Review: Transformers: Heart of Darkness #4

Leonard Nimoy did the voice of Galvatron long before he did Sentinel Prime in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.  Let's check in with the cooler one.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Transformers: Heart of Darkness #4

Transformers: Heart of Darkness has ended just in time for the release of the big slam-bang Michael Bay explode-a-ganza Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and aside from giant robots, they have Leonard Nimoy in common. 

Nimoy provides the voice of Sentinel Prime in the new movie (which is the best of the three, although that's not saying a great deal), but he's a Transformers veteran, having also provided the voice of Galvatron in the original Transformers: The Movie back in 1986.  That particular character is the centerpiece of HoD, even though this version of him is a bit reimagined as far as backstory goes, but he's at least kept the name and look.  For all that exposition, check out the previous issue.  #4 here marks the end, and what a long, strange, unpleasant-to-look-at trip it's been.

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way up front – Ulises Farinas is on par with Rob Liefeld as far as body proportions and stupid-looking faces go, and his Cybertronians are ugly in an entirely different way than the Bayformers are. He's the main reason this series couldn't end fast enough, despite how awesome a Galvatron saga should be.

Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's story is made that much more difficult to slog through by the punishing art, but there's a decent seed here – namely in establishing the other-dimensional undead D-Void threat, which may or may not be an actual extension of the other-dimensional undead Undermind threat in their Infestation event – as a focal point to rally the Autobots and Decepticons together as a united force to square off against.  Once again, creating a Unicron-level threat without actually resorting to Unicron, who always feels like 'the ultimate Transformers story' and the biggest threat they can ever possibly face. 

Incidentally, that's all thanks to that original Transformers: The Movie again.  Honestly, if that film had never existed, or if it didn't go to the surprisingly dark places it did, the Transformers would very likely not have the rabid fanbase it enjoys today, and could have been relegated to 1980s also-ran Silverhawks/Go-Bots status.

DnA's scripting suffers, though, as the ending feels very anti-climactic, forced to wedge this story into those Infestation issues and the most recent issue of the regular Transformers series.  Another problem with this whole tale is that we don't get much of a sense of Galvatron as a personality, even though he's the star of the show.  We get that he's driven by a search for destiny and his new mission statement to stop the undead invasion where once he was a part of it, but compare the bland, expository Galvatron of HoD with the belligerent and highly entertaining Galvatron in Infestation, and you have to wonder where it all went.  It's doubly confusing since both miniseries were written by the same guys.  Considering how many projects these guys are juggling at the moment, though, one has to think maybe they're stretched a little thin.

So, unfortunately, there's not a great Transformers comic issue to pimp out to help tie-in with the movie.  Maybe that's the price we have to pay for getting a somewhat tolerable live-action feature film this time around.  If you can endure the grating first act and his pathetically obnoxious treatment of women and humor, when the crapola actually hits the fan in Chicago, there's a lot of amazing visuals – the one thing at which Bay excels.  The full-on pitched battle on the streets of Chicago brings to mind IDW's recent All Hail Megatron epic, and that's definitely worth checking out. 

One more thing to note about the movie – much is made of how cavalierly it abuses Transformers canon for its own ends (why is Ironhide an erudite truck, why is the high-end red sports car NOT Sideswipe, and since when is Megatron a toady to some loser called the Fallen?), but the third installment actually has a commendable shout-out to old-school TF comic fans.  There's a group of Autobot assholes (their term) they call the Wreckers, and they speak with British accents – a direct reference to the original Marvel UK Transformers titles and their introduction of an elite, rough-and-tumble-and-somewhat-assholish Autobot squad by that same name – a legend that carries over into IDW's comics – check out the recent Last Stand of the Wreckers arc for more.

It was enough to win me over for once, and since it's likely Bay's last entry into the franchise, at least he went out fighting.  Transformers: Heart of Darkness, by contrast, went out with a shrug.