Time for me to take a look at another issue in IDW’s Transformers, by the dynamite writer and artist duo of Brian Ruckley and Anna Malkova. This one is very action heavy, and isn’t afraid to show it. That doesn’t stop it from having some major plot significance though, so let’s dive right on in.
The plot follows immediately after the last, with the Autobots and Decepticons engaged in a battle surrounding Termagax’s mobile home (that’s what it is, so that’s what I choose to call it, and you can NOT stop me) for possession of the Enigma of Combination, a powerful cybertronian relic. With Termagax siding with the Autobots in this fight, they’re fairly evenly matched — until Skywarp enters, that is. With his teleportation powers, he manages to swipe the Enigma quite literally right out of Termagax’s hands to get the battlefield’s attention, until Jumpstream ports in herself to give him a run for his money. The ensuing teleportation fight is pretty fun, not a visual you get in a series like Transformers very often, and was honestly the highlight of the issue for me for the novelty of it.
By the end of the issue, the Enigma, along with the Decepticon Skytread, are both lost in the seas of lava below. With both sides unable to retrieve it for the time being, the battle ceases completely. However, before the issue truly ends, we get the revelation that Cyclonus’ revived friend wasn’t actually all that they seemed, and Jumpstream’s observed dark future from last arc finally starts to unfold in the present. Exarchon the Threefold Spark lives again.
Character stuff isn’t that prominent this time, but what we get there is still good. I continue to love Jumpstream, and the rivalry she has with Skywarp as presented here is very fun. Skywarp himself is of course quite eccentric, a departure from the previous IDW take on him, but I don’t mind it. It does make him feel a bit closer in line with some versions of Starscream, however, which has its ups and downs. It’s a fun characterization at the core of it, and frees up Starscream to be a bit more serious and less on the campy side, but it does make two already similar looking characters even more alike. Plus I like campy Starscream, so if he ever starts acting like that again, it may clash with Skywarp’s interpretation here a bit.
The artwork is great, but I always love how Malkova draws Transformers. The action is particularly good, with the aforementioned teleportation battle being really fun idea to utilize, as I started previously. It’s a creative way to give this battle its own flavor, so that it doesn’t just feel like another laser gun firefight. Skywarp’s expressions were top notch also, I love the energy and character that Malkova imbued him with through his body language.
All in all, Transformers #36 is another great issue of a great run. It was almost all battle, but when a battle is this creative and fun, that’s hardly a problem in the slightest. What was there for characterization was good, even if it may have some underlying issues that come from re-interpreting a pre-existing character. Though that’s not something Transformers fans aren’t used to, so if it matters in the long run is really up in the air for the time being.
The artwork was great as always, and Ruckley did a great job giving an enticing cliffhanger to keep you hooked for next time. I can’t wait to see where the story is going to go with these revelations next time.
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