Friday, February 18, 2011

Review: Marvel G2 prequel - G.I. Joe Starring Snake-Eyes and Transformers Generation 2 #140

We are now in month two (and a quarter or so) of the invasion of G.I. Joe by The Transformers.  Well, mostly just Megatron at this point, but he's bad enough all by his lonesome.  Goin' South is the issue, the one hundred and fortieth of the G.I. Joe ongoing series.  The writing is still by Larry Hama, and the pencils still by Chris Batista.  We've settled on Chip Wallace as the inker, and Bob Sharen as the colorist.  The familiar Rick Parker does a nice job as letterer.  The cover  is by Batista and Donald Hudson. 

Once again, it's a lovely cover.  Cobra Commander gestures decisively forward, with Megatron flying as directed towards the camera.  Speed lines give everything a great sense of forward momentum.  Really, the only criticism I have is that we had a very similar (though not quite as nice) cover last issue.  Thematically it's hitting the same beats, these two villains working together.  I suppose you couldn't use this one last issue, though, as it'd have given away the surprise of Megatron's new design.  I almost wonder if this wasn't originally designed as last issue's cover and then shelved for this reason.  Aside from that clumsiness, though, it really is quite fantastic.

We open on a mobile Cobra task-force, who have arrived at their destination in Canada.  It's a rather nice opening page, which is good because I own the original artwork for it.  Megatron reveals that the hillock they've come to is, in fact, the Ark, hidden while extensive battle damage was repaired.  Biggles-Jones scans the vessel, and is astounded by its many wonders.  Slice and Dice wonder if she's up to the task of reverse engineering it all, but Scarlett observes that she won't have to.  Soon Cobra Commander will revive Doctor Mindbender, and won't need the good Doctor Sid.  The Ark gets a two-page spread reveal, which seems excessive.  Also, it seems pretty clumsy that it'd be in nigh-perfect shape.  Megatron himself was in terrible shape, and yet he's spared the resources to repair the ship to apparently beautiful condition? 

Cut back to the Silent Castle, where Destro, The Baroness, and Zartan execute a ruse to take control of the castle back.  Thus does that plotline end.  After all we've gone through in the past few issues, it seems rather anti-climactic.  Perhaps the reason is that we're setting up shop in a new locale; Milleville.  Megatron wonders if this town can provide adequate security, and soon we learn the secret of this 'uliginous hamlet.' (I had to look that up; it means 'marshy.')  The residents are under the control of Doctor Mindbender's Brainwave Scanner.  Biggles-Jones seems skeptical, but Cobra Commander sees it as a paradise, free of crime, stress, even rap music.  Paradise is soon threatened when a baker breaks free of his mental bonds.   In his struggles, Mindbender's tube is shattered, and his body shocked.  Predictably, this results in his early resurrection.  Kudos to Parker for some great lettering here.  Mindbender is skeptical of Cobra Commander's overture of friendship, but the sight of Megatron convinces him that he should at least consider shelving his animosity for a time.  Mindbender, of course, was one of they key players in the last G.I. Joe / Transformers crossover, so it's nice to see him instantly recognize Megatron for what he is.  I rather love Cobra Commander's philosophy and vocabulary as well.  Megatron's interest in cloning technology seems a bit out of character, though, as he's got little but contempt for organic life. 

We learn that the Cobra sanctuary of Milleville won't last for long, though.  Freedom, the trained eagle of Spirit, reports that Cobra has approached Milleville.  They've been staking it out, based on some intel from a D.O.D. agent inside of Cobra.  Gee, I wonder who it could be?  Actually, we never find out, but presumably it's Dr. Biggles-Jones.  The Joes move in to gather some intel, including sending a team into the sewers and sneaking some ninjas onto an A.R.B. co truck.  (A.R.B. co, Cobra... see what he did there?)  They leap from a Yo Joe Cola truck, too... ugh.  Snake-Eyes (who's the semi-title character of the book and not showing up until page sixteen) quickly makes his way to the hospital, to check up on Scarlett.  He arrives in time to hear Biggles-Jones speak to Scarlett in private.  Sidney knows that Scarlett is a Joe double-agent!  Shocking!  What will Biggles-Jones do with this info? I know this is a big dramatic beat, but I find myself not caring all that much.  It's pretty clear that Biggles-Jones isn't a loyal Cobra, so there's no real tension here. 

The sewer-Joes also observe something interesting... Megatrons transformation into a truck.  (Cobra Commander worries about interstate traffic and low flying aircraft, thus requesting no giant robots milling around (yuk yuk) his secret base.  Once again, clumsy.  It's like there was a mandate that Megatron Transform at least once per issue, lest we forget that these aren't just giant robots, these are giant TRANSFORMING robots.  Hawk quickly contacts Mainframe, who beams a message to a different sector of the galaxy 'within ten minutes.'  Really, the Joes have FTL communication now?  Of course, that's all so we can get our final page of the issue, an establishing shot of Cybertron and a bit of banter between Optimus Prime and Bumblebee.  Looks like it won't be just Megatron for long!

This issue was a lot weaker than the last one.  Much of the plotline that had been building for months, around Cobra's relocation, is abruptly jettisoned in favor of a new location.  I don't know the full context, obviously.  Maybe Hama was having Cobra get chased around the globe.  After all, he had just abandoned his island.  Still, it seemed strange to me, dramatically.  And for all Cobra's trouble, the Joes track them down IMMEDIATELY.  We learn the Cobras have moved, then we learn that the Joes were tipped to this.  Awkward, all around.

Also, I'm not keen on the Snake-Eyes focus in the title, especially since he's hardly in the issue.  He really was the focus (well, him and Scarlett) from 135-138, but now it seems more like a team book.  I prefer team books, but it makes the title rather a misnomer. 

Basically, this is a book where seemingly a lot happens but really it's just the status-quo.  Scarlett is still in the hospital, the Joes are still on to Cobra, Snake-Eyes is still separated from Scarlett.  All the apparent momentum just shifts pieces around the board without changing their relative positions.  The big news is that the Autobots are coming, and that Mindbender is alive again.  We could have gotten there a lot sooner. 

Goin' South has yet to be reprinted, to my knowledge.  While it's not the strongest chapter in the Joe/Transformers saga, it's nestled within a fairly strong series of issues and is at least worth a glance-through if you can get it. 


LBD 'Nytetrayn' said...

"Really, the Joes have FTL communication now?"

In fairness, the dialogue from Cybertron seems to indicate that the Autobots themselves gave them a special transmitter for just such an occasion.

Jimtron said...

Ah, fair point. It all still seems pretty silly. Grimlock gave them a transmitter? They never reverse engineered it?

Anonymous said...

Good review.

You know, when I first read this issue I thought there was story potential for giving Megatron the technology that brought Mindbender back from the dead.

It could have been a logical explanation for bringing back the dead Nebulans from G1 (like Zarak).

But thinking now, I guess it wouldn't have worked because the Transformers needed to have first encoded the personalities of the Nebulans into discs, just like Mindbender did.