IDW Publishing: "Regeneration One" Issue 86 Comic Book Review
Title: "Natural Selection" Part One
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: December 5, 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
When the Dinobots and several Autobots were disabled, Grimlock sought to bring them back no matter the cost. Traveling to the world of Hydrus Four, he used an experimental power source on them known as Nucleon. Its effects differed from entity to entity. In Grimlock's case, it gave him power beyond what he had before, but it also took away his ability to transform. In the case of Slag, it drove the Dinobot into a feral state, forcing the other dinobots to hold him in a pen, held by restraints!
Now on the planet Nebulos, Grimlock is being held captive by Scorponok. The Decepticon explains that once Lord Zarak died, he was reactivated and he managed to take over the "weak minds" of the Nebulans and have a perfect replica of his original body constructed. He explains further that he gained Zarak's brilliant knowledge as well, allowing him to further his studies. Examining Nucleon has been a fascinating part of his work and he explains that Nucleon is not just a power source, it alters a Transformer body down at the genetic level! He offers Grimlock a chance to get a replica of his old body back, complete with the ability to transform. In exchange, he wants Grimlock to help him remake Cybertron in his own image!
Meanwhile on Cybertron, Hot Rod, Grapple and Blurr are trying to figure out what to do about Soundwave inside the Hall of Silence, where the remains of Thunderwing are stored! Inside, the slightest sound would activate the building's security systems. However Soundwave is a master of sound and is able to manipulate sound to his advantage! He finally reaches Thunderwing's body just as Hot Rod decides to destroy the building, leaving no trace behind!
On Earth, Cosmos, Red Alert, Wheeljack and Smokescreen are disposing of fallen friends and enemies in a large pit for vaporizing by Ultra Magnus from orbit. While they work, Spike and G.B. Blackrock confront Optimus Prime and tell him that the humans want the Autobots gone. Optimus believes he and the Autobots can help them rebuild, but they want no part of it. Finally from orbit Ultra Magnus fires the blast to vaporize the fallen Transformers, but before the blast hits one escapes: Starscream!
Back on Nebulos, Grimlock attempts to make an escape. However, before he can get out, he is confronted by the Dinobots! He tries to fight them but they manage to take him down, accusing him of not thinking before acting in "saving" them and finally they knock him out! Or do they? Grimlock awakens and it turns out Scorponok used a mental trick to make him dream up his own worst enemy: his own conscience! Grimlock realizes there's no way out and finally agrees to Scorponok's plan!
On Earth, Sunstreaker and Roadbuster have finished patrolling the perimeter of The Ark. Neither of them saw anything, but they know that only two of them can't cover the entire area. Unbeknownst to them, two figures are skulking about: Starscream and Galvatron!
This is one of those interesting issues where not much action happens (at least not in the "real" world). Instead, it's almost like a period for us to catch our collective breaths as the new story arc launches. I also found this issue playing against a lot of my expectations. For instance, you'd think "Yay, Megatron is defeated, light up the fireworks!" but instead, the humans want the Autobots gone and you still have two of the most dangerous Decepticons around in play. In a parallel storyline, you have Grimlock captured, with only one Decepticon to take down - and yet he gives up in the end. These are very different outcomes than what you would normally expect, but they both make perfect sense in the context of the story.
With regards to Megatron's defeat, I think the past few issues built him up as the classic Transformers "big bad", but in a way he had a death wish all along. The Megatron that we feared is long gone, replaced by a mad warrior with nothing to lose and no aspiration beyond destruction. Defeating him meant saving the humans, nothing more. I also don't expect the humans to be grateful. Indeed, if there had been a "You Autobots are great!" moment from the humans, it would have come off to me as completely disingenuous. This is the reaction I'd expect and more to the point, Optimus Prime was completely wrong this time around, and he seems a bit still in shock over Megatron's defeat and the consequences of his own inaction. Since he survived the last issue, I'm curious to see how the remifications of his choices will haunt him whether or not he's on Earth.
Regarding Grimlock, I'm convinced what we're seeing in this issue is a complete spiritual defeat of the character. If this were a pure physical contest, I actually think Grimlock would rip Scorponok to shreds. In this universe, Scorponok is a regular sized Decepticon (albeit a powerful one). He is not the gigantic city that his toy makes him out to be and keep in mind Grimlock is powered by Nucleon, which not only makes him stronger and faster, but it's also supposed to be inexhaustible (according to the Action Master toy packaging anyhow) so theoretically he could outlast Scorponok in battle any day of the week. However, the fight with the Dinobots shows that his heart simply isn't in the fight. Like Optimus Prime, he knows he's messed up and giving up is, in a way a type of penance for the character. Of course, I don't believe for a minute that he's not going to turn around and betray Scorponok once the Dinobots have new bodies!
This issue ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, with Starscream and Galvatron both awake and I'm sure up to no good. However, it happens really quickly and I found myself wishing Galvatron had at least appeared in one panel earlier saying something so we had a clue what was going through his head. Starscream's arrival is interesting because it shows he's slowly gaining back his mental facilties, even though the look on his face looks more scared than determined!
As an aside, one line that really made me laugh was Scorponok explaining that he had the Nebulans build him a "mint" body. I wonder if this was a bit of a nod to fans who often seek out toys for their collection that are in "mint" condition!
The artwork in this issue is strong, but you'll see some classic Wildman stylings that may not jive with those who prefer the art stylings found in IDW's other titles. One of these is the hyper simplification of Transformer bodies. This is most evident when Smokescreen, Red Alert and Wheeljack transform to leave the scene. Wheeljack loses his shoulder cannon, Red Alert is missing some detail etc. To me, I just take this as part of their transformation, but others may not like it. On the other hand, the entire sequence where Grimlock tries to escape and fights the "Dinobots" is beautifull detailed, drawn and colored, showing some of the best art this title has to offer.
This was a good issue to kick off a new arc, and it seems to be largely filled with facing the consequences of actions (or inaction) for many characters. With so many disparate issues going on at the same time, I'm really curious to see where they go in coming issues!