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Beast Wars: The Gathering #2 (of 4)
Reviewed by Denyer

Issue Review

It's all necessary to move a plot forward, without any of the individual events being especially exciting. After the high of introducing characters and the situation itself last issue, Furman gets down to working out how events can fit in around the TV show whilst leading up to the reset-button ending necessary in order to not break with continuity. I suspect that this could render the resolution of the concluding parts more than a little dissatisfying.

Magmatron and Razorbeast do come across decently, Magmatron dripping menance in a couple of places (telling his opponent that no-one should have to die alone, and "Don't look to them. [...] They can't help you." as his other components sink claws and fangs into Bonecrusher and Wolfang.) Razorbeast is physically outmatched but remains calm in the face of danger and is shaping up into a capable — if understated — leader.

The rest of the Maximals and Predacons are a somewhat samey assortment whose lines could mostly be assigned to any other character without affecting the story... in fact, even Magmatron and Razorbeast have fairly generic leader-type dialogue. Furman is at least choosing to stick to two reasonably small main groups of characters, so they're building up and with two issues to go this observation may be less valid as things progress.

Visually the book is more-than-competent, with a wide range of viewing angles and some panoramic displays which strikingly capture the scale of prehistoric Earth and the Predacon base on Cybertron. There's a particularly effective single-panel page illustrating the efforts of the spread-out Maximals to gather into a unit, with the colours blending between land, rivers, blue skies and frozen shores. Details such as Spittor being damaged last issue are retained, and the art takes some research cues from the television show. Lighting and colour gradients help the organic feel of the world action is taking place on along tremendously.

If I had to compare the series so far to any other Transformers fiction, The Gathering is reading very much like a convention comic — the plot is designed to fit in around media without disrupting it, and there are a lot of previously toy-only characters shown, not to push the toys (as with Botcon) but because a segment of the fandom will think it's cool. As the title suggests, it's a get-together, with an stylistic emphasis on introduction that's probably necessary for a lot of potential readers — Beast Wars was, lest we forget, ten years ago. Hopefully the next mini-series will be called something like Meaningfully Changing the Status Quo and be set on Cybertron rather than shoehorned into Earth's history.

Character Development

Magmatron is reasonably intelligent, predicting that Razorbeast's mission will involve locating parts from Ravage's downed vessel, and including Razorbeast in the mission crew with misgivings. However, he's quite easily outwitted by his Maximal counterpart in the canyon, and seems convinced that the relatively small force he's assembled is enough to effect the hegemony currently in place on Cybertron.

Razorbeast proves charismatic enough to keep B'Boom with the party when the latter challenges him about his Predacon spark signature. If I can stop thinking of him as Pumbaa from the Lion King he might actually seem quite imposing.

Ramulus thinks his beast mode is nifty.

Spittor is again confident, but matches up to Ramulus far more effectively than Polar Claw last issue.

Drill Bit is a stock Predacon/Decepticon psychopath with a taste for torture.

Optimus Minor is coming across quite heavily as Rattrap-esque.

Other Details

The story is set around 70,000 BCE — approximately the period Neaderthals roamed the Earth. This has been stated by the writer to be a correction of the TV series, which was set around 140,000 BCE but featured Neanderthals.

In the flashback in which Magmatron explains his plan, stylised symbols representing four of the original Predacons (Razorclaw, Rampage, Tantrum and Divebomb) can be seen. Headstrong is presumably underneath the speech bubble. A statue looking moderately like Divebomb can also be seen.

Magmatron's information about the past comes in part from a report Tarantalus submitted to a governing council — probably the Tripredacus Council.

Razorbeast's "resonant spark signature" was altered at a sub-molecular level to enable him to infiltrate the Predacons.

Snarl has the ability to become temporarily invisible, which he uses to ambush Drill Bit.

In a nod to the Beast Wars TV show, specifically the episode Optimal Situation, Rampage's imprint can clearly be seen in the rock face next to the crashed Transwarp Cruiser.

Magmatron's other composite pieces are stunned by the feedback of the giganotosaurus component getting buried under the rockslide. The "sea" component has thrusters to facilitate movement on land.

Quotes of Note

Magmatron: "Predacons… we are at war! And though the battleground is this backwater world in a sinkhole in time, the glittering prize is Cybertron itself!"

Magmatron: "Found yourself some new playmates, have you, Razorbeast? Good. No one should die alone."

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