It feels like it’s been a little bit since I covered an issue in the main Transformers series by IDW (apparently missing an issue, somehow. How’d THAT happen?), but I’m always happy to crack open the latest issue and see what writer Brian Ruckley and artist Anna Malkova have for me this time. In this issue, we get action (and tons of it), more of that Optimus characterization I never seem able to shut up about, and some superb as usual work from the art team to bring it all home.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Transformers #35!
The plot was pretty promising from the get-go. After the last arc, we’re back to following up some major plot threads with the Autobots aligning themselves with the neutral ‘bot Termagax as the Decepticons chase her down. We learn that she’s in possession of the mysterious and powerful Enigma of Combination (known to long-time Transformers fans, and showcased heavily in a previous mini-series), still believing its power can be used for a greater purpose. Not wanting to let Megatron get his hands on it, she agrees (grumpily) to a temporary alliance with the Autobots as the enemy march their forces toward her mobile fortress. Meanwhile, we get Skywarp following up his re-appearance by taunting Shockwave a bit, but it’s brief, and feels more like it’s teasing for things yet to come.
This was just a really fun setup, bringing together a lot of the elements of the book we haven’t seen all in one place yet. A lot of characters gather within the pages here, major players and even just some minor ones. The interactions that sprung from this were exceptionally fun to read through, with Pyra Magna’s typical stoicism, Termagax’s grouchy criticisms for everybody around her, and Optimus’s stern chewing out of her centralist outlook on the war all being highlights for me.
I’ll never get tired of Ruckley’s take on this younger Optimus, who in this issue is finally showing that he’s begun to internalize a lot of the lessons he’s had to learn over the course of previous issues. He’s started his transformation (ha) from the naive and idealistic archivist, to becoming a still caring and wise, but more stern and resolved leader. Even the minor characters got some fun lines and subtle character building moments — too many for me to draw exclusive attention to, but I enjoyed that they were there.
As per usual, Anna Malkova is on art duty, and is (unsurprisingly) as good as I’ve come to expect. I always enjoy how she draws her characters’ expressions, and the sense of body language is also consistently strong. Of course the inking and coloring goes a long way with selling that subtle gritty feel the book’s art conveys, but still retaining that more expressive and cartoonish quality. That really helps in giving you the notion that things are serious, but that doesn’t mean you should forget the inherent fun in giant sentient robots fighting each other.
Overall, this issue was a lot of fun. The fact that this team manages to squeeze so much into such a modest page count is incredibly impressive. The fight sequences were properly energetic and fun to flip through, and the characterization of even background characters remains as solid as it always is under Brian Ruckley’s pen. As per usual, Optimus and his continued growth as a leader is my favourite aspect of this book, but I’m also just excited to see gears turning and trying to figure out what’s happening down the line. There’s always a lot to look out for in this book, and that’s something that keeps me coming back, if nothing else.
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