Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Review: Marvel G1 #58: All the Familiar Faces!
It's a very strange cover. I can't decide if it's artistic or merely lazy. We're treated to an extreme close-up of Optimus Prime's Powermaster face, with bold inking and an angry red color. There is an abstract background of space or maybe just bubbles. "Megatron(tm) alive! Ratchet(tm) a prisoner! Optimus(tm) out of control!" That pretty much summarizes what we'd expect to be in this issue, based on what we've seen before. Well, except that Optimus has mastered his anger issues and is now talking again. I think this cover might have worked a bit better last issue, when Optimus really did lose it. The red color certainly brings to mind rage, which doesn't quite fit the tone of the book. Overall, it's an interesting cover but perhaps the effect should have been saved for a different issue.
The issue itself opens on a lovely splash of the Starscream pretender shell turning the mangled and shattered shell of Starscream back into some semblance of Cybertronian life. Ratchet momentarily loses himself in the excitement of the technology, but quickly reminds himself that he's being forced to work for the Autobots' greatest enemy. His thoughts and Megatron's gloating get the obligatory exposition out of the way. We're treated to a bit more unsubtle foreshadowing about the upcoming rebirth of Jazz, Goldbug and Grimlock, as well as a callback to the Mecannibals, who Dreadwind and Darkwing fear may still be on their trail. It's an opening sequence rich in characterization, with Ratchet and Megatron shining but even the Sports Car Patrol and the Decepticon Powermasters getting a brief moment in the sun.
On board the ark, Kup struggles to consciousness even as Blackjack gloats to himself about planning to destroy the Ark whether or not Ratchet helps Megatron. Though Kup takes the diminutive Decepticon prisoner, the timing device on the Ark's explosives is triggered, giving them five minutes to act. From a narrative standpoint, Kup's revival is slightly clumsy. It seems late in the game to be introducing this kind of new element. Perhaps if there was some hint of Kup's status in the last issue... alas!
As Optimus has realized the there is a mystery afoot, he orders his men back to the Ark while he remains behind to cover their retreat and convince Scorponok of their good intentions. In the first bit of characterization he's had in the US run, Hot Rod impulsively decides that he'll stay behind and help out. Scorponok is tempted to just blow these two lone Autobots away, but he can't help feeling that Prime's words echo his own inner doubts. He also remembers Prime saving his life during the Underbase saga, which conveniently sets up his fear and loathing for Starscream. By the time he decides, though, it's too late. Starscream arrives, much to Zarak's consternation. Once again, we see some rather deft characterization springing from Furman's pen. This time, it's Hot Rod (love the "whoever it is -- he sure knows how to make an entrance!" quip from him), Optimus and Scorponok. Though we've known Scorponok for several years now, we really haven't seen much about what makes him tick since the rather excellent Headmasters mini-series. Kudos to Furman for exploring this human (err... Nebulan) aspect to him.
"Next issue: Ratchet vs. Megatron! Grimlock's Pretenders vs. the Sports Car Patrol! Optimus Prime and Scorponok vs. Starscream! Don't miss the big battle issue as metal meets metal WHEN TITANS CLANG!" Sounds fantastic. Try to stop me from reviewing this book next week! Oh, wait, that's BotCon... well, maybe you'll have to wait two weeks then. Oh, wait, the second Almanac is out in two weeks... ummm.... well, it'll be soonish, anyway. All the Familiar Faces! is available for purchase in IDW's Classic Transformers Volume 4.