Hot Rod determines the fate of the Demons as Scorponok and Grimlock struggle to do the same for the surface of Cybertron. Decisions are made, and for some Transformers there's no turning back. The conclusion of "Natural Selection" is written by Simon Furman, penciled by Andrew Wildman, inked by Stephen Baskerville, colored by John-Paul Bove with assistance from James Stayte, and lettered by Chris Mowry.
Guido for the win. Can't wait for #93!
Hot Rod refuses to execute the Demons, despite the apparent will of Primus. He leaves for the surface, vowing to find a way to make things right by them. Topside, Grimlock and the remaining Autobots and Dinobots assault the lightly-defended Civil Defense Hub to recover Scorponok's body-transfer data before moving to stop him. As the Autobots and Wreckers return from Earth and find a less than warm welcome, Galvatron prepares the Ark for his own return as Shockwave- now part of the Ark -returns Starscream to full functionality and explains to him how Shockwave came to be attached to the Ark. Back on Cybertron, Grimlock faces down Scorponok, whose ultimate victory is moments away...
I think I've figured out why ReGen One story arcs always feel anticlimactic at the end: there's too much else going on. Scorponok's plans are settled at the end of the issue, and so is Hot Rod's predicament, sort of. But we're segue-ing right into the next story arc a bit too
smoothly: from the solicits it looks like I'm finally going to get my collision of Decepticon factions, among other things. But somehow, while simultaneously feeling drawn out, the book doesn't give us time to breathe and reflect. There really needs to be an issue before #100 with a concrete stopping point. I did like Hot Rod's decision to spare the Demons, and showing that his own choices supercede whatever it is he thinks Primus wants is a point I don't think Optimus Prime ever reached in the Marvel comics. There was a flirtation with it in #74, where he's obviously unhappy with some of Primus' decisions leading up to the battle with Unicron- and there's a thread that could be very interesting to pick back up. Optimus Prime has spent a fair amount of time in Furman comics pondering what Primus wanted, or what Primus meant, without wondering very much about whether Primus was right.
The very existence of the Demons shows that Primus is not infallible- as does the existence of Decepticons, really.
Then there's the exact resolution of Scorponok's scheme, which relies on an extension of a scene shown in issue #87. Neither the art nor the writing makes it exactly clear what happened, especially if you put the two scenes side by side. It's easy enough to figure out with a few moments' thought but I really feel as though it could've been done better. Which is generally rare with Wildman and Baskerville: whatever stylistic things I may not be 100% onboard with, their storytelling is usually crystal-clear, as it is for the rest of this issue. The coloring remains good though there's a little too much simulated lensflare for me in some of the exterior shots. The Civil Defense Hub scenes are just about perfect.
Guido's winning the cover contest consistently, now. His cover is pure Marvel, showing a "gotcha" scene that doesn't quite occur in the book, and like last month a nice Marvel blurb ("Grimlock vs. Scorponok For the FATE OF CYBERTRON!" or something) would make it perfect. Wildman/Baskerville and Senior both go a little more pedestrian. The normal cover's Grimlock/Scorponok clash is a little bit Dreamwavey by virtue of the coloring, and Senior's shot of Grimlock on a scooter-thing that's being shot down by Scorponok wins most factual depiction of an in-story scene. Guido and Senior both get the way this book should be colored, with lots of solid colors and minimal gradation. No disrespect intended to the current art team and their skills intended, but if we're going to pick up where the Marvel book left off, I really do want era-appropriate color and art. Either Guido or Senior could accomplish that, but Guido Guidi has the edge with a certain enthusiasm for the style that I don't quite see in the others. Funny, again, that he's the only one of the cover artists that wasn't actually there.
(Or maybe that's to be expected- easier to have nostalgia when you didn't have to see the sausage being made.) Good news is, Guido takes over the book with issue #93, and I really hope he gets to color it as well. Wildman and Baskerville, to me, seem to have outgrown the Marvel style- and that should absolutely
not be seen as a strike against them. As I may have said before, artists should grow and evolve, and it's incredibly difficult to try and go back and approach things the way you would have 20 years ago.
So we're at the midway point of ReGeneration One. So far it's taken some time to get where it's going, but with a fixed run, the clock's ticking. I'm hoping that it'll pick up the pace from here, and judging from the solicitations we may be in some new territory with new characters after this. Here's hoping!