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Blackjack
2013-08-14, 12:03 PM
Regeneration One #83: Loose Ends, Part 3
Written By: Simon Furman
Penciled By: Andrew Wildman
Inked By: Stephen Baskerville
Coloured By: John-Paul Dove
Lettered By: Chris Mowry
Edited By: John Barber

Synopsis: The angry Circuit Smasher begins to rant and blame the Transformers for everything that has been done to Cybertron, and blasts Rack’n’Ruin. As he is about to attack Topspin, however, the Wrecker recognizes him as Fortress Maximus’ Headmaster partner, Spike Witwicky. Circuit Smasher declares that both Fortress Maximus and Spike Witwicky are dead, but the conversation buys time for the other Wreckers to surround him. Topspin and the other humans propose an alliance, and Circuit Smasher grudgingly allows them to come to their base at the Argus Mountains, telling them brusquely to forget the captured Kup, and filling them in about what happened to Earth:

After the Transformers left Earth years ago, the Ark was left under the ice undisturbed for a year or two, and while Spike – as Fortress Maximus – guarded the Ark for a couple of years, he eventually returned to civilian life. However, in 1994 a group of humans were able to reactivate Megatron, who let loose without any restraint. An attempt to utilize nuclear bombs was met with resistance as Megatron was able to hack the nukes and destroy military bases and population centers. Megatron then unleashed an army of dead Decepticons, and what resistance remained – Fortress Maximus, Circuit Breaker and others – were felled.

Leadfoot points out the oddities, mainly Megatron’s sudden know-how in hacking and technical skills, something that Spike doesn’t particularly care about. They arrive at the surprisingly well-stocked base previously belonging to a government combat group, and Spike introduces the Wreckers to their leader: the Autobots’ former ally, G.B. Blackrock.

Iacon: Optimus Prime gives Hot Rod a talk about making decisions and consequences, and confides that he is as fragile as anyone out there, and confides that Kup’s words have caused him to rethink his recent decisions, for clinging too hard to the idea of peace. Ultra Magnus and Trailbreaker arrive with evidence of Kup’s flight off Cybertron previously and deduce that the Wreckers are headed to Earth. Magnus’ efforts have managed to pick up two transmissions: Springer’s garbled distress call, and a repeated message: a demand for Prime to come, by Megatron. Optimus Prime orders the Autobots to head to Earth.

Argus Base: Springer, Sandstorm, Spike and Blackrock discuss a strike against the Ark in order to take out Megatron’s power base, something the humans have failed to do time and again. They explain Spike’s transformation into Circuit Smasher: after the death of Fortress Maximus, Spike was left alive but paralyzed, and Blackrock had used the same technology that Circuit Breaker had used to bring his unique modified body back into action. Blackrock also reveals that Megatron has been sending a message for decades, which meant that Kup had been captured for nothing. Megatron chose that moment to gloat and send a broadcast of Kup, infected by Scraplets, to taunt the Wreckers. Despite knowing that it’s a trap, Springer formulates a plan while Megatron’s attention is away from the Ark…

Cybertron: Autobots board a shuttle bound for Earth, and Optimus instructs Hot Rod to stay behind, sensing him a greatness that must be protected. Hot Rod has a feeling that Optimus is not planning to return. The Decepticon Dirtbag radios Soundwave that the Autobots have left, who in turn inform Bludgeon. Bludgeon, in the process of destroying Torkulon for resources with his own forces and the Warworld, tells Soundwave that the opportunity to obtain the remains of Thunderwing from the Autobots is within reach.

Featured Transformers: Topspin, Rack'n'Ruin, Sandstorm, Roadbuster, Springer, Whirl, Leadfoot, Hot Rod, Optimus Prime, Ultra Magnus, Broadside, Megatron (flashback and present), Hun-Grrr (flashback), Skywarp (flashback), Blitzwing (flashback), Fortress Maximus (flashback), Trailbreaker, Kup, Prowl, Sunstreaker, Perceptor, Dirtbag, Octopunch, Weirdwolf, Stranglehold, Skullcruncher, Bludgeon, Squeezeplay, Soundwave, Thunderwing
Notable Others: Circuit Smasher/Spike Witwicky, Gordon Kent, Circuit Breaker (flashback), G.B. Blackrock, Torkulons

Review:
”Do you… question decisions you’ve made?”
Actually still pretty strong. I’m not Circuit Smasher’s biggest fan – he comes off as a total asshole and gives off a lot of Mike Costa Spike vibes, but on second reading he doesn’t annoy me as much as before, mainly because he’s got an actual legitimate reason to be bitter. It’s pretty obvious that the role was written for Circuit Breaker, though I thought Simon Furman handled the switch to Spike pretty well. It’s kind of stupid yet funny at the same time how the reason that the Ark was breached in the first place was because Spike is a selfish dick who left the Ark unguarded, though. I really like the rather hopeless picture that Spike draws, with Megatron’s effortless trouncing of everything the humans threw at him being a rather awesome buildup. It’s not quite up to the standards of murdering Autobots left and right in G2, but it’s pretty good. I also like the numerous continuity callbacks, even if Furman isn’t allowed to name Circuit Breaker, the Neo-Knights and the G.I. Joe (and subsequently kills them all off!). Pretty good setup, and Blackrock makes a surprising yet appropriate appearance.

Megatron really feels like a threat, albeit a short-sighted crazy one. Springer and Topspin get some screentime, although the other Wreckers are still ciphers. Like the rather nice Decepticon power play and the cooperation between Soundwave and Bludgeon, as well as Bludgeon’s destruction of a hapless planet to show that the Decepticons have not gone soft. Between Megatron and Bludgeon, Optimus Prime has certainly screwed up very badly, and I think Optimus is one of the weaker links in the series so far, basically chalking the stupid decisions he’s made (ignoring every other planet out there) to him wanting to delude himself into believing that everything is at peace. Shame on you, Optimus. Both you and Spike screwed everything up.

The art improves from last issue, being much more similar to the older Wildman art although he still has a lot of problem with drawing non-Kup, non-Springer Wreckers, settling on having them look pretty generic. There are, of course, some points of groan-worthy panels, but as a whole it’s pretty fine. I’m kind of annoyed by the needless random UK referencing, which sounds like a desperate call for attention, as well as shamelessly plagiarizing the G2 plotlines. I am also annoyed that they all but killed off Fort Max off-screen (although Nebulos might mean his return), and an asshole Spike seems to be set up as a main character. But still, all things considered, it’s a pretty good setup and buildup issue, and even if nothing much happens here, it’s not a bad read.

(Three out of Five)

Notes:
The Autobots have been shown numerous times to keep their Decepticon prisoners (first seen when Omega Supreme defeated a third of the Decepticon forces at that time in issue #19) and Autobots wounded beyond repair (issue #26 et al) inside the Ark. However, see goofs.

G.B. Blackrock, the Autobots’ longtime ally, was last seen in issues #79 and #80, and apparently has been put in a wheelchair in the intervening years. He's aged quite a bit. Spike too has, grown out his hair and sports an untidy beard, but Blackrock mentions that Spike's growth is arrested by the Circuit Smasher upgrades.

Breem (8.3 minutes!), a time-unit originating from the Marvel US comics, is mentioned by Ultra Magnus.

Scraplets were seen in the Marvel comics #29-30, although their portrayal here is slightly different from the Marvel comics appearance, see goofs.

On the flashback in the battle against the Decepticon army, what is obviously Circuit Breaker can be seen flying beside Fortress Maximus. However, while she is clearly a floating female figure crackling with energy and has a mask similar to Circuit Breaker’s, she is block-coloured entirely blue, possibly for fear of legalities with Marvel. Her origin was mentioned by Blackrock as the basis of turning Spike into Circuit Smasher, albeit without outright naming her. The block-coloured purple guys under Circuit Breaker might just be the Neo-Knights, but they’re not as evident as Circuit Breaker.

Fortress Maximus had apparently died off-screen during the battle for Earth. At least the Fortress Maximus body has been destroyed, anyway. It can be assumed that Circuit Breaker (and maybe Neo-Knights) had fallen in the battle as well, if Spike’s dialogue is any indication.

The group that formerly resided in the Argus Base is described by Spike in such a way that seems to describe G.I. Joe without explicitly naming the team. The meeting table has the G.I. Joes’ eagle-head insignia, too. Spike’s dialogue that they were ‘all gone’ seemed to imply that all the Joes have been killed (probably in Megatron’s first battle against the military) or assimilated into the resistance. Blackrock is named as the person who designed many of the tech in the base, though, so it might be the RAAT. I lean more towards the Joes, though.

No idea who the people in yellow hazmat suits that are responsible for reactivating Megatron (by purpose or not) are. Might be Cobra, but they don’t look Cobra…

Thunderwing’s body has apparently been recovered since its apparent destruction in issue #75. This story features one of the very few times that Thunderwing’s inner robot is shown.

The Ark’s computer is briefly referred to as Auntie, a name that has only been used exactly once (parsed as 'Aunty') in the US comic as a carry-over from an earlier script where the Ark was referred to by the rather silly name. However, 'Auntie' later showed up as a rather major part of the Marvel UK story ‘Raiders of the Last Ark’ and other stories that referenced it.

There are battlesuits in Argus Base near-identical to Buster’s battlesuit from the Marvel UK ‘Robot Buster’ arc.

Bludgeon and his Decepticons ride the Warworld, a planetoid-shaped ship of mass destruction. Bludgeon likewise constructed the Warworld and used it to conquer other worlds after the events of Klo in the events of Generation Two.

Altihex, another city originating from Furman’s work in the Dreamwave G1 comics, is mentioned briefly.

‘Scramble City’ is a term originating from the Japanese toyline which described the swapping gimmick of what is known as the ‘Special Team’ combiners in the Marvel comics, as well as a short OVA promoting them. Here, it’s used as the name of a city.

The planet Torkulon is based on the planet of similar name, refreshingly not from the UK or G2 comics, but from the cartoon’s Season 3 episode ‘Webworld’. However, the planet’s inhabitants here are brains inside metallic spider things instead of the psychologist monkey aliens of the cartoon.

Goofs:
Circuit Smasher mentions Topspin’s badge, yet neither he nor Rack’n’Ruin are drawn with Autobot badges.

Repugnus, who is not one of the victims of the Underbase saga and more specifically not a Decepticon, is seen among Megatron’s zombie troops. It is possible that he had died during the Underbase Saga off-screen since he never made any appearances outside the Headmasters series.

Scraplets are portrayed in the old Marvel comics as little robot parasites, but here Megatron describes the Scraplets as a virus, and Kup looks like he’s rusting (albeit purple) instead of having Scraplets stick like parasites. It’s also kind of unfeasible (but not impossible) for the Autobots to get a live Scraplet specimen considering all of them were destroyed by the Throttlebots.

At the end of the Underbase Saga, both Optimus and Scorponok had mentioned that they were going to tend to their own fallen, and indeed so far in the Marvel run only Autobot bodies have been seen in the Ark’s medbay/morgue, thus making Megatron’s claim that he harvested the Decepticon dead from the Ark somewhat of a continuity conflict.

Trailbreaker is still consistently drawn without his forcefield generator. Spike’s flashback to his armoured Headmaster armor is quite a bit off from the character model. The kibble behind Sandstorm’s head disappears and reappears from panel to panel. Sandstorm’s head also changes from his comic/cartoon model without a mouth into the toy’s faceplated head halfway through the issue.

The block-coloured Autobots boarding the shuttle are nigh-impossible to ID. Prowl is pretty obvious, and the person next to him seems to be Sunstreaker judging from the head shape and the back kibble. The fourth Autobot from the left seems to be Perceptor judging by the head shape, shoulder cannon and arm kibble, but I have no idea who the other three is.

Blackjack
2013-08-14, 12:04 PM
Ah, I'm back to listing stuff Furman plagiarized from UK and G2 comics. All is well.

Am not a fan of Circuit Smasher. Not at all.

Though I ended up actually not minding this issue as well. No surprises, though... I did remember Loose Ends actually being pretty decent in a fanwanky way.

Ryan F
2013-08-15, 12:58 PM
Great stuff.

One correction, though:

The Ark’s computer is briefly referred to as Auntie, a name that has only been used in the Marvel UK story ‘Raiders of the Last Ark’ and other stories that reference it.

Auntie was actually mentioned in US#1, soon after the Autobots awaken, when Prime orders the computer to give him some info about Earth.

The spelling has always varied between 'Auntie' and 'Aunty'; its one-and-only US mention spelt it with a 'Y', but the UK comics switched between the two spellings willy-nilly. "Raiders of the Last Ark" and "Wrath of Guardian" used 'Auntie', but I think 'Aunty' was used most everywhere else (I'm on my lunch break at work at the moment, so I don't have my notes to hand, but IIRC the 'Y' spelling was used in the Annual story "In the Beginning", for example).

Blackjack
2013-08-15, 04:00 PM
Auntie was actually mentioned in US#1, soon after the Autobots awaken, when Prime orders the computer to give him some info about Earth.

-opens IDW reprint TPB-

Huh, you're right. I thought that the name was kind of ridiculous even by the standards of the comics which featured the likes of the Mechanic and the Spacehikers, but yeah... since Auntie/y's most prominent appearance was in the early UK comics, well...

Will fix.

inflatable dalek
2013-08-15, 05:05 PM
It's such a random and nonsensical (in that, if you didn't know what Auntie was from the later UK stories it doesn't really make any sense what the hell Optimus Prime is talking about) it's got to be a hold over from a version of the script where the ship was named Aunty rather than Ark. And aren't we glad Uncle Bob changed that?.

Blackjack
2013-08-15, 06:21 PM
It's such a random and nonsensical (in that, if you didn't know what Auntie was from the later UK stories it doesn't really make any sense what the hell Optimus Prime is talking about) it's got to be a hold over from a version of the script where the ship was named Aunty rather than Ark. And aren't we glad Uncle Bob changed that?.

Seriously? We'd have the Autobots' base be called 'the Aunty'? Sheesh.

Will add in this little tidbit as well, I think it'd be appropriate.

inflatable dalek
2013-08-15, 10:32 PM
Seriously? We'd have the Autobots' base be called 'the Aunty'? Sheesh.

Will add in this little tidbit as well, I think it'd be appropriate.

I do wish someone would go and properly scan Budiansky's cardboard box full of Transformers stuff, but yes, the original draft of the synopsis he held up in front of the camera for one of the DVD special features called the entire ship Aunty/ie. That's why second drafts are awesome.

One of the things Jim Sorenson mentioned at AA (did I mention I went to AA?) was the 30th anniversary book would include rejected and unused pages from Marvel US 1 (and he even showed one off of the Autobot introduction spread that was intended to fill just the one page). Hopefully it'll include some of the rejected names/written background stuff as well.