Ruckley and Malkova are back with another installment of IDW’s Transformers series, this time taking an unexpected turn with the plot. I’ve been enjoying this book a lot so far, but this issue is a bit of a pace changer compared to what I’m used to seeing from this creative team as of late. Though I’d say it’s working out for the best, since I really ended up liking this issue a lot.
Last issue, we explored the character of Pyra Magna, a character from the old IDW Transformers continuity, and this time the focus is on one of her subordinates: Jumpstream. The setup of the issue tells us that since the time skip promised last issue, things have only gotten worse for the Autobots. The Decepticons now control even more of Cybertron, and they’re desperate for anything that could turn the tide.
One such idea is explored by Perceptor, the Autobots’ resident super scientist. Inspired to try and amplify the mysterious abilities that certain Transformers are born with, he equips Jumpstream with a harness that should give her the ability to teleport across vast distances. What ensues is a colorful mini-romp of the device going haywire, and her jumping all around Cybertron in a series of wacky hijinks. It’s a nice change of pace from the more dour tone we’ve had in the last major arc, and was a lot of fun.
It doesn’t last long, however, as this highly experimental and untested device accidentally flings poor Jumpstream into an alternate timeline… one where the big bad of Cybertron’s last war, Exarchon, had apparently won. Not only that, but he now controls the bodies of Shockwave, Onslaught and Megatron.
Dystopian alternate timelines are something Transformers is no stranger to, especially in comics. In Marvel’s Transformers comics, we had an alternate future Galvatron as a major antagonist, and in IDW’s former canon, the Functionist Universe was the focal point of many arcs. Seeing this continuity craft its own darker timeline — going off one of its own original ideas like the War of the Threefold Spark, at that — is a fun idea, and I’m excited to see where it goes.
Outside that, I found myself liking the characters in this quite a bit. I’m always happy when a new incarnation of Transformers can make me latch onto characters I never paid close attention to before, which this version of the book has been doing a lot of. Perceptor and Jumpstream don’t take up the entire book, but their interactions were enough to endear me to these incarnations, and sometimes, that’s all you really need.
We also get a bit from some other smaller players in the war, like a cute scene of Sideswipe, Strongarm and Bumper chatting for a bit of levity. Juxtaposed to Perceptor’s experiments is a scene of Decepticon scientist Shockwave, furthering some experiment that’ll no doubt come into play eventually. We also get a somber scene from Cyclonus, and the reunion of Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus. It’s nice to see that even when times are tough, the characters can still have a nice private moments where nothing crazy is going on.
As always, Malkova’s art is great. I’m starting to run out of ways to praise it in fact, but thankfully theres a small art shake up this issue to give me something to talk about. Angel Hernandez is also on this book, handling some of Jumpstream’s… jumps, which are all done in a much poppier and loose style that sells the kind of cosmic space-time vibe that her teleportings are going for. Most notably, the scene in the alternate timeline is done in a very scratchy style, really selling how different it is from the main universe. I like it a lot, as it’s both thematically sound and a nice visual shake up.
This was a very solid issue. Ruckley is pretty good at endearing me to lesser-known characters (hello Flamewar, it was good to see you this issue too), and he manages to do that again for me here. Him leaning into the more lighthearted semi-comedic side to his writing was also a nice contrast to some of the heavier stories we’ve had from Transformers comics lately. The idea of an alternate timeline being explored in the middle of an already tense war is tantalizing too, and I’m hoping a lot of cool stuff comes from it. Here’s to seeing where this is all heading.
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