Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Brian Ruckley
Artwork: Angel Hernandez, Andrew Griffith, Anna Malkova
Colours: Joanna Lafuente
Letters: Tom B Long
Release Date: 12th June 2019
One of the age-old problems of comics is jumping-on points. This is particularly true when a comic reboots, perversely – if you’ve missed the start of the reboot, you can feel even more confused than wading through years of continuity, as you have no real clue what the “new normal” is. Luckily, this is a perfect starting point, and ‘Transformers: A Bold New Era’ continues to be just that, reexamining our expectations of Transformers, both for the casual and the devoted fan.
This issue kicks off “The Cracks beneath your Feet”, picking up where issue #5 left off (it’s fair to say that the interlude issue #6 offered was somewhat divisive, even with the legendary Beth McGuire-Smith joining the team.) We find a shocked, numb Bumblebee staring over a sun-drenched Cybertronian cityscape. It’s a beautiful, soulful opening that conveys an impressive amount of emotion, whilst also deftly conveying his friendship with Windblade (which previously had seemed almost antagonistic). Hernandez’s art and Lafuente’s colours work together beautifully to tell the story, propelling the narrative forwards. Having a stable of artists working on the comic feels like it shouldn’t work, but we’ve reached the point where their depictions of characters (iconic or otherwise) are on-point, tied together by a consistent palette and approach from Lafuente and Burcham.
Bumblebee’s frustration is palpable, simmering under the surface before an absolute belter of a fist-fight with Skytread. Ruckley’s dialogue has always been great, but it’s satisfying to see a heavy action sequence so well done also – though we’ve had chase segments, nothing as brutal as this before, which bodes well for how the story must, inevitably, play out. Equally, the dialogue brims with tension – Elita-1 as the mirror to Skytread – and Orion Pax continues to talk with a wry weariness that belies his eventual growth into reluctant leader. It’s particularly impressive that, even in characters you feel you know inside out, you can see how there is space for believable development.
Christian Ward knocks it out the park on the cover for this issue, with the Siege-style Pax apparently being scanned; and thought it’s not often that I go out of my way to hunt for variant covers, but both Riamondelli’s B Cover (of Bumblebee perched over the cityscape) and Guido Guidi’s gloriously retro Elita-1 C Cover are a delight. As if that’s not enough, you get a booster from Wave 1 of the excellent Transformers TCG (which we have been getting very excited about) for free in with this issue! Now there’s an incentive.
This is a comic for anyone who sat and watch Bumblebee and thought, “That’s what I want from Transfomers.” This is a comic for anyone who has waded through years of IDW classics and thought, “Now what?” It’s also a surprisingly subtle comic, relishing taking its time with the story, presenting an interesting (and disturbing) mystery against a proper political thriller. There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.