Transformers: Windblade #3 Review!
And just like that, the Combiner Wars are over. How was it? Well, it still doesn’t seem like much of a “war”, but Transformers has been prone to exaggeration since the beginning. Read on for my thoughts–here there be spoilers!
Personally I think there was a lot of wasted time and space in this saga. It began fairly well and ended nicely, but the middle had a lot of issues. Most of those were pacing, pure and simple. I got the feeling that Barber and Scott drew up a rough outline of how the event would play out but didn’t really plan who would handle which story beat, with the end result being huge expanses of talking heads (an entire issue’s worth!) and then a bit of rushing to get to the next stage of the crossover (“you five! You’re a team, right?”).
On top of that we have the art, which was seemingly randomly split across four artists and negatively affects the cohesion of the story as a whole. Ramondelli did the lion’s share and I genuinely think he turns in some great work, but unfortunately some of this was simply not him at his best. To be frank, his dark shading rarely says BUY MY TOY the way that IDW and Hasbro would want a future pack-in comic to, which is not particularly a criticism and yet is a reason he probably shouldn’t have done two-thirds of the issues.
I’ll get back to the whole in a minute though. Here and now we have this issue, and had they all been like this, I’d have few complaints. First, hello Marcelo Ferreira! I loved your work on Transformers Angry Birds! Really, this is the sort of style the entire saga should have had. It’s bright and cartoony in all the right ways. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for blocky cartoony Transformers art so I may be biased, but I think a style like this has a lot of appeal and is great for a comic that is destined to be a pack-in. I especially like the Prime-style irises that some characters have.
Although the Optimus Maximus combiner is ostensibly made from Optimus Prime (who creates Ultra Prime), the Optimus torso randomly shifts to white this issue in order to sell the repaint that will be on the shelves around the same time as the Autobots he combines with. It’s an obvious moment of selling the toy, but I found it more amusing than bothersome. Moments like that sometimes carry an odd sense of nostalgia with them.
Prowl’s heart-to-heart (head-to-head?) with his fellow Autobots was well-handled, but I’m not sure about the outcome. I felt the interior/exterior cuts kept a good clip and didn’t disrupt the pacing, which would have been really easy in such a scene. Seeing the world through Prowl’s eyes was a nice touch and explains a lot about why he’s done some of the more heinous things he’s done. I can’t quite say the same for the “why do we fall, Bruce?” pep talk that Optimus and the others give. It didn’t really resonate and I’m not clear on whether Prowl finally agreed with the others or if he just gave up trying to fight them.
I’m still not fond of the personalities of most of the Combiners; there’s a feeling that the original personalities were just mixed around for the hell of it. However, the mini-revelation that the Combiners have not uncombined because they are legitimately new life and to disassemble is to not exist… that’s a punch in the gut and a great quirk to the Enigma’s gift. It seems a bit contradictory to Hasbro’s intended “Scramble City” play pattern, but I look forward to seeing how it’s played with in further fiction.
That further fiction promises to be pretty good too. Throughout the issue we get many hints about the colonies, including new characters (that is one hell of a throne…) and Titans in forms that are very unlike the “traditional” Metroplex city and battle station modes. My favorite is what appears to be a rolling skyscraper, because it reminds me of the Phage Industries tower from Neil Gaiman’s Teknophage.
Yes, it’s perfectly all right that I’m the only one who knows what I’m talking about.
Ultimately, I loved this issue and didn’t particularly care for the rest of Combiner Wars. I’m not even sure how it’s possible–years of story potential were unleashed in a handful of pages, but the parts that led to this issue just don’t seem that essential. Combiner Wars did greatly expand IDW’s Transformers Universe, but I just don’t think the delivery was arranged that well.
So what did you think? Discuss it in our forums!