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Transformers #2 (2023) review

We’re back in business, huh?

Yep, a brand-new Transformers comic series after nearly ten months of no new Transformers comics! With Robert Kirkman’s Void Rivals having launched Skybound’s new Energon Universe, noted writer/artist rolled-into-one Daniel Warren Johnson takes the reins on what will likely be the linchpin of this new initiative.

In this second issue, Optimus Prime and his functioning Autobots must quickly adjust to the new world they’ve awakened into, while Starscream and the active Decepticons cause even more havoc! The larger world takes notice of the giant robots running amok and musters a response, but can anything prepare anyone for a threat on this level?

So thrill me, now that the Big Ark Nap is over, it’s balls-to-the-wall action, right?

Well, yes and no… this issue mostly focuses on the Autobots and Optimus in particular getting more acquainted with their new settings and human friends Spike and Carly. Meanwhile, the Decepticons continue their rampage as they try to wrangle a new energy source. Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer’s art continues to stand out here as everything from the crazy action to the quieter character moments are portrayed with style and flair. I think this might be the first time in a Transformers continuity that Spike explains WHY he’s named “Spike”, so that’s kinda… quirky.

One thing DWJ nails here is the deep compassion that should be the bedrock of Optimus Prime’s character. That compassion has sometimes been overwhelming to the point of absurdity (see Marvel Optimus Prime committing suicide over glorified Tetris) and sometimes completely absent (somehow seven live-action movies failed to capture it at all), but it is firmly in place with this incarnation of the character. I also enjoyed the spotlight on Cliffjumper, who officially debuts here as the first Autobot Ratchet manages to revive. He’s often a guy who is overshadowed by Bumblebee and this series seems like a place he could shine for a change.

Compassion, right. So what about that action then?

There’s more Decepticon carnage, as DWJ seems to revel in portraying the absolute disparity in power between a Transformer and humans. There is a counterbalance though, as Starscream encounters a particular human in battle who will become fairly important as the ENERGON UNIVERSE rolls on. Just as Void Rivals made sure to plug the Transformers book, so too must Transformers now plug… well, you can probably figure it out.

Random question… does Optimus Prime kill any cute animals in this issue?

Huh, why would you ask that? Well, if he does, hopefully he won’t blow himself up over it this time.

So the cube’s gotta be filling up a little more now, right?

Well-lllllll, I’d say we’re still about where we were last issue. If you are already a Transformers fan, there is actually not a lot that’s shocking or new here. There’s some nice dramatics and character moments, but this all seems a bit “safe” to me, which is kinda ironic considering the creative team probably thinks it’s all hardcore and edgy. The cliffhanger to this issue hinges on the same human who got killed at the end of last issue, oddly enough. Why? Well, he was more important than you thought!

The question becomes then, does the reader CARE? I’ll happily admit I’d rather read more about the actual Transformers themselves than the human characters, but there is a certain balance that can be achieved. I guess we’ll see how well DWJ handles that balance in the future, cuz right now, it’s just this side of “not really what I’m reading for”. Still, again… early days, so I’ll probably reserve a final judgment on Skybound’s inaugural outing with Transformers until the first arc is over.

Buy Skybound’s Transformers # 2 this week, do it for Bambi!

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