Dreamwave Comics "Energon" #19

in 2004, Comic Book Review, Energon

Dreamwave Comic Books

Guido Guidi Cover Pat Lee Cover


General Information
Written by: Simon Furman
Pencils by: Guido Guidi
Inks by: Elaine To
Colors by: David Cheung
Letters: Ben Lee

Synopsis:
Ten years following Unicron's attack on Cybertron, the planet's infrastructure has been rebuilt. A shining example of this is Cyber City, central city of the Autobots. In this new age, Autobots, Decepticons and Mini-Cons live in peace. However, Optimus Prime knows this peace is only temporary.
As he addresses the High Council, he tells them that the Transformers must prepare for war even while cherishing peace. While the Council understands what he is saying, they have their doubts, fearing that any mention of war would incite the very thing they are trying to prevent. They do not listen,
and Optimus knows this will lead to no good.

Cyber City East: Energon Processor..
A small group of Decepticons led by Tidal Wave is trashing a refinery plant when Starscream suddenly appears! He puts the Decepticons down for their seemingly futile efforts. We also learn that Demolishor and Thrust have both gone off to integrate into the greater Cybertronian society, leaving
few Decepticons who would join their cause. When Tidal Wave explains that there are other Decepticons with the same goals, Starscream wonders who. He is answered by the arrival of Scorponok!

Starscream tries to talk his way out of being the object of Scorponok's wrath, but with a single blast, the Decepticon is heavily damaged and sent over a pit. Tidal Wave looks over and Starscream grabs him too! As the two fall, Starscream is crushed to death by the refinery machines as Tidal Wave holds on for his life. The Decepticons save him, but he has lost a leg in the process. It does not matter to the Decepticons however. As they gather Tidal Wave up, they prepare to depart Cybertron to see a mysterious benefactor.

Mini-Con Sector North, Village Six-Beta
Optimus Prime approaches two guards, neither of whom recognizes him. Their speech patterns are a little off as well. Optimus is surprised the small Transformers do not know who he is, but he requests to see Over-Run. The Mini-Con from another dimension appears when a large chamber opens up. Over-Run is hooked into machinery directly, his physical form altered slightly. He explains that the Omnicons are a Cybertronian evolutionary path that he nurtured into its present state. Optimus explains his suspicions about Unicron still being alive. Over-Run suggests that he asks the planet
Cybertron itself where the Dark God may be. Optimus is stunned that such a thing is even possible, but agrees to try.

Far Beyond the Known Boundaries of Space...
The damaged form of Unicron quietly floats in space as the Decepticons led by Scorponok arrive inside the giant robot. There, they meet with Alpha-Quintesson, a strange being encased in a mechanical suit filled with claws, tubes and pincers. They present Tidal Wave to him as a new soldier
in Unicron's army. Tidal Wave questions Unicron's power, until he is remade with a healed body and enhanced power!

Cybertron: The Southern Polar Peninsula...
Optimus Prime, Ironhide and Hot Shot arrive at one of Cybertron's old Uplink Platforms. It is here that Optimus hopes to communicate with the spirits resting within Cybertron. As Ironhide moves out to patrol the area, Optimus makes contact with an ancient Transformer who welcomes him to "The Hub". The Transformer shows him that Unicron is indeed alive! While they view the Decepticons within Unicron preparing to leave through another portal, the spirit of Megatron calls out to Optimus from within Unicron! He explains that he is in Unicron's Spark Core and cannot get out without help.
In exchange, he offers a way to defeat Unicron. He then tells Optimus to start at his adopted home: Earth!

The vision ends, and Optimus realizes that great danger has been awakened. He now knows that there is a source of Energon on Earth - and that the Decepticons will want it!

Inside Unicron, Alpha-Quintesson is greeting four arrivals. They are the new Heralds of Unicron: Airazor, Cheetor, Rhinox and Terrorsaur! Upon mounting their mechanical steeds, they race off to destroy anyone who stands in Unicron's
way!

To Be Continued...

Story:
How little things change. That seems to be the key to this story. While Cybertron's fascade has been repaired and its people live in apparent freedom, there are so many machinations going on that you almost feel sorry for Optimus. Once a war hero, he's treated more like that crazy old guy on the
corner talking about the coming apocalypse.

Except, in this case, the crazy old guy is right.

I was extremely happy to see things get kicked off right away. So much of the story in Energon could be dragged out endlessly, but instead, we see up front that there are still threats out there, and that Optimus' ideas are not so crazy after all. Using Energon's equivalent of "Alpha Trion" was a really nice touch. It was kind of odd seeing an Optimus Prime not recognize an Alpha Trion, but
this is a new Universe of sorts, so it chalks up to being a very cool moment.

It is a really interesting turn on a concept to show Ironhide as a young, raw recruit rather than the ornery veteran previous incarnations of the character have shown fans. He seems to be taking on the role that Hot Shot played in the animated series (until Sideswipe came along), but a bit younger. This also seems to allude to the fact that despite the High Council's objections, some Transformers still believe a military is necessary. Since ten years have passed and it has been peace time, Ironhide most likely joined up on his own, unless the Transformers have some form of the "draft" in peace time, which I find unlikely.

Hot Shot is more grown up now, and he has changed his form - possibly a visual reference to the "upgrading" of forms Optimus mentions when he addresses the council.

The Terrorcons really interest me. At first, they seem almost like a petty group of criminals, just causing trouble for the heck of it. But now that they are heading to Earth (Optimus' "adopted home" as it is referred to), it will be interesting to see them "graduate" into a potent force against the
Autobots. I'm also really happy to see Tidal Wave get some decent time in this issue after his one panel "introduction" in Armada. The shame is that we won't get to see him combine with Megatron/Galvatron. Oh well.

Scorponok does little here, but we do get the impression that he is a take-no-prisoners type of Decepticon. No speeches or anything like that, he just acts. The way he dispatches of Starscream is cold and efficient, he doesn't even give the Screamer time to react or talk his way out of the situation. There should be some real nice fireworks once Megatron returns! It is interesting that
we hear Scorponok was damaged in the battle with Unicron, perhaps that is how he wound up with a "Hyper Mode" form? Being rescued by Unicron could be an interesting motivation for his loyalty to the Dark God.

The Alpha-Quintesson character is one mysterious being. He almost seems to serve the role that Sideways served in the animated series, acting as a conduit for Unicron's wishes and powers. Having him directly tied to the innards of Unicron was an interesting choice, but it makes sense if he is
to have access to the big guy's powers.

Perhaps among the most priceless moments from this issue are those with the Omnicons. They seem like they are young and still growing, so it was fun to see Optimus Prime quite taken aback by any Transformers who haven't heard of him. It really highlights the innocence of these
new Transformers who will become experienced soon enough I'm sure.

In Armada #18, we saw the four beasts being taken in by Unicron, so we knew they were in for a bad fate. However, it was very cool seeing them "reborn" as his new heralds. According to writer Simon Furman "They're bad to bone. No chance of them ever turning around." If this is how the story pans out, it will be great to see as it will avoid the now cliche "Turn-the-former-good-guy-now-bad-guy-back-to-a-good-guy" routine.

The best part of this issue is the pacing. It jumps from scene to scene but offers continuity between them. This is something that is not easy to do. Energon's predecessor title had a lot more splash pages and artwork than actual story at times, and it's nice to see Energon avoid that trap.

Notes:

  • In a similar scene to Armada #1, we see Cyber City filled with cameos of Transformers current and past. Directly form Armada you'll find Thrust, Cyclonus, Red Alert, Scavenger and Jetfire. From Energon we see Rodimus, Prowl and Inferno. Off to the left (the picture is across two
    pages) there's even a semi-G1 cameo with a hovercraft that looks just like Seaspray!
  • According to writer Simon Furman, the Omnicons are a branch of Transformers that Over-Run has helped to evolutionize to this point. They are not "upgraded" Mini-Cons. So in this case, the Omnicon Sky Blast is not the same character as the Mini-Con Sky Blast.
  • When we see the Terrorcons, they are already "Hyper Powered" by Unicron (despite the art note that is found on page six). Only Tidal Wave needs to be "upgraded" at the beginning of the issue.
  • The Energon factory shown takes raw materials and converts them to Energon (the "pellets"). These will play a role in Starscream's return.
  • Writer Simon Furman reveals the Terrorcons will have the ability to clone themselves. Each Terrorcon who can clone themselves will act as "Generals" in a similar way to the Vehicon Generals of Beast Machines.
  • Don't expect to see armies of Quintessons inside Unicron for a while. For now, Furman has only plans to focus on Alpha-Quintesson and not an entire race.

Artwork:

Guido is one of the artists who has worked on various Transformers titles for quite some time now. This issue shows a strong attention to detail and grasp of the past, present and future of Transformers design. Almost all the Cybertron visuals give us a grand feel of a world reborn. The only exception to this on Cybertron is the Energon factory, which is more gritty and dark. It was
a good choice to see some Armada characters (particularly Optimus) still in their Armada-era forms. This provides a good visual continuity between the two books, especially considering the unusual continuation of the number scheme.

Guido manages to invoke the feeling of an animated series happening in front of you in print while also paying attention to detail. One of my favorites is the close up on Optimus on page three where we can see the mechanisms inside his optics! Very nicely done.

One thing I have to give Guido super high marks for are the character designs on the High Council. They show an artist's understanding and feel for robots that could have popped out of a classic G1 episode when they referred to Cybertron's distant past. Often, these character designs would show
Transformers with capes, beards, helmets and other details that made them look like something out of Roman history. He manages to emulate this style for the Council, and does it very well.

Visually, Alpha-Quintesson is one fascinating looking character. The designers seemed to have deliberately taken visual cues from G1 to design the character. He has the familiar "Face of Death" on, but within his outer shell you can see that there is at least one other head hidden on page twenty when Alpha-Quintesson calls to the beasts. Also a lot of the pincers and claws on his armor are reminscent of the wildlife on Quintessa shown in Transformers: The Movie. The maw that the
Quintesson head is inside looks a lot like that of a Sharkticon from Transformers: The Movie as well.
A wonderful update to a classic race in Transformers history.

The beasts and their mechanical horses are quite formidable looking, each one looking slightly different than before. The exaggeration of features on them (horns on Rhinox's head, elongated claws on Airazor etc.) are really neat. It will be interesting to see these characters played out differently than their alternate "Beast Wars" world counterparts. Of course, I keep thinking "Poor Rhinox, he's been turned evil...again."

Kudos to the color team, who show versatility. The images of Cyber City are grand, bright and optimistic. The views of the Energon factory are dark, gritty and have an almost "War Within Dark Ages" feel to them. Meanwhile, the interior of Unicron is mysterious and sparse.

Final Thoughts:
Energon #19 is a strong introductory issue that serves to bridge the gap between the last series and this one. It also does a great job of introducing the new era of Transformers. I'm really looking forward to #20!