Transformers: Rise of the Decepticons 23 somehow reduces the classic civil war between Autobots and Decepticons to a political coup between warring parties. The Autobots work to protect the Senate against the Ascenticons/Decepticons. Ironhide bewails the public perception of the Senate as outdated.
The writing quickly gets into unexpected territory. There is a strange moment where robots with a beast mode are somehow used here as an equivalent for a racial minority. The real world parallels extend to the media as Andromeda reports from outside the senate and is called out by Voxpop who is a typical troll calling the Ascenticon plot ‘fake news’.
Megatron and Strika arrive in spite of the accusations surrounding them even as the angry crowd outside seems inclined to support them. Sentinel Prime gives a speech calling out against the Ascenticons and their lies. Starscream warns his prison guard Bumblebee that a change is coming.
Megatron makes a speech in the senate in which he throws aside all pretense at peace and calls out for a political change. The Decepticons stand revealed and stage a massive attack. The senate is overtaken and the Decepticons stand triumphant.
This issue by Brian Ruckley mistakenly casts the rivalry between Orion Pax and Megatron as a muddied political bout. It reduces a massive metaphorical battle between good and evil to the commonplace battle between political parties. There is not question that we need political allegories to inspire readers, but this simply is not it. It waters down both the issues we have in the real world and the massive symbolism of the battle between good and evil. It is too obviously on the nose of our current political battles, complete with trolls, angry crowds and discounted news reporters.
The art by Anna Malkova and colors by Joana LaFuente bring a simple clarity to the action and drama. It is welcome to have a Transformer comic where every character is easily recognizable even in battle scenes and crowd scenes. The art is not memorable but it does serve the story well. Hopefully as this story unfolds in future issues the conflict can move away from such obvious parallels into deeper thematic waters. Senate proceedings and political debates truly matter, but making this comic tow so closely to our real world reduces both this comic and the real world drama.
Writing: 2.7 of 5 stars
Artwork: 3.9 of 5 stars
Colors: 3.8 of 5 stars
Overall: 3.4 of 5 stars
Writing: Brian Ruckley
Art: Anna Malkova
Colors: Joana LaFuente
Publisher: IDW Publishing