A little history, a little politics, and a compelling story from Alpha Trion that ties to what's happening on Earth now. I wonder if Arcee and Galvatron are the same or different, because if the same, it doesn't track with what we know about the Arcee in this universe, I don't think.
Galvatron a little more, but...
Still, lovely art, lovely story and looking forward to more.
Although since Buster is with Marissa, I wonder if Thundercracker will show up more in the future. And yes please!
Ultra Mangus is not only out of character, I don't get where Bee gets the impression that Magnus runs into battle all hot headed. I mean, unless he's got some kind of thing where he's thinking Rodimus and it comes out as Ultra Magnus. Bee also thinks Magnus is super confident, which not so much. When they were about to die at one point in MTMtE, Magnus calls to say he and those around him will die, and sorry. It's Rodimus who orders him not to die, and is confident they won't because apparently the power of one's will works that way.
Magnus, still convinced they'd die, is like 'aw, don't make me die disobeying your orders :('
And he's skeptical of many of Rodimus' plans.
Like, what the hell is Bee thinking?
Is he thinking about someone else? Is this like when multiple people tell me my robot pillow looks like cats? Have you seen both robots and cats, people? Have you? Because I think you need to look at pictures of cats, and robots, then at the pillow again. (And yes, this came up again in real life because my sister sees why people think it looks like cats although she didn't see them until I held it upside down, which wasn't the case when the first person thought they were cats. Cats! So, yeah, this is a sore spot with me, and so is Bee's thinking things of Ultra Magnus that are not at all like Ultra Magnus.)
More problematic is Magnus' brushing off organic life forms. He's still, he's formal, but he's also compassionate; he's never really thought of other life forms as less than, or not deserving of life - at least until they prove themselves to be unrepentant evil doers. This is especially problematic if they've already hit Earth and he's befriended oh, say, Verity, whom he based his holomatter avatar on because he liked her.
Furthermore, the fact that both Bee and Magnus jump into battle without asking if the Space Knights were working with the Decepticons or not doesn't ring true to me. It was there to add some tension, but wasn't in character.
Seeing as the first issue was so amazing and focused on how Stardrive was raised, this is a pretty huge disappointment. Seeing the Dire Wraiths and the Decepticons and what happened there was so fascinting, and there were hints about how traumatic Stardrive's upbringing was, but there was far less of her fondness for Rom - and his fondness for her - or how him checking up on her and believing in her gave her hope and made her adore him.
In other words, the charming parts were toned down and I got a whole boatload of mischaracterization instead. Which is a shame. When the front cover promised the Seekers, I was so excited.
Still, I liked the battles, Magnus was hot, the Seekers were hot, and I liked this more than I didn't, even as just pure eye-fucking material. So three stars, and I'll try the next issue. And let's be honest: probably get four since that's the last in this mini-series.
Barber nails it with this. When Rom stumbles upon a Cybertronian ship fleeing an attack, he's only slightly convinced by the Galactic Council's explanation that the Cybertonian's are awful, warlike mechanicals. Still, they're about to flee when he senses a lifeforms and decides that them getting away is less important than saving what turns out to be a Cybertornian infant.
Stardrive is raises amongst the Solstar Order, who believes that Cybertronians are prone to war and destructiveness. She's taught that she's evil by birth - unlike the other children she's raised with - and that she must control herself very carefully to be better. Even Rom, her savior on the day she was born, doesn't seem to argue this systematic racism. He shows her more respect, believes in her more, and shows sympathy when, as a child, she witnesses violence. He never really voices that he believes she's evil or warlike, but he does allow others to voice this. (The only other choices he had were drastic, and namely to take her out of that society, a society that they assure her is better than hers and that will make her better. Seeing as she knows very little about her own people, though, she can only make her choice based on what a prejudiced society says about what she will be if left to her own devices.)
The connection she has with Rom, the way she tries so hard to be a Space Knight and worthy of the name, is touching but the little ways she's chipped away at by the other Space Knights is cringe-worthy. And quite frankly an important discussion to have in this political clime. It's worse for Stardrive: she is a minority of one for the longest time, and has no power to fight off those who disparage her.
I have some hope, because she learns more about Cybertonians by the end, although only a little. And the characters that come in? Well, some of them might absolutely ruin her, but I'm hoping the Autobots get her and not the Decepticons. I doubt she'd go with the latter, though, because they've been spiteful to her already, so more hope.
This is far more complex than I gave it credit for originally. I don't know much about Rom, and I haven't been completely thrilled with the Transformers crossovers/events coming from IDW lately. This, however, was far better than I expected when I picked up this first issue. In fact, I'd go as far to say that I think recent issues - the last Transformers annual, the Dinobot trilogy and this - showing a growth in Barber's writing. (Some authors take this as an insult, and they shouldn't. Barber wasn't a slouch or a bad writer before, but practice, experience, confidence, and other variables all go into people getting better at their jobs - and this is true of writers as well.) And not only that, I think there was a tipping point at the annual and ever since, Barber's blown me away, particularly with things tangential to Optimus Prime. (I think he's doing an amazing job with OP, but I'm most interested in Thundercracker in that series. Just my luck that Optimus Prime is an integral character, whom everyone loves, and he's not a character who speaks to me! So I've come to think of that series as just personal issues and nothing more.)
However, I found this work to be some of the most thoughtful, thought-provoking, complex writing to date. Like, damn, I think there's four issues of this and I'm already crying inside at the loss of this series. I'm even looking forward to OP more. (Although i stand by my previous statement about Thundercracker: I want that series instead of OP. I would read a Barber-written Thundercracker series. I would read that daily. Thundercracker is hilarious and the best, especially when Barber's writing him.)
Here's to issue two!
But it turns out I do. This was a bittersweet look at Sideswipe, his relationship with Sunstreaker, and his relationship with Arcee. (I also didn't realized I shipped them until now, and I do, really hard.)
It didn't end where I thought I would, and yet it's the most perfect ending to Sideswipe's storyline here. More touching and thoughtful than this series has been in my opinion, and this kind of issue is why I never discount Barber, even though a rough patch with this series.
I'm finding myself interested more in Sideswipe, Jazz, and Thundercracker than in the title character. I wish this wasn't so focused on Optimus, to be honest, as I usually am neutral about him, but dislike him given what he's done in this continuity.
But, yes, I will most definitely be picking up number ten!