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Transformers #4 (2023) review

Time to roll out?

Of course! 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 the linchpin of this new initiative, a brand-new Transformers comic series!

In this fourth issue, while Spike Witwicky’s life hangs in the balance, an injured Optimus Prime must take on the Decepticons, but will he do the unthinkable when Ratchet presents him with a possible edge to tip the balance of power? Also, someone does a wrestling move again.

The unthinkable, huh.

Well, maybe not “unthinkable”, but it was certainly a surprising moment in what has been a fairly predictable story for me so far! This fourth issue sees DWJ take some more risks and produce some surprises as the struggle between the Autobots and Decepticons becomes ever more desperate. It’s pretty welcome for a longtime fan to see something that I wasn’t expecting (although admittedly HAVE seen before) in this Transformers story.

As usual, DWJ and Mike Spicer’s art is a standout here, with the usual frenetic and visceral action. It also succeeds in the quieter moments, as Sparkplug sits at the bedside of his wounded son, reflecting on himself and coming to a decision. There’s two big splash images in this issue, one where Optimus reveals the “edge” that Ratchet has granted him, and the final page which also ties into that. Both images are very striking and impressive and I’m sure will be memorable signposts of this first arc.

Edgy Optimus, huh.

Yeah… there is an element of “keeeewl”-ness to it, if you know what I mean. Don’t get me wrong, it is a powerful image, but I’m sure there’s a component of “G1 Optimus Prime would never do that” to it that might creep up in your mind. Speaking of edgy, a character is rather graphically killed (or maybe not, who knows) towards the end of the issue, and again… it’ll be up to your tastes whether this was unnecessary shock value or a needed dramatic punch. In whatever case, it (and other things here) certainly help paint Starscream as an unrepentant villain, which he honestly hasn’t been in awhile. Too busy chasing those Loki-esque anti-hero fans!

Cube it.

I think this was probably the strongest issue yet, insofar as I was actually surprised at a number of things that happened. It was a page-turner, at the very least, and the grim tone of this continuity is felt more acutely than ever. At the very least, it’s a very stylish sort of grimness!

The cube fills up a tiny bit this time as DWJ stays consistent but manages to shock and awe a bit more.

Buy Transformers # 4 this week, and maybe also grab a Hero Mashers Optimus Prime on eBay.

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