Friday, April 25, 2014

You Go Girl: Windblade # 1!

It’s safe to say you have never seen a Transformers comic book like “Transformers: Windblade” # 1. No one has. The first issue is immediately provocative and inspired, one certain to be divisive.

I’ve always been a little confused by the big deal about Arcee, especially since she first appeared in “The Transformers: The Movie” in 1986. I just assumed she was simply designed differently. What, we can have a jive-talking Autobot (my optics are on you, Jazz) but we can’t have a curvy Autobot? Anyway, Arcee eventually managed to get toys made and was sort of part of the wirework already when Prowl turned her into, literally, his personal assassin in the IDW continuity. Then the “Transfomers: The Covenant of Primus” hardcover hinted at the possible origins of bots like Arcee and basically got the fandom all ruffled up (The book has nice art and a nifty case, though).

But IDW’s “Dark Cybertron” arc really pushed buttons when it introduced three more female Autobots, Chromia, Nautica and their leader, the sword-wielding Windblade, who now gets her own limited series written by Mairghread Scott and illustrated by Sarah Stone. Significantly and fittingly, this is the first time ever that a TF comic book is being written and illustrated by an all-female tandem. Interestingly, the new “Dawn of the Autobots” arc begins with the dawn of the newest Autobot’s limited series.

As Cityspeaker, Windblade’s job is basically to speak for the still-injured Metroplex, as well as maintain him. As Metroplex is now home to many TFs, this means keeping the city running. This means that Windblade has to put up with the constant abuse of the current TF leader, Starscream, who is complaining about the unexpected blackouts in the city. Created on the living ship Caminus, Windblade isn’t used to the intrigue that Starscream chews for breakfast, so she worries, but also endeavors to find out where the missing energy is being diverted to. Her first issue ends with a bang and we wonder if someone is out there to destroy her.

What an interesting book Scott has crafted here, and what a fascinating character Windblade has so far turned out to be. To be honest, I couldn’t tell her apart from Chromia and Nautica when they first appeared, but Scott has imbued Windblade with a distinctive albeit unsure voice and Scott has started the series on a really catchy note.

But the really big surprise of “Windblade” # 1 is the gorgeous art by Sarah Scott, as has been enthusiastically pointed out by many reviewers and fans. Looking like part watercolor painting and part anime, Scott’s art is exemplified by the variety and vibrancy of Windblade’s facial expressions. Does that facial design remind you of a Kabuki mask? Talk about a sentient machine. Then there’s that fabulous bar scene with the other TFs, each one with a clear visual personality of his own. Even Fizzle.

I think that “Transformers: Windblade” takes the right attitude by looking at the new female Autobots as being parts of the big picture, but with enough intrigue surrounding their Caminus origins to still make them stand out. Ultimately, “Transformers: Windblade” establishes Windblade and Chromia as regular Autobots trying do their job. After all, if you can have TFs which look like bats, rhinos, lions and panthers, you can certainly have one which looks like Windblade.

Windblade will get her own toy later this year as part of the Generations line. That will only add fuel to the fan fire that’s burning for this bot. Gotta say, the comic book’s gotten off to a solid start.

Next time: “Transformers: Robots in Disguise” # 28

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