IDW’s Transformers built a massive cult following when James Roberts took the helm, as a writer not very well known in comics, and re-contextualized the entire backstory of the Transformers from their creation to their culture to the war that spilt out across the universe. IDW has learned some great lessons from this success, as Brian Ruckley, a new writer to comics, was chosen to helm their Transformers book from the very beginning. Right from the start, this run has added nuance and complexity to Cybertronian culture and has been setting the stage for Megatron’s eventual revolution. Ruckley is developing characters incredibly organically and building a world quite unlike anything done in Transformers before, and each issue adds to the ongoing tapestry of this universe.
Following up on the cliffhanger ending of #5, this issue starts off focusing on Bumblebee, who is reeling from the murder of his mentee, Rubble. Ruckley does a great job letting this scene breathe, as Bumblebee is visibly distraught over this loss. The first two-thirds of the issue continues to focus on the gravity of Rubble’s death and its effect on those closest to it, with Windblade, Prowl, and Optimus Prime all showing their grief in their own way. Bumblebee’s story is the most interesting, as he becomes further and further disillusioned with his world and way of life. The tail end of the issue sets up the conflict for the next issue, with Cyclonus attacked by a mysterious cybertronian. This last plot thread feels a bit too far removed from the rest of the issue, and as a result feels disjointed storywise.
As usual, this issue is penciled by several artists, each one working on different scenes and ascribing their own style and tone to the book. Angel Hernandez’s work on the book continues to make Cybertron feel grand and clean, essentially through Bumblebee’s eyes, but the scope has shifted — the world feels uncaring and cold, mirroring Bumblebee’s growing disillusionment. Andrew Griffith’s work on the scenes with Prowl and Orion Pax feel much more like standard Transformers, with less grand scale and more grounded grit. Anna Malkova’s work on the Cyclonus sequence gets the feeling of the outsider across incredibly well — isolated yet not alone. It also makes the surprise appearance of the mystery cybertronian feel like an encroachment, as if the reader’s own space has been invaded just as Cyclonus’ has. All of the artists do an excellent job tying this issue together, and despite their different styles, never clash with one another, resulting in an incredibly cohesive-looking final product.
The issue as a whole is an excellent way to allow the events of the previous issues to breathe and really get their importance and impact across. Ruckley’s depiction of Bumblebee’s grief and disillusionment is excellent, as it feels palpable throughout the issue. It also handles the loss of the point of view character very well. Rubble was the lens through which the reader could experience this new Cybertron, and his death could easily have resulted in a loss of perspective and focus. Instead, the book takes this loss in stride and uses it to flesh out the perspectives of all the other characters. This issue sets up a lot to look forward to, and does a great job depicting the apparent fall of Cybertron.