By: John Barber (writer); Andrew Griffith, Casey W. Coller, and Brendan Cahill (art); Josh Perez & Joana Lafuente (colors)

The Story: “Galvatron! What is best in life?” “To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their Mini-Cons.”

The Review: Things are quickly heating up in this title. Transformers fans will no doubt be excited by the prospect of a Galvatron/Devastator throw-down and the issue delivers on that promise. Still, as exciting as a match between two of the most popular Decepticons sounds, John Barber is intent on moving things forward. The course that this story takes already moves the current status quo onto unsteady ground and, while I’m sure some readers would enjoy a little more time exploring the current state of things, it’s hard to deny that this lack of attachment creates an engaging maze of separate schemes and moving parts.

Somewhat unsurprisingly in light of the last few issues, Galvatron is a focus character. With this issue, Barber firmly nails down his version of Galvatron, a xenophobic old barbarian with his own code of honor. It still seems like a step down from the more stoic “Dark Cybertron” version, but it is interesting to see Galvs back up his claims that he’s not a Decepticon. Indeed, it appears that Galvatron has his own motives for aiding the Cons and no sympathy for, perhaps even some distain for, the Decepticon cause. The delicate balance between Soundwave’s reformationist optimism and his need for the clearly unstable Galvatron as a figurehead continues a long tradition of TF antagonists being among the most interesting elements of their series.

That said, Galvatron is occasionally irritating in his simplicity. He’s a whole lot of fun in combat, but as soon as Soundwave shows up to remind him, and the reader, of the larger stakes, he starts to grate. The opening sequence featuring an ancient Galvatron, cleverly designed after his original toy, is cool in the most brutal way, but quickly falls into b-fantasy clichés. I suppose it’s true to the character’s history, what with the raving madness of his original animated incarnation, but it still feels like a downgrade for the IDW version. Then again, his threat to Astrotrain is pretty awesome, especially his referring to the triple-changer as Spacebus. I don’t know why that’s so amusing, but it is.

On the Autobot side, Prowl remains the driving force of this series. Nothing has gone right for Prowl since the Decepticon invasion and watching Cybertron’s biggest control freak descend into near pathological hatred of humans and increasingly usurp Prime’s command is exactly the kind of long-game high-drama that the Transformers franchise has often excelled in.

As if that wasn’t complicated enough, it appears that some of Soundwave’s allies aren’t as trusting as they appear, while others are unrecognized true believers. These shifting allegiances are interesting stuff but, like last issue, they give the sense that the series is still building to bigger things. That’s great for a monthly reader, but it does undercut the strength of the single issue a little.

Andrew Griffith’s art is back to its usual quality this month. Gone are the boxy shapes and static poses of the last issue. Instead Griffith, as if driven to make up for lost time, provides vivid poses from all manner of angles. The Transformers stomp and stalk with vitality and emotion and a pair of grinning Prowls in his sections capture just how untouchably loathsome the bot can be.

You also can’t deny that Griffith has done a great job with Devastator. The individual components are visible enough but come together in an attractive gestalt. Likewise, though the panels are fairly static in themselves, the mass and power of the giant bot come through. Devastator stays true to his mammoth reputation without becoming a crawling glacier of a character.

Ae get attractive fill-in art from Brendan Cahill and Casey Coller. Coller handles the Galvatron-heavy pages at the start of the book. Though the scenes of the conqueror’s past glories are hurt by a homogenous color palette and some well-meaning but claustrophobic layouts, the pages aboard Soundwave’s ship are lovely and possess an attractive linearity that avoids making the characters look overly boxy. Coller has a solid grasp on drawing Transformers and excels at bringing a cinematic flare to their movements, even if not all of his good work comes through clearly in the final product.

Brendan Cahill’s rounded panels and interesting layouts give the post-trial flashback a certain bouncy flow. Arcee seems to be a particular specialty of his. Cahill’s expression work is fantastic, easily eclipsing his fellows in this regard, but some figures possess an odd flatness and Windblade doesn’t look herself at all. It also would have been nice if these pages weren’t filled with so many talking heads, but that’s the script he was given. Ultimately, it was a good section to give Cahill, as it could have been rather boring without his flair for Transformer expressions.

The Conclusion: With three great artists working with him, John Barber crafts another strong issue of RiD. The web of alliances and betrayals forming is fascinating and the list of characters to keep an eye on is quickly swelling.

But while the spotlight bouts are very impressive, neither one does quite enough to satisfy the desire for closure. The result is an issue that feels subject to the larger picture. I imagine that means that this issue will read better once it’s collected, but in the here and now it would be nice if some plots concluded as new ones emerge and, trust me, new ones are emerging.

RiD #30 is an attractive comic. The artists are all highly consistent and talented, the characters are interesting, and the cliffhanger will have you desperate for the next issue. It just lacks that ‘aha moment’ to pull the whole thing together.

Grade: B-


Final Thought

  • One other scene that stuck out to me was the flashback to modern Cybertron. The awkwardness that Arcee feels is definitely intriguing but I have to admit that I found the mass assumption that she and Windblade have something in common irritating. I think that was almost certainly intentional, but it still didn’t sit well with me. I’d be especially curious to know what female Transformer fans think of that scene.


– Noah Sharma