It’s been a hot minute since the last time, but I’m back with another issue in IDW’s Transformers series. Written of course by Brian Ruckley, but with Andrew Lee Griffith on art this time instead of our regular Anna Malkova. Let’s get into it and see what’s what.
I’d say the plot of this issue is fairly good: we get an escalation of the Exarchon situation, with most parties involved being made aware of his return by the end of the issue. In the meanwhile, the bulk of the story is concerning the escape from Decepticon territory that started last time, and a firefight breaking out at Swindle’s place as the Autobots make a narrow exit with Ultra Magnus. The escape from Swindle’s is a pretty fun action sequence, with the characters all bouncing off each other really well for some good banter. The cliffhanger for next time shows Exarchon usurping an extremely powerful new body, declaring his return finally and officially. This is all fun stuff, and I’m glad the Exarchon plot is finally revving up a bit after all the sneaking around he’s been doing.
Speaking of the characters, I think a lot of good character stuff was done this issue. We finally get a bit more in Cyclonus’s head, showing him figure out his resurrected friends are definitely not all they seem to be. You can really feel how much a blow it strikes in him to have to fight (and even kill) the body of his former friend, without hardly ever saying a word about how he feels about it out loud. He’s spent the past few issues clinging to the hope some of his fallen comrades had returned to him, only to have to turn around and stab a hole through one of their puppeteered corpses. It’s pretty heartbreaking stuff, honestly. His acceptance of it by the end is pretty touching as well, showing that perhaps he’s finally on his way to some closure. It’s a powerfully sad scene, and makes you really feel for the guy.
Aside from him, everybody else is business as usual, but that’s not at all a negative. The fight scene banter is really good, and each character still has a distinct voice and personality amongst all the action.
Griffith’s art is good — in fact, I barely noticed the change from Malkova at all. If the name hadn’t been different up front, I would have figured it was the same art I was used to. Griffith did a great job staying on model and keeping up a consistent feel with the previous artists on this title, which is not always an easy thing to accomplish. I really enjoyed the action scene this issue, so big points for that too.
Overall, I think this issue was totally fine. My only real complaint (which isn’t even a complaint really), is that I wasn’t sure how to say much about the plot. The funny thing about reviewing these issues as they go is you can sometimes run out of interesting things to say about the plot, since the story’s pace is often stretched out over a handful of issues to give stuff time to breathe. That’s not a bad thing, but it does sometimes leave my thoughts on plot feeling like they fall short a bit compared to other elements of the book. Regardless, I really enjoyed the action and the character work done here, and it was cool to see the sudden escalation of the problem with the issue’s cliffhanger. A solid entry, I would say.
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