Ricky Church reviews Optimus Prime #1…
REVOLUTION is over—but the danger to Earth is just beginning. As OPTIMUS PRIME pulls Earth into the larger universe, he’s painted a target on Earth… and a new alien incursion begins when a corkscrew shaped craft drills into our world!
SEE ALSO: Check out a preview of Transformers: Optimus Prime #1 here
IDW’s Transformers are getting a soft relaunch in the wake of Revolution, the series combining many of IDW’s properties like G.I. Joe and R.O.M. into one single, cohesive universe. With that comes Transformers: Optimus Prime, following the most well known Autobot in the franchise as he seeks to bring Earth into the galactic fold of the Council of Worlds.
Optimus Prime #1 acts as a bit of a jumping on point for new readers, recapping recent events of the previous series. There’s still a reliance on readers knowing what happened previously, but the issue does a good job of catching readers up and really starting a new arc for IDW’s Transformers saga. It works as a jumping on point, especially in the wake of Revolution.
Its not just the current storyline that would help new readers jump on now, but the flashback as well. It seem Optimus Prime, or at least the first arc, will alternate between telling the story of Prime on Earth and his days as lowly Cybertronian cop Orion Pax. Writer John Barber has always done very well with examining pre-war Cybertron’s society and here is no exception. Set in the very early days of the war after Megatron’s uprising, but before the war truly broke out, Pax is investigating Decepticon activity and how the governing body of Cybertron still do not fully comprehend the threat facing them.
These parallel storylines really compliment the bot Optimus Prime is now as he struggles with the new level of leadership he must take on. It seems that all that ego is finally getting to Optimus’ head, making him a little more forceful in his commands than he usually is. The contrast to his days as Pax, where he was a little meeker but not less determined for justice, is a good example of how the 4 million plus year war has changed Prime. This Prime is still the one who believes “freedom is the right of all sentient beings”, but thinks he’s the only one who knows how to achieve that freedom for everyone. So often we see the truly heroic Optimus Prime in Transformers media that its refreshing to see a bit more of a nuanced and flawed Optimus that has an actual arc in place.
The supporting characters are good too and for newly introduced Autobots throw some wrinkles into established character dynamics, including some who vie for Optimus’ role as Cybertron’s leader. Aileron and Pyra Magna in particular stand out as nice, new additions, bringing new elements to the mythology and perspectives to Prime’s legacy.
Barber fleshes out each of the Autbots well enough and his examination of Pax/Prime looks to be a very interesting one. Kei Zama gives the art a different look between the past and present timeline and the various Transformers’ unique looks that are easy to tell apart. His art is complimented by Josh Burcman’s use of colours, transitioning between a darker palette in the past to a brighter one in the present.
For anyone looking for a place to jump onto the IDW comics, Transformers: Optimus Prime #1 is definitely a good place for fans of the franchise. Barber writes his characters well, putting them much more in line with their common interpretations and actually giving them an arc than more recent Transformers media. If you wanted some depth in Prime or a piece of Transformers, this is it.