Thursday, April 28, 2011
Review: Marvel G2 #6 - Tales of Earth (pt 3) and The Gathering Darkness
The cover is competent. Optimus Prime is completely surrounded by Decepticons, with a nice variety of guns pointed at him from all angles. "Prime:Target" it says, which is a little bit clever, I guess. It certainly conveys the idea that Optimus is in trouble pretty well, but something about it doesn't quite work for me. Maybe it's Prime's face, which is a little too blank somehow. Maybe it's the composition of the image, which is pretty darned busy. Regardless, not one of my more well-loved covers from this run.
Fortunately, the issue itself is a strong offering, the best we've had since the powerhouse that was issue #1. We open on Tales of Earth, part three. Megatron tours the Warworld, and despite himself he is impressed. In fact, he almost regrets the finality with which he removed Bludgeon from the picture... almost. Given Bludgeon's obvious alacrity as Decepticon leader, Megatron is perplexed as to the purpose of the seemingly random attack on Earth, but when the nervous Swindle shows him an army of not-yet-living Decepticon warriors, Megatron gets it immediately. I like Furman's characterization of Swindle here, the first real bit of personality my favorite Combaticon has demonstrated in this universe.
Soundwave obsequiously asks the same question as Rumble and Frenzy attempt to keep Darkwing alive on heavy life support. (Nice continuity there from last issue, and it'll pay off next issue.) Megatron concedes the point. (Though, really, who else was Megatron going to revive? Shockwave? Galvatron? I think Megatron chose the lesser of two evils here.) While Starscream was necessary when Megatron was all alone, he's outlived his usefulness. Megatron fully intends to give Starscream 'a well deserved rest' after his new army is up and running. Shrewd, though one wonders if Megatron is waiting a bit too long to pull the trigger on this one. (Spoiler alert: he is.)
Thus ends Tales of Earth, part three, a most interesting prologue to the story about to come. It's mostly set-up, but what action there is has really quite nice artwork, which helps. Besides, it IS only five pages, and it flows so smoothly into the next tale that one hardly notices how little actually happens.
Perhaps Megatron thinks so too. He blasts Optimus in the back, setting the tone for their fight. Megatron brutally savages Optimus, ignoring the Autobot's pleas for alliance. Before long, Optimus' chest is ripped open, and the Matrix energy siphoned from him. As Megatron prepares the coup d'etat, he's interrupted by the arrival of a squad of Autobots. The battle rages for a bit, but Megatron knows a losing fight when he sees one. With his objective secured, he has the drop ship retrieve him. Prowl (why did he even come along?) frets that this must truly be their darkest hour, but his maimed leader isn't so sure. Optimus has a sense that Jhiaxus will be on the receiving end of Megatron's new army.
It was an exciting fight, over quickly but for all of that possessing a jagged energy. I love Megatron ripping off Prime's torsoplate. I find it a bit odd that the Matrix is seemingly back to being just energy again. I suppose that the vessel that we'd seen in the Matrix Quest storyline was destroyed along with Unicron, and whatever energy Optimus has was put back there by The Last Autobot. I also like Megatron's almost gentle last words to Optimus... "Hush. Darkness gathers... " It seems very fitting, though of course it's not yet Optimus' time.
Finally we're getting to some real a-list material. This time out, the two-act structure to the story really works. Optimus and Megatron have a very satisfying fight, really the first they've had since, what, issue 4 of the G1 book? I mean, they fought in 69, but Megatron was half Ratchet and entirely mad. They fought in 24, but that was a computer simulation. In any event, it's been a long, long time coming. Megatron's boiling resentment seemed entirely justified. His plans have been thwarted by Optimus time and again for millenia. Manny Galan seems to be getting more comfortable with the art style he's emulating. There are still some clunky pages, like the splash where Optimus gets shot by Megatron, but he does some very nice things too. Perhaps most imporantly, the book feels like it's starting to get real direction and momentum now. We get some hints as to what's to come; Megatron will confront Jhiaxus, and the Swarm will surely be drawn closer to our heroes. A very satisfying tale. This issue closes out the Transformers Dark Designs book by Titan publishing, available used at Amazon.com. Glad to see they ended it on a high note.