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Review: Transformers: The Reign of Starscream TPB

Written by Big Bot on December 10, 2008 | Reviews |

Following last year’s live action Transformers movie, IDW have continued the story with Transformers: The Reign of Starscream, the official sequel to the film and IDW prequel stories. The 5 issue series was released from May to August of this year.

Despite being a sequel, the story actually begins with Starscream recounting the events during and before the first movie. This brings about an attempt to reconcile the events of IDW’s Prequel series and the Target-sponsored prequel comic, Planetfall, into one definitive continuity, and hopefully puts an end to any debate over the true order of events before the movie starts. Also reinterpreted are some weird plot holes left by the film, like the disappearance of Barricade during the highway scene and what happened did Starscream do between fighting off the jets over Mission City and heading into space?

The answer to that second question is the main catalyst behind The Reign of Starscream. In a bid to restore Cybertron, Starscream hunts down the remains of Frenzy, who download all human records of the AllSpark, to acquire the knowledge to allow him to build a new cube. From here, Starscream flies off into space, as shown in the movie end credit sequence, and begins his quest. As usual, not everything goes to plan, as an Autobot resistance is not going to let Starscream have his way so easily. This introduces a key new character, Arcee, who’s given a fair amount of page time and a nicely rounded story arc.

If criticisms are what you’re after, there aren’t many to find. The story could have done with another issue to help the pacing and flesh out a couple of ideas, and a few less new characters would have been nice, but these don’t affect what is an excellent story. The other problem, which is out of the books control, is that being a comic sequel to a movie, the story, in the grand scheme of things, will not fit in and have to be ignored for continuities sake. Chris Mowry has said the story will fit in with the upcoming Revenge of the Fallen prequels, even as much as pointing out the foreshadowing (page 81) in his commentary, so h

On the art side, Alex Milne continues on drawing duties, having worked on the Transformers: Movie Adaptation, with Josh Perez handling colours. It’s a credit to both that the book has such a familiar feel to both the prequel and adaptation, but feels fresh and different. A major improvement on the two previous titles are the clearer differences between characters

Another area where Reign of Starscream excels is the bonus features. The book is stacked with extra pages that give the series a complete feel. There is a one page introduction by IDW Editor-In-Chief Chris Ryall, who discusses his role in the book and contributions made by others. The usual cover gallery is present with some unused versions.

There are 33 character profiles, focusing only on the robots and humans that appear in this series, written by Mowry and fan contributors, which keeps the writing fresh. As this is just an extra, and not a dedicated Sourcebook, each character gets just a paragraph, which does the job perfectly and prevents the profiles from possibly contradicting any future events. There are also 11 pages of Alex Milne’s design sketches, with a detailed look at Starscream’s head design, the Autobot and Decepticon ships and some weapons. It’s also interesting to see some of Alex’s comments about what he liked and didn’t, and what he felt needed work, but also how he felt the bots would function within his drawings. There is a commentary from Chris Mowry himself, who points out subtle Easter eggs, references and possible hints towards future plots in the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen prequels. Finally, a short guide on the early story drafts that were in the planning before film sequels and common sense got in the way.

The book comes on the usual high quality IDW paper and with an excellent presentation throughout. It would have been nice to have the cover and spine matching the Movie Prequel and Adaptation TPBs, but these are me being picky.

Overall, The Reign of Starscream is an excellent read and should get you hyped for the upcoming Revenge of the Fallen prequels, Alliance and Defiance, with the former arriving later this month. Art and colours are clear with plenty of detail and the extras make the package seem even more of a bargain.

9
Excellent

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