Following on from the Netflix Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy, I found myself wanting more. A quick look through some of the currently available TF comic series informed me that I’m a little behind, so will likely be waiting for the trade paperback before catching up. However, a four-issue mini-series surfaced during my hunt for more Transformers content. Transformers vs The Terminator is half way through, and the title alone is either selling me a bad punchline to a joke in the writer’s room or promising to deliver the crossover event of the season.
So here I am with issue three…
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer(s): David Mariotte & John Barber
Artwork: Alex Milne
Colours: David Garcia Cruz
Letters: Jake M. Wood
Release Date: 19th August 2020
Before we start, let’s catch up with issue one and two. Both issues are exposition heavy. Prior to the inevitable time jump, this timeline has a version of Judgement Day but with Decepticons at the helm. As always, one of the Terminators is sent into the past to stop the Decepticons before they rule the world with an iron fist. The opening covers all the bases, ensuring that fans of both franchises are on the same page.
Sarah Connor is our fresh-faced human, whose job it is to bond us to the narrative for the three issues so far. As you’d expect, the conflict so far is a triple-threat between Decepticons, Autobots and Skynet. We follow T-800 and Sarah Connor to an active volcano that becomes the staging ground for the battle for the future. In the final panel, tensions and threat levels rise, but… well, I will let you discover that for yourselves
So, let’s hit issue three running. Following the climax of issue two we are thrown into a fight with Autobots vs Decepticons. The action is fine, with cool moments aplenty, but every panel highlights more and more problems with this crossover. This is very much a book for Transformers fans with little for the Terminator fan-base. Every panel is a stunning tribute to the physical and legacy designs of the Transformer race. Lore from all eras of Transformers seems to surface at various points of this series, but the Terminator feels like the runt of the litter when compared to its hulking Decepticon and Autobot robot brothers.
This wound is further opened by the scaling of the comic panels. Now I appreciate the visual difficulty of making a 6-7ft tall Terminator seem like a threat to 20-30ft tall towering Transformer, but there were steps to be taken that could have improved the calibre of the smaller mechanical menace. By having the T-800 causing a fatality early to its large counter parts, or even better multiple casualties, or even having an army of T-800 using overwhelming numbers you could have built the futuristic fighter as a powerhouse. Unfortunately, the T-800 menace has been relegated to looking like a toddler telling its mum that he wet the bed.
To rectify this, and as seen in the photo above, we do get battlefield analytics from T-800’s perspective showing weak points in the Cybertronian’s defences. Does this lead to big-damage high-impact moments? No, just a minor ‘flesh’ wound to Megatron. While the merging of the two franchises hasn’t been successful in this mini-series, I’ll admit that it has done a lot for the Transformers. The core elements are all there and the flair of this run is based on the changes to the Skynet program. More focus on this aspect could have resulted to a more fleshed out story. More focus on the destructive power of the Skynet minions could have created a successful ‘who would win story’. Alas, the writers tried to deliver both and we ended up with neither.
The writer of this piece was: Mike Chandler
Mike Tweets from @mike_moans