Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: John Barber
Artist: Priscilla Tramontano
Release Date: 22nd March, 2017
Following the reasonably tidy resolution of the ‘New Cybertron’ arc in the previous issue, Optimus Prime now finds himself having to deal with the growing tide of scepticism being directed at his surprisingly peaceful resolution to the Junkion invasion as his eponymous IDW series continues.
Writer John Barber uses the Junkion situation to mirror some real-life problems, treating the would-be invaders as refugees and subjecting them to all the compassion, uncertainty and aggression that label frequently elicits. It’s an interesting side-story that plays well into showing the contrast between Orion Pax in the past and Optimus Prime in the present, and it’s going to be intriguing to see how things play out as the tensions continue to escalate .
Speaking of the past, Barber shifts the Cybertron flashback scene focus squarely onto Jetfire here, a welcome decision given his intriguing character arc so far. We see Jetfire being violently ostracised by his former Decepticon brothers and shunned by his supposed new allies as he tries to come to terms with his murderous actions by assisting in the investigation to bring Hefter’s killer to justice.
Kei Zama is replaced by Priscilla Tramontano on art duties here, and the newcomer’s style feels slicker and a lot more like a “traditional” IDW Transformers comic (assuming such a thing exists). Tramontano’s pages are a cleaner and a little easier to follow than Zama’s, which works well alongside the somewhat calmer pace of the narrative here. Her depictions of the Transformers – including the surprising (re)introduction of a familiar face midway through the issue – are also suitably polished and dynamic.
While there’s no doubting his ambition, Barber has sometimes struggled to keep all his storyline plates spinning at the same time to this point in this series. Thankfully, while there are still a lot of moving parts here, there’s also something about this latest chapter that feels a lot more measured and controlled. And, with all manner of interesting sub-plots being interwoven here – including an upcoming television appearance by controversial Autobot figure Jazz – this is still one of the most rewarding and engrossing Transformers titles on the shelves today.
This latest chapter definitely feels like a transitional issue, but is no less enjoyable a read for it. John Barber gives us time here to take stock of recent events while simultaneously setting things in motion for the future, and the introduction of Priscilla Tramontano gives the book a fresh new aesthetic as we move into the next arc. Highly recommended.
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