Friday, August 20, 2010
Review: Marvel G1 #63: Kings of the Wild Frontier.
Sadly, it's not a great cover. Thunderwing and his Decepticons stand amid the backdrop of a old west-style town. "Ah've come fer mah MATRIX!" he proclaims, rather amusingly. The idea is great, but the exection is lacking. Thunderwing has some kind of bizarre contrapposto going on, and his gun is off-balanced to his fist. There's a strange off-model Decepticon symbol floating above Needlenose, and there are serious perspective issues. Jim Massara, though, does some amazing stuff with the logo. It looks fantastic. The cover gets the job done, just not very well. (EDIT: That's a branding iron - I totally didn't get that, thanks to a coloring flub and the incorrect perspective on the symbol.)
The comedy ends soon enough, when some rapscallions nearly bowl the Autobots over in their pursuit of a harmless-looking alien child. Wearily, the Autobots spring to the rescue of the child, ignoring some subtle warning signs that there may be more than meets the eye going on here. Nevertheless, they drive off the lizard-riding banditos and are soon enjoying the rather insistent hospitality of the family. Furman does a good job making us believe that the Autobots would pick this fight, while planting little textual and visual clues that there's some kind of deception going on here.
Planetside, things keep getting weirder in the little alien homestead. Every time the Autobots try to leave, they're gently but firmly rebuked. Soon they're hoeing away on the farm, wondering what it was that seemed so important that they've forgotten. Ironically, it's Thunderwing who saves Dogfight from his raptured statue. The Decepticon leader and his posse show up and question Dogfight while he's escorting the seemingly docile alien around town. Dogfight thinks that Thunderwing his here for the alien, prompting Thunderwing to conclude that the Autobot is under mental control. The cruel Decepticon abandons the Autobot to his fate, though fortunately the distraction has given the townsfolk time to drive off the alien. Dogfight realizes he's been befuddled and goes to rescue his fellows. After Thunderwing's surprise introduction at the end of last issue, this confrontation is a little unsatisfying. True, the real climax of the book is yet to come, but he almost can't be bothered with the Autobot. It works for the character quite well, but it doesn't service the story as well as it might have.
I see what Furman was going for, but I don't think he quite achieves it. He doesn't quite make their life on the farm idyllic enough for their sacrifice of it to have the resonance that he wants. It's also clear that the Matrix Quest is something of an excuse for Furman to play with different genres of storytelling; last time it was detective novels, this time it's the western. It's an interesting experiment, but it sort of undercuts the idea of this being a mini-series within the main series. The Matrix hardly seems to be Germain to the plot here at all. Overall, a somewhat weak issue, especially following last month's much stronger offering.
Next issue, we learn that Longtooth, Doubleheader and Pincher are facing the last of the techno-organic whales in DEADLY OBSESSION!, which sounds Moby Dickish. We'll have to see how it turns out. Kings of the Wild Frontier is available in IDW Publishing's Classic Transformers, Vol. 5 at Amazon.com.