Ricky Church reviews Optimus Prime #8…
As Optimus Prime and the Autobots continue to recover from their battle with the Junkions and try improving the tenuous peace with Earth, Optimus Prime #8 shifts focus from the title character to examine one of the most popular Autobots in the whole franchise: the smooth-talking and highly skilled Jazz. The issue overall painted an interesting picture of Jazz’s past and where he is now, but was somewhat hindered by some repetitive elements in the story.
The most interesting aspect of Optimus Prime #8 was how some of the issue was written in prose, presented as an interview between Jazz and a journalist. It’s an interesting choice writer John Barber makes, but pays off really well as we’re forced to rely on some neat imagery to help tell the story of Jazz’s past. Barber also allows us to get into Jazz’s head, letting his hope and optimism shine through, though it’s a bitter ending as Jazz realizes he has to do a lot more to earn people’s trust.
The callbacks to earlier stories in IDW’s Transformers franchise are well done. Barber makes each reference organic, quickly recapping the events of Jazz’s self-defence murder of a policeman from years ago. He also touches on the real-world consequences of this very well, using the U.S. President to drive the point home to Optimus of the political ramifications when it comes to Jazz’s presence and actions. It sets up an interesting angle for Optimus later on.
The one drawback to the issue’s story is the flashbacks to Optimus’ past on Cybertron before the war really kicked off. Usually these segments have been really good, juxtaposing very well between Orion Pax and Optimus Prime, but they weren’t up to par this issue because of redundancy. It seems like Orion Pax and Jetfire have been debating the same thing for a couple issues now, playing the beats over and over regarding the use of violence for both the Autobots and Decepticons without any new point being made.
Casey W. Coller’s art is very good throughout the issue. The pages that focus on Jazz’s history are the highlights, particularly how Jazz fell in love with Earth’s jazz musicians. Coller also does some great recreations of images from All Hail Megatron and Mike Costa’s run on Transformers. His work on the transformers is detailed as well, with some nice facial work of the bots, though his humans look a bit bland by comparison. John-Paul Bove’s colours help the art stand out, with some nice bright and dark colours melding together well, particularly during Jazz’s segments.
Overall, Optimus Prime #8 is a good issue that delves into Jazz’s character and backstory, focusing on the ramifications Optimus will have to deal with both within and outside of his Autobot forces. Some story beats though feel redundant, slowing the issue down by repeating the same points over and not introducing a new point of view to them. It’s a bit of a slip in this title recently, but still presents a good issue.