IDW Transformers #1 Review

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IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby ScottyP » Wed Mar 13, 2019 5:19 am

Weapon: Battle Blades
A Bold New Era Begins
A Review of Transformers #1

Free of any explicit spoilers, but some may be unintentionally implied.
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A new era of Transformers comics launches today with a new series carrying the standard bearer title of Transformers, meaning Seibertron.com's review coverage of IDW Publishing's Transformers comics also returns. With a long running and well-beloved thirteen year run that concluded last November and only Captain Kirk and Leader-1 to carry the torch in the meantime, a long winter without ongoing serialized Transformers comics has come to an end.

For this special first issue, we thought we'd try something different in the form of a triple-threat team-up review. The participants in this crossover are below, and as is tradition, nothing will ever be the same again!
Scotty P
D-Maximal_Primal
Tigertrack
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Back for the first time
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Armada Padawan
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Cybertron Sentry

Now that the introductions are out of the way, we move on to find out each review crew member's answer to the big question - is this new universe any good?


Scotty P: The expository splash page will tell you most of the larger plot right away. This is the planet Cybertron and it's new to you, so come along and explore it with us. The vast landscape of a familiar yet unfamiliar planet is an effective hook, with writer Brian Ruckley presenting a world with several unexplained elements which provide a depth to this new version of Cybertron just in time for its other layers of intrigue to make an appearance.

D-Maximal_Primal: The plot was a bit refreshing, seeing as how we have a little bit of a different origin story for Optimus and Megatron, with both being political friends on a governing council, which is a nice new touch. It's also really neat to see this all start to happen through the eyes of both long time fan favorites and also a brand new character that wants to see the world.

Tigertrack: I like that brand new character, Rubble, who is literally the newest spark on the block. The way he views the world introduces all of us to what we are in for; he's the reader personified in this new universe's first adventure. We the reader and Rubble have no idea what's going on, but we're here, and Bumblebee and Windblade will show us (Rubble) the way and we may be surprised and awed by the new things we see and experience.

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Cybertron at peace, as long as you're Cybertronian

Tigertrack: Speaking of Windblade and Bumblebee, they have a camaraderie similar to what is on the current Transformers: Cyberverse TV show, and this contributes to the problem I have with the book's set-up (so far as we know it after one issue) where it feels so much like Cyberverse at times that it isn't as refreshing as it could be. This may or may not be a bad thing depending who you are, I just was not expecting Cyberverse: THE COMIC BOOK here, although to be fair with all the Siege designs I don't think we literally got that.

Scotty P: The cast list here is one of the smallest in recent memory, with the opening roll call page presenting you with pretty much all you're going to get in this opener. Most of the characterization occurs through interaction, context and body language but I don't feel like anyone stood out as remarkable, but that may in part be due to a recent over-saturation of Bumblebee and Windblade. If you know the typical beats found in the characters that have appeared in other Transformers universes several times before, you won't find much surprise here. Optimus Prime in particular is the extra-boring, platitude preaching variety, but even with that in mind some credit is due for at least a hint of the more favored "robot dad" version of Optimus that brought so much charm in the past.

D-Maximal_Primal: One of the standouts for me was a character not even present in the book, but thanks to solicitations and covers we know he's coming into the story soon. The description of Prowl is a good start, so I'm hoping we get a version of him that is not morally ambiguous but still carries some of his more abrasive traits. I also enjoyed the "Ironhide as the Optimus bodyguard" thing, it's nice to see Ironhide living up to his name in a pre-war setting.

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I wonder who represents new fans and readers? ;)

Scotty P: As a first issue, this does a great deal right in the story pages themselves. Rubble has already been called out as effective by my fellow reviewers, and in addition the mystery element of the story is sure to hook some readers into wanting to go out in two weeks to grab the second issue. There isn't enough ancillary material for my taste here, especially at the start. The "Roll Call" not having short bios of any sort is a glaring omission, and starting out with a "Story so far" page, even somewhat in jest, is a questionable choice.

D-Maximal_Primal: I think this works really nicely as a brand new start. You set up the characters, you have a freshly born individual to see everything through, and you have some longtime favorites there that older fans recognize but newer fans can sense are going to be important. I believe it works pretty well for a new fan, especially the parts with Rubble. It's nice to get a glimpse of what's to come but you get just a small, not overwhelming introduction to it all.

Tigertrack: I thought I was ready for this, but I'm not sure that I'm ready for this.

Issue number one is a good introductory issue. It's pretty low on action and puts focus on exposition, character re-introduction and setting up its universe. Cyberverse comparisons aside, there was a feeling of newness to it where it may have some parallels to what has come before, but it's still its own thing. In other words, perfect for a new start to a storied franchise. It's not my first reboot rodeo, I've read plenty of similar reboots being a long time Uncanny X-Men fan, and have collected Transformers long enough to see it have a couple of its own as well.

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Looks like it's drawn by Coller while sneaking in Lawrence's boy Ruckus and I like it

Scotty P: The art takes two distinct approaches. In the pages with lineart by Angel Hernandez, the planet itself is the star, with starscapes and landscapes being the breathtaking parts. Cachét Whitman was a name I had never heard before last week, but in some panels and pages her lineart is magnificently detailed and feels like the best elements of Casey Coller and Jack Lawrence combined to make something beautiful. Both line artists have some room to improve when it comes to capturing Transformers' facial expressions, but it's only fair to point out this could be said for almost every Transformers comic artist when analyzing their initial efforts. Joana Lafuente brings her depth of experience and shows it, with amazing lighting effects on the planet's surface being a standout. Tom B. Long is back on letters, with a new transformation sound effect of particular note that manages to evoke the TF: Prime or TF: Cyberverse style of clangs and metallic clicks in lieu of the friendly G1 grind. Tom Waltz and David Mariotte presumably had the unenviable task of making sure the lineart strengthened Hasbro's copyright, with many character models being almost comically accurate to characters' SIEGE toys. I understand the purpose of this and the licensee did the smart thing in appeasing the licensor, but I feel like I'm missing out on possible creativity from the artists. At least with Rubble, Bumblebee and the riotous Ascenticon protesters there was a taste of that.

D-Maximal_Primal: The scenes with Rubble were colored pretty nicely, and those scenes were welcoming and nice on the eyes. The scenes with Optimus were cleaner, and I think I enjoyed them more overall, despite those very toy specific details of the screw holes and 5mm pegs in the art.

Tigertrack: The two art styles present are distinct but at least not jarringly distinct like a previous Transformers #1. The art worked well with the dialogue and narrative to present a cohesive story, easy flowing story. And I can say with the plethora of covers available, there is probably cover art choices enough for any collector to get a favorite exterior to fit their taste. This review's news thumbnail uses Angel Hernandez and Joana Lafuente's "B" cover for the issue, since it's the most indicative of the interior content.

You can find images of all of the book's covers, including a large slate of retailer exclusives commissioned and available through various outlets, along with full credits for the issue in our Vector Sigma Database page for Transformers #1, but please note it contains a character appearance list which will definitely spoil you on something if you're reading this months from now. We've taken out the spoiler for the time being.

Verdict
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Too harsh, Optimus! Have a Snickers, or maybe your Galaxy Force pants.

Tigertrack: Finishing up my thoughts, I think readers who were on board with the old IDW are going to have a hard time not comparing the old titles to this, at least I know I sure will. This probably isn't the best way to give it a fair shake, because you (and I) are most likely thinking of the best moments of a very long series and it's not fair to compare that to what is just beginning here. It's a good introduction and it points towards a good future if readers, like myself, can leave the past in the past, and enjoy what we now have. I do fear that last page will make some readers tune out even though it may have been intended to hook them in.

Scotty P: There's enough good stuff here that despite some critical quibbles I have to admit that by the end all I really wanted was to read the next issue (to be totally transparent in how arbitrary our scoring is, I knocked mine up half a point for just this one reason), so this definitely has something going for it. Speaking of that ending, it's a new world, so remember to not get tripped up by the twist - it's not the 'bot you knew before! You've got your old trades if you need to see that silly old sod one more time. Anyhow, I'm still not sure how well this will hook many newcomers but time will tell better than my speculation. Solid start and if you're into Transformers enough to be reading Seibertron.com, I strongly encourage you to buy a copy of this issue.
Scotty P's Score:
4 out of 5
D-Maximal_Primal's Score:
4 out of 5
Tigertrack's Score:
4 out of 5

Final Score
. :BOT: :BOT: :BOT: :BOT:
out of
:BOT: :BOT: :BOT: :BOT: :BOT:
"Very Good"
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby ScottyP » Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:55 am

Weapon: Battle Blades
It didn't feel appropriate to put in the review itself, but since we're starting a new universe here are the Seibertron.com informal-ish guidelines for what scores mean if that's all you look to:
  • 5 - Near objectively perfect or one of the subjectively best Transformers comics of all time. We intend to be purposely stingy with these "perfect" scores, otherwise they lose meaning.
  • 4.5 - Great
  • 4 - Very good
  • 3.5 - Good
  • 3 - Average. Not bad, not great, nothing horribly wrong with it, just average.
  • 2.5 - Acceptable and most hardcore Transformers fans will still want to read it, but something's not quite right.
  • 2 - Below average but not a complete disaster (books with great art and a terrible story, for instance.)
  • 1.5 - Poor, but something redeems it from being lower.
  • 1 - Very bad
  • 0.5 - Awful, but we can find one nice thing to say.
  • 0 - I don't think we've ever used this, but if Continuum came out today, we would.
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby Randomhero » Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:23 am

The only criticism I have was the opening blurb about before war and before earth. My reaction was “is this story technically a flashback?” It just makes it feel that stuff is predestined and not needed in my opinion but it’s a solid issue and opening to this universe
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby ScottyP » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:30 am

Weapon: Battle Blades
Randomhero wrote:The only criticism I have was the opening blurb about before war and before earth. My reaction was “is this story technically a flashback?” It just makes it feel that stuff is predestined and not needed in my opinion but it’s a solid issue and opening to this universe
Very agreed! Folks that read the last series know it's a reboot, so putting something in that might make someone with no exposure to Transformers feel like they're supposed to know something already was weird. I get the sentiment of it but it felt off.
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby Randomhero » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:10 am

ScottyP wrote:
Randomhero wrote:The only criticism I have was the opening blurb about before war and before earth. My reaction was “is this story technically a flashback?” It just makes it feel that stuff is predestined and not needed in my opinion but it’s a solid issue and opening to this universe
Very agreed! Folks that read the last series know it's a reboot, so putting something in that might make someone with no exposure to Transformers feel like they're supposed to know something already was weird. I get the sentiment of it but it felt off.



You’re absolutely right. I was really surprised by two different art styles. I thought one artist was handling one issue and the next the other artist. Not criticizing at all. Maybe I missed that they were both going to handle each issue.
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby ScottyP » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:19 pm

Weapon: Battle Blades
Randomhero wrote:
ScottyP wrote:
Randomhero wrote:The only criticism I have was the opening blurb about before war and before earth. My reaction was “is this story technically a flashback?” It just makes it feel that stuff is predestined and not needed in my opinion but it’s a solid issue and opening to this universe
Very agreed! Folks that read the last series know it's a reboot, so putting something in that might make someone with no exposure to Transformers feel like they're supposed to know something already was weird. I get the sentiment of it but it felt off.



You’re absolutely right. I was really surprised by two different art styles. I thought one artist was handling one issue and the next the other artist. Not criticizing at all. Maybe I missed that they were both going to handle each issue.
They announced two from the get-go, and honestly with the bi-weekly release ambitions that would likely have to happen. However, they initially announced it as Hernandez and Ron Joseph, who had worked on Revolutionaries, Wrath of Karza and other Hasbro U books. Not sure when it got changed to Whitman as the second artist. I like Ron Joseph, but I like Whitman's first efforts too so it all shakes out.
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby Randomhero » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:40 pm

ScottyP wrote:
Randomhero wrote:
ScottyP wrote:
Randomhero wrote:The only criticism I have was the opening blurb about before war and before earth. My reaction was “is this story technically a flashback?” It just makes it feel that stuff is predestined and not needed in my opinion but it’s a solid issue and opening to this universe
Very agreed! Folks that read the last series know it's a reboot, so putting something in that might make someone with no exposure to Transformers feel like they're supposed to know something already was weird. I get the sentiment of it but it felt off.



You’re absolutely right. I was really surprised by two different art styles. I thought one artist was handling one issue and the next the other artist. Not criticizing at all. Maybe I missed that they were both going to handle each issue.
They announced two from the get-go, and honestly with the bi-weekly release ambitions that would likely have to happen. However, they initially announced it as Hernandez and Ron Joseph, who had worked on Revolutionaries, Wrath of Karza and other Hasbro U books. Not sure when it got changed to Whitman as the second artist. I like Ron Joseph, but I like Whitman's first efforts too so it all shakes out.


I enjoy both as well. The bumblebee/rubble is...different but I think the story telling and layouts are there and that’s what I look for. I can look at art people don’t like but if those two things are there I’m happy with it. I imagine down the road veterans will return here and there and I welcome them back too because I don’t like it when artist come and go and just disappear. I always felt Robby Musso should have done more especially with phase 2 and I’m glad he’s doing Siege art but it was shame when he wasn’t doing interiors anymore for TF. I think his last comic was Spotlight Cliffjumper.

My biggest fear for almost 6 months now is if sales dip the crew of the Lost Light show up. I know you Scotty would love it as well as many others would and no doubt some are waiting for it to happen but I’m not. I want Thai unforced to grow into it own thing without any kind of contribution to previous stuff. Not saying nods or using established stuff from other stuff isn’t allowed. There’s plenty already happening here. Things like being forged and titans being present that’s all becoming status quo. What I’m talking about is having autobot Megatron and this Megatron in the same room
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby D-Maximal_Primal » Wed Mar 13, 2019 5:05 pm

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I will say I do really appreciate the way Pax is drawn and colored, it looks really nice, and is the standout character in terms of art in the story.

The final page left a sour note in my mouth though, no more be said about that. Though I will agree with Scotty when he told me during our review talks that sometimes it's better to try not to match/outdo a previous version of said character.

I also love the Titans being up in the sky as guardians of the planet, it's a cool concept that is sort of what Carcer ended up doing the previous continuity, but more peacefully and kindly shown here with more than 1 Titan.
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby ScottyP » Wed Mar 13, 2019 5:06 pm

Weapon: Battle Blades
^^ I think the panic button for this if the sales stink after the initial 12 issue run will be "lol jk it was a mini-series" followed by another reboot attempt, not bringing in characters from other universes. Weirder stuff has happened, but I think they're moving on from IDW v1.
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby Burn » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:20 pm

Motto: "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings to randomly click things in the Admin Panel to see what it breaks."
Not sure how I feel about this first issue.

I think my biggest problem, was my own doing. I kept expecting something, even if it was just one panel, to connect to the previous series, even though I know this is a total reboot, and a part of me was also anticipating some social-commentary injected into the story as the previous series did a few times. Thankfully, that didn't happen ... this time.

Rubble ... so fresh, literally, freshly forged and all that, and we start off seeing Cybertron through new eyes, and it was refreshing.

Then we're back to "old friends" Orion Pax and Megatron, and that just wasn't fresh at all. In fact, the whole "two friends, two opposing ideals" just doesn't feel ... "rebooty".

For a first issue it tried to set a tone, but I feel it fell a little short. My advice to anyone who is curious about this new series, maybe wait until there's three issues or so out, then read them back to back, give the story time to establish, because that simply didn't happen with this first issue.
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby Randomhero » Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:26 pm

Burn wrote:Not sure how I feel about this first issue.

I think my biggest problem, was my own doing. I kept expecting something, even if it was just one panel, to connect to the previous series, even though I know this is a total reboot, and a part of me was also anticipating some social-commentary injected into the story as the previous series did a few times. Thankfully, that didn't happen ... this time.

Rubble ... so fresh, literally, freshly forged and all that, and we start off seeing Cybertron through new eyes, and it was refreshing.

Then we're back to "old friends" Orion Pax and Megatron, and that just wasn't fresh at all. In fact, the whole "two friends, two opposing ideals" just doesn't feel ... "rebooty".

For a first issue it tried to set a tone, but I feel it fell a little short. My advice to anyone who is curious about this new series, maybe wait until there's three issues or so out, then read them back to back, give the story time to establish, because that simply didn't happen with this first issue.



Except this Megatron is attempting change through the right way for the first time. He’s using his intelligence and going through legal channels to make change. Something obviously happens that will change that but this is a Megatron that doesn’t seem to be scheming behind everyone’s back.

I’d say that fresh.

And for once Bumblebeee isn’t a young brash kid that leaps before thinking. He’s actually on the other side
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby KorsO » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:55 pm

Just read my copy.

For the moment its a 3/5(Average. Not bad, not great, nothing horribly wrong with it, just average.) for me.
Had zero lore expectation of it touching on previous iteration of the Golden & pre-war era, though it doesn't seem to be that all quite different. Hope the scale and complexity will grow.

Had one small guilty trope tho.
Was wishing te 1st issue provided both in story and visual detail/intrigue that Death of Optimus Prime & MTMTE issue #1 did.
Kinda felt abit lacking for me in terms of story setup.

Like always, lets see what the next 4 issues brings on to gauge the setup of this new universe.
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby Big Grim » Thu Mar 14, 2019 4:26 am

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Totally enjoyed the new issue, though the last page annoys me a little. Still, definately willing to come along for the ride based on the first issue. Let's see where we go.
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby Randomhero » Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:40 am

Big Grim wrote:Totally enjoyed the new issue, though the last page annoys me a little. Still, definately willing to come along for the ride based on the first issue. Let's see where we go.



See I saw it coming halfway through with them continuing to praise that character. I was reading and said 2 things

1. Oh there’s that death that’s been talked about in solicite and 2. Well that’s gonna make some unhappy people.
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby AllNewSuperRobot » Thu Mar 14, 2019 4:38 pm

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Mine arrived today. I didn't really care for it, although it was fine I guess. a 3/5 to me. It doesn't feel new or fresh to me. When I first read Infiltration #1, in spite of the fact there were no new [Transformer] characters, that felt 'new' and 'fresh'. That POV character was Ratchet, yet he was virtually a new character, given new characterisation.

The Cyberverse/SIEGE aesthetic does bother me, but that is the nature of the beast now, with Hasbro's "evergreen" pandering.

Part of the problem with a reboot so soon after the end of a previous series is that they copped out on an abrupt, "line in the sand" ending. Which was in place with the Unicron Mini, yet they squandered that for a talking heads, fan-friendly winding down of the story instead.

Having read comics for a long time, prior to a Reboot, the story typically needs to come to a definitive conclusion EG Avengers: Dissembled gave way to New Avengers. This is often necessary to sever ties and associations to previous work and they failed in doing so. Leading some to trepidation, in that the old continuity can just pop up out of the blue, which is kind of a poison pill to this series.

I'll pre-order #2, if nothing changes I'll drop the series though.
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby Big Grim » Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:49 am

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Randomhero wrote:See I saw it coming halfway through with them continuing to praise that character. I was reading and said 2 things

1. Oh there’s that death that’s been talked about in solicite and 2. Well that’s gonna make some unhappy people.

I admit, I missed it. But it had been a long day. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby Bumblevivisector » Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:55 pm

I fell off IDW for financial/time reasons a loooong time ago, and have been reading few comics for many years, so I've been looking forward to a total reboot for a while now (I'll catch up on what came before someday)

Agree about maybe waiting to take in the first 3 issues at once. A slow pace worked great for a Rubble's-eye-view, but the story was so decompressed that it kind of ended before anything happened.

As for what we learn DID happen on the last page, I was none too pleased about seeing a personal fav written out this early either...but then I only finished the Machinima trilogy last month, and must assume he went out with far more dignity than any of their casualties (especially the company itself).

So, was this particular choice of casualty in the first issue supposed to establish something? My guess is they're telling us there will be no binary-bonding of any sort, at any future time, in this universe; or is that going too far back for a reference? Nah, even when I've caught up on every IDW book, I'll still always make mine Marvel! If issue #2 reveals the culprit was Tornado, homaging his sabotage in State Games, then all quibbles about this issue are forgiven!
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby AllNewSuperRobot » Sat Mar 16, 2019 3:08 pm

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Bumblevivisector wrote:So, was this particular choice of casualty in the first issue supposed to establish something?



My guess was "forget the old continuity".
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby DeadCaL » Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:37 pm

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Either Whitman (the second artist) is the the best perspective artist I've ever seen, or those are 3D models being drawn over.
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby megatronus » Mon Mar 18, 2019 6:32 pm

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Just noticed the Ascenticon logo is basically an upside down Decepticon symbol:

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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby Rodimus Prime » Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:53 pm

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Great review, guys! ;)^

I'm gonna keep this short, but my initial impression is that they tried to cram too much into the first issue. Since Rubble is (supposed to be?) a main character, the first issue should have focused on him for the most part. There's time for everything else later, especially since the issues arrive every 2 weeks. Maybe a couple of panels with Opti...er, Orion Pax, kinda mentioning the Ascensionists, along with Megatron, but nothing else. This issue should have been about Rubble and Bumblebee. Let Megatron debut in the next issue.

Having said that, I do understand that Ruckley most likely has the story written for the entire 12-issue run, and a certain pace is required to include everything. I still think it's too much at once for the start. Otherwise, not bad.

I still say that if they wanted to get a true new start, they should have gotten away from the tired old characters like Prime, Bee and Megatron, and gone with some lesser featured but still somewhat important characters. I would have loved to see Ultra Magnus and Shockwave be the central authority characters (they even have toys out already!) in the series, with Megatron and Optimus filling other roles. I'm still hoping for a story involving Scorponok and Fortress Maximus and their respective crews, but I know this is a media supporting a toy line, so the toys we've seen will be the characters appearing. Hopefully Omega Supreme won't be just a cameo, he should be treated at least like Metroplex was, and make regular appearances.

To use your rating system, I give it 3.5 out of 5. Call me intrigued.
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Re: IDW Transformers #1 Review

Postby AllNewSuperRobot » Wed Mar 20, 2019 10:28 am

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Rodimus Prime wrote:I still say that if they wanted to get a true new start, they should have gotten away from the tired old characters like Prime, Bee and Megatron, and gone with some lesser featured but still somewhat important characters.


Thanks to HasTak's ridiculously short-sighted "Evergreen" mandate, it is doubtful we will see anything remotely original or creative for some time yet.
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