Thursday, July 29, 2010
Review: Marvel G1 #61: Primal Scream
The cover is an interesting piece. Grimlock, Jazz, and Bumblebee fall towards a stylized, enormous face. The glowing mouth and action lines make it clear that the face is screaming. It's an interesting piece, and certainly thematically appropriate, though I'm not sure that I find it aesthetically pleasing to look at. Don't get me wrong, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it, I just don't like it very much. "The Primal Scream!!" it declares, in case you, I dunno, missed the artwork completely.
Once inside the book, things immediately look up. A mysterious robed mechanoid shouts at the Autobots for daring to intrude on this sacred place, while narrative captions handle the brief exposition. Furman even integrates these two elements rather slickly. The narration ends by saying "and face to face with their maker" while the Keeper mechanoid ends by saying "your living god--". Both of these elements are answered with an oversized "PRIMUS!" on page two, tying them together well. While the Jazz, Bumblebee and the Micromasters are quick to kneel before their living god, with the Rescue Patrol going so far as to prostrate themselves, proud Grimlock wants answers. He dismisses the Keeper as a charlatan and demands to know how he was "created." (The quotes are Grimlocks, by the way, not mine.) The characterization of Grimlock is rock-solid. He's a strong-willed robot, one who doesn't accept things at face value. Demanding the creation myth seems just a bit clumsy, but I'm willing to accept it
And there you have it, the cosmic origin of the Transformers, almost as far from the Quintesson origin of the cartoon as one could get. I love this tale; I find that it elevates the Transformers into something timeless, like ancient Greek heroes. Senior's visuals make a great accompaniment to it too, very stark and powerful. I love his use of ink, especially on the panel I selected above. Also, note how the mythological panels have wavering, uneven edges to them that very effectively set them off from the rest of the story. All around quality, this part of the book was, and we're only seven pages in!
All in all, this is an extremely powerful and effective bit of storytelling. Great artwork, high stakes and fun dialogue make the final fight sequence whiz by. By having the inevitable awakening occur after the battle is over, Furman manages to instill a brief sense of security, then shatter it. We get an origin, two Autobots having some great character moments, a bit of foreshadowing about the main Decepticon camp, a fun fight, and much much higher stakes than we're used to going forward. What more can one ask for in an issue? It doesn't get much better than this.
Next issue, "the only thing that can save them is the thing they haven't got--the MATRIX QUEST begins!" Of course they don't have the matrix, it died with Optimus back in issue 24... or did it? Intriguing. Primal Scream is the final story in IDW's Classic Transformers Volume 4 (v. 4) , and if you haven't read it you really really should pick this up from Amazon.com.