IDW Publishing: "ReGeneration One" Issue #98 Comic Book Review
Title: "The War to End All Wars" Part Three
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: January 29, 2014
Writer: Simon Furman
Breakdowns: Guido Guidi
Finishes: Stephen Baskerville
Colorist: John-Paul Bove
Letterer: Chris Mowry
Editor: John Barber
Editor in Chief: Chris Ryall
In the outer regions of The Hub Network Rodimus Prime's Autobot Fleet appears out of warp and begins their assault. Their goal: take down the Hub itself while Jhiaxus' focus is on Cybertron! The Autobot plan is to destroy one of the junctions that connect parts of the Hub together in hopes of causing the entire network to collapse. A team led by Ultra Magnus lands on one of the Hub planets and prepares to take out a junction. Rodimus Prime is counting on Jhiaxus not anticipating his plan as it's one Optimus Prime wouldn't have executed!
In Oklahoma, the human resistance led by G.B. Blackrock and Optimus Prime await the arrival of the Nebulan delegation via Space Bridge. The Star Chamber on Cybertron is being used to link the two worlds. Even Spike eventually arrives despite being notoriously anti-social. When the Bridge activates, a giant figure shows up: Fortress Maximus! Optimus had expected Nebulans and is confused - until Fortress Maximus attacks! He takes out Optimus Prime and grabs Spike talking about one becoming all. Before anyone can properly react, he disappears back into the bridge to parts unknown, leaving the humans confused as to what to do next.
Back on the Hub planet, Ultra Magnus' team executes the plan to destroy one of the Hub junctions. They manage to destroy it and...nothing happens! Suddenly, Jhiaxus orders a portion of his army to strike and the Autobots find themselves on the defensive. On the Hub planet, Ultra Magnus and the Autobots transform and try to escape their aerial attackers. Hound tries to provide defense but is destroyed. The Autobots realize they have to split up to survive and but soon the few that remain with Ultra Magnus realize they have to make a stand so they transform and begin to fire at their attackers.
Jhiaxus contacts Rodimus and tells him he has had billions of Astroyears to plan this assault. Rodimus has been outmatched and he ultimately surrenders.
On The Ark, Starscream is guiding The Ark towards Cybertron. Shockwave asks Starscream how they are being cloaked since The Ark does not having a cloaking device - and then he realizes Starscream is not entirely Starscream any longer. Starscream speaks about there being four but a fifth being necessary. Shockwave's damaged body is restored so he can assist. Meanwhile on Cybertron, Galvatron has been brought to Primus who declares one will be all!
Maybe it says something about me or something about Simon Furman's writing - but this issue managed to take me by surprise. There's been so much set up for Rodimus being the "Next Big Thing" for the Autobots that I totally thought his plan against Jhiaxus may have a chance at working. Oh sure, I totally expected Jhiaxus to pull out the rug from under him, but I didn't expect Rodimus surrendering. I thought instead we'd be seeing Rodimus' plan kind of half work and then see him battling his way out from Jhiaxus' assault. Sure it's possible Rodimus still has a card up his proverbial sleeve, but I was definitely surprised this mission didn't just turn into an all out brawl - and that's a good thing.
The other surprise was the reveal that Primus is manipulating much more than just Rodimus' fate. Seeing Primus take over Starscream's mind made a weird sort of sense. I'm sure Primus can take over any Transformer he darn well pleases, but with Starscream having had the Underbase at one time, I suspect his connection to the Transformers "God" may be a bit stronger than your typical Transformer. I also appreciate Primus taking a more active role other than sending Transformers on vision quests. It was implied that Primus may have been "gone" at the end of the first "Generation One" Marvel comic when his "body" (in the form of Emirate Xaaron) was destroyed and the Matrix energies were all used up battling Unicron. In the back of my head I always thought that wasn't "enough" to destroy Primus and I'm glad to see I'm right.
The odd part of the issue was Fortress Maximus' appearance. It was telegraphed that something was up with him last issue, however seeing him be so violent and seemingly possessed is bizarre. He also seemed angry that Optimus Prime was alive. My interpretation of all this is sadly: the Darkness from the previous incarnation of the Matrix in this universe has tainted Primus himself. We're given a strong visual indicator of this at the end of the issue where Primus himself looks angry, hardly the benevolent "Lord of Light" for the universe. Also, note the entire room is bathed in a green tone, which is reminscent of the Matrix in this universe when it was tainted and controlled via Thunderwing.
So is there hope? Absolutely. Rodimus Prime was brought to our universe presumably with "pure" Matrix/Primus energy, and I suspect his true role will be to "cleanse" whatever evil is taining Primus. I could be totally off base, but that's how I'm reading the situation right now.
The artwork in this issue was fantastic as always. I found the panels where Fortress Maximus was attacking Optimus Prime particularly visceral partly due to his sheer size and the agony Optimus was clearly in (both physically and emotionally). I also love the detail used on the Hub sections. While similar to Cybertron, those worlds appear much more intricate (and I maintain The Hub Network is a sly, possibly unconscious, reference to the Michael Bay movie universe and everything that has come out of it). The colors are really vibrant and few panels showed this more than Shockwave's "rebirth", which kept him in darkness with missing parts and so on, then his renewal which was bright and dynamic - jumping right off the page.
We only have two issues left in this series and I'm sad we're coming down to the wire. At the same time, I'm happy the story has taken some dramatic and unexpected turns and not just turned into a retread of the "Generation 2" title from the 90's.