Okay, Transformers #39 or Combiner Wars: Opening Salvo , call this issue what you like. The main crux of the matter is, for a title that’s gone through some changes over the last year, is this recent development a step in the right direction, or just a cheap cash-in to summer toy launches?
First off, the official description from IDW:
OPENING SALVO! The Autobots and Decepticons’ uneasy peace is threatened by the flames of war! STARSCREAM—ruler of CYBERTRON—makes contact with WINDBLADE’S homeworld—and the only defense against a new CYBERTRONIAN EMPIRE are COMBINERS—multiple CYBERTRONIANS forming together into huge, dangerous forms!
I’ll be honest, I had some reservations going into this. Aside from the strong steerage in a new direction, it seemed like a big arc to follow up the totally-not-fun Dark Cybertron. Still, after reading this I think there’s plenty of potential here, as this issue really sets itself out to create an atmospheric opening and bring the reader up to speed in all the right places.
Still, John Barber, writing with help from Maighread Scott, really only offer a massive teaser more than anything else. Sure, this is a great way for new readers to get on board, but it doesn’t deliver any of the goods yet. What we do get, however, is a set-up that follows many of the themes found in some of the one-shots. Notably, we have Optimus Prime contemplating post-war life and Starscreams position of power. These have been absent in places so its good to see Barber pick up some of the more interesting elements.
Still, can we get to the issue about the art? I have nothing against Livid Ramondelli. While I find his pencils sometimes appear flat, his gritty, rusty colors more than make up for it. What I’m starting to notice is how Ramondelli’s artwork is wheeled out whenever something is deemed ‘special’ enough. Transformers #39 marks a point where, after so much use, its losing its weight.
However, I’m ultimately happy with this issue, as it opens up a lot of possibilities and provides plenty of entertainment in the interim. At the end of the day, what more can you ask for?