I'm a well read grad student who's bluntly honest about all things, although I try to be most honest about myself.
Barber nails it with this. When Rom stumbles upon a Cybertronian ship fleeing an attack, he's only slightly convinced by the Galactic Council's explanation that the Cybertonian's are awful, warlike mechanicals. Still, they're about to flee when he senses a lifeforms and decides that them getting away is less important than saving what turns out to be a Cybertornian infant.
Stardrive is raises amongst the Solstar Order, who believes that Cybertronians are prone to war and destructiveness. She's taught that she's evil by birth - unlike the other children she's raised with - and that she must control herself very carefully to be better. Even Rom, her savior on the day she was born, doesn't seem to argue this systematic racism. He shows her more respect, believes in her more, and shows sympathy when, as a child, she witnesses violence. He never really voices that he believes she's evil or warlike, but he does allow others to voice this. (The only other choices he had were drastic, and namely to take her out of that society, a society that they assure her is better than hers and that will make her better. Seeing as she knows very little about her own people, though, she can only make her choice based on what a prejudiced society says about what she will be if left to her own devices.)
The connection she has with Rom, the way she tries so hard to be a Space Knight and worthy of the name, is touching but the little ways she's chipped away at by the other Space Knights is cringe-worthy. And quite frankly an important discussion to have in this political clime. It's worse for Stardrive: she is a minority of one for the longest time, and has no power to fight off those who disparage her.
I have some hope, because she learns more about Cybertonians by the end, although only a little. And the characters that come in? Well, some of them might absolutely ruin her, but I'm hoping the Autobots get her and not the Decepticons. I doubt she'd go with the latter, though, because they've been spiteful to her already, so more hope.
This is far more complex than I gave it credit for originally. I don't know much about Rom, and I haven't been completely thrilled with the Transformers crossovers/events coming from IDW lately. This, however, was far better than I expected when I picked up this first issue. In fact, I'd go as far to say that I think recent issues - the last Transformers annual, the Dinobot trilogy and this - showing a growth in Barber's writing. (Some authors take this as an insult, and they shouldn't. Barber wasn't a slouch or a bad writer before, but practice, experience, confidence, and other variables all go into people getting better at their jobs - and this is true of writers as well.) And not only that, I think there was a tipping point at the annual and ever since, Barber's blown me away, particularly with things tangential to Optimus Prime. (I think he's doing an amazing job with OP, but I'm most interested in Thundercracker in that series. Just my luck that Optimus Prime is an integral character, whom everyone loves, and he's not a character who speaks to me! So I've come to think of that series as just personal issues and nothing more.)
However, I found this work to be some of the most thoughtful, thought-provoking, complex writing to date. Like, damn, I think there's four issues of this and I'm already crying inside at the loss of this series. I'm even looking forward to OP more. (Although i stand by my previous statement about Thundercracker: I want that series instead of OP. I would read a Barber-written Thundercracker series. I would read that daily. Thundercracker is hilarious and the best, especially when Barber's writing him.)
Here's to issue two!