think this month’s installment is much improved over last month’s. There’s some very nice attention to detail and a refreshing use of real-world political situations. The plot: The issue begins with one of those details that I enjoyed about this issue. Namely a news report that briefly summarizes the world situation since the Decepticon occupation, and then a brief discussion of what Energon is and how difficult it is to produce and store. Megatron might call this stuff a ‘foul local brew’, but it seems to be more than satisfactory for the Combaticons, who are ostensibly working for North Korea. In the story, Kim Jong Il’s son has taken over as dictator, but still it’s refreshing to see actual people and actual countries (other than the US) used in a Transformers storyline. And Guido Guidi draws the guy so that he pretty much looks like Kim Jong Il, bad haircut and all, which is amusing. In another nice detail, we get to see how Skywatch analyzes just how many Transformers might be involved as they determine what action to take. Spike gets a group of Autobots involved and is all ready to set out when the President makes a live speech addressing the situation in North and South Korea. Rather disappointingly, it’s not Obama but a generi-President, so I guess the use of real world figures only goes so far. The President declares Transformers as ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and that any country collaborating with them is an enemy. I get more of a Bush vibe from that kind of statement, so maybe it just wouldn’t ring true if it came from Obama. Maybe Costa or the editors wanted to avoid domestic political entanglements altogether. That’s probably wise. And of course, collaborating with Transformers is what Spike has begun to do, so the dilemma for him is readily apparent. In keeping with his characterization up to this point, he decides to buck authority and the chain of command and take the Autobots on the mission anyway. I want to make a note about the battle scene at the start of the book between the South Korean military and the Combaticons. Let me just note how much I appreciate the absence of dialogue on those pages. Few things in comics irritate me more than a life or death fight going on between opposing forces, while witty ripostes and snide comments come from the combatants non-stop. I think if I were in a life or death struggle, snarky comments and boasts would be the last thing on my mind. The fight between Onslaught, Brawl, Vortex and the human military is conveyed visually, as it should be. Well done. Overall: A good issue, even though it’s mostly setting up the rest of the story. I have to wonder just how long Spike can keep going rogue without the consequences really catching up with him. Not long, I’ll bet. And it’s good to see the Combaticons get a chance to shine.