Ricky Church reviews Transformers Vol. 3: All Fall Down…
Since the beginning of IDW’s reboot on its Transformers continuity, writer Brian Ruckley has been playing the long game as he’s led Cybertron to the brink of its infamous, millions-year long war between the Autobots and Decepticons. All throughout his series we’ve seen the small sparks of war as Megatron and his followers manipulate events to their benefit and now in Transformers Vol. 3: All Fall Down, the pay off comes as the newly christened Decepticon leader makes his move, forever changing the destiny of Cybertron and the galaxy. The third volume contains compelling character work from Ruckley, great artwork and other entertaining stories from Sam Maggs and Brandon Easton that further build the world and history of Cybertron.
Picking up from the chaos of Volume 2‘s conclusion, Cybertron is in a state of disarray after its artificial moon, which carried most of its energon supply, was attacked and sent careening into space, leaving its connected tower to fall planetside and causing a massive amount of damage and death. Ruckley does a nice job displaying how the situation has changed Cybertron as Megatron takes advantage of the confusion while Orion Pax tries talking Sentinel Prime out of his harsh measures for Cybertron and the Ascenticons. A lot of the pieces Ruckley has planted throughout the series start coming together and by the main story’s conclusion, it is clear there is no going back for anyone as Megatron makes his fateful choice. Ruckley’s character work is interesting as he develops them further as with Megatron’s slide into villainy or Bumblebee’s grief as his desire to catch Rubble’s murderer leads him to his own drastic decision. What is also interesting is how Ruckley utilizes many of the supporting characters, giving bots like Prowl, Wheeljack, Windblade, Swindle and others time to shine, arguably more so than Orion and Megatron. It really helps populate and expand the world of Cybertron to show just how much is going on the planet to feed into the chaotic circumstances.
Acting as a parallel to the main series are issues of Transformers Galaxies that also expands the scope of Ruckley’s story and how Megatron’s plan is affecting more than the planet. Picking up from the final issue of the second volume is an arc featuring Arcee, Greenlight and the new bot Gauge. The climax of the previous collection saw the three of them escape Cybertron as the tether crashed into the planet, leaving with a group of religious fundamentalists and zealots called Reversionists for the stars. Not all is as it seems though as Gauge seemingly has no memory of Cybertron and Acree and Greenlight are nowhere in sight. Sam Maggs makes her Transformers debut with this arc of Galaxies and writes a pretty interesting and eerie mystery for the opening. The atmosphere is fairly unsettling as Gauge is brainwashed and tries following her cultish routine, but feels something is amiss. As the proper introduction to Gauge, who Maggs created, she is an interesting character as she is forced to reconcile between two different sets of memories, beliefs and lives as she tries uncovering what the Reversionists are really after. Arcee and Greenlight are also written well and the trio have nice and fun chemistry with each other as they work through their dire problem.
One character who was featured quite prominently in IDW’s previous continuity but has only been mentioned sporadically in the new one is Ultra Magnus, who has been cited as one of Cybertron’s greatest generals. We finally get to see him in the next arc of Galaxies traversing the galaxy with a small crew and gets a mission to find the missing Alpha Trion. Written by Brandon Easton, he establishes pretty quickly Magnus is not a bot to be trifled with not only through his toughness, but his intelligence as he quickly makes accurate deductions about his enemies and the strategies he creates against them. Magnus is shown to also be a very loyal bot to his friends and fellow soldiers, doing everything he can to rescue them. Easton’s story is well written with nice character moments and interesting twists, though the final chapter of Magnus’ tale seems a little rushed as some things are left either unexplained or too vague, but it does end on a very intriguing conclusion for where Magnus and Trion could go next and what it could mean for Transformers in the future.
The artwork from the whole team is great throughout the book. Much of the imagery is very detailed and vivid with nice designs and movements from the characters. Anna Malkova, Beth McGuire-Smith, Umi Miyoa and Andrew Griffith provide visuals that are nice to look at and never feel too cluttered or difficult to follow during the book’s action scenes or when large crowds are present. The colours from McGuire-Smith, Joana Lafuente and Josh Burcham pop off the page and create a feeling of uncertainty, particularly with Lafuente’s work in Transformers and Burcham’s in Galaxies‘ ‘Gauge The Truth’ arc. Additional artwork from Billie Montfort, Blacky Shepard and John-Paul Bove in Transformers is consistent with the look and feel of Malkova and McGuire-Smith’s art, making everything blend together nicely. Collected as well are a group of variant covers for the issues, offering alternative looks from other artists of characters and events, but no other behind-the-scene material or sketches from the artists.
Transformers Vol. 3: All Fall Down brings many of the threads Ruckley has been weaving together as Megatron’s Decepticons take a stronger shape and make their move to control Cybertron’s future. The story presented is fast-paced and contains interesting character dynamics and development while the complimentary Galaxies stories further flesh out the world and relationships of IDW’s new continuity. With how events are left in both the main series and its spin-off, the future of Transformers is going to be very interesting for fans.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.