CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers: The Death of Optimus Prime
Reviewed by Blackjack
And Orion Pax is reborn.
Despite being in practically nine out of every ten transformers story, Optimus Prime hasn't really been much of a person. I mean, we get that he's heroic, he's powerful, he's infallible and all that, but the amount of stories that portray Optimus Prime as an actual person could probably be counted on one hand. After the mess that was Mike Costa's ongoing, the Death of Optimus Prime is written to be some sort of transition and set-up to the twin ongoings that were going to be undertaken by James Roberts and John Barber. And the main selling point was that there was going to be no more Optimus Prime and Megatron... or at least not as the main characters. Which is an endeavor I support wholeheartedly. I am as much a fan of Optimus and Megatron as any fan out there, but after a while I really do want to see other characters get the spotlight.
What can be said about this issue? Nick Roche's art is gorgeous as always, although at some points it does show signs of rushed... it's still great, it's just not exactly up to par with the rest of Nick Roche's work in my opinion. The concepts introduced here... other Cybertronians living elsewhere uninvolved in the war, the civilians dubbed NAILS... Metalhawk as a main character... the leaderless Decepticons rounded up and being used as a security force by the Autobots... things are well done, and with basically the same amount of pages with Costa's ongoing, well, the plot here is about the same as in what Costa would tell in six months.
Lesser characters like Whirl, Drift and Rewind get to share the spotlight (and Rewind is damned cute), and practically every word spoken by any character gels well with who they are supposed to be... Swindle making a deal, Rewing being a knowledge geek, Perceptor being blunt... I absolutely like how the main characters are handled. Bumblebee, Rodimus and Prowl, in particular, felt like who they would become after the events of the Costaverse. Bumblebee is still trying to assert his leadership, Rodimus and Drift trying to get the Circle of Light to try and restore glory, Prowl has turned even more sour due to the war having actually ended, but peace having not come... characters like Whirl and Starscream and Red Alert being set up before taking up main character slots in the ongoings are great as well.
Optimus Prime, however, was the name on the title, and unlike 'All Hail Megatron', this does not disappoint. Optimus Prime's monologue feels very real, and despite all that's going on here, Optimus Prime shines as a leader that finds himself without war yet opposed by the people. He feels very real as a person, and you just can feel him getting tired by all the crap people's throwing at him. And don't you just love getting rid of the Matrix? Here's hoping for a brighter future where actual plot happens that does not involve the Matrix being whipped out as a solve-all plot device. The story is a great read, a great character piece, and builds well on the Transformers lore. It isn't perfect, but it is a great read nonetheless.
Also, incidentally, I'm going to step out of reviewing IDW comics for a while. I certainly won't be reviewing MTMTE and RID ongoings, because I simply couldn't find the time... those two titles are large, and MTMTE in particular would take a long, long time to write reviews of. I enjoyed my run as this site's comic reviewer, and might tackle some of the shorter miniseries from time to time, but as far as the main comics go this is my last hurrah. I'd like to thank Inflatable Dalek, Cliffjumper, Warcry, Denyer, Clay and anyone else I didn't mention that had helped me out in the comic reviews... see you guys around in other parts of the site.
This issue set up the plot for the two ongoings 'More than Meets the Eye', written by James Roberts, following Rodimus' crew in space, and 'Robots in Disguise', following Bumblebee, the Decepticons and the NAILs on Cybertron.
This issue is originally advertised heavily as ’Transformers #125’, marking the 125th issue released by IDW since the Infiltration mini (with the exception of the Avengers crossover and Infestation). However, instead it was sold as a standalone one-shot titled ‘the Death of Optimus Prime’. After this, the ongoing would be split into two titles: ‘More than Meets the Eye’, written by James Roberts and dealing with Rodimus’ crew in space, and ‘Robots in Disguise’ (not to be mistaken with the now-dead franchise) , written by John Barber and dealing with Bumblebee, the NAILs and Decepticons on Cybertron.
Optimus Prime has GPS – Galactic Positioning System.
Locations mentioned here included the ruins of the Grand Imperium, the Manganese Mountains and Greater Iacon. Also, what’s left of Kimia has been turned into the Decepticon Pen.
Tappet (not named in this issue), the NAIL that harassed Optimus Prime, is based on the popular British children-book character Noddy, with a robot mode that looks visibly much like Noddy’s appearance, right down to his coloured cheek. His alternate mode, from the kibble we see, indicates that he turns into Noddy’s car. Nick Roche seemed to have based his body on fellow comic-only character Dipstick from LSOTW.
Sideswipe’s body has been modified to sport his G2 colours, complete with the ammo bandolier and sword that he wore in the G2 comics. Whirl likewise sports a brand-new design, although still G1 based, it’s clearly not his toy or Don Figueroa’s Stormbringer design. The rest of the cast, refreshingly, retain the body designs they were last seen in.
Instead of referring to the Deceptigod as such, they refer to it as a ‘gestalt’, a common fan-term used to describe combiners.
Metalhawk refers to Dai Atlas and the Circle of Light, introduced (and, until now, never mentioned again) in the four-issue Drift mini. The Knights of Cybertron are also introduced in the same miniseries.
This is probably (by my count) the first post-Furman work that identifies Cyclonus as not a Decepticon. He clearly screams that he shouldn’t be with the Decepticons. All stories written by any other writers always called Galvatron, Cyclonus, Scourge and Jhiaxus as Decepticons even though they are not.
Ratbat refers to his glory days as a Senator in ‘Megatron: Origin’, something no one really listens to.
The Decepticons are fitted with I/D (Inhibitor/Deterrence) Chips that stops them from transforming or using built-in weaponry, which can also be detonated when necessary, killing the Decepticon. I/D chips were first introduced in Last Stand of the Wreckers, but we only see the ‘Deterrence’ bit there.
For those who don’t know (and I wager that’s quite a lot of you) Zetca is a repaint of one of the Powermaster engine Nebulans in the Japanese-exclusive ‘Super-God-Masterforce’ line. This is the very first fiction Zetca had ever gotten; he did not even appear in the dire Japan mangas.
Omega Supreme is still recharging, presumably still recovering from the wounds he suffered when he flew through Kimia during the events of Chaos.
One of the generic NAILs fighting Ironhide on page 16 is coloured like movie Barricade right down to red and blue siren lights, although colourist Josh Burcham confirmed that it was not scripted and he coloured it like that only because of the similar body shape.
On page 19, eleven headshots are singled out as people listening to Optimus Prime’s speech. Most of them are the leaders of the Autobots and Decepticons (Bumblebee, Rodimus, Starscream et al), plus, on the top row, Zetca, Metalhawk, Tappet and an strange generic that we’ll not see again… except as a corpse in the first MTMTE issue.
On the last panel of page 9, ‘Bumblebee’ and ‘before’ are both mis-spelt.