IDW Publishing

(W) Brian Ruckley (A) Cachet Whitman (C) Joana Lafuente

Everything old is new again.

Thirty-five years ago, Hasbro launched a cartoon about a war between two robot factions while Marvel pumped out a simultaneous comic treatment.

Thirteen years ago, Simon Furman was hired by IDW to redesign the franchise from the ground up and launch a new era in Transformers comics.

Remember Infiltration?

I can’t help but think of it while I’m reading writer Brian Ruckley’s latest canonical reboot, simply titled Transformers. Furman’s opening salvo was a fresh take on the mythos, radically different from everything that came before it.

Cybertron was a dead planet. The war between the Autobots and the Decepticons spanned a galaxy and was one of cold war subterfuge rather than the occasional fisticuffs at an oil refinery. And in those first issues Optimus Prime and Megatron were nowhere in sight, the lens focused on a smaller mix of old favourites and second stringers on a single backwater planet without much strategic value.

(Earth would become more important as the series went on, of course)

Ruckley’s Transformers is not so remarkable a reimagining of the mythos (not yet, anyway). It starts in the very well-tread setting of a pre-war Cybertron, Optimus Prime and Megatron given a pre-existing relationship and leadership positions (ala the movie canon) as Senators.

That personal-political interplay could go interesting places, at least.

But then we’ve also got an audience surrogate in original character Rubble, a newly-forged and supremely curious little robot. He’s accompanied by the more familiar Bumblebee and Windblade, who are able to give some insight into this brave new cyber-world.

From what we’ve seen, it’s not too different from the old cyber-world: Megatron heads a violent political movement, Optimus wants to keep the peace, Bumblebee’s a nice guy.

As much as I’ll rally against cheap shots, this needs a jolt (and no, the final panel doesn’t do the trick). When you’re dealing with a mythos as well-established as Transformers, I would hope to see more subverted expectations even in the first issue.

There was just never a moment that surprised me, other than maybe the mention of the Ascenticons – who? The angry group of Cybertronians who will one day become the Decepticons? Maybe?

We’ll see. While I’ll keep reading out of franchise loyalty, to earn my love it’ll have to do something… fresh.

Remember Infiltration?

 

Review: Transformers reboot about the same as meets the eye
Pros
  • New canon, new possibilities
  • Features the truck and the gun
(Decepti)Cons
  • Nothing radically new (yet)
  • Babies with audience surrogate
2.5Overall Score

About The Author

Stephen Cook is a Canadian journalist moonlighting as an American comics critic.