Ricky Church reviews Optimus Prime #18…
After the shocking revelation at the end of Optimus Prime #17, the latest issue wastes little time exploring the ramifications of Shockwave’s return and what it means to the whole history of Cybertron. Optimus Prime #18 is a densely packed issue as John Barber uses this interlude to explain how Shockwave has been Onyx Prime in a compelling and intriguing issue that cements this as one of the best twists in any Transformers medium.
With so much ground to cover, Barber makes good use of the pages to go over Shockwave’s new history, explaining how the Decepticon survived the events of Dark Cybertron and wound up 12 million years in the past. There’s a lot of exposition as Shockwave narrates to Optimus how he used his knowledge of the past to mould everything the way he knew, yet still found ways to manipulate events to his own desires. This issue confirms that everything in the IDW Transformers continuity is solely because Shockwave made it so.
And that’s where this issue really succeeds. Shockwave has always been known for his logic and, as with most Transformers iterations, his loyalty to Megatron. Ever since Barber began writing Transformers and Dark Cybertron though, Shockwave has been elevated to a villain all on his own tier and this issue merely enhances his position. Within the IDWverse, Shockwave’s status as the most dangerous and powerful Decepticon is cemented as an opponent who is able to plan so much in advance. Barber’s writing not only makes Shockwave more of a threat, but ties up almost every question or supposed continuity error regarding Cybertronian history in this issue. Even with the heavy amount of exposition, this is a great read for what it does to Shockwave.
The art is well done throughout the issue. Sara Pitre-Durocher illustrates the opening and closing pages while Livio Ramondelli handles the entirety of the extended flashback. Ramondelli’s art nicely takes us through the various stages of Cybertronian history and he does a good job differentiating all the various transformers, from the first Primes to the more ‘modern’ looking ones. Josh Burcham’s colours also give a vibrant look to the story with some gorgeous colour palettes. It makes Optimus Prime #18 one of the best looking issues of the series.
Through Barber’s reinvention of Shockwave and Ramondelli’s art, Optimus Prime #18 is one of the most memorable issues of any Transformers comic yet. The twist that Shockwave is responsible for all of Cybertronian history is not a twist for the sake of one, but an integral part of Barber’s long-story format that pays off in a huge way. It’s a compelling read and will make any Shockwave fans happy.