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View Full Version : Comic Review: Regeneration One #0 [uploaded]


Blackjack
2014-08-02, 09:18 PM
Transformers Regeneration One #0: Less Than Zero
18 September 2013
Written by: Simon Furman
Art by: Casey Coller (pg 1 & 22), Geoff Senior (pg 2-6), Jeff Anderson (pg 7-11), Jose Delbo (pg 12-16), Nick Roche (pg 17-21)
Pencils by: Stephen Baskerville (Anderson and Delbo pages)
Colours by: John-Paul Bove
Pencils by: Chris Mowry
Edited by: John Barber

Synopsis: Thrust into Zero Space by Primus, Hot Rod is sent tumbling through time. He first arrives in Denver, twenty years in the past, witnessing the Autobots’ battle with the Matrix-infused Deathbringer. Hot Rod recalls the creature’s history, and watches as the battle happens and concludes with Optimus Prime convincing the creature to self-destruct. While the Autobots depart, Hot Rod waits, and witnesses that after some time, the fragment of the Matrix energy within the Deathbringer is not destroyed and emerges as a familiar, green-black creature Hot Rod dubs the ‘Anti-Matrix’. Hot Rod theorizes this Anti-Matrix is still out there, before he is transported elsewhen.

Hot Rod finds himself in Cybertron, before the war, and observes the arrival of an unfamiliar transformer, Jhiaxus, in a meeting with High Circuitmaster Boltax and three other members of a ‘Brain Trust’. Hot Rod notes that the name Jhiaxus is not recorded anywhere in Cybertron history, and soon finds out why: the five members of the Brain Trust are pooling their combined knowledge into a database they call the Underbase, but Jhiaxus murders the other four members of the Brain Trust through their mental connection and erases himself from all of Cybertron’s history. Jhiaxus claims he is tired of Cybertron’s isolation, and tells them that he’s going to go and expand the Cybertronian empire with the knowledge from the Underbase.

Whisked again, Hot Rod finds himself on Earth, during Megatron’s more recent conquest of the planet while the Autobots were rebuilding in Cybertron. He witnesses the zombie Decepticons slaughter civilians in a highway while Autobot allies Buster and Jessie Witwicky tries to escape while being pursued. They try to contact Spike to ask for Fortress Maximus’ help, but Spike a conflicted ignores the call. Buster and Jessie are ultimately trapped in a car wash by Ratbat and killed.

Hot Rod then lands the planet of Junk, which is unfamiliar to him. Noting that this landing felt different, he finds the remains of a crashed Autobot shuttle filled with corpses, and theorizes that it’s either the future, an alternate reality or both. He then finds a battle between Galvatron and a ‘Rodimus Prime’. Realizing that Rodimus Prime is him, transformed with the Matrix, Hot Rod recalls Primus’ words from before. As Rodimus defeats Galvatron and prepares to take him prisoner, Cyclonus and Scourge attack Rodimus Prime. Hot Rod calls out to his alternate self, although it’s too late. While the Decepticons slaughter Rodimus Prime, the Matrix falls next to Hot Rod, and he reaches out to touch it…

Warworld: Bludgeon stands, poised over the fallen Kup, when Hot Rod, transformed by the Matrix into Rodimus Prime, stands before him.

Featured Characters: Deathbringer, Getaway, Optimus Prime, Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime, Galvatron, Boltax, Jhiaxus, Ratbat, Jessie (killed), Buster Witwicky (killed), Siren, Nightbeat, Hosehead, Anti-Matrix, Rokan (killed), Decanus (killed), Tallus (killed), Octane, Razorclaw, Skalor, a Conehead, Skywarp, Bugly, Spike Witwicky, Thundercracker, Ultra Magnus, Kup, Springer, Arcee, Grimlock/Primus (flashback), Scourge, Cyclonus, Bludgeon

Review:
"But then I start to wonder what I was brought here to see. The problem… 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 ‘fix’. And I’m 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 – who I will be calling the ‘Anti-Matrix’ from here on out, thanks to Hot Rod calling by that moniker once here. It’s not really given a real name, but I need something to call it in the review.

The visions probably won’t 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, who’s being built up to be the next villain. He’s 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 it’s kinda fine. Of course with the Underbase involved you just know Starscream will play a big part in Jhiaxus’ 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 it’s 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 won’t 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 – the Matrix in the Marvel universe has been corrupted, and we never knew what happened to the Matrix in Galvatron’s Rhythms of Darkness timeline. Despite nominally being a big fan of Nick Roche’s art, and it’s still gorgeous as ever here, I don’t think it fits either the cartoon aesthetic or the Regeneration One’s more retro look quite well. The rather jarring look does show how different this particular timeline is, though, so there’s that? It’s 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.

It’s 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. With only five issues left to go, with one needed to wrap up the Bludgeon-Soundwave arc, it’s 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 off… but other than that, this issue alone is a decent read, I suppose, the first Regeneration One issue to really feel like it’s not retreading old ground. And it’s 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.

(3 out of 5)

Notes:
The events of this issue take place between Regeneration One #94 and #95.

The four points of time shown in this issue are:
The Autobots’ 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 comics’ #65 (Dark Creation). However thanks to Regeneration One’s 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 isn’t 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 Jhiaxus’ 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 it’s revealed that he had simply erased all knowledge of him existing.
The events of the Megatron’s 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) it’s meant to be the Rhythms of Darkness universe where Galvatron manages to Rodimus Prime and the bad guys win. While ‘our’ Hot Rod theorizes this, Simon Furman would later confirm it in his blog.

While Jhiaxus did crush Boltax’s head, the fact that Boltax will appear in a story set in the future means that he survived. Boltax was ‘killed’ in a similar fashion by Megatron there too, but it’s shown he can transfer his consciousness to his temple, and it’s 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 Megatron’s takeover.

Buster and Jessie’s death in a car wash at the hands of zombie Ratbat darkly references Transformers #31, ‘Buster Witwicky and the Carwash of Doom’, 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 Roche’s usual stylized, angled style, the colouring recreates the look of the movie’s 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 Arcee’s body is present among those killed in the TFTM section, Hot Rod doesn’t name her, since she doesn’t exist in the US timeline. It also marks Arcee’s first appearance in the Marvel US timeline.

Nova Cronum is a location first introduced in Dreamwave’s third War Within miniseries.

Goofs:
Bugly appears among the zombie forces, even though it’s established that during the Underbase saga Starscream was unable to use his powers to kill the Pretenders. Granted it’s possible that Bugly died some time before Primus summoned the rest of the Transformers to Cybertron, but it looks like it’s 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 ‘Rhythms of Darkness’ 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 it’s excusable since we don’t 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 he’s coloured with the cartoon’s gray lower legs.