Thursday, March 24, 2011
Review: Marvel G2 #2 - All or Nothing!
The cover features a rather dangerous looking Megatron, kicking the crud out of Fortress Maximus. "Fort Max gets the Ax!" it declares. He, ummm, he does, so truth in advertising here. While I've definitely warmed up to Yaniger's style, this piece isn't one of his better ones. It's certainly dramatic, which I like, but the perspective / anatomy on Fort Max's hand seems off, and Megatron has a kind of unfinished look about him. Things like the gun and Max's head are superbly rendered, but Megatron's torso lacks comparable detail. I do rather love how the smoke from Megatron's shoulder canon obscures the lettering a bit. I really want to love this cover, but I just can't quite bring myself to do so.
Since this book isn't picking up from G2 #1 but instead from GI Joe #142, there's more recap than usual. We kick off with a one page summary designed to lay out most of the key players on Earth, then shift over to Megatron for a triumphant bit of expository gloating. "I beat them ALL!" he declares, a bit prematurely as it turns out. There are enemies on board, one human, Spike Witwicky, and one Autobot, Skydive. Spike and Skydive have a brief misunderstanding before it's revealed that Spike is, in fact, Fortress Maximus.
Megatron works on some kind of project that looks suspiciously like Starscream, wondering to himself if this course of action is 'sheer lunacy.' I'm sure Starscream's inclusion was mandated by Hasbro, hence Furman's lampshading of this action. "I still can't believe I'm actually doing this!" he muses. Me neither, Megatron. His thoughts are interrupted by Fortress Maximus, who engages Megatron while Skydive spirits Dr. Biggles-Jones to safety. Skydive can't just abandon his colleague, though, and Max needs all the help he can get. Megatron shreds him pretty effortlessly. There's some mental back-and-forth between Max & Spike, echoing the events of issue #79. In the end, Max sacrifices himself, throwing his battered form into the antimatter conversion chamber to destroy the ship and, presumably, Megatron. Spike is given an out, but doesn't take it. Megatron, with seconds to spare, heads somewhere with purpose. The ship goes, um, what's the technical term, Sidney? She can't remember, but Skydive offers a helpful 'Bang.'
Both storylines end together with Skydive, Hawk, Scarlett and Biggles-Jones share a silent moment. With no concept of Death, wonders Skydive, is the loss of a colleague easier or harder? Who can say? Hawk salutes as they stare off into the sky.
I have mixed feelings about this issue. On the one hand, I really did love the G2 plotline in GI Joe, at least when it first came out. On the other hand, this issue suffers from some structural and artistic flaws. Let's start structurally. The previous issue, #1, established a great cosmic threat. This issue, however, ignores that and focuses entirely on Megatron and Cobra. It needed to be done, after the set-up from Joe 138-142, but tonally it doesn't match what the book has been set up to be. It's a shame that this story wasn't told entirely in the confines of GI Joe. In retrospect, I think that artistically G2 would have stood taller had the Joe crossover not happened. The events of the Joe book felt too much like G1, and the events here as an odd muddle of G1 and G2.
It is clear to me that Furman is just moving the pieces around, shifting them to where they need to be from where Hama left them to where he wants to take the story. The use of Spike, so shrewdly done in The Last Autobot, here feels somewhat out of left field. Sure, he popped up in Joe #142, but this is his swan song. I feel like more time could have been devoted to him. Recalling his triumph in #79 should have been shrewd but just makes this story pale in comparison He's an odd piece to move off the board, since of all the Transformers he's the one who could most reasonably sit out on action. Meanwhile, Starscream is moved INTO play, which just doesn't seem like something Megatron would do, but I've already ranted about that.
Moving on, we get to the art side of things. Yaniger proved unable to meet his deadlines, causing them to call in two ringers for this issue. Manny Galan tried to match Yaniger's artwork, Andrew Wildman did not. Hence, we have two and a half different styles all in one book. Additionally, Yaniger's artwork isn't as strong as it was last time. I'm guessing he was more rushed, but the lack of detail seems lazy this time rather than stark. I do love seeing more Wildman, as he's probably my favorite TF artist from the era, but it still feels out of place. Galan, on the other hand, just does a bad Yaniger. He'll do much better when he allows himself to draw in a way more natural to himself. As much as I've warmed up to the art style in G2, this just isn't a good example of it.
So, what's the verdict? It's a necessary issue, concluding 4 or so issues of set-up from another in-continuity book, but overall it's probably the weakest issue Furman's penned to date, at least in the US. The writing flaws are bad, but combined with the artistic flaws and you have a book that's only really worth reading so that other books make sense. As a stand-alone story, it sadly fails. All or Nothing was reprinted in the Titan collection Transformers Dark Designs , which is out of print but not too pricey on Amazon.com.