Writer: Daniel Warren Johnson
Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson
Release Date: November 7, 2023
Page Count: 32
Optimus Prime and Starscream take the spotlight in this issue as they embody what it means to be a hero and villain in a war where the battlefield is fragile and full of life.
Daniel Warren Johnson’s new Transformers series quickly took the comic book world by storm with its debut issue last month. Even with so much hype around it being DWJ’s latest series and also one of the tentpoles of Skybound’s new Energon Universe, the comic delivered an incredible reintroduction into the beloved franchise. But as much as it wears G1 inspirations on its sleeve, the series was quick to establish that it’s telling an all-new Transformers story unlike anything seen before. This latest issue carries plenty of that momentum by diving into surprisingly introspective moments for some of the series’ most vital characters. Now, with all that said, let’s check out my review of Transformers #2!
OverviewOptimus Prime reflects on his surprising new life on Earth. He shares his memories of Cybertron with Spike, lamenting how all he’s ever known is conflict, battle, and loss. Being on Earth shows Optimus a beauty he’s never experienced before. But that beauty comes with a painful reminder that things on Earth are much more fragile than what’s on Cybertron.
It doesn’t take long for the reality of the Autobots’ situation to kick in. They need to gather more Energon to revive their fallen brothers and eventually make their way back home. But just as Optimus starts to plot his next move, the Decepticons kickstart their devious plans to gather their own supply of Energon.
ReviewAs a big fan of Daniel Warren Johnson’s other work, like Do A Powerbomb and Extremity, I came into this series hyped for his distinct flair for high-octane action sequences. While the action has absolutely been top-tier as expected, what really blows me away about the series is DWJ’s fascinating characterizations of Optimus Prime and Starscream. With an opening scene that’s equally tragic and heartwarming, this latest issue beautifully depicts Optimus as a highly loving and sentimental hero. In just a few pages, this comic shows a softer side to Optimus, a very far cry from the hardened warrior we’re so used to seeing in Michael Bay’s films from recent years. It’s refreshing to see a character, especially one as beloved as Optimus Prime, expressing a nuanced balance of strength and vulnerability.
On the flip side, this issue has Starscream continuing his mean streak, and it’s a terrifying sight to behold. It’s funny to look at the cover of this comic and see Starscream with such a big and goofy smile on his face. Then, when you get to the part of the issue where that moment in the cover happens, you realize there’s something very devious behind that maniacal grin. As silly as Starscream can still be with his quips to his fellow Decepticons, showing his more demented side effectively establishes him as a legitimate threat to the Autobots and human life. The graphic violence of this comic is something I definitely didn’t expect going into it. The probability that this Starscream is only scratching the surface of the horrible things he’s capable of makes him all the more terrifying.
The contrasting characterizations of Optimus and Starscream encapsulate the beautiful work put into this series. It’s through their words and actions that we get an understanding of the values permeating through the Autobots and the Decepticons. From Optimus’ newfound drive to protect Earth’s beauty to Starscream’s ambition to burn everything down for selfish gain, this issue shows how both sides ultimately recognize the fragility of their new home on Earth. By putting humans at the center, whether as teammates or victims, the story shows how there’s plenty more at stake in this battle between lost Cybertronians.
Something also worth noting about this issue is that there are some teases to the grand scheme cooking up for Skybound’s Energon Universe. Without giving away too much, all I’ll say is that there’s a surprising debut in this issue if you keep your eyes peeled. While the moment in question is far from being the focal point of the issue, it strongly implies how all the different pieces of the Energon Universe will eventually fit together.
Final ThoughtsFollowing up on its incredible debut issue, Transformers delivers another banger of a new chapter. Even with more subdued action sequences, this issue raises the stakes by deepening our understanding of both Optimus and Starscream’s characters. When the story being told is this good, it’s excruciating to think we have to wait a whole month to find out what happens next.
Why You Should Read TransformersThe contrasting characterizations of Optimus and Starscream make for a very compelling conflict.Spike is shaping up to play a very vital role in the story.DWJ’s art is as phenomenal as ever.Other pieces of the Energon universe are falling into place. TAGGED: Skybound