Publishing: IDW Publishing
Writer: John Barber
Artists: Alex Milne, Sara Pitre-Durocher, Andrew Griffith, Kei Zama
Colourists: David Garcia Cruz and Joana Lafuente
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Release Date: 14th November 2018
The penultimate issue of the entire line, and the finale to the event which brings an end to 13 years of stories, is one hell of prospect for a writer. And to be able to end it in a way that manages to satisfying, epic and heartfelt on such a massive scale is a heavy weight on Barber’s shoulders. But while last week’s Lost Light #25 proved that some endings truly can be perfect, there was some small part of me that wondered if Barber could do it here. However, through these fifty pages of story, Barber brings absolutely everything he has to ensure that this story is given the faultless cinematic send-off it truly deserves.
Following the past five issues of build-up, issue six kicks off the final stand, spending the first two-thirds of the comic delivering the comic book equivalent of a massive blockbuster finale. Across Earth, space, war fleets and Unicron himself, every major player in Barber’s stories come together to join battle against Unicron and his Maximal forces. Impressively, Barber somehow manages to give everyone time to shine with a series of goodbyes and sacrifices, twists, explosions, returns and reunions that play out in stunning fashion, delivering fittingly massive battles and touching moments to characters that we’ll only ever possibly see in this form once again.
These moments are aided in their delivery by a mass of talent behind the pencils. The visual side of the book is pulled off in perfect fashion, with panels packed with refined action and explosions alongside small, character-based moments loaded with body language and expression. Helping the striking nature of the aesthetic is the fact that the panels often spill out into brilliant spreads and layouts that capture the scope and direction of such a massive issue. And tying everything together is an impressive level of consistency courtesy of the swapping styles of the colourists and lettering master B. Long.
However, while the first two-thirds of the issue delivers the fitting end we might all have been expecting, with Barber’s knack for charm and the quirks of each character playing off each other for what might be the last ever time, it’s the final third of this massive issue that nails the sheer beauty of this story.
As Optimus leads the fight into Unicron’s heart and Prowl leads the fight on Earth, these sacrifices and decisions gain tremendous weight as the entirety of Barber’s run – his tales of faith, hope, destiny, expectations, leadership, pacifism, war, ideals and cause – comes together in the efforts to stop Unicron and end the battle once and for all. Final words and one finale montage and monologue somehow manages to capture everything Barber has wanted to say without feeling heavy-handed, rushed or expository.
Where these kinds of events can so often push towards a happy ending in favour of storytelling, or editorial mandate over passion, Barber has not only made this event his own, but taken control of it and crafted it to be the final, beautiful sign-off for years-long epic.
While Optimus Prime #25 next week will bring wonderful closure to this line, I think it’s the final part of this issue that will stick with me most from Barber’s run. It simply has to be read to be believed. In every way, Barber brings home this event with the flourish and cinematic scope that one would expect from such a climatic issue. Filled with massive action, heartfelt goodbyes and beautifully small moments, this is a brilliant send-off to so much of Barber and IDW’s Transformers Universe.
The writer of this piece was: Connor Stephens
Connor Tweets from @diddlesMVP