of IDW's Transformers - BEAST WARS: The Gathering #4
Again, with just six different covers. Cover A shows
Magmatron duking it out with BW Grimlock, sword to sword. Cover
B shows a heavy-shadowed rendition of BW Ravage in his "Transmetal"
form, not his TM2 form. Cover C shows Magmatron in his three separate
beast-mode bodies, attacking Razorbeast. And Cover D shows robot-mode
Magmatron in a charismatic-leader pose atop a podium, with a number
of Predacons saluting him. Two collector's covers are available:
a foil-stamped version of Cover D, and a monochrome sketch cover
version of Cover A.
INSIDE COVER DETAILS:
Mostly the same as usual; artists details crediting
Simon Furman, Don Figueroa, Josh Burcham and company. An additional
credit is found; Ben Yee himself as Script Consultant. The "story
so far" blurb summarizes the events in previous issues, and
uses the same negative-film black-and-white shot of Magmatron as
We begin this time NOT with a full-page frame, as
Ravage and his team of Predacon soldiers are tracking and scoping
out their target; the secret base where Razorbeast's militia had
set up their transwarp transmitter to contact the Maximals on Cybertron.
Meanwhile, Magmatron's own set-up in the wilderness - planning to
haul the captures BW Megatron back to the Tripredacus Council -
is met with an uninvited visitor; Grimlock! And yes, it's the original
Grimlock in a new body; still big, and now about the size of a Megaraptor
(I believe)! He effortlessly takes out Drill Bit (again) and Iguanus,
and turns his attention to the Predacon Commander. As the two powerful
warriors begin to face off, the spying Maximals Razorbeast and Optimus
Minor take advantage of the distraction, allowing Minor to scoot
over to the transwarp shunt station, grab a stray chronal phase
armband from Megatron's body, and bring it back to Razorbeast undetected.
Tensions are running and patience is dwindling at
the Maximal lair, as Snarl tries to complete the transwarp signal
booster using both current Cybertronian parts with ancient Autobot
technology gathered from the Ark; not an easy task. No one's even
sure if it will even start up, and even if it does, there may only
be a really short amount of time before it burns out for good, allowing
only one single brief chance to contact Cybertron. All the while,
Ravage's team is still on the hunt. Back to the Predacon outpost,
after a HEAVY effort, Magmatron, using his triple-body beast mode(s),
finally takes Grimlock down, and finds there's still enough time
to shunt back to Cybertron with his prisoner. However, Razorbeast
jumps in, issuing a challenge to the Predacon, and with the animosity
of treachery at the beginning of the story, Magmatron is all too
eager to accept
Ravage's hunting squad has finally located the vicinity
of the Maximals' base, and launch their attack just as the Maximals
prepare to send their message off. Snarl insists that the others
go out to hold off the Predacons while he tries to make contact;
despite their protests and small numbers, they go out to fight them.
The odds do not look good
until eventually, the other Maximals
who had also been called - but had taken a long time to leave their
points of origin - finally arrive and converge, with Torca leading
the charge of reinforcements and turning the tide! Magmatron, OTOH,
is not having much luck in fighting Razorbeast, as the Maximal is
using the chronal phase armband to shift in and out of time synch
with Magmatron, allowing him to appear and place his shots, and
then disappear to avoid retaliation and damage. And just as Magmatron
is groggy from Razorbeast's attack-and-evade tactics, Optimus Minor
sneaks around and removes a similar chronal phase capsule from Megatron's
body, making him "disappear" out of Magmatron's time-synch.
Which Razorbeast is all too glad to aid him; he fires a couple shots,
toppling Magmatron into the transwarp shunt portal as the countdown
terminates, carrying him back to Cybertron
without his prisoner.
The fights now over on both fronts, as the Predacons
retreat, Torca and Wolfang meet up and return inside the base with
the others. Snarl reports he was able to send the signal before
the machine burnt out. Whether or not the Maximals on Cybertron
got the message, they don't know. All they can do until a rescue
mission arrives - if that even happens - is wait things out and
hold off the remaining Predacons as best as they can, as we spot
them being re-organized under Ravage's direction
A couple weeks later, as Razorbeast's Maximals begin
to set up camp, Prowl meets with the militia captain, noticing something
is on Razorbeast's mind. After asking, Razorbeast explains he knows
the "Beast Wars" are still occurring right this moment,
and he actually had Megatron down and out; if he acted differently,
he felt he could have completely changed things around by getting
rid of the Predacon renegade while he had an easy chance to do it.
But as tempted as he was, he recalled his instructions to respect
the intricacies of traveling into the past, and not tamper with
the timelines, lest they turn up results less predictable than imagined.
Prowl assures Razorbeast that he did the right thing, and that it
isn't their place to change the new past all over again, even while
Optimus Primal and his crew are busy with Megatron. But they do
still have some Beast Wars of their own
or is it The Beginning
The mini-series is over. What now?
Honestly, this was a pretty good issue. The pacing
didn't feel too rushed, and it did what it sought to do; compete
the four-part story. There were really only two major plot points
that had to be addressed. Number one: Can the Maximals contact Cybertron
with their report, or would the Predacons flush them out and crush
them before it started? Number two: Will Magmatron make it back
to Cybertron completing his assigned mission of arresting Megatron
- and risk screwing up the timelines even more in doing so - or
can Razorbeast find a way to thwart the Predacons yet again? Other
secondary ends were present, such as the arrival of the other Maximals
who had been called, but still had yet to arrive; as expected, they
came in time to fight off Ravage's hunt. Without too many story
threads, things didn't feel the last been convoluted, although at
the same time, it felt like a simpler story than the original BW
series. But sometimes, the upside to having a simple story means
less potential for plot holes that need to be sewn up.
Which is not to say that everything is completely
told and finished up. The obvious point is the remaining Maximals
and Predacons on Earth, after "The Gathering". This will
lead to the inevitable and expected fights between the two sides.
There is also the question of the four Mutants - Icebird, Poison
Bite, Razorclaw, and Soundwave - lurking about, and wondering how
they will figure into the story. Also given the contrasting personalities
among some of the new Maximals - B'Boom's impatience, Snarl's cockiness,
Wolfang's constant giving the benefit of the doubt, etc. - as well
as some hoped-for development for more of the Predacons, it's possible
that Magmatron's removal from the picture could spread the spotlight
around a little more to other players (and you'd bet Drill Bit will
become the servant to Ravage this time
and STILL get trashed
in every issue).
And I wonder what will be up with Grimlock, after
he was defeated in this issue. He was already in a bad mood when
he came online in his new body; after losing a fight, however hard
the opponent was, it can't be too good for him, or anyone else around
So to wit, Magmatron's arrest of Megatron has been
thwarted. The Maximals sent a transmission to Cybertron, calling
for help. Razorbeast and his reinforced crew are staying put until
rescue arrives, while the remaining Predacons look to be led by
Ravage. And there's a quartet of Mutants still lurking about somewhere
on Earth. What now?
just wait until you read further down.
(I can just see Chris Ryall swatting me for stealing his "tease
and make them wait" tactic.)
it's Don Figueroa and Josh Burcham;
what else do you need to say? All the scenery shots and action bits
are as majestic and dynamic as can be hoped. Each character is chock
full of detailing and the right style that makes them all look alive.
And how about the wordless two-page spread in the middle of the
book, showing off the HUGE fight scene? That had to take an INSANE
amount of work to do. But even the smaller frames are strong enough
to convey a kind of mood. Look to the last frame on the second-to-last
page, at night in the forest with a full moon, and the silhouettes
and shadows evoke the dim hope of the defeated Predacons, while
a ground-level side shot of Ravage shows that someone's going to
have to take charge of these guys and whip them back into fighting
After the story is a full-page ad for the forthcoming
(now sighted in stores) Alternators Dodge Ram Optimus Prime toy.
Next are full-page ads for IDW TF Wall Posters, and the upcoming
Evolutions line (starting with the "Hearts Of Steel" mini-series).
Following that is a three-page preview of the forthcoming "TF:
Stormbringer" book (coming in July), which was showcased in
this year's Free Comic Book Day TF Special issue. Finally, the "Maxi-Mail"
letters section, where the caricature art shows Editor-In-Chief
Chris Ryall as beast-mode Razorbeast, driving a vehicle-mode Alternators
Windcharger Honda convertible with the top down. The response from
the letters continue to praise the book, and as expected, re-iterate
that a four-issue mini-series just isn't enough, and the readers
want more. Well, finally, after several months of very thinly-veiled
we're getting what we wanted. There will be plans
for another BW mini-series to come later this year (rather than
an ongoing series), as well as - (drum roll, please) - "official
Beast Wars handbooks", which will give illustrated profiles
of every single BW character ever made. Simon Furman and Ben Yee
will be co-writing the profiles' text, and the art with be handled
by a squad of artists. Ending the "Maxi-Mail" section
are the preview blurbs for three TF comic issue previews set for
next month. The first is Infiltration #6, where Megatron looks like
he'll be having trouble taking down a powered-up Starscream, and
things look really bad for the Autobots on Earth. The second is
the debut issue of TF Evolutions: "Hearts Of Steel", where
folk hero John Henry meets with a steam train - who turns out to
be Bumblebee - and the Decepticons attack while disguised as vehicles
of the 19th Century. The last is TF Generations #4, which re-prints
the classic Marvel US issue #16, "Plight Of The Bumblebee".
I enjoyed this mini-series, and while I'm sad to
see it "end", I'm also glad there will be more to come
later this year. What I wonder about the next mini-series; will
it continue from where this issue ended? Will it tell a story from
an earlier time? Will there be a story on Cybertron before the Axalon
disappeared (or will that story be reserved exclusively for BotCon
this year)? Will we remain on Earth? Will we hear from Cybertron?
Will we jump back and forth between the two worlds? Will you be
driven nuts from all these questions I'm asking? Will you strangle
me to death if I don't stop?
Will you be satisfied if I just said I liked it?
You will? Thanks.
SCORE: 4 Matrixes out of 5
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