IDW ROM vs Transformers: Shining Armor #1 Review

The Revolution event is over and done with. The Hasbroverse has been established. John Barber gives us our first post-Revolution crossover within that world; Shining Armour. Rom vs the Transformers.


Thoughts and Synopsis

It’s hard to process this comic. I mean that in a good way. This is, after all, a comic series crossing over Rom the Space Knight and the Transformers. Two fictions originally developed to sell toys. Two franchises that, despite that stigma, produced some legitimately compelling fiction. So perhaps the idea that a crossover between the two could be legitimately thought-provoking isn’t so far fetched. Still, it’s just Rom vs the Transformers. And yet Barber proved that it’s going to be so much more with just one issue.
The character Stardrive frames our narrative. She’s Cybertronian. Well not exactly. It’s stated that she hails from one of Cybertron’s colonies. Not that this nuance matters to either the Galactic Council or the Solstar Order. Both organic power blocs hate and fear anything Cybertronian. Stardrive was an inactive protoform on board this unnamed colony ship as it’s shot down by a Galactic Council patrol. Rom shows up, insisting that both ships are within Solstar space. The Council ship leaves, and Rom finds Stardrive, barely alive. She’s brought back to the Order’s homeworld to be raised.
What follows is less about Rom or the Solstar Order fighting Cybertronians and more about Stardrive growing up in a society that distrusts her race on a fundamental level. She’s allowed to enrol in the academy to train as a Solstar Knight. She’s trusted enough to bring on missions. The Order’s doctors care for her. The Order makes allowances for her unique physiology. And yet the underlying bigotry is still there. Exemplified by what Stardrive is told by one of her teachers.
“With a proper Solstar upbringing you can overcome your heritage.”

Final Thoughts

The Galactic Council and the Solstar Order both justify their hatred of Cybertronians by citing the Autobot-Decepticon War. The War devastated their homeworld, and it rages across the galaxy, destroying every planet in its wake. The War proves that Cybertronians cannot be trusted.
And yet any long time IDW reader will know the justifications both groups use is rubbish. Chaos Theory Part 2 established, via a flashback, that the the other organic races of the universe have always looked down on Cybertronians. Even prior to the War breaking out. The War is not the cause of the Galactic Council or Solstar Order’s bigotry. It’s merely an excuse to justify it.
The striking part about this issue is that it examines how bigotry affects an individual who’s raised with it as a constant part of their lives. Even when it’s couched in well-meaning platitudes. Stardrive is lucky, her instructor tells her, because she can be raised free of her heritage’s influence. This intolerance is internalized by the person baring the brunt of it. We see Stardrive’s self-esteem wither, her confidence is shaky at best. She’s been taught she’s lesser her entire life. It’s a truth that resonates with many a reader. I know it resonates with me.
We’re only on issue one. There’s a lot of room for the themes at play here- prejudice, internalized effects of bigotry, fear of the other- to play out. After one issue? Well I’m just glad John Barber tuned Rom vs the Transformers into something to explore issues that desperately need to be explored.
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