IDW’s Transformers is a series that likes to take its time. While there’s a lot to be said about the flaws of decompressed storytelling in contemporary comics, the methodical pace of this current incarnation of the Autobot and Decepticon conflict has worked for me thus far. The Great War (as it’s commonly denoted in most Transformers continuities) is very rarely depicted in its early stages, and watching the steady escalation into full scale war has been incredibly fresh and interesting in my humble view.
Written by Brian Ruckley, the issue this month covers actually does lot of ground, in fact. There’s some great character stuff with Ironhide and his troops, Megatron planning his next move in his acquisition of the gigantic Transformers known as Titans, and Optimus getting a chance to start stepping into his new leadership role after being passed the Matrix of Leadership from Sentinel Prime a few issues back. Much like the former IDW canon and their Optimus in HIS early days, he’s obviously still having a bit of a hard time adjusting to suddenly assuming command.
Optimus in this canon is, of course, an archivist, not a born or as-of-yet trained warrior. In fact, he’s depicted as something of a pacifist much like he was in the beloved Prime cartoon from the early 2010s. The former depiction of Optimus as a cop learning of and rebelling against the corruption of the system he’s a part of was quite interesting, but I’m happy we’re getting a version of the character who isn’t as battle hardened from the get go. Optimus is a character beloved to many, myself included, and I’m excited to see how this version depicts his early years. I hope to see more of the “strong enough to be gentle” aspect of the character and how it effects these early stages of war.
The revelation of the Titan Sparks is certainly some interesting food for thought as well, with it clearly being a moral quandary that the Autobots have little time to stop and think about if they want to keep potential W.O.M.D’s out of Megatron’s hands, especially for this early in the war. That’s something I’ve enjoyed about this run so far, the slow escalation to full-scale war, starting with smaller, more precise and tactical battles before we get to the planet-scarring decimation surely to come as time marches on. Of course the destruction of the place where new Transformers are forged in the first place is an incalculable loss for both sides, which I’m sure will have some hefty ramifications in the issues that follow.
Anna Malkova’s artwork is an aspect of the book I’ve also really enjoyed since she took over as the primary artist. Her style just feels right for the book, feeling like an update on the aesthetics and feel of the original G1 cartoon, but with a slight realistic touch that feels like it hits the mark just right. I hope she sticks around on the primary title for a bit, because I like what she brings to the table.
If there’s an aspect to criticize, it is unfortunately the fact that this is still only part of a larger story that wishes to take its time, and would read much better as part of a binge. As somebody who’s enjoyed what Ruckley has done with the Transformers universe so far, I can appreciate his desire to take it slow. However, as a fan, I will agree with the consensus that the pace could do to be a bit snappier.
In conclusion, this is a pretty good issue. It’s still only one small part of a larger ongoing narrative (“a cog in the great Autobot machine” so to speak), and that means it would likely be better off read as part of a binge or trade. As much as I genuinely enjoy the plot developments and am very excited to see what happens next, I wouldn’t blame others if they wanted to hold off a bit. Still though, if you’re already invested, pick it up and give it a read. You’ll probably like it.
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