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THE TRANSFORMERS: COMICS, BOOKS AND MANGA

IDW Publishing
(2005-now)
Devil's Due
(2003-2007)
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(2002-2004)
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(2001-now)
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CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING

Transformers: Windblade #4
Reviewed by Blackjack

Issue Review

To side with all of creation. That’s a Cityspeaker’s true calling. Regardless of who gets credit for it, or how it happens.

The conclusion to Windblade’s first series is a bit of an odd beast. Unlike the second and third issues, which felt less impressive when I sat down to review them, the fourth was rather underwhelming when I first read it… but ended up feeling really good once I reread it. Perhaps partly because of the Windblade-Metroplex perception blurring thing making the whole flashback sequence rather odd to read at first, and partly because Chromia being the villain felt like a random twist, but upon rereading neither of these problems really scream out. The issue does away with all the secondary characters, focusing only on Windblade and Metroplex. Starscream and Chromia feel more like devices to get Windblade to where she is, though they do get a fair bit of screentime, but this is totally Windblade’s show and I absolutely love her internal struggles. It makes great use of the internal monologue as a storytelling vehicle, the distinct thought bubbles allowing us to distinguish Windblade and Metroplex’s individual thoughts and Windblade’s own personal struggle as she is torn in all directions between loyalty to Chromia, duty to Metroplex and her general goodness to protect the city.

On the downside, this means there isn’t really any resolution. We never find out what happens to Rattrap, Slug, Blurr, or any of Windblade’s other allies. They presumably escaped alongside Waspinator back in issue three, and it’s implied that Windblade’s deal had smoothed Starscream over, but while it would be nice to get some confirmation it’s not exactly something I’m griping about.

The art has thankfully picked up on the slack, with no obviously-rushed panels like issue 3 has. I do love the action scene of Chromia jumping off Windblade like a platform, then landing like an action hero while the Badgeless jet crashes behind her. The scene where Starscream slices Chromia’s arm is also pretty effective with all the colours flying around. Also despite my general disdain for Windblade’s kabuki makeup, the scene when she finally combines with Metroplex and her red markings are overlaid against the vista of the darkened city is a rather powerful image. There are still some weak art, of course – Starscream’s proportion looks odd at times, but those are relatively minor complaints.

I do quite like the idea Metroplex as being this massive dude whose brain is stretched towards so much micromanaging his various systems that he needs someone with direction like Windblade to pinpoint the exact problem. Granted it doesn’t jive with the Fall of Cybertron copycats that are the –Ocity series, but it fits in quite well with the rest of Metroplex’s appearances throughout IDW canon. The fact that Windblade can actually merge with Metroplex, while not too far a stretch, does feel rather pulled out of a bag randomly… though it’s certainly something I’m happy to overlook.

Starscream himself is good work – it’s clear that he’s just protecting his own base of power as leader of Cybertron (how is he still in power after Dark Cybertron?) and the fact that Windblade has given him a new outlet for his ego as the Chosen One is pretty nice way to end the conflict. As much as I’m confused with how Starscream is still around after Dark Cyebertron, this is one of the best character work he’s gotten for a long time now and it’s rather refreshing to read. Granted with the Badgeless and the general discontent amongst the populace I’m not sure Starscream’s reign will last for a long time, but I do like how the series ends with them learning about tolerance and working with each other, about how the two extremes of Chromia and Starscream, the former being a staunch supporter of Windblade as an individual and the latter being extremely protective of the city, even if it’s an outlet for his own ego, illustrates exactly the two choices that Windblade can choose, and thanks to Metroplex she ends up taking a third direction. It’s certainly a deeper message than I would expect from a Transformers comic.

Also do like how Windblade and Chromia and Starscream aren’t just instantly buddies. Despite accepting the deal Starscream storms off with a sour look on his face, and Windblade snarks at Chromia about whether she killed Ironhide as well. They’re civil at each other, but it’s evident that Chromia and Windblade’s friendship has been broken in a way. They still tolerate each other, but it’s nowhere as joined-in-the-hip as they were back in issue one.

Throughout the series there are subtle themes of racism, between Cybertronians and Camiens. Last issue we saw Starscream and Rattrap spitting just that on Windblade, that they cannot stomach the idea of an ‘alien’ being in charge of Cybertron, whereas now Chromia is prepared to kill a lot of ‘Cybertronians’ because she cannot stomach the idea of Windblade dying for them. It’s a pretty nice theme to explore indeed.

The idea of the Metrotitans being colonies is a nice way that actually fits in very well with established canon such as the hot spots and the Circle of Light being one such colony, and from a personal standpoint I was excited as hell to see Knock Out, Injector and Air Hammer, because they’re cool. Because guys INJECTOR!

So overall, for an almost ethnically offensive-looking fanmade fembot with a sword that has so much potential to be just Drift the Second, Windblade ended up being really likable, and it’s certainly a pleasant surprise, especially to me personally who immediately dismissed her as a poorly-defined random insertion by Hasbro. Scott and Stone really made this miniseries into a beautiful little standalone story. It’s not entirely perfect nor an essential read, and certainly not a flawless one, but it’s certainly a great one with a lot of new ideas if you should ever decide to pick it up.

Notes

Chromia has energy daggers in addition to her normal arsenal of axe and shield. Windblade’s fake hairpin apparently hides an uplink port to a Titan. Starscream uses his shoulder missiles and two swords, both accessories that are present in his Generations toy – no fake flip-out blades like Dark Cybertron here!

Starscream’s “Chosen One” title is a reference to the Robots in Disguise Annual, where a dying Metrotitan which has been teleported to Cybertron declared Starscream to be the saviour that would unite the planet.

Maybe it’s just me paying more attention because Scott has actually worked on Prime, but the neural uplink cable seems to be again heavily inspired by a similarly-shaped object from that series.

Both Chromia and Windblade bleed blue energon, whereas the Badgeless in this issue bleed normal purple-pink energon, confirming that the two of them do have different ‘blood’, whether because of their gender or because of their Caminean descent.

The colonists that have evolved elsewhere include Knock Out from Transformers: Prime (his identity confirmed by Scott herself), Fireshot and Vanquish, members of the rarely-seen-in-fiction Micromaster Combiners from the tail-end of G1, as well as Injector and Air Hammer, two non-show Fuzors from Beast Wars.

The general idea of multiple colony worlds existing apart from Cybertron, each with their own distinct cultures, stems from the Cybertron series. Even the two colony worlds here seem to share aspects with the Cybertron series’ Velocitron and Animatros, the former seeming to correspond to Knock Out’s world where he’s participating in a race, and the latter corresponding to the planet with the Fuzors.

We finally see what Caminus looks like in robot mode and he has a different head from the traditional Metrotitan design, and indeed he does have face markings similar to Windblade.

Goofs

Circuit claims to be recording ‘live’ back on issue two, so how is Windblade going to stop the information from getting out? Granted, the only parts of the news that may have broken might only be Windblade’s talk in the bar, but that is some pretty damning accusations.

Quote/Unquote

Windblade: “We have to shake them.”
Chromia: “You sure you don’t mean ‘kill’? I would’ve gone with ‘kill’.”

Windblade: Chromia is always at home in a battle. She says it’s simple, clean. You versus whoever is trying to kill you. The only problem is… I don’t want to kill anyone. And I’m rapidly becoming the only one who doesn’t.

Starscream: “You were always going to try to steal this planet from me. But you forgot something. I’m Starscream. I’m the Chosen One!”

Chromia: “You wouldn’t leave, not unless they drove you out. I couldn’t just sit there and wait for you to die. Not for them. It’s my job to get you home in one piece, remember?”

Windblade: Our home: small, struggling, proud.
Metroplex: Our friend: dismantled, like a butchered corpse. Fragments of Caminus scattered across it.
Windblade: A willing sacrifice.
Metroplex: He made his choice.
Windblade: She made hers. But, what choice is mine? I don’t know what to choose. And just like that, I’m Windblade again. Small and alone. I can’t choose.
Metroplex: “Do not think that, Wind-voice. Not even for a moment.”
Windblade: I can’t choose.
Windblade/Metroplex: “We are never alone.”
Windblade: I can’t choose. And then I realize… that’s a choice all in itself.

Windblade: “You stopped fighting the war, Starscream. But it doesn’t mean you truly know peace. Autobots, Decepticons, Nails, Camiens, Cybertronians. As fast as you blur the lines between ‘us’ and ‘them’, you etch new ones.”

Windblade: “‘Starscream cares for nothing and no one but himself.’ That’s the point.”

 
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