Review – Optimus Prime #1

Optimus Prime #1 – 
IDW Publishing
Written by John Barber
Art by Kei Zama
Colors by Josh Burcham
Letters by Tom B. Long
If I asked you to name a Transformer right now, which one pops in to your head.  Whether he’s your favorite Transformer or not, Optimus Prime is probably the first image you see.  Even someone who is barely familiar with the Transformers has at least a passing familiarity with him.  Any diehard Transformers fan (like myself), we have been through a lot with Optimus over the years, haven’t we?  Well, now that Revolution has passed and the Hasbro worlds have officially combined, the leader of the Autobots finally has his own ongoing series.  So let’s roll out for Optimus Prime #1.
This story takes place in two different time periods:  today and four millions years ago.  The flashbacks, for lack of a better term, set the tone for Optimus himself and the ideals that he brought to the present day.  At the same time, some things never change.  Trying to deal with and find a cohesive relationship with humans is still challenging.  Something happens at the beginning of the issue, in present day, that makes things even more complicated in post-Revolution Earth.  If those two things weren’t enough, something else seems to be coming to cause a whole other set of problems.  Optimus has a team by his side, with some familiar faces, but all seem to agree that they will follow him in whatever he decides.  It’s the weight of that burden that is really hammered home in this issue, and just how long Optimus has really been dealing with that.  Sure we have a cliffhanger ending in this first issue, but there is so much going on in a whole other sense, that there is so much to look forward to in the next issue.
Speaking for myself, and I’m sure others would agree, John Barber did a fantastic job with Revolution.  I think we’ve gone on at length on our show and here on the website about that.  What he’s done here is move that forward, but also backwards.  He’s telling us a story of the life of Optimus Prime, somewhat mirrored in what is going on in our world right now.  The best way I can describe it is, it’s like merging exactly what is going on with our current political climate with the exact opposite, and having this end result that leaves you wondering how the world responds to it.  The weight of Optimus Prime is so palpable in this first issue, and Barber really hammers it home in the flashbacks.  We really get to find out who Optimus Prime was and why he believes what he does today.  That can be somewhat dismissive and uninteresting in storytelling, if not done correctly.  Here it is a compelling and necessary part of the ultimate main protagonist. If that isn’t enough, the art by Zama completely sends me to the time of the Transformers that I love.  It has an 80s quality to it that is clean and so amazing.  It also almost feels like a found footage time capsule moment, where you’re watching it through a video camera you found buried by time.  Transformers as a whole is a bigger brand than Optimus Prime.  Given time, though, I think this has a real shot to be right at the top of the greatest stories of Optimus Prime that has ever been told.

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