29 May 2018

Review: Transformers: Windblade: Distant Stars by Mairghread Scott, Corin Howell, et al.

Comic PDF eBook, n.pag.
Published 2016 (contents: 2015)
Acquired October 2016
Read October 2017
Transformers: Windblade: Distant Stars

Writer: Mairghread Scott
Art: Corin Howell and Sara Pitre-Durocher
Colors: Thomas Deer and Yamaishi
Additional Colors: John-Paul Bove
Letters: Tom B. Long

The events of Distant Stars spin out of Combiner Wars: having reestablished contact with a couple lost Cybertronian colonies, the new Council of Worlds begins reaching out to more. Only, Windblade and Starscream have very different agendas, and so who makes contact with which colony first becomes of the utmost importance. Windblade earnestly believes that each struggling Transformer civilization can help each other, whereas Starscream has visions of a Transformer empire with him wearing the crown.
Prepare to have your idealism crushed, Windblade.
from Transformers: Windblade vol. 2 #4 (art by Corin Howell)

I like that, given that the series formerly known as Robots in Disguise has shifted its focus to Earth, Windblade continues to emphasize the difficulty of rebuilding postwar Cybertron. This feels much more of a piece with the first five volumes of Robots in Disguise than volumes 6 through 8 of Robots in Disguise actually did. The best part of the book is probably the cast of characters that Mairghread Scott has built up: not just Windblade, but a whole group trying to move beyond the Autobot-Decepticon conflict. There's racer Blurr who wants to run a bar where anyone can relax, Windblade's bodyguard Chromia, Optimus's old friend Ironhide who's just tired of it all by this point, and Wheeljack who's too idealistic for his own good. Scott also has a good handle on Starscream and Rattrap. I also enjoyed the exploration of the distinct Transformer colonies, like the movement-focused inhabitants of Velocitron, and the Beast Wars-influenced animal transformers of Eukaris.

Robots who love movement so much even their cities move!
from Transformers: Windblade vol. 2 #4 (art by Corin Howell)

On the other hand, it didn't entirely click for me: the idea that Windblade speaks for Metroplex is only paid lip-service to. It feels like no one really knows what to do with that concept on an ongoing basis. Additionally, the politics here are pretty unsubtle; apparently each planet will agree to side with whomever they speak to first, and Veloctitron's whole racing thing is a little too "planet of the hats."

The book's final story is kind of neat, even though I think it takes place first, which is confusing; I liked seeing Windblade and other naturally female Camiens interact with the artificially female Arcee. On the other hand, the last thing the IDW mythos needs right now is another combiner.

I do like the ongoing arc about Windblade's continual moral compromises: I hope it comes to some kind of interesting head.
from Transformers: Combiner Hunters #1 (art by Sara Pitre-Durocher)

In both stories, the art is strong. Corin Howell's cartoony work suits the sensibilities of Windblade well; it's very expressive. Sara Pitre-Durocher's more painterly work is reminiscent of Sarah Stone's original Windblade run, but more effective at conveying action I think.

Overall, this is decent, but it shows potential. Distant Stars was the second and final volume of Windblade, but the characters and concepts will continue into a new ongoing, Till All Are One, and I look forward to reading it, and hopefully seeing Mairghread Scott and company hit their groove.

Next Week: Meanwhile, on Earth... Verity Carlo discovers that not even Prowl can escape the Sins of the Wreckers!

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