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Transformers #5 (2023) review

Is there more than meets my eye?

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 fifth issue, the Autobots and their human allies go on the offensive, trying to recover the Ark from the Decepticons. However, Starscream’s got an ace-in-the-hole, one that will undoubtedly swing things back in his favor.

So Prime ganked Megatron’s bit last issue.

Yup, Prime’s got Megatron’s arm and the attached fusion cannon grafted to him now, and he makes good use of it this issue! DWJ and Mike Spicer’s art completely sells the power of Prime’s new weapon and doesn’t hold back on its destructive potential. I enjoyed the emphasis on the “punch” of the fusion cannon, which can sometimes be overlooked.

More Autobots and Decepticons become active this issue, which is very action-heavy and has some great sequences that make full use of DWJ’s talents. I particularly liked Arcee’s debut into this continuity, with some familiar shades of Transformers: Animated in her interactions with Ratchet. The sense of escalation continues until the final scene, where the Autobots face their greatest threat yet.

Action yes, but what about drama? What about… people?

There are still some good character-building moments, especially for Sparkplug (or “Sparky”) as he continues to deal with the grief of losing one son and now having another hovering on death’s door. Carly also showcases her spunk and willingness to put her life on the line, which further bonds her to Cliffjumper. And of course, Starscream is still at his weaselly best, unable to accept his own shortcomings and cruelly mocking his foes when he thinks he has the advantage.

So what’s the cube lookin’ like?

This series continues to improve, although much of its “flash” outweighs the substance in places. The dialogue can get a little clunky at times, which is mostly limited to the Transformers and might be DWJ’s way of making them seem more alien. Again, if you’re not a Transformers comics neophyte, a lot of this is gonna feel pretty familiar, but at least the stylish presentation holds up.

The cube continues to fill slowly, but surely. There’s a lot to gape in amazement at here for new readers and old readers will find some enjoyment as well, albeit with possible reservations borne of experience.

Pick up Skybound’s Transformers # 5 this week, or Optimus Prime will go all Edward Norton on you (sheesh, ow.)

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