Review – Transformers: Unicron #2 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: John Barber
Artist: Alex Milne
Colourist: Sebastian Cheng
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Release Date: 25th July 2018

After the crushing defeat and loss of Caminus to Unicron, only Cybertron remains as the last bastion of the Transformers.  But with a broken Prime returning home after such a defeat, the duplicitous Starscream sees an opportunity to expedite his return to power.

Playing the scared populace into his hand, Starscream puts plans into action in a bid to become Cybertron’s saviour. But will these plans open new paths to victory, or lead Cybertron further into darkness?  Elsewhere, a series of clues lead Bumblebee to begin unravelling the mystery of Unicron.

The first part of IDW’s Unicron miniseries was a fantastic entry into this final, climatic event, featuring an all-out assault that showed the scale and consequences of a war of this magnitude.   It showed us the state of these characters, as well as the pure, raw threat of Unicron.   It also set the stakes as high as they needed to be, before ending on a note that led to this second issue playing into Barber’s other strengths: politics and small, character-focused moments.

Obviously, any Starscream-centric issue is off to a good start, and this latest chapter continues Barber and Scott’s great work with the character, delivering a great issue packed with heated dialogue and memorable lines as Starscream brings out the best and worst of every character.   And when you have Starscream, Soundwave, Windblade, Optimus, and the others throwing down in the chambers for the fate of Cybertron, what more could you ask for from the final chapter of this phase of Transformers?  We’re at peak mind games here, which is something I feared could possibly be lost in an event that could potentially be reduced to a series of connected final battles.

In terms of the small moments, there’s great focus given to the fallout of last issues events with Arcee, Aileron and the Torch Bearers.   Touching, heartfelt moments that showcase some of Barber’s most endearing writing flourishing with characters he has devoted so much time to.   Bumblebee also becomes an important piece of the puzzle this issue, becoming the lead of finally unravelling the mystery of Unicron.  This not only gives us more of a focus on lovely Bee, but also masterfully begins the dive into the history of Unicron, giving us glimpses into a mystery that remains so cryptic, but plenty of hooks to keep the reader engaged.

However, as much as damn fine politics, dialogue and mystery could make a fulfilling issue by itself, Barber makes sure to sprinkle in a nice dose of action for good measure.   With new allies and enemies coming into play following the reveal of Starscream’s new plans, we’re treated to pages of massive sci-fi action, complete with massive fleets and armies.

Which leads me to Alex Milne and Sebastian Cheng.

Since I didn’t get to cover the first issue, I haven’t been able to rave about Milne being back on a Transformers book.   One of the finest Transformers artist is back and boy it is unforgettable.   His incredible ability to craft massively elaborate pages, filled to the brim with detail and action in every corner without it ever feeling crowded or bloated is a talent like nothing else.   Plus, in those intimate, slower moments, we also see his mastery of anatomy, giving us the most expressive, human displays of emotion and character, while making sure they stay true to their robotic design.

As impressive as Milne’s wok is, Sebastian Cheng brings it shining to the page with colour that captures both the darkness and weight of this event, but also allows for the distinct colour of the Transformers and their world to pop.  Never too dull, or too bright, it’s a perfect tone for a story like this.

Ending a universe in one six-part series is no easy task. But this issue has cemented Barber’s ability to do so.   A masterful blend of action, character, emotion and politics, Unicron #2 is filled with all the Transformers content you could ask for in such a climatic and explosive event.   And with one of the most kick-ass artistic teams ever, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be reading Transformers: Unicron.

Rating: 4.5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Connor Stephens
Connor Tweets from @diddlesMVP

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