Sometimes superheroes, spandex, and lower subplots get repetitive. Not all the time, of course, but comics from major publishers haven’t interested me for a while. I want inhuman characters that most comics only have next to them, or characters that don’t recur. That’s why, after watching some of his shows, I thought I’d give the TRANSFORMERS comic a chance. Not only because of the positive impression TRANSFORMERS: PRIME gave me, but because people were posting about it. I saw these funny screenshots floating around the web. People were gushing about what happened in this part and this chapter. Certainly, one photo, in particular, convinced me:
I got what I wanted from these comics: non-human dedication, aliens, exceptional storyline, multi-faceted adventures and characters. The set of robots that transform into cars keeps (pun intended) away from new readers. Yes, they transform into vehicles and weapons, but that’s not all for TRANSFORMERS. This is an aspect of themselves that is practical and is not really presented as often as one might initially assume. It’s different from what you get from Marvel, DC, and other big comic book publishers.
The problem with the big guys is you’ve had these characters for so long that the character exhibit is swept under the rug. The replacement is pages and pages of glorified action, which sure sounds awesome, but ultimately you ask, “Okay and? And “Is that it?” You are deceived, slightly dissatisfied, and spent a few dollars on next to nothing substantial. Fortunately, TRANSFORMERS is a comic that is consistently worth every penny.
So, without further ado, here are my top five TRANSFORMERS comics for new and old readers:
5. TRANSFORMERS: ROBOTS IN DISGUISE # 22 (2012)
If you ask a TRANSFORMERS fan what their favorite Decepticon is, their answer will likely be Soundwave. The telepath is shrouded in mystery, his voice is more robotic than most, and he keeps his thoughts to himself. You gravitate to him because he is a conundrum and a proficient asset to Megatron. The point is that the TV series does not provide information about him. If you want to know the public’s favorite Decepticon and the best daddy, TRANSFORMERS: ROBOTS IN DISGUISE # 22, written by John Barber and illustrated by Andrew Griffith and Livid Ramondelli, is for you.
Essentially, the comic comes to terms with Soundwave’s reservations against Shockwave. There is only room for one cryptic member in the forces of Deception. Shockwave’s agenda causes Soundwave to realize that one day in the future, Shockwave must be eliminated. The best part of this issue is learning how Shockwave, such an esteemed member, was once desperate and mad. Soundwave wasn’t prepared to deal with so many thoughts enveloping him at once, but help came from the most unexpected places. His so-called cassettes stream to Soundwave and help him control his telepathic powers. The issue weaves Soundwave’s past and present into a deep narrative.
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4. SPOTLIGHT ON TRANSFORMERS: BLUR (2008)
The SPOTLIGHT series focuses on different characters who provide context on their beginnings, alliances and motivations. Writer Shane McCarthy and artist Casey W. Coller bring you TRANSFORMERS SPOTLIGHT: BLURR, which showcases widespread classism from the Transformers home planet, Cybertron. In this issue, Blurr fends off a promising Autobot, Piston, who wants to celebrate Blurr’s victory at the races. Blurr, eager to stroke his own ego, agrees – on his terms, of course. He chooses an upscale bar: a bar that Piston and another bot say they have neither authority nor class to enter. This strong wealth gap is what makes this comic a great introduction to the overall series.
Blurr realizes that Cybertron’s golden age won’t last forever. As much as he wants to ignore social problems, making fun of the various war recruiters, he realizes that he cannot be inactive. He can’t pretend war is nonexistent, and Optimus and Kup make it clear that he’s capable of much more. They tell him that his lifestyle is not a true indicator of his worth. This is an important self-esteem conscious issue that is well constructed and exquisitely illustrated. As Blurr is my favorite Autobot, this number makes me proud of his willingness to do and be good.
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3. THE TRANSFORMERS # 22 (2009)
It’s a coincidence that two of the top five TRANSFORMERS comics for beginners are number twenty-second. Writer James Roberts and illustrator Alex Milne explore the relationship between Optimus Prime and Megatron. You can dive right into this problem because it does a fantastic job of recounting the previous battles between these two leaders. Some of these battles you might remember from other series, but if you don’t, that’s okay. The track record (bitter and sarcastic) of Optimus and Megatron is enough to give you the full picture. Really what they end up doing is pointing fingers and trying to justify their actions by what the other has done. It’s juvenile, and I love it.
Now Optimus rarely jokes. He would be the tougher dad, I think, because at least Megatron is more emotional. But the thing with THE TRANSFORMERS # 22 is that for a little, brief moment, they laugh together. It’s fleeting, but it’s the closest thing to peace settling over them. Optimus’ desperation to make things work – to end it all, to stop the war between him and Megatron there – breaks my heart. Optimus has approached a breakthrough, but if you pick up on the problem, you see when the needle drops and the peace wanes. This is one of the few times readers witness the vulnerability of Optimus, which he does not normally expose as a leader or to his Autobots.
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2. TRANSFORMERS: WINDBLADE (2014)
TRANSFORMERS: WINDBLADE has four numbers in the series. Although short, it sets the stage for the “Combine Wars” arc. Written by Mairghread Scott, this series changes tone completely; instead of having the story on Earth or somewhere in the galaxy, it takes place on Cybertron. Starscream is the frontman of Cybertron and Windblade is the urban speaker for the planet titan, Metroplex, transforming into a city. Metroplex took a lot of damage after Shockwave’s defeat, so Starscream employs Windblade, who can talk to the Sleeping Titans and help speed up their repairs.
Now you might know how energy hungry Starscream is thanks to the other properties of TRANSFORMERS. In this issue we get the same aggressive Starscream ensuring everyone stays online. Anyone who, of course, jeopardizes their leadership will be eliminated. You know, Starscream as usual. However, we also get a better understanding of Windblade and her struggle to maintain the professionalism of her public service as a city dweller and as a representative of her planet Caminus against her underdog status and the questionable leadership of Starscream. The comic is the basis of their partnership, as Windblade tries to understand Starscream and Starscream, in turn, tries to trust the intentions of others without taking the plunge. We receive pages upon pages of beautiful content from illustrator Sarah Stone that offers readers an elegant balance between action scenes and character aesthetics.
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1. TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN THE EYE (2012)
Where the grief began. Where I started, and wow, what an emotional journey this comic is. TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE is such a healthy and well thought-out series for the TRANSFORMERS universe that it impresses me how connected everything is. This series balances storytelling, style, characterization – everything that makes a successful comic, well, to success. Putting together this motley team of underrated characters will put a smile on your face.
Megatron’s beginnings all come together here. It baffles some people that Megatron, that longtime huge villain, has turned into an Autobot. He was a poet with big dreams and a bigger heart who never intended to tour the way he did. He lost the leadership, was consumed by power and victory, that it took him so long to realize that there was something wrong with him and his faction. The point he was at where he was with the help of Rodimus and his team touches me every time. And yet, it turns out that without Megatron and centuries of warfare, Cybertron would have been worse. Imagine Orwellian vibrations of “Big Brother is Watching You” and many lobotomies.
The multiple characters of TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE might blow your mind if you’re a new reader. However, you pick up the names quickly, I promise you. This series is the number one choice because offers you these multi-faceted characters with beautiful illustrations. You get the emotional depth of this series, as well as incredible action and plot twists that can either turn you on, upset, or surprise you.
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And There you go
These are by no means the only series and numbers I would recommend because, hoo boy my list can go on and on. These robots are more than their TV versions, which often narrow them down as intrusively virtuous characters stalking the Decepticons. Cough, cough, Cartoon Network’s TRANSFORMERS: ROBOTS in Disguise cough cough. We may never get a version involving the pre-war Cybertron either, but at least the IDW comics don’t disappoint. We’re also getting more character dimension in the comics. You can see Rodimus’ little moments, Starscream capture the sense of leadership, and Soundwave’s debut at its lowest point yet. TRANSFORMERS, which brought me endless joy, has a lot to offer comic book readers. With my fingers crossed, I hope the thrill this series has given me extends to you as well.