Transformers: Heart of Darkness #4

Heart of Darkness 4

A

After four issues, IDW’s Transformers: Heart of Darkness mini-series has come to an end. Through the course of its run, the book’s accomplished a couple things that make it a totally worthwhile read. For one, Darkness returned the space opera feel to Transformers comics that many fans have been missing (not for nothing, I’m sure, is the new arc over in the monthly Transformers Ongoing series entitled “Space Opera”). Perhaps more importantly, this book provided a great platform for some tremendous creators to leave their mark on the Transformers universe. Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have shepherded Marvel’s cosmic books for years; now we get to see what they’d do with a different set of characters, and it’s ridiculous fun. Similarly, Darkness introduced relatively new artist Ulises Farinas to the world of monthly comics, giving readers a glimpse of an impressive, albeit different, take on our favorite Robots in Disguise.

As Heart of Darkness #4 opens, Galvatron (the series’ hero, taking up a rare introspective role) comes face-to-face with an old enemy, Nemesis Prime, the original Autobot explorer who’s now become a puppet of the evil forces that live in the Dark Universe. Indeed, Prime’s been possessed by D-Void, the shadow antagonist that’s threatened Galvatron this entire series. What exactly D-Void is isn’t clear; he seems a bit like an organic Unicron (see: Transformers: The Movie), devouring robot creatures by the planetful. Even with Galvatron’s recently augmented power, the Prime/D-Void combo proves a serious foe that tests Galvatron’s mettle. It also acts as a harbinger of things to come; by the end of the issue, Galvatron’s deduced that D-Void’s next target is Cybertron itself.

Though I’ve been a fan of Ulises Farinas’ art throughout this series, I think he really outdoes himself on the D-Void/Prime visuals. In that character he’s created a half organic, half robotic creature that seems like it’d be at home in Heavy Metal. It’s creepy as hell and totally threatening. In fact, I know I said this in my review of Darkness #1 but I think the biggest asset to Farinas’ Transformers art is the way it perfectly conveys the gigantic scale of these characters. Everything in this book just seems so large, and writers Abnett and Lanning are smart to not cram too many panels on each page, letting Farinas tell this story with big pencil lines and imposing figures.

As far as the writers go, it’s obvious that Abnett and Lanning know how to tell a cosmic story. Rereading the entirety of Darkness, I noticed it gets off to a bit of a slow start laden with exposition, but by the time it hits this fourth issue it’s firing on all cylinders. Darkness #4 manages to cram a whole lot of plot into its pages. Besides featuring the entire Galvatron/Prime fight, this book finally shows us what place Transformers: Infestation has in the IDW universe; additionally, it dovetails with Transformers Ongoing #20 in its final pages, setting us up for IDW’s upcoming “Chaos” crossover, which will find Ongoing taking up a bi-weekly schedule. That whole time, Darkness maintains an epic, high-action feel sure to please many Transformers fans.

Though I don’t agree with the fans who think Transformers comics should be epic space sagas all the time (I’ve quite enjoyed the Earthbound focus of Ongoing), there’s certainly still room for that type of story, and in the end I think Abnett, Lanning and Farinas told one very well. For now it seems that all three talents are waving goodbye to the Transformers universe, but I’ve certainly enjoyed their stay there.

Check out our interviews with series writer Dan Abnett and artist Ulises Farinas.

tags: andy lanning, dan abnett, heart of darkness, transformers, ulises farinas

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