Generation 2: Issue #1

Story: War Without End
Cover date: November 1993
Price: £2.20
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Derek Yaniger
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance: Jhiaxus, Rook


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


Optimus sees a vision of a dark future but what does it all mean?

Billions of light years from Earth, the formidable Decepticon general known as Jhiaxus, strides on to the bridge of his star cruiser. A lower ranked robot called Rook salutes him and delivers some unwanted news - they have been defeated. He explains that a battalion sent to Cyberform the organic world of Outpost B-67 has been routed by a party of Autobot Transformers who parachuted in through dimensional warp gates. Cue a double page with Sideswipe, Hound and Broadside leaping out, guns blazing and live rounds whizzing past the ears of the unsuspecting enemy. Broadside had reverted to his plane mode and cut a swathe through the Decepticon's structures, and out of the rubble emerged a pitiful survivor who begged Hound for mercy. The Autobot hesitated so the trigger-happy Blades stepped in and blew the straggler away!

Moments later Hound had been cut down by a giant opponent who transformed into a kind of armoured bulldozer and threatened to steamroller him. But Grimlock came to his rescue and his fellow Dinobots mopped up the rest of the opposition.

Once the dust settled the Autobots surveyed the destruction. It wasn't a pretty site but at least they prevented another organic paradise becoming a metallic wasteland. The planet's inhabitants may have been pleased to see their oppressors fall, but they didn't show gratitude: they were worried they had trade one group of conquerors for another. And Hound took a pop at Blades for putting the frighteners on them with his warmonger attitude. The Protectobot hit back and Grimlock stepped in to calm the row.

Rook finishes his story and Jhiaxus slams his fist on the table. The general calls the Autobots throwbacks from a war that (for Jhiaxus' people) is long over. He believes the Decepticons are fulfilling their destiny by expanding throughout the galaxy, and cannot understand why the Autobots would seek to stop them. After all what is the point of standing still and stagnating?

Light years away, Optimus Prime dreams. He stumbles through a crimson battlefield filled with robotic corpses and can feel himself dissolving into dust. He wakes up wondering where the vision came from and what it could mean. Could it be a premonition? Prime comes back to reality. He and his warriors have come to an ashen world at the urgent request of Grimlock but there is no sign of the Dinobot leader. Instead they are ambushed by dozens of Decepticon soldiers. Hot Rod throws himself into the fight and Optimus transforms and ploughs through the enemy lines, scattering opponents as he goes. The battle is over and they meet up with Grimlock who leads them to a Cybertronian fortress branded with a huge Decepticon insignia. Once inside Prime sits arms-folded as Grimlock explains that this world they are on was once inhabited. But the empire started turning it into a mini-Cybertron, and what's more they have been doing it all over the galaxy. Grimlock points out at least 17 metallic worlds, much to Prime's surprise. Suddenly the base is attacked from orbit by Jhiaxus' cruiser.

A brief interlude on Earth sees a GI Joe agent belting through jungle terrain in his jeep. He uses a brick-shaped mobile to ring a communications centre and ask them to transmit a message to the Autobots: Megatron is back!

Meanwhile Prime and the Autobots have been stunned and captured by Jhiaxus' men. They are brought aboard and Optimus and Grimlock and marched to see the big boss. Jhiaxus puts them in the picture about the empire, explaining that ships full of Transformers abandoned Cybertron eons ago and left it to small minded tyrants and Autobot fighters to continue their war. The Decepticons who fled had evolved in technology and thinking, and created many more Cybertronic worlds. To them the war and the likes of Prime and Megatron are relics.

Prime and Grimlock are taken back to their cells to think over Jhiaxus' offer for them to take their place in the new order. Prime is feeling insignificant but Grimlock snaps him out of it and reminds him that they have a duty as Autobots to protect innocents. He batters the cell door down and snaps the guard's neck. Then he and Prime release their fellow Autobots and everyone goes to the armoury to get tooled-up. One furious fire-fight later leads to the Autobots escaping in a shuttle, just as explosives disable Jhiaxus' ship. Prime sits in his command chair contemplating the new and larger Decepticon threat, and that mysterious vision which makes him think there an even greater apocalypse is on the horizon.

******

Comments:

After an almost two year break the Transformers are back. Generation 2 aims to grab the attention from the outset with a nifty fold-out cover with a battle-worn Optimus Prime up close. Nice.

Yaniger's art literally screams warfare. Everyone's got larger than life guns and there's bullet shells flying all over the place. This is a departure from the laser blasts we're used to seeing in G1. And while I'm not totally sold on the art I can't deny it is distinctive and atmospheric - and at least the robots look like robots. There's a good mix of characters, with Furman cherry picking the best of G1 to for his fantasy platoon - naturally the Dinobots are in there, but also a couple of G1 classics like Hound and Sideswipe, Hot Rod and Kup, and a couple I hadn't expected. Broadside's there (I thought he died in Time Wars?) and there's the previously under-utilised Blades. Furman's done a great job on him, making him aggressive and un-likeable and treading the line between Autobot and Decepticon tendencies. He'd quite easily fit in with the enemy camp if he wanted to switch sides. However at least this Blades is living up to his motto 'war is a dirty game, I'm a dirty player'. He's one to watch.

Other thoughts: I don't like the new 'bot and 'con badges. The old ones are iconic and I don't see any reason to change them. So what if this is G2? Sideswipe looks stylish in black though.

Jhiaxus? He looks mean an all but he's not a villain you love to hate, like say, Lord Straxus from the Smelting Pool story. Straxus was outrageous, larger than life and unforgettable, while his rhyming namesake Jhiaxus is a little too bland for my liking. His name is not easy to pronounce either. Ah well, maybe Megatron can whip his ass in a few issues time. Talking of Megs, his new tank mode is cool but I'm not 100% sold on it. I didn't have a problem with his original form and had gotten used to it truth be told. Worse still I suspect the only reason why his toy is now a tank and not a Walther P-38 is just to pacify the PC brigade. I reckon Hasbro decided it was too controversial to have a Transformer that looks like a gun these days. It might also cause problems getting the toys through customs when they are exported.

Some other points: I'm glad this 'reboot' doesn't completely sever its ties with the Marvel originals. The flashbacks refer to characters and past events and I'm looking forward to reviewing the return of Fortress Maximus in part 2. I personally would've been happy if Furman had just picked up where he left off, rather than creating G2, but as ever the comics must follow the toy range. The story looks promising from this action-packed start, but I'm slightly worried that Furman is going to recycle his old plot of having an ultimate enemy show up that forces Autobot and Decepticon to unite. We had that with Galvatron and Unicron and Underbase Starscream (although that was Bob Budiansky's doing) and this time we've got the Cybertron empire and the swarm.

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