The Transformers toy/cartoon/comic book/terrible action movie gestalt is observing its 30th anniversary this year, and time has made it a seemingly impenetrable mess of characters and backstories. But while the movies have been less than stellar examples of the storytelling craft, in the comic book world it’s never been a better time to dig giant robots. With their big cross-series “Dark Cybertron” storyline coming to an end, IDW is giving new readers a great jumping-on point as they reestablish their storylines in the aftermath and challenge some of the very basics of the Transformers status quo. While the Transformers comics of the 80s were good, they were ultimately designed to sell toys to the 8-12 set. Modern-day Hasbro realizes that the people who grew up with these characters are ready to see them in a more adult light. But where that could have meant pointless cursing and violence, IDW Publishing instead presents complex stories of political machinations and personal relationships. Last year one of the pair of ongoing series acknowledged the closest thing to a same-sex married couple you can get in a race of technically genderless aliens, complete with a legal term for it in their own culture. These are genuinely mature comics, not just “adult”. And in the wake of “Dark Cybertron”, which brought together the casts of their two ongoing comics, More Than Meets the Eye and Robots in Disguise, IDW is also launching the first Transformers comic with a female creative team. As reported in Geek Speak back in January, the 4-issue Windblade mini-series focuses on the titular character who was created by Hasbro in response to an online fan poll that asked for a new female Transformer. IDW took things a step further and gave writing duties to Transformers veteran Mairghread Scott and art to newcomer Sarah Stone. Not even the big superhero publishers have been so eager to let women define their own characters, and the first issue (now on the shelves of Columbus’s many local comic shops!) is a great starting point for new readers, especially those who may have been put off by the genderless-means-male approach established by previous Transformers writers. Rather than belaboring the idea of female Transformers as something “new” and “other”, it presents that some outlying groups adopted gender into their cultures and then proceeds to tell a great story unrelated to that fact. As a woman comic reader myself I found it comfortable in a way so few mainstream comics are. Of the other two series, Robots in Disguise is taking us back to the familiar territory of Earth with Optimus Prime while More Than Meets the Eye traverses the unknown in a spacefaring adventure led by Megatron, who’s given up the Decepticon purple for Autobot red. Both series take up a full six months after the end of Dark Cybertron. Windblade #1 is on shelves now (and comes highly recommended). Robots in Disguise returns next week with #28, and More Than Meets the Eye #28 arrives April 30.