A Rage in Heaven! The TFormers.com Featured Comic of The Week

TFormers.com's Featured Comic of the Week is "A Rage In Heaven!", the twelfth and final issue of Transformers: Generation 2 and Marvel's final US Transformers comic. Written by Simon Furman, Pencils by Manny Galan with inks by Jim Amash for Parts 1 and 3, Art by Geoff Senior for Parts 2 and 4.

The battle between the older Transformers and Jhiaxus' Cybertronians is complicated- in fact, made moot -by the arrival of the Swarm. Connected with the Matrix as he is, Starscream feels an urge to try and stop the Swarm and save lives. This causes him to abandon his control of the Warworld and turn the Matrix to Optimus Prime as quickly as he possibly can. Prime goes to confront Jhiaxus and plead for his cooperation, but Jhiaxus has been completely overtaken by rage as the situation spirals out of his control. And then is completely overtaken by the Swarm. Megatron forces Starscream to load up his cargo of Rheanimum gas and takes it to Earth, believing- correctly -that it will protect the Autobot/Decepticon alliance in their last stand against the Swarm. Optimus Prime stays behind because he believes that the Swarm needs something from him- and, at the moment of his death, he finds that he's right: imparting them with the knowledge and good held within the Matrix, the Swarm is transformed. It departs, leaving behind a shiny new Combat Hero body for Optimus Prime and a sense of unity of purpose for all the remaining first-generation Transformers. Far away in the Hub, the Liege Maximo- source of the Cybertronian Empire and possibly all robot-based evil in the universe -muses on the infinite nature of that evil, its necessity as a counterbalance for good, and how meaningless the loss of Jhiaxus' fleet is in the long run. It never ends! ...except it did, and the Liege Maximo was never officially heard from again. Oops!

This final issue of G2 was an extra-large issue and it's a good thing since there was a lot to wrap up. The Matrix is returned to Optimus Prime, the Swarm and the Cybertronian Empire are dealt with, and foreshadowing aside we end on a high note. In getting there, we get Optimus Prime's most gruesome death yet as he's eaten alive by the Swarm piece by piece. Also his shortest death- he must know the way back pretty well by now. Half of the book, including the death scene and its consciousness-expanding aftermath, are the work of G1 and UK artist Geoff Senior. More than any other artist, Senior's art defines G2 for me. (Especially since I'd missed his G1 issues way back when, so he was a complete surprise.) Derek Yaniger's art style was a product of the times; Manny Galan's style was a product of gamely trying for consistency with Yaniger in the book's art style. But Senior's art, to me, endures with its solidity; he gives the violence weight by not stylizing it so much as showing it, clearly and directly. But then his grounded style gives way to the metaphysical with Prime's communion with the Swarm, and it works just as well. The finest Transformers artist of the Marvel era and an old hand at working with Simon Furman, this issue showcases the pair at their best together.

This issue also marks the end of Marvel's involvement with the Transformers franchise (not counting a short and insignificant New Avengers crossover from a while back), an arrangement which began with Marvel's creation of the Transformers fiction at Hasbro's behest. Despite the never-resolved plot left dangling at the end, the book went out on a high note in closing out a story arc that lasted the entire year. This was intentional: writer Simon Furman had been informed of Marvel's sales expectations in the wake of the speculator boom and figured he'd only get the initial guarantee of 12 issues to tell his story. This limitation resulted in some excellent, focused writing and netted some longterm benefits: the character (or at least name) Jhiaxus has become a recurring fixture in Transformers stories. The Liege Maximo has since been declared one of the Thirteen, the progenitors of the Cybertronian race. And of course the Hub- the Liege Maximo's base of power -was adopted as the name of Hasbro's TV network. Interesting association to make!

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