IDW Publishing: Beast Wars "The Ascending" #3 Review
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publication Date: December 2007
Written by: Simon Furman
Art by: Don Figueroa
Colors by: Josh Burcham
Colors assist by: Mark Bristow
Letters by: Chris Moway
Edits by: Andrew Steven Harris
on Cybertron Big Convoy, Survive, Tasmania Kid and Coharada face an enormous structure that was not there before. They know that whatever is going on with Cybertron, this is the center of it all. Inside the building, Shokaract grows impatient and decides to take matters into his own hands. Emerging from the building, he attacks! Tearing Tasmania Kid in two, the battle for Cybertron has begun!
Meanwhile in Earth's past, Razorbeast attacks his fellow Maximals, filled with the rage given by Angolmois energy. Off in the distance, the Pack watches the chaos. Ravage has identified the source of the Angolmois energy and directs the Predacons to attack Rartorata while he confers with Lioconvoy, delivering Magmatron's warning message.
Back on Cybertron, the battle ends badly as Big Convoy and his entire team are destroyed by Shokaract. Magmatron watches helplessly in his out-of-phase state, having seen this before and the future with Unicron victorious, he knows he has to prevent this possible future from ever happening.
Back on Earth (in the past), Maximals and Predacons alike work together to subdue Razorbeast and Rartorata. Transquito fills Unicron's herald with his venom, subduing him briefly. Meanwhile Lioconvoy tries to reason with Razorbeast. He manages to get through, but Razorbeast's hold on his own sanity is strained and difficult to maintain. Gathering the most fit of the remaining warriors, the Maximals prepare to depart with Ravage. However, just as they are prparing to leave, Elephorca and Drancron emerge! Having taken on beast forms, they attack. Razorbeast charges Elephorca, buying the Maximals time to get on the ship and enter Transwarp space.
On the Maximal ship, Lioconvoy explains that Magmatron has given them the exact time frame for them to jump back to Cybertron and make the most difference. Meanwhile Ravage has acquired some of the Angolmois venom from Rartorata in the hopes that an immunizing agent can be developed. This gives Lioconvoy an idea as he knows the perfect person to ask to help...for a price!
On Cybertron, the time frame has shifted back to Big Convoy's confrontation with Shokaract. As Tasmania Kid is torn apart, Big Convoy feels a ray of hope as The Pack's ship breaks out of the sky - only to be shot down by Shokaract! At that moment, his heralds Hellscream, Hardhead, Antagony, Max-B and Thrustor appear with enough Angolmois energy to finish the Ascending!
Whether it is the attack on Unicron in 1986's "Transformers: The Movie" or the combined attacks of the Autobots and Decepticons against Starscream in the Marvel G1 "Underbase Saga", Transformers are sometimes at their best when the good guys and bad guys unite to fight a common (often more powerful) foe. It is a reminder that while they are powerful individuals on their own (in various ways), united they can overcome amazing obstacles. That theme of strength is what pervades throughout this issue, both on the group and individual levels.
When the Blendtrons arrive, they are big, scary and we know they serve the "big U" so they have to be rather scrappy in battle. However, seeing groups of Transformers bring them down really gives you hope that maybe this day can be won by the Maximals and Predacons. On an individual level, seeing Razorbeast's struggle as aided by Lioconvoy was really cool. It was great seeing Lio jump into the thick of things and take charge and show not only a commanding presence, but also the ability to show compassion to a wounded comrade that helped bring him back from the edge of darkness. His attitude towards Ravage was spot on, and in a very "un-Prime-like" manner threatening Ravage with serious harm if he did not stop his insulting behavior.
Ravage's behavior is interesting since we have seen the character change quite a bit. Long ago he was just "that cat thing" that hung out with and obeyed Soundwave. In Beast Wars he became more of his own character, one who sought the glory of the past. Now we see a snarky side borne perhaps of his feeling that everyone around him is inferior. They are his descendents and he is the elder. In many ways his dismissive attitude is not surprising but rather expected.
The device of showing heroes destroyed and then flashing back to that moment (and changing it) is old in scifi, but it still took me by surprise. One can never assume too much with Furman at the helm. Many key characters in past tales (G2 anyone?) get destroyed with amazing regularity. However in this case we see Big Convoy bite the dust only to be given a second chance, and I must confess that I had totally forgotten about Lioconvoy's transwarp vessel by that point. The story simply had me captivated that strongly!
- The Maximals and Predacons attack Rartorata
- Big Convoy prepares to fire
- Elephorca and Drancron attack
- Unicron's heralds
This issue is pretty much the last Transformers based IDW comic book by artist Don Figueroa for the forseeable future. Figueroa has been itching to try other creative pursuits and I know fans will miss his style. Don was one of those fan artists who kicked down the figurative door on the Transformers art world and helped show that cool Transformers art could reflect toy design, animation design and modern comic book art style while being proportionate (*cough* Dreamwave *Cough* Fat legs on Prime *Cough*). Add on to that his amazing speed and ability to reconceptualize characters in other forms and Don is truly one of the strongest Transformers artists to ever come out of fandom. On the final pages of the issue, look carefully as the Maximal ship crashes and you'll see a goodbye message from Don to the fans on a building and a bridge.
With that in mind, Don makes sure to give us a great bit of art in his last hurrah for IDW. In concert with Furman's exciting story, the action almost never lets up. The thing that Don conveys over and over again in this chapter is the sheer overwhelming size of the enemies in question. The Blendtrons are huge, Big Convoy's cannon mode is huge and even ol' Razorbeast is huge now. To see Transformers like Polar Claw dwarfed is something else but it works really well in the context of the story. Don's detail work is fantastic as always, especially whenever a scene requires skin textures, fur or liquids around - see Elephorca and Drancron's descent onto Earth as a perfect example. Harping on that, I have to say I love Don's use of Drancron's "extra arms" in robot mode since they usually hang in the back for that form. It makes Drancron look more freaky while giving him an actual set of hands.
The inking in this chapter was stronger than the previous one. I know Don likes to use a lot of detail on his characters, and it shows here. I really like th eway he uses fur and scale patterns on many of the beasts and the inking just brings it out even more.
Color-wise the issue is a bit uneven. There are panels that are coloredperfectly such as The Pack's arrival on Earth while others seem a bit off such as Elephorca and Drancron's descent into the Beast Wars. In some cases such as the Blendtron one, the light source may have been to blame for the washed out colors, but it still felt like an odd art choice. Overall, the art shines in this issue more than it falters.
This issue really gave me flashbacks to the old Marvel comics and the Transformers Movie, all of which are good things. Seeing the Maximals and Predacons rally against a larger foe is always fun and this issue fits the bill excellently.