OPTIMUS PRIME #1
Written by John Barber
Art by Kei Zama, Josh Burcham
Published by IDW Publishing
Release Date: December 12, 2016
The big guy has a crew and has made Earth a Cybertronian planet.
What could go wrong?
Barber goes at this story from an interesting angle, one that actually kind of shook me….Optimus Prime may not be fully right. He’s rocked the political boat from an Earth perspective, bringing the world into the larger universe, and he’s establishing himself as a very prominent figure in the world. This is no Robots In Disguise business. The big guy is front and center!
Barber shows the complexity of this by examining two different periods of time, which can be confusing if you aren’t well read in Transformer lore. We see Optimus Prime before he was Optimus Prime, conflicted and working a beat as a Cybertronian police officer. This is tied to the present and his conflicting emotions about acting as the police officer for a different planet with very different politics, and the messiness involved with that. Now, this issue is pretty thick with Transformers lore and references to past stories (aka a pretty tricky jumping on point) but overall I enjoyed the story. The crew Barber puts around Optimus Prime bring an interesting dynamic to the book and his assumptions about Earth vs. the reality of the Universe make this feel like a very grandiose story.
Kei Zama handles the huge cast well, capturing their unique personalities and using some hyper-stylized pencils during some action sequences to convey the motion of the bots. I found Zama handled heavy action best of all, and some moments were actually jarring with the amount of kinetic energy that shot off the page. Some of the layouts were a bit tough to follow at points, but overall it was a solid issue from a penciling perspective. I find Transformers art can be quite messy considering the cast of characters in play depending on the artist and Zama clearly defined who was doing what for the majority of the issue.
The colour work by Josh Burcham is rock solid, helping to visually define the Transformers and giving this book a lot of life. I found he channeled the feel of the old cartoon that I hold so near and dear to my heart very well, and the palette he used was very “Prime”.
Optimus Prime #1 is a heavy chew, which can be both good and bad. This is not a #1 designed for a casual Transformers fan who recognizes the iconic Prime in any way, but for someone who is relatively current with the ongoing Transformers books there is quite a bit offered here. I’m going to give it a few more shots to see where the creative team takes the political aspects of this tale, at the very least.
The Verdict: 7.5/10