Friday, December 18, 2009

Bish's Review: Marvel UK #84 "Target: 2006" Part 6

"Target: 2006" Part 6 was written by Simon Furman, pencilled by Geoff Senior, lettered by Richard Starkings, coloured by Gina Hart and edited by Ian Rimmer. This is a group of people whose names I have had to type quite frequently but I think this is probably the Marvel UK team I would rank as the best line-up overall.

The cover is by Phil Gascoine and it's ... sort of ok. Galvatron and Unicron on a cover together should be an awesome sight but it doesn't really work. Galvatron is well depicted considering this is the comic version and he has a great level of detailing as well as an arrogant "look how powerful I am" expression, but he's standing on nothing and looks like he was just pasted in there. Equally, it's a good rendering of Unicron's planet mode, but the rocket trail makes it look like he's been zipping through space at great speed. Ignoring actual physics it completely relieves Unicron of the sense of foreboding that should come with his arrival. The fact that he travels in a stately manner is key to the air of power and lingering doom that surrounds him and this cover misses that completely.

We open on Cybertron with Impactor taking a punch to the jaw. He is in the middle of a fight and it clearly isn't going well. A mysterious opponent dashes him face first into the ground and attaches an inhibitor claw to his back, preventing him from transforming. He turns to find himself staring down the gun barrels of three previously unseen Decepticons. They introduce themselves as Broadside, Sandstorm and Springer.

Impactor refuses to take this lying down. He leaps to his feet and manages to smash his opponents aside, making a dash for it. Springer stops Sandstorm from using his gun saying "we don't need them". He uses his leaping ability to jump clean over Impactor's head and stop him short. Impactor refuses to beg for his life and then, inexplicably, the three Decepticons transform and move out.

As they leave, Springer tells Impactor that he'll see him back at Debris and tosses him a small, orange cube. Impactor is thoroughly confused at this, as Debris is the hidden Autobot base but the cube reveals all. It contains the face of Emirate Xaaron, smiling infuriatingly. He explains to Impactor that the three attackers were in fact Autobot triple-changers who can take Ultra Magnus' place in Operation Volcano if he does not make it back. The art is wonderfully expressive here as Impactor goes from confusion to pure frustration at being outmanoeuvred by the politician. He crushes the cube without even replying, which of course will not bother Xaaron one bit. The point has been made, Volcano is still viable.

Back on Earth, Galvatron is mocking his captive, Jazz. Jazz seeks to provoke him into revealing information about his past by feigning indifference, which Galvatron immediately calls him on, but then, in his monumental arrogance, tells him anyway:

What follows is hardly news to a modern Transformers fan but it must have been mind-boggling stuff back in 1987. I'm sure everyone reading this will know the story inside out. Seriously, if you're reading this and have no idea of what happens in "Transformers: The Movie" give a shout out in the comment section - I'd be thrilled, and amazed, to hear from you. Anyway, I'm going to recap it anyway, so buckle up:

We learn that twenty years into the future Optimus Prime will finally defeat Megatron in battle. The most interesting thing to note here is that there is no mention whatsoever of Optimus' death by Megatron's hand. In fact, while Megatron lies broken and spent, Prime is still on his feet, looking relatively undamaged. Was this a case of the creative team not knowing exactly what was in store, or were they trying to preserve the shock factor of the movie? It was still unreleased, according to a "coming soon" caption in one of these panels. Of course, the in-story explanation would be that Megatron (or Galvatron) might not actually know that Optimus Prime is dead, since he is never told this directly. However, he does say "I crushed him with my bare hands" so he at least knows that Prime was in a bad way.

The dying Decepticon leader will be tossed into space by Starscream where he would have expired had he not encountered a metal being the size of an entire planet - Unicron! Unicron gifts Megatron with a new form. He is rebuilt into Galvatron - a Decepticon with more raw power than Megatron could ever have aspired to with one proviso - he now has to serve Unicron.

Of course, Galvatron is still essentially Megatron, and any regular reader of the comic knows that this is not a state of affairs that Megatron would have put up with for any length of time. This brings us to the part of Galvatron's plan that differs from Transformers: The Movie. Galvatron uses an un-specified method to time-jump back twenty years in order to escape Unicron's grasp. It turns out that the giant machine he has had the Constructicons build is in fact a cannon that, twenty years from now, will blast Unicron to pieces the instant Galvatron returns to 2006 (2005 in the movie, but they were working from an old script). Galvatron's gloating is interrupted when Cyclonus returns and gives him the bad news. Scourge is missing and Megatron is working with the Autobots. Jazz finds this hilarious and Galvatron reveals his barely hidden savage nature by beating the Autobot into unconsciousness.

Elsewhere, Shockwave has met up with Frenzy and Thundercracker who remember being trashed by Omega Supreme then waking up in the Ark, but have no idea what else has transpired.

This meeting is offset by a sequence showing three new Autobots: Kup, Hot Rod and Blurr time-jumping into 1987. Shockwave's rant is cut short when he and his companions are enveloped by the same rainbow effect as removed Optimus Prime back in the prologue. Conclusive proof that Galvatron's time travel is the cause of the Autobots' disappearances.

As the Autobots fully resolve into their new time zone a sinister booming laugh is heard across the universe. Can this be anyone but Unicron himself?

It has actually been very difficult to review "Target: 2006" because, well, it's so good. It is easy (and fun) to pick apart a bad story, or to point out the areas where an otherwise good story fall down but this epic is, for the most part, fairly flawless, and no issue more so than this one.

This is the issue where Furman gets all his ducks in a row for the mayhem to come. Galvatron is really Megatron (ok, we heard that last issue, but now it's explained), Volcano is set to begin, we have three more arrivals from the future and Shockwave has disappeared into the ether. There's an awful lot of plot for eleven pages with Galvatron's origin story of course being the big event of the issue.

With all this plot sloshing about, it's important not to forget that without engaging characters, the story is hollow and Furman never forgets this. My favourite characters in this issue are Impactor and Xaaron. A pair who clearly know exactly what the other is capable of and gel incredibly well together in their somewhat antagonistic relationship. Impactor is constantly frustrated by Xaaron but he always loses because he knows that Xaaron understands him better than he understands himself. Had Xaaron merely introduced the triple-changers to Impactor he would never have accepted them at short notice with no proof of their abilities. Impactor needed to be defeated by them to accept that they could do what was required. This is why Impactor does not bother replying to Xaaron's message. Because he is angry, yes, but mostly because he knows that Xaaron is right.

Honourable mention must, of course, go to Galvatron, who gives us a highly entertaining infodump with all the bluster we expect from a future Decepticon commander and looks dangerously close to losing the plot completely when he hears of Megatron's Autobot alliance.

A strange thing I noticed - When Megatron is lying on his back with smoke pouring from his chest during Galvatron's origin sequence Senior uses almost exactly the same composition as he did in "Victory" for Grimlock's death. Admittedly Grimlock is a T-Rex with all the anatomical differences that would imply, but the similarities are evident, I think.

I'm not going to bother recommending this issue outside of "Target: 2006" itself. If you haven't read this story then read it immediately and if you have then read it again.  IDW's trade of  Transformers: Target: 2006 is available from


Fanbot said...

Awesome review Bish. I've seen the G1 movie, but when did it come out?

And what font have you used for this review?

Bishbot said...

Thanks! The movie came out in 1986 in the US and, I think, still 1986 but a bit later in the UK - however I don't think it was a very big release, so a lot of UK kids probably missed it.

The font is Calibri which is the default font in Word 2007 (which I wrote my review in first). I hadn't actually noticed it was different to the rest of the site until you pointed it out. I should probably change it.

Fanbot said...

No leave is good. Cheers.

windsweeper said...

Not to be picky but in TF:TM, Megatron actually says to Unicron, "The point is he's dead, and the Matrix died with him (Optimus)!"

That aside, nice review. One of my first and favourite issues as a kid. That last page where Hot Rod and co arrive in 1986 was just great.

The final panel still gives me chills with the caption "and the sudden chill he (Galvatron) feels owes little to the climate." A great line of itself but there's something haunting in the way Galvatron and Cyclonus' eyes are drawn.