IDW Publishing Spotlight #8 "Galvatron"
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publication Date: July 2007
Written by: Simon Furman
Art by: Guido Guidi
Colors by: Eric Burns
Letters by: Chris Moway
Edits by: Dan Taylor
In the Benzuli Expanse a group of robotic scientists are monitoring an expanding anomoly. Suddenly, Galvatron emerges, attacking their ship! The scientists activate their defenses, which damage Galvatron severely. They bring him onboard to study, but he awakens and makes quick work of them while ranting about "The Expanse". All the while we learn from his own inner monologue that he is but an emissary of someone else - someone he does not intend to obey forever!
On Cybertron, Thunderhead pass is still inhabited by a small group of Autobots serving guard duty. They are protected by a force field that encloses their base. There, Leadfoot tries to convince Sideswipe to be reasonable, but he cannot hold back his anger. His brother Sunstreaker is missing, and he does not want to just stand around doing nothing. He contacts Earth against Hound's standing orders and speaks to Ratchet, requesting reassignment to Earth. However no commanding officers are around. Before he can argue, Hound tells him to disconnect. The two argue and Hound reprimands him, causing Sideswipe to storm off more upset than ever.
Hidden away, Galvatron observes all this, recalling the past. He remembers a time before the war, before there were factions on Cybertron. He remembers the launch of the Ark during Cybertron's Golden Age. However, its purpose was not necesarily benevolent. Having felt something in space via The Matrix, the Prime of that age led the expedition into space to find a power that could help the Cybertronians reshape the entire universe! Galvatron was selected for the crew of the Ark because of a willingness to face danger head on - but he felt something even deeper- his destiny within the Benzuli Expanse!
As Galvatron recalls this, he destroys Leadfoot. Sideswipe quickly attacks and is joined by Warpath, Hound, Road Rocket and Skram. At first it appears the Autobots are victorious, but Galvatron quickly restores himself and knocks them all out - choosing to keep them alive as a bit of rebellion against the one who calls him his master. Galvatron brings Thunderwing to the large pool of liquid discovered by Nightbeat in an earlier spotlight. There he tells them he has accomplished his mission: rescuing Thunderwing!
Galvatron occupies an interesting corner of the Transformers universe. Introduced over twenty years ago, there were several versions of this character running around. The most popular of course is the one introduced in the Transformers 1986 film, where Megatron is resurrected by Unicron in a new body with a new name. Because of its animated roots and theatrical release, this is the incarnation of Galvatron most people remember. Tell a casual fan that Galvatron was not originally conceived as Megatron reincarnated and you might get an odd look, but it's true. His original 1986 toy tech specs indicate that he was a "City Commander", presumably in charge of Trypticon - but hardly the leader of all Decepticons. Indeed, his tech spec even mentions he is "Determined to lead the Decepticons", implying that perhaps Megatron is still in charge.
I have always liked this interpretation of the character, though from a marketing perspective I can see why it makes sense to make Galvatron a reborn Megatron (something later Transformers shows such as "Armada" and "Robots in Disguise" would follow). However, I dig the idea of him being a powerful warrior who could rise to power with his own agenda. The cannon on his arm was no doubt meant to evoke the look of Megatron, with the crown shaped head a hint at his destiny to rule.
Furman takes this idea one step further, fulfilling his promise to do things with some of the Transformers characters that have not been done before story-wise. In this case, Galvatron is not only a separate entity from Megatron, but he is partly responsible for what happened to the Ark. Through a bit of exposition, we also learn that Galvatron is not technically an Autobot or Decepticon, but rather he has no affiliation, having come from a time on Cybertron when there was just one race of robots not yet divided by eons of war. Despite these differences, there is still a dangerous, rebellious streak inside him as we read his thoughts we know he is not 100% happy with his master, also a Prime. This really sets the stage for a grand entrance into this storyline by one of the first Primes. It also shows us that not all Primes were necesarily "good" in our definition, an idea that seems to violate almost everything Autobot fans have assumed about the lineage of the Autobot leaders.
The other aspect of this issue I enjoyed was the small band of Autobots left at Thunderhead Pass following the events of Thunderwing's resurrection. It's not a group most people would put together themselves, consisting of Autobots from G1 and G2 (granted, such designations are fairly useless in the IDW-verse). The best part of the whole sequence is Sideswipe's reaction to Sunstreaker's capture. Although Transformers history is filled with references to the two being brothers, it is not often we get to see any actual emotional bond between the two. Clearly there is one here and it is cool to see Sideswipe's hard headed ways justified by an event happening in the "Escalation" series.
Guido Guidi is without a doubt one of my favorite Transformers artists. His style is so clean and well defined that it grabs your eye in every panel. His layouts are very simple and well thought out. He never chooses style over substance, always leaning towards economy of space. There is a clear anime influence in his work, particularly in close up panels such as the one where Galvatron is gritting his teeth and looking over his shoulder. The streaking lines used on Galvatron indicate his brimming rage along with making a static drawing look like it has some movement to it. Being clean in his art does not mean it is not detailed. The close up shots of the Transformers show very "Marvel G2-esque" necks with wires and tubing and the shots of Ratchet's body with lots of machinery underneath his ambulance parts really drew my eye in despite Ratchet's very simple red and white color scheme.
Also of note are all of Guido's redesigns of various classic (and perhaps not so classic) characters. While Don Figueroa is often touted as the originator of the "reimagine the old forms of the Transformers" art style in the modern age of Transformers comics, Guido has taken that lead and run with it. He manages to redesign each character just enough so that their forms are not 100% Earth-like while also keeping the essence of the character's robot forms intact. My favorite designs in this book are Galvatron and Sideswipe's. Galvatron looks like a living claw (no RID Megatron jokes please). Every angle on him is sharp, nothing is blunted or particularly rectangular. Even his cannon is drawn with a sharp fin on it on Cover A. Considering he is really working for someone else, the visual analogy is apt as he tears into enemies one by one. His redesign is also very reminscent of a lot of Japanese redesigns of characters found in magazines of the late 80's and early 90's such as "TV Magazine" and the infamous Stuido Ox models of the Transformers (featured most prominantly in the classic episode "The Call of the Primitives"). Sideswipe's design is very much like something we would have expected to see in Dreamwave's "The War Within" with enough features of his G1 Earth vehicle form to give it a tie to the original vehicle we all knew and loved.
The other designs are nothing to ignore either, and thanks to an extra few pages in the back of the book we get to see several designs not prominantly featured in the book itself such as Skram's vehicle mode. I like Road Rocket's a lot as it is reminscent of the oddball Pretender vehicle modes from the late 80's which, despite their simplicity, have always held a particular charm to me.
The coloring work on this book is outstanding. Every page is filled with atmosphere, and when the Autobots show their relatively bright color palette really contrasts well with Galvatron's darker one and the dark tone of the surroundings the battle takes place in. In scenes such as those with fire, you almost feel the heat leaping off the page. It's a great job.
"Galvatron" is a great tale that really has begun to expand the scope of the Transformers IDW-verse. We now get to see more threads of a larger scale story from both the past and a frightening potential future. Highly recommended.