• Let's Review: The Magic of Cybertron


    Four issues of our ponies running around Cybertron, trying to save worlds without getting stepped on!

    It's been quite a ride so let's take a look back at this second crossover event. Catch the full review after the break.


    Art Abounds!
    We've had a wealth of artists tackle these two distinct franchises. Some came at this from the My Little Pony perspective, others were more experienced with the Transformers. I confess that I usually favor a presentation that shows the Transformers more on-model than the ponies. Perhaps it's bias nostalgia. Yet at the end of the day the fun lies in seeing how these characters are depicted in either style.

    This is when you know your day's gone down the toilet.


    The best visual energy in a story comes from Tony Fleecs and "Sick Beats". His orientation is geared more to the pony perspective yet when it comes to conveying the power of sound and the emotions on display, I found his work the most resonant. Trish Forstner and Casey W. Coler both nail the look of both ponies, dragons, and Transformers their respective stories. Downside to this accuracy is that sometimes the idea of movement doesn't show through.

    A great image, but not necessarily an action scene.

    Artists Sam Maggs, Priscilla Tramontano, and James Asmus show a greater understanding of drawing Transformers but with some awkwardness to the ponies. Despite the complexity taht often follows the Transformers' designs, one could argue that the organic ponies are a harder design. After all, most reference shots are Flash animations that look out of place next to the perspective-heavy Transformers. So while each artist brings their own style, I get the sense they're still trying to feel out how to draw Equestrians.

    A unique style that accidentally highlights
    the pony differences.

    MVP for this goes to Jack Lawrence for illustrating the opening and closing acts. His art combines the best of all with a good sense of balance, energy, and faithfulness to both Cybertronian and Equestrian characters. I think he was the best choice for the overarching stories. Which brings us to the threat for this storyline.


    I shall call you Betty!
    And Betty, when you call me,
    You can call me Al!

    Hail to the King
    One of the critics for Friendship in Disguse was the absence of the lead villains. Megatron and Chrysalis had barely a role while the Decepticons in general were just thugs to overcome. Though Sombra is likewise limited to bookend appearances, his presence is felt throughout the storyline. Every brainwashed antagonist–even those who are just brief appearances–remind us of the fact that Cybertron is under siege and every soldier is also an unwilling shield.


    Be glad Sombra can't force new combiners!

    This can, however, undermine some of the entries. It's funny to think that the conclusion features a stable portal between the two worlds. This opens up the idea that some entries from the last crossover really did take place later in the timeline and thus make more sense.


    Try picturing this after the most recent crossover!
    It works a little better, doesn't it?

    Unless Sombra's influence hasn't fully dispappeared, that line of thought doesn't work here. Applejack's journey into the Sea of Rust in "A One-Trick Pony" is the strongest dissonance. The first crossover was very flexible with its timeframe. Sombra's menace makes this entry more confined.


    Still not sold on that villainous name.

    I've varying opinions on Sombra's ultimate fate. Some enjoy the idea that he didn't get blown up again. This seeming vegetative fate seems more punishing than a return to the ether. For myself, it felt like an indignity the character didn't deserve. I find Sombra to be a menancing character despite his strange appearances throughout the series. So I'd rather show him an ending and befit his danger rather than undermine it.


    How the mighty have fallen.

    Who Is This For?
    I'm not in touch with the Transformers fan community. A few visits to Seibertron.com but nothing substantive. So when I look at this story I wonder how invested a Transformers fan might feel. As with the past crossover, I think this series still appeals more to pony fans.


    Still don't know what that nickname means.

    Let's consider how each story begins. While the meeting between ponies and Cybertronians happens quickly, who is our introductory character? Aside from the opening and closing, it's always the ponies. They are the small entities in a giant-sized world. They are the most vulnerable. It makes sense that they would be our introduction.


    Soundwave remains terrifying.

    Yet how different is that from last time, in a story where giants invaded? I think this series would benefit from flipping the introduction. Let us follow a Cybertronian–Autobot or Decepticon–and see the world from their perspective. This would give the audience the chance to ask a question. If you were the giant in the land, how would you treat the little ones?


    One might be tempted to go Godzilla in a land like Equestria;
    but that's a moment's distraction. This seems far more enjoyable.

    This question becomes even more intriguing as the choice for Decepticon teamups adds a nice dynamic. Starscream, Soundwave and Shockwave are the most prominent examples of Decepticonism, but let's consider some of the other appearances.


    I don't know if this dude has an alt mode...

    Killmaster is as easily-dismissed brute. The fact that he is brainwashed doesn't offer a bit of sympathy so it makes sense that he is the last basic Decepticon to be defeated. A holdover from the first crossover.


    You got the punishment posting, didn't you?

    Wildwheel used to be an Autobot but has lost faith in the ideal. Of all the stories that could have benefited from a perspective flip, I think he would have been an intresting viewpoint. How would someone so disillusioned react to a being like Applejack, who represents the trust Wildwheel once beleived?


    Knockout's true weakness: Sincerity.

    Knockdown's tour of "The Beauty of Cybertron" shows a bot who doesn't necessarily buy totally into the Decepticon ideal. He embodies certain traits, but his focus is on something outside of conquest. Add to that he is often down-on-his-luck and a not at all in sync with other Decepticons and I think he too would be an interesting perspective character.


    I just love this image, even if Snarl is having a trip.

    The work between the two parental sets and the team-up between the Dinobots and Dragons may be set within Sombra's assault, but they're spiritual successors to the Autobot/pony teamups of before. In this, case I don't think taking on the perspective of an Autobot would drive the story quite so clearly. So much of this story is about Decepticons being caught in a gray area. They are usually the biggest bad. While the Autobots might be used to this kind of fight, the various 'Cons have a different struggle, which makes them stand out.


    This was a strangely humanizing moment.

    Speaking of big bads...

    The Quintisons
    Didn't want to give away this part last week. Our hook for a possible third crossover is an observation by the Quintessons
    . These creatures are a wild card in the Transformers franchise. Originally introduced in the G1 movie, they became an even bigger threat than the Decepticons. As the creators of the Transformers, they held a grudge against their rebellious constructs. So they were an enemy to both Autobot and Decepticon even though they often manipulated the latter.

    A face only a mother could–Actually, no. 


    Since then, the Quintessons or some variation thereof have appeared throughout the franchise as an external threat. They often require the combined efforts of all Cybertornians to be truly defeated, as was especially true in the recent Transformers: Cyberverse series.


    They just summed up ponies in a word!

    It makes sense that the next opponent for this unlikely trinity would be an outside threat. If they were to be the main antagonist, who would the
    Quintessons use? They're not designed to be direct combatants. They much prefer sending others to do their work. While they may have used the Decepticons frequently before, I would be interested in seeing them manipulate the ponies' good will towards a disguised end. We've seen a lot of good versus evil, but now I think it would be interesting to see what happens when the clear view of what's good gets scrambled. The Quintessons are a great way to achieve this.


    The bigger question is whether or not we'll get to see a third entry. With Friendship is Magic concluding, it's safe to assume that the stories will shift to the newer generation. Yet The Transformers have existed in multiple iterations over time. I don't see why a third crossover would abandon what's shown to work. These crossovers are a lot of fun, combining the best aspects of both franchises. With a little more flexibility, I think one could explore the dynamics between the two in many different ways.


    Also one of the best moments.

    Highs and Lows
    My personal favorite in this story would be the Autobot/Pony/Decepticon team-up that is "The Beauty of Cybertron". While Ratchet hadn't he same presence as Rarity and Knockout, I do think this combined the strongest aspects of the crossover. It advance the main storyline, offered a solution, had some great interactions, and fleshed out Cyberton as well. 


    Two intense and one weepy. An excellent balance of reactions!

    My least-invested story goes to "A One-Trick Pony", due to its sense of disconnect from the larger events and also a struggle with its own flow. Some of the action scenes suffered from a lack of context that I didn't understand what had happened until a second readthrough. I enjoy re-reading a story to catch what I missed on the first go; but if I have to read it again just to gain a basic understanding then there needs to be some adjustment. 


    Can anyone tell me what's really happening here?

    What's your favorite story? And what teamups would you hope for down the road? I'm still holding out for Big Macintosh and Omega Supreme to meet and have a very abreviated conversation. Share your thoughts in the comments!

    Brain control leads to eye wrinkles!

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!


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