CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers Beast Wars Sourcebook
Reviewed by zigzagger
Starting with the revisions, most
of the coloring "errors" have been corrected (sans TM Tarantulas of course, since technically
his black/grey scheme did exist as a toy). Though some of the, umm, sloppier coloring issues from the original releases remain intact, the more "important" concerns have been addressed here. Characters such as BB and Blackarachnia are done up as folks have come to recognise them (i.e. not being colored entirely orange), and assuming anyone has read the rest of this review they'll know of the other revisions made. Trivial as it may sound however, though this is the case with most
of the other profiles, Megatron still doesn't receive new/unused visuals for his profiled Transmetal versions (that many readers of the original issues mourned the lack of) but the same artwork for his gator body. Because it's been argued that this is one of the most recognized characters from the original series, I was a bit surprised to see that it was once again overlooked for the trade version. As the colloquialism goes, what a croc of shite...
Though a nifty addition, the glossary itself isn’t anything to get too excited over since it is only seven pages. Then again, there isn’t anything outstandingly negative to say about it either. It’s informative enough, summarizing key points from both the Japanese and U.S. series, with each entry being about a paragraph or so long. Surprisingly, the format is one that resembles an actual glossary, with occasional images thrown in above descriptions. This approach is a touch different in contrast to the picture book with accompanying text format as seen in Dreamwave’s More Than Meets The Eye
glossary. Whether or not the less visual approach will appeal to readers, really, is up to personal preference. However, at only seven pages it still reads awfully light for a glossary. I was left feeling that more could have been added here, since upon my initial examination, its purpose felt more like filler – or a reason to repackage the four original issues for resale. Nevertheless, though it is not essential reading, it really is harmless like the associated profiles. So, take it or leave it.
Artistically, the trade version accomplishes what it sets out to do well enough. However, considering the staggering amount of revisions made following the monthly releases, one has to wonder what exactly the editorial staff was doing when originally looking the profiles over. Were they unfamiliar with the Beast Wars
series? It’s a bit discouraging for those who actually bought the original issues, just to find out that all they had to do was wait for the trade to come out.
Concerning the overall content rather than the revisions, profiles of the main characters who appeared in the U.S series read like synopses of their roles in the series rather than being actual character bios, while Japanese characters (admittedly, my knowledge is somewhat scant on that matter) occasionally boast "revised" profiles for no apparent reason other than...umm
...just because the writers felt so? This is perhaps the Sourcebook’s major shortcoming, and though this may or may not have been intentional on the part of creative team involved, it still comes across as a bit lazy. However, though the numerous revisions shouldn't have been necessary in the first place, the 7-page glossary is a nifty little consolation – well, assuming if certain ninnernetz people don't read too heavily into it, it’s harmless fun, like the rest of the profiles - and that is all the Sourcebook should be. If you're looking for something more beyond this, you may find yourself slightly dissatisfied.
Because of the numerous additions made throughout the trade, artwork is now scaled down on many of the profiles, most likely to affect the overall page count for the trade or perhaps to shimmy in the 7-page glossary and 6-page art gallery.
In the glossary, Cybertrons and Destrons receive individual definitions, but Autobots, Decepticons and Vehicons do not, yet they are referenced within some of the profiles and other glossary definitions. Nor do Maximals and Predacons, though chances are if you decided to pick this up, you probably know what those terms refer to. Then again, that didn't stop those who put together the glossary found in Dreamwave's More Than Meets The Eye
from defining the factions associated with that universe. Oh well.
Profiles being poorly alphabetized was a regular concern through out the original four issues, too numerous to mention them all. The trade version does manage to reorganise most
of the profiles in alphabetical order, with a few noticeable slip-ups. For example, Orcanoch’s profile now precedes Optimus Primal’s, an error that didn’t originally exist in the 3rd issue. These are very, very
minor quibbles, as they are nowhere near as frequent and obvious (and they are) in the original four issues.
Stating the obvious, the Sourcebook does not contain profiles for characters who were featured in Beast Machines
, the series that proceeded the original Beast Wars
On a similar note, though characters from Beast Machines
are not profiled here, it is referenced in the glossary, particularly under the Tankor description. It goes as far as to reference the three Maximal sparks used to create Megatron’s Vehicon generals, and explicitly states that Rhinox was one of them. One has to wonder if the Beast Machines
characters were originally meant to be part of this collection, but the idea was tossed out towards the end of the Sourcebook's developmental stages. Hard to say. A pity really, as I felt it could have further enriched this collection, regardless of the reservations people have towards Beast Machines
Airazor: Trade version now includes artwork for her Transmetal form, including both vehicle and beast modes, whereas the original depicts only her non-Transmetal form.
Apache: “Battle Station” mode is now depicted in the trade version.
Archadis: Trade version now includes artwork of Archadis’ proper beast mode. The artwork originally used to portray his beast mode in the 1st issue, is now referred to as his “Attack Mode”.
BB: In the trade version, BB now flaunts colours a bit closer to his animated/figure counterparts – in shades of black, purple and light blue (replaces grey) – whereas in the 1st issue, BB is coloured almost entirely in orange. This was perhaps one of the more notable errors of the original publication.
Big Convoy: “Attack Mode” now depicted in trade version.
Blackarachnia: In her original profile, Blackarachnia was depicted solely in her later Transmetal form, not accompanied by her original form. Also, to the dismay of many readers, she was coloured in shades of orange and brown. In the trade version this is corrected, as she brandishes a more familiar scheme. And of course, her original form is also portrayed in her profile now, complete with beast mode.
Break: “Weapon Mode” is now depicted in the trade version. Also, a very curious error actually occurs in the trade version that did not originally exist in the first issue. In issue #1, Break's “Primary Function” is specified – Polar Operative. In the trade however, his Primary Function is “Primary Function” - meaning, it’s written twice!
Cheetor: Trade additions include: new or unused artwork for Transmetal Cheetor’s beast mode. The artwork once used to portray his Transmetal beast mode in the 1st issue is now referred to as his “attack mode”. In addition, Cheetor’s Transmetal 2 body is depicted here, complete with beast mode.
Cybershark: In the original printing, a lone Transmetal 2 Cybershark was, oddly, portrayed with his non-Transmetal hammerhead shark as his corresponding beast mode. The trade version now features artwork for both Transmetal and non-Transmetal versions, as well as a great white shark mode for the TM2 version.
Depth Charge: Neither the trade or original printing feature artwork for his “vehicle mode”.
Dinobot: Trade version features new, and properly coloured, artwork for both his ‘bot and beast modes. Presumably, this change was made in order to make Dinobot appear more like his ‘toon counterpart rather than the toy.
Diver: “Niagra Base” now depicted in trade version.
Gigastorm: Trade version now features artwork for “Gigascouter”, complete with “recon drone” mode.
Megatron: Sadly, like the 2nd issue, Megatron’s profile still
does not depict either his Transmetal or Transmetal 2 forms. The crocodile version remains in their stead, which is conveniently mentioned, though briefly, in his profile as a rejected beast mode (!). This too was one of the more notable “errors” made in the original, to which many readers complained.
Optimus Primal: Trade version now depicts his first Transmetal form, complete with corresponding ape mode. However, Optimal Optimus still does not receive artwork for his ape mode. Interestingly, while Primal’s original profile in the 3rd issue portrayed his bat form (which is mentioned very
briefly in his profile), it was omitted from the trade version. This is a curious revision, since Megatron’s profile did not receive similar treatment.
Ravage: In issue #3, Ravage’s (first form) alt mode is referred to as “Name”. This is corrected for the trade, now labeled as “Cassette”
Razor Claw (Mutant): Trade version features additional artwork (his head?).
Survive: The trade version now depicts Survive’s little bat scout, True One.
Tarantulas: Like the 4th issue, Tarantulas’ Transmetal form is portrayed in black and grey in the trade version. Though this is not the version that viewers of the television series have come to know, the grey/black scheme was used as a toy exclusive of the character.
Terrorsaur: Originally in issue #4, Terrorsaur's name is misspelled as “Terrosaur” in the header. This was corrected for the trade.
Wolfang: In issue #4 his name is misspelled “Wolfgang” in the header. This is corrected for the trade.