Transformers: Death of Optimus Prime
(originally listed in checklists as issue #125, the 125th Transformers comic produced, not counting special issues, but I don’t know about the Movieverse)
IDW Publishing (December, 2011)STORY: James Roberts & John Barber ART: Nick Roche COLORIST: Josh Burcham LETTERER: Shawn Lee PRODUCTION ASSISTANCE: Alice Sokolova EDITOR: Carlos Guzman RI-A COVER VARIANT: Livio Ramondelli (cover “a” is a photo of the original Optimus Prime toy and RI-B is a collage of all 125 comics with faction symbols)
Optimus comes to weeks after the events of the final issue of Transformers. Finding his way back to the Autobots he learns that non-aligned Transformers began returning to Cybertron, creating a sort of third faction that hates both the Autobots and Decepticons, who have their own issues with the “neutrals”. Within the empty shell of the Matrix may be a new hope for the Cybertronians, or at least Rodimus thinks so and plans to take a group of Autobots to find them and restore the old ways while Bumblebee remains on Cybertron as Autobot leader and attempts to bring the three sides together to form a new way. As for Optimus, he takes himself out of the picture, allowing himself to be simply Orion Pax again.
What they got right: First the art is rather good. This is purely a set-up issue for the two new spin-off series and it does a good job of that. I like how they found a way to get Optimus out of the picture not only without killing him, but giving him an open to return.
What they got wrong: However, it’s the same old “world without Optimus” which Dreamwave already did to death in their run. As I was saying on Twitter this week, the new Rescue Bots cartoon seems to have the better solution; just have him as a side character and don’t focus on him as much. It’s really that simple if you want to shine the spotlight on a different band of characters. Also, the text is rather small to handle the smaller panels. While I complain about how a lot of comics these days (and get off of my lawn, durn kids) make poor use of space to show off the pretty art, I think this has one extra row of art too many.
Recommendation: Honestly, the only reason I promote this comic is because it sets up the new direction for the series. While I have my own concerns about that and I’m getting the Transformers stories I want, I am rather curious to see how they handle these new stories. By the way, can the Transformers do a little more transforming, guys? Please?