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Review: Transformers Unicron #1

The end is nigh! The Darkest Hour has come. Optimus Prime stages a desperate gamble as the world-eater, Unicron, approaches Windblade’s homeworld-but that’s just the appetizer. The main course is Cybertron (with a side of Earth)… and it’s starting to look like no force in the galaxy can stop the end from coming.

If you were a kid in the 80s, there’s a good chance that Transformers: The Movie left an impression on you. Beyond the death of Optimus Prime and the rise of Rodimus, Unicron was a villain that seemed unstoppable. A literal force of nature, the character felt like pure destruction and created dread in my young self. Transformers: Unicron #1 sets the stage for IDW Publishing‘s end game for their Transformers line of comics… with who knows what coming next.

Unicron is devouring planets focusing on the colonies of Transformers and clearly heading for Earth and Cybertron next. Transformers: Unicron #1 dumps us into the middle of the action as Optimus and his united Transformers attempt to take a stand against Unicron and figure out a way to stop it. Writer John Barber has focused on the chaos, creating a situation that feels desperate and hopeless in so many ways and by issues end, that’s only enhanced. This first issue picks up from the Free Comic Book Day teaser comic, which feels like required reading to enjoy this issue. It’s not so much a first issue in that way and is one of my few dings against it.

The other major issue with the comic is that the various story threads in the current two Transformers comics aren’t done. We’ve just been introduced to the Maximals in Transformers: Optimus Prime and now they’re on the side of Unicron? Shockwave is in prison? There’s some spoilers for that series’ current story arc and in that way, this first issue feels a bit rushed. That could also explain my feeling like I’m missing something. Perhaps that will all be explained in Optimus Prime or in Transformers: Lost Light (where are they in this comic for instance?) but we still have a bit to go. The fact this first issue is forced out now, and not delayed to better coincide with the other series’ arcs wrapping up, fuels my theories as to what’s next.

Artist Alex Milne does an impressive job fitting in so much on every page and what feels like every panel. There’s so much packed in and there are times it feels like there’s too much. Reading this on an iPad, there’s some issues picking up everything fit into the spreads. The art harkens back to early art from the toys that feels like it fits in dozens (or hundreds when you were a kid) of characters doing battle, each with their own story.

This is the beginning of an epic. One that feels like a desperate battle, one you don’t know who will survive and how it’ll end. For an epic story, IDW and its team have brought so much together to throw it in a pot delivering more than enough for fans to be excited about. As much as I have fond memories of the original animated film, this first issue feels like it’s attempting to recreate that magic (and we even have a sacrifice already!) and by issue’s end, it’s pretty damn close.

Story: James Roberts Art: Alex Milne
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.05 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review