Only just over a week now until Transformers: Regeneration One #81 hits comic book stores and download outlets (Wednesday, July 11th, to be exact), and my pre-release teaser-fest continues with…
Regeneration One #80.5 — DECONSTRUCTED, pt 2: a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at what went into making the Free Comic Day bridging issue. Spoilers ahoy, so beware:
Page 4, panels 1-2: I realised right away I had a problem. Namely: the Last Autobot. This mythic and evidently supremely powerful being (who practically resurrected an entire Autobot detachment that’d been ambushed/decimated on Klo by Bludgeon’s forces) had arisen in issue #79, whereupon he’d dragged Optimus Prime back from the dead and helped send Bludgeon packing. Clearly, any rebellious shenanigans by Soundwave’s neo-Decepticons (or other looming threat) would, frankly, be crushed pretty quickly in the face of such an omniscient entity. Unless… Anyway, in a scene-setting/status quo establishing way, we look back in on Cybertron “21 years after reoccupation.” Which pretty much links up to the last lines of #80, when Prime explains that (rather than tearing itself apart), Cybertron (doused in Matrix energy in #75) is recreating itself, and now “we can go home.” And hey, there’s the Last Autobot, watching over Hub Capital Iacon… in a vaguely Big Brother/1984-ish way? But it looks like everyone’s happy, right?
Page 4, panels 3-4: I mean, there’s a nice new statue with two robotic characters holding aloft a combined insignia (half Autobot/half Decepticon), and everything looks totally un-war-torn, which how we’re used to seeing Cybertron. And indeed, as we hit street level, it all seems remarkably everyday for a planet that’s been through X-million years of civil war. By the way, apart from the communi-cube the foreground character is using (a nod to UK story Target: 2006, which introduced this means of communication), the character on the right being told to hurry up by the taxi-bot was supposed to be Wheelie. But that fine script detail never made it through to colourist John-Paul Bove (my bad), so he’s not in Wheelie colours. That was just me indulging myself by casting Wheelie (who I’m known to have been less than keen on as a character) as some kind of glorified bellboy (that’s a hotel on the far right, Andrew’s Cybertronian sigils kind of spell it out). And yeah, there’s a ‘Furmanism’ thrown in there for good measure. Couldn’t resist putting a little self-deprecating humour in there.
Page 4, panel 5: Okay, scene so far so established. Only, of course, all aren’t one. And anyway, what does that really mean? Can it be as simple as everyone just rubs along well with each other, or is there a much greater, more cosmic meaning? Certainly, Soundwave and his neo-Decepticons have another take on the current state of play. Remember, this issue is titled ‘Counterpoint’, and here’s another way of looking at things. Poor old Polyhex. Guess they didn’t get around to fixing it up yet. I mean, there’s graffiti and everything! Anyone recognise the Unicron acolytes’ headgear from #74 as one tag? By the way, the Fort Scyk name is culled from my own text story from a Transformers UK annual (‘The Magnificent Six’), and re-used here to denote any far-flung/isolated Decepticon outpost.
Page 5, panels 1-2: So here’s Soundwave, addressing his troops. A raggle-taggle bunch if ever there was one (I had to scrape around a bit to find characters that either weren’t dead or were allied to some other Decepticon offshoot). That Soundwave starts off (on the previous page) by recycling Megatron’s motto from the tech specs is no coincidence. It suggests that Soundwave is only keeping the flame burning until Megatron returns, underlining his loyalty and commitment to Megatron’s own interpretation of the gospel according to Primus. Who’s to say he’s not been right all along? And it’s the Autobots who put a spanner in the works. The preconception is that it was Autobots who were the norm, and Decepticons the aberration. But what if it was the other way around? “Painful in the short term perhaps, but ultimately more lives would be spared.” Counterpoint. Right, then comes my first big melding of ideas. The Covenant of Primus — a Beast Wars concept folded into a continuation of the Marvel G1 continuity. Nooooo! I knew going in that not everyone would like this, but its existence (or absence) is both useful and ultimately important to what’s to come. Trust me on this. What’s important right here and right now is, it’s missing, and has been for some time. That’s also important.
Page 5, panels 3-4: Though we’re very much in the Marvel US continuity here, this Soundwave is modelled far more on his UK incarnation. In the likes of Dinobot Hunt and Second Generation, he’s the ‘con with a plan, loyal but more focused on the bigger picture, not bogged down in personal agendas or power plays. Behind Soundwave (now blue – yay — I never liked purple Soundwave, never understood why the comic coloured him that way) we see the Micromaster Battle Squad. Who seem to have grown a bit! Of course, they should have been much smaller, but getting any sense of menace into them at that size was nigh on impossible. I wanted them to be like Soundwave’s personal bodyguards, watching his back, and so we took a scale liberty here. If they’d appeared in the comic previously, I wouldn’t have tampered, but since they’re effectively new characters I figured it wouldn’t hurt. We will meet other Micromaster teams in the course of RG1 that will be in their correct proportions. The final shot of clenched fists punching the air mirrors a shot in #81, which itself mirrors a shot from a certain UK story. Lots of subtle, or not-so-subtle, visual nods here.
Pages 6-7: Another flashback spread. Again, this is grounding stuff: the nuts and bolts that move the war from Cybertron to Earth. Nothing much to flag up here, but it is kind of cool seeing Andrew visually reprise stuff originally drawn by other artists. I particularly like how the battle in the scrapyard from issue #2 looked drawn by Andrew. I always loved that panel, Prime’s dialog (“the only thing you understand is… violence!” CLUNK!) – I kind of did my reverse riff on it in #80, when Prime’s lecturing Bludgeon about “peace and harmony” while beating the living cr*p out of him. And yeah, in the scene where the Decepticons board the Ark, Frenzy (or is it Rumble?) is way too big. I missed it completely when the art came in. Sorry ‘bout that. Look, there was bound to be something while we were working out the kinks.
More soon, keep watching…