Review: Star Trek vs Transformers: Prime’s Directive #1 (of 4)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Written by: John Barber & Mike Johson
Art by: Philip Murphy with colors by Priscilla Tramontano
Today IDW released the first issue of the “Prime’s Directive” mini-series, of what writer Mike Johnson hopes is a multi-series run of Star Trek vs. Transformers comics. When speaking at the IDW panel at STLV back in August, Johnson recounted the almost 10-year journey this crossover has taken and what it almost was:
“I can’t believe it’s real…we had kicked around an idea of back when Kurtzman and Orci were doing the Star Trek movies at the same time as the Transformers movies and Bob Orci was like, ‘we gotta do a Trekformers comic; Enterprise rolls up on Cybertron!’ But the idea of doing the JJ/Kelvinverse with Michael Bay’s Transformers was just…no one needs to see that (laughs).”
Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and we were spared any anatomically correct robots mingling with the Kelvin crew. Frankly, with the number of crossovers IDW has already done (including Star Trek/Green Lantern and Star Trek/Planet of the Apes) and the ubiquity of shared movie universes (Marvel, DC, Hasbro), it’s amazing this didn’t happen sooner. With Boldly Go ending its short run and 13 years of Transformers continuity coming to a close, now seemed like a perfect time to go in a different direction. This more upbeat incarnation, according to Johnson, can be credited to former IDW editor Sarah Gaydos, leading to the decision to cross the first generation Transformers cartoon with Star Trek: The Animated Series.
I have to admit, I was skeptical of when this was first announced. But as crazy as it sounds, the writing team of (new IDW editor-and-chief) John Barber and Mike Johnson, along with Philip Murphy’s brilliant artwork managed to make this work. As a child of the 80’s, this crossover is a dream come true.
I can’t say enough about Philip Murphy’s art. It’s so spot-on that it really does look like you’re watching a mashup of both shows, which was by design. Murphy spoke with SyFyWire about this process, saying he “wanted to make sure that we stayed as close as possible to the retro style of both the animated Star Trek and G1 Transformers to make each panel feel like it was a shot taken from the shows, so researching and getting the style as close as possible was the top priority to me.” Well done, sir. I was so blown away I had to go through the entire issue and check out the art first. If you are a fan of either property, you should buy it for the art alone – it’s spectacular.
As for the story, it’s mostly just an introduction to the shared universe. The USS Enterprise answers a distress call to Cygnus Seven, a remote dilithium mine close to the Klingon border. When they arrive, something is jamming their attempt to communicate and Kirk assembles a landing party to investigate. We’re then immediately transported into the middle of a battle on the second page. No excessive exposition, just straight to the action. All of our favorite characters from both properties are there, including a certain pair of Edosian and Catian officers. M’Ress joins the landing party and Lt. Arex takes the conn.
Expecting the Klingons, they instead encounter what Sulu describes as “late 20th century military aircraft – pre-eugenics wars – ones that fly themselves.” These aircraft (along with a gun and a cassette recorder), are battling vehicles led by what they think used to be called a “truck.” While it’s clear that the Transformers have met humans before, this is the first time they’ve ever encountered a Federation starship. The Autobots still have a soft spot for humans while the Decepticons continue to underestimate them, as they always do.
Barber and Johnson are having fun and it shows. There are no shortages of tropes from both franchises, keeping the tone light and the pace fast. From a “TOS Klingons look like humans” gag to Sulu’s “Oh, my,” it’s all there. Spock has a habit of reciting famous quotes and this issue is no exception. Look for him to point out the obvious – that “things aren’t always as they appear” when it comes to talking, transforming alien robots. One question I have is, will we ever see Chekov or will they let Walter Koenig write one of the issues?
Barber and Johnson aren’t aren’t hiding it – this is pure nostalgia and a love letter to fans of both Star Trek and Transformers. What kid didn’t fantasize about epic crossover stories and act them out with action figures? Hands down, these are my two favorite franchises and I haven’t had this much fun reading a comic in a long time. Now if they can work in the “universal greeting” in a future issue, they can take all of my money right now.
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Variant retail incentive covers
Star Trek vs. Transformers #1 was released today, Wednesday, September 26th. It is priced at $3.99. You can order the A and B cover versions at TFAW with a discount.
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