IDW Publishing: "Regeneration One" Issue 87 Comic Book Review
Title: "Natural Selection" Part Two
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: January 9, 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 Nebulos, Scorponok has given Grimlock a copy of his old body back. As the Dinobot leader looks on, he reactivates Highbrow, Hardhead and Brainstorm - but the three Autobots have been changed at the molecular level, removing some of their inhibitions and essentially making them violent and uninhibited versions of their former selves. The three emerge and immediately attack Grimlock, but he quickly reminds all three of them that he is the superior warrior. Before the fight goes too far, Scorponok stops them to prepare for his mission!
On Cybertron, the Autobots are looking for the tunnels leading to the "Primus Chamber", the place where Jazz, Bumblebee and Grimlock accidentally awakened Primus and kicked off the battle with Unicron that led to Cybertron's rebirth. Hot Rod is hopeful there is some remnant of Primus still in the chamber. Before he can continue the discussion with Lightspeed, Crosshairs shows up to report Grimlock has returned to Cybertron!
At the Cybertropolis Spaceport, Grimlock arrives and is greeted by Hot Rod backed up by Sureshot, Crosshairs and the Triggerbots. Grimlock shows everyone he can transform now and proceeds to the nursery to hope the other Dinobots, but the Autobots restrain him and throw him into a cell. Hot Rod orders Perceptor to check Grimlock out and figure out how he accomplished what he had, but he suspects something is not right!
On Earth in the Yukon, Starscream sneaks into the Ark, but inside Galvatron grabs him. He demands to know why he has snuck into a ship that has been deactivated of its most valuable resource. Starscream struggles to speak and Galvatron realizes he cannot say anything, so he tells Starscream to show him what he was looking for.
Meanwhile in West Virginia, Optimus Prime says his goodbyes to Ultra Magnus. Despite the wishes of the humans, he feels he owes it to them to stay behind and help them rebuild. He feels his time has passed and Hot Rod's leadership is the future.
Back on Cybertron in the Senate Forum, Hot Rod leaves Hosehead, Siren and Grapple to oversee the Grimlock situation while he goes underground to investigate the Primus Chamber. Unbeknownst to them, Scorponok and his altered Autobots have landed! The three former Autobots head out, intent on destorying anything in their way.
Inside his cell, Grimlock sits quietly as Perceptor examines him. Perceptor figures out that Grimlock's new body came from Nebulos, but he doesn't understand why the Nebulans would build Grimlock a new body using untested technology. Grimlock doesn't answer, but instead prepares to pull out something from a panel in his arm.
Outside, Brainstorm, Highbrow and Hardhead have arrived! They first take out Slapdash and proceed to destroy other Autobots before infiltrating the Autobot facility. Inside, they message Scorponok and tell him they are ready for him. Meanwhile, Grimlock is done listening to Perceptor and apologizes, right before pushing a device into Perceptor's chest that begins to alter his body at a molecular level, just like Scorponok had done with Brainstorm and the others!
At Evacuation Point Alpha, Hot Rod goes underground. Far below a fight has ended and several "Demon" creatures are skulking about the ruins of Autobot bodies. Suddenly the elevator begins to open, and the Demons await their next victim!On The Ark, Galvatron has been brought to the "brain" of the AI that controlled the ship. At first he is confused, but soon he discovers the true reason Starscream wanted to get inside: Shockwave is inside the computer! Part of his head is missing and he is connected right into the computer. Galvatron is most pleased with this discovery!
I described this issue as a particularly brutal one. Not so much in the sense of fighting. Much more carnage has been seen in the past. However, it's not often that we see Autobots changed on a "genetic" level to the point where they become crazed versions of their original selves. What happens to Hardhead, Brainstorm and Highbrow was really hard to see. Seeing heroes turned into villains is never particularly fun, but it does make for some great story potential. I do find it fascinating that Scorponok did not make Grimlock go through the same procedure (though he did build Grimlock's current body so I wonder if that will play into a plot twist later). I'm also wondering why Chromedome was omitted from this group since he was one of the four "original" Headmasters, and I find myself wondering if that too plays into the storyline later.
I found Grimlock's betrayal interesting. It's a shame, and his assault on Perceptor was "brutal" in the same way Scorponok's "rewriting" of the former-Autobot's C.N.A. was. However, I like to believe that Grimlock has something up his clawed sleeve. Grimlock has faced incredible odds before, seemingly turned away from the Autobots and then found a way to turn things around. I find it very hard to believe that he would just roll along with Scorponok's plans without trying to get his Dinobots back and then smashing Scorponok into little pieces.
Scorponok in particular is an interesting character to see in this book because this is Scorponok sans any influence from Zarak. It was shown in the comic that Zarak served as a pseudo "conscience" for the personality that was Scorponok, and over time it appeared his more honorable personality aspects became dominant. This Scorponok is one without any restraint as his plans show. I also see Scorponok as Hot Rod's first major challenge but I suspect he'll be pummeling quite a few Autobots before the two will meet.
So what of Hot Rod? I think the obvious plot point many may suspect is that he will find Primus and somehow become Rodimus Prime. While I would like this nod to previous Transformers tales, this title has managed to surprise us in many ways thus far, and I would not be shocked if the story takes a very different turn, especially with Hot Rod having to face the "Demon" creatures first! For the uninitiated, the "Demons" were the creatures Primus created before the Transformers, but they were so violent that he kept them underground and away from the Transformers as best he could. They were essentially an evolutionary "mistake". It does make me wonder however - Primus supposedly created the Transformers and the "Demons", all of whom have his "energy" or "essence" in them as Sparks. It owuld be fascinating if the "Matrix energy" Hot Rod is seeking winds up being associated (or even inside) the Demon creatures.
I'm happy to see the story on Earth developing. Having Shockwave hooked into the Ark's AI makes a lot of sense and explains much of how Megatron figured out how to do much of what he did. Between Ratchet's medical knowledge and Shockwave's logical brain, I'm sure Megatron accomplished a lot that he couldn't have otherwise. The set up of having Optimus stay on Earth is interesting as it will no doubt cause much conflict with the humans. I really like this "B" story of Prime having to face the consequences of his inaction even after the "fight" is over.
I found the artwork in this issue brilliant as always, but I also found some of Wildman's design choices interesting and I wonder if they were done for narrative purposes. Both Hardhead and Brainstorm's head designs are not the head designs that were used in the old "Headmasters" comic book or the models used in their US cartoon appearances. Instead, Brainstorm's head replaces his mouthplate with an actual mouth while Hardhead gets a mouthplate based on his toy's appearance. In terms of a narrative choice, this differentiates them from their previous "selves" in appearance, making both somehow look rougher and more dangerous. Even Highbrow's head has been extremely streamlined, giving him a more fierce appearance. It's a really interesting design choice that also gets echoed with Perceptor. The original Perceptor toy had a mouthplate, but his appearance in both the comic books and animated series had a mouth. Here, the designs are meshed where his mouth area is colored blue, with a clear dividing line near his mouth. This almost makes him look like he has a "beard" of sorts, and of course bad guys or "evil twins" usually have "beards" (a scifi story trope) so this facial design practically broadcasts Perceptor's "turn" before it happens.
The coloring in this issue is really wonderful to look at. It really is a reminder of the range of colors used on previous generations of Transformers. Nowadays we get so many iterations of the same characters over and over *cough*Bumblebee*cough* that it seems all we see are yellow, blue, red and green all ove rthe Transformers line on the Autobot side. This issue shows us a nice diversity of color sets between Slapdash, Sureshot, the Triggerbots and Hot Rod. Their inherent colors are great, but the way they're colored adds beautiful lighting and brilliance. I'm also a fan of the way colors from the original Marvel comic are adhered to even if it doesn't match the colors of the original toys or animation models (Galvatron being the prime example).
In some ways this was a tough issue to swallow, watching Brainstorm and company slaughter Autobots is really rough, but it makes for a challenging story and of that I approve. The story is definitely moving along at a great pace and I can't wait to see how it pans out! You won't like the issue if you're very attached to the status quo, but if you like things being shaken up, this book's for you.