For millions of years a race of military like robots have been locked in a brutal war. The two opposing factions are the heroic Autobots lead by Optimus Prime, and the evil Decepticons lead by Megatron. After years of fighting, both sides are facing extinction due to low energy reserves. Seeking a new power source, the Autobots plan a recon mission, but their ship is invaded by the Decepticon force, which causes their ship to crash into a volcano on earth. 4 million years later, they awaken from their dormant state to continue the war, with earth's resources being the ultimate prize and deciding factor of the war. -summary
Kid Rhino had been doing a fair enough job releasing these episodes of the original Transformers series. The last volume they avoided story continuation for the sake of character spotlight. This volume they provide both of those with these two excellent picks. This volume added another twist to the Autobot and Decepticon war, by adding two more outfits to each factions ranks: The Aerialbots and Stunticons.
This volume contains the two-parter The Key to Vector Sigma. The story follows Megatron who is tired of the Autobots advantage on the road, as they were able to effortlessly thwart his latest attempt in hijacking a convoy transporting Super-Fuel. He orders one of this troops to steal five automobiles. He then recreates them as robots, and journey's to Cybertron to give them life; the Autobots follow with hopes on stopping him. Later, Megatron returns to Earth with a device called the Key to Vector Sigma, which is said to have dangerous side-effects on Earth.
When watching the Transformers now as an adult. It's weird to notice now the depth of story in some of the episodes. The show was no doubt action oriented, however, there were plenty of episodes with some good character development and these are two of them. After Megatron succeeds in giving the Stunticons life in order to battle the Autobots in their environment. Prime becomes irritated with the Decepticons advantage in the sky, therefore he creates a team of jet-fighters called the Aerialbots.
The Aerialbots were definitely the most interesting of the new characters introduced to the series. When they were given life, Optimus Prime asked Vector Sigma to basically give them the ability to learn life as they go on and grow up as individuals. This is definitely among the interesting parts of the arc, as most of the Aerialbots immediately have a dislike for the humans, and they even have little respect for the Autobots because most of them can't fly, plus they lost their first battle on the road to the Stunticons.
The Stunticons were no doubt very bland personality wise, however, they made up for this with their natural talents. Megatron provided them with automatic impact force-fields and anti-gravitational abilities in vehicle mode; the team can pummel their way through small boulders as well as buildings, knock down trees, perform vast aerial somersaults, scale mountains, and reach speeds up to 300 mph. They are built up into tremendous threats because the Autobots can't do any of those things. When the road battle begins, the Autobots are wrecked with ease. The action segments have many moments of fun entertainment, and the final battle between the two teams capped things off pretty well.
The story is pretty strong for the most part, but there are smaller story elements that derails it from being as great as it could have been. Megatrons drive is what stands out the most here. He soon learns that the Key to Vector Sigma de-energizes matter when used, he then goes on to turn Earth into a new Cybertron without realizing that he's robbing the planet of all natural resources, which they need, thus turning Earth into a planet every bit as useless as Cybertron. Without Earth's energy, then how can they re-power Cybertron and wipe out the Autobots? There's really no excuse for this type of poor writing.
The animation is pretty good here and it stands out the best during the action-filled moments. The battles can be a bit too fun to watch at times, and when both Stunticons and Aerialbots merged into their combined forms Menasor and Superion respectively, the movements were done well for the most part. There are some obvious animation errors as always, and even slight use of reused cels, but the latter is to be expected when dealing with long running series.
The Key to Vector Sigma has always been among my most favorite moments in the Transformers franchise. The tactical role reversal was a very interesting twist to their conflict, and the good part about this is that the disadvantages and the advantages for both armies with these groups aren't forgotten in later episodes. And as usual, even though these are some very good episodes, it's best to invest in the main series.
Pros: -Awesome character debuts, really good action segments
Cons: -Some bad story elements
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