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2012-03-24, 09:01 AM
Transformers: The Death of Optimus Prime
December 2011
Written By: James Roberts & John Barber
Art By: Nick Roche
Colours By: Josh Burcham
Letters By: Shawn Lee
Edits By: Carlos Guzman

After the events of Chaos, a disoriented Optimus Prime regains consciousness on Cybertron, although the planet is filled with primordial energies, and the landscape is different. Optimus Prime assumes he has been somehow transported into the past… but seeing the corpses of the Sweeps, Optimus realizes he’s still in the present time… but something else has happened. Optimus Prime reaches Iacon, although it is heavily populated by Cybertronians he does not recognize (and vice versa). One of them, Tappet, recognizes ‘Orion Pax’ and starts to berate him, blaming him for Cybetron’s destruction. Sideswipe and Whirl arrive, intimidating Tappet. They tell Optimus that the Cybertronians there are ‘NAIL’s (Non-Aligned Indigenous Lifeforms), Cybertronians who had evacuated Cybertron in the early stages of Civil War. Optimus Prime meets up with Rodimus and Bumblebee, who are organizing the landing of even more NAILs. They tell Optimus Prime how, after the aftermath of Chaos, they easily rounded up the disoriented Decepticons, and the fact that Cybertron had suddenly became alive. Soon afterwards, hordes of NAILs return to the pacified Cybertron, but are at high tensions

Optimus is confronted by Metalhawk, one of the NAILs, who say that the Autobots are playing the part of an oppressing force. Optimus, meanwhile, declares that Metalhawk is a coward who had abandoned Cybertron at the time of need. Suggestions about using the Matrix leads Optimus to reveal that the Matrix is spent, nothing but two halves of empty glass. Optimus is taken to visit the Decepticon Pen. Ratbat attempts to sweet-talk Optimus, but is brushed off. Bumblebee tells Optimus that the Decepticons have been fitted with I/D chips, and while they can escape if they wanted to, there was nowhere to go. Perceptor and Rewind examine the empty halves of the Matrix shell, and Rewind finds lots of old ancient glyphs, and they discover that the Matrix is really an ancient cosmic map.

Day by day, the NAILs grow even more and more agitated. The level-headed Metalhawk is forced to play peacemaker against more aggressively-speaking NAILs like Zetca, promising them that the Autobots will see reason, while warning Bumblebee that it’s a matter of time before things get out of hand. Riots began to escalate, while the Autobots (holed up in Kimia) argue about the discovery made about the Matrix. Drift declares that the Matrix points to the location of the legendary Knights of Cybertron, to Cyberutopia. Bumblebee and Prowl, meanwhile, are skeptical that the Knights even exist. Rodimus is intrigued, however, and argues with Bumblebee, who wants to stay and start over. Bumblebee calls Rodimus out on his past plan to run out, but Rodimus wants to bring the old ways back… when the NAILs attack the Autobot base. Prowl uses Sideswipe’s statement that the potential of Autobots lives at risk as a justification for releasing the captive Decepticons to act as crowd control. Ratbat attempts to get the Decepticons to rebel against the Autobots, but is talked down by Starscream, who says that an alliance between Autobots and NAILs are worse. The Decepticons, threatened by the detonation of I/D chips, beat back the NAILs alongside the Autobots with brute force. Optimus muses that Prowl is unrepentant in doing this.

In the battle, Metalhawk is injured and brought inside Kimia. Inside Kimia, the Autobot command is still arguing. Bumblebee wants a fresh start, while Rodimus wants to get the Knights to rediscover their old heritage. Ultra Magnus tells Rodimus and Drift that he would go with them, because there is a chance that finding the Knights would help coexistence between the Autobots and NAILs. Prowl is outraged, and begins to rant that they owe the NAILs nothing, that the Autobots risked their lives fighting the war while the NAILs want to capitalize on the opportunity and reclaiming the planet even though they ran away. Metalhawk reveals that Prowl used to be a neutral himself who failed to escape, something that Prowl admits to.

Optimus Prime addresses the entire populace of Cybertron, and while he means only the best for them, he grudgingly admits that he has become another aspect of war. He tells them that everyone there has a right to live on the planet, and is willing to leave Cybertron forever in the hopes that society will be able to restructure itself peacefully without him. This defuses the tension. Later that night, Rodimus and Bumblebee continue to disagree, about what Bumblebee would’ve done if Optimus had not offered to leave, about Rodimus’ intent to leave. Rodimus argues that the Knights will be able to restore Cybertron into a Golden Age, while the peace they had there is temporary. Optimus Prime gives Bumblebee and Rodimus each a half of the Matrix shell. Optimus Prime leaves Cybertron for parts unknown. He reflects how, without the Matrix and responsibilities, for the first time, he is free. Optimus Prime is dead, and Orion Pax is reborn.

Featured Transformers: Optimus Prime, Sweeps’ Bodies, Generic NAILs, Tappet, Sideswipe, Whirl, Rodimus, Broadside, Bumblebee, Wheeljack, Swindle (flashback and present), Ultra Magnus (flashback and present), Metalhawk, Ratbat, Cyclonus, Pounce or Wingspan, Horri-Bull, Soundwave, Shockwave, Bombshell, Starscream, Needlenose, Perceptor, Rewind, Zetca, Prowl, Drift, Hook, Mixmaster or Long Haul, Ravage, Blizwing, Red Alert, Jazz, Ratchet

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.

(Four and a Half out of Five)

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.

2012-09-22, 08:42 AM
I totally forgot about this. It's a good seven months after I wrote the synopsis, thought I'd finish it and upload it now that I'm uploading the Titan reviews.

What it said -- I'm not going to continue reviewing MTMTE and RID, and I do think it's pretty obvious that the cartoon reviews are on a halt. Life's busy and I can't find the time and commitment, and right now any typing time is taken up by the RPG and toy reviews. I do intend to finish up the DOTM section of the site, and to finish TF: Prime up to season one at least... and I'll still be taking care of uploading, don't worry about that.

But as far as comic reviews go, this is probably my last one.

inflatable dalek
2012-09-22, 10:18 AM
I salute your comic review tenure Sir!

I'll try and get up to date on Titan over the next week or so.

Am tempted to do ReGeneration One reviews that just repeat the word "Wank" over and over and over. Just to annoy people because I'm not a very nice man.

2012-09-22, 10:37 AM
Thanks, Dalek!

I'll be happy to see more new reviews, Titan, Regeneration One or otherwise. Myself I'm planning to write up some of the smaller throwaway comics -- Autocracy, Fall of Cybetron and the like -- but not anywhere in the next few weeks.

inflatable dalek
2012-09-22, 12:30 PM
Hey, I can do you a full in depth review of Autocracy. Here you go:

Transformers Autocracy

See: Transformers: The Movie (1986).

Yeah, I'm catty today.