You’re probably wondering why I’m opening this article with a video about the Transformers toys. Well, it’s how I’m able to do tonight’s review. For the Transformers 35th Anniversary toy reviewer Pixel Dan Eardly (and probably a bunch of other reviews but his is the review I saw as I already follow his YouTube channel) was sent a collection of toys that are part of the current Transformers line, including Cyberverse and the current adult title, Siege: War For Cybertron (not to be confused with the War For Cybertron game…geez, Hasbro, it’s Robots In Disguise all over again) plus one based on the Bumblebee movie I have yet to see and a fun line called BotBots. Why is this important to a story reviewing site?
Because in the video Pixel Dan also reveals a code that is part of this set for reviewers to share with their audience. This code, by going to the Transformers website and entering it, unlocks a PDF copy of the first Transformers comic in IDW’s new continuity. Yes, IDW took their last continuity so far off the rails and as far as they could go that they decided to reboot the whole series, but opting to keep Earth out of the picture by showing how the war happened. Long time readers may recall that I dropped IDW’s Transformers even while I had a paying job and could afford to buy new comics, and honestly I didn’t see any reason to return even if I do find paid work at some point. However, since this is a free promotional comic, why not try to get an idea of what IDW is doing with this new continuity? That’s what we’re doing tonight!
(trying to figure out which series this is beyond that is a waste of time…there have been so many #1s from IDW over the years)
IDW Publishing (March, 2019)
“The World In Your Eyes” part 1
WRITER: Brian Ruckley
ARTISTS: Angel Hernandez (also selected cover) & Cachét Whitman
COLORIST: Joana Lafuente (also selected cover)
LETTERER: Tom B. Long
EDITORS: David Mariotte & Tom Waltz
The PDF contains all the variant covers…man, I’m tired of variant covers…but I chose the one that was made by the actual internal art team, or at least two of them. My favorite though may be Tim Lim’s “comics for kids” cover of a boy in a hospital bed reading Transformers comics with Optimus Prime peeking through the window to say hi. It’s one of the rare acknowledgements that this is a kids’ property IDW has done. Whether or not it reflects in the rest of the series I obviously don’t know but I wouldn’t be afraid to show kids this issue at least. That’s more than I can say for Superman comics coming out in 2019 and that makes me sad.
After a very short bit of text stating that this is before the Great War of this continuity we meet the real star of this franchise, Bumblebee, and his protege, Rubble. (Not to be confused with Rumble.) It seems like every Transformer writer lately has to create his own Transformer even though this franchise is flooded with toys that never had any comic appearances. Poor Vroom is languishing in obscurity. Rubble is a newly forged protoform who is still trying to decide what he wants to be and what his alt mode will be. I wonder if that’s connected? It would be nice if alt mode form follows robot’s function for a change. I haven’t seen that since the actual Generation One and I don’t expect to see it again any time soon. They’re both walking to an Energon transmission station (so Energon is a transmitted power source in this version?), partly because Rubble lacks an alt mode I assume but also so he can see the world he’s been brought online for. And Rubble just wants to see everything. I kind of imagine him becoming an explorer bot but right now his bring a protoform to work day trip is checking out engineering, which means a visit with Brainstorm. I’m betting he won’t be a Headmaster in this continuity either. Lucky Rubble has the best mentor ever, but I’m admittedly hugely biased here.
Honestly though I do like the idea. Not only does this trip give us some Cybertronian geography lessons (almost literal worldbuilding going on here) but using what is the Transformer version of a child to allow us to see these and introduce the audience along with him is rather ingenious. Rubble stops to talk to some non-Transformer scavengers, which brings up a few questions, until Windblade scares them off. I’m not sure why. She calls them scavengers but there’s no indication they were anything more than a potential nuisance and Rubble was being friendly to them. Then again Bumblebee notes Rubble just wants to meet everybody and be their friend. I like Rubble and I’m scared to see how they’re going to ruin this character because that’s how things go these days. I’m worried this is Rumble’s origin story.
Windblade isn’t just here to tag along though. Brainstorm has been finding sabotage at the substation and she’s here to check it out, walking along with them to meet the new protoform online. Bumblebee wonders if the Ascent is behind this but Windblade doubts it. Then we get an idea of what the Ascent is, as in “Ascenticons”, a movement that I’m guessing was founded by someone named Termagax, and she has a weird name for a Transformer. As a group of these Ascenticons are on their way to Tarn for a speech, the bot behind that speech, Megatron, is meeting with Orion Pax. In this continuity they’re both senators. The Orion Pax I grew up with was a simple Energon dock worker who was attacked by the Decepticons, learning that their ability to fly didn’t make them as cool as he thought, and was later rebuilt into Optimus Prime. In the years since, Orion has been a data collector and a cop, both of whom formed some kind of friendship with Megatron. Here they’re also best buddies who don’t see optic to optic on the Ascenticons. Whatever happened to heroic Autobots versus evil Decepticons? I’d say we have the cartoons but given Cartoon Network’s crap treatment of anything that doesn’t at least stink of Teen Titans Go! and Rescue Bots Academy not even having Decepticons this is not currently the case.
Also they take a popshot at Prowl by comparing Megatron’s attitude to the time Prowl was trapped under a pylon for 10 cycles (the Cybertronian version of an hour, but not necessarily as long) and his anger apparently scarring a couple rescue workers for life. Why does IDW hate Prowl even when Simon Furman isn’t writing about him?
Back with our traveling trio we get to learn more about Cybertron. The titans of this timeline (we used to call them “cityformers”, you know–bots like Metroplex and Trypticon) are starship Transformers who orbit and protect Cybertron, only waking if the planet is in danger. We also learn that Bumblebee used to be in security like Windblade but is now in search and rescue. Windblade indicates that this wasn’t necessarily his decision. I don’t know what’s been revealed to the readers beforehand but this could be an interesting thread to explore.
Finally (especially if you’re Bumblebee, whose been worried about being late since Brainstorm has a thing for punctuality) our group arrives at the Energon transmission station. As Bumblebee and Rubble go to find Brainstorm, Windblade scans the area and something feels off to her. She and Bumblebee go to check some of the other buildings while young Rubble stays behind, but it’s Rubble who finds the first clue–namely a damaged Brainstorm! Continued in the next issue I don’t have.
So, my overall thoughts: I do have my problems but all of them are personal taste more than anything necessarily bad. The whole “Ascenticon” thing doesn’t interest me, and neither does Megatron and the future Optimus Prime’s status. The best parts of the story seems to be the worldbuilding, which is fine. I need to finally finish my worldbuilding project. However, the mystery of what happened to Bumblebee, or more importantly what happened to Brainstorm, is something I’m curious about. The art is also really good.
I’m not sure I’m invested enough to return just from this freebie PDF reprint however (not that it matters currently). I’m still blaster-shy based on IDW’s previous treatment and the whole Ascenticon thing instead of Decepticons. I still have the feeling this still isn’t going to be the Transformers story I want. If you like it, fine. I’m not saying anything bad about it just because it isn’t what I’m looking for in a Transformers story. It’s just not something I’m immediately ready to jump in on. Transformers to be is about the Autobot/Decepticon war, not other aliens (with some exceptions) or gods or watching the Autobots and humans not get along. I want to see a proper alliance between Autobots and humans for a change. I want to see heroic Autobots versus evil Decepticons. I just don’t see IDW ever giving me that the way I want it. This isn’t based on nostalgia alone. I really enjoyed the aligned continuity. I’ve enjoyed the later Transformers shows. It’s just the comics that aren’t giving me what I want.