Ricky Church reviews Optimus Prime #2…
NEW CYBERTRON! A massive corkscrew-shaped space ship has drilled into Earth, bringing with it a surprising disruption to OPTIMUS PRIME’s plans. Meanwhile—ARCEE fields a dangerous offer that may be too good to resist!
While Optimus Prime #2 continued to develop an intriguing story, it still took a bit of a dip in quality compared to its debut issue. There’s still enough to keep Transformers fans happy, but the art is a little too sketchy in places to make this issue truly good.
Optimus Prime #2 introduces the planet Junkion and Wreck-Gar to the IDW universe, one of the few elements from the G1 cartoon series that had not made its way into the continuity until now. There’s a clash of civilizations here as Prime and the other transformers must deal with what seems to be an outdated and Cybertronian society, not to mention mismatched. The idea that the Junkion residents are made up of discarded parts from deceased Autobots and Decepticons is neat, but the art doesn’t take full advantage of the concept.
Kai Zima’s artwork is rough at times, but it’s very noticeable with Wreck-Gar and the other Junkion bots. It’s hard to tell them apart for much of the issue. Perhaps that is because they’re brand new characters in the title, but it doesn’t help that who is who is difficult to place. Its not exactly helped by Josh Burcham’s colours, using a mix of bright and darks alternatively in the present timeline.
That, however, is the main difference with the art. The story set in the past has some fairly good art, with an emphasis on darker colours to further sell the direness of Cybertron’s society. This is also where Barber’s writing really shines as Orion Pax continues to investigate the suspicious death of a Decepticon in Autobot custody, enlisting Prowl for help. The stark contrast between Prime and Prowl’s relationship in the two timeframes furthers this story’s potential.
In the middle of all this, the G.I. Joes have a small role as they prepare for any sign of hostile action from Prime or the Junkions. They’re place in Optimus Prime #2 kind of drags it down as well as they take away from the main story, though its at least another interesting perspective from the humans to Prime’s controversial actions.
The art may not be up to par with the last issue, but John Barber still crafts a good story that further examines Cybertron’s post-war place in the galaxy. Optimus Prime’s portrayal of its title character, both in the past and present, does shed some light on his thought process in this new setting and remains the highlight of the book, but hopefully the art can bounce back in the next issue.