IDW Publishing

(W) Brian Ruckley (A) Sara Pitre-Durocher (C) Joana Lafuente 

Just as things were ramping up, The Transformers #12 takes a pause.

Somewhere in space (it’s a big place) Sentinel Prime and other important Cybertronian dignitaries are wrapping up some glad handling with other galactic species. But just as the Cybertronian delegation prepares to return home, head of xenorelations Nautica uncovers a plot by a rogue alien faction hoping to cause the robots some hurt.

While the issue does not advance the main plot, as a standalone it’s quite compelling. I’m reminded of the previous IDW one-shot Spotlight series where writers would focus on a single character from the Transformers roster and flesh them out in a way the pages of the ongoing might not have space for. Here we get a peak into the mind and motivations of Nautica. She’s an outsider among her peers for her interest in other species and carries a notable detachment from her own homeworld, the issue opening with her musing on the bioluminescent speech of an alien species she’s visited.

“So much more captivating, nuanced, than the crude communication and inanities of this world I am always called back to,” she monologues. “The world to which I belong, apparently.”

Besides establishing Nautica, the issue’s also an excellent piece of world-building, not only for re-jigging the classic trope of Cybertronians looking down on organic species but also for building a wider galactic ecosystem where other groups have their own customs and schemes. Writer Brian Ruckley once again showcases his interest in building beyond the classic human-Cybertronian focus — even the previous IDW Transformers iteration largely failed at making the galaxy feel lived-in (although James Roberts somewhat addressed this with the Black Block Consortia and Galactic Council, sometimes humorously).

It will be interesting to see how Ruckley threads this wider galaxy into future storylines.

And a shout out to my fav Starscream, who finally makes an on-panel appearance for the series. He’s perfectly suited as head of intelligence: smarmy, underhanded, and (in classic Starscream style) incompetent. I am looking forward to seeing how he gets involved with Megatron.

On the art side, artist Sara Pitre-Durocher and colourist Joana Lafuente continue what seems to be the standard expressively cartoon-ish Transformers depiction solidified by Alex Milne in previous runs (often with Lafuente). There’s nothing here that wows (or fails, for that matter) but given some of the previous god awful ugly artwork that’s graced IDW’s Transformers, it’s better to play it safe.

If there’s any major criticism to be leveled at issue #12, it’s that it is very much a sideshow that, barring foreknowledge of what comes next, derails some of the momentum of the main plot. 

Thankfully there are no squishy humans (yet).

Transformers #12 goes on sale Wednesday, September 18.

Review: Transformers #12 takes a detour from Cybertron
Pros
  • Great world-building
  • Starscream appears
Decepti(Cons)
  • Adjacent to the main plot
3.5Overall Score