Transformers Energon #22 Review

Reviewer: Iain Burnside
Story Title: What Lies Beneath part 3

Written by: Simon Furman
Penciled by: Guido Guidi
Inked by: Rob Armstrong
Colored by: David Cheung & Jong-Im Lee
Lettered by: Ben Lee
Editor: Adam Patyk
Publisher: Dreamwave

The sun is shining but I haven’t got my hat on. I did have it on but felt obligated to take it off to Guido Guidi’s magnificent first-page drawing in this issue. The shot of Megatron falling into oblivion, his body being disintegrated as he screams helplessly, leads into a nice little flashback scene taking us to the battle with Unicron in Armada #18, when everybody’s favourite Chaos God in the form of a planet took it upon himself to eat Megatron. Of course, the fact that Unicron was defeated by the combined forces of the Autobots, Decepticons and Minicons meant that ol’ Megs was left in a bit of a pickle. His body was destroyed but his spark (the soul of a Transformer) lived on, trapped between worlds. As any fully-qualified TransFan can tell you, however, there is nothing quite like a set of naturally occurring gears and levers. Given the unique position he found himself in, Megs was forced to wait ten-and-a-bit years until he could finish constructing his new body, which is finally revealed in all its glory in this issue. Dreamwave seem to be determined to have this come across as a big event, ending the issue with a big reveal of the take-no-shit Megs. Conveniently, they have forgotten that they already put this on the cover of the issue. It kind of detracts from the impact. Still, the new look Megs does manage to be reminiscent of both G1 Megatron and G1 Galvatron, which is quite a feat. These scenes have been l’il Guido’s defining moment on the title so far.

Unfortunately, once you get past these scenes and return to the main storyline you begin to realise that Rob Armstrong has been doing these inks with a roller-brush or something. Seriously, check out the contrast as you flip from page 3 to page 4. Those are some insanely thick outlines around the Terrorcons on Earth and they do nothing but make this book look childish and incompetent. It never seems to be quite as noticeable throughout the rest of the book as it is here but someone really ought to have a word with the guy, make sure he’s on the decaff from now on. Guidi’s artwork itself is fine in its simplicity, as is the colour from the Cheung/Lee team, but Armstrong manages to distract from them all with the inks and that just cannot do. I have spoken to his mother and his principal about this, so nobody panic, it will all be addressed and sorted out as soon as possible so we can get over this minor crisis of faith and restore our belief systems. Once again people, relax, breathe deeply, be strong and if we can just all pull together we will get through these tough times unscathed. Thank you for your attention.

Anyhoo…

The plot advancement in this issue is minimal, as always. It seems to be a recurring theme for Energon so perhaps it is actually the entire point of the comic? Who knows? Certainly not Furman, that’s for damn sure. He seems to just be making this one up on the fly similar to his ‘work’ on The War Within: The Dark Ages (or TF:TWW:TDA as the fan-friendly acronym goes). Scorponok is getting rather excited at the huge wad of Energon that Kicker is apparently carrying around inside of him or something. It isn’t explained particularly well here but basically he has the innate ability to naturally detect Energon signatures thanks to his father, who used Kicker to find the stuff for him. The cartoon explained it better but essentially Kicker is the McGuffin of the series. This little confrontation is watched by Rad (yes, the same one from Armada only now he’s all grown up) who has Carlos (no, not the same one from Armada. This is Rad’s son, named Carlos in a cute bit of sentimental continuity) feeding him information from a satellite orbiting the planet. Scorponok is threatening to sic Battle Ravage on Alexis unless Kicker starts talking, although he genuinely has no idea about anything that’s going on. Thankfully, Carlos has been sending distress calls to the Autobots on Cybertron. Before you can say ‘deus ex Space Bridge’, Optimus Prime, Hot Shot, Inferno, Ironhide and Jetfire are all on Earth to come to the rescue, crack some heads and just generally get in there and Twat It. This is easier said than done, however, as Unicron and Alpha Q have provided the Terrorcons the ability to power up on pure Energon to increase their strength and firepower tenfold. Despite the Powerlinx upgrades the Autobots received last issue the Terrorcons are just too powerful to overcome.

Technically their mission was a success though, given that it saved at least Alexis if not Kicker (who seems to have vanished or been forgotten by the creative team). Rad tries to save her but is stopped by Battle Ravage, who has a cloaking device to keep him off of any scanners. That’s a nice nod of the head to his G1 Ravage predecessor, as is the fact that he is a bit of a dumbass really. By setting Rad’s skimmer to autopilot, Carlos can send it flying at ramming speed into an Energon siphon. The resulting explosion takes care of Ravage and that’s yer lot.

Oh, apart from Megatron making a few vague psychic threats to Optimus Prime. This started back in issue #19, presumably as Megs’ spark could use his connection to Unicron’s “flames of chaos” to specifically target the Autobot leader that holds the Matrix. Either that or Prime is just having wet dreams about his former nemesis. Neither one would particularly surprise me at the moment, as this is the dullest of dull sub-plots that gives us nothing more than the anti-climax ending mentioned above. I sure hope that Megatron does something interesting next issue as this is nothing but a cheap marketing ploy as part of Dreamwave’s “Megatron Month.” I sure hope you celebrated this international holiday suitably. I put a bucket on my head, cackled manically and berated Starscream. Okay, Starscream was actually my boss and I am now unemployed with no more chicken left to eat. You happy now?

On the plus side, the Armada kids have come along quite nicely and have very quickly settled into their adult roles. It seems like Kicker, wherever he is, is going to take centre stage next issue but hopefully they can keep Rad and Alexis around for a while longer. Given that Rad was wearing Kicker’s battle suit in this issue I fear for his survival, the poor bugger. As for Alexis, well, for the first time ever there is a Transformers comic with a good-looking female character in it. Wicked! Sadly, the Transformers in this series have so far failed to interest me at all. Scorponok and Tidal Wave have a little tête-à-tête that could lead to a well-developed little rivalry, but that’s about it. Still, I do like the way they are going for the Megatron/Starscream approach to their differences, with the vital distinction being that Tidal Wave is simply speaking his mind and not plotting to take command as Starscream was.

Speaking of Starscream, hopefully he will return soon. Yes, he perished to Unicron too but if you have seen his character on the Energon cartoon series you will know his new form is by far the greatest thing since the wheel, which came before sliced bread and was always better than that over-rated contraption ever was. Besides, you can slice bread yourself. Remember and put something on it though, or you will end up with something as bland as this comic is.

Wow, now that was a roundabout way of saying “meh!”