IDW Publishing: "Regeneration One" Issue 89 Comic Book Review
Title: "Natural Selection" Part Four
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: March 13, 2013
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 Cybertron, the Dinobots have become the hunted! As Swoop, Snarl and Sludge try to find a way to safety, they consider their next move. They know the odds are stacked against them and they are still willing to fight, but they want to be specific about their target: Grimlock! Feeling betrayed by their former leader the Dinobots decide to pick a target that will get his attention.
Inside the Civil Defense Hub Grimlock asks Treadshot where Scorponok is. The Decepticon explains Scorponok has gone to supervise the genetic key construction himself. Suddenly a disruption occurs at "The Nursery" where those who could not control their Nucleon based abilities were housed. Grimlock knows this is the work of the Dinobots and after knocking out Treadshot he intends to meet the challenge!
At The Sonic Canyons, Scorponok is overseeing the final preparations for the "Gene Key". Scorponok goes on about how great his plan is, until Perceptor questions it. Scorponok manages not to destroy the Autobot, but with great effort in restraining himself saying to himself that he has "evolved" beyond that. Perceptor meanwhile continues to monitor the construction.
Underground, Hot Rod has been confronted with the Sword of Primus and the Covenant of Primus, a source of great knowledge. The "Demons" are rapidly approaching and he knows he needs to make a choice between the two: knowledge or weapon?
Meanwhile on Earth, Optimus Prime is racing to the scene of the Ark's crash. He contemplates why he stayed on Earth, whether it was out of guilt or something else. He also wonders just what he can offer a race that doesn't want him around any longer. Before he can address that however, he has to deal with the remaining technology in The Ark!
Unknown to Optimus, machinations are going on inside the former Autobot base. Shockwave is physically and mentally linked into the ship's systems. Through a flashback, we learn that Shockwave was heavily damaged in the Ark's crash. Afterwards he linked himself to the ship to stay alive mentally. As Galvatron works the controls of the Ark, Shockwave and Starscream both look on, helpless for now.
On Cybertron, Grimlock has arrived at The Nursery. He tries to explain to the Dinobots what has happened but they don't want to hear it and begin to attack! Unbeknownst to the Dinobots however, Scorponok is already sending warriors to the site thanks to a tracker her built into Grimlock's body! As the Dinobots continue to clash, Grimlock keeps trying to explain but the Dinobots don't want to hear it.
Deep underground, Hot Rod has made his choice: knowledge! Suddenly he sees a flashback to the birth of the first Cybertronians, the "Demons". Although they started united, they too eventually turned on each other and Primus started over, creating the Transformers. With this knowledge acquired, he grabs the sword just in time to face the Demons!
In The Nursery, the Decepticons led by Brainstorm and Hardhead have found Grimlock! They're about to attack when Grimlock blasts the chamber containing Inferno. The Autobot warns everyone to back away right before he unleashes an uncontrolled burst of fire! Soon, Hosehead, Crosshairs, Grapple and Blurr arrive. Hosehead puts out the fire and goes to take care of Inferno as Grimlock emerges with the Dinobots. He tells Crosshairs he has a plan to end Scorponok's mad plan - and that there will probably be deaths along the way.
In the skies above Cybertron, the Valiant has returned with Ultra Magnus in command. Hound and Smokescreen are on the bridge with him as passengers including Kup, Sideswipe and Cosmos sit in the passenger area. Pounce and Wingspan are monitoring the ship's trajectory when an order comes in from Scorponok to give them a flight/landing approach - and then blow them out of the sky!
The centerpiece of this story is Grimlock's loyalty and obsession with restoring the Dinobots. We've seen what he'll do for them, but their anger is borne of not knowing the circumstances to which Grimlock made his deal with Scorponok. A throwdown between the Dinobots was bound to happen sooner or later and it seems to be a necessary step to reforming the bond between the Dinobots. The Dinobot way or code seems largely centered around conflict as a way to settle, well, everything, so this fight makes perfect sense. I did appreciate the way the Dinobots were, in their own way, trying to do the "honorable" thing by destroying their former leader, but for the sake of the story you knew it couldn't go that way. The resolution to their battle was fun and something we were given hints at before when we first saw The Nursery. Part of me wonders if the "special abilities" of the Transformers stored there such as Inferno may fit into Grimlock's plan to free Cybertron and its inhabitants from Scorponok's plans. Overall this part of the story worked for me as a necessary "bridge" to get to Grimlock forming his rebellion.
Optimus Prime's brief interlude as an interesting one as it gives us a look at all his doubt and uncertainty even as he is resolute in getting rid of any remaining technology from The Ark. This particular type of conflict has always plagued Simon Furman's Optimus Prime, who was written quite differently from Bob Budiansky's in the original Marvel series. Budiansky's Prime was more like the one most fans are familiar with. He gave orders, fought, made decisions and generally was the "leader figure". Furman on the other hand has traditionally plauged his version of Prime with doubt, which is fair given any good leader should doubt himself now and then. However, when the time comes for action he must also take it and that's where this Optimus Prime has failed. It should be interesting seeing Optimus try to help the humans since I'm one hundred percent sure they won't be happy to see him!
I was glad to see the Shockwave-connected-to-the-Ark story picked up a bit here. I find it interesting that Shockwave did this to himself rather than have it be part of Megatron's plan. No doubt Megatron worked this into his plan later, but this shows how truly desperate Shockwave was to survive. My only curiosity now is - what is Galvatron going to do with the Shockwave connected Ark?
Hot Rod's story has me curious. I do still think we are on a path leading to the birth of Rodimus Prime, but I also expect it to be a bit different than the "births" we've seen before such as in "Transformers: The Movie". My guess is also that he's not going to tear through the Demons like tin foil. I have nothing to support this except wishes, but I would love it if Hot Rod wound up being the vessel which Primus uses to make piece with his "prototype" creations once and for all.
The artwork in this issue was great to look at as usual. It felt like there were a lot more shaded lines and gritty details being added in, which is often the case with Wildman's style once a lot of battling begins to happen. He's very good at making characters look "clean" at first and then beat up later. His panels are also very fluid, naturally working into the next which isn't the easiest thing to do when the scene constantly shifts between four different story threads.
My only art concerns mostly center around design choices. One is Brainstorm's head design, which bothers me more and more each issue mostly because his head looks like it's slowly turning into Arcana's with more rounded designs and a very expressive face sans mouthplate. Now, in the Japanese "Headmasters" cartoon, Brainstorm did have a mouth, but the rest of his head was shaped like the animation/comic book model used in most G1 media. It's just a strange choice that I can't explain.
Little oddities abound, though I confess they were everywhere in the G1 Marvel Comic book era too, so at least this is faithful to that. This includes Galvatron's consistent lack of anything on his back (which has been the case since the original title, his design varies wildly depending on who drew him) and Sideswipe's head which looks like it's missing something on top (especially with Red Alert sitting right next to him).
Having grown up with the Marvel Comics, I notice such design choices (or errors if you prefer) but I don't make a big deal out of them. Still, I recognize there are some readers who are bothered by such things which is why I mention them here.
This was a good issue to help begin to button up storylines set in motion issues ago. I'm eager to see the resolution of the battle for Cybertron and what reception Optimus will get on Earth. Most of all I want to see how Hot Rod completes his "hero's journey". All in all this issue delivers some good action, good artwork, character moments and anticpation for what is to come!