• Let's Review: The Magic of Cybertron #1

    Crossovers! More than meets the eye!
    Crossovers! Pinkie Pie can fly?

    Let’s take a look at the start of this second crossover between two of Hasbro/IDW’s biggest franchises. It’s off to Cybertron as the little ponies get a taste of what is like on the other side of a dimensional portal.

    Check out the full review with some spoilers after the break!


    The respective styles for Transformers and My Little Pony is often a challenge for artists who have to show the two together. How round and organic can the ponies be in contrast to their Cybertronian costars? Does drawing one influence the other? This premier comic serves as a good example.


    Why would you bring someone with "Thunder" in their name on a stealth mission?

    Our first story “The Magic of Cybertron”, features Jack Lawrence’s efforts; which strikes a fine balance between the two franchises. Both the Decepticons who scheme and the ponies who counterattack look very on-brand. Even the creatures of the Everfree forest look faithful to the show.

    There's always a bigger croc!

    Though there are moments that take you out of it. Little details, mostly dealing with the concept of spacing. As the main villain is revealed, several Autobots witness the event while facing the wrong way. Yet their reactions imply that they’re facing the crisis. 

    No, Sludge. We're the audience.
    "Unicron" is behind you!

    There’s also a recurring flub by colors Luis Antonio Delgado, who colors Rainbow Dash’s tail with the full colors, yet uses only half of them for Rainbow’s mane. Theses are minor hitches but, once noticed, are difficult to ignore. 


    They all look really faithful to the show except for Dash's mane!

    This story continues some time after the champions of two worlds drove back the Decepticons, who kept an optic out for ways to steal Equestrian Magic. This leads to several sorties while Rumble Frenzy offers the audience some humor and a strangely humanizing moment.


    Good grief. 
    He just summed up 2020.

    The real point of these efforts is to bring key players over to Cybertron. Though the means vary. The Seekers Starscream, Thundercracker, and Nova Storm flat-out abduct Octavia and Vinyl from a show. By contrast, the Wonderbolts show absurd stupidity entering a portal on a dare and thus they deserve their imprisonment. Let that be a lesson to those dolts! 


    Why did Rainbow want to join these idiots?

    Of Twilight and friends, it’s a mix. They’re on a rescue mission and thus some recklessness is warranted. But they still dove into a portal without much of a plan or full knowledge. Their ignorance–combined with the Decepticons’ own–sets up the worst-case scenario. 


    His size is 50% the scale of his ego.

    I thought it clever how the comic heavily hinted at Unicron's return, but such a foe is on a different scale. Despite his mortal origins in both G1 and the IDW comic, Unicron’s most popular interpretation is as a dark god. The counterbalance to Primus, the Transformers’ creator. Such a primal force isn’t something that can be befriended or reformed. In fact, Unicron has never been defeated through conventional warfare. The Autobots have often had to rely on equally divine power.

    Mad props if you recognize where I got this panel.

    By comparison, Unicron would likely find King Sombra quaint. That is not to dismiss Sombra as a threat. Though not on Unicron’s level, almost every conflict against Sombra has been a pyrrhic victory. The one time the ponies were able to defeat him without a crippling loss was using the Crystal Heart, which might be the closest equivalent to the Matrix of Leadership. Before any ask: Yes, I do think the Heart is a closer parallel than the Elements of Harmony. 


    Well, that's one way to thin out the roster.

    Sombra’s apparently learned from his past mistakes as he immediately takes control of Twilight, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie. I’ve seen folks lament Twilight being overpowered so quickly, but I think it works. Although a quick thinker, Twilight has a hard time dealing with the unexpected. Couple that with a note of guilt as Sombra taunts Twilight’s role in his resurrection, and I could see her guard being weakened. If anything, I’m more surprised that Sombra enslaved Megatron.


    Be glad Discord isn't readily available.
    He'd blow up the planet to get Fluttershy back!

    One important note is that this comic is a “Generations” story for The Transformers. It’s why you can see Decepticons from G1, Prime, and Cyberverse all together. As such, I often think on the presentation of  characters across iterations rather than worry about which is the “true” character. While Megatron has often served as the target of humor, he is also a intimidating figure when challenged on a personal level. Nothing is more personal than dominion over his own thoughts. A hypocrisy, given all he’s done to other beings.


    More Than Meets the Eye and Lost Light did a lot to make Megatron sympathetic.
    A trend that seems to be on the rise within the franchise.

    Yet even if this is a double-standard, it’s been one of Megatron’s strengths. Also within IDW, Megatron faced off against the D-Void, a Lovecraftian horror that represented the consciousness of the “Dead Universe”. Lacking a body of its own, D-Void built a body from all the Decepticons except one. Megatron stood his ground both mentally and physically, refusing to be consumed. 

    Bet Cthulhu never had to deal with this!

    Which leaves me at odds over this comic’s development. On the one hand, all this flies in the face of Megatron’s character. Even when enslaved by Unicron or occasionally held by ambitious humans, Megatron has always found a means to resist, rebel, and conquer. If he’s truly under Sombra’s sway, then this is a frustrating disservice. 


    That's right! I'm pulling from events before IDW's run!

    On the other hand, the Decepticons are not loyal to anyone but Megatron. If any other Decepticon were enslaved, they’d likely be chalked up as a loss and abandoned. The only Deception who I think would do more is Soundwave. I suspect he would pursue for Flutterhy’s sake. Yet Megatron is such a central figure that he is likely the only figure that could prompt the Deceptions to even consider an alliance with the Autobots and remaining ponies. But this has the tone of “it has to happen for the story to happen”. It’s a kind of argument that undermines a story because it focuses on the artificial nature. A story’s goal is to flow naturally so it all makes a kind of sense.


    How is Pinkie flying?
    Weird thing to focus on; but still!

    Regardless, it’s happening and the question now is how it will unfold. I’m focusing a lot on the Decepitcons here because they are the main force in this opener. They have the plan, the means, and they set the stage for it all to go horribly wrong. Given their limited presence as opponents in the first series, I’m eager to see how these villains will interact with their rivals. I’m especially curious if Starscream will make some kind of play for power, as is his habit. 

    Whoa! Leave the shipping to the fans!

    A Real Mother

    This second story is a study in pairings rather than an external conflict. I could sum it up in sentence. “Two couples battle a Deception to protect young lives.”

    Not the most embarrassing defeat in the Decepticon's history.
    Remember when Megatron got drunk?

    As intense as that sounds, a larger focus goes to the pony couple of Holiday and Lofty and the Cybertronian pair of Arcee and Greenlight. Though in terms of art I think that Casey Coller is more practiced with the later pair. Arcee looks very faithful to her G1 design, as she did in the previous crossover. Greenlight does not resemble her G1 origin; favoring a more recent presentation from IDW.

    Yes, this is a meeting of mothers.
    Holiday and Lofty are certainly more reliable
    than Scootaloo's biological parents.

    Holiday and Lofty are faithful to their Friendship is Magic presentation, butcher’s a sharper look to their movements and expressions. This is especially true for Lofty, as she is meant to contrast Holiday’s softness. Doesn’t mean that they’re poorly drawn, but there is a noticeably different feel from the usual FiM style.

    Chestnut? Wonder what's the story behind that nickname?

    Back when Arcee met Rarity, I defined it as the team of “the girls” from each franchise, but they were not mirror images. The same is true here. I’ve enjoyed Holiday and Lofty’s contrasts, from their opinions on food to their style of humor. Holiday is nurturing and gentle while Lofty has a sharper humor and a bit more of a wild side. Though writer Sam Maggs has accentuated Lofty’s directness, making her even bolder and flirtatious.

    Forget what I said about shipping earlier!

    Fun fact about Greenlight is that she was part of the first female pairing IDW’s Transformers presented on-panel. Back then, she paired with a fellow colonist, Lancer. Now she’s presented as Arcee’s romantic partner, and their styles are a different kind of contrast. Arcee maintains the protective and nurturing traits that have been a part of her character throughout the franchise, and now her easy-going and friendly attitude works alongside Greenlight’s scientific perspective. They work well together without being duplicates of the same personality. This gives us one of the funniest panels in the comic.

    What it's like to be married to a nerd.

    Their biggest obstacle in the search for Scootaloo is a possessed Deception named Muderking, who now goes by Killmaster. Branding is important. Though he waves what looks like a magic wand, his history in IDW emphasizes a-typical weaponry. It’s all tech so advanced that it’s indistinguishable from magic. As far as I know, he’s never transformed. This might make him part of the small “Monoformer” class; which is a far cry less ridiculous than “Action Master”. 


    "Kill Masters". The failed toy line.

    Though Arcee and Greenlight try to serve as protectors, Holiday and Lofty show their own strength through speed and a yarn ball that must have the tensile strength of a steel cable. The whole point of this fight is much the same as the pairings. Individually, each character seems totally different than the others. Yet they work together and in doing so accentuate their shared bonds. It’s something far deeper than any superficial difference. If they aren’t enough, the guest appearance by Scootaloo, Gauge, Flareup, Hot Shot, Sureshock, Grindor, and Hot Rod seals the deal. 


    Scootaloo looks absolutely adorable here!
    And I'm guessing Hot Rod is acting as a chaparone.

    This story is more about harmony and unity between the two races. I think we’re going to see more internal conflict in the next issue, so this is a sweet story that may act as a counterbalance to what we’re about to see.


    Starscream's leadership style encapsulated in one panel.

    As a starting point to this crossover this issue is a lot of fun with some interesting character dynamics. I’m eager to see how the remaining ponies work alongside both Autobots and Decepticons. Though given how chaotic Diamond Comics publishing has been with MLP, I have no idea how long we’ll have to wait. 

    "If he wishes his voice to change, then it shall!
    And he has wished many times!"

    I’m Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!


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