IDW Publising: "Beast Hunters" Issue 2 Comic Book Review
Title: "Transformers Prime Beast Hunters" Issue #2
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: June 12, 2013
Written by: Mairghread Scott & Mike Johnson
Art by: Agustin Padilla
Colors by: Priscilla Tramanto
Letters by: Tom B. Long
Edits by: Carlos Guzman
Underground on Cybertron, a fierce battle has erupted between two Dinobots and an Insecticon horde led by Kickback. Kickback taunts Sludge in particular, citing how he was left unassembled in Shockwave's lab by the other Dinobots, only to be found later. Sludge has moments of self doubt, but eventually he and Snarl take down the Insecticons and Sludge interrogates Kickback, asking why he has been draining the fuel of those in Last Spark, but Kickback denies he has done this, and in fact reports the same have been done to the Insecticons! Snarl confirms this when he discovers the bodies scattered around have not been drained of Energon, something Kickback and his kind would have surely made sure to do.
As Sludge rests, Snarl repairs some of his damage. The two discuss the situation, knowing they're missing something. Soon they're back at Last Spark, asking Firestar to show them the crypt where the drained bodies have been kept. Firestar objects at first, but they insist. They examine bodies of Transformers who died before the rash of drainings only to discover they too were drained. The killer started with dead bodies and then moved on to live ones due to the crystalization of Energon in dead bodies!
Airwave appears suddenly and laughs at Firestar's theory - until he blasts her! Sludge charges Airwave, slamming him into a wall but he transforms into his jet mode. Sludge and Snarl transform, ready to take him on but Airwave quickly yells to the citizens of Last Spark that the Dinobots killed Firestar! The citizens swarm the duo as Airwave flies safe overhead. He swings around and unleashes a barrage of firepower, hitting both the Last Spark citizens and the Dinobots! The battle escalates as Sludge manages to chomp on one of Airwave's wings, sending him crashing back into robot mode. Airwave blasts Sludge until he is missing some armor and Snarl has been weakened as well. Suddenly, a sword slices through Airwave's chest - it's Firestar! She tears Airwave in half and the battle is over.
Despite all that has occurred, Firestar and the others decide to stay in Last Spark. Snarl and Sludge return to base, where Sludge goes to face Grimlock for disobeying his order. While Grimlock reminds Sludge he disobeyed him, Sludge stands his ground and tells him that Grimlock was wrong - and Grimlock agrees! He tells Sludge this is why he has him, to be that 'bot that will do the right thing despite orders. With that, Grimlock tells Sludge to get Snarl and have court resume, even as a danger still lurks outside somewhere.
During my review of the last issue I didn't talk much about Airwave, but this time out I think he warrants some attention. In the first issue I found Airwave to be an interesting choice for a character. He's kind of a "safe" choice to use for a Decepticon you're going to get rid of. He's fairly obscure and is hardly a headline character in modern "Transformers" continuity. He's so safe in fact he looks exactly like his G1 incarnation, something you can't even say for the Dinobots themselves! However, Airwave really does embody a harsh truth: that Cybertron is a dead world where some Transformers will prey on each other. Even Sludge admits he doesn't want to acknowledge this ugly truth, and perhaps that mixture of fear and nobility is as good as Cybertron can get in such a dark age. However, it is interesting that this emmbodiment of doom is basically destroyed, which one could take as a symbolic gesture of hope still having a place on Cybertron instead of macabre nihilism.
One aspect of this issue that really surprised me was the utter brutality of the battle between the Dinobots and Airwave. First off, I can't help but see Airwve as a Micromaster, even though here he seems to be a fully sized Decepticon with power like that found in Starscream (or at the very least the Vehicons). The way he managed to blast through Sludge's armor came as a shock and was quite impressive. For those who have no preconceptions about the character none of this will be an issue, for me it took a couple readings of the issue to get used to. It certainly ramped up the drama and boy, it doesn't get much more dramatic than the way Airwave was finished off by Firestar! The artwork during this battle sequence was my absolute favorite of the two issues thus far. The way the Transformers were smoking wrecks really brought out the point as to how powerful these war machines are. Kudos to all the artists on a dynamic and exciting battle sequence!
Clearly a large portion of this issue's dramatic thrust is the contrast between Sludge and Airwave (and t a lesser degree, Grimlock, whose shadow is cast on the story despite only the character only appearing briefly). Sludge doesn't want to give in to despair or even the notion that he may not have been worth saving when the Dinobots escaped Shockwave's lab. Instead, he chooses to hope and tries his best to see clearly what others may be hiding from. It makes him a character that the reader can empathize or perhaps even sympathize with, which is a pretty cool way to write these "modern" Dinobots. I also enjoyed the way Snarl acted a a bit of a support mechanism to help prod Sludge in the right direction with his thinking. That "Law & Order" partners formula works very nicely here and I enjoyed it a lot.
So one question remains: sure Airwave was draining the citizens of Last Spark, but not all the bodies found were drained - so who did it? Given the title of this comic, I would say it's safe to assume we have a Predacon running around Cybertron causing a ruckus, but hey, it's also possible that is a red herring. Either way, I'm really interested to see where the story goes from here.
This was a really solid issue. It didn't drag at all and managed to solve one mystery while opening up a whole new one. It also plays a lot with the personalities of various characters, contrasting them with one another and I enjoyed that a lot. A good solid read, even if no Predacons appear in it.