CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers: Windblade #1
Reviewed by Blackjack
”Millions of years of planet-wide civil war and no one killed that guy?”
The art first! I do quite like the art. The faces in particular are extremely expressive, and the bright colours and mellow watercolours used certainly is a stark difference from the hard, vivid lines we are more accustomed to in IDW’s art output. The art is certainly beautiful and quite suitable for a slower-paced story set at peacetime. And unlike the problems I have with, say, Livio’s painted works, shapes and details are extremely vivid here. However, it’s not quite perfect – there are some points where it feels that the pencils aren’t quite finished yet and it just jumps straight into colouring. Some non-static scenes do also look awkward, such as that two-page spread with her flying around and the scene with the explosion. And despite the expressive faces, the artist seems to be drawing humans and adding robot kibble to them and they just don't 'feel' like robots as such. Still, minor complaint; the art is really quite good and a refreshing change.
The pacing is quite slow, and there are a couple of scenes that are obvious padding or just introducing a certain character. Ironhide’s scene is one of those, taking up a fair chunk of the issue to set up and seems to have no purpose beyond setting up that Chromia/Ironhide joke (though we thankfully only get that single joke, which I admit is funny). A fair chunk of the issue is just devoted to having the readers catch up on the status quo and give us the backstory of how Windblade and Chromia show up on Cybertron, knowing that Starscream is an asshole, and all that stuff... it certainly would work better in TPB format, but it takes up a fair chunk of space in a single issue. I do like how the question of why there are female robots is just handwaved over by simply having them evolve like that all the time. Take that, all you perverts with robot sex fetishes!
Windblade herself is pretty flat for now, basically she’s this naive girl confused about the big city and being threatened by an evil boss and she just doesn’t get why! Like it was with Drift's miniseries, more focus is placed on her backstory and her function (and a ‘Cityspeaker’ is certainly more unique than Drift's turncoat ninja), whereas her personality can be summed up in one word: 'naive'. She's got a monologue thing going on and she rambles a bit, though I do find it charming.
Starscream is a jerk, and that's the whole point of the story. Not knowing who he really is, Windblade initially thinks Starscream is just a bit overzealous in protecting the city, and Windblade wants to find out who Starscream is as a person. I think the issue dealt with Starscream and the NAIL Cybertron a hell lot better than RID itself ever did and also portrays the atmosphere of the NAIL Cybertron better than RID ever did, with the two pages of former Autobots and Decepticons just being all happy in a bar with a few hints of dissent telling us more than all the long-winded Metalhawk speeches or Blurr scenes in RID ever did.
Chromia is her good, slightly more tomboy friend who gets a lot of screentime but ultimately just kind of generic. Don’t have much to say about her at the moment. I do like the completely disjointed way that Metroplex ‘speaks’. Ironhide is… well, like Chromia says, he’s mopey thanks to the Mike Costa future being retconned out of continuity. His little scene with Windblade is all right, I suppose, though it drags on a mite too long. I’m not quite sure why his mouth is drawn so loooong.
We also get to visit Blurr's bar, which is pretty fun! I think it’s the highlight of the issue. Blurr's this nice smooth-talking dude, the two Tankors are fun in the single panel they show up in, Waspinator is being fooled by Swindle like the schmuck he is, Swindle fooling people, Fizzle pretending to be all sophisticated and shit… Slag (I can’t call him Slug) is also quite fun, with his expression going from a mellow guy drinking in a bar into an exploding rageface when Windblade asks him about Starscream.
There's too much time being spent on drawing the connections to other stuff (the spark hot spots, recapping the whole Titan excursion thing, Thunderclash) though I suppose it’s kind of an inevitability considering that the miniseries is meant to be completely standalone. It also takes a fair bit of time for Windblade to find out that Starscream is, in fact, an asshole -- something that thirty years of Transformers have been consistent about. It's slow paced and certainly not the best piece of fiction I've read... and yet at the same time, maybe because of the artwork or maybe because it's about a brand-new character, or maybe because I've just read a bunch of other crappy Transformers comics, it feels really fresh
and interesting. It’s just this one na´ve girl with her buddies trying to figure out some random mystery. It's not hugely groundbreaking or the best thing ever like some people have been toting, but definitely not a bad read. It's a pretty, atmospheric and fun break from all the BIG STUFF that has been happening throughout most Transformers comics and a pretty nice little change of pace.
To those that are uninformed, Windblade was the result of a mass ‘create-a-character’ poll that Hasbro ran on their website, allowing fans to vote on a fan-character’s gender, alternate mode, allegiance, personality, etc, and the majority of that will be turned into a character that will receive a toy in the Generations toyline and appear in the comics. Windblade was the result, though the Japanese-oriented art style is the work of Hasbro’s designers and not the polling.
Mairghread Scott, who writes this, has previously worked on Transformers: Prime
as a scriptwriter for around five episodes, and wrote some of the (not-as-stellar) Prime tie-in comics. She is, appropriately, the first woman to write an official Transformers comic.
This issue takes place six months after the events of Dark Cybertron
. Starscream is still in charge of Cybertron. While not explicitly shown, due to New Iacon being destroyed, the population has migrated into Metroplex, seen in RID #30. Windblade’s arrival, Slag’s name-change to Slug, as well as Metroplex’s wounds, all took place during Dark Cybertron
. Windblade’s talents to speak with Titans were also first introduced there, but given in more detail here.
Windblade’s kabuki facepaint is apparently based on that of her patron Caminus.
Despite Jhiaxus’ attempts to somehow introduce gender to the Cybertronians, apparently Windblade and several others in the Caminus colony simply just evolved that way over time. No one really makes an issue over their gender except for Rattrap, who tries to ask the question only to be met by steely silence from Chromia.
We get a little joke about Chromia being concerned about Windblade spreading gossip about her to Ironhide, alluding to their relationship in the G1 cartoon… which hopefully won’t be pursued here.
Ironhide’s vision of the future was in the last issue of Mike Costa’s ongoing, where he’s an old Autobot telling stories to a new generation in Gorlam Prime. However, during the events of Dark Cybertron
, Gorlam Prime was destroyed, effectively contradicting that vision.
Fizzle, formerly a crew member of the Lost Light
, is revealed to have stayed behind on Cybertron.
‘Fat’ Tankor, the Tankor from the Beast Machines series, was introduced randomly during Dark Cybertron
. Due to the IDW universe renaming the G1 Decepticon Octane into Tankor back in 2008, the two are now paired up, being called ‘Tall Tankor’ and ‘Fat Tankor’.
At one point Blurr calls Windblade ‘Wingblade’, a commonly reused name in past Transformer toylines.
Windblade’s “blood” is a light blue similar to that in the Prime cartoon, as opposed to the purple-pink energon normally seen in IDW comics. Whether this is a deliberate difference either due to story reasons or art style, or an actual art goofs is unknown.
In Dark Cybertron
, Nautica claims that they joined Thunderclash’s ship and ran into Alpha Trion after that, who told them about Metroplex. In this story’s recap, they were sought out by Thunderclash for the express purpose of fixing Metroplex.
Windblade: Even the most vicious king loves his country. That’s what I cling to. Even the most mild king viciously defends his home. That’s what drives my fear away.
“Rodimus said it himself. I practically run the whole ship.”
“This is a Dinobot-Demolisher? It’s an insult! I’ve had four and I can still see!”
“Starscream never risks his own hide if he can help it.”
Fat Tankor (not to his face):
“Tankor agrees with Tankor on that one.”
“Find anything about our illustrious leader?”
“Yeah… Starscream cares for nothing and no one but himself.”