Review – Optimus Prime #5 (IDW Publishing)

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Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: John Barber
Artwork: Kei Zama, Josh Burcham (colours)
Release Date: 22nd March, 2017


With the Junkions revealing their true plan in a swarm of Energon-hungry Sharkticons at the conclusion of the previous chapter, this latest issue is all about our heroes fending them off as Optimus Prime’s team unites in an attempt to save themselves – and the Earth – from total destruction.

John Barber’s narrative flow is a lot cleaner here, using a much less erratic approach than the ‘succession of one-page scenes’ style which has plagued some of the previous issues.  It definitely feels like a natural progression though as the story gradually coalesces, and, with the exception of a brief aside featuring Jazz, the bulk of the present-day narrative here is based around the relentless Sharkticon onslaught.

The flashback sequences in Cybertron take a bit of a step back here, and wisely so, with a far more contemplative and dialogue-driven style being used to contrast with the all-out war of the present day.  In fact, it actually feels like these two timelines are drifting further and further apart as the series progresses, with far less of a thematic or symbolic link between them now – aside from the title character himself, of course.

For me though, the unquestioned highlight of the issue is the moment where Soundwave attempts to stem the tide of ravenous Sharkticons by quoting some of Megatron’s stirring words from More Than Meets the Eye #34, encouraging them to reject the system of oppression that has led to them effectively becoming the Junkions’ attack dogs.  It’s an impressive moment, and serves to perfectly showcase the sociopolitical undercurrent of a series that is so much more than just giant robots punching each other.

Kei Zama’s artwork remains solid throughout, with his cramped, frantic pages doing well in conveying the chaos of the Sharkticon assault.  There are a few occasions where things get a little too busy, however, resulting in the odd confusing panel where it can be difficult to figure out exactly what’s going on.  Josh Burcham’s colours continue to give the book a pleasing old-school vibe, although they do admittedly sometimes struggle a little amidst Zama’s chaos to keep things clear and separate.

After a bit of a wobble, it looks like IDW’s Optimus Prime series is well and truly back on track here with a far more focused approach and some great character-based moments along the way.  Quite whether this first arc will be able to resolve itself satisfactorily in just one more issue remains to be seen, but for a series with so much potential, it’d be a crime not to at least check back in and find out.  See you all next month.

Rating: 4/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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