IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review

IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015 7:31am CDT

Categories: Comic Book News, Reviews, Site Articles
Posted by: Va'al   Views: 33,533

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Combiner Whaaa?
(Spoiler free-ish)



Synopsis
FINAL BATTLE! The last of the Combiners face off… but who is in control of the ultimate combiner? And who will emerge with the key to dominating the galaxy?

Transformers News: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review
Could it be Swindle?


Story

The final chapter, more or less, of the IDW Transformers Combiner Wars Mairghread Scott/John Barber crossover arc, takes place in the third issue of the new Windblade ongoing, with Scott taking the lead on the writing once more, and dwelling a little further on what Combiners actually are, and the ever expanding universe of our favourite transforming robots.

Transformers News: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review
But am in two minds..


I'll say this immediately - I am still pondering about this issue, for a number of reasons. I like Scott's writing, and the dialogue between the multiple characters (perhaps too many for one issue?) is sharp, well-paced and placed, and gives some good insights on them. The overall script, on the other hand, feels like it suffers from similar problems that affected the middle portion of the arc, and may again be due to the sheer number of sides, plots and stories it's trying to combine together under the event banner.

Transformers News: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review
Think of the press!


What does emerge from it all, though, is Good Stuff: Starscream is a questionable, but also capable ruler after all, in his own way; Optimus is a good leader, but there is something uncomfortable about his influence; Prowl is still being used, by his own self and others, but may find peace eventually; the Camiens and their dynamics are shifting, slowly but surely, and we might see further friction - just to name a few repercussions on the IDWverse.

Transformers News: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review
AND PUNCHING


Additionally, this ending (and the ending of the book itself, which is fabulous) leaves some extremely tantalising openings for what's to come in Windblade and The Transformers, for sure, and it does enough to show a more ominous side to characters who we'd think we'd be able to place on a political chessboard by now. And for that, it leads in nicely in what I hope the ongoings will develop - it's unfortunate that it feels attached to a wider story that could've done much more.

Art

The art took a surprise turn, and one that also still leaves mixed feelings, as the expected Sarah Stone saw instead two new artists take her place: Marcelo Ferreira and Corin Howell. The former, working on just over half of the issue, takes a ragged edge to the art we've seen by them previously, and together with Yamaishi's colours and the inks by Brian Shearer and John Wycough, does an impressive inside job of the workings of many minds as one in a very good sequence in the book - though with some unexplained moments in character palettes.

Transformers News: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review
Not Very Optimist Maximus


Howell, on the other hand, begins to show the Animated-esque work she will bring to the Windblade series, with some excellent body language, facial expressivity and interactions between the diplomatic sides of aggressive negotiations in the new, wider world(s) of the Spacebridge network far far beyond Cybertron, and her line and inks work well with Thomas Teyowisonte Deer's smooth colour skills.

Transformers News: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review
In yo FACE


I have nothing to add on Tom B. Long's fantastic lettering work, nor on the selection of covers: Optimus Maximus, from Marcelo Matere's packaging art, is shown again in the retailer incentive, while Prowl takes Enigmatic centre stage with Casey Coller and Joana Lafuente, and we finally get to see the second half of Livio Ramondelli's ensemble combiner poster on cover B (thumbnail). The one thing that does not work as much, art-wise, is the sudden arrival of the very different styles that, taken on their account I have no qualms with at all (crosshatching and expressions, put me down for those any time) - but in a series dominated by sudden art shifts, feel a little jarring as a shift into the final issue.


Thoughts
Spoilerish ahead

As the conclusion of the Combiner Wars event, which has done some interesting, if wavering, things to the Transformers universe as we currently know it in IDW - this issue was not up to any expectation I had. It did some things very well, such as show the inner workings of gestalt technology, establishing Starscream's role, and some added very intriguing ramifications for the two series to continue - especially with Windblade, as we have seen practically nothing of Earth these past months. But.

Transformers News: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review
Me too, buddy


I think I'm pleased that we will see a little more of what happened here, and what is starting to happen, in the Combiner Hunters one-shot and 'arcs' in the coming months, but much like the middle chapter in this particular event, there was an uncomfortable feeling of rushed, unfinished, rough script, which did not allow the two artists to shine as much as they could. I am, however, hopeful about both ongoings from this point onwards.

. :BOT: :BOT: :BOT: - out of :BOT: :BOT: :BOT: :BOT: :BOT:

Credit(s): IDW, Va'al


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Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696705)
Posted by MrBlack on June 10th, 2015 @ 8:30am CDT
I'm on board with that review.

There is some really good stuff in Combiner Wars, but it's crammed into a too-full story with a number of glaring flaws.

Something that just struck me: Who has the Enigma of Combination now? Prowl was the last one to use it, but did he keep it (and would Starscream let him)? Did he hand it off to Rattrap after using it? Does Optimus have it?
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696707)
Posted by Va'al on June 10th, 2015 @ 8:35am CDT
I know, it just feels.. both short and rushed, while also drawn out. Strange.

As for the question, Rattrap was the last to handle it, in part 4, when Optimus Maximus was formed. But I have not seen it since, I assume Starscream/Rattrap still have it. :-?
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696708)
Posted by Randomhero on June 10th, 2015 @ 8:36am CDT
I don't know what to think about this series. I have and will defend Dark Cybertron, but I really didn't enjoy this series. This issue was satisfying but as a whole, it just felt like it went nowhere and did very little. I don't even feel it started strong. I'm glad it's over(aside from the epilogue coming soon) just so we can get back to what's going on back on earth, but this story will have a big effect on characters in Johns ongoing.
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696716)
Posted by Alpha Dominus on June 10th, 2015 @ 9:14am CDT
I've only just read the first issue of the Windblade mini so's I can't really comment much on story development. Based on what I've seen of the actual artwork so far,sadly,it falls short.(Pun intended)Every time I see a combiner their scale seems to match any other Transformer. This is how the power of extreme angles can do much to sell their awesomeness. Rather than a standard eye-level shot, any time a combiner is at a mid to wide view, they should be drawn at an extreme low or elevated angle. "Aerial" shots would do much to convey their size in comparison to their environment just as a low angle shot would exude their sheer might and enormity over all unfortunate opponents in their path. For all the (much deserved) condemnations against Dreamwave their artists could sure express the massive scale of these robots. For now,the combiners all look so ordinary and the art fails to capture any intimidating qualities that would portray them as unique or powerful.
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696721)
Posted by Henry921 on June 10th, 2015 @ 9:18am CDT
Va'al wrote:I know, it just feels.. both short and rushed, while also drawn out. Strange.

As for the question, Rattrap was the last to handle it, in part 4, when Optimus Maximus was formed. But I have not seen it since, I assume Starscream/Rattrap still have it. :-?


IDW hasn't had the best track record with their "event" comics, have they? They always get a bit muddled. Dark Cybertron had a great plot that got bogged down a bit by minutiae and three panel cameos of new toy characters. Combiner Wars seems to have suffered from more real world problems with delays and reshuffling of artists, hence the numerous errors in these last three issues. Pacing is usually solid from both Barber and Scott, but the numerous cameos at the end seem to be Scott seeding the rest of the Windblade ongoing rather than giving this story arc a complete resolution. Interesting plot threads to be sure, but we needed a tiny bit more resolution, especially for the Optimus Maximus components, who got buildup for three issues and then... no real payoff.
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696728)
Posted by megatronus on June 10th, 2015 @ 9:35am CDT
This arc was merely a shuffle towards more interesting things, as evidenced by the ending. I'm glad it's over.

This is Exhibit A for where increased collaboration between IDW and Hasbro goes the other way; rather than the comics influencing the toys, we have the toys as a line seriously constricting what IDW can do with the comics beyond the occasional Starscream body swap or random Tankor-type cameo.

This arc also continued to be less focused on Caminus in favor of perpetuating the struggle for power and influence on Cybertron. I'm glad the Mistress of Flame is back, but I can't help but feel more could have been done to characterize or empower the Camiens, or flesh out the world, history and belief system a bit more. I recognize that may be an unrealistic expectation, but it's still something I'd like to see.

The upside of this latest issue: we now know which Combaticon is going to be replaced! ;)
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696735)
Posted by MrBlack on June 10th, 2015 @ 10:15am CDT
Henry921 wrote:
Va'al wrote:I know, it just feels.. both short and rushed, while also drawn out. Strange.

As for the question, Rattrap was the last to handle it, in part 4, when Optimus Maximus was formed. But I have not seen it since, I assume Starscream/Rattrap still have it. :-?


IDW hasn't had the best track record with their "event" comics, have they? They always get a bit muddled. Dark Cybertron had a great plot that got bogged down a bit by minutiae and three panel cameos of new toy characters. Combiner Wars seems to have suffered from more real world problems with delays and reshuffling of artists, hence the numerous errors in these last three issues. Pacing is usually solid from both Barber and Scott, but the numerous cameos at the end seem to be Scott seeding the rest of the Windblade ongoing rather than giving this story arc a complete resolution. Interesting plot threads to be sure, but we needed a tiny bit more resolution, especially for the Optimus Maximus components, who got buildup for three issues and then... no real payoff.

Dark Cybertron suffered a bit for the fact that the first half of the event was moving characters into place for the last half. The story really picked up towards the end, and was ultimately a great Shockwave tale.
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696766)
Posted by Munkky on June 10th, 2015 @ 11:18am CDT
More than anything I just can't wait until Eukaris is explored. I've read on TFWiki that Airazor and Tigatron cameo at the end, which is excellent, and I'd love it if Cheetor, Terrorsaur and Tarantulus appear as well.
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696777)
Posted by Super Megatron on June 10th, 2015 @ 12:26pm CDT
Image

The self-pity/emo quality of Optimus is obviously dominating the gestalt in this scene. I'm really hoping IDW will eventually writing out this annoying aspecting of Optimus in the future stories.
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696785)
Posted by King Kuuga on June 10th, 2015 @ 12:54pm CDT
Okay, the fights were decent, and it was nice to see the inner struggle of Optimus Maximus as Prowl fought for control from Optimus and the others, and they eventually swayed him to their way of thinking. Also, we finally saw the world the way Prowl sees it, as numbers and probabilities. Kind of depressing. But they came together in the end!

Very interesting how they basically say we won't see Optimus Maximus again, not that I think anybody is shedding any tears over that. He was the epitome of product placement and the story probably would have worked better without him.

The resolution was too short, too rushed, as others have said. It's not exactly a return to status quo, but it doesn't seem to shake things up as much as it could have. The biggest thing to come out of this event seems to be the reunion with Caminus and the preparation to reunite with the other lost colonies. Bring on Combiner Hunters!
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696786)
Posted by Genericon #378 on June 10th, 2015 @ 12:55pm CDT
Seriously IDW? What the hell were you thinking?! Killing Swindle? Ian's replacing him with some generic? :BOOM: And don't think about asking why I'm not complaining about Slingshot and Wildrider being replaced, because I'll tell you why right now: those two were nobodies. Swindle is freakin' SWINDLE! He's the guy that sells you parts and other stuff for a really "great" price.
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696793)
Posted by bluecatcinema on June 10th, 2015 @ 1:13pm CDT
Genericon #378 wrote:Seriously IDW? What the hell were you thinking?! Killing Swindle? Ian's replacing him with some generic? :BOOM: And don't think about asking why I'm not complaining about Slingshot and Wildrider being replaced, because I'll tell you why right now: those two were nobodies. Swindle is freakin' SWINDLE! He's the guy that sells you parts and other stuff for a really "great" price.


I can't help but wonder what this means for the rumored Combaticon set. Will Swindle be replaced by some other 'con?
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696799)
Posted by King Kuuga on June 10th, 2015 @ 1:32pm CDT
As long as the actual Combiner Wars storyline is over, they don't care about tieing the toys in so closely. We'll probably get a full Bruticus, just like we're getting a full Devastator.
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696801)
Posted by CaptainMagic on June 10th, 2015 @ 1:33pm CDT
Does it seem to anyone else that this story, which exists solely to support the CW toyline, totally fails to sell the combiners effectively? No media that I'm aware of has ever done a very good job of selling the mix and match aspect of combiners, but this story is actively discouraging it by having Superion state that Optimus Maximus doesn't exist without Prowl.

I really want to see the fiction latch on to the ability to use anyone as a limb and basically give all of the torsos Galvatronus's ability to force any bot to combine with them. I think the combiner side of the story would have been stronger with an angle like that, because it would encourage separating the combiners back into individual bots from time to time and they could play around with the idea of having bots suddenly be forced to fight against their own side, kind of like Fixit being that combiner's arm in the new RiD cartoon.

Still though, I'm excited to see the colonies and I think the main story is still going pretty strong. I just wish they would have done a better job of integrating the combiner stuff.
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696802)
Posted by Gearslide on June 10th, 2015 @ 1:35pm CDT
Genericon #378 wrote:Seriously IDW? What the hell were you thinking?! Killing Swindle? Ian's replacing him with some generic? :BOOM: And don't think about asking why I'm not complaining about Slingshot and Wildrider being replaced, because I'll tell you why right now: those two were nobodies. Swindle is freakin' SWINDLE! He's the guy that sells you parts and other stuff for a really "great" price.


Did you read the comic? Because that rant makes it seem like you didn't read the comic. Unless you don't understand that Rattrap is known to lie and Swindle is known to act.
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696807)
Posted by King Kuuga on June 10th, 2015 @ 1:39pm CDT
CaptainMagic wrote:Does it seem to anyone else that this story, which exists solely to support the CW toyline, totally fails to sell the combiners effectively? No media that I'm aware of has ever done a very good job of selling the mix and match aspect of combiners, but this story is actively discouraging it by having Superion state that Optimus Maximus doesn't exist without Prowl.

I really want to see the fiction latch on to the ability to use anyone as a limb and basically give all of the torsos Galvatronus's ability to force any bot to combine with them. I think the combiner side of the story would have been stronger with an angle like that, because it would encourage separating the combiners back into individual bots from time to time and they could play around with the idea of having bots suddenly be forced to fight against their own side, kind of like Fixit being that combiner's arm in the new RiD cartoon.

I agree. Scramble City has been woefully undersold since.... pretty much always. Make a story about combiners switching limbs and how it impacts their combined personality. We got a little of that with Scoopastator but, ironically, Devastator is the only toy of the five combiners featured that DOESN'T have the ability to mix and match. Imagine if Prowl had bonded with Superion, or even Menasor. What if Defensor got both Alpha Bravo and Blades. There's a world of possibilities that deserve exploring.
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696810)
Posted by TGS1985 on June 10th, 2015 @ 2:01pm CDT
ScottyP wrote:I don't like the art. No, seriously, that style could be ok, but not given how the rest of Combiner Wars has looked. In the context of this story, I passionately dislike how this looks.


I have to overall agree. It's not that Howell's art isn't good (it is good), it's just her style didn't seem to be a good fit. I see the similarities between her and Stone but where as Stone's was very animated when it comes to facial expressions and whatnot, Howell's is just overall cartoony. In fact her work reminds me a lot of the early Archie TMNT comics. So having said that, I would love to see her work on some less serious MTMTE oneshots in the future. But as what I assumed was an emergency/unplanned replacement for Stone, I think we could of ended up with a lot worse.

Super Megatron wrote:Image

The self-pity/emo quality of Optimus is obviously dominating the gestalt in this scene. I'm really hoping IDW will eventually writing out this annoying aspecting of Optimus in the future stories.


I didn't take that scene as an "Emo Optimus" but more as a powered downed Optimus Maximus as he struggles to communicate internally with Prowl after just becoming an combiner for the first time.

Gearslide wrote:
Genericon #378 wrote:Seriously IDW? What the hell were you thinking?! Killing Swindle? Ian's replacing him with some generic? :BOOM: And don't think about asking why I'm not complaining about Slingshot and Wildrider being replaced, because I'll tell you why right now: those two were nobodies. Swindle is freakin' SWINDLE! He's the guy that sells you parts and other stuff for a really "great" price.


Did you read the comic? Because that rant makes it seem like you didn't read the comic. Unless you don't understand that Rattrap is known to lie and Swindle is known to act.


EXACTLY. I was worried Swindle was actually going to be killed off for good until Rattrap of all bots was the one and ONLY one to "confirm" his death. If anything that right there tells me that Swindle WILL be back.

CaptainMagic wrote:Does it seem to anyone else that this story, which exists solely to support the CW toyline, totally fails to sell the combiners effectively? No media that I'm aware of has ever done a very good job of selling the mix and match aspect of combiners, but this story is actively discouraging it by having Superion state that Optimus Maximus doesn't exist without Prowl.


All I can say is that for me personally as an non-serious collector I never really found myself thinking to myself, "Man maybe I should throw some $$ down on these things." Actually I take that back, I am really interested in Generations Magnus... but that's solely thanks to the entirety of MTMTE. Then of course there's Devastator, which I totally realize is targeted to the hardcore collector. As an outsider looking in at the end of it all it just felt like Hasbro tried way too hard to sell the concept.
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696837)
Posted by CaptainMagic on June 10th, 2015 @ 3:09pm CDT
CaptainMagic wrote:Does it seem to anyone else that this story, which exists solely to support the CW toyline, totally fails to sell the combiners effectively? No media that I'm aware of has ever done a very good job of selling the mix and match aspect of combiners, but this story is actively discouraging it by having Superion state that Optimus Maximus doesn't exist without Prowl.


All I can say is that for me personally as an non-serious collector I never really found myself thinking to myself, "Man maybe I should throw some $$ down on these things." Actually I take that back, I am really interested in Generations Magnus... but that's solely thanks to the entirety of MTMTE. Then of course there's Devastator, which I totally realize is targeted to the hardcore collector. As an outsider looking in at the end of it all it just felt like Hasbro tried way too hard to sell the concept.[/quote]

Good point. The combiners, and by extension the whole event, seem like they were rushed into the story before the writers were really ready for them, and then they don't even inspire people to go buy the toys. I think that you're right in that it feels like they're trying to push the concept too much, but even worse than that I think they're pushing the wrong angle on the concept, hence my lament that they don't mention the mix and match idea at all.

Your point about Magnus is also a good indicator of what's wrong with this event. We've had a few years now to get to know Magnus and we've seen him in so many different situations that almost everyone should have been able to find a reason to like him by now. CW expects us to grow that same sort of attachment with five issues of the combiners doing nothing other than beating the crap out of each other. The only characters that I really found myself connecting with were ones that are already out of stores or don't have toys yet (Rattrap, Swindle, and that's actually it). It's a shame too because the comic formerly known as RiD has been doing such great things with characterization post-Dark Cybertron. Hopefully we get back to that now that CW is over.
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696838)
Posted by Bounti76 on June 10th, 2015 @ 3:13pm CDT
Am I the only one who is completely creeped out by Elita One in this issue? That weird smile, broken helmet, sitting on a chair/throne made out of Transformer corpses? I'm creeped out, but curious how this version of Elita will turn out.
Re: IDW Transformers: Combiner Wars #5 - Windblade #3 Review (1696844)
Posted by budmaloney on June 10th, 2015 @ 3:21pm CDT
I didn't like this comic that much. It wasn't the art. I prefer this Animated cartoon feel. It felt like went by too fast and dragged on forever like you mentioned in the review. Kind of like Dragon ball Z. This whole series was lots of teasing and pretty much "drifting" in pacific rim is their inspiration for combining. Not a fan of Optimus combining. Bigger doesn't always mean better in this case.

Nice to see all the new colonies though

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