Ricky Church reviews Transformers #1…
For the first time in nearly 15 years, IDW has begun a new continuity for its Transformers comic book franchise. Beginning in the pre-war days of Cybertron, Brian Ruckely sets out to examine the start of the conflict between Autobots and Decepticons with fresh eyes in both a literal and figurative sense. Not only does it mark a nice jumping on point for new readers who might know next to nothing about Transformers, much of the issue, as well as the series going forward, comes from the perspective of a new Autobot named Rubble who has recently been forged and is seeing much of Cybertron for the first time. Ruckley makes a pretty intriguing start to the new series that has familiar faces and new character relationships to interest both newcomers and longtime Transformers.
Ruckley has a pretty good grasp on the Transformers universe and its characters just in one issue. He presents an interesting new look at Cybertronian society as Bumblebee takes the young Rubble under his wing while some protests are happening across Cybertron. Bumblebee is less of a rookie than he is usually depicted as at this point in Transformers continuities and his friendship with Windblade is written well. There’s also an implication of their past in security operations and why exactly Bumblebee decided to leave his position that makes their history intriguing.
Of course, as with any Transformers prequel, one of the big questions is exactly what Optimus Prime and Megatron are up to. Ruckley puts his own spin on the idea that Optimus – or Orion Pax as he’s currently known – and Megatron were friends long before the war broke out, a similar idea to Transformers Prime and the films, but it still feels different, especially since we’re actually seeing them as friends. Rather than being a clerk or cop and a rebellious miner or gladiator, Orion and Megatron are actually Cybertronian senators who, despite their friendship, find themselves on opposite sides of an ideology. Not much time is spent on what Megatron is rallying against aside from a general displeasure at how some Cybertronians – a faction he calls Ascenticons – are being treated, but the interplay between Orion and Megatron is well-written and a nice change of pace from their usual talks in Transformers. It will be interesting to see their friendship explored more fully and how they become lifelong enemies.
As for Rubble, the new character, he’s certainly energetic and excitable as he’s seeing much of Cybertron for the first time, but Ruckley doesn’t do too much with him in this issue beyond acting as a mouthpiece for the audience to explain the new status quo. His back-and-forth with Bumblebee is entertaining, though, as the yellow bot gets a bit exasperated every time Rubble sees a shiny object. He does also have potential to be a pretty interesting character given the fact that he’s new and we ultimately don’t know which faction he could land on when war breaks out. His perspective should be pretty interesting though since he’s so new to Cybertronian culture and is the one who discovered the first murder victim in the planet’s history. Ruckley has said this death will play a major role in how the war began and it is exciting to see a murder mystery in a Transformers story. Hopefully Rubble will become a more well-rounded character with his own perspective instead of a type of character readers can inject themselves into.
The art throughout the issue is well done with Angel Hernndez on the main art duties. His work is fairly detailed with the designs of Bumblebee and Windblade along with Cybertron’s landscape, though some of his facial features on the bots are can be a bit static. Cachet Whitman does art for the few pages Orion and Megatron speak together and she does well making Megatron emotive through his expressions, not to mention Orion’s body language as well. Their art together is still pretty good and Joana Lafuente adds to their work with some pretty vibrant colours, particularly in the Orion/Megatorn scene, that helps their art stand out. While the various bots could showcase more expressions, its still not a bad start for Hernandez and Cachet on the new series.
Transformers #1 doesn’t quite reinvent the wheel, but Ruckley presents some interesting ideas and set-up to this new continuity. The characterizations of Bee, Windblade, Orion and Megatron are intriguing, but Rubble doesn’t do much to stand out as his own character rather than a mouthpiece for the readers. The art is also good and detailed in places, but hopefully Hernandez and Cachet can work on making the bots a little more emotive in future issues. For now, though, it was a nice start to IDW’s new beginning.