Writer: Brian Ruckley
Artists: Anna Malkova, Angel Hernandez, and Sara Pitre-Durocher
The fifth issue of Transformers opens with Megatron giving a speech to the masses of Cybertron. He outlines the goals of the Ascenticon revolutionary movement. By extension, he also defines the status quo Orion Pax (the bot who becomes Optimus Prime) and his allies are trying to maintain. It’s an effective, powerful scene and the book really shouldn’t have sat on it for five issues. Transformers has almost seemed to be putting off properly defining its central conflict. So it’s unfortunate that it took this long to get such a concise, character-defining scene. Thankfully Transformers #5 as a whole has a similar approach, though once again it’s establishing story beats five issues later than it should.
Brian Ruckley penned Transformers relaunch hasn’t used its slow start to great effect. Its attempts to be thoughtful and meaningful it just comes off as hesitant and dull. Even now, with the main plot finally starting to pick up steam, the book feels almost scared of being too direct with its own story. There’s a difference between building a strong mystery and being needlessly obscure. This book is finally starting to move out of the former and into the latter.
Transformers #5 also gets around to doing some proper world building. The distinctly organic figures stalking the streets of Cybertron in previous issues get an explanation. In this new series, Cybertron is a beacon of peace in a tumultuous corner of the galaxy. It’s an interesting change from previous renditions, as usually Cybertron is best known for getting embroiled in wars that lasted millions of years. But at this point, the organic Cybertronians are little more than a plot device or even set dressing. Hopefully, they’ll amount to more than just early casualties of the inevitable civil war that will claim Cybertron.
Angel Hernandez still illustrates the bulk of the issue. While his art is still a relatively poor fit for Transformers, he draws the organic figures in this issue fairly effectively. Hernandez is definitely much better suited to this than the more standard Transformers fare. It’s been a long time since anything was done with Beast Wars but I’d think he’s a good fit for a book drawing from that era.
Sara Pitre-Durocher returns to illustrate Bumblebee’s mysterious meeting with Soundwave, the Ascenticon’s recruiter. I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of her art but it carries a dynamism that’s lacking from the other artists’ contributions. She definitely has a good grasp of how to convey the bots artificial nature without making them lifeless. Anna Malkova draws the first three pages. Her art handles Megatron’s speech decently but it carries a sort of goofy air that, while fun, doesn’t work with the tone Ruckley’s writing carries. Even then, this is easily the best issue of the series so far. Hopefully, this marks a turning point for Transformers.
Transformers (2019-) #5
Transformers #5 is finally picking up, both in terms of art and story.