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REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS #20 – ‘Chock Full of Bots’ (Ruckley, Malkova, Lafuente) IDW Publishing

Brian Ruckley (Author) Anna Malkova (Artist) Joana Lafuente (Colorist) Jake M. Wood (Letterer / Designer) David Mariotte (Editor) Tom Waltz (Editor) Riley Farmer (Assistant Editor)

Thanks to IDW Publishing for the review copy!

TRANSFORMERS #20 continues the Rise of the Deceptions arc. To place this series in context, it takes place on Cybertron before the war between the Autobots and Decepticons we all know and love. There really aren’t even Decepticons yet, as this arc charts their rise. The series has a deep (and I mean deep) mythology that is largely independent from the original 1980s cartoon. While this adds a level of satisfying richness and complexity, it can be a barrier to entry for new readers.

This issue in particular picks up on a lot of the strands set out in prior issues. It lacks a cohesive story, but instead moves the stories of multiple characters forward by devoting a few pages to them. Prowl continues his investigation. Chromia and Skytread are locked in standoff. We finally see Lightbright and her injured titan Lodestar again. The best part of the issue involves Swindle, a cool ‘gray area’ character who brings a few of the storylines together. Kudos to the art team, for taking the time to give each crowd member at Swindle’s a unique look even though they were essentially fillers.

This issue also packs in a lot of characters, from old staples like Ironhide, Hound, Sideswipe, and Optimus Prime, to characters I only know from the Transformers Trading Card Game, like Visper, Mindwipe, and Storm Cloud.  Interestingly, while humans haven’t entered the picture yet, in this universe, the Transformers interact with other organic alien species (including a cute little pterodactyl looking creature). 

If you’ve read this arc, and probably the prior one as well, you will really like this issue. If you are a new reader (or a Transformers Trading Card Game player) there may be enough characters you are familiar with to enjoy the book even if you will likely be a little confused. The recap page in this series continues to rely on random panels. Adding a few lines of text would really help. This series definitely takes some commitment, as there are few standalone issues. But if you stick with it, it paints a detailed picture of Cybertron society that is compelling.

TRANSFORMERS #20 is now available.

Check back soon for my thoughts on issue #21 of TRANSFORMERS.


Have you read the issue? What are your thoughts? Feel free to chat with me on Twitter or leave a comment below!

Darren Shulman
Darren Shulman
Darren is a professional lawyer and amateur movie/comic/TV reviewer who is lucky enough to have found a wife who is into the same geeky things he is. Darren has been making the trip from Ohio to San Diego Comic-Con since 2009. Other interests include, in no particular order: monkeys, LEGO, dinosaurs, and playing basketball poorly.

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