Spoiler-Free Review – Transformers: Unicron #2

Out tomorrow is Unicron #2, continuing the darkest hour of IDW’s Transformers universe. Read on for our (mostly) spoiler-free review of the issue!

The Transformers: Unicron #2

Main Story: Written by John Barber, Line-Art by Alex Milne, Colors by Sebastian Cheng

Backup Story: Written by David Rodriguez, Art by Nelson Dániel

Letters by Tom B. Long, Edits by David Mariotte

Where Transformers: Unicron #1 dove in feet first without taking a moment to breathe, the second issue slows down to reflect on the aftermath of the Autobots’ disastrous attack on Unicron. The main two threads of the issue – Bumblebee’s investigation into the truth of what Unicron is, and the second attack on Unicron by Bludgeon’s “Decepticon Vengeance Division” fleet – intertwine and complement each other nicely, the space battle lending a pace to the more “downtime”-based focus of the rest of the issue.

Issue #1 raised several questions about the nature of the IDW version of Unicron, but didn’t stop to explore them, let alone provide answers – and while issue #2 gives no solid answers, it dances around the mystery, weaving a dreamlike tapestry that hints at, but never solidifies, the answers. Unicron’s origin is implicitly tied to past events seen in Optimus Prime and linked to plot threads from other Hasbro Universe properties, but the full truth of the matter will have to wait for another issue or two, so that everyone in-universe can learn it. It’s certainly an intriguing vision, but it remains to be seen how it will stack up to other versions of the Unicron myth.

Bludgeon’s subplot, meanwhile, brings its own interesting twists. Though acting under the command of Starscream, the Decepticon samurai has his own agenda (as previously revealed in the pages of Optimus Prime), and the Maximals are revealed to have a more intricate part to play than “disposable beast mooks” – one that may, in fact, tie back to yet another of Simon Furman’s “-ations” concepts. On a related note, Starscream doesn’t seem to have lost all the depth that he’s displayed in IDW in the past – though still a self-centered, arrogant schemer, it’s apparent that he genuinely does believe that what he’s doing is best for everyone.
Alex Milne’s artwork continues to be incredible, displaying an absurd amount of detail and creativity in character designs. Cheng’s colours remain a perfect complement to Milne’s art; the backgrounds and environments are subdued and atmospheric, allowing the characters – coloured in bright, traditional hues –to stand out vividly without distracting.

This issue’s backup feature, “Last Stand”, is something of a curiosity – focusing on the human heroes of G.I. Joe, this short story seems to be set later in Unicron’s story, after the chaos bringer’s attack has reached Earth. Though G.I. Joe vol. 5 author Aubrey Sitterson doesn’t return for this story, Scarlett’s Strike Force artist Nelson Dániel and First Strike co-author David Rodriguez have created a brief but satisfying epilogue to the IDW Joes’ story – albeit one that doesn’t seem to be written with the unreleased issues of Scarlett’s Strike Force in mind.

All in all, issue #2 ramps up the mystery satisfyingly; if you felt that the first issue was somewhat “shallow”, this might be the issue that sells you on the finale to the IDW universe.

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