I might be a bit late to the party with this one – considering that Halloween was a few weeks ago and everyone seems to have moved on from spooky season to feeling more festive – but I didn’t want to let this unusual comic pass by without shining a spotlight on it. Though there have been various seasonal Transformers specials over the years, I believe this is the first time there’s been a specific issue created just for the spooky season.

With the Decepticons in control of Iacon, there are rumours of Autobots having fled to the treacherous landmasses outside the city. Desperate to prove his value to Megatron and give himself the chance at some great publicity, Starscream intends to lead a party to flush out the Autobots. Yet the politics of the situation are delicate, and Starscream isn’t fully trusted by his superiors. With this in mind, Starscream heads out into the wastes alone to investigate a situation that may or may not be simply a scary story to keep Cybertronians at bay. Yet what he uncovers is something deeply disturbing that has him questioning his very nature as a cybernetic being…

Transformers comics can be a bit impenetrable to newcomers or even lapsed fans, with sprawling casts of characters and often continuity heavy sagas that can run for years on end. So it’s really refreshing to read a story which contains all of the exposition it needs and wrap itself up by the end of the issue; it’s a satisfyingly creepy story, well told and done in one. Even more refreshing is that it focuses almost entirely on Starscream; though not exactly one to shy away from the spotlight, it’s still unusual to read a Transformers tale that doesn’t feature characters such as Optimus Prime at all.

It does make me pine for the days when you could pick up a comic and just get a single story without having to understand tons of backstory or invest in several other issues to get the most out of it. As satisfying as the more long form tales in comic books are – as well as the way that comics make use of shared universes and decades of continuity – that’s often at the expense of accessibility. The Transformers: Halloween Special is a great example of how this can be done.

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