Friday, September 18, 2009

Bish's Review: Marvel UK #79 "Target: 2006" Part 1

“Target: 2006” Part 1 was written by Simon Furman, drawn by Jeff Anderson, Lettered by Anne Halfacree, coloured by Tony Jozwiak and edited by Ian Rimmer.

The cover was by John Higgins and is tied with the cover of “Second Generation” for the coveted title of “Worst Transformers cover ever.” Like the aforementioned depictions of Bruticus and Superion this cover exists only to showcase the new characters in the story in the least imaginative way possible. The renderings of Galvatron and Ultra Magnus aren’t even that good, which is a big problem if that’s the entire point of the cover. They could have been shown as locked in combat or something but in fact they clearly aren’t even part of the same scene, firing at nothing and floating in a starry void. The overly excitable advertising bubble that proclaims “The new leaders are here!”, which isn’t even true in Ultra Magnus’ case, only serves to make the cover seem even more cheap and half-arsed.

Luckily you can’t judge a book by it’s cover (groan). The first proper issue of this epic story opens with a terrific introduction to the destructive capabilities of Scourge and Cyclonus as they zoom about the American Pacific Northwest shooting things up and leaving devastation in their wake. The first splash page is especially striking as they swoop from the sky, weapons blazing and Furman introduces us to them by name and personality. They are, he says, “like nightmarish birds of prey”. Cyclonus is interested in how easy it would be for them to rule Earth but Scourge points out that their mission is to build for destruction in the future.

After this slightly cryptic exchange we find the Autobots, still reeling from the mysterious disappearance of Optimus Prime, spying on the current Decepticon base. As they observe we can see that Megatron is pleased with his remaining troops for their actions against the Dinobots (in “In The National Interest”). As he is briefing his soldiers on the danger posed by Omega Supreme he is interrupted by the arrival of Galvatron and his lieutenants. After some debate about their origins Galvatron, with a casual disregard for causality missing from most time-travel fiction informs all and sundry that he is the Decepticon leader from the future. He asks Megatron for the use of the Constructicons. Megatron’s fusion cannon is his only response to this obvious challenge to his leadership (what, after all, is a mere twenty years to someone with a Cybertronian life-span?).

Galvatron is barely hurt but Scourge and Cyclonus (who need everything explained to them) threaten to avenge their leader’s honour but he frantically stops them, telling them that “Megatron cannot die!” Can you guess who he is yet? Galvatron transforms into cannon mode and blasts the cliff-face, burying Megatron and Soundwave beneath tons of rock. They round up the Constructicons who, after this display of power simply stand meekly and take instructions and then they leave.

Ironhide sets Jazz and Hound to follow the future Decepticons while he puzzles what these revelations spell for the future of the Autobots.

Meanwhile, back on Cybertron, Impactor, the leader of The Wreckers, is arguing with Emirate Xaaron. He is concerned because Xaaron has planned to send Ultra Magnus to Earth in order to determine the reasons for the extinguishing of the Matrix Flame, possibly at the expense of Operation: Volcano. His pleas fall on deaf ears, however, as we are treated to a full page of Ultra Magnus standing proudly and saying “I ULTRA MAGNUS, must travel to Earth!”

Part 1 really was a great issue. It picked up the threads from the prologue very effectively and ran with them. It is still very much a set up issue, and it doesn’t really disguise this in any way. Clearly Furman is under instruction to showcase the rivalry between Ultra Magnus and Galvatron and these issues remove all the obstacles to their inevitable clash on Earth (ie, Megatron and Optimus Prime). There’s nothing wrong with that but it doesn’t exactly keep the reader guessing. Admittedly, if one were to read this story without the prior knowledge that Galvatron is a future version of Megatron, then the whole thing might be a little more intriguing.

If that is even a criticism it is the only one. Furman hits all the nails squarely on the head here. Megatron and especially Galvatron are the stars of the issue and their oh-so-ironic personality clash is the highlight. While they are essentially the same individual, Galvatron comes across here as the more level-headed of the two, confident in his strength rather than given to wild flashes of aggression as Megatron often is. This is a strong contrast to the way Galvatron would be presented in the Sunbow TV series but is pretty close to his portrayal in “Transformers: The Movie”. Of course, Galvatron will only be this calm while his plans are working out. We will no doubt see Galvatron the berserker warrior before too much longer, especially when Ultra Magnus arrives.

Earth’s Autobots do not get much play this issue, but we do get to check in on them and see that they are still looking for answers to Prime’s disappearance. The glimpses of Cybertron continue to intrigue, with the fate of Operation Volcano in the balance. Impactor and Xaaron are clearly interesting personalities and while we do not get any action from Ultra Magnus, his imposing presence projects a clear aura of strength and nobility - great work from Jeff Anderson there who’s work is extremely solid throughout the issue. The Magnus splash is the obvious standout but all of the art is to a very high standard and Jozwiak’s colouring manages to go that extra mile and create the textured look that sets the UK book apart (except for Ironhide’s red face - that is still awful and always will be).

We’re not into the meat of the story yet but Part 1 is a very enjoyable read that is mostly exciting for the drama it promises in future issues. Everything is heating up nicely. IDW's trade of  Transformers: Target: 2006 is available from

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