Review – Optimus Prime #22 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: John Barber
Artists: Sara Pitre-Durocher
Colorist: Josh Burcham
Letters: Tom B. Long
Release Date: 8th August 2018

With Optimus Prime having just finished its “The Falling” arc, and Unicron now three issues deep, this series now essentially becomes the main tie-in for the Unicron event. And while I was no doubt still going to be reading this book, quite how memorable it would manage to be in the shadow of Unicron was hard to tell. It’s no great secret that not every tie-in issue lives up to the quality of the rest of the series.  Luckily however, Barber not only manages to maintain the high standard that this book has already set, but also makes it a valuable addition to the Unicron story as a whole.

Moving between the aftermath of Shockwave’s masterplan and both before and after the events of the Unicron FCBD issue, Barber uses this latest issue to fill in some of the events and details that couldn’t quite fit into the action-packed Unicron book itself. We get to see some of the quieter, more intimate moments for Optimus and the team as they reflect on their losses and discoveries, and these moments really help to give so much more weight to the event.

Schemes and plans from characters like Starscream and Victorion are given the spotlight, setting up and elaborating on ideas we’re seeing play out in the main event. Visions are laid for parts of the Unicron storyline that haven’t even come to pass yet.  Characters and plot threads we haven’t seen since before The Falling are folded back into the main narrative, becoming the stand-out part of the issue.  And a whole new movement from these characters bring the start of a new narrative that works as a perfect undercurrent to the larger Unicron book.

It’s a packed, satisfying issue and a great new opening for the final chapter, with a lot of the moving parts and themes that have made the Optimus Prime series feel like some of Barber’s best work.   Not only completely allaying my fears of simply being cheap a tie in, it manages to bolster the Unicron event while creating a new narrative for a cast that definitely need a great send-off of their own.

The incredible Sara Pitre-Durocher returns to the book with Burcham and B. Long by her side, ensuring that the art here is a solid 10/10.   The way emotion is captured through body language and expression for these ‘bots makes the book all the more affecting and captivating.  Pitre-Durocher has a stellar track record for this kind of emotional storytelling, and her own approach to these designs brings so much to this book.  She also draws just the cutest Bumblebee and the most wonderful Windblade.

Burcham continues his craft that makes this book one of the most visually exciting books on the stands, with a finely mastered blend of deep, moody colors and a glowing, neon sci-fi sheen, with B. Long also dropping some cool spooky shenanigans as these visions are happening.

Optimus Prime #22 is a must read for anyone who has followed this book and the Unicron event as a whole. Filling in and adding so many subtle nuances to the event would be enough, but with the return of its full roster and an all-new narrative beginning alongside the main event, this series now promises to deliver a fitting finale in-and-of-itself.   That fact that all this happens with an incredible artistic team ensures that this issue was always guaranteed to be a hit.

Rating: 4/5.


The writer of this piece was: Connor Stephens
Connor Tweets from @diddlesMVP

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