Review – Transformers: Escape #2 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Brian Ruckley
Artwork: Beth McGuire-Smith
Colours: Priscilla Tramontano
Lettering: Jake M. Wood
Release Date: 10th February 2021

Wheeljack, Nautica and Hound are trying to give the less fortunate inhabitants of Cybertron a means to evacuate the planet, but to do so, they need to convince Straxxus to give them access to the Arks which are currently held in storage in Darkmount. Elsewhere, the Insecticons are dangerously hungry, and are pushing for Shockwave to proceed with his cloning project to expand their reach.

IDW’s Transformers universe has the potential to be a fairly daunting prospect for newcomers.  With a relentless schedule of intertwined storylines, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or to struggle to keep up with all the delicious intricacies of the ongoing threads. Thankfully, while it does presuppose quite a bit of prior knowledge of the ongoing Cybertronian status quo, as a reader who only dips in and out of IDW’s Transformers universe every so often, I still felt like I was up to speed fairly quickly with this new series.

Series writer Brian Ruckley’s main thread is enjoyable, emotionally-charged stuff, with the small cadre of overlooked Autobots attempting to provide a means of escape for some of the refugees and injured inhabitants of Cybertron. It’s interesting to see the impact the war for Cybertron is having on some of its less acknowledged citizens, and it’s also great to see characters like Wheeljack and Hound getting a little more time in the spotlight.

On a personal note, I’ve loved the Insecticons from the moment I got my sweaty pre-teen hands on their G1 toy versions, so it’s also great to see them getting some extra focus here. They come across as genuinely menacing, and a lot of that comes down to the way they’re brought to the page by Beth McGuire-Smith. Skrapnel in particular is fantastic; all jagged teeth and menacing edges, and Buckley has a lot of fun playing with his trademark repetition in the dialogue here.

Speaking of the visual side of things, Transformers regular McGuire-Smith does a typically strong job here of bringing the story to the page, adding her own unique flourishes to the established IDW/Hasbro “house style.”  It’s perhaps more on the cartoony end of the TF spectrum, but as I mentioned above, there are some fantastic moments featuring the Insecticons and the whole thing crackles with an enthusiastic energy throughout, buoyed by the striking colours of Priscilla Tramontano and the confident lettering of Jake M. Wood.

As I mentioned above, it’s perhaps a bit of a tough series to get into for complete newcomers, and the lack of explanation for some of the key plot points makes it clear that this one definitely isn’t being targeted at newbies.  That said, there’s an enjoyable story at play here, even for brand new readers, and some real-world parallels if you want to look for them, with the plight of peaceful refugees being lost in the din of the larger warzone.

Overall, your enjoyment of this series is likely to hinge on your familiarity with the wider IDW Transformers universe. For newcomers, it’s still a solid story with some lively artwork, but for those who have already immersed themselves in the ongoing Cybertronian narrative, this one is going to be a real treat.

Rating: 3.5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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You can follow Ceej on Twitter

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