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Transformers #7 (2023) review

Back to Cybertron!

That’s right! 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! Well, he maintains the reins on the writing of this series at least, as does Mike Spicer on colours. Jorge Corona takes over regular penciling duties as of this issue, with a style that barely misses a step from DWJ’s previous efforts.

In this seventh issue and the beginning of a new story arc, we are made known of how the war effort goes on Cybertron as Elita One leads a team to rescue… someone. Meanwhile on Earth, the Autobots deal with the fallout from last issue’s battle, Spike and Carly work through their grief in their own ways, and the Decepticons decide a change in leadership is necessary!

So new art guy, yay or nay?

I guess that depends on whether you were enjoying DWJ’s pencils, because Jorge Corona tries his best to maintain some stylistic consistency with his predecessor. I actually think Corona’s art is a bit more detailed and grittier than DWJ’s, if that’s possible, and it works really well. His humans are probably what differs the most from what DWJ’s looked like, being a tad more exaggerated and “animated”, I’d say.

Corona’s robot-on-robot violence is where he really shines, and the viscera is here on full display in both a battle set on Cybertron and a Decepticon leadership struggle on Earth. I’m not certain if the damage several combatants incur is supposed to be fatal, but it really looks that way in some cases. DWJ certainly hasn’t shied away from brutalizing his cast, and this issue more than any other so far really hammers that point home.

Who wins, FATALITY?

Well, the Decepticon leadership struggle ends on that note, but Elita One’s raid on Cybertron also sees several notable characters in the Transformers universe (all actually making their debut here!) rent asunder. There’s a weird tug-of-war going on with a reader’s expectations here… on one hand, DWJ seems like he is trying to make sure that the audience realizes that no one is safe and there are real consequences to war. On the other, maybe he’s just going by the logic that Transformers can easily be rebuilt/resurrected if they die, so he feels free to burn through characters like this.

In whatever case, the abrupt and violent “deaths” of several characters in this issue may leave a sour taste in some fans’ mouths, especially since it removes these characters from being used in-story, for the time being at least. I’m sure more casual readers won’t see what the big deal is, but it always sucks for a longtime Transformers fan to see one of your personal faves pop up for a “hi-and-die”. Make no mistake; the characters that seemingly bite it here aren’t Action Master Powerflash or Firecon Flamefeather… they’re “NAME” guys and one in particular has had a bad history in the last couple decades of dying or being cast aside repeatedly.

So, cube then?

I can’t deny that the creative team does succeed, as I mentioned above, in crafting a tale of consequence and making things pretty “heavy”. That may be to your liking and it certainly feels in-step with the Robert Kirkman-style of writing. As I always do with these reviews, I have to look it both through a newbie’s eyes and a longtime fan’s perspective, and it often forms a conflict within my own sensibilities. The most positive thing I can say is that this book is still fairly gripping, even if I disagree with some story choices and am unable to wholly overlook what I perceive as the potential waste of characters. I do like the new artist and that certainly greases the wheels for me at least.

I think the cube level is still hovering around the midpoint for me, as it has been since the series debuted.

Buy Transformers # 7 this week and for the love of Primus, don’t kick Ravage.

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