Beast Wars
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Review of IDW's Transformers - BEAST WARS: The Gathering #2


Reviewed by: Outtsyder

Warning: Spoilers!!!


Not as many variants this time, but still a substantial number (six in total). Presumably all done by Don Figueroa, Cover A features a group shot of the Season 3 Maximal team; Cover B is a night shot of Magmatron tangling with a velociraptor (or possibly a Utahraptor or Megaraptor, if you want to get technical on size scale); Cover C is a dark ominous confrontation scene with robot-mode Torca front and center, with Claw Jaw in the background, and Predacons Lazorbeak, Injector, Buzzsaw and Retrax about to get pummeled; Cover D shows off Magmatron and his newly-acquired army mugging for the camera. Two collector's covers are also available; A foil-stamped version of the Torca cover, and a VERY cool silhouetted design featuring Magmatron's team in heavy shadow.


Same as in Issue #1, artists details crediting Simon Furman, Don Figueroa, Josh Burcham and company. The "story so far" blurb summarizes the events in issue #1, and uses the same negative-film black-and-white shot of Magmatron as well.


We begin with a full-page shot of most of Magmatron's army - Jetstorm the dragonfly, Buzzsaw the bee, Lazorbeak the pterodactyl, Scavenger the Transmetal ant (who looks to be portrayed as a separate character from BW Inferno), Retrax the pillbug, Sky Shadow the dragonfly-lizard Fuzor, Injector the lionfish-hornet Fuzor, Razorclaw the crab, Powerpinch the earwig, Iguanus the frilled lizard, Terragator the turtle-gator Fuzor, Buzzclaw the mantis-lizard Fuzor, and Insecticon the beetle - and set in 70,000 years BC (what?! I thought it was a couple million years ago. Oh, well….). Magmatron - along with Manterror, a repaired Drill Bit, and a still damaged Spittor - addresses his crew and declares war on the turncoat agent Razorbeast and his militia, sending Iguanus to organize the battle operation. He assigns another job to Drill Bit and Spittor, anticipating the Maximals' next move: to try to contact Cybertron via a transwarp signal booster, which could be found in the wreckage of Tripredacus Agent Ravage's cruiser.

We dissolve to Razorbeast leading his new team - B'Boom, Wolfang, Bonecrusher, Ramulus, Snarl and Optimus Minor - through the wilderness, discussing their plan to find Ravage's crashed ship and find the equipment they need. Razorbeast also explains that, while placed in deep-cover infiltration within Magmatron's squad on Cybertron, he didn't have time to warn his commander about the Predacon's time-travel plan; it all happened too quickly and he had no time to stall and get word back to the Maximals. He did at least get a chance to use a piggyback function in the array used to re-program the stasis pods on Earth, allowing some of the protoforms to not be affected by Magmatron's plan. Ramulus notes their group is still outnumbered, but Razorbeast is sure there's still more Maximals to come; they're probably just taking a while to rendez-vous. We get to see several shots of the other Maximals presumably trying to get to their signal source, including anyone from Torca to Cybershark, to Air Hammer to Polar Claw….

We cut back to Magmatron, Drill Bit and a repaired Spittor, where they traced the location where Ravage's ship was destroyed, based on a report from Tarantulas to the Tripredacus Council. A slight lament from Magmatron indicated Ravage had some self-interest in allowing an information trade with Magmatron, which permitted his crew to be on Earth. He transforms and splits into his triple-beast mode (uncombined), and orders the other two to scout the area.

Later, Razorbeast's team finds the canyon where they figured Ravage's ship may have crashed, but there's some dissension among the ranks as B'Boom suspects Razorbeast may really have some Predacon sympathies, just because the wild boar did some work for Magmatron. But Razorbeast retorts that even though he's asking for a lot of trust at face value, there isn't any time to debate for evidence. Snarl goes into stealth mode during the search, while Ramulus climbs the rugged terrain in his Transmetal bighorn ram mode. Unfortunately, he gets ambushed by Spittor's poisonous tongue-lash attack, dropping him from the cliff! B'Boom's kayoed body is dropped nearby, as the Gigantosaurus component of Magmatron had attacked him, too. His other two components - the Quetzatlcoatlus, and the Elasmosaurus - join in the fight.

Elsewhere, Optimus Minor, who snuck away during the search party, has found the remains of Ravage's ship. He breaks inside while Razorbeast, Wolfang and Bonecrusher have to fend off all three of Magmatron's dinosaur-era bodies in the canyon battle. Things look bad as Magmatron plans to show the least possible amount of mercy to Razorbeast for betraying him, while Optimus Minor has a really hard time looking for the transwarp amplifier (he forgot to ask what it looked like), and ends up getting cornered by Drill Bit, who has the device in his hand, and activates the large drill-bit weapon on his right arm. Luckily for our heroes on both fronts, Razorbeast uses a pair of back-mounted guns - hidden in the boar mane on his robot-mode's upper back - to shoot the upper part of a cliff and send a landslide to collapse on the Gigantosaurus component. Consequently, the injuries suffered by the Gigantosaurus body are also felt by the Quetz and Elasmo bodies, knocking Magmatron completely out (with a headbutt by Razorbeast for good measure). Razorbeast, Wolfang, B'Boom, Bonecrusher and Ramulus escape the landslide to bury the Predacon, but Razorbeast knows he'll be back.

As for Drill Bit confronting Optimus Minor in Ravage's ship, as Drill Bit is about to play dentist with his drill weapon, Snarl deactivates his stealth mode right behind the Predacon, and pops him one in the back!

Moments later, the Maximals regroup with the transwarp amplifier… which turns out to be broken. It can be repaired with the right equipment… which they don't have on them. However, Razorbeast reminds the others that there just may be a source of the tools they need… in the Ark!

The Predacons, however, uncover another trump card of their own. Despite losing the transwarp amplifier to the Maximals, a recovered Magmatron finds the remainder of Agent Ravage's body. All that's left is a broken torso, stubs of limbs… and a still-pulsating spark core….

To Be Continued….


The first issue was quite elaborate, having the responsibility to give the backstory of this new story thread, and introducing the new characters and give a fairly workable amount of characterization for the key players, while the pacing and tightness kept it from getting clunky. This issue was more straightforward with a lot of cool scenes and plenty of cameos from most of the supporting cast (many with no lines), while remaining a good issue. While the core of the story was the search for the McGuffin, there was still some fleshing-out of some smaller threads to sew up what could have been some plotholes in the story. A small flashback explained why Razorbeast had to try to contact the Maximal Imperium now, having no opportunity to do it on Cybertron before Magmatron and his band went through the Chronosphere. B'Boom's suspicions of Razorbeast's motives made it more realistic; considering that Razorbeast's piggyback function in the Predacon re-programming array still allowed some of the protoforms to become Predacons, it would be hard for some people to trust this complete stranger who only has his word to go on, while some of his actions elicit shadiness. While there were more Maximal allies that Razorbeast was expecting, the fact that they hadn't shown up yet could be cause for distrust, no matter how much he's hoping the ones present could trust him on only his word. He does have a lot of knowledge that could still help the Maximals, including the Ark. The question is, how long will this militia be able to still work with this guy with very little solid evidence, unless they can get a hold of the Imperium on Cybertron? Not to mention the fact that, if Razorbeast ever does get captured by the Preds, all knowledge of his mission (and existence!) would be disavowed by "Lio Convoy", leaving him with even fewer options to convince B'Boom and the others to help him.

Magmatron is still the key villain, dominating most of the Predacons' screen time in his quest to fulfill his personal goal. He sends the recruited Predacons to scope out and take out the activated Maximals, while trying to make sure Razorbeast fails to contact Cybertron. While the Maximals come out of Ravage's ship with the device, Magmatron does show some adaptability to situations when they don't always work as he planned. He finds another prize that could work to his advantage, discovering that while Ravage's body was destroyed (no head, even), his spark still survived, which you know Magmatron is going to find a way to bring him back, and using the ancient former Decepticon's resources for his cause. We also get a really cool look of Magmatron's three separating beast modes sharing the same mind (like Reflector in G1), though we have yet to see his "chimera" beast mode. And I also like the idea of the same mind among the three bodies feeling the same pain, just like G1 Optimus Prime's tech specs stating that damage to any one of his modules is felt by the other two. Magmatron remains interesting almost as much as BW Megatron, and to be even more interesting, he's got some weaknesses that prevent him from looking like a not-so-interesting all-powerful overlord.

Regarding the other players, though, we get almost nothing from the other Predacons, besides Iguanus' military professionalism; Terragator's one-liner which could imply enthusiasm to destroy the Maximals, or impatience with Magmatron's speech; and a little bit of talk between Spittor and Drill Bit at the end. And it looks like my prediction for Drill Bit is coming true; he's taken over Waspinator's story-device job as the fall-guy who gets popped every episode! This time, instead of just being comic relief, he actually does try to be a good soldier and almost succeeds; he just fails all the time. Given that he had the amplifier in his hand, he did say that he could have easily left with it, but instead, he decided to stick around and try to off another Maximal while he was at it. Knowing what happened later, well, with his kind of luck, he better not plan to ever play in a casino, unless he really wants to go bankrupt.

The Maximals, OTOH, had better characterization by comparison. Wolfang seems to actively want to believe that Razorbeast is on the up-and-up, Ramulus thrives on challenges but knows some odds are hard to surmount, B'Boom just doesn't trust Razorbeast after all that's happened, and Snarl's bravado (nice touch on purposely misspelling "stoopid" in the dialogue :) ) occasionally rubs the others the wrong way, although he gets the job done. Optimus Minor got some pretty good time in the spotlight, happy to do a job when he's succeeding, but sometimes rushing into situations without proper preparation.

One thing that had me momentarily confused was the dateline of this story. With the cameo appearance of Depth Charge in the first issue, it's a given that this is happening during the early part of Season 3. The Axalon is destroyed by this time, so Optimus Primal's crew had to have already salvaged parts from their old ship to protect the Ark. And around the borderline between Seasons 2 and 3, it was stated several times over that they were just under four million years in the past. However, the dateline in the front page stated that this story is taking place only 70,000 years ago. I'm guessing this could possibly have to do with the protohumans appearing later in Season 3 of the show, but I think 3,930,000 years (give or take a few hundred) on Earth seems kind of an awful long time for a group of Maximals and Predacons to wait. Maybe it's just a glitch, maybe it's something I'm not privy to. But I just kind of went, "eh." and enjoyed the story, instead of getting hung up about it. Another thing was the cameo appearance of the Transmetal toy Scavenger. Older BW fans and toy collectors recall that the toy was originally intended to be Inferno in a Transmetal body, before Hasbro changed the name to Scavenger instead. Here, the design is presented as a completely separate character from the crazed ant-bot enforcer.

As usual, the art is dynamic as ever, both the pencils and the colors. On the second page, they kept some consistency on the damage to Drill Bit and Spittor from last issue, showing the Predacons didn't have enough time to repair them after their respective mishaps with Razorbeast and Polar Claw. And I really like the effect of kicked-up dust while Razorbeast's militia are crossing the desert; clouds of dust veil their appearance and add some grit to the scene, instead of trying to make every shot look as bright and shiny as possible, which would make the issue look one-dimensional. Again, nice use of grayscale on the flashback-to-Cybertron scenes as before; plus the requisite fade-in and fade-out jobs for Snarl's stealth mode. Even subtle hints like the burst of electricity between Ramulus' horns come off accentuating the pictures. Also cool is the inter-dissolving four-scene image of the other Maximals who haven't yet met with Razorbeast; the ground scene with Torca and other Maximals dissolves into an ocean surface scene with Cybershark and Claw jaw; which in turn flows into an aerial shot with several airborne Maximals; and ends with the northern ice with a lone Polar Claw all by himself with the aurora borealis. Excellent.

Among the action-packed battle scenes, it's only appropriate to close off the story with an epilogue on both sides, with appropriate "lighting" to enhance the mood. For the Maximals, it looked dark when they found out the amplifier was damaged, paralleling with their dimmed hopes. But the mentioning of the Ark showed the ancient Autobot shuttle with a bright sun-like glow underneath. Conversely, everything looked bad for Drill Bit and Spittor in their failed mission, but Magmatron pulls out a light of his own, the source coming from Ravage's salvaged spark. Each side in this story has a light to cut through their respective darkness, and these scenes helped convey that.

After the story, we see the ad for the 10th Anniversary Beast Wars toys, the one for Dinobot, Tarantulas, and Transmetal Rattrap. Next is a two-page black-and-white uncolored spread of a preview look into next month's issue, with the story blurb being Magmatron going back to his original mission to capture Megatron for trial, while sending a revived Agent Ravage to take care of Razorbeast and his team. It's a cool-looking montage with Predacon squads placed in the top left corner and dominating the right page, with what looks like a Transmetal 2 Ravage! The foreground shows Razorbeast's team in the foreground, while a faded background shot shows back views of Optimal Optimus and Transmetal Cheetor! Next is a full-page ad for TF G1 Infiltration #3, showing a fight scene between Jazz and Blitzwing. Following that is a three-page "preview" of that same issue, even though it's been released a week ago.

Finally, the BW mailbag section, called "Maxi-Mail". Chris Ryall, a.k.a. "ChrisCharger", answers various comments about the BW book, most of the feedback being highly positive. Among the comments, not surprisingly, many of them are wishing this series was a regular monthly, instead of just a four-issue mini-series. It seems, though, that "ChrisCharger" just may consider the idea of a regular series, since he had twice responded with, "So you'd like to see more after the miniseries is over, eh? Hmm." We also get to see three TF comic issue previews set for next month, with a small story blurb on each of them. The first is Infiltration #4, the story blurb previewing Ratchet's team infiltrating the old Decepticon base, while the Decepticons are ordered to destroy it. The second is, of course, Beast Wars #3, where Magmatron returns to the business of tracking down BW Megatron and bringing him to the Tripredacus Council for trial, and hinting at the return of a certain Tripredacus Agent. The last is TF Generations #2, which re-prints the classic Marvel US issue #13, "Shooting Star", where a small-time crook stumbles upon G1 Megatron, whose circuits are damaged and the two start teaming up on a reign of terror in the city. The next page is a full-page ad for the first "TF Generations" issue, reprinting the classic Marvel US issue #7, "Warrior School", where Ratchet has to face Megatron alone. The ad lifts a frame from the old issue, showing Soundwave and Laserbeak infiltrating and taking over a human-run factory, with Soundwave's speech bubble replaced with text plugging the new "TF Generations" series. The back cover is the mysterious teaser image of a shadowed planet Cybertron with a dim-red background, only accompanied by the words, "a storm is coming - july 2006"


Aside from some minor ignorable quibbles, it's an enjoyable issue. I'm already waiting for the inevitable return of Ravage next issue.

SCORE: 4.2 Matrixes out of 5

- Outtsyder


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