Maximals and Predacons adjust to their newfound surroundings in Beast Wars #2. Erik Burnham and Josh Burcham build upon the previous issue, highlighting one of the new characters in this version of the story, while also introducing some familiar faces.
Beast Wars #2 opens with Rhinox noticing oddities about the world that the Cybertronians find themselves stranded on. The natural environments are interlaced together in an unnatural patchwork, and while Rhinox’s concerns are dismissed by Rattrap, readers soon learn that the former’s suspicions have merit. Watching, unseen, are three alien lifeforms, appearing as monstrous heads, seemingly floating of their own accord. The beings, named Pakak, Tikaani, and Tonrar, debate amongst themselves with how to deal with the new arrivals to this world, which readers learn is a lab of sorts for the three beings to run various experiments. While the species these beings belong to isn’t identified in the text, fans who have seen the television show will immediately recognize these creatures as the Vok, who played an increasingly important role as the old series progressed. Just as with the Tripredacus Council in the debut issue, Burnham and Burcham’s choice to bring the other parties into the story earlier means they can create new story routes to explore earlier than the show did.
While these opening pages set up possibilities for future issues to develop, the bulk of Beast Wars #2 is focused on the present, with both the Predacons and Maximals focused on performing reconnaissance missions. Josh Burcham’s art style really shines in the moments between characters. The exaggerated line work highlights the best traits of each of the characters — whether it’s Waspinator’s penchant for always drawing the short straw, or Nyx trying to restrain her excitement on getting a special mission from Optimus, Burcham makes sure each character comes through, unafraid to draw the characters in overdramatic poses to sell the beats to the reader. And when Nyx’s mission gets interrupted by the Predacon warrior, Terrorsaur, Burcham makes for a really fun chase scene between the aerial combatants.
These individual scenes all play off one another, but the pacing and transitions between them is where Beast Wars #2 suffers. Between developing two teams of characters, introducing the Vok and the strangeness of the world, there’s a lot going on, and the issue feels a bit bogged down. Burnham seems anxious to get all the pieces in place to deliver payoffs down the road, but there’s only so many threads a 20 page comic can deal with, especially when trying to deliver action sequences. The issue is at its best when focused on Nyx’s mission, as the smaller scale allows for readers to focus without having to absorb too much exposition.
Beast Wars #2 is more of a mixed bag than the debut issue. Josh Burcham’s artwork is appealing, and you can sense the love the creators have for the franchise, but that might ultimately be the issue’s downfall. There’s a nervous energy to the pacing, and though the introduction of the Vok should create excitement for both new and old fans, their inclusion makes it seem as though Erik Burnham is rushing to get these bigger ideas onto the page as quickly as possible. And ultimately, that makes the book feel less like a reinvention of a great story and more like a haphazard translation.
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