(W) Tyler Bleszinski (A) Livio Ramondelli (L) Tom B. Long
For now, Transformers Galaxies has one major flaw.
It’s not the artwork of Livio Ramondelli, whose distinct style I still believe is more suited to covers than panel-to-panel storytelling.
It’s not the writing of Tyler Bleszinski, whose scripting flows well enough with ease if not flair.
It’s the Constructicons. They’re boring.
Galaxies #3 continues the first arc of the Transformers: Galaxies sideseries, meant to highlight background and characters that won’t fit into the main plotline. “Rise of the Constructicons” gives everything away with the title, this issue opening in the past with the eponymous group briefly losing control to raging impulse while combined as Devastator. But it’s enough that for all their efforts in reconstructing the capital of Iacon after the war, the dangers posed by their gestalt form see the green bots unknowingly exiled to construction duty on the planet Mayalx (where issue #1 opens).
It’s written as a tragedy. The Constructicons are new, freshly-constructed bots — their combining ability gained accidentally — who are earnest in their desire to literally build a better Cybertron. That they’re used for their abilities and then quickly discarded through political machination is probably the best angle you could take on a backstory for these second-stringers.
But you really have to care about the characters for it to work. And despite Bleszinski doing his best to give each of the six bots a unique personality — Hook’s the leader, Bonecrusher’s a sadist, etc. — they’re still just… the Constructicons.
It starts with numbers. With so many of them in this iteration, it would be a challenge to get much characterization even if they were the only Constructicons in this arc. But then there’s also Wheeljack, Termagex, Nominus Prime and the Insecticons in the roster, each with their own time to shine (Bombshell has especially been a delight).
It’s exacerbated by the colour scheme: red visors, square black robot heads, green colour bodies. Ramondelli’s big, blocky figures don’t aid in giving a visible distinction to the individual bots. Yes, they do look a little different — but not enough to move beyond seeing them as one cohesive unit. They’re STILL just the Constructicons.
But the death blow is function. I’ve complained before about action interrupting plot but here the utilitarian vehicle modes and roles of the Constructicons lend themselves to neither. An origin story about builders in an era of relative peace, even with surrounding intrigue, doesn’t give much opportunity for an explosive plot.
Constructicons have always been a weird inclusion in the Decepticon roster, in my mind. While so many of the baddies take on killing machines or even A LITERAL GUN — exuding with visualized character — the green team take on civilian modes more in line with Autobot aesthetics. Their gimmick is that they turn into Destructor: construction to destruction, woo-ee.
There’s just not enough to these guys (without some truly out of the box thinking) to warrant a multiple issue origins story. It’s baffling to me that IDW thought this is the group that could jumpstart what is essentially a longform version of the Spotlight series from the previous run. One bot, one issue was a formula that worked then, why couldn’t it have worked now?
Maybe Bleszinski will bring it home in the ninth inning. But for now this is a series for “completionist” readers only.