Transformers 15 & 16
Writer: Brian Ruckley
Artists: Bethany Mcguire-Smith and Anna Malkova
To its credit, IDW’s new Transformers series has finally found its place. Megatron prepares to launch a full-scale war against Cybertron from the shadows. The soon-to-be Autobots have a sense of what’s coming but are too busy infighting to actually stop it. Especially since Sentinel Prime is going for the most extreme option available to him. Most of my complaints with the book, from the art to the worldbuilding have been resolved. Unfortunately, I wonder if it’s enough.
While Transformers is finally where it needs to be, it took far too long. While these past few issues have been strong, the story could have picked up here without consequence and only a little reworking. Up until this point it’s largely failed to make the characters endearing or immerse us in the world. Now that the book’s finally where it wants to be, it’s even more confusing why the creative team felt the need to waste so much time beforehand. While this book has turned a corner, I would have long since dropped it if I wasn’t reviewing it. I’m a fan of slow-burn stories but there needs to be a good reason to justify drawing things out so much.
Part of why I feel a need to bring this up again is because these last two issues cover a huge amount of ground. We get Megatron’s origins as a miner turned gladiator turned war hero turned political icon. We also finally get a proper explanation for what the Rise wants outside of empty philosophizing. Most interestingly, we learn why Termagax gained so much prominence and what made her reject all of it. We even get to see a glimpse of the last war and its combatants, in a scene that admittedly could have been better executed. This is all crucial stuff and in some ways delaying this information made it more impactful. It’s unfortunate Transformers chose to waste that time with so many pointless detours instead of something more meaningful.
Back in the present, things look grim. Megatron has decided a peaceful resolution is no longer possible, partially because the Shockwave-led Rise elements created a little more chaos than they were supposed to. As the Decepticons prepare for war, Megatron reminds everyone who’s in charge, the only way he knows how. The franchise’s grand adversary continues to be the strongest part of this book. Especially compared to how one-note the other Decepticons are, a problem worsened by their cringe-inducing comic relief. While the story has improved considerably, the characterization and dialogue is still clumsy at best and unenjoyable at its worst. Exceptions to that are still few and far between.
Bethany Mcguire-Smith and Anna Malkova’s art has also looked great these last two issues. Josh Burcham and Joana Lafuente’s colorwork also help Transformers recover from the previous art mishaps. Things still look a little flat and overly angular for my tastes and the action could be better in places. The characters exhibit the right amount of emotion, even if it can be a little too exaggerated. This isn’t the best Transformers art I’ve ever seen but it’s certainly not the worst. That’s where this reboot is as a whole is right now, funnily enough.
Transformers 15 & 16
The chase is on in Transformers, after almost a full year of filler.