serving as Autobot leader) life. Bumblebee wasn't in danger at the time but Jazz made a call. It was a bad one. This is the consequence.
Not everyone is a fan of the consequence. Take Flint, for example.
Steroids are bad.
Flint hates the CRAP out of the Cybertronians. He hates that Trypticon and the Dinobots are hanging around Mount Rushmore. He hates that Optimus Prime has established an embassy on Earth. He hates that there are Cybertronian refugees living on his planet. To Flint, Jazz is a "political prisoner" and he's got serious concerns that the Cybertronians are going to take over.
And while he's raging on a crazy level, you can see just how likely that can be when you look at the start of this issue and how Devisiun was made a colony with no care at all to what the locals thought.
Hi-Tech brings up how the Cybertronians have managed to save the world from a couple alien invasions in recent years but Flint just thinks those invasions were the fault of Cybertronians to begin with. This assertion is disputed by his daughter, Marissa Faireborn, who serves as Earth's representative on Cybertron's Council of Worlds. Slug and Strafe from the Dinobots attempt to add their two cents to the discussion, telling Flint that there are horrors in the cosmos that would curl his toes but he's still hasn't admitted that all of Earth's problems aren't Cybertronian related.
This... intelligent discussion... is interrupted by some incoming visitors. Seeing the Autobot space dragon, Sky Lynx, flying in, Slug identifies to newcomers as Optimus Prime's followers. Marissa senses trouble before it hits the fan and warns her dad about it. Flint whips out his pistol, thinking that's gonna be enough for what happens next.
Unloading from Sky Lynx are Prime's colonist followers. Slide, Roulette, Midnight Express, Bump, and Gimlet. They aren't here to talk.
Before we see what idiotic mess that the colonists are going to get up to, we get a flashback to Devisiun as told from Slide's perspective. To her, the natives WEREN'T ignored at all. They were saved and uplifted by the Cybertronians' arrival. Slide believes that the natives of Devisiun were suffering greatly and that it was the Cybertronians who helped see them through to prosperity.
While the Cybertronians fundamentally changed the Devisen's world, they were also fundamentally changed. The sparks taken to Devisiun became linked in pairs and the Cybertronians who emerged from such a state had a combined transformed mode. Slide's partner and brother was Oiler and the two were inseparable. We see the two in truck mode, driving through a forest with a native at the wheel as another waves at their passing. This was an idylic life for her and Oiler.
And maybe the natives? It's always possible the truth lies somewhere in the middle of these slightly conflicting version of history. Whatever the case, everything changed when Optimus Prime visited and brought the idea of saving another world and making it over into a Cybertronian world. Slide claims that Oiler was drawn in and she was quick to follow.
But when Oiler was killed, Slide was left without her brother and alone for the first time in her life. And who could be to blame for that?
Let's leave the flashback/ retelling and return to the present where our friendly neighborhood colonists are attacking the Dinobots and G.I. Joe. So... NOT so friendly. Slide, who's taking the lead on this little expedition, claims that the colonists are here to free Jazz. She also blames Optimus Prime for everything. Like, Unicron eating the colony worlds and leaving Jazz to rot in jail. And everything else.
She's got a lot of issues that she needs to work out. Hell, they ALL do. Cybertronians are messed up, yo.
Flint radios in a "Code: Sundowner" which seems to be a lethal attack on the Cybertronians. Be that as it may, when Hi-Tech and Mainframe race over to the VAMP (it's a military car), Hi-Tech announces that he's programming the vehicle's weapon to fire something less than lethal. Mainframe protests a LITTLE but Hi-Tech won't be moved.
Up above, Flint also cues in on the fact that the Colonists serve Optimus Prime and, like the Dinobots, believes that this "rescue mission" has been ordered by Prime. He also mentions that the President has recently left South Dakota to appear in the main story over in Transformers: Unicron #4.
As far as the colonists are concerned, most of them are pretty freaked out to be facing off against Dinobots. After all, THEY'RE FACING OFF AGAINST DINOBOTS. Slide won't be moved, though, claiming that the Dinobots work with Optimus Prime and that makes them the bad guys. Just like the humans.
Well, we are going down a very slippery slope, here...
With things quickly falling apart around her, Marissa tries calling in some back-up and it should go without saying that she's trying to call in Thundercracker. The former Decepticon seeker isn't going to show up in this comic (which is too bad) but he's pretty much Marissa's best friend and one of the few Cybertronians she trusts unconditionally. He's also REALLY awesome.
Back at Little Cybertron, the Junkion leaders, Rum-Maj and Wreck-Gar discuss all the crazy that is happening. Wreck-Gar (who is just a head these days) is listening in to the radio chatter coming from the South Dakota compound. This is PROBABLY how he got the intel he shared with the colonists last issue. That's how they learned that Jazz was being held at that facility. Despite being the instigator for the colonists running off to play idiots, Wreck-Gar waxes poetic about how everything seems be be going wrong even going so far as to ALMOST admitting to some of the blame.
Rum-Maj goes on about how cyclical the Cybertronian way of life is. It seems as though a pattern of violent actions is repeating over and over but that it's speeding up with the repetition. Maybe Unicron's approach is helping things along. She certainly believes that Shockwave, Optimus Prime, and Pyra Magna share some of the blame through their various actions. Rum-Maj sees that the end of Earth is coming and, remembering the death of her own planet, would stand in the way of Earth's destruction.
Rum-Maj looks down at a school of Sharkticons returning from a swim in the adjacent ocean. Sharkticons are problem solvers if she's ever seen one. Wreck-Gar agrees as he looks up at his co-ruler with loving eyes.
As Rum-Maj, Wreck-Gar, and their pack of Sharkticon allies teleport over to South Dakota, let's join Jazz as he looks back at his time on Earth. Jazz was the first Autobot on the ground when Decepticon activity was detected on Earth (at the time, they called the planet "Eart" which is adorable). We see Jazz after recently arriving, scanning a sweet car to get a local alt-mode. That's not something we've seen before in IDW continuity!
Anyway, Jazz remembers calling in more dudes to help deal with the Decepticons. He remembers Optimus Prime showing up when things started getting crazy. During that scene, we get to see Optimus Prime arriving on Earth fresh from the Stormbringer mini-series. In an amazing nod to continuity, Prime has yellow eyes in this scene! Like he's supposed to!
It's a faded yellow but it counts!
This is a little side note but in Stormbringer, Optimus was colored with yellow eyes, like his original toy. While this wasn't Optimus Prime's first appearance in IDW continuity, it WAS his first full IDW adventure. This makes that coloring official, showing that, for a time at least, Optimus Prime had the right colored eyes. :P
I get it. Optimus had blue eyes in the cartoon because... kids needed another way to tell the good guys from the bad guys. BUT! The Marvel comics and the toy had yellow eyes. And they just LOOKED better. When you've got a big blue helmet and a faceplate, blue eyes just blend in. Yellow eyes stand out.
Hey, the Powermaster toy (and Marvel comic character) had RED EYES. We don't need to keep repeating stuff that happened because kids can't tell which robot is on which side. We're smarter than that, probably!
But I digress. Let's get back to our story.
Jazz regrets calling in back-up. He gets that the Decepticons were already here and that Shockwave had already mucked about in Earth's past. He still bears the responsibility for escalating things... and things continued to escalate, leading to the Decepticon invasion and then him killing a human that he saw threatening one of his friends. Jazz knows that some things are unavoidable but still takes responsiblity for his own actions.
Back in the present, Spike informs his prisoner (Jazz), that all the fighting going on outside is will be handled by the highly trained special mission force that is G.I. Joe. Except it's NOT being handled and even if it were, Jazz wouldn't feel comfortable without doing his part. Talon asks WHY. While breaking out of those useless chains, Jazz explains that all of this happened because HE called in reinforcements. So it's all his fault and he's gotta fix it and help as many people as he can along the way. The humans, the colonists, Earth itself. All of it.
Because Jazz has been around long enough to know that when Cybertronians claim a planet, the results look a lot like this:
Cybertronians, man. Cybertronians.
It's time for the secret origin of Gimlet and Bump!
Gimlet and Bump.
They're two of Prime's colonist followers.
The beast ones?
Yeah, those guys.
Gimlet and Bump are from the colony world of Eukaris, the planet where the followers of Onyx Prime settled. Onyx Prime turned out to be Shockwave in disguise. Still, Eukaris was built around the idea of acceptance, where Cybertronians with "natural" beast modes could live and let live. Naturally, they divided into clans based on what their beast mode was but Gimlet pretends that everything was hunky dory and everyone got along.
When Optimus Prime showed up looking for a few good bots, Gimlet and Bump quickly volunteered, excited for the opportunity to bring acceptance and togetherness to another Cybertronian colony.
And that's the secret origin of Gimlet and Bump.
THIS is the present. After getting shot at by the non-lethal rounds of the VAMP's turret gun, Gimlet looses his cool and smashes the vehicle... and the occupants inside. While Hi-Tech manages to make it out relatively unscathed, Mainframe ends up ALL THE SCATHED. Gimlet's rage ends in that moment and he's faced with the hard cold reality of his actions.
While Hi-Tech extracts Mainframe from the VAMP, the Dinobot leader, Slug, delivers swift justice to the young Eukarian, slicing Gimlet in half with a flaming sword.
Gimlet dies and Mainframe is soon to follow. Hi-Tech calls for help that'll never arrive in time to do anything. Before dying, Mainframe's life flashes before his eyes. Well, PARTS of it, at least. The parts where he once blamed all the Cybertronians for all the deaths they caused before realizing that they were people, capable of good and bad and not one group to be lumped into one big giant blame pile. He doesn't want his death to ruin everything. With his dying breath, he tells Hi-Tech to do everything possible to keep the peace.
Or at least a semblance of it. Things are all pear shaped right now.
Sky Lynx attacks Slug, enraged at how the Dinobot just sliced up someone so young and "innocent." Bump basically weeps over his dead friend. Jazz tries to hold Slide back, attempting to calm down the colonist leader but she breaks out of his grib and slams right into Slug, shouting about how Slug is the same as Optimus Prime.
If there's a way to break a dude out of a berserker rage, it's to compare them to someone they've learned to hate. Slug never really cared all that much about Optimus Prime but recent events have given him a major grudge against the Autobot leader even if he's also learned to understand where Optimus is coming from a little. Slug is complicated, ok? Post-war is hard.
Slug remembers back to the Great War when he and his fellow Dinobots were sent to do the dirty jobs. He feels that they were sent so that Optimus could keep his hands clean. There was a long time where Slug fell apart over the things he had done. Now, however, he and the Dinobots have found a new way to live. They found a Hot Spot filled with unborn Cybertronian life. Hopefully, that's a good thing.
Waking from his berzerker rage, Slug is confronted with the results of his own actions.
Sorry... not sorry?
It sucks that Gimlet was killed, I guess? I mean, it's never great when someone loses a life. But Gimlet had just killed someone else and actions have consequences, especially in the heat of battle. This isn't even the first time Gimlet had lost control and nearly killed Mainframe. There's history and there's a pattern of behavior. Could it have been corrected? Maybe. But it wouldn't have brought back Mainframe who is VERY dead and who HADN'T killed anyone today.
So the only way you can feel REALLY bad about what Slug just did is if you decide that humans aren't as important as Cybertronians. Which is exactly what Slide is doing. She's turning this all into some persecution play with the colonists as the real victims. Flint, on the other end of the spectrum, sees Mainframe's death as the result of humans continuing to let Cybertronians on their damn planet.
And Jazz? He just wants everyone to calm the F down before someone else dies.
Enter: a horde of Sharkticons! They'll calm things down REAL quick!
Everyone prepares for the next round in an epic battle. Well, everyone except Jazz who is certain that Rum-Maj and her Sharkticon friends haven't shown up for a massive throwdown. Rum-Maj confirms that they're here to make everyone all peacable, thanking her Sharkticon, Vajra, for the ride in.
Rum-Maj speaks to Marissa Faireborn, proud about her ability to speak the English. Marissa apologizes for having not mastered Junkion just yet since she's still working her way through Cybertronian. Her dad, Flint, is still enraged and ready for another rumble.
Because he's Flint and he's just so damn angry in this issue.
If you thought Rum-Maj arriving with an army of Sharkticons was going to make everything better... what's WRONG with you? How is that supposed to calm things down? Seriously?
But, also seriously, you don't remember your recent history. Slide's brother, Oiler, was killed by Junkions. In a moment of complete exasperation, Slide yells about how everything kills them, how the colonies are being eaten by Unicron, and how everything is Optimus Prime's fault.
The word everyone clues in on is "Unicron." As little snippets from all those flashbacks play over the page, everyone looks up, past the Titan Trypticon, to see the massive visage of Unicron filling the sky. Unicron has arrived on Earth.
They're gonna need reinforcements, Jazz. You should call them.
And we are, mercifully, done. Having read it yet again for this article, it's not TERRIBLE. The art is pretty nice. The story is concise. I just don't like it at all. It makes everyone look bad. I guess I'm happy that Thundercracker wasn't around. :(
But you didn't come here for a review, you came here for a read through. And we're done with that! So thanks for reading and have a great day! See you next time.