Transformers #20 – Review

They’re back! It’s been a while, but it’s time to return to the planet of Cybertron, home of the Transformers, with Transformers #20 from IDW Publishing – and the slow, inexorable slide into civil war continues apace.

We’re introduced to some new faces and some familiar ones. Hound makes an appearance and it looks like he’s got a bit of an eco-warrior thing going on but doesn’t get too much characterisation beyond that. Sideswipe is there, hot headed, eager to prove himself; there’s Nightbeat; Mindwipe (remember him? He was a Headmaster!); Prowl (who apparently has some sort of pet space pterodactyl? I mean… okay) who is really done being polite with people; and we get to see what Swindle is up to. I mean seriously, talk about the name being a bit on the nose. It also turns out he runs a pleasure palace that would frankly make Jabba the Hutt green(er) with envy.

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There’s a great near full page crowd scene here which is where artists sometimes like to slip in little cameos, like that time they had Megatron butcher Cy-Kill from the Gobots, but nothing really jumps out here. There is, however, a yellow bot that bears a striking resemblance to Ram-Man from the He-Man series. Weird. But the best part of this whole comic? The BEST PART? We finally get to see Frenzy. For a single panel. Come on, guys. I want to see Frenzy do what he does. I especially want to see how you’re going to handle his particular set of skills. Is he just this bot who can generate weird frequencies as he was in the earlier comics, or are you going for the All Hail Megatron version where even Frenzy himself succumbs to the nightmares and insanity of the frequencies he produces and acts more like a pocket sized berserker?

This issue feels like the story taking a breath, a pause. It’s that moment of hesitation at the top of the rollercoaster before everything becomes a blur of motion and noise as well as a moment to check in with various characters and see what’s going on with them, moving the story on without piling on even more tension and even more violence.

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The only real concern at this point is that every issue seems to add even more characters and even more plot arcs. That’s a whole lot of plates for the writers to keep spinning at one go, and as you cram in more characters your opportunities to really learn much about them become fewer and fewer, constrained as you are by both the size and the number of pages available to you in an issue. So far they seem to be coping fairly well, but let’s hope they start focusing back on the main story and stop adding in new faces. We really don’t need any more bots like Bumper who show up in this issue, for example, just to serve as little more than comic relief.

Transformers #20 is out now from IDW Publishing.

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