Writer: Brian Ruckley
Artists: Anna Malkova, Angel Hernandez, and Beth Mcguire Smith
I’d argue the best stories mix their action-driven content with their more meaningful, character-focused plotlines. The secret to a truly great fight scene is the context surrounding it, as opposed to what actually happens in it. Lackluster aspects can be overlooked if the sequence has a good setup, major ramifications on the narrative, and combatants you actually care about.
Alternatively, it’s fine for a story to clearly delineate its fight scenes from more complex, quieter elements. However, that runs the risk of creating an uneven narrative and the reader notices the obvious separation. Transformers #8 is a perfect example of this approach going wrong.
The first half of this issue continues troubled war veteran Cyclonus’ fight for survival. That also drags him into the increasingly violent conspiracy that’s spreading across Cybertron. Said conspiracy could be a little more developed or even just more interesting. It feels a bit premature to opt for direct confrontation at this point.
Anna Malkova’s art doesn’t do the sequence any favors. It’s an adequate work but it doesn’t do anything special or even make the fight feel particularly Transformers-esque. Oddly enough her cover for this issue, depicting Cyclonus stalking the Cybertronian wastes with a titan looming in the distance, is very evocative. I only wish the interior art could match that tone and level of quality.
After this underwhelming fight, something a little more interesting happens. Megatron meets with Termagax, the heroic figure who founded the Ascenticons. I assumed that she had met a horrible end. The reveal that the visionary is too busy with pet projects to run her own revolutionary movement is the best-executed concept to come out of this entire series.
This is the first time the book has really offered something unique and substantial. It should be interesting to see how the relationship between Megatron, Termagax, and their followers will develop.
My one complaint about the Termagax introduction is that it’s illustrated by Angel Hernandez. None of the bots really look right in this series but Termagax gets a particularly clunky, underwhelming design. Giving such an important character a subdued appearance. can be an interesting choice. The caveat is that it actually has to look good and Hernandez has yet to do with any of the Transformers.
Even the presentation is lacking, as the art fails to create an atmosphere that matches the tone of the writing. Or even a substantial atmosphere at all. Transformers is by no means the worst illustrated comic to come out of the franchise. But it still would have benefited from a more dynamic artist than Hernandez.
The latter parts of the book revert back to its standard fare. Drawn out, circular conversations that could be a lot shorter or removed entirely. This issue ends with the promise of some real action happening next time. But Transformers has been promising that from the very beginning and it’s certainly taking its time to deliver.
Transformers (2019-) #8
Despite some promising developments, it's more of the same for Cybertron and its inhabitants.