The GeeksverseTransformers Regeneration 1 #81

Transformers Regeneration 1 #81
Published on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 by

It is not easy working the 9 to 5. The regular job takes a lot out of you. Then you throw in reviewing, podcasting,

 and still trying to get caught up on the interviews and panel highlights from Heroescon; it’s then you begin to feel behind the 8 ball as it were. However, when I had the chance to get a preview and review of Simon Furman’s first Transformer work (since his premature dismissal from IDW in favor of Shane McCarthy’s interesting but ultimately unsatisfactory “All Hail Megatron” maxi- series) I jumped at the chance.

Why? Because it’s Simon. Furman. Writing. Transformers!

Before the review allow me to give:

Some Back Story on Simon:

Simon Furman is a legend to many in the Transformers fandom. I would go so far to say; he is arguably the most important person in the continuing legacy of the long running Hasbro franchise, more so than Optimus, Megatron, Starscream, or Bumblebee.

The reason is that Simon has been responsible for some of the most beloved stories in every iteration of Transformers. Whether it was  Generation 1 or 2, Beast Wars, or the Unicron Trilogy; Simon carried the torch in the wilderness when Optimus andCo.were just long remembered toys gathering dust and cobwebs in many an American attic. There has yet to be an incarnation of this property where he hasn’t had some form of creative input.

The history of Simon is very much the history of the Transformers. He began writing Transformer stories for the UK edition of the comic book. Since that book was released on a weekly basis, Simon had to write original stories and weave them in with the monthly story that came from the American comic. Simon’s success in this led him to replace Bob Budiansky as the ongoing writer of the US comic. A position he held until the book was cancelled.

It wasn’t long after Generation 1 that he began penning Generation 2 for Marvel. A book that ran for 12 issues before it and the Generation 1 characters disappeared. In the intervening years he wrote some Beast wars and Beast Machines stories.

In the early 2000’s,  he was hired by Dreamwave when they acquired the Transformers license. After a very controversial and acrimonious end, that resulted in the bankruptcy and liquidation of the Dreamwave publication, Simon was brought into IDW to recreate the G1 Transformers from scratch.

Then in 2008 history repeated itself as IDW cancelled the last two books of the Revelation mini (taking the planned six issues and making it all have to be crammed into four) and prematurely ending Simon’s Transformerss stories. With this action, it seemed that Simon’s time with Optimus and Company had come to an end.

However, the fans of Simon’s original Transformer work at Marvel resulted in a mass petition and outcry to IDW to bring back that tale as they had with GI Joe. IDW listened and Simon is now set to return telling the story that ended prematurely 21 years ago.

Thank you for that. And Now:

 

Transformers: Regeneration 1 #81

This week sees the release of Transformers #81 (rebranded as Transformers Regeneration 1 #81 and yes that is quite a mouthful) and Simon doesn’t waste a beat starting thing’s off fast. His choice of the first character we see is a rather interesting. It’s not one many would think of when they think Transformers, but it sets the tone beautifully. This is the ebb and flow throughout the issue.  Simon keeps the reader aware that a lot has happened before this story but never bogs the reader down with it.

The action at the start gives way to a middle part of the story that is slower paced without being boring. Simon Furman and Andrew Wildman show that they have not missed a beat in telling a story seamlessly since they last worked on Transformers over 20 years prior. Wildman’s pencils sum up a characters current state in one panel and the reader is updated without any need of an info dump. The reader is up to date on what he needs to know within a scant two pages and then the story continues.

Wildman’s pencils are a true highlight of the issue as he pulls the look of the Generation 1 character designs without simply copying them. They look as they did but in a much more modern style than the classic Marvel art that was the standard during the first generation’s hey day. He and inker Stephen Baskerville do a good job of keeping the motion of the characters fluid and giving a real sense of weight and power to every character that walks onto a panel.

Interestingly, it’s now 20 years after the events of issue #80, so it’s not picking up where it left off as much as it’s acknowledging the passage of time and showing the reader where their Generation 1 characters are now. It gives quick back stories on several of the key players in the series without again really ever getting into info dump mode.

Simon gives the reader just enough to catch up with the current state of a character and then carries on with the tale. As someone who hasn’t read issue # 80 in over a decade and hasn’t really gotten the Classic Transformer Trades it’s a welcome situation that doesn’t detract or drag the action.  As a device to inform new readers and remind old readers goes, it works because the art aids in the getting across what has come before as well. In just a few small panels, penciller Andrew Wildman gets the information needed across for the reader to be caught up with what’s going on.

However, the pacing of the middle part is very languid. The entire issue is focused on setup as opposed to fast pace action. It is the seeds that are planted in this issue that we will see bear fruit in the coming year.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the setup issues. They are definitely required when it comes to story but sometimes the setup can be a major chore to get through. However, this issue is not a chore whatsoever, but at times I did find myself wondering when some action was going to kick in as this is essentially the first issue of a book that has a 20 year gap between it and its last issue.

What doesn’t make it a chore is that it serves an even better purpose of showing how complacent the Autobots have gotten, this fact is brought home by the total lack of action from all but the Wreckers. By having the Wreckers and their actions as the main focus, the pacing in the middle brings across the growing schism between those who are tired of simply waiting to strike and those who are more concerned with keeping the tenuous peace than ending a threat once and for all.

The entire pacing of the middle pays off beautifully as the closing action in the issue leaves the reader with a great “WTF” moment and left me already impatient for issue #82. If Simon keeps this up then Transformers fans will have nothing to fear. The Regeneration project will have a good and healthy run.

I won’t spoil the surprise that’s at the end because frankly, didn’t see it coming. However, I will say that as a fan of the classic Wrecker’s lineup. I was greatly pleased with the focus being on them in this return to the original universe.

They say you can’t go home again, but Simon seems quite adept at disproving that saying. This creative team he has is doing a great job keeping the original home alive and if they continue as they have here, then Simon will be staying in his old home for a long while.

One Response
    • Simon Furman and the UK Transformers were some of my favorite stories from the original comic collections. I’m glad I was able to pick them up. I may have to check out his return. Hopefully it will be more satisfying long term than the Larry Hama story continuation. 

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