"Revenge of the Fallen" Sequel "Nefarious" #2 Comic Book Review
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Written by: Simon Furman
Art by: Carlos Magno
Colors by: Cris Carter
Letters by: Chris Mowry
Editor: Andy Schmidt
Associate Editor: Denton J. Tipton
Utah, February 7, 2010
Optimus Prime, Sideswipe and Ironhide are engaged in battle with unseen forces, and Optimus Prime realizes that the battle he is involved in is a lot more than meets the eye.
Four hours earlier, Edwards Airforce Base
Galloway is chastising Lennox and his team, partly for their methods and partly for recruiting the help of two more Autobots (Jolt and Knock Out) without proper processing. He tells them the joint Autobot/human operation has officially been shut down and that everyone will be reassigned shortly. After Galloway leaves, Lennox and Optimus Prime discuss the situation and the unknown group of humans who appeared on the scene at the battle sight in issue #1. Lennox doesn't trust anyone or the official report by the government on the incident.
Two hours earlier, Petrochemical battle site
A group of scientists from The Initiative are gathered around a camera searching underground. Suddenly, Buzzsaw tears out of the ground, destroying the camera. Ravage follows behind and Soundwave quickly establishes an uplink, absorbing all of Ravage's recent memory. Soundwave orders Buzzsaw to join the rest of Strike Team Ursa while he tells Ravage to hide out until they figure out who it was that damaged him earlier.
Carter, the mysterious old man from issue #1 and Kirkpatrick, one of Carter's scientists monitor the new Allspark's creation. Kirkpatrick warns Carter that they are dealing with forces that could destroy them. While Carter understands, he believes everything is well in hand. We then learn that he has his technologist Ingrid taking over all of the old Sector 7 facilities!
Utah, one hour ago
Dirt Boss, Brakedown and Reverb have arrived to join Buzzsaw in investigating the area at Soundwave's command. The Decepticons begin to tear the area apart, but when they find an underground passage, a bomb goes off! They manage to escape just in time, but The Initiative learns of this and instead of using their own resources, they reactivate Lennox's group. Suddenly, the team is funded again and completely back online. Ironhide's team is notified of the explosion and sent to investigate. Optimus Prime and Lennox are suspicious, but they still need the situation investigated.
Ironhide, Sideswipe and two NEST vehicles are dropped off and immediately engage the Decepticons. Sideswipe slices Brakedown while Ironhide runs down Reverb. Dirt Boss puts up a fight, but pretends to surrender once surrounded. Suddenly, Soundwave appears and strafes the Autobots! Ravage joins in the battle and the fight escalates until Optimus Prime arrives to pummel Soundwave. Soundwave knows he is beaten, but offers to act as an information gathering source to figure out who it is that is working against NEST and the Transformers. Optimus Prime agrees, realizing he may have to bear the weight of this decision in the future.
Enroute to Washington D.C.
Galloway is looking in his database and realizes that the Hoover Dam and database of Sector 7 sites is gone, and as he wonders what is going on, we see a group of green suited humans inside the facility!
It struck me as I read this issue that this story is one based upon consequences of actions that go back to the first Transformers film. We see the consequences of Allspark fragments and Transformers technology getting left all over the Earth in The Initiative's efforts to create a new Allspark. The consequences of Lennox's actions with Galloway in "Revenge of the Fallen" are now coming to fruition with the shut down of NEST. These two situations drive a lot of the story of "Nefarious". With the first story, I am interested to see what The Initiative plans to do with the Transformers power once they have it. Clearly they want to build up their military power, but to what avail? Simple defense? Taking over the world? It would be interesting to see humans use Transformers technology in a bid to take power without allying themselves with Transformers (which is a dynamic that has been seen before). I like that idea and find it much more realistic than what has been portrayed in say, the 80's cartoon series.
On the other side of the coin, seeing NEST shut down by Galloway is no surprise. I think in a more "cartoon" universe, shoving a government official out a plane and then saving the day would absolve one of all misdeeds, but clearly Galloway is not just some flunkie but rather a character with power, and one that is petty enough to use that power out of spite. His note of diverting funds for orbital defense however is fascinating. I wonder if there are implications for something being set up down the road (a different team being formed, the Autobots having to go out on their own etc.). While he is annoying and you want to shove him out an airlock, Galloway's character serves as a perfect way to interfere with the good intentions of the Autobots without the use of lasers or missiles.
Thus far, Soundwave's character has been played up as quite a powerful one. Between having his own personal force of animal-based Transformers, he is portrayed as a formidable fighter himself. I think it's cool to see that he's not a pushover, which is something I feared when he spent the entire "Revenge of the Fallen" film in orbit. Even better, we get to see Optimus Prime prove his mettle as a warrior once again. One of my favorite scenes in "Revenge" was seeing him take down Demolishor and later Grindor. It showed that while he may be wise and protective of humans, he's no slouch on the battlefield. Having him push his way through Soundwave's blaster and then pummel the Decepticon was really cool. I did find it fascinating however that he did not destroy him outright. My sense is that even before Soundwave bargained for his life, part of Optimus knew that Soundwave was much more valuable alive than dead. It should be interesting seeing the dance between the two characters as this series progresses.
On another note, hurray for the introduction of more characters from the toy universe into this one. Having enjoyed figures such as Dirt Boss and Brakedown, I feared they would simply be forgotten in time as one off characters in an extended toy line for the movie. Instead, they were front and center in this issue, and while they didn't all survive, it was cool to see them in action even for a limited time. This also represents a much loved trope of Simon Furman stories, where he takes non-central or "feature" characters, and makes them key players in stories - shortly before dispatching of them in some gruesome fashion. Isn't tradition wonderful?
I find the way The Initiative has taken over the Sector 7 facilities really interesting. I guess I had just assumed that when Sector 7 shut down, NEST took over control of any of its facilities. Leaving them abandoned and unprotected seems odd, but then again The Initiative looks rooted in the government, so there is a nice conspiracy theory angle here where they simply make things "disappear" such as the Hoover Dam. I am really eager to see just what it is they want from there since both Megatron and the Allspark are long gone from that facility.
I enjoyed Carlos Magno's artwork in the first issue of "Nefarious", but that issue primarily focused on Transformers we've seen in other mediums (such as the movie) before. This time around, he gets to flex his creative muscles thanks to the diversified cast of characters brought into the story in this issue. Three things struck me about the art this time around, his work drawing humans, the detail level of the Transformers and finally his ability to take two Transformers who look similar and change it up completely so they look different.
First, I give kudos to Magnos for his ability to draw humans not only well, but in such a way that they look distinct from each other. Galloway is clearly different from Kirkpatrick and Lennox. His work on Carter is particularly impressive as the level of detail needed to draw all the wrinkles and equipment he is hooked up to takes time and patience! He also has a great sense of posture. Carter looks like he is struggling just to press a button while Ingrid looks enthusiastic if not somewhat sinister. I've seen many artists that draw one "thing" well (be they superheroes, machines or animals) but not others. Magnos really seems to have a good grasp of drawing organic and machine forms.
While the previous issue presented the Transformers in a very detailed fashion, they really take center stage in this issue. In the group shot of Autobots with Lennox, there is an amazing amount of detail in each Autobot, even Jolt who's in the background (and could have easily just been drawn as an outline with eyes). With Dirt Boss, Magno manages to take a toy that has a very "G1" aesthetic with blocky parts and flat armor and give it the Movie Universe aesthetic of open panels with machinery underneath. I love his addition of a big rocket launcher as a weapon for the Decepticon on top of his blades. I also enjoyed his interpretation of the hands of the Decepticons as these weird fingers that can bend in ways the conventional hand cannot. When Brakedown is lifting a piece of metal, his fingers are kind of twisted and warped a bit, giving them a very alien look.
Finally, Magno has an interesting challenge in this issue, take two characters based on the same sculpt on opposite sides and represent them in the issue without making them look like clones of each other. Knock Out manages to be the one that looks most like the action figure. With Reverb, Magno let his imagination roam and used the insectoid look of many Decepticons as an inspiration, creating an amazing looking Transformer complete with four arms instead of two. Reverb definitely looks different than Knock Out, but you can still see the similarities between this "insectoid" version of the character and its source action figure.
The color work in this issue was fantastic. Carter seems to have a fantastic sense of how to use light and strong tones to convey the action or movement in a scene. With parts such as battle scenes, the colors of the characters in the foreground are bold and strong while those in the background are often deemphasized. With scenes such as those with The Initiative, the colors can be neutral to dark and sinister. He also manages to work with Magno's "tweaked" designs such as Reverb and keep their color integrity intact without going nuts with silver and plain looking colors (which unfortunately does happen in the actual films).
"Nefarious" issue 2 is not quite as full of surprises as the first issue, but it definitely manages to entertain. I loved the (albeit brief) inclusion of new Decepticons into the mix and seeing some intrigue, action and yes, even politics put into the mix really provide a story with some real world punch that befits comics based on a live action movie. Recommended!