Musings from Jim Sorenson and a few guest bloggers about Transformers, character models, science-fiction, comic books, and whatever else is on our minds.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Review: Marvel G2 #9 - Swarm and Tales of Earth (part 6)
The ninth issue of the US G2 Marvel Comics run of Transformers again contains two tales: Swarm, and Tales of Earth (part 6). Despite this duality, there is only one creative crew. Writing is by Simon Furman, pencils by Manny Galan, inks by Jim Amash, colors by Sarra Mossoff, and letters by Richard Starkings with Comicraft. The cover, as always, is by Derek Yaniger.
The cover is effective, though it's a bit hard to know for sure what's going on till you read the story. Three of Jhiaxus' G2 Cybertronians are in pieces, perhaps being consumed by the black smoke that whorls around the cover. Optimus Prime, faded out, is in silhouette. "Waking NIGHTMARE!" it says, which is actually somewhat shrewd, as we'll come to find. It's intriguing, and the artwork certainly conveys what it intends to, but I think the subject matter is just a bit abstract.
We open on a familiar scene, Optimus Prime walking among dessicated bodies, indulging in a brooding (or 'bro-ding', as my wife would say it) narration. "A dream, a vision..." it asks. Alas, this is the reality he finds himself in. An Autobot science crew pores over a devastated industrial plant, while the security team looks on impatiently. Since this isn't the work of Jhiaxus, Megatron wants to move on, and Grimlock agrees, but Optimus is having none of it. He suspects a connection between this, his visions, and the G2 Cybertronians. The most effective bit here is the misdirection around the dream state. Furman seemingly realized that he was overusing this trope, and poked a bit of fun at it. The cover foreshadows this rather effectively.
Elsewhere, Jhiaxus' massive onslaught continue, this time under the command of a sub-commander named Mindset. He's systematically and dispassionately eliminating the local life, but the arrival of the Swarm brings all of that to an end. We get many pages of action as the Cybertonians make a futile last stand, exciting stuff and it puts the cover in the proper context. When the swarm gets to Mindset, it pauses for a moment and imitates him. It senses familiarity in this being, though that doesn't save the Decepticon from being absorbed. Half a galaxy away, Onslaught reacts as his presumed offspring is consumed. Optimus Prime feels it too, that a turning point has been reached.
Swarm has one more dramatic beat left, though. Jhiaxus surveys the wreckage of his crew on Ethos, handed to him last issue by Megatron's timely (or untimely, depending on perspective) arrival. A figure arrives, but Jhiaxus stays his men. He knows this one... it's Starscream. The miscreant is looking to switch sides! (Galan manages to capture Starscream's evil sneer perfectly here.)
The last stand of the native is a nice moment. Though he's outmatched, his courageous stand provokes sympathy from the reader but contempt from his opponents. One cannot help but draw connection with the similarly futile stand the Cybertronians would make scant pages later and feel that justice has been served.
The moment with Onslaught, though, is iffier. It's not exactly stated, but it was heavily implied that the Combaticons were made on Earth just before issue #25. With so many hundreds of Decepticons to choose from, why Onslaught? I do like the visual similarities between him and Mindset, though.
The final twist of the first tale of the book was a bit telegraphed. After all, with Starscream missing last issue, where else would he go? I think that it might have been more effective to leave this meeting undepicted. We'd have gotten the picture, I think.
It's not over yet, though, we still have Tales of Earth! Back at the Autobase, Perceptor educates the assembled 'Bots and 'Cons as to what they've found. The residue from the destroyed world, J'Asik, shares a 'genetic sequence and celluar configuration' with that of the Transformers. I think it's a bit odd to think of the Transformers as having a genetic code, but I suppose the budding idea already introduced biological analogs to the mythology. I absolutely love the panel I excerpted here, by the way. Galan's abstract prime looks so down, yet it's such a simple rendering. Well done.
Optimus fills Megatron in on his visions, connecting the dots for him (and the audience.) They face not just the unchecked growth and accompanying amorality of the G2 Cybertronians, but also this monstrous outgrowth of their race. However, they have no time to dwell on this... Jhiaxus has found them!
The full might, one presumes, of this far superior foe is now free to rain down on the assembled Autobot/Decepticon forces. It's a great ending, though perhaps telegraphed a bit too much by Starscream's defection at the end of the main story. It's a bit sad to have no Yaniger artwork. Galan still seems to struggle with the style. Though he has some nice moments, on the whole the imagery still seems a bit awkward and uncomfortable.
We now have three issues to go and the big confrontation has seemingly arrived already. One has to wonder a bit where we go from here. Three issues of Jhiaxus versus our guys? Retreat and counterattack? The story has certainly become exciting, and I look forward to seeing it climax. This issue is reprinted in its entirety and available for purchase in Transformers Rage in Heaven from Titan publishing.