The main storyline of Robots in Disguise – the reconstruction of Cybertron in the wake of the Great War – gets a vacation for a one-and-done story that continues the roaming saga of Optimus Prime and a handful of others. In deep space, Prime pursues the truth behind a deadly plan hatched by the Decepticons’ greatest scientists, Shockwave and Jhiaxus.
The series has done this before, between main arcs, and again the visual style of the issue is dramatically different, trading the clean, bright lines of most of the issues for a grittier, painted look that actually reminds me a bit of some of the promo art for the Transformers franchise ‘80s. The differences in visual style are pretty stark, and I could imagine liking one and hating the other, depending on your taste. For my part, I like it for a change, to set Prime’s story apart from the rest, but I don’t know if I’d want it all the time, every issue.
The story here is less political machination than ambitious sci-fi tale, picking up the thread of the time-distorting starship introduced (and stolen) in prior issues of the series, and drawing in a few older plot threads from prior IDW Transformers series. Ultimately, I doubt any of that is required reading; necessary information is quickly recapped. That said, because of how the story approaches time travel, it can become a bit hard to follow – the art tries to help, and sometimes does, but the limited color palette sometimes hinders character identification, which matters a little more here than it might in a more linear tale.
The story is done in this issue, though it clearly sets up future goings-on in IDW’s Transformers universe. Though the execution may not quite meet the ambition, I did, in the end, really enjoy the writing and art – the whole package – presented here, even though it asked my brain to work a little harder than I’m used to from a Transformers comic.