Review: First Strike #3-#5

First Strike #3

Before I get into the comic, I want to shout out to Alex Ronald, who does the “C” covers for the First Strike saga. Each issue has a multitude of covers, and thus far, I have bought all “C” covers of the series. The artwork is dynamic and has this unique realism to it which drew me. Normally, I go for some cartoon-G1 style Transformer artwork, but Ronald’s work just grabbed my attention.

Inside the issue, G.I. Joe teams up with Soundwave and a few members of the Victorion combiner to teleport to Cybertron and find themselves smack-center of explosions. The story unfolds fairly quickly, the mission, from Joe-team leader Scarlett, is to take down Baron Ironblood, who we know as Joe Colton. Along the way we are treated to hordes of Cobra/Dire Wraith/Cybertronian modified Red Ninjas.

On the villains, it seems the Micronaut empress Shazarella continues to admire her new Cybertronian Enerchanged form, which many Transformer fans might feel resembles the Botcon-originated character of Antagony. My beef with the writing, Miles “Mayhem” is slowly turning into the groaning oaf of the unit. This doesn’t make sense, as he was the original villain who introduced the concept of where “the bad-guys might be right.” My guess, is now Joe Colton is using the exact same mantra, so it makes sense to knock Manheim down a few pegs, but his dialogue borderlines juvenile.

More surprises await, and a nice jab at real-life politics is made at the issues end. Once again, I enjoyed the villains assemble back-up story.

Issue #3 gets a 7 out of 10


 

First Strike #4

I’m doing it again. Before we get inside the issue, another shout out to Alex Ronald for his life-like cover, seeing the Joes in a very diminutive position, surrounded by the behemoth Transformers, awaiting their fate. However, I also had to pick up the Retailer Incentive “A” Cover, drawn by Jay P. Fosgitt. It’s a cute cover featuring Soundwave a Criminal Defensicon Attorney. Looks like something I would see on Cartoon Network.

Mairghead Scott continues her razing of Cybertron, as the combined mutations of Cobra Red Shadow Ninjas, led by the “new” Storm Shadow and the Dire Wraith/Cybertronian enchanced abilities infiltrate the Transformers’ homeworld and in the climax, are able to go to town on the Cybertron Defense Forces led by Ironhide and Sunstreaker.

If you didn’t believe an army of human/Dire Wraith hybrids could take on goliath Transformers, this issue makes it believable. It’s like believing Seth Rollins or Finn Balor could take on Brock Lesnar. Scott’s storytelling makes it believable and she does an amazing job of building the tension between the political leaders of Cybertron and between the various heroes who try helping, but ultimately failing.

There was a Quintesson vibe which came from the court scenes, and a line from Starscream being appalled by genocide can cause a double-take, as this was the Decepticon who at one time would jump at the chance to destroy lesser beings… Or jump at the chance to run away. Take your pick.

Optimus Prime, seems to be losing his ground as an effective leader. While some regard him as “Prime” which would command respect, it seems the title alone is not enough. Some panels Optimus seems to be put down, others, just portrayed as pathetic, which is hard to see the great and noble leader be put in such a position.

The issue succeeds in the escalation of the infiltration and the true danger Cybertron faces. Next issue we see who will stand, and who will fall.

First Strike Issue #4 earned an 8 out of 10


 

First Strike #5

Uh oh. Looks like ol’ Optimus Prime went too far. A jail break? Defying Lord Starscream? Man, this guy really has a thing about high horses.

A unified team of Transformers, Joe, and MASK characters are in pursuit of Joe Colton and his band of merry baddies. I said it in prior reviews, but I’m rooting for evil here. The character development IDW has given Colton, Mayhem, Krieger, has been phenomenal. The good guys however come off as the typical “we gotta save the world” routine, and I understand, good guys have to save the world, but at times it’s just too vanilla for me. If that makes sense.

The one arc, which comes to a head and will tie up in the finale next issue, is the confrontation with Joe Colton himself. The guy was the definition of the word “Hero” and now he’s all gone baddie… Or has he? The backup stories featuring how he bands the villains together is a great story of heroism and its twisted perception of right versus wrong.

More than meets the eye is the Transformers cliché, and this series shows how good and evil is truly in the eyes of the beholders.

Characters such as Windblade, who was branded a beacon of good, slowly but surely has those naïve impressions broken and stripped away. Through the series Till All Are One, those cracks continued to show and progress, First Strike, let’s call it glass shattered.

I enjoyed the backup tale featuring Krieger. I never knew about the character, and while I could have rushed over to Wikipedia, I preferred to wait and see how IDW developed. Paid off. Now I get this guy.

First Strike Issue #5 – 7 out of 10

The series finale, issue #6 hits comic stores this week!