Just six days 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 3: a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at what went into making the Free Comic Day bridging issue. Spoilers ahoy, so beware:
Page 8, panels 1-2: Nova Point. A distinct doff of the hat to the first ‘continuation/expansion’ of the Marvel G1 saga that appeared in a 1992 UK Annual as ‘Another Time and Place’, an illustrated text story. In that story, Nova Point is described as being ‘hewn from a mountain of metal’, and I kind of took that description and turned it into ‘a towering, almost monastic retreat perched on a mountain of melted and reformed metal slag overlooking the city.’ As if it’s been made of old bits of war-torn Cybertron, the future and the past again, twisted into one. Pretty much just a throwaway line, but Kup’s flippant mention of a ‘tactical upgrade’ opens a door to some character refinements, should we wish to implement any. And here he is — Ultra Magnus, making his US continuity debut. He was a regular feature of the UK stories, and I’m now not sure why I never crossed him over into the US comic. I kind of took that UK incarnation (‘Cybertron’s greatest warrior’ – a description that actually gets a dialog nod in #81) and the more recent IDW ‘galactic lawgiver’ model and mushed them into one. I thought would be interesting to see what a character like Ultra Magnus becomes in peacetime. Frustrated, mostly, but we’ll get to that in a few issues time.
Page 8, panels 3-5: Again, lots of scene to set in this issue, and of paramount importance to me was establishing Optimus Prime’s current state of mind. So already Kup and Ultra Magnus’s dialog has alluded to Prime having rather cut himself off, in almost self-imposed exile, and Hot Rod reemphasises it a moment later. There’s a lot to come in terms of development for Hot Rod. We all know that in the animated movie he becomes the next Prime. And I wanted to feed off that and have Optimus Prime (who — in his own mind, at least — is more in the twilight phase of his time at the top) actively involved in kind of nurturing (or mentoring) his successor. But again, things aren’t necessarily going to play out according to TFTM or any other established storyline. It really is going to be tough ‘being the chosen one’. Hot Rod, though, is quite a pivotal character in RG1 (arguably the most pivotal), but his path is going to be rougher and more convoluted than any previous counterpart version. We finally get to Optimus, who’s standing, well, much as he is at the opening of ‘Another Time and Place’, staring out at Iacon from a raised observation platform. From here, it all goes in a very different direction from that Annual story, but it deserves acknowledgment.
Page 9, panels 1-4: And right from the get-go we understand that Optimus is not in a good place. In modern parlance, he has issues. Terse, brusque — it’s not the Prime we know and love. But I wondered what it would feel like to be dead, and then wrenched back into the land of the living, without so much as a by your leave. Would you be happy or kind of resentful? Something as traumatic as that must leaves deep, deep mental scars, and this reluctance to listen to the likes of Kup is what will drive the entirety of RG1’s first arc, and end in catastrophe. Oh, and death. #85 isn’t pretty. You have been warned. From Magnus’s speech we get the idea that there have been ‘incidents’ already. Clearly Soundwave and Co. haven’t been idle. And now Kup wants to send in the Wreckers. Yes, the Wreckers! Another UK mainstay (collectively) making the crossover into the US continuity. The intervening 21 years have kind of melded Kup with the Wreckers in my mind, so while he’s probably not ‘a Wrecker’ as such, he is very closely linked to the group. We’ll meet them all in #81. And one of the members (or is that two?) has a distinctly UK flavour.
Page 9, panels 5-7: As mentioned, Optimus’s reluctance to risk any kind of re-opening of hostilities (a kind of head in the sand attitude for sure) is going to have consequences. Even as quickly as the end of this issue. The Megatron’s ‘glorious second coming’ line kind of reiterates what I was talking about earlier, and how Soundwave is just holding the fort until his return. Probably using it to keep the faith. And Prime finally name-checks Soundwave’s mob as neo-Decepticons. As if the original Decepticons have just kind of conveniently vanished. It says a lot about Prime’s attitude and the attitude of the Autobots as a whole, if the whole concept of Decepticons can just be erased. Made into a footnote in Cybertron’s history. As if.
Pages 10-11: Our third flashback spread. And a chance to reprise two of my favourite scenes from the early stages of the US comic: Shockwave’s victory and the Autobots hanging from the rafters like sides of meat, and the Dinobots (and Ratchet) taking on Megatron (and winning by default). Or is that foot fault? Then I press fast forward, condensing some 40 issues into three panels, hitting the main note I wanted which was the evolution of the conflict and the Transformers themselves. Very important evolution is to the whole RG1 vibe. Among those ‘evolutions’ is one group who’ll make a big impact on RG1, especially in the second arc, ‘Natural Selection.’ And we wrap this spread with Starscream decimating the ranks of the Autobots and Decepticons alike (from #50). We know what happened to the Autobots who bit the dust in the Underbase storyline, they got pumped full of Nucleon and revived. But what about the Decepticons??
The final 5 pages soon, keep watching…