With only one issue to go of this mash-up and IDW’s Transformers continuity well and truly put to rest-mode in every other corner of the galaxy (for now, anyway), it’s time to start wrapping things up.
In what felt like a two, maybe three-issue story stretched into five instalments, so far we’ve seen the classic Enterprise crew (the Animated Series edition, which includes alien crew members Arex and M’Ress) rub shoulders with Generation One-era Autobots and Decepticons, plus a few more modern faces like Windblade thrown in for reasons. Presumably. Kirk’s crew are investigating a distress call on a mining planet, finding it beseiged by Klingon warriors. Kirk’s guys side with the Autobots, the ‘Cons with the Klingons, Starscream betrays them at one point and Megatron promises to finish him once and for all, and…
At this point, unfortunately, everything is just sort of *happening*. We should be thrilled by the sight of Kirk mind-melding his way into controlling a Titan (Fortress Maximus, morphed slightly into a very on-the-nose mix of his robot form and the Enterprise itself) so that he can fight another Titan, this one a robot dinosaur merged with a Klingon Bird of Prey. Instead, the cramped panels and Animated Series-authentic flat colour scheme mean this is a far cry from the kinds of mind-blowing mechanical smackdowns you’d normally find in an IDW title.
It could be the bland desert planet the showdown is taking place on, but here more than any issue to date there’s a real sense of padding and filler to the story. Optimus and Megatron throw down, even with their Arrival from Cybertron glowy weapon-hand bolt ons, and it gets maybe half a page of jagged panels, feeling completely detached from the rest of the day’s events. That’s the kind of beat that should get its own set of splash pages, yet here it’s another part of a thin story somehow managing to feel cluttered at the same time.
There’s some nice in-universe continuity as Kirk struggles to stay in control of Maximus – IDW have made a big plot point around how Combiners and Titans are big, unwieldy contraptions that need significant mental exertion to control, kind of like Pacific Rim‘s Jaegers – and we finally make it back into orbit as both sides of the battle race to stop Starscream from dominating the Klingon homeworld, which gives the story some much-needed momentum.
It doesn’t help the feeling throughout that we’re focusing on the wrong moments, however. A lot seems to happen without the story taking more than a single step forward, because we’re wasting panels on unnecessary conversations and filling the pages with extraneous detail the reader doesn’t need. Hopefully the final issue can focus on a decent showdown and tie the story up, even if it ends up being Starscream cowering at Megatron’s feet, apologising for his ambition. Because it’s not like any Transformers story has ever run that plot out, is it?
Sigh. Come on, Barber and company. You’re better than this. Make the most of this last dance and save this whole exercise from being relegated to an off-continuity also-ran.
Star Trek vs Transformers #4 is now available from IDW Publishing.