In the aftermath of IDW’s Revolution, one property I rediscovered was Transformers. With all these new books, I figured why not chronicle my journey starting with Optimus Prime #1. How I’m looking at these is along the lines of, “I’m new and can I figure out what’s going on?” All I know is what I know from Revolution; everything else is unknown to me. Think of these as part review and part how new reader friendly these are. As the books are billed under “Reconstruction,” this is a good time to be a newbie. My last major period with Transformers was way back in the time of Beast Wars, so I’m pretty excited to dive back into things. Anyway, on with the show with Optimus Prime #1!
Time to Rollout into Action! Optimus Prime #1, it’s time to start the “Reconstruction” party. Let’s do this.
We do get a loose recap page telling us what’s been going on in the world of Transformers thus far. For starters, Optimus Prime is on Earth and Earth is part of Cybertronian Council of Worlds. You know they had battles with Galvatron, and Sentinel came into play at one point. Yes, I think it’s Sentinel Prime, but like I said, I’m new to many things in IDW’s Transformers. The recap page helps enough, just enough to say, “Okay this is what’s happening, let’s go from there,” so it serves for a solid recap of past events. This recap page alone reminds me that I have a lot to catch up on with Transformers.
I am impressed by how well the initial recap worked. Just enough to get you interested and fill in some blanks.
As for Optimus Prime itself, hang in there as this throws a lot at you but it is worth the ride. This explores Optimus Prime’s past as Orion Pax as a Cop on Cybertron. I didn’t know that this was operating as a series flashing back and forth between Orion Pax and Optimus Prime, but it works. I didn’t know much about Optimus Prime’s backstory so this was cool. Veering darker than I expected too, which I like. The introduction to one character in particular leading to a darker fate makes for a gripping intro. I must admit, initially the flashbacks threw me off, but they worked in the end. John Barber kept the story of Orion Pax engaging throughout the issue.
As you’re learning about Optimus Prime’s past, you see what’s happening in the present day post-Revolution. Some aspects took me a minute to get into with the initial colonists and what not, luckily Revolution helped in filling in some blanks. It’s impressive what Barber shoves into this issue. I saw all these different colonists pop up and I wondered, “Who the heck are these people?” yet the blanks were filled in fast. All you need to know is things are tense between Earth and the Cybertronians.
So many great ideas happening here, I am curious to know more.
I will say this for John Barber, I have a good grasp of these characters going forward. I like the structure of the series with the flashbacks fueling the present day Optimus Prime. Being a new reader, I have a solid grasp as to where this could be going as the ending alone has my interest. I do like what I see and I am curious in seeing where this goes from here. A standout character is Aileron, this one character helps in explaining the colonists at the beginning, and Prime’s current state of mind. All the characters work in their own way yet Aileron is great in filling in the blanks for the new readers.
Now for the art, just how well do the artistic team match the ideas within the story?
I can say Kei Zama is an artist to keep an eye on. For one thing, Zama’s art is adept at capturing the grit in the Orion Pax flashback sequences. Barber definitely set up a tough look at what life would be like as a cop on Cybertron and Zama is up to the task. As Barber’s tone shifts just enough for the slightly lighter in tone modern day scenes, the style Zama uses adjusts with it. The Pax scenes are darker and the art reflects it, then you get a slightly more animated style for the modern day. It also helps that the colorist, Josh Burcham, is great with making the colors work for this too. As Zama’s art adjusts, so goes the coloring, heavier shadows for the Pax flashbacks, with a lighter touch for the modern day. It works on both levels.
Now for the overall take on Optimus Prime #1.
It’s a little rough on a new reader at points, but with some edge, humor, action, and fun, Optimus Prime #1 works. You have a solid artist in Kei Zama, and beautiful coloring by Josh Burcham, making this a winning combination. I can easily tell you to give this a shot if you followed Revolution and want to follow “Reconstruction.” A good read for sure.