An excellent jumping-on issue for anyone not entirely familiar with the Transformers universe, Transformers: Robots in Disguise #7 offers a fresh take on the old robots.
The official description from IDW:
DECEPTICON MONTH! Fan-favorite character TURMOIL returns from the dead—but what does he want on CYBERTRON? The AUTOBOTS don’t want another DECEPTICON on their planet and the DECEPTICONS don’t want things to get any worse… but what Wheeljack discovers about the DECEPTICON warlord will change everything!
First of all, the plot itself is the main reason that this title seems to have new life and energy. I’m not overtly familiar with the background and lore of Transformers, but in most previous iterations it has still somewhat revolved around Cybertron, earth and the war between the Autobots and Decepticons. Transformers: Robots in Disguise takes away most of this, showing a reformed Cybertron and a peaceful (more or less) coalition between both sides.
It doesn’t sound much, but it gives many of the characters new perspectives. For a start, despite some of the misleading cover variants, this Transformers title doesn’t feature Optimus Prime or Megatron. In a way, this is good; it gives Bumblebee, Starscream and Metalhawk a chance to shine. As leaders of the coalition, representing the Autobots, Decepticons and the neutral forces, respectively, the interaction between the ‘long time enemies made allies’ leaders makes for great reading.
Likewise, the monologue by Wheeljack is far more interesting than the concept sounds. After years upon years of fighting, the depiction of a tired soldier, who still doesn’t trust the other side completely, is fascinating stuff. Its not something I’ve read from the Transformers titles previously, and its boldly pushed forward here. Everything about Wheeljack’s segments, the perfect grid-like panelling, the dialogue, moody lighting and symmetrical design adds a sense of rhythm and atmosphere that honestly isn’t expected from a title about big robots in space.
This is contrasted beautifully against the life on Cybertron. Where as Wheeljack is on his own, both physically and personally, the plot on Cybertron features countless transformers, with Autobots and Decepticons mingling. The depiction and suggestion of such life, such as the idea of many ‘bots changing names to reflect their peaceful status, adds a rich depth to the world.
Plotwise, this ‘balance’ is thrown off by the arrival of Turmoil. Whilst the plot is certainly intriguing, the dialogue and interactions it sparks, with flashbacks and discussions of the war, are far more interesting. It says a great deal about Transformers: Robots in Disguise #7 that the plot works so well into the title, creating opportunities to explore the depth and history of the universe, that it’s one of the last things I actually remember after reading.
Also, there’s a Transformer playing a guitar whilst a shark based Transformer is singing, so there’s that.