A fresh, compelling restart for an iconic franchise from one of the best comics creators of the current day.

Review: TRANSFORMERS #1 – An Explosive Fresh Start

From current comics superstar Daniel Warren Johnson (Murder Falcon; Beta Ray Bill) comes a high-octane reset for some of modern fiction’s most beloved characters with Transformers #1. Featuring colors by longtime collaborator Mike Spicer, this opening issue is packed with intense action and compelling character storytelling that brings humans and bots together in impactful fashion. With an emotionally engaging script and unsurprisingly stellar art, this is a must-read #1 for longtime fans and newcomers.

“Optimus Prime was supposed to have led the Autobots to victory. Instead, the fate of Cybertron is unknown, and his allies have crash-landed far from home, alongside their enemies—the Decepticons.
As these titanic forces renew their war on Earth, one thing is immediately clear: the planet will never be the same. New alliances are struck. Battle lines are redrawn. And humanity’s only hope of survival is Optimus Prime.”

Writing & Plot

Daniel Warren Johnson sets up his story for Transformers #1 by focusing on the emotional core of his cast. At the start of the comic, we are introduced to Spike, a teenage boy with aspirations of being an astronaut struggling to deal with the loss of his brother – also an astronaut, but was killed during a takeoff gone wrong. To make matters worse, Spike’s father has no idea how to handle the loss of his eldest son, leaving Spike to handle things on his own. When Spike and his friend Carly go into the mountains for some stargazing, they stumble upon a crashed ship – a ship carrying both Autobots and Decepticons. From here, the action and dynamic between Spike and the bots takes off. As per usual, Johnson’s character writing is compelling and heartfelt. He immediately gets us into the lives and heads of his human cast, making for some of the most interesting people ever introduced in a Transformers story. Johnson then extends that humanity to the Autobots. Spike can see the struggle that Optimus and the others are working through, having awoken after a long war on CyberTron only to be surrounded by foes once again. The dynamic between Spike and the Autobots going forward is no doubt going to be a wonder to watch. Of course, none of this would feel like a Transformers comic if the bots themselves didn’t feel right. Fortunately, Johnson writes this cast of classic characters with the familiarity of a longtime fan. With a compelling, character driven plot and great treatment of an iconic cast, Johnson’s script for this opening issue makes for a blast of a read.

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Art Direction

If you’ve ever read a Daniel Warren Johnson book, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Transformers #1 is an excellent looking and energetic comic book. The Do A Powerbomb! creator applies his signature style to the mechanoid forms of the Autobots and Decepticons with awesome results. All of the classic Transformers, from Optimus to Starscream, look as great as they ever have and are drawn with the same attention to facial animation as any of his human characters. Johnson’s environmental detail combined with his sequential direction make the world and lives of Spike and his family feel fleshed out, selling the notion that the Autobots and Decepticons have stumbled into the complex lives of our human cast. When the action hits, it delivers a mean right hook with massive impacts and explosive force. Much of that effect is due to Johnson’s own lettering ability, specifically with how he does SFX. Mike Spicer’s colors finish off the visual experience with the same sort of vivid yet subdued work that he has done on all of Johnson’s other comics. The color still pops, but it sort of sits behind the action, letting the kinetic energy of Johnson’s pencils take the lead in guiding the reader. What is in this comic isn’t among Johnson’s best work, but it’s still astonishingly good and will doubtless make readers beg for the next issue.


Transformers #1 is a compelling and thrilling start to this brand-new era for an iconic franchise. Daniel Warren Johnson continues his streak of kick-ass yet emotionally stirring stories with a familiar plot that focuses on the struggles of both the human and bot characters and how they come together – when stuff isn’t being blown up. His artwork packs as much power as ever, with his faithful recreations of iconic Transformers colliding with the unbeatable kinetic power of his pencils and ability to imbue sequences with emotional weight. Be sure to grab this new beginning from your local comic shop today!

Justin Munday
Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.
A fresh, compelling restart for an iconic franchise from one of the best comics creators of the current day.Review: TRANSFORMERS #1 - An Explosive Fresh Start