What scares a Transformer? Flesh and the fragility that accompanies it. In Transformers Halloween, Starscream investigates a rumor only to discover an organic creature with a connection to Cybertron. Furthermore there is a connection Starscream’s past that forces him to question his personal motivations and the benefit to Cybertron. As a result, Transformers Halloween by Dan Watters is a psychological tale more than a ghost story.
By: IDW Publishing
Written by: Dan Watters
Art by: Beth McGuire-Smith
Colors by: Nahuel Ruiz
Letter by: Jake M. Wood
Writer Dan Watters is both familiar with the Transformers franchise and atmospheric storytelling. One of Watters current projects, Home Sick Pilots, trades in atmosphere to create a sense of tension and horror. Watters applies this approach to Starscream shifting what at first feels like the set-up for a confrontation with a monster, ghost, zombie into something unique. Watters pivots to create an internal struggle for Starscream. The success of this narrative pivot changes what could have been a traditional confrontation with an “other” to a personal journey for Starscream.
Story & Continuity
Dan Watters’ story starts off slowly. Readers see Starscream observing Megatron questioning his leadership ability. While the timing of the story is not connected to the on-going continuity, Transformers Halloween captures the personality of Starscream. Watters creates a Starscream that is just as motivated, selfish, and driven as traditional depictions. As a result, readers quickly understand the character and mindset. However, this mindset is challenged when a creature traps Starscream within its’ organic body and Starscream encounters his former mentor. This emphasis on the character’s backstory creates both the physical and psychological conflict in the title.
The challenge with this conflict is that it leaves questions unexplored. While the action of this conflict is statisfying, there was an opportunity to further explore Starscream’s mentor, Cryak, and their relationship. Given the size and price tag of Transformers Halloween, it is reasonable to expect more exploration of Starscream and his mentor.
Beth McGuire-Smith’s art is an excellent blend of styles. She merges the traditional Generation One models from the 1980’s with the modern comic interpretations. This creates a style familiar yet not anchored to any one era. Nahuel Ruiz’s colors are spot on. Light reflects off Starscream’s metal and the organic wastelands add a new feel to Cybertron. McGuire-Smith and Ruiz combine to create a visually satisfying comic that sits comfortably in the expected art style. Consequently, when the plot twists the reader’s expectations the art grounds it in the world the Transformers.
Dan Watters plot surpasses expectations of a Halloween special to delivery a brief character study of the most self-interested and arrogant Decepitcon, Starscream. While its’ over too soon and misses some opportunities, what it delivers is a beautifully illustrated and unique Transformers tale.