CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers Regeneration One #0
Reviewed by Blackjack
"But then I start to wonder what I was brought here to see. The problemÖ or the solution?"
Some freshness! Despite my fears that Hot Rod being lobbed into Zero Space is going to lead to more random visions about Demons and lava-encrusted Cybertrons and Primus and Unicron and general mystical mumbo-jumbo, the issue proves entertaining enough by taking Hot Rod through four different points in time that he must Ďfixí. And Iím just going to say that the arrival of guest artists Nick Roche, Jeff Anderson, Jose Delbo and especially
Geoff Senior makes this one of the hands-down most beautiful Regeneration One issue. It is highly interesting to see all the different artstyles mesh together. The Geoff Senior section, unsurprisingly, is the most impressive, and the dot-matrix colouring style only brings out the retro goodness. The explosions that the Deatbringer makes while he blows stuff up and later blows himself up are phenomenally beautiful, as is the emergence of the Anti-Matrix creature Ė who I will be calling the ĎAnti-Matrixí from here on out, thanks to Hot Rod calling by that moniker once here. Itís not really given a real name, but I need something to call it in the review.
The visions probably wonít make a lot of sense but just act as an introdump (and later a power-up) for anyone unfamiliar with the Marvel continuity. The first is the Deathbringer issue, rendered in absolutely gorgeous art, and I certainly appreciate a less-known issue being brought to the forte even if to bridge the fact that Simon Furman referenced a UK comic once in the US one. It raises a pretty logical point of what happened to that particular Matrix remains left within the Deathbringer, which is a fun enough thread to pursue.
The second one is a bit of a retcon and an introduction to Jhiaxus, whoís being built up to be the next villain. Heís still the head of the Cybertronian Empire, but in a rather refreshing twist, Jhiaxus is given an alternate origin that ties in with a Marvel US plot device, the Underbase. This is while still keeping the essence of his original character intact, instead of completely revamping it like Furman did Scorponok. I thought the Jhiaxus scene ran a bit longer than it should, but as the first proper introduction of a character itís kinda fine. Of course with the Underbase involved you just know Starscream will play a big part in Jhiaxusí downfall.
The third one is just a really depressing scene of Buster and Jessie being straight-up murdered thanks to Optimus Prime ignoring Earth, and itís actually a rather dark showing of one of the main characters of past get straight-up executed. The Ratbat-and-the-carwash thing is a homage I guess, but one that made me groan for something supposedly dark and depressing, and takes out from the scene a little. Also, Spike is so rubbish he wonít take up Fortress Maximus to save his own brother. What a god damned douche.
The last scene is basically an excuse for Hot Rod to get converted into Rodimus Prime without an actual Matrix in play. And an alternate universe is a rather clever way to do it, killing two birds with one stone Ė the Matrix in the Marvel universe has been corrupted, and we never knew what happened to the Matrix in Galvatronís Rhythms of Darkness timeline. Despite nominally being a big fan of Nick Rocheís art, and itís still gorgeous as ever here, I donít think it fits either the cartoon aesthetic or the Regeneration Oneís more retro look quite well. The rather jarring look does show how different this particular timeline is, though, so thereís that? Itís a rather odd way of having Hot Rod power up into Rodimus Prime, and we get spoiled of the events of #95 thanks to seeing Bludgeon tower over Kup and thus making any long-winded scene of the Wreckers doing their stuff in that issue completely pointless.
Itís basically Hot Rod spotlight with a bunch of unsubtle foreshadowings for the Jhiaxus arc and the Anti-Matrix finale, as well as a key to upgrade Hot Rod into Rodimus Prime. It's a decent read, though to be honest I'm a bit bummed it's actually good since I can't make a joke regarding the 'Less than Zero' title. With only six issues left to go, with one needed to wrap up the Bludgeon-Soundwave arc, itís doubtful any of these will really get a satisfactory conclusion and the hints of Starscream, the Matrix and especially Spike going to get more screentime makes me pissed offÖ but other than that, this issue alone is a decent read, I suppose, the first Regeneration One issue to really feel like itís not retreading old ground. And itís certainly a brilliant decision to do as a standalone one instead of bogging up five or six other issues with random flashbacks and visions that never end. And the beautiful artwork styles here certainly made me really happy.
The events of this issue take place between Regeneration One #94 and #95.
The four points of time shown in this issue are:
- The Autobotsí battle with the Deathbringer originally took place in #235-236 of the UK comic. However, it was one of the very few crossovers between UK and US material when Furman takes over writing duties for both, being referenced to in the US comicsí #65 (Dark Creation). However thanks to Regeneration Oneís policy of ignoring the UK comics, this issue re-establishes that, yes, Deathbringer did happen, and it takes place almost identical to the UK comic right down to the dialogue, though the Anti-Matrix obviously isnít around in the original iteration.
- The Underbase and its keeper, Boltax, were both introduced in Transformers #48 (The Flames of Boltax). This issue is the first to reveal the origin of the Underbase, as well as detail Jhiaxusí differences with his G2 counterpart. While their motivations are mostly alike, in Generation 2 Jhiaxus was a mere general for the massive Cybertronian Empire who is unknown to the older generation thanks to being created after the Cybertronians left Cybertron. Here itís revealed that he had simply erased all knowledge of him existing.
- The events of the Megatronís takeover established in Regeneration One.
- The events Transformers: the Movie, but in an alternate universe. It seems likely that, considering how everyone is dead and how it plays out differently (Rodimus and Galvatron clashing at Junk instead of within Unicron) itís meant to be the Rhythms of Darkness universe where Galvatron manages to Rodimus Prime and the bad guys win. While Ďourí Hot Rod theorizes this, Simon Furman would later confirm it in his blog.
While Jhiaxus did crush Boltaxís head, the fact that Boltax will appear in a story set in the future means that he survived. Boltax was Ďkilledí in a similar fashion by Megatron there too, but itís shown he can transfer his consciousness to his temple, and itís likely he uses the same trick here to escape death.
Jhiaxus has the same clunky-looking jet alternate mode as he does in the G2 comics.
Buster and Jessie got married some time before the events of Megatronís takeover.
Buster and Jessieís death in a car wash at the hands of zombie Ratbat darkly references Transformers #31, ĎBuster Witwicky and the Carwash of Doomí, where the duo did fight Ratbat in a carwash.
The Deathbringer and Buster sections of this issue, drawn by Marvel veterans Geoff Senior and Jose Delbo, are coloured in a way that homages the classic Marvel style, complete with fake dots and Nel Yomtov-style block-coloured crowds. The Jhiaxus bit, drawn by Marvel UK artist Jeff Anderson, is rendered in a watercolour style similar to early UK comics. The TFTM bit is drawn by Nick Roche, and while the Transformers are done in Rocheís usual stylized, angled style, the colouring recreates the look of the movieís animation with the characters standing out from the painted backgrounds as if they were cel-shaded figures.
Since the alternate TFTM bit took place in the Rhythms of Darkness universe, Galvatron is coloured using his Marvel colour scheme. Rodimus Prime, however, uses his cartoon palette.
While Arceeís body is present among those killed in the TFTM section, Hot Rod doesnít name her, since she doesnít exist in the US timeline. It also marks Arceeís first appearance in the Marvel US timeline.
Nova Cronum is a location first introduced in Dreamwaveís third War Within miniseries.
Bugly appears among the zombie forces, even though itís established that during the Underbase saga Starscream was unable to use his powers to kill the Pretenders. Granted itís possible that Bugly died some time before Primus summoned the rest of the Transformers to Cybertron, but it looks like itís just an art error since Bugly never shows up anywhere else in Regeneration One.
If the TFTM section is meant to take place in the ĎRhythms of Darknessí timeline, it contradicts some events there. Kup is stated to have been executed alongside Blurr by Cyclonus and Scourge, and Ultra Magnus is killed by Galvatron, instead of dying in a shuttle crash. Granted itís excusable since we donít exactly see how
they die. Rodimus, on the other hand, is stated to be killed while leading a failed Autobot-human defense of Earth, not in the planet of Junk.
In the first panel, Rodimus Prime has red lower legs (similar to the Marvel colouring scheme), but for the rest of the issue and indeed the rest of Regeneration One heís coloured with the cartoonís gray lower legs.