IDW Publishing: "Regeneration One" Issue 84 Comic Book Review
Title: "Loose Ends" Part Four
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: October 10, 2012
Writer: Simon Furman
Penciler: Andrew Wildman
Inker: Stephen Baskerville
Colorist: John-Paul Bove
Letterer: Chris Mowry
Editor: John Barber
Editor in Chief: Chris Ryall
On Earth, Starscream stands nearly paralyzed by Megatron's neural inhibitor. He knows he has to do something but can't bring himself to do it. He can only help but watch Megatron continue his mad ranting...for now.
Meanwhile, the Wreckers have split up into two groups. One group, led by Springer is headed to Megatron's location to distract him. Meanwhile Roadbuster leads a team to break into the Ark and destroy the Ark's brain, also known as "Auntie". Before long, both groups engage their targets, with Springer and his team facing Skywarp and Thundercracker while Roadbuster's team begins to tackle the Ark's defenses. Megatron's horde doesn't feel pain however, and soon Springer and his team are brought down while the Autobots at the Ark face a new threat: Guardians!
Hot Rod is having a vision, one of many that he's begun to have since Optimus Prime left Cybertron. His instincts tell him Optimus is not coming back, and if that's true - the fate of Cybertron may be in his hands! In his vision, he sees a Cybertron with pools of melted metal all around him. He is alone - until a creature from Cybertron's past strikes! He fights it but the vision ends! Suddenly, Blurr runs in with an alert: the Decepticons have breached the Hall of Silence. Their goal: Thunderwing!
Megatron waits, knowing the Autobots are coming. Beneath his foot is Springer, brought down by Decepticon firepower, now with Megatron just waiting to destroy him. Soon, the Autobots arrive and Megatron is pleased!
Nearby, Starscream fights to get words out as he stands over Kup. He manages to say two critical words: "Kill Ratchet"!
Megatron has always been a problematic character for writers. In many ways, he represents some of the same difficulties as modern day comic book writers have with DC's Superman. How do you write a character who's so ultra powerful that his leadership decimated an entire segment of his race (the Autobots), allowed him to conquer cities (if not whole worlds depending on what continuity you go with) but still make him somewhat difficult to "relate" to in any way. The way many writers have tackled this in the past is to introduce extra dimensions to the character beyond his power and tyrannical mission. This can mean giving him principles (being a freedom fighter versus a tyrant) or even having him occasionally join forces with the Autobots (which happened in the original cartoon once or twice). In this case however, Simon Furman's answer is basically to make Megatron bugnuts insane. To be fair, this is a bugnuts insane Megatron with a plan, but this is not the same Megatron who began a war millions of years ago to turn Cybertron into a "cosmic dreadought" or who wanted to rule the galaxy. This Megatron is obsessed with Optimus Prime, getting his attention and ultimately annihilating everything. In many ways, this is a very sad portrayal of the character. It's a Megatron who's lost his way. This doesn't mean he can't function, fight or even come up with crazy schemes, it's just that his focus is completely shattered. This is perhaps most evident in his treatment of his own warriors, creating a "zombie" army instead of having true believers follow him.
Another key Decepticon here is Starscream, who in many ways is more rebellious than ever, despite his neural inhibitor. This does pose an interesting point: are the Transformers Megatron has enslaved "dead" or are they still very much "in there" but being held back by his handy work? It would seem the latter is true and if so, it really makes me feel bad for the whole lot of them. Sure they're not heroic characters in any way, but to be betrayed and enslaved by their own leader like this is a very cruel fate indeed. Starscream's action at the end of the issue however shows his sheer willpower but also the possibility that some of these Decepticons may eventually turn "back" to who they were.
This issue was relatively light on the G1 references compared to the previous issue, but we did get heavy mention of "Auntie", the computer inside the Ark. "Auntie" was unique to the comic book series and a relatively obscure mention to boot. Most of the time the Ark's computer was not really talked about in the comic books (whereas in the animated series the computer Teletran-1 was referred to often). Associated with Auntie are the "Guardians", the yellow robots seen charging out of the Ark. These appeared in the Generation One comic book series a few times (in various forms). It's cool to see them brought out again.
The part that nags at me a bit is the mention of the Decepticons not going down because they don't feel pain. It's a convenient plot device for sure (and hey, this is a comic book about space robots), but at the end of the day, the Decepticons look in really rough shape. If you say, take out their weapons system or their engines, I don't care whether they feel pain or not, they shouldn't be able to fight (of course actually doing so is the trick). Also, it's been said in the G1 comic books that Transformers do have the capability of "switching off" their pain receptors whether or not they're "zombified". Of course, this does make for a compelling way to show why the Autobots are defeated. Perhaps my suspension of belief would have been helped if more fliers showed up and overwhelmed the Autobots. As shown, I feel the Wreckers should have been able to handle what was thrown at them in this issue relatively easily.
Since this series is starting to gain momentum, there's a lot less exposition in this issue and a lot more action. We also get to see a bit less happening in this issue. It's still fun and acts as a good "bridge" issue, but nothing here truly felt like a pivot point in the story. A good issue, and important to the story arc but not as strong as the last couple ones.