Ricky Church reviews Optimus Prime #4…
NEW CYBERTRON! Optimus Prime struggles to unite the Junkions, Cybertronians, and humans—but will diplomacy be scuttled when the Junkion’s secret comes out?
John Barber continues to examine the political turmoil within Optimus Prime’s ranks as the hero has to keep everything as peaceful as possible between Cybertron, Earth and the Junkions. We’ve always seen Prime as a heroic figure and great leader on and off the battlefield, but viewing him in the political arena opens up new facets for his character, something that Optimus Prime #4 continues to do really well.
It helps that this issue comes mostly from the perspective of Pyra Magma, a devout believer of the Primes and the Matrix, as she internally muses about Optimus’ own beliefs and the contradictions within his character. He’s gone through quite a change over the last year in IDW’s comics and we’re beginning to really see how he’s coming to terms with being a political figure – both his adeptness and difficulties as a politician – in this new series.
The flashbacks again do a good job of mirroring Optimus’ character and shows he could be on the time morally dubious path as his old mentor Zeta Prime. Optimus is still idealistic in both eras, but the contrast in the present timeline shows he’s more able and possibly even comfortable using some Machiavellian means to achieve his goals.
I mentioned Pyra Magma earlier and she is one of the best parts of the issue. For the most part, Magma’s been shrouded in mystery, but Optimus Prime #4 sheds a light on her beliefs and why she’s not entirely enamoured with Optimus unlike nearly every bot around her. Its interesting to see Optimus from the perspective of someone who is not a human or Decepticon, but a fellow Cybertronian that doesn’t think he’s quite the pillar of virtue everyone else thinks he is.
Alex Milne has taken over art duties for Kei Zama in this issue and everything flows a bit better. Milne’s facial expressions for both the transformers and humans give us a better sense of their emotions. Josh Burchman’s colours compliments Milne’s artwork well and infuses a bit more brightness into the issue.
Barber’s deconstruction of Optimus’ character and the path he’s taking could be problematic for some, but I think it’s a refreshing change of pace and one that doesn’t really go against Optimus’ core values as he seeks freedom and safety for all. How he’s going about that goal in this new setting, however, is a different story entirely and one he could be learning a hard lesson in. Either way, Barber’s got a great handle on the Transformers in Optimus Prime.