IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

The IDW Comics universe has had such a different take on G1, one that's now significantly represented by the Generations toys, so they share a forum. A modern take on a Real Cybertronian Hero. Currently starring Generations toys, IDW "The Transformers" comics, MTMTE, TF vs GI Joe, and Windblade.
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andersonh1
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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Titans Return #1
Written by Mairghread Scott, James Roberts, and John Barber
Art by Livio Ramondelli

Otherwise known as "we're running out of villains, so let's bring Sentinel Prime back from the dead after millions of years." Rewind plays some old footage of the supposedly dead Sentinel Prime's body being desecrated as the head disappears. Megatron denies having anything to do with it. Meanwhile on Cybertron, Sentinel confronts the Autobots, disappointed in what they've become in his absence, and it's pretty laughable how many different kinds of bigotry the writers give Sentinel Prime so we know for sure that he's bad, bad, bad. At the end of the issue he heads through the spacebridge to Earth to confront Optimus.

So this has art from Ramondelli, the continuation of ongoing Cybertron and Earth-based plotlines, and what is probably toy-based but still a very contrived return to life by Sentinel Prime, killed in "Megatron Origin" at the very beginning of this continuity. It's a crossover issue between the three ongoing series at the time, essentially, even if it's a one-shot.

The Transformers #56–57
Written by John Barber
Art by Andrew Griffith, Livio Ramondelli, Priscilla Tramontano

The story picks up where Titans Return left off with Sentinel confronting Alpha Trion (who is a Prime) and then Optimus. G. I. Joe enters the series for the first time, replacing the EDC, and we find out just exactly who Blackrock is. He's "Sovereign", a Titan Master sent to Earth for nefarious purposes. And Arcee contacts Prowl to let him know what's up, and all the Autobots and Decepticons who were fighting out in the ocean are STILL fighting out in the ocean. Seriously, this book had a glacial pace, something I remember well back when I was reading it. Optimus drives Sentinel back off-world, no doubt to appear in MTMTE for the other half of the crossover.

Decent issues, and the final two of the book that started out as RID and then morphed into just The Transformers. It's come a long way from Bumblebee trying to lead Cybertron to becoming the Earth-based series. The quality is all over the place, but I will say that I've enjoyed re-reading it in collected format more than I ever enjoyed the single issues.

More than Meets the Eye #56–57
Written by James Roberts
Art by Priscilla Tramontano

We don't head to the Lost Light for these final two issues of MTMTE, we follow up on Red Alert and Fortress Maximus, along with Prowl, who all take on Sentinel Prime and his plan to use sleeper agent Red Alert and a bunch of damaged Titans that he controls to "sanitize" Cybertron of all the impure Cybertronians. We actually get a Titan-sized Fortress Maximus in these issues, and a Prowl who is enjoying being out of the loop since his fight with Optimus during Combiner Wars. Sentinel is defeated as abruptly as he appeared, knocked down a mile and a half high smokestack by one of the animal Transformers in a way that's meant to be ironic I suppose.

And that's the end of volume 12. Phase 2 is done as it reaches the end of both RID/Transformers and MTMTE. Up next: the Hasbroverse begins with Volume 1 of Phase 3, in which Transformers get competition from several other Hasbro-owned properties in what may be the most ill-advised crossover IDW attempted. I'm not a fan of Revolution.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Transformers the IDW Collection Phase 3, Volume 1

On to phase 3, volume 1, which has a very similar design to the phase 2 books. Windblade gets the cover, and I still don't get why people weren't as annoyed with her as they were with Drift, given that IDW shilled both characters so much. I like the character in both IDW1 and IDW2 continuities, but she has far too prominent a role at the expense of many long-standing G1 characters who could be getting some panel time.

I'm not a big fan of this crossover in all honesty, because I'm reading these books for the Transformers, so all the other Hasbro characters and properties that get introduced don't do a lot for me. G.I. Joe I'm at least familiar with, and Rom the Space Knight at least fits in visually with robot main characters, but Action Man? Micronauts? MASK is at least given the plausible (in this continuity) explanation of their transforming vehicles being derived from Transformers technology, but a lot of characters that have nothing to do with each other are forced together into a universe in a way that doesn't work well at all. G. I. Joe taking the place of the EDC as the human organization opposing the Transformers is fine, but every other property struggles to find a relevant place in the storyline.

Revolution: Prelude
written by John Barber
art by Fico Desio

This is one of those "the story so far" issues, where the entirety of IDW Transformers continuity up to this point is summarized as Joe Colton, founder of G. I. Joe talks about the situation with Scarlett. We see Ratchet fighting Runamuck and Runabout from Infiltration, Starscream with the Ore-13, the Earth-based cast of those early Furman/EJ Su issues, All Hail Megatron, and the Transformers leaving Earth from the end of Costa's run. And since it's members of G. I. Joe discussing this history, we get a few panels going into their history with Cobra, since the Autobots leaving was the last the humans would have seen until Optimus returned very recently. Galvatron's pretended friendship and Optimus annexing Earth are covered.

And then we get the introduction of new characters: Ian Noble, Action Man; MASK; Rom; and others are hinted at. Miles Manheim (later Mayhem) has not only some Ore-13, but the head of Blitzwing as well. Blitzwing is still alive and begging for death, but Manheim just tells him to keep quiet. I actually have this issue since it was either a free or a cheap preview, but it was pretty much the last IDW Transformers book I read, and it was months after I had dropped the other series. It's not a bad review of Earth-based IDW Transformers up to this point, and Fico Desio does try to emulate the character models from those earlier stories, which is appreciated. Thin, but hopefully a decent intro to those new readers this crossover was undoubtedly hoping to draw in. I don't think it worked or that there was any appreciable bump in sales.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Revolution #1
Written by John Barber & Cullen Bunn
art by Fico Desio

The book opens with Action Man discovering Ore-13 and barely escaping with his life when it detonates, while Joe Colton speaks with the US President. Ore-13 has become unstable worldwide and is a real threat to life on Earth. The Transformers serving under Optimus Prime are also aware of the situation and working on a way to deal with the threat. When G. I. Joe attacks Jazz and Arcee as they attempt to help flood victims, a major battle between G. I. Joe and the Transformers ensues, only for a stranger to interject himself into the battle. It's Rom, who kills Joe Colton, escalating the situation, so Optimus pulls his troops out. Scarlett declares that Optimus has just started a war.

I've never read G. I. Joe, so I don't know how on-character any of them are. From my point of view, Scarlett has just taken Marissa Fairborne's place, and this feels largely like the repetition of familiar story beats from recent Transformers issues, including Jazz losing yet another arm in the fight. It's fine as a setup and I did enjoy the reference back to Furman's work with Ore-13 in a way that makes far better use of it than Dark Cybertron did. The opening issue of the crossover is honestly not all that bad or inconsistent with what came before.

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Best of Megatron (one-shot)

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Transformers: Best of Megatron

This is a 100 page reprint book. With a bit more content and a bound (rather than stapled) spine, it would qualify as a compilation and sell for $20+.

IDW has actually published "Best of..." compilations for "Transformers" 10+ years ago. At the time, it was relatively early in IDW's run with the license, and much of the content was from Marvel and Dreamwave. IDW sold the volumes as character-studies, and used them to fill out their catalogue or product (and build presence on retailer shelves while creating a market for compilations of previous material).

Now, after 15+ years with the license, IDW is using the "Best of..." format to quickly/easily release a bit more product before they lose the license forever. After 15+ years, IDW can focus on content that they have produced, instead of relying on content from previous license holders. (I am not sure how likely it is, but IDW might be hoping to drive demand for additional compilations before they lose the license.)

While I do not have IDW's previous "Best of Megatron" compilation handy (it is either packed away, or I have given it away in a collection purge), I recall thinking that the selections were relatively weak, particularly given how much content was available. (I maintain that issue 24 of the Marvel run is the single most over-exposed issue of "Transformers" in the brand's history. There are other issues that have been reprinted more, but none with so little merit. Luckily, it is not reprinted here. I digress.)

The weak selection problem has carried over to IDW's last cash grab. (

With the exception of Marvel issue 70, the 2022 edition of "Best of Megatron" is drawn entirely from IDW's time with the license. The best selection is the conversation with Prime from "Chaos Theory", with the first issue of "Megatron: Origin" being respectable. And, while two issues's of content is worth the $8 price tag, that does not justify the relative waste of the other offerings.

Putting aside how badly that Furman's (generally appreciated) US run has aged, issue 70 is a bad choice for a Megatron-focused volume. Issue 13 ("Shooting Star") or issue 25 ("Gone but Not Forgotten") were both more defining issues from the Marvel run (and examples of content that was not written by Furman). Even if IDW was prioritizing for Furman, issue 57 ("the Resurrection Gambit!") or issue 78 ("A Savage Circle") would have made more sense than the Oprimus/Grimlock focused issue 70.

IDW also includes a chapter from "Autocracy"". As much as I appreciate Ramondelli's art, it does not carry Dille and Metzen's writing. "Autocracy" was forgettable at best when it was published.

Finally, there is a reprint from the post-"Dark Cybertron" run "More than Meets the Eye". It is the issue where the crew of the Lost Light finds the quantum duplicated ship with the massacred crew and Megatron is a good guy and...... As praised as that particular run of comics was, it is a poor introduction to the franchise. It is the wrong mix of lore, minutia divorced from any context.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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They had that Best of Megatron collection in my pull list last week, but I ended up leaving it on the shelf. I have all the stories they reprinted either as original issues or in other collections. It would have been a redundant purchase for me.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Till All Are One: Revolution
Written by Mairghread Scott
Art by Naoto Tsushima

This book is essentially a continuation of Windblade under another name. She is summoned to Earth by Pyra Magna and Soundwave on behalf of Optimus, so she can communicate with Metrotitan and find out why he isn't talking. Metrotitan's systems are all fine and they finally determine that it's not that he can't speak, he won't. When Windblade interfaces, he's offended but passes along a message from Micronus Prime, so once again we're getting a character from another continuity integrated into IDW continuity. And as I suspected, he's being used to introduce the Micronauts as Windblade is introduced to one of them by Micronus Prime. I've never read Micronauts (wasn't it a licensed Marvel series?) and don't know much about them, and a new reader won't learn much about them here. The bottom line is that Micronus Prime created microspace and needs Ore-13 to save it, but Optimus refuses.

So this is the introduction of the Micronauts. I'm not any more interested in them after reading it than I was before, nor do I know much about them other than how cliched the villains are, because that's who we meet here. The means used to get Windblade into the Revolution story seem contrived, but I don't know what else they could have done. Including Micronus Prime as the creator of Microspace as a way to get the Micronauts into the story is probably the best idea in the book, but that's not saying much. A dreary mess of an issue.

And the current Pyra Magna is magnitudes more interesting and better characterized than the version in this continuity.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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So I was debating whether to get volumes 2 and 3 of Phase 3, and after starting volume 1 up again... I think the last volume was a good place to stop. Phase 3 volume 1 is a real slog to get through, which is why I haven't reviewed anything for quite some time.

Revolution #2-3
Written by John Barber & Cullen Bunn
Art by Fico Desio

So the crossover continues as G.I. Joe, led by Scarlett, pick up after the battle, while Rom takes on Optimus and the standard Earth-based cast at this point in IDW Transformers: Jazz, Soundwave, Arcee, and of course Windblade. Meanwhile MASK is introduced as Miles Mayhem is disassembling a still-living and very much in pain Blitzwing a bit at a time to understand how he works. You know, it's been a while since I read any of these books, and I had forgotten what immoral monsters some of IDW's characters are, both humans and Decepticons. And Autobots too, if we throw in Prowl and a few others. Linking MASK's mode-shifting vehicles to Transformers tech is one of the few sensible ideas in this ill-advised crossover.

Then we get Micronauts added into the story, and I can honestly say that I've never read a single page of past Micronauts series and have no real understanding of who they are or what the appeal of these characters is meant to be. And the story doesn't offer much explanation as issue 3 opens in "Microspace" with a group of varied characters on a spacecraft. They are named and briefly described, and it still means nothing to me, meaning I have no investment at all in the fate of these characters. At least when we get back to the Transformers and Rom, the Ore-13 plot is revisited and I'm reminded what the overall storyline is supposed to be, though it's overwhelmed by all the new characters being thrown at the reader. Rom works, because he looks robotic so he fits the Transformers aesthetic, and because he's a single character with an easy to understand story. GI Joe has replaced the EDC, so I understand their role even if I'm not familiar with the characters. MASK I remember, but visually they're not that distinguishable from GI Joe, so they tend to become part of the faceless mass of human antagonists, and as for the Micronauts.... well, as I said, I don't know and really don't care.

The art reminds me of Andrew Wildman, though it's not him. It's very detailed, very fluid, and doesn't quite match the usual IDW house styles. I continue to think this crossover is bloated with far too many characters, only about a quarter of which I have any investment in. I'm not surprised that IDW only limped along for a few more years of their original continuity after this, readers had to be bailing.

Transformers: Revolution
Written by John Barber
Art by Andrew Griffith

Marcelo Matere's cover is good, invoking classic Transformers with his rendition of Optimus, Thundercracker and Soundwave. However once we get to the main story, I'm going to say what I've been thinking about a lot of IDW at this point: it's drowning in "girlboss" storytelling. We're not getting a good balance of male and female characters, the women are dominating the books. And they're basically written as violent, physically intimidating men. It's a bunch of Rings of Power Galadriels filling the pages of IDW's Transformers, whether it's Scarlett leading GI Joe, or Windblade slowly becoming the face of the franchise, or Marissa Faireborne slaughtering aliens (who kill the men) and ordering Thundercracker around. There's very little real plot in this issue, it's the ostensible good guys slaughtering the aliens who are trying to slaughter them. At least the aliens are after the Ore-13, so there's a link to the main book. The main alien is killed when she rips off Thundercracker's arm, the ammo in it explodes, and she's impaled on the Washington monument.

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Re: Dreamwave G1 read-through

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"Revolution" was terrible.

Hasbro tries to use their most (arguably only) viable property to carry or relaunch failing and moribun properties. MASK might have stood on its own. But, tying in the back story to that idiotic Dire Wraith storyline killed it as something that could work on its own. IDW never knew what to do with Joes. And, Visionaries is proabably the worst relaunch I have ever seen. (And, that is counting DC's "Space Ghost" and Image's "Thundercats".)

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