- Image Comics’ new Transformers series effectively captures the dark and twisted nature of a robot invasion on Earth, showcasing the devastating consequences for humans and even the peaceful Transformers themselves.
- The series subverts fan expectations by presenting a more violent and realistic portrayal of the Transformers, challenging the kid-friendly stories of the 1980s cartoon and Michael Bay’s movies.
- The upcoming Transformers #3 preview pages illustrate the mistreatment of Autobots by humans, demonstrating how they can be mistaken for monsters like the Decepticons, further emphasizing the incompatibility between man and machine.
Warning: Spoilers for Transformers #3Image Comics’ controversial decision to start Skybound Entertainment’s new Transformers comic during G1 has surprisingly been justified in its first two issues and even the preview pages of the upcoming Transformers #3. After the original 1980s cartoon that launched G1, no one ever thought that setting any spin-off series on Earth with human children again would be a good idea. Michael Bay’s movies may have been successful, but they mostly shied away from the kid-friendly stories that the G1 stories focused on in the 1980s. Bringing that dynamic successfully into other mediums, especially comics, was unlikely.
What Image’s new Transformers series effectively accomplishes is capturing just how dark and even twisted a gigantic robot invasion of Earth would be, even for those who are trying to coexist there peacefully. The 1980s cartoon definitely couldn’t accomplish this considering the time it initially aired, especially since there were kids involved, and Michael Bay’s movies were mostly focused epic fighting scenes and comedy.
This is seen right from the beginning of the new Transformers series by writer and artist Daniel Warren Johnson, colorist Mike Spicer and letterer Rus Wooten. Over the course of the first issue alone, numerous humans are killed rather than just getting tossed aside like rag dolls but quixotically surviving. The second issue then introduces a more nuanced situation when Optimus Prime accidentally steps on and kills a deer, effectively demonstrating that even the most peaceful Transformers aren’t capable of living on Earth without inadvertently harming the fragile lifeforms there. How much this devastates Optimus further underscores just how incompatible man and machine are with each other. Optimus even makes a comparison about how just stepping on the ground is different from Cyberton’s hard, metallic floors.
Scenes from Image’s Transformers Wouldn’t Appear in the 1980s Cartoon or Michael Bay’s Movies
The preview pages of the upcoming third issue of Transformers go even further by illustrating how Autobots can be mistakenly lumped in with monsters like Decepticons. When Cliffjumper attempts to protect an armed human from a rampaging Decepticon, the Autobot gets repaid with a rifle to the head. The irony is that Cliffjumper had earlier expressed disgust of humans in Transformers #2, but was eventually strong-armed into accepting them. There’s even a devastating scene where a girl named Carly learns that her father was just murdered by one of the Decepticons.
These types of scenes could never have happened in the original G1 cartoon. Instead, mere children are somehow able to defeat battle-ready Decepticons that are capable of shooting down military vehicles. At least, Michael Bay’s Shia LaBeouf was hilarious and got into amusing situations. The children in the G1 cartoon just minimized the magnitude of what the Transformers were capable of. These examples were underscored by the epic scope and setting of IDW’s Transformers series that had been in publication before Skybound purchased the rights to the franchise. That series chronicled the fall of Cybertron while documenting Megatron and Optimus’ relationship in painstaking detail before their fallout. The death of Bumblebee’s Forgling was also devastating, since it also resulted in Bumblebee becoming an assassin.
The New Transformers Are Subverting Fan Expectations
No one would have expected the dark spin that Image Comics has given to the Transformers in just a few issues. The gambit of using the relatively “safe” generation fans would be familiar with from the 1980s cartoon, and making it more violent and realistic, is so far paying off. Even the most skeptical fans are likely looking forward to how the rest of Transformers #3 will turn out and, of course, the many issues that will follow.
Transformers is available from Image Comics.