The Rise of the Decepticons event continues in Transformers #20 thanks to Brian Ruckley, Anna Malkova, Joanna LaFuente, and Jake M. Wood. The last issue seemed to lose the velocity from the previous issues. Will Transformers #20 reclaim the flow of recent events or cause it to further grind to a halt.
Prowl and his team need information and decide to investigate Swindle’s illegal operations for the answers they need.
Something which immediately sticks out about this issue is how characters seem to actually have some amount of personality. Instead of being objects moving a plot forward actual glimpses of characters with conflicts and persona are coming forward. Details such as Prowl keeping a pet, Hound feeling remorse for innocent lives killed by recent events, and Sideswipe being eager to prove his worth display a depth needed in this series. It has often felt like we not getting the chance to connect with these characters and understand what they are like in this new installment of the franchise. Hopefully, more moments like this will be commonplace in the future.
There is a sense the story Brian Ruckley introduced back in issue #1 is moving towards wrapping up. Frankly, this ending is way overdue as the murder of Brainstorm seems less important than the other issues such as large scale destruction and widespread civil unrest have appeared since the first issue. The mystery of why Brainstorm was murdered needs to be solved so the audience can move onto bigger things.
The art by Anna Malkova sells the stress and frustration the characters are under. Looks of pain and exhaustion are prominent on Prowl and Hound and illustrate just how much recent events pushed them to the breaking point. There also is a great splash page in Swindel’s illegal casino filled with some recognizable faces from previous incarnations of the series.
The colorwork by Joanna Lafuente suceeds in making the scenery pop. The darkness of the alleys where Prowls team meets, to the ominous golden glow from inside Swindle’s casino helps to make the energy of the setting come through much clearer. Also, the coloring nails the unnatural power Mindwipe has at his control.
The lettering by James M. Wood finds a way to meld perfectly with the artwork in many deceptive and impressive ways. Too often sound effects are thrown on and end up becoming more of a hindrance than adding to the action of the story. In this issue, Wood hides the effects in energy attacks and speed lines to not distract from the rest of the panel.
Transformers # 20 offers a bit of depth and a bit more progress in the overarching plot. Still, moments of promise have appeared before. The groundwork of setting up the tension of the world of Cybertron has been laid. From here on out, the fans deserve to see some powerful and truly fulfilling moments.