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Blackjack
2014-07-29, 06:57 AM
Transformers: Regeneration One #86: Natural Selection, Part 1
5 December 2012
Written by: Simon Furman
Pencils by: Andrew Wildman
Inks by: Stephen Baskerville
Colours by: John-Paul Bove
Letters by: Chris Mowry
Edited by: John Barber

Synopsis: Five years ago, Cybertron: the Dinobtos meet in the Nursery, a facility to contain the Autobots who have been afflicted by Nucleon’s side effects. The other Dinobots blame Grimlock for causing the madness that had gripped one of their own, Slag, and Grimlock sets off to find a cure.

Present day Nebulos: Grimlock is held captive by Scorponok, who studies the effects of Nucleon on his system, noting that it had reassembled Grimlock’s genetic structure. Grimlock queries about Scorponok’s change from a warlord to a scientist, and he explains that he had obtained the new skills necessary through his bond with Lord Zarak. He further explains that Zarak left a protocol to awaken Scorponok’s original head on Nebulos if it was ever be tampered with, and he ended up taking control of the facility and reconstructed a body for himself.

Cybertron: Hot Rod and Grapple debate whether to destroy the Hall of Silence, and after wrestling about what Optimus Prime would do regarding the last remnants of the Creation Matrix, ends up ordering the destruction of the hall. Soundwave, with his mastery of sound, easily navigates through it and teleport away with Thunderwing’s body before it was destroyed, having banked on Hot Rod being indecisive.

Earth: the Autobots are hurling the corpses of Megatron’s zombie army to be incarcerated from orbit, expressing pity that they had to do the same on the Autobot corpses as well. Optimus watches as Cosmos piles Megatron’s corpse with the others, and turns down First Aid’s offer of treatment and wear his scars to honour the fallen allies and enemies. Optimus apologizes to Kup about not listening to him, but Kup confronts Optimus with everyone who had died because of him ignoring Earth. Circuit Smasher and the humans show up, ordering them to leave immediately, not wanting any of their help in rebuilding. As the bodies are vaporized from orbit, unseen by the Autobots, Starscream transforms and flies away. He manages to make way to Canada, slipping through the patrolling Autobots, not knowing that Galvatron is doing just the same.

Nebulos: Grimlock breaks out of his chains but is assaulted by the Dinobots, and brutally beaten by them. Grimlock wakes up, and Scorponok informs him that it was a mental image conjured by him, knowing that Grimlock is shackled by his conscience. Grimlock ends up agreeing to help Scorponok in exchange for new bodies for his Dinobots. Scorponok reveals that he has developed a ‘Gene Key’, a program that can activate or deactivate the ‘warrior gene’ that distinguishes Autobot from Decepticon, intending to turn all of Cybertron’s population into Decepticons.

Featured characters: Slag, Grimlock, Sludge, Swoop, Snarl, Blaster, Silverbolt, Huffer, Inferno, Scorponok, Lord Zarak (flashback), Hot Rod, Blurr, Grapple, Soundwave, Thunderwing’s body, Snap Trap’s body, Cosmos, Octane’s body, Wheeljack, Red Alert, Grotusque’s body, Smokescreen, Megatron’s body, Optimus Prime, First Aid, Skids, Kup, Prowl, G.B. Blackrock, Circuit Smasher, Starscream, Sunstreaker, Roadbuster, Galvatron

Review:
”You gambled with our lives, our sanity…”
There is a big, big feeling that I have seen this before, and I have! Grimlock, alone against the world, the Dinobots throwing a hissy fit thanks to something reckless Grimlock has done… and the general rivalry between Grimlock and Bond Villain Scorponok is basically lifted from Furman’s own Maximum Dinobots from IDW, something that isn’t exactly remembered for being good either. The idea that Grimlock is prepared to make a deal with the devil to save his Dinobots? We’ve seen that before as well, back during the whole Nucleon business in fact. Overall the entire Scorponok plot seems to be just recycling Furman’s abandoned ideas for the IDW universe. Nevermind the extremely sour taste of spitting on Marvel Scorponok’s brilliant death scene in the original Marvel run, only to bring him back as this wholly unentertaining villain. Grimlock and Scorponok’s dialogue is just so boring to read – even compared to Furman’s old Maximum Dinobots it’s bad.

Oh, also, while my synopsis doesn’t really make it look that long, the dream sequence of Grimlock breaking free and meeting the dream Dinobots? It took six pages. A good six pages. Do we really honestly need to see that? And that flashback with the Dinobots being a bitch to Grimlock because Slag’s turned feral felt very weak.

There was no reason for the Hot Rod/Soundwave stuff to be stretched on for three issues now, is there? All it makes them look is that they're just doing nothing until this issue, so why not have the entire scene happen here? Or back in the past issues? Soundwave making off with Thunderwing is kind of a moot point anyway.

We get the Autobots cleaning up Earth, which also drags on a while – though at least we get some actual character moments of Optimus Prime just melancholically looking as his old foe is tossed aside as garbage, while struggling with the fact that he had just executed Megatron. It ends up rather amounting to nothing, though, since as Kup and Spike so aptly puts it, everything happens is because Optimus Prime didn’t give a shit about Earth for however many years.

Art is still rather unattractive to me, looking neither like the expressiveness of the past nor the sharp detail of the modern day. Red Alert and Wheeljack in particular look like nothing they should, and expressions in general look very Dull Surprise.

A good chunk of this issue is just bloated recapping of how Scorponok has ended up going from a head to his… IDW personality, basically, and monologuing… and really, economically done it could’ve been told in two pages, maybe three. Hell, the entire content of this issue could probably be done in about a third of the pages it takes up. Absolutely nothing really happens beyond a couple of conversations. It’s really just even more setup, and neither one-dimensional Scorponok and the idiotic concept of the Gene Key appeals to me at all.

(1/2 out of 5)

Notes:
Grimlock’s quest to obtain Nucleon to revive the Dinobots, subsequently ignoring the warnings of the local guardians, happened in issue #70, the Price of Life, whereas his conversion into an Action Master, unable to transform, happened in issue #76, Still Life.

The idea that Nucleon affects Transformers in different ways is introduced throughout #74 to #76, though we don’t get to see any other side-effects of Nucleon on anyone else but Grimlock turning into an Action Master. It was mentioned shortly in the UK-exclusive “Another Time and Place”, where Slag was the last Dinobot to be affected. It was one of the remaining story ideas that Furman was forced to axe then, and never really explored afterwards until now. However, with Optimus Prime, Prowl, Wheeljack and Sunstreaker showing to be able to transform and drive around, whereas Skids is shown to be hanging around with no side effects, it appears it’s not universal.

The other four patients in the Nursery are Blaster, Silverbolt, Huffer and Inferno, all of whom are restrained in various ways. Inferno in particular seems to be spontaneously combusting flames, whereas Huffer is wrapped up in rainbow-coloured cling-wrap.

Blaster and Silverbolt were shown to be among those who Grimlock had revived with Nucleon in #75, On the Edge to Extinction. Neither Inferno nor Huffer were explicitly shown to be among those revived with Nucleon, but Inferno did magically show up in the comics after the Nucleon arc (never actually appearing in the US continuity before) whereas Huffer kind of just disappears after the Underbase saga so it’s not inconceivable that they’re off-screen most of the time.

We saw Mirage last issue, and Brawn (who's mentioned in passing by First Aid) is confirmed to be another Underbase fatality that's walking around again.

Scorponok being a hammy master plotter with mad scientist tendencies are, of course, lifted from his IDW counterpart. Marvel Scorponok was a one-dimensional warlord, and later on as the Zarak portion became more dominant, a more tragic anti-villain struggling with his own mortality. Grimlock stating he had battled with Scorponok once before also mirrors their exchange in the IDW comics – though the two did meet once before in the Marvel continuity, fighting side by side against an Underbase-powered Starscream.

From Hot Rod’s dialogue, the Matrix energy surrounding Thunderwing’s body is the last remnant of the Creation Matrix after the main shell was used to destroy Unicron in #75, On the Edge of Extinction. The Matrix did reappear in the Generation Two comics without explanation, but this story seems to be working on the notion that the Matrix was lost after #75.

CNA, the transformer-equivalent of DNA, was a term invented by Furman during his run on the IDW continuity, specifically in Spotlight: Arcee. The idea of transformers having genetic material to begin with, however, was first introduced in Generation 2.

Goofs:
The main continuity error here is that the Autobots theorizing about Grimlock being ‘picky’ about who got Nucleon on the Ark’s stasis tubes, leaving the likes of Grotusque to die… which does not match the events of #74 at all. The reason Megatron was revived in the first place was because the Dinobots pumped Nucleon into all the stasis tubes without checking the name-plates.

There’s probably meant to be a ‘there’ at the beginning of Hot Rod’s line “has to be a way past this null field.”

It’s extremely odd that the Autobots threw out their own kind, directly mentioning Grotusque by name (so it can’t just be an art error) without salvaging them or keeping them in stasis like so many other times it had happened in Marvel comics continuity.

Red Alert looks nothing like he is supposed to look. If it wasn't for his colours and that he showed up in previous issues, I wouldn't know it was him.

Wheeljack's missile launcher disappears during the scene when he transforms.

Also it’s rather odd for Kup not to mention anything about Starscream speaking before, nor anyone not noticing him buggering off.

Blackjack
2014-07-29, 06:59 AM
Yeah, from here onwards I think I'll be on full-on rant mode. I have absolutely nothing but vitriol for this second arc.