IDW Publishing: "Windblade" (2015) Issue #1 Comic Book Review
Title: The Sum and its parts
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publishing Date: March 25, 2015
Writer: Mairghread Scott
Art: Sarah Stone
Letters: Tom B. Long
Editor: Carlos Guzman
On the lost Cybertronian colony of Caminus the inhabitants are on alert. They have been invaded! When the security forces go out to confront their attackers they find Swindle and the giant Combiner Menasor! Menasor makes quick work of the security forces, but as he grows ever more angry Swindle realizes something is very wrong. In a flashback we see Starscream recruiting Blackjack to be part of the Stunticon team noting that his personality has led to many violent incidents. Swindle figures out this tendency has overridden Menasor but he can't stop him.
On Cybertron Starscream is busy picking out his new body and color scheme with Scoop when Optimus contacts him, telling him about the Space Bridge being activated. Once Starscream arrives everyone decides Caminus must be saved!
On Caminus Menasor's rampage continues as the Cybertronian forces come charging through. A group of flyers engages but Menasor makes short work of them. Ironhide and Chromia launch their own ground offensive, but in the end none of their efforts thwart the giant. On the other side of the Space Bridge, Optmus wants to help but Windblade tells him not to go just yet, offering to go herself instead. She arrives in time to save Chromia and tells everyone to contain the situation while more reinforcements come.
On Cybertron, Optimus pushes Starscream to reveal the Superion is indeed functional. Reluctantly, Starscream deploys the Aerialbots to Caminus. When they arrive, they immediately merge into Superion! The two Combiners fight, with Menasor relying on brute strength while Superion uses a combination of his wit, firepower and fists to take the giant down! Soon the battle is over and Superion stands victorious!
As the dust clears Windblade tells her fellow Camiens that they need to gather their government and leader, the Mistress of the Flame immediately. Soon, Windblade returns to Cybertron and explains that Starscream will be meeting with the government of Caminus since he is Cybertron's appointed leader. However, if Optimus Prime goes he will be revered as a God because of his connection to the Matrix and Primus. The Camiens worship Solus Prime and hold sacred anything connected to her. Windblade wants Optimus aware of the responsibility he would be taking on before he makes his decision.
On Caminus, Starscream is meeting with the government but soon Windblade emerges from the Space Bridge with Optimus Prime! She announces him as the Matrix bearer and the Mistress of the Flame asks him to reveal the Matrix. He obeys and once he does, the government and the Mistress kneel before him as Starscream rages in the background!
There are a couple things I truly enjoy in the recent run of IDW Publishing "Transformers" comic books: action and political intrigue. Throw in some good old fashioned Transformers mythology and you've got me hooked. This issue delivers on all three and then some! I kept expecting the issue to end simply with Superion standing victoriously over Menasor (and you know what? I would have been happy with that) but no! It keeps going even after Menasor is beaten and gives us an entire opening into a new storyline. Before I get into that however I have to say the battle between Superion and Menasor was brilliant! The team who worked on the comic does a great job of showing us how dangerous Menasor is, taking out not only Caminus' security forces but those from Cybertron as well! Things really do feel desperate when the Aerialbots arrive and it was a fantastic build up. The moment where Superion shifts his body panels to confound Menasor is amazing and unexpected. I found myself cheering when that scene played out, and I appreciated Superion referring to himself in the third person, something Combiners did in "Generation One".
In terms of politics, I'm well aware that Optimus' presence on Caminus is going to cause all sorts of issues down the line. Being revered as a God sounds great - but in practice I'm sure it's going to lead to some serious drama. That said, I really enjoyed seeing Starscream stew as Optimus showed the Matrix to the Mistress of the Flame. I really do feel like all we've seen in Starscream being smug for several issues of the various titles now, and seeing that smile wiped off his face made me smile. Starscream is no slouch however, and I'm sure he's going to find a way to quickly recover from this and work an angle to his advantage.
The character (and Hammer) of Solus Prime was introduced to mass audiences in the "Transformers Prime" cartoon series where the artifact wound up being the weapon for Ultra Magnus. I appreciated the character being portrayed as "female" (explaining a lot of the forms on Caminus) and I really loved the Mistress of the Flame seemingly holding the Hammer itself (though it's not explicitely stated). While other titles have dug deep into Cybertron's history, alternate timelines and shenanigans on The Lost Light, it's great to see an aspect of ancient Transformers history held in such reverence.
I love Sarah Stone's art and this issue does nothing to dissuade me from that notion. First, her character models are excellent. They have just the right amount of detail without going crazy with greebles but still looking intricate and complicated. This is especially important with the Combiners since they are made up of a lot of machinery mixed together. She also knows how to remove detail when necessary and go wild with it when the scene calls for it. In one key scene Superion has his weapon trained on Menasor and they are both shown in silhouette which really grabs your eye because it's the only panel that does that. Indeed, the whole battle scene with Superion and Menasor is great as we're really close in with the two, as if we were right in between the two characters as they fought. When the battle is over, Stone gives us a wide shot, shocking us with the amount of destruction their battle has caused.
It was also cool to see some neat homages to past "Transformers" shows. This includes Hot Shot and G2 Afterburner. They're never named, but it's clear where their design influence comes from. Writer Mairghread Scott also let me know that the third robot was named Light Bright. I also thought the "flashbacks" to Solus Prime were super cool, showing us one of the Original Thirteen and her hammer.
I enjoyed the prelude to "Combiner Wars", but this really kicks things into high gear and I enjoyed every single page. I haven't laughed and gotten super excited over a "Transformers" comic in a while so this was a joy.