IDW Publishing: "ReGeneration One" Issue #97 Comic Book Review
Title: "The War to End All Wars" Part Two
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: December 18, 2013
Writer: Simon Furman
Breakdowns: Guido Guidi
Finishes: Stephen Baskerville
Colorist: John-Paul Bove
Letterer: Chris Mowry
Editor: John Barber
Editor in Chief: Chris Ryall
Grimlock is not happy. As he watches the Iacon "Resettlement Camp" the Demons are building, Grimlock feels his followers are being relegated to a ghetto. Swoop finds it curious how complacent the Demons have become, but something is coming for sure as they see a drawing of Primus scratched into the side of a building.
Elsewhere, Rodimus Prime consults his advisors on what to do about Jhiaxus and his followers who are looming over Cybertron in a gigantic spaceship. They decide to meet with him with proper precautions including snipers. Jhiaxus is preceded by a group of five warriors who don't speak. Instead, they wait for Jhiaxus who goes with Rodimus to a closed off chamber to meet where they can talk in private. As the two meet, the five warriors transform and head off to parts unknown. Rodimus tells Tracks to keep an eye on them, but not to provoke them in any way.
Meanwhile on Earth, Optimus Prime praises Landfill and Scoop on their work creating a Space Bridge leading to Nebulos. They get in touch with Quickmix who is on Nebulos and begin to synchronize both sides of the Bridge. There, scientists are working on completing Fortress Maximus' resurrection! Using his original head, they connect him to a new body and his initial reaction is violent, thrashing some of the equipment around him. Soon he re-establishes control however, and Fortress Maximus is reborn!
At Nova Point on Cybertron, Jhiaxus and Rodimus talk as Bumblebee and Nightbeat look on remotely. Jhiaxus tells Rodimus that Primus' plan is a flawed one, and that he has his own plan: The Hub Network! He shows a hologram of an interconnected series of worlds, terraformed in Cybertron's image. He offers to have Cybertron join the Hub to make the Cybertronians truly "one".
At the Resettlement Camp, Jhiaxus' warriors have arrived and begin to attack the Demons, overwhelming them with ease. They're not alone however as the Dinobots jump in defense of the creatures! Two of the warriors take on the Dinobots as the others continue the "cleanse" of the Demons! As the fight goes on, Rodimus tells Jhiaxus he objects to his scheme and the two struggle, but Jhiaxus thrashes him and escapes! Meanwhile the warrior known as "Firecrest" stabs Sludge, taking the Dinobot down. Ultra Magnus arrives with reinforcements but Jhiaxus calls them away, leaving the Autobot reinforcements to find Demons and Dinobots alike all fallen!
As Nightbeat helps Rodimus up from a pile of rubble, he reports Bumblebee and Jetfire will be repaired shortly - but the Dinobots will need more time. However he has gathered information that may help them win against Jhiaxus' forces. Rodimus decides it's time to stop reacting and take the battle to the enemy!
Above Cybertron, Starscream sees Jhiaxus' arrival and he recognizes the Cybertronian! He explains to Shockwave that Jhiaxus has arrived and with him - a reckoning!
As "ReGeneration One" begins to wind down, the series hasn't slowed its pace at all. There's a lot crammed into this issue, so much so I wish it was two instead. The "A" story of Jhiaxus' arrival on Cybertron is a good one - but if you're a long time fan of "Transformers" comics, you've already seen a version of this play out in the "Generation 2" comic book from Marvel Comics. There, a different Jhiaxus painted the same picture of a "united Cybertronian empire" to Optimus Prime, and he too outright rejected the vision. Like that Jhiaxus, this one is impatient and doesn't want to give Rodimus a second chance, and you just know some type of gigantic battle is about to break out. The subtle, yet interesting distinction is that this Jhiaxus believes he understands Primus' vision - but rejects it and instead has his own take on it. It isn't often you get to see a Transformer who is not the spawn of Unicron putting down Primus' vision, but it does open an interesting question: is Primus' vision of the universe the one that will ultimately play out with Jhiaxus in the picture? The answer will of course depend on whether or not Rodimus can stop him! I look forward to seeing if this conflict plays out differently than it did in the Marvel "Generation 2" title.
There are two "sub-stories" I wish could be expanded upon more. Indeed, they could each take up an issue (or at least half of one) all their own. The first is Fortress Maximus' resurrection. The idea of restoring the Autobots using their original heads is a fascinating one, but it also makes me wonder just what they went through the whole time. Were they aware? Were they just in a coma of sorts? And how will they react to everything that has happened since the original events on Nebulos? Sure we saw a couple of the Headmasters come back as Scorponok's pawns, but we spent most of that time seeing them brainwashed. Fortress Maximus' reaction to waking up here was not unexpected (especially given Cover B) but what do the words "...it's all going to be just so." refer to? It sounds ominous, but keep in mind - this is not the Fortress Maximus that was merged with Galen and Spike. This is not even the Fortress Maximus that had "Cerebros" as his head. This is the original one that was a pacifist and took his Autobots off Cybertron to get away from war. That being the case, why the ominous words and face? I'd love to see an issue that focused on him without having to worry about the larger story arc.
By the same token, I wish we could see more about the social dynamics of the Dinobots and Demons being treated as second-class citizens of Cybertron despite being heroes of the Bludgeon's invation. Ideas like this were done in the IDW "Robots in Disguise" title with the introduction of the "NAILs" but seeing it in this context would be interesting. After all, Grimlock once led the Autobots, he's been involved in several major campaigns over the years and ultimately helped save Cybertron. Treating him like a second class citizen seems odd, especially if you consider Rodimus does not have the same baggage with him that other Autobots like Optimus Prime have. I really would've liked to see this storyline explored more, but I'm not sure we'll get a lot with only three issues to go.
Side note: "Transformers" fans should get a bit of a laugh when Jhiaxus presents "The Hub Network", which is the name of the channel currently run by Hasbro's entertainment division and airs shows such as "Transformers" and "My Little Pony". I'm sure this was a tongue in cheek reference and it made me laugh.
The artwork in this issue was spectacular as always, however I noticed a bit of a shift in style. Where previously Guidi and Baskerville worked to emulate Wildman's style, this time out the book seems to be leaning more towards earlier G1 Marvel comic book style artwork which was based on Marvel style sheets. This is not a bad thing. Indeed, it gives many characters such as Nightbeat and Rodimus a bulkiness that befits the characters. Even Optimus Prime looked a bit "stockier" in this issue and Fortress Maximus looked nice and blocky, truly a product of his time - and I mean this in a good way! Contrast that sharply with Jhiaxus' warriors such as Rook. These guys are thinner, jagged looking, mostly the same color and have weapons that transform out of their arms instead of being hand held or shoulder mounted. My personal pet theory is that in some ways, Jhiaxus' warriors are allegories to the "Bay-formers" aka the Transformers seen in the live action films. They represent the "future state" of Transformers, and while advanced, it doesn't necesarily make them "better". I can't help but think there's a meta statement being made here, even it's an unconscious one and it's thought provoking and amusing all at the same time.
While I enjoyed this issue, I feel strongly there is untapped potential here and that's a bit frustrating. I'll reserve full judgement until the series ends of course. I enjoyed Jhiaxus' entrance and it's cool to see Rodimus thinking ahead instead of being the impulsive leader he's been made out to be in other mediums. I think the biggest compliment I can give the issue is wishing it was a double sized one instead of a regular one!