Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Endgame: Windblade # 4!

It all comes down to this last issue of the “Transformers: Windblade” mini-series—well, at least until the coming of the announced second mini-series, “Transformers: Windblade Returns.”

In the meantime, IDW Publishing lucked out on choosing to go with a very unusual approach to the TF franchise and a talented creative team, just the elements needed to push the first post-Arcee fembot star, the sword-wielding Windblade.

After the mysterious power outages and the attempt on her life, Windblade has journeyed into the bowels of Metroplex to discover that Starscream is secretly mining a powerful ore.

After being captured, tortured and escaping, Windblade realizes that Starscream was not behind the assassination attempt. Then, the spacebridge at Metroplex’s heart spins up. Where is it going and who is behind it?

Probably caused by the fact that this is the last issue of the current run, “Windblade” # 4 feels very cramped and condensed. There’s a lot of exposition at the very end, explaining everything that has to be explained.

Cornered by Starscream, Windblade, who has merged her consciousness with Metroplex himself, has to make a choice: Either stay where she is and be killed, or teleport Metroplex to where their lost origin planet Caminus was, saving herself but killing the countless Cybertronians living in Metroplex.

This choice exemplifies the kind of mind games that writer Mairghread Scott has excelled at with this mini. The list of suspected killers is short (Starscream is, of course, ironically innocent). “I hope it’s Rattrap,” Starscream says. “He really should show some more initiative.”(It’s not). Ultimately, the answer to this whodunit is indeed surprising and perhaps a little annoying. The answer ties in nicely to the point the issue is trying to make but it seems like whoever it is (not spoiling it here) seems to get off with ridiculously little repercussions.

That point aside, Scott has crafted a satisfying ending that calls out to so many TF myths (the Titans, Caminus, even a brief Beast Wars callout) and establishes a new one. To cover up Starscream’s complicity, Windblade has convinced the leader of Cybertron to promise to bring back to Cyberton the scattered colonies. It’s an awesome concept that is worth looking forward to, if Starscream keeps his word. In the process, we are treated to some very heavy TF mythology and a nice appearance by Metroplex or at least his consciousness. The big boy seems to be feeling better.

We’ve mentioned before how artist Sarah Stone has exemplified a very original and distinctive style and we certainly hope that she will return to do the sequel series with Scott. Truth is, we now can’t imagine anyone else drawing Windblade. We’ve been spoiled by Stone’s art and now, whenever Windblade has appeared in the other series, it doesn’t look or feel quite right simply because it isn’t Stone depicting her. And it seems that we will be seeing a lot more of Windblade in the other two ongoing TF series. This is a great thing. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of Scott and Stone is their depiction of Windblade as a complex, thoughtful character who is often cautious and yet unafraid to use her blade when it is needed. Her back story—being from the now-lost colony of Caminus—marks her as an outsider, yet her relationship with Metroplex as the city speaker marks her as an essential TF character.

There’s been a lot of discussion regarding the new origin of the once one-and-only Arcee, including happiness that she is in canon and outrage at the Prowl’s-personal-assassin designation. This version of Arcee as a cold, calculating killer is very much at odds with the first—and much beloved—version of Arcee as she appeared in 1986’s “Transformers: The Movie” as voiced by Susan Blu. For one reason or another, that non-smirking version of Arcee is gone for good.

Yet in many ways, Windblade seems to possess vestiges of that original Arcee while being a unique character by herself. If anything, “Transformers: Windblade” served a crucial purpose by establishing Windblade as the single most important female Autobot in the current TF continuity. She is the perfect combination of the old and new ideas regarding female TFs. This is easily proven by the fact that fans have been excited by the glimpses they gotten of the upcoming Transformers Generations Windblade Deluxe figure. While fans will also get a Deluxe Arcee and a Deluxe Chromia (where’s Nautiaca?), it is clear that the star of the wave is Windblade. And it certainly couldn’t happen to a greater girl.

Next time: Robots in Disguise # 31!

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