COUNTDOWN: 10 noteworthy moments from Skybound’s Transformers #6

And so it comes to this… after six months, we complete the initial story arc of Skybound’s new Transformers series.

Not that it’s done by any means, of course! Anyone who has read the issue will immediately be keen to see what’s next for the robots in disguise. Yet there’s still much to say about this sixth chapter, which delivered action beats and heartfelt moments aplenty. Let’s dive in!

WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for Transformers so far, including #6!

#10: The opening fight

As everyone no doubt expected following *that* cliffhanger ending to #5, this issue kicks off amid a massive scrap! The Autobots are on the back foot in the presence of the titanic Devastator, who seems to loom even larger than one might typically imagine in this case (seriously, just how big is he here, anyway?). Desperate for cover, they scramble towards the Ark despite taking heavy fire as they go, all whilst Starscream chants “kill!” and quite unexpectedly (or not, knowing the author!) does a double sign of the horns to express his glee! It initially seems like the good guys may get an easy pass as Optimus surprises the Decepticon with a kick to the face, but as he moves to protect Sparkplug, Devastator lurches in and grabs his leg. Despite an immediately comic moment of Starscream getting powed out of the way in the process, I can’t deny the next panel of Prime being smashed into the ground made my heart sink. The Autobot leader had already taken heavy damage at the end of the last chapter, and the sight of Arcee lamenting his injuries before dragging him into the Ark as Devastator moves in for the kill was quite visceral, to say the least!

#9: Ratchet’s legs!

We already saw in #5 that Ratchet had lost his left leg after it was severed by Scavenger, which puts him in a perilous place come the successive salvo of this opening. Sure enough, as the Autobots are beating a hasty retreat, the doc can’t keep out of harm’s way, and a rather handsy Devastator grabs his remaining lower limb. The very nature of this issue again had me fearing the absolute worst. However, thanks to a timely intervention by Jazz – at Ratchet’s insistence – he makes it out alive by sacrificing his remaining leg for them to escape. Still, it’s a horrific moment and capably sells the stakes the Autobots are up against in this battle!

#8: Cliffjumper & Carly face Starscream

Arriving at the battle shortly after the other Autobots, Cliffjumper is convinced by Carly not to launch gung ho into the fray but hang back and find a way to sneak aboard the Ark for more firepower. It’s a decision that has unexpected consequences as the two allies come face-to-face against Starscream, who you might recall they both have a very personal beef with! This moment quickly feels like everything we’ve been building towards as Cliffjumper launches into battle whilst trying to protect Carly, although we see her run towards a large discarded blaster in the background. Just when it seems like the Decepticon may be getting the upper hand, Carly heroically takes her shot and brings him down in a moment that had me punching the air with delight! It reminded me of a similar beat involving Spike in the classic cartoon caper Desertion of the Dinobots; evidently, something about humans struggling to fire giant guns hits the right note for me.

#7: Optimus is about to die…?

As I was reading this, I felt a whole gamut of emotions in a very short span of time. As the Autobots assessed Optimus’ condition, all with the ever-present stress of Devastator pounding his way inside, I wondered how they would repair him swiftly enough for him to get back into action. Then, when Ratchet began saying he wouldn’t make it, I thought, “No way, they won’t do that…” until Prime started whipping the Matrix out (seriously, does he ever put the thing away?!). The panels seemed like a very purposeful direct recreation of the 1986 Transformers movie, and then, I won’t lie, I started to think that they might… just… kill… Optimus Prime. In many ways, that wouldn’t be *unexpected* – he does die pretty frequently in franchise media, of course – but in the context of this story, it carried a weight and finality to it, which made me genuinely feel something, and I appreciate that. Prime’s frantic pleas for one of his comrades to take the Matrix as it hits the floor helped to sell the moment, too.

#6: Sparkplug’s sacrifice

It was not to be, though, as another stepped in to sacrifice themselves in Optimus’ stead, giving the Autobot leader a new lease of life and allowing him to save the day. I had no real idea what Sparkplug was about to do when he started staring somberly at the Matrix on the floor, but his posture and tone all indicated it was something pretty final. I don’t think I had ‘main human character walks into the Autobots’ most sacred relic’ on my Skybound bingo card, and no doubt this moment is going to be one that divides opinion and causes a fair dose of comment for some time to come, but if nothing else, I greatly enjoyed the attempt to do something a bit different here! Quite how Sparkplug knew that this act would replenish the Matrix and Prime in the process, I’ll admit to being a little fuzzy on, but the emotion of the moment sells it well enough for me not to worry too much about a suitably scientific explanation behind it all! Besides, it’s a fitting end for Sparky, who puts his faith wholly in Optimus to protect his son in a way he clearly feels he has been unable to. Having read this scene through a few times already, I can honestly say I think it’s really something.

#5: Optimus is back in action!

Sparky’s sacrifice is all that’s needed for Optimus to be immediately back to fighting fit status (which I admit did leave me scratching my head a touch, but again, I’m happy to roll with it, considering the high emotional stakes of the whole endeavour!), and he wastes no time. As Devastator finally breaks through the ceiling (again, major ’86 movie vibes here), the Autobot leader grabs one of his fingers and tears it off in a rather brutal fashion, also using it to slap Thundercracker to the ground in the process! As if that weren’t epic enough, there’s a series of panels of Prime fighting off the Decepticons punctuated by large stylised text reading “AW YEAH!” and “YOU KNOW THE SONG!” which has to be the most ingenious way of getting my brain to immediately recite Stan Bush’s The Touch without actually directly referencing it! Epic stuff all round.

#4: Cliffjumper hesitates

Meanwhile, Cliffjumper stands poised, ready to deliver the killing blow to Starscream, exacting his revenge for the Decepticon having murdered his clan back on Cybertron. Except when the crucial moment comes, Cliff stops himself and lowers his weapon, stating that he’s tired of all the violence and it’s not what he wants any more. It’s a surprising but heartfelt moment, especially as Carly is urging him to go through with it all the while. Unfortunately, though, he turns his back long enough for Starscream to grab Carly, threatening to crush her in his palm just as he did with her father. I will admit that this moment left me groaning a little if only because I couldn’t help but wonder just what Cliff thought was going to happen as soon as he took his eye off the Decepticon! Sure, you don’t have to annihilate him but at least keep him under observation, no? Anyway, I suspect this moment will have repercussions later, as even after she is rescued in the ensuing scuffle, Carly still seems none too impressed with her Autobot comrade.

#3: Optimus vs Devastator

As we cut back to Optimus, we’re then treated to no less than four absolutely gorgeous pages of the Autobot leader kicking arse as he takes on Devastator single-handedly, more than holding his own by running rings about the hulking giant all the time! It culminates in an impressive show of strength (and, presumably, a decent appreciation of physics) as Prime uses his momentum to tip his gargantuan opponent up and over a cliff, where he crashes down and takes out Starscream in the process! It’s hard to convey my full appreciation for how incredible this section is but suffice it to say, I was hooked the whole way through. Prime stuff, indeed!

#2: Optimus’ offer to Soundwave

With Starscream down and being retrieved by the separated Constructicons, the Autobots are now victorious. Optimus takes a moment to appeal to Soundwave outside the Ark, suggesting they find a way to work together to save Cybertron. For a moment, I almost thought the Decepticon would go for it… until he attempts to punch Prime and suddenly retreats with Thundercracker. It’s an intriguing beat and says everything about Optimus’ inherent sense of optimism (it’s almost in the name!), even if he ultimately knows it’s unlikely to work (as he says, he is “no fool“). This all reminded me greatly of a similar moment in Marvel UK’s The Transformers #187, when Soundwave very briefly considers an Autobot alliance before rejecting the premise as there’s been too much water under the bridge (which itself was a homage to DC’s The Killing Joke). Coincidence? Maybe.

#1: Spike wakes up

As we round out the issue, the Autobots are back in possession of the Ark, the Decepticons have been defeated (for now), and the adventure comes to a close on Spike as he wakes up in the hospital. The doctors urge him not to speak, but he writes a note asking about his dad, completely unaware of everything that’s been happening during his absence. It’s a tragic final punctuation to this six-issue arc and is sure to play out heavily as we move in #7 and beyond. All in all, what a story it’s been so far, eh? This issue alone left me pretty breathless!

So that’s our list! Did you enjoy #6?

TTFN

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About Sixo

Transformers collector from the UK, collecting vintage G1/G2, CR/RID, UT & Masterpiece/3P. Find me at twitter.com/SixoTF or on YouTube at youtube.com/SixoTF

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