Three issues in, the “rebooted” Transformers continuity from IDW seems to be going around in circles, with Autobots and Decepticons fracturing and defecting and getting captured still taking up most of the page count. There are some hints to the future direction of the plot but, at the moment, the players seem to be rearranging themselves with no clear motivation as to why.
The arrival of Ultra Magnus (who, in the IDW-verse, is a surprisingly effective special forces-style operative) should shake up Bumblebee’s faction of Autobots but, instead, Magnus himself spends a lot of time raising his robo-eyebrows and frowning at their mistakes, as if punishing them in advance for crimes they have not yet been accused of. Ostensibly, he’s there to figure out what’s actually going on and see whether he needs to take control of the situation, but with defections happening even as he watches, it’s hard to see why he hasn’t called time on the enterprise.
Elsewhere, Optimus and Spike have a chat, but it doesn’t reveal much about either. Three issues in, Prime’s ulterior motive — assuming he has one — still isn’t clear. In a Transformers title, having Optimus Prime sitting around peripherally to the plot seems like a mistake. I appreciate that Prime can be overexposed in the context of Transformers, but for a series that’s supposed to be aimed at bringing in new readers, it would make sense to make the first arc a bit more straightforward in terms of what they can expect from the brand.
Artistically, the look of the characters has improved a little since the first issue, when the new, movie-style designs were introduced, and are now a bit clearer and less intricate — and thus, more familiar to the book’s target audience. Although less complex, it’s hard to imagine anyone complaining about the loss of detail there.
Ultimately, though, it’s Don Figueroa’s above-average treatment of the subject matter that makes the series worth buying at all. The bold lines and colouring recall the look of the animated series, while Figueroa himself manages to squeeze expression out of even the most confusing designs. Nostalgists will enjoy seeing his depiction of the characters regardless of context, and as an Ultra Magnus fan, this issue makes me particularly happy. It’s rare I buy a book purely for the art, but this is one where the art is certainly more of a draw than the writing. The Transformers have seldom looked this good; It’s just a shame the plot doesn’t match up to the visuals.