COUNTDOWN: 10 noteworthy moments from Skybound’s Transformers #7

Skybound’s popular Transformers series is back with #7!

It’s hard to believe we’re already moving beyond the initial six-part arc, although that’s not to say there isn’t plenty of fallout from the events depicted within, as evidenced here! This chapter certainly felt like a page-turn in several regards, but it still has plenty of continuation of what we’ve already seen. All that said, here are ten noteworthy moments from the series’ latest issue!

WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for Transformers so far, including #7!

#10: The new art

Firstly, it’s impossible to talk about #7 without acknowledging how different it looks, thanks to the addition of artist Jorge Corona. Many were nervous about Daniel Warren Johnson moving on from pencil duty on the book, but based on this first effort, there’s no need to worry, as the comic looks absolutely gorgeous! Johnson continues writing the series, of course, and no doubt Mike Spicer’s continued role as colourist gives at least some sense of visual continuity. However, it’s hard to deny there’s a very fresh look and feel to the proceedings. The gritty detail of Corona’s work is certainly appropriate for the story, and the bulky, blocky character designs feel eerily reminiscent of classic Marvel UK artist Geoff Senior’s work (although some of the more violent panels could also be straight out of a Derek Yaniger-drawn Generation 2 effort!). It’s certainly an adjustment, but given how varied visual takes and stylised art have long been a staple of Transformers comics, I am all too happy to make it.

#9: Cybertron!

It’s strange to say that our only present-day glimpse of Cybertron has been in a brief scene in sister-comic Void Rivals, with the robotic world otherwise confined to flashbacks in the titular Transformers book itself. That seemingly all changes with #7, as we’re treated to an extended opening sequence featuring a company of Autobots as they attempt a perilous mission (at least assuming this isn’t also a flashback, although nothing indicates it is). The frantic action is at odds with how Shockwave described the current status quo during his Void Rivals cameo, as his suggestion of there being barely enough energy to sustain the Decepticons seems inconsistent with the heavy fire currently being laid down on their enemies. Yet it’s enjoyable to see a little more of the cybernetic world, especially in such lush style, with the heavily-detailed art again harkening back to the Marvel UK depiction of the planet, stylistically speaking. Supposedly, we’ll be in for more – much more! – of this setting in future issues, so that’s something to look forward to.

#8: There’s death aplenty!

Let’s not beat around the bush here – this issue is brutal, dispensing character deaths like they’re going out of fashion. No doubt such a fatality rate will do nothing to quell the dissent from fans who have already critiqued the series for taking characters such as Jetfire off the board so soon into the run. Yet there’s little doubt the intent is to raise the stakes here significantly, and to that end (and as unsubtle as it might be), the tactic works. That’s especially true, given the names selected to bite the big one in this chapter! It used to be that if you wanted to off a few ‘bots to up the ante, you’d create new characters from scratch purely for the purpose and then give them the old red shirt treatment, but the “hi and bye” examples here are all franchise all-stars! Huffer, Warpath and Kup bite the big one within the opening few pages, and we later learn that fan-favourite Ultra Magnus – who, by the way, was a major player in both the Marvel UK and IDW comics – is already dead before this story even began! It may be that some or all of these names get the resurrection treatment further down the line – they are robots, after all, so it’s not unheard of – but such events are sure to cause some upset all the same.

#7: Who is ‘he’?

The Cybertronian Autobots’ mission seems to revolve around rescuing someone, but it’s not entirely clear who that is intended to be! Our only clue is a severely damaged body discovered by Elita-1 (or “Elita One” if you prefer; it’s not made clear here!), who is visibly horrified at the state of her supposed comrade. The figure appears to be missing arms and a head and has seemingly had its outer casing stripped off to reveal an inner robotic endoskeleton (a visual which again harkened back to Marvel UK and Galvatron’s memorable fate during the brutal Time Wars epic). Skybound has teased that #8 will introduce a character set to “change the war on Cybertron forever“, and whilst some had previously assumed this to be Elita, given her preview cover presence, one wonders if the mysterious identity of the fallen Autobot (assuming they are an Autobot!) might fit the bill instead. Time will tell!

#6: Soundwave vs Starscream

Though heavily teased in previews, the brutal fight between Soundwave and Starscream takes centre stage as the primary cornerstone of this issue and still manages to pack a significant wallop despite the teases already seen! Naturally, the dialogue here adds so much, although there’s still plenty of additional artistic carnage to keep fans happy. The whole scene is a tour de force of ferocious robot-on-robot brutality that, at the risk of seriously repeating myself, harkens back to the savage days of Generation 2 in a big way. More than anything, it’s a guilty yet cathartic pleasure for anyone who has built up a palpable sense of resentment towards Starscream for all his many transgresses over the comic’s run thus far, with every ounce of his malice towards the rest of the cast – Autobot, Decepticon and human alike – paid back in spades! Readers had predicted a significant comeuppance for the current Decepticon leader from the beginning, especially since his predatory punt of a comatose Ravage in #5 seemed like it would be the final straw for Soundwave. Sure enough, his leadership is called into question here, and the cassette dad wastes no time in letting his rival know just why this all came to a head! Some may wonder why it took so long for Soundwave to rebel in such a fashion, but the moment is nonetheless worth the wait.

#5: Is Starscream dead?

Following on from the above, the fight culminates in a shocking turn as Soundwave shoves his fist through Starscream’s chest and rips out what appears to be a critical component akin to a human heart, leaving the latter pleading for his life before being mercilessly dropped to the depths below. It’s natural to conclude it’s the end for Starscream, and the scene certainly does its best to convey as much, but as this is comics – and Transformers comics, no less! – one has to wonder if he might not survive his ordeal somehow. After all, we don’t see him die, which is crucial to note when judging how definitive such a demise truly is, nor do we glimpse where he falls. It appears to be a volcano setting, so the assumption is he’s ended up in lava. Again, though, this isn’t overt, so it’s premature to determine his fate conclusively. Whatever the case, Soundwave takes the victory here and quickly establishes himself as the new Decepticon leader (or at least until Megatron’s potential return)!

#4: Carly and Arcee

Arcee returned to the land of the living in #5 (which feels like a lifetime ago now!), but given it’s been almost non-stop action since, we’ve not had much chance to spend any time with her when she hasn’t been right in the thick of it! That means her moment chatting to Carly in this chapter is sorely welcome, giving us precious insight into her character and further exploring the despondent headspace of her new human companion. Despite having been saved from certain death by her new robotic ally when they first met, it appears as though Carly is not exactly ready to make friends just yet, dismissing Arcee’s cautionary war stories with barely a consideration and even rather pointedly rebuffing her gesture of support by mispronouncing her name. It’s a stark contrast to the more approachable (but still assertive) Carly who made friends with Cliffjumper back in #2, although it’s that very relationship which is at least partly to blame for her current mood. Meanwhile, Arcee shares a bit of backstory and almost accidentally shows off her honed warrior prowess, only to profess that such skills sit uncomfortably for her as she would rather not be part of the war at all. It’s an intriguing direction for this classic character and will hopefully be explored further down the line.

#3: The fallout from #6

As mentioned above, we briefly touch on the fractured friendship between Carly and Cliffjumper after the Autobot failed to finish off Starscream in #6, with him now lamenting his lack of action. Jazz reassures him there is no shame in not pulling a trigger, but it seems to be of little consolation. Meanwhile, a similar schism exists between Optimus Prime and Spike, equally due to the events in the last issue, as our injured but awake human protagonist is understandably still reeling from the news of his father’s apparent death. It’s a brief beat, and although Spike does his best to reassure Optimus it wasn’t his fault, it appears as though the whole affair is weighing heavily on the Autobot leader’s mind. The first arc of this book may be done, but our core cast still needs to deal with the aftermath.

#2: Optimus’ flashback

One of the strangest (and most unexpected) moments of #7 comes shortly after the Autobots’ visit to Spike when Optimus is heading back to the Ark, as he suddenly experiences a bizarre vision and careens off the road. The above panels are the sole evidence for what is going on here, but it doesn’t take a detective to consider it’s likely linked to the fate of Sparkplug in the previous issue. Could it be that by sacrificing himself to ‘kickstart’ the Matrix, Sparky somehow intertwined his knowledge or life essence with Prime? The Autobot leader sees his hands holding a human baby, which could well be Spike, meaning he is potentially experiencing some mixed-up memory. Ultimately, we don’t know, but this will surely come into play soon!

#1: The Autobots’ plan

Finally, we round off this chapter with scenes of the Autobots back in possession of the Ark. Wheeljack is hard at work trying to get Teletraan I to fix more of their fallen comrades. However, we learn that some part of Skywarp is still alive (again, perhaps negating how final the deaths are in this series) and is blocking his attempts. Optimus then arrives and expresses the need for haste so they don’t lose their current advantage, and Wheeljack suggests they build a vehicle to give them a “bird’s-eye view”. What this will be and how it plays into the ongoing storyline are entirely up for speculation! When Prime says he has a plan, I briefly considered that he was looking at Jetfire’s body in the foreground, but it’s hard to tell. It would certainly be a surprise if they brought the Air Guardian back so soon after his demise, especially as great pains were made to explain his wounds went beyond what even the Matrix could resolve. Might this be something else entirely? We’ll have to stay tuned!

So that’s our list! Did you enjoy #7?

TTFN

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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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