Dreamwave Comics "Energon" #21

in 2004, Comic Book Review, Energon

Dreamwave Comic Books

Energon #21 Cover
General Information
Written by: Simon Furman
Pencils by: Joe Ng
Inks by: Elaine To
Colors by: David Cheung, Jong-Im Lee
Letters: Ben Lee

Synopsis:
Cybertron: The Halls of Justice
Cybertron is under attack by Unicron's four heralds. Although he knows who they are, Optimus fears what the four have become at the hands of Unicron. The Autobots do their best to fight the four, but their efforts are thwarted, resulting in death after death. Optimus Prime himself seems powerless against them as they rampage through the city.

Earth, Western Australia:
The Terrorcons have won, and Divebomb has been given the chance to set up Energon Accumulators, but they are delicate instruments, so he needs time to set them up. Scorponok plans on seeing what an infusion of Energon will do to the Decepticons. Tidal Wave is concerned because all the Energon was promised to Unicron, but Scorponok has decided to "adjust" the deal and sends Tidal Wave to find Battle Ravage.

Thirty miles away, Battle Ravage is in full chase mode, trying to take down Kicker and Alexis. The two try to escape, but they fall off their bike, with Battle Ravage ready to strike!

Cybertron:
The Autobots are beaten. Damaged and unable to fight, the end draws near - even for Optimus Prime.
Suddenly, the cavalry arrives! One by one, the heralds are beaten back by Over Run's Omnicons! With
their pure Energon weapons, they manage to do damage the Autobots could not.

While the Omnicons hold off Unicron's minions, Strongarm helps Optimus reconnect with the Cybertronian Hub. Again the visage of the ancient Autobot appears - but this time he grants Prime and the Autobots a new power: The Spark of Combination! Optimus' body is reformatted and he is joined by four vehicles, OP 1, 2, 3 and 4! The vehicles Powerlinx with Optimus while the other Autobots Powerlink! Together, the Omnicons and Autobots repel the attack.

While the battle is over, Optimus realizes the war is just beginning - and that the battleground will be Earth! Levitacus has already set up a warp gate for Earth, realizing the importance of the planet now that Unicron has declared war.

Earth:
Battle Ravage returns to Scorponok - but he is not alone. He has captured Alexis and Kicker, and Scorponok does a scan that reveals Kicker is a special human indeed, and he intends to take advantage of that fact!

To Be Continued...

Story:
Talk about a lot crammed into one issue! One thing the animated Energon program never really gave fans was a look at what transpired between Armada and Energon, but we assume in the cartoon things were relatively peaceful. But here, we see that after a small period of piece, there was quite a bit of conflict bringing about Prime's new form, the Spark of Combination and the Omnicons. They didn't just suddenly appear, they were products of necessity.

I like the idea that there is more to Cybertron than even Prime or Levitacus realize. The Hub is an interesting concept, and it is cool to see how it takes an active role in developing "champions" to fight for Cybertron via the Spark of Combination. It was a bit of a stretch to have everyone know who to combine with and so forth so quickly, but then again it appears the Hub managed to program the knowledge of Powerlinking into Prime, so it's not unreasonable that it did the same to the others.
I'm really curious to see how other Autobots such as Prowl or Rodimus will not receive the Spark of Combination.

The Omnicons are nicely set up here. They draw a parallel with their animated selves in that they can manipulate Energon, but they are more like individuals here instead of being one of a mass produced line of clones. It is also really neat to see that the Omnicons were the ones coming to the rescue instead of Autobots rescuing them (as it often is in the animated show). The idea that they alone possess the abilities that can effectively be used against Unicron's minions is a nice touch. It elevates them above being grunts and makes them more crucial to the storyline.

Notes:

  • Rhinox calls Unicron's potential rise his "ninth emergence", which is interesting. The idea here is that Unicron has gone from Universe to Universe wreaking havoc, so if you took different continuities into acocunt, we have seen at least seven emergences between Generation One and the Beast Generation (shows and comics).
  • "The Hub" seems to be the term referring to the network that Cybertron represents. Interestingly enough, Furman used this term for something totally different in his Generation 2 comic book. There it was a base for the second Generation Cybertronians.

Artwork:

I've been aware of Joe Ng's art before his sting at Dreamwave through a mutual friend. I really enjoyed a lot of his pre-Dreamwave stuff. It seems that as part of his tenure at Dreamwave, he has had to alter his style slightly. Everything is much more "rounded", something that Dreamwave is pushing on its artwork in all its books. While this does work with several key characters such as the Four Horsemen, it doesn't really work at times. I do understand that this style is meant to emulate some of the Japanese art from the 80's and 90's - but sometimes, what this more "rounded" approach does is, well...make the Transformers look pudgy. Unfortunately, some (not a lot, just some) of Ng's art suffers because of this. The one panel that probably grates me the most is
the one after the battle is over, and the combined Hot Shot and Inferno is looking around. He's too "fat", and he is in this really, odd position. It looks like he's kneeling/sitting/squatting - something. Perhaps he's walking - but it's just hard to tell.

On the other hand, Ng has drawn sequences that are absolutely smashing. I love his art with the Horsemen, the damaged Prime connecting to the Hub is a wonderfully detailed and dramatic page. His battle sequences are a notch above the norm. I really loved his sequence where Signal Flare creates an axe in vehicle mode, transforms, catches it and attacks a Horseman. That's awesome stuff somewhat reminscent of Geoff Senior's work in execution.

In a tiny boo boo, take a look at the sequence where the "new" Optimus Prime emerges. His OP Unites have small scrawls on them saying "OP 2, 3" etc. These were most like meant to be erased but wound up being left in by accident.

Final Thoughts:
A smashing issue overall - not without its problems, but an enjoyable romp that gives us a glimpse of what is to come on several levels, including the importance of the Omnicons.