CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers: The Animated Movie #2 (of 4)
Reviewed by LKW
Well, I was somewhat dubious going into this issue, knowing that arguably the best part of the Transformers: the Movie story had basically been covered by the end of the first issue, and that more questionable parts of the plot lay ahead. But, I have to say that overall I was pretty impressed with issue #2.
As though sensing that reader interest could wane as the story leaves behind most of the original Transformer characters, Don Figueroa steps up his artistic attack, consistently providing illustrations even better than those featured in the first issue. Some highlights include Optimus Prime’s death, Ultra Magnus firing at Galvatron and Cyclonus (page 15), the two-page spread of pages 20-21, centered around the Unicron-tortured Galvatron, and, particularly impressive, the death of Starscream. Josh Burcham delivers some remarkable work, capturing memorable colors from the creation of Unicron’s minions, making the scenes of Galvatron’s torture spectacular, and overall greatly aiding the clarity and quality of the storytelling from first page to last.
And Bob Budiansky continues to put his own stamp on this work, tweaking and adding dialogue, at times perhaps as dictated by limited space, but at other points just improving the story, and adding clarifications, such as explaining how Unicron was able to monitor Prime’s death. One wonders if Budiansky’s heard about some of the derision of Ultra Magnus, as he and Figueroa appear to have conspired to make Magnus look as impressive as possible. He appears dynamic and in charge – for whatever reason, his confusion at Perceptor’s dialogue is left out of this issue – and just Budiansky’s addition of “--we have our own problems!” to Magnus’ infamous “I can’t deal with that now!” does wonders at improving the impression made. Another “coincidence or conspiracy?” change involves Megatron’s confrontation with Unicron. It’s possible that space constraints were the only consideration, or it may be evidence supporting Budiansky’s recent expression of affection for the character, but Megatron comes across a little more impressively here than in the original film. Beyond his initial “Who… said that?” all of his lines are delivered as though he is at full strength, as opposed to the strain heard in the movie. A calm “State your business,” is shown coming from a tiny white dot in the face of Unicron’s gigantic glowing maw. And Megatron now declares “But I have already crushed Optimus Prime! The Matrix died with him!” to which Unicron simply replies, “No. The Matrix has been passed on to…” rather than bickering about Megatron’s characterization of the fight. And the much-reported “new scene,” showing Hot Rod plummeting into the ocean of Quintessa, is quite short, but it does smooth over an awkward patch in the plot, improving upon the original film’s lurching “The ship is starting to crash, up above this weird planet/ Hey, I’m underwater, all by myself!” transition.
Some scenes are very close adaptations, but not quite duplicates, of the Movie versions, such as the death of Prime, which gets a couple new lines, and shows the reactions of some of the Autobots after Prime’s body goes gray. The Decepticon mini-civil war aboard Astrotrain is also presented almost exactly as seen in the film (with slight alterations of dialogue), but, the further the issue goes, the more scenes begin to get truncated and compressed. The last that is seen of Bumblebee and Spike – after their tag-team call to Autobot City is almost exactly re-created – is a blank viewscreen and an exploding Moonbase. Blurr’s struggle with the Dinobots is completely omitted; in fact, the closest he comes to having dialogue at all in these first two issues is when Perceptor’s voice bubble about “tactical deficiency” drifts his way in issue 1. Guess now he knows how Kup felt after his speech-free (and anonymous) appearance in the Marvel adaptation’s first issue. Speaking of Kup, while he still has a significant role, the bulk of his tales about “the shrikebats of Dromedan” and “Ick-yak” monsters hit the cutting room floor here, as does Hot Rod’s Skywalker-esque in-flight fight with a battle droid. While the latter doesn’t feel like much of a loss, the new brevity caused by so much cutting does lead to a bit of awkwardness, as Kup (in new dialogue) exclaims “Good point, Hot Rod — - the Decepticons just started shooting at us!” a whole two panels after Ultra Magnus declares “we’ve lost them!”
A couple other minor disappointments: several lines are altered, or even added, in order to provide characters’ names to the audience. At times, it grates a bit – but, on reflection, much less than the Marvel adaptation’s paragraphs-of-exposition-style added dialogue (“I do, Starscream! I — - who was Megatron… and now have become Galvatron! You attempted to take my place as ruler…” – it continues on like this for four more sentences…) And, given the opportunity to make more sense of the creation of Unicron’s minions, and to clear up or even just get rid of the second Cyclonus known only as “his armada” – Budiansky and Figueroa change nothing at all.
Overall, though, I found the issue to be a surprisingly enjoyable read. Once again, IDW’s adaptation is head and shoulders (and more heads and more shoulders) above the old Marvel attempt, in accuracy, entertainment value, and overall quality; in fact (not to damn with faint praise), this book may be better than the film which it adapts.
Locations and Characters
Locations: Autobot City, space, Cybertron, Moonbase 1(destroyed), Moonbase 2 (destroyed), unnamed planet (Quintessa). Characters: Perceptor, Optimus Prime (destroyed), Hot Rod, Ultra Magnus, Daniel, Arcee, Kup, Blurr, Unicron, Astrotrain, Starscream (destroyed), Soundwave, Hook, Long Haul, Bonecrusher, Scavenger, Scrapper, Mixmaster, Blitzwing, Bombshell (used by Unicron as the basis for a new warrior and essentially destroyed), Kickback (used by Unicron, essentially destroyed), Thundercracker (used by Unicron, essentially destroyed), Shrapnel (used by Unicron, essentially destroyed), Megatron (used by Unicron, debatably destroyed – see Errors
), Rumble, Frenzy, Devestator, Laserbeak, Skywarp (used by Unicron, essentially destroyed), Galvatron, Scourge, the Sweeps (two visible), Cyclonus, Cyclonus’ “armada”, Jazz, Cliffjumper, Blaster, Spike, Bumblebee, Springer, Swoop, Grimlock, Snarl, Sludge, Slag.
Optimus Prime’s eyes glow during his final moments, and his body loses color after he dies, turning to shades of gray. Starscream’s body also grays after destruction.
Unicron makes several displays of power, including tapping into the Autobot City internal camera network, radically restructuring Transformers into his own creations, inflicting intense pain at will over at least one of those creations, Galvatron, and surviving a large explosion unscathed.
The Decepticons shown being used to create Unicron’s minions include: Megatron, for Galvatron; Thundercracker, for Scourge; Kickback, for a Sweep; Shrapnel, for the other depicted Sweep; Bombshell, for Cyclonus; and Skywarp, for “[Cyclonus’] armada”. Galvatron is the only one of the Unicron Decepticons which shows any sign of remembering the existence of its template.
Autobot shuttles, at least of the make used here, are capable of inverting the polarities of incoming missiles and of separating the forward quarter of the ship as an escape craft.
The issue includes three separate pages advertising various IDW Transformers TPBs, an ad for the 20th anniversary Transformers: the Movie DVD release, a four-page preview for Escalation #1, an ad for IDW Transformers posters, an ad for IDW’s first five Transformers Spotlights, and a back cover ad for a Hot Topic-exclusive retro-style G.I. Joe figure.
And again, Ron Friedman, Flint Dille, and the rest of Sunbow Productions receive no credit for the original story which this series is adapting.
Very little to report in this issue (despite the amount of type needed to describe what is there to be discussed.)
Arcee’s face is more pink than it was in at least parts of the first issue (on close examination, the color in that issue seems to fluctuate between pink and off-white), and certainly more pink than in the Movie.
There is one possible attack of “Dreading Drifting Voice Bubble” when, on page 17, Kup says “Come on, you big bozo – get in the shuttle!” a line which was delivered by Hot Rod in the film. However, Budiansky did re-assign at least two other lines in this issue, giving to Hook Bonecrusher’s retort “Who are you calling inferior?!” on page 5, and having Cyclonus deliver Scourge’s line “The Autobots have been terminated!” on page 21, so this could be a deliberate authorial choice rather than an error.
And, while not strictly an error of this comic as much as an addition to a problem created by the Movie, one of Budiansky’s added lines of dialogue helps to further cloud a muddy issue – does Galvatron retain Megatron’s mind as well as his memories, or, as seems to be the case with Unicron’s other creations, is he a new being created from the base material of an old Decepticon? Budiansky has Galvatron follow up on his “Here’s a hint!” crack to Starscream by declaring “And my name is now Galvatron!” That “now” certainly implies that this being is Megatron, albeit with a new appearance, name, and perhaps personality. On the other hand, Budiansky carries over from the Movie script Galvatron’s declaration, as he attacks Autobot City, that “I, Galvatron, will crush you just as Megatron crushed Prime!” – a line which clearly seems to show that Galvatron considers Megatron to be a separate being. Identity issues?