COUNTDOWN: 12 tiny but incredible details in Skybound’s Transformers

We’re already four issues into Skybound’s exceptional new Transformers book – which you’ll know if you’ve been keeping up with our breakdowns! – and there’s plenty to admire about it so far.

Boasting a breakneck pace packed to the rafters with action and character beats, there’s so much to appreciate you’d be forgiven for missing some minor moments along the way. Well, have no fear, for that’s what we’re going through today! Here are 12 tiny but incredible details from the first four issues.

WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for Transformers #1-4! All artwork is credited to series creator Daniel Warren Johnson.

#12: Optimus’ eye

When we first glimpse Optimus Prime in #1, it’s just his lifeless body as it lays dormant following the Ark’s crash landing on Earth. It’s a full-page panel packed with fantastic detail, yet still, you can’t help but spot our hero is missing an eye, leading us to wonder just what happened for him to end up in such a state. Well, #2 fills in the blanks thanks to a brief flashback and even positions Prime similarly whilst showing Megatron inflicted the optical damage! Is this a nod towards the Decepticon’s famous threat from the 1986 Transformers movie? Either way, it’s a neat callback to the earlier panel and good attention to detail.

#11: Beachcomber

Anyone who has ever read a Transformers comic will be familiar with random bots popping up in the background for an unexpected cameo occasionally. Now Skybound is keeping that trend alive! This depiction of the war on Cybertron features Beachcomber in an unfortunate moment as he’s gunned down by Starscream and Soundwave, causing a fair few readers to worry about his fate! The book provides no resolution, so we’ll have to see if he reappears further down the line. Either way, it’s a fun nod.

#10: Cliffjumper greets Optimus

In a lighter moment, Cliffjumper’s introduction in #2 is a welcome respite from the giddy action of the first issue and gives us a brief insight into the bond between the Autobots. Most notably, the friendly and familiar hand grab the small Autobot grants Optimus speaks to an apparent bond between the two, wonderfully communicated through actions rather than words. It’s just one panel, but it quickly and efficiently sets up this dynamic and showcases what kind of leader Optimus is at heart.

#9: The police cars

This one may be unintentional, although one suspects not! Plenty of readers were talking about the design of the police cars first featured in #2, if only because they give off serious Prowl vibes. Whilst not an exact replica of the character’s classic Datsun alternate mode, this depiction still has all the ingredients needed to make your brain head in that direction. One to remember for whenever the Autobot comes back online!

#8: Skywarp sips

This won’t be the last Skywarp moment on the list, but it is one of the most memorable! He may be a total thug, but there’s something oddly enjoyable about seeing the Decepticon reluctantly responding to Starscream’s command in such a teenager-esque fashion, perfectly encapsulated by his terse response of “What now?

#7: Soundwave’s speech bubbles

I missed this on the first read, but the style of Soundwave’s speech bubbles is worth highlighting! The stylistic blue background contrasted by yellow writing is surprisingly subtle yet puts the Decepticon’s verbal portrayal at odds with every other character’s and naturally makes us want to read his dialogue in his classic vocoder voice from the 1980s cartoon. Assuming we weren’t already, mind.

#6: Optimus’ axe

The third issue of the comic centres around a brutal battle between Skywarp and Optimus Prime, and whilst there’s lots to talk about besides, one element that stood out was the latter’s signature energy axe. Firstly, I *love* how Prime struggled to get the thing powered up through the fight, as it took several panels for the weapon to kick into action finally. Such delay raised the tension a fair bit while also making the axe more intimidating when it finally came to life, exemplified by the corresponding stylish sound effect in the image below. It’s undoubtedly one of my favourite panels of the book thus far.

#5: The teleport

We’ve seen Skywarp’s teleportation powers in various media over the years, but never quite like this! It’s always enjoyable when the Transformers use their unique abilities in fun and creative ways. However, this might be one of the best examples ever as it allows the Decepticon jet to stand out in some fashion beyond just being another thuggish Seeker. Daniel Warren Johnson fans will already be familiar with his use of action words, but something about the split depiction of ‘tele’ and ‘port’ will stay with me for some time.

#4: Two! Five! One!

Jazz’s introduction in #4 was exhilarating, as the fan-favourite Autobot made an immediate impact diving into battle against the assembled Decepticons! Yet one particular detail stood out here: his use of the phrase “Two! Five! One!” as he leapt into action, which musically inclined readers will recognise as a classic chord progression typically used in the jazz genre! It’s an association we’ve never seen quoted by the character before, but it instantly reads like something he would say, and again, it’s almost impossible not to hear it in a Scatman Crothers voice.

#3: The hospital transformation

As mentioned, the comic’s pace has been breakneck throughout the issues thus far, but we’ve still enjoyed some superb character beats packed in there! One particularly notable example comes in #4 when Optimus Prime is outside the hospital waiting for Spike to recover. Another patient approaches him and asks the giant robot to turn into a truck for his amusement, only for Optimus to comply generously. It’s a brief inclusion that arguably could have been cut in terms of the wider narrative. Still, it says everything about Prime’s character and provides a welcome moment of levity considering the events of the ongoing story. This is the Autobot leader that many of us enjoy.

#2: The flick

Conversely to the above, plenty of moments throughout the book showcase the Decepticons as ruthless bullies incapable of showing even the faintest hint of sympathy or compassion. For me, their grim nature is perfectly exemplified by how Skywarp plans to finish off an injured Spike in #3. As the human lies defenceless and dying, the mechanical tyrant towers over and prepares to flick him into oblivion, which is about as disgusting a gesture as anyone would care to imagine. There’s nothing in Skybound’s portrayal of the franchise’s classic bad guys that feels redeemable at this point, but little touches such as the above perfectly encapsulate just how ruthless they really are!

#1: Cliffjumper’s parting shot

If you’ve looked up Transformers on social media in the last couple of weeks, chances are you’ve seen this detail being talked about or homaged in various ways, as it’s become a breakout moment of the comic thus far and even inspired a toy upgrade kit already! Yep, we’re talking about Cliffjumper flipping the bird at the Decepticons as they transform and retreat from battle, which is certainly something we never saw in the cartoon growing up! What’s telling about this moment is how subtle it is, which explains how it largely flew under the radar at first (honestly, I didn’t see anyone mention it until tweeting about it). Once you see it, though, it’s not quickly forgotten, which explains why it’s inspired such a significant (and memeable) reaction since! One suspects this will be a defining moment in the character’s franchise portrayal from now on…

So that’s our list! What have been your standout Skybound moments so far?

TTFN

About Sixo

Transformers collector from the UK, collecting vintage G1/G2, CR/RID, UT & Masterpiece/3P. Find me at twitter.com/SixoTF or on YouTube at youtube.com/SixoTF

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