Alright, let’s get this review of Star Trek vs. Transformers issue #5 over with.
Issue five of a one-issue idea that throws the classic, Original Series crew of the starship Enterprise (here in their Animated Series incarnations from the early 70s) up against (also classic) Generation One-era Autobots and Decepticons (plus a handful of anachronistic modern ‘bots), and where are we with everything?
Given that the IDW Transformers-verse has just run through its apocalyptic endgame with the Unicron mini-series, this last throwaway issue of a non-canon story remains a passable diversion but nothing of any real substance. There’s a line of thought that says if you hear actors on press tours for a new movie talk about how much ‘fun’ they had making it, there’s a strong chance the actual movie will be anything but.
Here, we have some open fondness on the behalf of writers John Barber and Mike Johnson for their source material – pepperings of in-jokes and references that one would expect from one of the creative masterminds of the last seven years of comics, alongside some fan-pleasing meta-references like making actual use of cartoon series animation error turned legit character Acid Storm – but overall this has been a disappointingly slight mini-series with nothing of note to recommend it beyond mild crossover interest.
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To quickly conclude the story – Captain Kirk is commanding Fortress Maximus, here taking the form of a second Enterprise for reasons that are, well, reasons, in hot pursuit of the Decepticons, who themselves are in hot pursuit of Starscream, who has taken it upon himself to conquer the Klingon homeworld because of more of the aforementioned reasons.
After Starscream smashes a few buildings and declares himself Emperor, Megatron and the lads show up for a quick ruckus while Optimus Prime and Kirk debate the best way to tackle this potentially politically disastrous situation. We’re getting the more infuriating side of Prime here – not the badass veteran warrior who once blasted three Decepticons while cartwheeling over their heads mid-transformation, more the staid, morally-paralysed earlier version of the character who once allowed his enemies to blow him up because some civilians died in a computer simulation he was trapped in. No, really.
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With a plan in place, Optimus and the Enterprise crew show up with some hastily-created robot power armour suits for the Federation characters, and a timely intervention by the Klingons swings the tide and leaves Megatron imprisoned. With a fragile peace brokered between Empire and Federation, the Enterprise and Autobots go their separate ways, though not before a cheesy final line as Kirk mashes up both franchise’s famous sayings as an epithet.
I mean, I know on one hand I’m being harsh on what was clearly a bit of a laugh, and I know I’m in a minority as apparently high sales prompted the extension of the story from four issues to five, but I can only recommend this to completionists and uberfans. On merit alone, IDW have produced better crossovers than this, with higher stakes and more engaging writing. Perhaps contractual restrictions meant there was very little that could be done with the Trek-verse characters, or maybe the sense of padding throughout the story is testament to the thin original concept. Either way, it’s done now, and I can get back to mourning Lost Light and the other excellent series I’ve lost now that Unicron is finished.