Transformers: First Strike – Comic Review

Another crossover event instalment woo but I mean come on, in all seriousness, even by IDW’s usually high standards this one is starting to drag a little now. Ah well, back into the Cybertronian outback we go.

Kup, Arcee, Action Man and Mayday are on the trail of the errant Centurion, his prisoner Garrison Blackrock and the deadly duo of Colditz and one of the Red Shadow bio-ninjas, themselves en route to meet up with psychotic Big Bad Garrison Kreiger. To say this issue pads out what is literally a single encounter would be doing padding a favour, but at least when things do start blowing up it manages to stay entertaining.

Framed by the same talking heads device that the whole First Strike event has used thus far is starting to nag without any context to link these vox pops together – not to mention the fact showing us our players clearly after the events of the crossover removes all threat to them during the real-time events we’re seeing.

There’s some engaging character work in the midst of all this, with Kup feeling left out as Action Man starts tagging along with Arcee, whom he now appears to have a crush on in the most ill-advised romance this side of a leather-studded kiss in the sand. IDW’s Arcee is a no-bullshit warrior woman, a refreshing reboot given her diversity-appeasing origins in Transformers: The Movie. The ’86 animated masterpiece, not the Bay debacles. She’s in those as a motorbike or something. I don’t know. It made me sleepy.

Kup’s crew get jumped by some robo-ninjas but make short work of them, while Centurion opens up to Blackrock about his apparent betrayal. He recounts memories that still seem jumbled, as the competing psyches of an ancient Transformer and a human cyborg mix and swirl together, before Kup and Arcee surprise the villainous encampment.

In the scuffle that follows, Centurion lets loose a wave of devastating energy, revealing he’s been fused with the Talisman, an artefact of immense power that Kreiger coveted and manipulated Centurion into using for him. Colditz realises this was Kreiger’s play – keep the destructive force of Centurion away from the battle in central Cybertron – and makes a break for the shadows.

Action Man and Mayday capture Colditz, but the bounty hunter throws himself on their mercy, furiois that Kreiger played him along with the others. As Centurion’s power storm rages out of control, vapourising Kup’s hand and the remaining Red Shadows, Blackrock stops Arcee from killing Centurion before managing to get through to the personality underneath the chaos, pleading with Mike Power to take control of the Talisman’s power.

Centurion goes into stasis lock – the Transformer equivalent of a coma – and the danger passes for now. The gang gather up Colditz (who is totally about to pull the old “I’m loyal to you guys now because the Big Bad crossed me, honest”) and the deactivated Centurion and head back to help their friends, with another set of vignettes showing the growing sense of trust between the allies.

There’s not much to say about this, unfortunately – as well as frequent callbacks to backstory that may well be unfamiliar to many readers, what we have is the B plot to a more interesting story stretched out to fill a whole issue. Despite a few bright spots of character work, you can safely skip this and not lose any momentum of the primary First Strike storyline. This always becomes the issue with crossover events that boast massive casts – when trying to give everybody something to do, you often end up giving them nothing to do.

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