Review: Transformers Beast Wars #1 (IDW)
Beast Wars is unique in Transformers lore. It was the series that saved the franchise and brought a whole new generation of fans to the show. It broke the norms of the series in large part to due to expensive cost of computer animation at the time. It was the first Transformers show to focus on a small cast of characters instead of a toy of the week. It allowed for it to develop a narrative and character growth on a level not seen in the franchise before. I remember watching the show as it aired and being engrossed in the storyline as it unfolded. Beast Wars was my Transformers.
Beast Wars is turning Twenty-Five this year. As such, Hasbro is putting out new Beast Wars figures and IDW is publishing a new Beast Wars series. Needless to say, nostalgia is powerful and I am excited to see these things return after all these years
Today, we are going to look at Transformers: Beast Wars #1
“Savage Landing Part 01”
Written by Erik Burnham
Art by Josh Burcham
Letters by Jake M. Wood
Savage Landing Part 01 is an extended reimagining of the first episode of the Beast Wars show. The Predacons still the Golden Disc and escape to the distant past in space. Only thing stopping them is science exploration vessel Axalon lead by the Maximal Optimus Primal. Who will prevail in the looming Beast Wars?
Burnham’s writing is strong here as he quickly establishes the character’s voices all while expanding on key events from the series. The heist of the Golden Disc is more fleshed out here with early character traits being established quickly. Incredibly early on we have Dinobot’s code and ethics being established when he stops Terrorsaur from killing a guardsman. In addition to Dinobot, we get more insight into Optimus and Rhinox’s relationship. Primal is very much a hot head leader and Rhinox is the weathered warrior type. Burnham gives more time to their development.
He manages to do that while introducing the new Beast Wars character, Nyx. She is brash and fun in the issue. She takes on the Beast-form of a Bat which is fantastic plus it provides the Maximals something they seriously lacked in the original series (a female character and flyer. It isn’t until Airarazor shows up for this team that either of these would be addressed).
The story is decompressed some, but I find that works well here as it allows for the bulk of the main characters to be established early on. The cast of the book isn’t as large as some Transformer teams but in terms of comics, it is quite large. Getting each character on solid footing is critical. Doing that during a retelling of the original episode works in its favor.
Burcham’s art is in the vein of cartoon stylings. Instead of going for cold, hard, mechanical, and geometric shapes of the traditional Transformers, Burcham’s art is more reminiscent of the emotive, dynamic, energetic, and organic Transformers Animated style. The character models are expressive and their body language provides weight to the script. The delivery of the lines and interactions become more believable and Burcham sells the story rather well. It fits naturally with a series that is focused more on the organic side of Transformers.
One of my favorite aspects of the art is the Burcham illustrates the Predacons and Maximals in their Cybertronian forms instead of obscuring them in the shadows like the original tv series. These forms are not secret to Transformers fans, but I do love to see it here. Dinobots is the coolest with his arm blades. I am a sucker for this design.
The designs for the new characters are great. In addition to Nyx, a new predacon joins the team in Skold. Skold’s beast-form is an alligator snapping turtle and that rocks. I do have a fondness for turtles and this dude is built like a tank. He doesn’t get too much to do in this issue but I hope we get more of him soon. I think he has a wonderful design and I want him and Nyx figures ASAP.
Transformers Beast Wars #1 is an excellent start to series and gives the series its due for its 25th Anniversary. It is a great read for new commers and old-hats alike. Everyone will find something to enjoy in this issue. Burnham’s story is fleshed out and promises unique directions from the original series along with some wonderful art from Burcham that makes me happy. It is decompressed storytelling, which can be off-puting to some, but I feel it works the issues favor. Definitely recommend checking out this series.