Writer: Brian Ruckley
Artists: Angel Hernandez, Andrew Griffith, and Anna Malkova
The last issue it looked like Transformers was on an upward trend. But issue #7 is a return to form and not in a good way. For a start, the book’s art woes return. It’s another issue of switching between several artists with varying styles. The only real shared element between the pages illustrated by Angel Hernandez, Andrew Griffith, and Anna Malkova is the questionable level of quality. The art itself just isn’t that interesting. That’s in addition to being presented through passable if at times clunky layouts. The clashing styles aren’t solely to blame for the lack of consistency. That’s really evident when it comes to the character designs. Certain bots draw from the over-designed modern look or the more simplistic classic designs. Transformers is far from the first franchise entry to pick and choose from different eras. However, it’s a problem when artists fail to reconcile them.
Even if the art was more stable, it couldn’t entirely make up for Brian Ruckley’s writing. It turns out Rubble’s fate was just as horrific as it seemed. While I wasn’t too fond of the character, now he feels like nothing more than a plot device. He’s been denied a chance at being a real character, forever doomed to be a driving force in Bumblebee’s stint with the Ascenticons and an icon of the tragedy that will claim Cybertron. One interesting development is that Nominus Prime and the other Cybertronian leaders will be returning due to Orion Pax’s failure to contain the chaos. Transformers did a poor job establishing his relative importance until now. This difficult situation for the future Prime is interesting and yet another thing that could have been brought up earlier.
With this issue, I’ve realized that Transformers has run right into a common issue that plagues these kinds of revamps. The series tries to hold itself to a higher standard than previous installments. I don’t think this book is looking down at the more straightforward Transformers tales. But Transformers is meant to be a more complex interpretation of a well established, toy sale driven setting. Unfortunately, it still falls right into the worst habits of the franchise. There are some very cliche and unimaginative fights that felt straight out of the dark depths of Transformers Generation Two, with dialogue to match.
Part of why IDW’s previous Transformers comics worked so well is that they acknowledged and incorporated the roots of the property. I’ll concede that sometimes this approach damaged otherwise good stories. But in the case of books like More than Meets the Eye and The Wreckers Saga it let the writers focus their efforts on constructing a strong narrative. Mainly because they didn’t have to worry about making up for perceived past failures. Or even recognizing that there’s nothing wrong with even some of the more juvenile story beats. Transformers still feels self-conscious about carrying the brand name and that makes its fumbles a lot more noticeable.
Transformers #7 quickly wastes the goodwill it built up over the last two issues.