Spotlight: Galvatron

Publisher: IDW
Released: July 2007
Number of covers: Two (plus two sketch versions)
Cover price: $3.99
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Guido Guidi (pencils) Eric Burns (colours)
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance: Galvatron, Sideswipe, Leadfoot, Skram, Road Rocket, Warpath


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


Galvatron pulverises an alien species on the orders of his mysterious master!

In a region of a space known as the Benzuli Expanse, a vast cloud of dark antimatter threatens to engulf an entire planetary system. Members of an alien race facing annihilation from the anomaly approach it in a star ship, hoping to learn more about their fate. Suddenly a being emerges from the darkness... it is Galvatron!

The powerful Transformer (he isn't yet a Decepticon in this continuity) blasts a hole in the ship, forcing the aliens to return fire with a blast capable of levelling comets. They tractor the unconscious Galvatron aboard, hoping to study him and in doing so learn about the anomaly. But he revives and slaughters all aboard, before escaping into space with the vessel exploding behind him.

On Cybertron, now a war-ravaged, toxic, husk of a world, the Autobots have set up a secret base shielded from the elements by a force field. Inside, a small unit commanded by Hound is charged with guarding the body of Thunderwing - the Decepticon who came close to wiping out all life on Cybertron - and his crazed followers including Bludgeon. Sideswipe has had enough of his dead end assignment and wants to be on Earth searching for his missing brother Sunstreaker. Ignoring Leadfoot, who tries to stop him, he breaks orders by opening a communications channel to Earth.

Addressing Ratchet, Sideswipe demands to speak to Optimus Prime but is told the Autobot leader is elsewhere taking care of some 'personal business' (we'll learn more in Prime's Spotlight). Sideswipe earns a formal warning from Hound (who turns up with other members of the unit - Skram, Road Rocket and Warpath), due to his insubordination.

Meanwhile Galvatron is back on Cybertron. The last time he walked the home world it was at peace with no factions or chaos. He had joined the crew of the first Ark on a mission to explore the Benzuli Expanse. A predecessor to Optimus Prime (revealed in a subsequent comic as Nova Prime) had felt a 'resonant tug' in the Matrix drawing him there. Galvatron sensed in the expanse the call of destiny, but what became of the first Ark is not revealed.

Back in the present, Galvatron penetrates the shield and throttles Leadfoot. Sideswipe flies at him like a banshee, knocking the intruder down. But Galvatron recovers and blasts the ground under Sideswipe, flooring him. The other Autobots attack, with Hound's orders to keep Galvatron alive for questioning ringing in their ears. Sideswipe again disobeys, shooting Galvatron in the head an appearing to blow his eyeballs out.

However he recovers and, transforming to canon mode, blows the crap out of the Autobots. He could execute them but instead he leaves them unconscious, knowing that by refusing to kill he has disobeyed his dark master. Later Galvatron returns to an underground cavern containing some kind of white sea. Beings begin to emerge and Galvatron informs them that the primary objective has been accomplished - he has brought them Thunderwing.

******

Comments:

Galvatron kicks alien butt, travels to Cybertron where he kicks Autobot butt, and then delivers Thunderwing to his mysterious masters. On first reading it doesn't seem like very much happens in this Spotlight. To say it's supposed to be a self contained story it leaves a lot of questions unanswered, certainly more so than other spotlights have done. That's a frustration I have with the issue. However I did say 'on first reading' and I actually think it gets better a second time around and, niggling questions aside, I reckon it could be a hugely consequential to upcoming stories, particularly TF Revelation.

Here's why. First there's Furman's introduction/definition of the character on the inside cover. Galvatron, he writes, is convinced of a "locked-away potential that marks him out from the masses" and he's "forever seeking that one elusive revelation". We now know that the story arc to follow TF Devastation will be called Revelation, so it's not too great a leap to surmise that Galvatron will play a part in that chapter. Perhaps there will be a big reveal about him. I wonder what it could be?

There's also the fact that the dead universe is mentioned again. It first came up in Spotlight Nightbeat (as did an obscured Galvatron and the liquid beings) so the seeds of something were planted quite a while ago. We learn that Galvatron is old - very old - in fact he pre-dates the Transformer civil war which has raged for thousands (if not millions) of years. He's also key to the disappearance of the 'first ark', another theme from Spotlight Nightbeat. From what I can gather, Galvatron took the ark into the Benzuli Expanse (aka the dead universe?) hoping to discover himself in there, and everyone was altered in some way. Just a thought, but perhaps those liquid guys are former crewmembers of the first ark?

Guido does a great job on the pencilling, and really injects some drama into the fight scenes. I could feel the punch Sideswipe landed on Galvatron, and likewise the blast to the head that almost blows his brains out seems very real. How does Galvatron survive? He's either indestructible (a possibility) or maybe he can't be killed because he's a zombie of some kind. I'm sure its linked to his residence within the dead universe and will hopefully be explained in the fullness of time.

The way Galvatron makes light work of the aliens is ruthlessly efficient. Either he cares nothing for them or he's simply well used to being the bringer of death these days. I feel quite sorry for the little guys. Sure they're not the prettiest bunch but they are facing extinction from the anomaly and are only there to gather information. They are attacked first and totally annihilated. Incidentally they do share a passing resemblance with the Quintessons, a race whose world was also destroyed by an anomaly, the time rift in Furman's 1988 story Space Pirates.

Galvatron's guilt/regret for the death of Leadfoot is interesting, and it has to be said, quite un-Decepticon like. It emphasises that the IDW Galvatron is neither Decepticon or Autobot and in fact we know very little about him or his motivations. Clearly he's effected by the execution to the extent that he spares Sideswipe and the others, even at the risk of punishment from his masters. Normally I'd think this master or masters was Unicron, but Simon has said he won't feature in this new continuity thank goodness, however he seems to be in the same role, subservient to a higher power, as he was in the original TF Movie.

Other thoughts: nice to see Hound entrusted with a command, as well as Sideswipe's reaction to his 'brother' Sunstreaker's disappearance (he'll be joining the search on Earth soon I reckon), good to see lesser known characters like Leadfoot, Skram and Road Rocket appearing (even if Leadfoot's debut was brief), the Ratchet appearance was a nice tie in with Escalation/Devastation, and kudos to IDW for including the character sketches at the back. Don Figueroa set the standard with designing Cybertron retro modes but its also good to see that other artists are up to the job too. Strange that some TF's Cybertron vehicles are designed to take passengers, with no humanoids around on Cybertron.

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