Time for another installment in IDW’s ongoing adventures of the Transformers, written by Brian Ruckley with art provided by both Anna Malkova and Angel Hernandez. Last time, we saw a glimpse into a distorted alternate world thanks to a teleportation mishap with poor Jumpstream. This time we get to explore that world a bit… and get a truly jaw dropping plot twist by the end.
The plot of this issue is great, even if it ultimately feels like a tease for a later storyline fully exploring this dystopian world being introduced to us. Continuing right after the last, we see Jumpstream rescued from Exarchon’s clutches thanks to Bumblebee and his band of freedom fighters (with some fun cameos from previous IDW canon Transformers, too). We learn of how dire their situation has been, being forced to survive on Nucleon (a power source that locks Transformers out of their vehicle modes) since the world essentially ended.
Thankfully, a heroic sacrifice from ‘Bee lets her escape this hellish world just in the nick of time, but not before a mysterious Seeker followers her out of the time stream and manifests somewhere triumphantly (who I’m almost positive is Skywarp, but how he got stuck there is anybody’s guess). Meanwhile, we have a brief interlude showing some Decepticons watching over a raving mad Acid Storm in Shockwave’s lab. The shared significance between these events is not yet clear, but I’m confident we’ll be getting answers that connect the dots sooner rather than later.
This is all really fun, run-of-the-mill dystopian alternate world stuff, but then we get the mother of all plot twists once we return to the the main timeline. In the Autobots debriefing Pyra Magna, we find out that Jumpstream hadn’t crossed universes… but was actually flung into the near future! Needless to say, the possibilities from a nailbiter of a cliffhanger like that are so tantalizing that I can barely wait to have this develop further.
We don’t get a lot of character work worth zeroing in on this time, with the focus of the issue being to sell the dystopia of the dark future we see. That being said, what is here is good. Bumblebee giving his life to give another a hope for survival is completely fitting for him, as is the idea that he’d be leading the charge for freedom even after all that time. Jumpstream unfortunately gets little, beyond some grim wondering if she’s even still alive in this world she’s arrived in. Hopefully we get a bit more from her when she wakes to share her tale first hand.
I adored the art in this issue. Once again we’re splitting the artistic styles between the future timeline and modern day segments, and both are visually engaging and offer their own unique styles. While the modern day is the Malkova style we’ve grown used to, the future has a scratchier and dirtier feeling to it that makes it feel dusty and decayed. This does wonders for making it feel like a whole other world, even if that wasn’t what it ended up being. Malkova and Hernandez both brought their A-games here, and the artwork continues to be one of my favorite things about this run.
Overall, I thought this issue was great. The plot twist really sells it, and had me going “noooo, no way!” out loud. Maybe some people saw it coming, but I still think it’s a fun and juicy pivot from my own expectations. Accompanied by some stellar artistic talents to really sell the vision, Ruckley continues to really knock it out of the park with playing a good long game here. I’m eagerly awaiting to see how this will build extra tension in an already tense war raging on.
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