Dreamwave Comics "Energon" #20

in 2004, Comic Book Review, Energon

Dreamwave Comic Books

Energon #20 Cover
General Information
Written by: Simon Furman
Pencils by: Guido Guidi
Inks by: Elaine To, Fero Poblete
Colors by: David Cheung, Elliot Kravchik, Jong-Im Lee
Letters: Ben Lee

Synopsis:
Earth, Western Australia:
The Terrorcons have arrived! Battle Ravage chases Chad "Kicker" Jones as the other Terrorcons rip apart an Exploratory Excavation/Drilling operation. News reports reach a satellite in orbit where Carlos is monitoring the situation. He contacts the Alterenergy Mobile Command base where Dr. Brian Jones and Rad are stationed. Though the attackers have not yet transformed, Rad and Carlos know what's going on: the Transformers have returned.

Just as Rad is explaining the Transformers conflict to Dr. Jones, a squad of F-19 Vipers closes in on the Terrorcons. The squadron swoopes over a group of protestors gathered outside the gates of the drilling site. The protestors are led by none other than Alexis, and she thinks she has an idea what's going on. Suddenly Kicker comes charging at her on his motorbike with Battle Ravage in hot pursuit. He makes a jump over a fence but doesn't have a smooth landing, falling off his bike. Alexis sees Battle Ravage crouched over his victim and she quickly heads down to help him. As she reaches Kicker, Battle Ravage emerges to attack - in robot mode!

Back at the Mobile Base, Rad suits up to go and rescue Kicker. Using an Alternenergy hover vehicle, he speeds away, promising to bring Dr. Jones' son back.

Back at the battle site, the F-19 squadron is being torn through by the Terrorcons. Even a direct strike by a sidewinder missile on Scorponok does no good. As the military forces fall, Scorponok transforms and begins to wreak more havoc!

Battle Ravage is about to squash Kicker and Alexis when she blasts him in the optics with a flare gun. With that distraction the two take off on the motorbike to safety. Rad moves to intercept them even as he tells Carlos to send off the slipstream pulse to ask for help from Cybertron!

Cybertron:
Once again, Optimus Prime tries to convince the council members that there is danger on Earth that must be dealt with. The Council is not convinced however, angering Optimus. They finally agree to allow Optimus, and only Optimus Just as he is about to depart however, firepower rains over Cybertron as Unicron's four horsemen appear with one thing in mind: destruction!

To Be Continued...

Story:
It's back to Earth for us fans, and what an interesting time it is! Humans have apparently tapped into Energon and the Terrorcons want it! It seems Megatron's warning from the previous issue was right. Unfortunately, this time there are no Autobots or Mini-Cons to fight back against these terrifying Transformers.

We are introduced to two new characters and reintroduced to Rad, Carlos and Alexis. Dr. Brian Jones and his son Chad "Kicker" Jones are introduced as Alterenergy staff - and we get a hint that Kicker may have similar abilities to what we've seen in the Energon cartoon so far. It is kind of interesting that when Rad is off to find Kicker, Dr. Jones actually takes the time to mention that Kicker is "special". Does it matter, it's your son! Perhaps this may be a hint at some father/son conflict down the road if Dr. Jones sees his son more as a "resource" than a human being.

Carlos and Rad seem to have stayed in touch and continue to be friends. Rad's role here seems similar to the one he has in the cartoon, assisting Dr. Jones. Carlos is on some type of sentry watch, which seems to include a transmitter that can reach Cybertron! Wonder how they slipped that one past the builders of the satellite? Either way, it's nice to see the "kids" thinking quick on their feet. Despite being shocked, they both leap into action like old pros.

Now Alexis is in an interesting role. I really love the idea of her being an environmentalist who is at odds with Carlos and Rad. Friends from childhood don't always wind up on the same side of the fence as adults, and it's nice to see them here in roles that will ultimately still put them together (whether they like it or not). It's also nice to see Alexis is as fearless as ever, willing to jump in front of a Terrorcon armed with nothing but a flare gun. She's quick thinking and confident, a very cool growth for the character.

I'm really glad to see the Terrorcons as individual characters in this storyline rather than being drones. They each get to do their destructive thing while showing some character. They're truly destructive characters with no redeeming value. Their interest is purely to destroy, and since the Unicron Battles (which I was glad to see referred to by name), they have a ton of pent up aggression that they're now releasing. Very cool.

The Autobot Council really brings back thoughts of the Maximal Elders from Beast Wars. Writer Bob Forward described them as "well meaning, but not always right" to me once, and that is the case here. The Council doesn't want to stir the pot, but they're so afraid they're not seeing what's right in front of their face. I had a moment of hope when one said they shouldn't repeat their past mistakes, but when we see Prime told to go alone to Earth I thought it was a great move. Sure they'll budge, but not a whole lot!

On a side note, I found naming a council member Levitacus a nice touch. The biblical name Leviticus refers to the third canonical book of the Old Testament, containing the laws and regulations relating to the priests and Levites among the Hebrews, or the body of the ceremonial law. In this instance, the Transformer Levitacus seems to be the "rule maker" (or at least the spokesperson for the rules) among the Council, so the name fits.

Notes:

  • Instead of something the Autobots and Omnicons establish, the humans set up their Energon mining all by themselves in this storyline.
  • Alterenergy is the name of the human initiative to use Energon (known as "01 Source" to the humans) as an alternative energy source to fossil fuels.
  • The motorbike that Kicker uses resembles the bike that the "new" High Wire transforms into.
  • Rather than Alpha Trion or Vector Sigma, the "knowledge source" Optimus tapped into last issue is referred to as Sig-Omega. Close enough.

Artwork:

Lots of Terrorcon goodness in this issue! I loved seeing the Terrorcons in action in beast mode. Some great touches include Cruellock striking a very Godzilla 1998" pose (see scan above) as he blew fire out of his mouth. It's also interesting to note that the Terrorcons all had Energon Stars attached, so here they may be power sources more than things to drop into Unicron's belly.

The tech the humans have is quite advanced, and granted, this show is roughly set in 2013/14 so one would expect higher tech than we have today, but things like the Alterenergy Mobile Command base are impressive (and is slightly reminscent of Grandus and Countdown's Micromaster base). It was nice to see "human tech" look a bit different than Transformer tech.

It's also nice to see the kids all grown up, but like the cartoon, they still retain trademark hair styles to clue us in to who's who. I'm glad Guido resisted the urge to make Alexis some uber-babe and instead made her a very scrappy fighter. Rad's look here is more mature than the one he has in the cartoon (probably the goatee that does it).

Some nice easter eggs pop up here. One of the Council members (back row to the left) has G1 Prowl's face. Also, at the Alterenergy site, several jeeps are based on G1 Brawn's design. Of course, that would mean they're thirty something odd year old vehicles are still being used by humans, but hey, maybe they were cheap?

One thing that confused me a bit, and I had to flip back and forth a bit to be sure of it: the color artists may be getting conflicting information on how to color Scorponok, which I blame largely on the differences in color between the Hasbro version and the Takara version. In the initial battle scenes, Scorponok's claw-shovels are red, a sign they are following the Hasbro version. But after we return to the battle (when the F-19's move in), he has changed over to having gold colored law-shovels, a sign they are following the Takara/TV Show version at that point. This then becomes the norm as when we see Scorponok in robot mode, he has gold and purple parts as opposed to the mostly green and red parts from the Hasbro version. While neither color scheme is "wrong", it would be best to keep to one scheme for the series.

Final Thoughts:
An excellent issue. I was surprised so many new and reintroductions were done in one issue. It was also nice to have the "four horsemen" storyline move ahead. Until the last couple pages, I thought it was going to be shelved until the next issue. Most likely once Energon ends and Transformers move on to another line the book will end or be cancelled and changed into something else, so fitting as much story as possible into each issue is a plus and a necesity.