Writer: Brian Ruckley
Artist: Bethany McGuire-Smith
After an uncertain start, Brian Ruckley’s Transformers series has finally hit its stride. Orion Pax, who will one day become Optimus Prime, meets with his old mentor, Codexa. Unfortunately, they’ve become estranged, as the head archivist no longer leads a conventional existence, physically or mentally. Their strained conversation gives the book a chance to properly explore Orion and Megatron’s friendship. Along the way, it further elaborates upon previously neglected elements of the narrative. Transformers is still taking an enigmatic approach but now it is building up a mystery rather than just throwing out names with little to no context.
Optimus and Megatron as former friends or at the very least likeminded individuals is an idea almost as old as the franchise itself. However, Ruckley remains as one of the few to really sell it or even properly show it. Megatron still follows his classic progression from miner to gladiator to far more. But this issue creates a context where it’s easy to see how such a hard, ruthless existence gave him such lofty aspirations for himself and all of Cybertron. There strong friendship here also gives their heated present-day interactions even more meaning. And those were already the strongest part of the book.
Some important ideas finally get some introduction throughout this issue. The book delves a bit into the war with the Trifold Spark. Additionally, there’s a little more development for the yet-to-be-seen Termagax. It’s also revealed that she founded the Ascenticons. I think it’s both good and bad that my understanding of what this book is actually about comes almost exclusively from the last two issues. While It’s comforting to see Transformers improving, it’s concerning that most of the series has felt largely inconsequential.
Transformers #6 has the distinction of being the first issue in the series to have one artist all the way through. Bethany McGuire-Smith illustrates the entirety of this story. Her work isn’t quite as technically impressive as what was in the Transformers books IDW was previously publishing. However, it’s still a massive improvement over every other artist featured throughout this series. The characters display a satisfactory amount of emotion. McGuire-Smith takes certain liberties with the characters designs while still retaining their most important qualities. If this issue is anything to go by, Transformers could really benefit from more of her art.
Like the previous issue, Transformers #6 is a departure from the rest of the series. Hopefully it stays where it is right now.