Apr 22, 2014

[Comics] Transformers Regeneration One

For a lot of Transformers Generation 1 enthusiasts out there (like myself), we know very well that the cartoon was great at establishing the characters of the series without actually telling truly significant stories. Most of the animated stories were one-offs that followed a highly episodic formula of Megatron coming up with some strange plan to gain more energy and the Autobots trying to stop him and his Decepticons. It was a decent enough formula for an children's cartoon, but that's about it.

But the real stories were told in the comic books that accompanied the launch of this franchise. There they really got to flesh out the mythos behind the Transformers and push the limits of what kind of stories could be told. And this went on from 1984 until 1991 with both the US and UK versions of the comic were finally shut down.

So when IDW Publishing announced that it was launching the Regeneration One series to sort of pick up where the old series has ended somewhat abruptly and tie up loose ends, I was pretty excited. And as was fitting, Simon Furman himself, the man behind much of the best Transformers comics stories, had agreed to write the story for this project and really give us an ending to what he had created those many years ago. And the end results were...well...it well and truly never ends, I guess.

Synopsis:  Transformers Regeneration One is a limited comic book series released by IDW Publishing, who currently holds the rights to all Transformers comic book incarnations, including the rights to release a lot of the old Marvel content. The creative team involves Simon Furman writing, pencils by Andrew Wildman, inks by Stephen Baskerville and John-Paul Boves providing colors. I runs from issue 80.5 (from Free Comic Book Day 2012) and ended with issue 100. In this sense it was a true continuation of the original Marvel comics series, that ended with issue 80 in the US.

These 20 issues meant to append the original Marvel series cover five major story arcs: Loose Ends, Natural Selection, Destiny, Less Than Zero, and finally The War to End All Wars. I can't say that it's a strict revival of the old series since it seems to borrow heavily from the UK comics (Wreck and Rule!) and also incorporates some plot elements that we saw in the Transformers: Generation 2 comic. But at the same time, it also ignores the continuity that was eventually established by the G2 comic and replaces it with its own version of events. In its truest spirit, the comic really does try to retell events as if the original comic had never been cancelled.

So what do we know about this world? Cybertron has been restored thanks to the Last Autobot and some semblance of peace has been achieved. But Soundwave and other Decepticons integrated into the new Cybertronian society have decided to take up the old Decepticon mantle and try to conquer the planet. Megatron is alive and well on Earth and now rules the planet with an army of mixed Decepticon and Autobot zombies, for lack of a better term. And other major Decepticon forces like Skorponok, Starscream and Bludgeon remain at large, eager to get back into the fray.

One of the more interesting plot points that came into focus was addressing the whole Nucleon situation that made certain Transformers like Grimlock stronger but took away their ability to Transform. This was an in-comic explanation to the sad Transformers Action Masters toyline that featured non-transforming Transformers. We also addressed the fact that Megatron and Galvatron were somewhere on Earth when the original comic wrapped up - and so on and so forth and so on and so forth. Indeed, there were a lot of loose ends and Furman really went to down addressing a lot of those stories and questions one-by-one.

But he didn't just tie up loose ends, he also continued his explorations of the Transformers mythos including the role of Primus and the darker aspects of the origins of the Transformers. He brings in Jhiaxus, the major villain from the Generation 2 storyline, and integrates him into this continuity in a manner that seems similar to how Jhiaxus is represented in the primary IDW comics as of late. But the merged story still works, despite the significant number of twists and turns along the way

And while we didn't necessarily need to go over all these stories again by any means, it still made for a very pleasant geeky reading experience for a fan like me. The art was reminiscent of the style of the comics back in the 90's (without the color bars made famous in the G2 comics) and with a heck of a lot of Furmanisms making each issue a delight. And yes, some of the plotting felt like a bit of a head trip with all this talk of destiny and the future of the Transformers, but in the end it all still sort of made sense in its own twisted Furman way.

Transformers Regeneration One is a great way to celebrate the original comics and bring a greater sense of closure to things. The stories are rather dark, as is fitting a comic that appeared in the gritty 90's period, but not quite as over the top as the Generation 2 comic was. And while issue 100 wraps up the series, we can always argue that...it never ends. Thus this limited comic series gets 4.5 random Transformers needless killed as the story progressed out of a possible 5.

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