Writer: Brian Ruckley
Artists: Angel Hernandez, Cachet Whitman
Colorist: Joana Lafuente
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Editors: David Mariotte, Tom Waltz
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Not that long ago, the critically acclaimed Transformers series came to an end with the Unicron storyline. It was a move that many long-time readers questioned, but one that the company felt was necessary as the series had become unwieldy for new readers as a jumping on point. It was not long after the previous series wrapped up that the new Transformers (2019) series was announced, promising not to be a reboot but “a bold new era” for the franchise.
Transformers #1-3 introduces us to this new world through the eyes of the newly forged Rubble. In many ways, Rubble is the eyes and the ears for the new readers as we sit in awe of the landscape of Cybertron. While taking in the landscape, Rubble is also trying to figure out where he fits into society in general. Helping him along this journey is his mentor Bumblebee, who sets up experiences for Rubble to learn about himself and Cybertron. The use of Bumblebee helps to anchor the new story to the classic line that many returning readers will remember.
While we are introduced to the daily life on Cybertron through Rubble, it is two familiar characters that help to introduce the reader to the politics of Cybertron. Instead of meeting in the battlefield, Orion Pax, the man who will become Optimus Prime, clashes with his nemesis Megatron in the political arena. Pax is a Senator and clear leader within the Autobot leadership, who hold most of the power and authority. Meanwhile, Megatron has grown in power in the ranks of the Ascenticons. Megatron argues that the Autobots have been in power for way too long while oppressing the ideas of the Ascenticons. Ruckley is able to establish through his dialogue that Megatron and Pax have a long and complicated relationship through their meeting in the first issue. While revealing the relationship, Ruckley stops short of explaining too much about where the relationship turned sour.
Holding back information and building intrigue in the first three issues is part of what makes Ruckley’s story engaging. While we can assume who is going to be on the right side of history, there are enough actions that make you question if those who, in the past, have had a history of heroics are as pure as they once were.
With Transformers coming out bi-weekly, the decision was made to go with two artists, and rather than having them rotate issues, they are splitting the duties in each issue. Sometimes when this happens, it can create a disjointed look and feel to the book. However, here Hernandez’s and Whitman’s art styles are similar enough that you barely notice the shift. They are able to create a rich world that is filled with details that draw the reader into the familiar setting. The use of sharp and bold lines creates a classic look that long-time readers have become familiar with. While Cybertron is a vast landscape, Hernandez and Whitman are able to bring a more intimate feel to the world as the characters interact. Again, sticking with a classic feel in the character design, Lafuente has used many of the classic and primary colors that long-time readers will recognize. While minor, it is something that may encourage former readers to show up for this bold new world.
If you have been a fan of the Transformers franchise but were intimidated by the back matter, then Transformers #1-3 is a great jumping on point. The series has much of the heart and soul that was in the previous series without all the weight of its complicated history. The set up from Ruckley has created an intriguing start that makes you want to see how the story unfolds.