Ricky Church reviews Transformers: Unicron #5…
Transformers: Unicron #5 doesn’t just mark the penultimate issue of the series, but of IDW’s whole continuity for Transformers, G.I. Joe and R.O.M. The issue delivers a lot of action as the heroes mount their final defense against Unicron and his invading forces, but there is also a nice amount of introspection from a number of characters as they take a collective breath for the final battle. It still feels somewhat rushed in places, but John Barber writes the characters and plot well enough that it doesn’t take away too much from the feeling that this is the end.
The first half of the issue is largely where Barber took his time with the characters. Whether they were devising plans or sharing final moments, the character beats were well written and allowed a little bit of breathing room from the gloom and doom of the series. Moments such as Prowl’s return to the team or Optimus and Arcee’s conversation reflected on just how much has changed and how far they’ve all come, particularly Starscream and Thundercracker. Two of the most memorable moments actually come from Thundercracker as he shares a final moment with Marissa Faireborn and Buster and reunites with Starscream and Skywarp for the first time since All Hail Megatron, now almost 10 years ago. Barber definitely wasn’t skipping over any of the story’s emotional weight.
The second half of Unicron #5 was largely action based as the combined forces of IDW’s universe launched their assault against Unicron. While there is a lot of action, this is also where the issue’s events felt rushed as the story bounced back and forth between different battlefields. It glosses over some details, such as how some of the G.I. Joes get to Toronto so fast or the transformers’ escape in Metroplex. It’s all part of the many moving pieces Barber places for the finale, but some of the events get a bit lost in the shuffle due to the fast-paced nature of this section. Where the first half allowed time for the reader and characters to breathe, the second half doesn’t allow that and, as a result, loses some of the impact with the few human deaths or presumable last stands other characters are making. However, it does set up some nice confrontations for the grand finale that include more than Optimus and Arcee vs. Unicron.
Alex Milne’s art is once again a highlight for the series. His detail on the characters is great, from the scrapes and scratches across Optimus to the number of transformers or humans in a single panel. Even in the quiet moments, Milne takes the time to really show how much emotion the characters have in their body language. One subtle detail is Shockwave’s eye narrowing at merely mentioning how his plan millions of years in the making has gone wrong due to a single Autobot or how Arcee’s discomfort at realizing she now has something truly significant to lose should they fail. Another fun nod is the various Cobra Commanders seen in the big strategy meeting, harkening back to IDW’s G.I. Joe continuity and the classic cartoon. Milne’s artwork is complimented by David Garcia Cruz’s vibrant colours that give the characters and battles very vivid imagery.
While some elements of the story was rushed, Transformers: Unicron #5 was a good penultimate chapter that nicely set-up its finale. Barber has a lot of moving parts, but manages to balance them all fairly well without losing sight of the characters at the heart of the story as well as their development. Now we just have one more issue until it all comes to an end whether we’re ready for it or not.