After a hectic two-parter, Transfromers: Beast Wars #9 reels in its focus, shifting the narrative onto the Predacon Skold. Like with the Maximal Nyx earlier in the series, writer Erik Burnham, artist Josh Burcham, and letterer Jake M. Wood give some much needed depth to their creation and add to the worldbuilding of the series, even if some of the latter is a little clunky.
Transformers: Beast Wars #9 begins in the Predacon base, the Darksyde, as the faction formally welcomes its newest member in Blackarachnia. After brief cheers though, Megatron’s subordinates begin to argue. Blackarachnia, having destabilized the orbits of a number of stasis pods has now presented the Predacons with an opportunity to add even more members to their ranks, if only they can agree upon how to go about doing it. Josh Burcham returns to handle the series’ art after a brief absence in issues #7 and #8, and his expressive lines add a lot to the characters as the bicker back and forth about how to best approach the opportunity to secure new recruits.
Less enthused, though, is the Predacon Skold, who finds herself on the outside looking in at the behavior of her teammates.
After having enough of her companions’ infighting, Skold leaves the Predacon base and wanders on her own. Her internal computer suggests that she relax in a body of fresh water. However, this getaway is made far more urgent when Skold discovers a stasis pod preparing to release its Cybertronian occupant.
The new Maximal is Razorbeast, a character that really rose to prominence within the franchise with IDW’s 2006 miniseries, Beast Wars: The Gathering. His appearance here is a fun surprise, or at least, it would be if he wasn’t featured on an alternate cover for this issue. Or the issue’s credits page. Or the cast page. In the television series, the stasis pods offered a bit of surprise to the proceedings because you never knew what character would emerge from them, and it would have been nice if that had been preserved here, especially since it seems like Burnham and Burcham were trying to deliver an unexpected moment. Stasis pods work by scanning the environment and finding a suitable life form to serve as the Transformers’ Beast Mode. Skold finds the stasis pod at the bottom of a lake, hardly a place one would expect to see a boar, and even when she moves it to land, Burcham’s art makes sure not to show what lifeform is used until Razorbeast emerges from the pod.
Skold is apprehensive about her new travelling companion, but opens up a bit to the Maximal’s enthusiasm. Erik Burnham and Josh Burcham use a flashback to reveal a bit of Skold’s background on Cybertron prior to the events of the comic series. Unlike many of the other characters, Skold is a new character to the franchise, and so getting to see a bit of her background and why she’s aligned with Megatron offers a lot of insight to her character.
Unfortunately, the pair’s bonding moment is interrupted when they are attacked by a number of creatures set upon them by the Vok. While the Vok have played a role since the Transformers: Beast Wars began, their appearance here feels a little more forced, especially with the creatures that they unleash. The story beat is a familiar one — potential enemies learn more about themselves by fighting alongside one another, but it would have been nice for this moment to come about in a more natural feeling manner. It’s a clunky scene in an otherwise solid issue, as Transformers: Beast Wars #9 is at its best when focusing on Skold’s character development.
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