This week, in crossovers nobody asked for… Ok, look. I get it. IDW paid good money for a slew of licenses and by gosh it’s going to use them, smushing together as many attempts at fan-pleasing, Saturday afternoon back garden toybox mashups as its creative team can muster. And the Transformers are aliens, and Star Trek is set in space, so… right?
Let’s get some good points lined up first, because there are several and I don’t want you thinking I’m some awful curmudgeon who hates everything. I mean, I am, but I try to be balanced about it.
John Barber is on co-writing duties and the guy is a luminary of contemporary Transformers comics. Philip Murphy’s bold, clean artwork somehow manages the tricky task of meshing the animated Star Trek characters with classic 80s Transformer ‘bot designs. And M’Ress is a main character, which fuels my secret crush on cat-women that includes Cheetara and pretty much every Catwoman ever (not Eartha Kitt).
The ol’ Enterprise (original recipe, as the animated series works as a direct continuation of The Original Series) is investigating a distress call from a dilithium mine close to the Klingon border. With interference blocking all comms, Kirk leads an away team down to the planet, only to beam straight into the path of the Decepticon Seekers mounting a bombing run on the mine.
Optimus Prime rolls into the fray and gets shot in the boob by Kirk for his trouble, with the ‘Cons (including Soundwave, Megatron and an oddly anachronistic Airachnid, a more modern ‘bot) making an appearance before an Enterprise torpedo drives them away. Kirk brings Bones and McCoy down to try and restore the stasis locked Optimus to life, while the Decepticons find their old Titan and occasional base Trypticon under Klingon control.
With the two sets of bad guys forming a quick alliance, Kirk, Sulu and M’Ress go exploring and find a sealed vault bearing the Autobot logo – which Ratchet, Jazz, Bumblebee, Arcee and Windblade suddenly emerge from.
For a bit of out-of-continuity, crossover fun, this is mostly harmless. With even the cover harking back to the halcyon days of Generation One (a dual edition special, showing both Optimus and Megatron sporting their glowing hand weapons that made sparse appearances in the original G1 cartoon), and the impressively authentic Star Trek character likenesses charging up the nostalgia bomb for a full strength detonation, there’s lots of potential fun that could be had with this particular mashup.
It’s far from fun that can be appreciated without criticism, however. Barber’s script feels somewhat toned down and simplistic, especially when compared to the style usually seen in the core IDW Transformers titles, and there’s less a feeling of ‘What if? ‘ and more ‘So what?’ to all of this. As IDW winds down its overall Transformers franchise ready for a reboot, a piece of fluff such as this feels like it’s been rushed out the gate to fulfil either a contractual obligation, or to pay off a ‘Hey, John, were there any ideas you never got round to trying out?’ conversation down the nearest boozer.
Worth a look if you miss the short-lived Star Trek: The Animated Series but maybe one to wait for a few more issues to see where all this is going first.