‘Star Trek vs Transformers’ TPB Review: A Delightfully Absurd Mashup
There is a special place in my heart for crossover comics that have no business existing. I get a specific form of joy from seeing two wildly disparate franchises smashed together. IDW’s Star Trek vs Transformers is perfection for the kid in me that would dump out all they toys in the toy box, mixing them without regard to which ones actually belong together.
Let’s not mince words: Star Trek and Transformers have absolutely zero business sharing a page. Despite being two of the most beloved nerd properties in existence, their worlds and mythologies simply don’t fit together. Truth be told, seeing how the creative team tackled that challenge was half the fun.
Artists Philip Murphy (Amazing World of Gumball) and Jack Lawrence (Transformers: Lost Light) perfectly meld the aesthetics of the 1973 Star Trek: The Animated Series and the 1984 Transformers cartoon. It’s a very effective way to visually link the two franchises into a cohesive story.
Writers John Barber (IDW Editor-In-Chief and the most significant Transformers writer of the last decade) and Mike Johnson (Superman) absolutely revel in the absurdity of what they’re creating. The end result is a delightfully weird mashup of epic proportions.
At the comic’s most insane point, Kirk mentally bonds with the massive transformer Fortress Maximus, using his knowledge of “every rivet and fuse onboard” his ship to turn the Titan into a duplicate Starship Enterprise… which also transforms into a massive fighting robot. I’ll repeat that: Transforming Robot Starship Enterprise (appropriately named Fortress Tiberius). Dear Hasbro, I want a toy of that.
Surprisingly, Barber and Johnson avoid the easy and overused “parallel universes” explanation that these types crossovers usually employ, instead crafting something of a shared (although seemingly forgotten) history in which the Transformers existed on 1980’s Earth, long before the rise of Starfleet.
After leaving Earth on board Fortress Maximus, they encounter the Decepticon Titan Trypticon. The battle forces both Autobot and Decepticon factions to crash land on a planet, where they are rendered inert for centuries. They are eventually awakened by a science team in the 24th century. The comic is quick to point out that this is pretty much the same plot as the original Transformers cartoon, but hey, “history repeats itself.”
The newly awakened Autobots discover that the Decepticons woke up just before they did, and escaped, and that the Klingon Empire has been using Trypticon as a base. The Decepticons and Klingons team up, as bad guys are wont to do. The combination of the Klingon’s cloaking technology and the Transformers’ transforming results in Trypicon being turned into a Klingon bird of prey. They promptly launch an attack on the humans (again, as bad guys are wont to do). After Spock learns about Cybertronian history via mindmeld with Optimus Prime, Optimus and the crew of the Enterprise team up to defend the science team, and our wild crossover is off to the races.
The comic has a large cast, relying on an assumption that the audience is familiar with them all. Given the cultural status of the two franchises, it’s a relatively safe assumption. There are, however, characters that the average audience might not know, such as newer creation Windblade on the Transformers side, and a handful of Star Trek characters exclusive to the animated series, such as Lieutentant M’Ress, a catlike humanoid.
The headliners, however, are clear and are all given epic heroic moments in keeping with their characters. Optimus uses his body as a shield to protect humans, while Kirk risks his life mentally controlling Fortress Tiberius. In classic Transformers fashion, Starscream’s scheming ways undermine Megatron’s plan, and the Decepticon cause is as much defeated by internal conflict as by the combined forces of Starfleet and the Autobots.
Fittingly, Kirk gets the final dad-jokey word on the absurd affair with a mashup of his own: “Live long Autobots… and roll out.”
There’s nothing high-brow about it, Star Trek vs Transformers is perfectly happy reveling in absurd spectacle with a dash of camp. It’s a starship load of fun, and a great comic for anyone willing to not take either franchise too seriously.
A Must For Fans
The Star Trek vs Transformers TPB collects issues #1-5 of the miniseries, and is in stores on June 12th, 2019.