There’s a point in this third issue of the wholly unnecessary, madcap crossover that is IDW Publishing’s Star Trek vs Transformers that doesn’t so much jump the shark as fling itself round the nearest sun like a screaming, time travel-enabling slingshot.
It could be the Autobots vs Decepticons clash, or when the Klingon Bird of Prey turns into Trypticon for some reason, or it could be the Ratchet-engineered mind meld Kirk uses to create a working replica of the Enterprise (complete with Autobot logo), and– no, wait, actually it’s that the new Enterprise is a Transformer now and Kirk is controlling it with his mind and it’s called Fortress Tiberius because what even is anything any more.
If that paragraph gave you a nosebleed, that’s kind of the effect issue three gives you. Not in a bad way, more like the kind of headache you get trying to follow the deliberately fudgey logic of a contemporary Doctor Who story. It sort of works, if you squint and don’t think about it too hard, but then you remember the warm, comforting embrace of physics and everything starts spinning away from you once more.
There’s still much to enjoy, from the drop shadows on a lot of the artwork to deliberately invoke the cel animation both Tranformers and the Star Trek animated series were born from, to Arcee drop-kicking Starscream because the writers remember she’s actually a hardened warrior woman, despite having the colour scheme of a candy cane.
Characterisation, dialogue mannerisms and the retro, overly theatrical Saturday morning cartoon feel of it all shows that writer John Barber is still having a heap of fun with this, even as over in Transformers: Unicron he’s busy destroying both the world and many of the characters we hold dear.
Our story this time has the Klingon-allied Decepticons attempting to overpower the human mining colony, only for Kirk and his Autobot friends to burst from their underground bunker and even the odds. Trypticon – the giant robot T-Rex the ‘Cons use as a base, and thank you Spock for calling out how daft that’s always been – makes his appearance as Optimus and his buddies look to be overwhelmed, before the Kirkformer (TransShatner?) tsche-chu-chu-chu-tsche‘s his way into the fight.
Outside of a single skirmish before these two worlds go their separate ways, there’s no sense that this story has any real dramatic or narrative weight to it. I guess that’s the point – a throwaway romp away from the continuity-ending chaos taking place elsewhere – but with no heft to anything happening we’re already starting to fall into the old Peter Kay “Hey! Remember this? Good, eh?” trap of nostalgia for its own sake.
Part of me will never get tired of seeing the ‘classic’ bot designs doing battle, even with the anachronistic jarring of contemporary characters like Windblade being present – something the upcoming Bumblebee movie also seems to understand – and while on a technical level I still have to applaud the careful attention to detail and authenticity of this exercise, on a storytelling level this is more of an eye roll than eyebrow raise.