TFormers.com's Featured Comic of the Week is Transformers Armada Volume 1, a pack-in comic written by Chris Sarracini with pencils by James Raiz and inks by Rob Armstrong and was included with the early waves of the Transformers Armada toyline.
At Autobot Headquarters on Earth, Optimus Prime dispatches Hot Shot and Jolt to find and disable Megatron's energy-draining device hidden somewhere in The City. But Hot Shot lives up to his name and refuses Jolt's help because Hot Shot is the best there is. After proving that he is not the best at teamwork or following orders, he traces the energy-draining device to The Power Station in The City. There he finds he's not the best at lifting the device, and with the arrival of Cyclonus and Crumplezone and their ability to combine, he may not even be the best at living through the next five minutes. But Jolt arrives and gives Hot Shot a gun that unlocks his secret (even to himself) Driving Claws! With the insidious device in
handclaw, Hot Shot still has to escape Cyclonus. With a little help from Jolt, Hot Shot's clawed-propeller-car mode makes a sick jump over a smashed-out piece of The City's highway, dropping the energy-drainer as an explosive to blast Cyclonus. In the end, Hot Shot realizes that with his Mini-Con ally they can both be even stronger and decides to form the best partnership with Jolt.
And I got through the entire synopsis without mentioning or alluding to JaAM in any way!
Pack-in comics are a fun bonus- one of the best things you can get in a toy package that isn't a toy. They tend to keep it short and simple, and in many ways this comic keeps it extra simple since it has to tell its story in three separate languages at once. (Other than proper names, "Aarrrrrrggghh" is the only word pronounced the same in English, French and Spanish.) It's a story you'd see in any kids' comic or cartoon you can think of: our heroes learn that they're going to have to work together. Naturally as the Unicron Trilogy's mascot/kid appeal character, Hot Shot takes center stage here in a short adventure that shows off most but not all of his toy's special Powerlinx features. Cyclonus gets a turn as well to show off his nifty combination gimmick with Crumplezone, though in the end the power of friendship and improvised explosive devices do both of them in.
The comic was produced for Hasbro by Dreamwave in their infamously lumpy manga-esque style. It makes for an interesting contrast with Linkage, the Micron Legend DVD pack-in comic by Hirofumi Ichikawa, in that Armada Volume 1 was drawn by a Westerner for a Western audience in a Japanese-inspired style, where Linkage was drawn by a Japanese artist for a Japanese audience in a Western-inspired style. Of course Ichikawa could serialize his story with a regular cast, where the Armada pack-in books had eight pages to tell you all the story you'd ever get about the characters in this wave. Though the surface details are aping something else, at the heart of the matter both comics still reflect their home territories' approach to comics.
Though the art could be better (and, being by Guido Guidi, Vols. 2 and 3 were) it's quick and to the point, and does its job of introducing you to Hot Shot and making him, Cyclonus, Jolt, and Crumplezone all look like really neat toys. Plus you got it for free with an Armada action figure and it lent itself to an entertaining parody that worked its way into the bio and deco of a future iteration of Hot Shot.
But most important of all, just think: there is an entire generation of fans whose first exposure to Transformers fiction was this comic.
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