Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018 3:51AM CDT

Categories: Comic Book News, Reviews, Site Articles
Posted by: Va'al   Views: 10,139

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...and falling...
(Spoiler free-ish)



Synopsis
“The Falling,” Part 5. Optimus Prime has faced defeat before and come back... but he's never seen anything like this. Beyond life, beyond death—only the wisdom of an old friend can save him. Meanwhile, Victorion battles Devastator... and only one will survive.

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20
MOAR I say


Story
There is something strange happening to this issue, and perhaps affecting the entirety of the arc once the feeling settles in, as we continue with The Falling now on its fifth chapter - and we get to visit the other side of a singular plot point and device that allowed to get this far. Which may or may not work for the readers, especially if you know where we're going with it.

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20
poor sweet boy


John Barber's writing is phenomenal, mind you, and we have a tightly scripted, well paced, focused action and dialogue balance, and he weaves in so many of the plot points we have seen since the very beginning of this narrative universe that I'm surprised editor David Mariotte is keeping track any more (and surviving unscathed).

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20
What guns?


The one character to rise out of it, other than Shockwave's larger-than-the-universe weight, and Bumblebee's newly re-established totally-not-a-ghost-because-scifi presence (and narrative voice this issue), is the titular character himself, perhaps in a finally moment too, is Optimus Prime. Or rather, his guilt and messiah complex (Prime Complex?), enabled by both of the other former two and their words / actions - but for a presence that I'm still not entirely on board to accept.

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20
Jetfire burn


As for corollary stories within the core thread of the issue, there's a lot to be appreciated, in both the flashbacks and the present day cameos and references in Liege Maximo's army of Maximals (yup), and including Armada Cyclonus, Space Case, Noisemaze/Sideways, and the covered Optimus Primal and Megatron once more. Plus, of course, Devastator and Victorion punching each other into the next issue.


Art

There is little praise I haven't yet heaped upon Kei Zama, so there is not too much more I can add here - though perhaps her ink-heavy style can make some of the more busy scenes a little too busy in some points (see some flashbacks, for example, below) - but the recognisable designs from across the franchise in her hands are something just *Italian chef hand kissing gesture* - and Casey Coller finishing off a later sequence is surprisingly well blended in

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20
Arcee, being the best as always


..which of course is only complemented and complimented by Josh Burcham's still incredible palettes and hues according to the different tonal aspects of the scenes taking place: from a colder fight to a more passionate one, to a dark flashback via a 'rational' exposition, he pieces it all together, and both styles, beautifully.

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20
So how do you become this good at art?


As for the lettering, and the established choice of narrative frame and captioning that Barber does for his stories, Tom 'Kyle' Long delivers the goods once more, in a mostly silent and subtle (bar Arcee's brutally accurate fighting style) series of action sequences and shots.

It's good to see some more Coller on the covers too, with JP Bove on colours, for a Bumblebee centric Optimus Thirteenth Prime take on the cast of the story (see thumbnail) - and of course the Beast Wars homage from Zama and Burcham is still pretty sweet, too. Check them both out in our database!

Thoughts
Spoilerish ahead

The Falling is an arc that brings down a lot of the narratives that have been established since the beginning of Robots in Disguise, then Transformers, then Optimus Prime, even though some of its seeds were planted all the way back in Spotlight: Shockwave, resurfaced in Dark Cybertron, and only now come to full bloom with Onyx Prime stomping around on everything that had been built - while I am still a little concerned at the ramifications of that, it is still doing so in such a way that makes me want to see more.

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20
mmmhm


And by seeing more, I put the emphasis on the visual, given how the art team on the book has been sensational and a wild ride from start to finish (not there yet, but I can presume), I cannot wait to see what Shockwave actually has in store (despite my reservations about his and Bumblebee's presence) and what deal will lead Optimus to come to terms with his own lineage and darkness - all in time for Unicron #1.

. :MAXIMAL: :MAXIMAL: :MAXIMAL: :MAXIMAL: out of :MAXIMAL: :MAXIMAL: :MAXIMAL: :MAXIMAL: :MAXIMAL:
Credit(s): IDW
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Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1970269)
Posted by ZeroWolf on July 11th, 2018 @ 3:59am CDT
Arcee killed thunderhoof...that was a bit mean.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1970309)
Posted by ScottyP on July 11th, 2018 @ 8:47am CDT
Remember when Dark Cybertron started to look in retrospect like a work of genius that gave Shockwave and Bumblebee significant, satisfying endings? That sure was a good time last December when I re-read it. Now that's kinda been undone :/
Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1970341)
Posted by Big Grim on July 11th, 2018 @ 9:58am CDT
Another enjoyable enough issue but the treatment of the “Maximals” leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, both here and in Unicron 1.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1970425)
Posted by D-Maximal_Primal on July 11th, 2018 @ 6:09pm CDT
ScottyP wrote:Remember when Dark Cybertron started to look in retrospect like a work of genius that gave Shockwave and Bumblebee significant, satisfying endings? That sure was a good time last December when I re-read it. Now that's kinda been undone :/

Now see, I agree with this, but I am also conflicted. Bee should stay dead in my opinion, nice to have him back, but his end was meaningful. Same as Shockwaves.

But with everything set up for Shockwave, almost everything works for him and I really dig the story he set up. Everything astronomical about his plans and about what happened mainly involving him worked. And him coming back was the shock of the entire IDW run. that said, he did have a great ending in Dark Cybertron. so him here again is a little at odds. But still, I think it was 90%+ great
Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1970492)
Posted by ausbot on July 11th, 2018 @ 11:53pm CDT
God I hate this Arcee, I cannot wait for the reboot.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1970500)
Posted by ZeroWolf on July 12th, 2018 @ 2:05am CDT
You don't like that she's a monster of a warrior?
Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1970505)
Posted by Coptur on July 12th, 2018 @ 2:56am CDT
ausbot wrote:God I hate this Arcee, I cannot wait for the reboot.


couldn't agree more.

I'd prefer a new company to take on the Transformers IDW have had their chance
Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1970525)
Posted by ZeroWolf on July 12th, 2018 @ 7:41am CDT
Coptur wrote:
ausbot wrote:God I hate this Arcee, I cannot wait for the reboot.


couldn't agree more.

I'd prefer a new company to take on the Transformers IDW have had their chance

That's not how licensing works, as long as idw pay money and hasbro are happy with the represention and their orders are followed (like which toys to promote) then idw will keep going.

I really don't see the problem with arcee, it's far better than what we had in g1 in my opinion, only one better would prime arcee. If you don't like her origin them mauve take it up with Furman ;-)
Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1970530)
Posted by Coptur on July 12th, 2018 @ 8:31am CDT
i know. i would just like fresh team and company to have a shot.

I don't like that she's near indestructible and unbeatable.

I did actually have a jovial chat about it with Simon a couple years ago at TFNation lol.

the origin is what it is (i didn't like it but lived with it) overall i did like that spotlight issue.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1970541)
Posted by ZeroWolf on July 12th, 2018 @ 9:24am CDT
Well they are having fresh writers handling this so no one knows what the tone is going to be.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1970547)
Posted by Va'al on July 12th, 2018 @ 10:09am CDT
Out next week with IDW Publishing is the second issue this month from the ongoing Transformers comics series Optimus Prime – which brings us to the conclusion of The Falling story arc, and the start of the lead-in / parallel track to the Unicron mini-series. Check out the brief preview from IDW below, featuring Livio Ramondelli art, and join the discussion!

[quote]“The Falling,” Part 6. Bumblebee and Optimus Prime make a last, desperate bid to return to the real world as Shockwave teams up with the Autobots! Can Optimus stop what’s coming, or has he played right into the hands of the ultimate destroyer?
[/quote]

]

]

]

Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1970560)
Posted by ZeroWolf on July 12th, 2018 @ 11:04am CDT
Ah I'm not the biggest fan of this art style but I'm willing to over look it
Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1970574)
Posted by ScottyP on July 12th, 2018 @ 12:09pm CDT
The mood delivered on some of those flashback panels is great!

This said, I know the mantra "every issue is someone's first" but tbh, with this five away from the end after 13 years of IDW's continuity, I hope that gets totally ignored after this arc. Just lay it on, folks can catch up if they need to.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1970629)
Posted by Stormshot_Prime on July 12th, 2018 @ 3:41pm CDT
ScottyP wrote:The mood delivered on some of those flashback panels is great!

This said, I know the mantra "every issue is someone's first" but tbh, with this five away from the end after 13 years of IDW's continuity, I hope that gets totally ignored after this arc. Just lay it on, folks can catch up if they need to.


Yeah, if you’re not caught up at this point its a lost cause. We’re neck deep in lore and built up plots, how’s the time for things to be story heavy. It doesn’t take that long to figure stuff out if you start from DoOP.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1971704)
Posted by Va'al on July 17th, 2018 @ 2:55am CDT
This week sees the release of the final chapter in the penultimate arc of the ongoing Transformers comics series Optimus Prime, from IDW Publishing, and the entering into the next phase of the Unicron event. Check out a full preview for The Faling part 6 below, and join us on Wednesday for a Seibertron.com review of the book!

[quote]“The Falling,” Part 6. Bumblebee and Optimus Prime make a last, desperate bid to return to the real world as Shockwave teams up with the Autobots! Can Optimus stop what’s coming, or has he played right into the hands of the ultimate destroyer?[/quote]













Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1971715)
Posted by Randomhero on July 17th, 2018 @ 7:23am CDT
This is gonna be a real compressed issue it feels like. I heated there’s a huge “WTF?!?!” moment so I can’t wait to read it tonight’s
Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1971951)
Posted by ScottyP on July 18th, 2018 @ 8:34am CDT
21 is a legitimately hard to follow comic that kind of cements my low opinion of the "it was Shockwave all along!!!!1" stuff. I've paid pretty damn close attention to these books and would have a hard time giving a coherent summary of the book.

That one moment though? Fun and flirtatious and I thought it was great. Once more folks read it there'll be a dumpster fire fueled by readers taking it too far beyond what it was probably meant to be, but I hope I'm wrong about that.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1971967)
Posted by Va'al on July 18th, 2018 @ 9:56am CDT

...fallen?
(Spoiler free-ish)




Synopsis
“The Falling,” Part 6. Bumblebee and Optimus Prime make a last, desperate bid to return to the real world as Shockwave teams up with the Autobots! Can Optimus stop what’s coming, or has he played right into the hands of the ultimate destroyer?


sup



Story
And lo! we reach the end of this penultimate narrative arc of the ongoing Optimus Prime series, and.. it gets weird? It definitely does things, and quite a few, but it also feels like it's trying to do more things than it wanted to do - to varying degrees of success - and The Falling just sort of hobbled and stumbled a bit there. Let's see...


thanks, Bee



If you've followed the Seibertron.com reviews of several of John Barber's work, you'll have noticed that one element keeps coming up when we reach the climax of his stories - two, actually: first, the climax is always magnificent and much earlier than the denouement; second, the latter, the endings, can have a tendency to not land entirely satisfactorily, to be generous in my wording.


...yeah..



If the script wanted to play more on Shockwave's evolution in time - plenty of it - it did so with probably too many tropes and clichés, reminding me too much of the Galvatron resolution in Combiner Wars, and an over the top, super evil villain element to an otherwise nuanced take on the senator's story, and his influence on titular character Optimus.


this guy, yknow



That said, there are still some very good individual character moments and scenes, mostly featuring Arcee and Aileron, Pyra Magna and her reluctant partnership with Optimus, and Bumblebee's presence as an almost outsider to the entire story - plus, some very nice callbacks to very early storylines seeded in the very first Shockwave story, and everything since, in true Barber continuity style. And final bang for the universe to go out on, for which a clue may or may not be in the cover...


Art

We have previously seen how Kei Zama and Sara Pitre Durocher can work really quite well together in the same book, even with theyir recognisably own style - and there are some very much both moments, spotlighting strengths from each of the two artists - but adding the third, very distinct style of Livio Ramondelli to the mix might not have worked that well. It does. Oh if it does: giving him the infraspace sections allows his style to be justified by the narrative itself, and the end result - of all three - is nothing short of masterful.


Arcee is the still the best



Josh Burcham is doing nothing short of a miracle, bringing a cohesion to three very distinct visual styles that would not have otherwise worked at all - and even with what may be Ramondelli's colours on his own lineart (has always been so, I wouldn't expect that to change), the final effect we get out of the three is truly a sight to behold, and probably the redeeming element of the whole book this time round.


I MEAN JUST LOOK



With the script being so baffling at times, in terms of its narrative linearity, I was a little thrown off at one specific instance of balloon placing in the very first pages, that threw me off entirely for a whole two days, until my third read. The rest of the lettering was Tom B Long's regular top shape, but I felt like my disappointed feelings just tainted a lot about this book.

As for covers, the Aileron / Arcee cover by Zama and Burcham is splendid, though without the colours it can be a little harder to decipher, though the spotlight still goes to the Pyra Magna-centric Casey Coller and JP Bove silhouette variant, the last in this gorgeous series (see thumbnail). Check them all out in full size in our database!

Thoughts
Spoilerish ahead

If the previous couple of issues was starting to feel as if the story was dragging on, this issue put a stop to that, and one that was a little too abrupt and perhaps undeserved - in its convoluted path to the end point, at least - to make up for the jarring feeling that came out of the close proximity of these last two issues. The story is tepid at best, thought there is nothing inherently wrong about it, but his landing not sticking well, even with that one scene with its wholesome, touching moment, and its lead into the Unicron happenings, just soured the whole experience for me.


oh, Starscream is in here too, yeah



There is some really good art present in this book, though, with some exquisite colours in the Ramondelli sections, and some poignant moments kept well balanced even with three separate sets of hands being worked on by a fourth, and some of the scenes alone are worth the scope of the book - but still not always enough to supersede the disappointment of a tepid resolution. I do want to see how this all ends, of course, but I'm less inclined to fully appreciate the Unicron story now that these cards are sliding off the table.

. :CYBERTRON: :CYBERTRON: ½ out of :CYBERTRON: :CYBERTRON: :CYBERTRON: :CYBERTRON: :CYBERTRON:

Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1971971)
Posted by Randomhero on July 18th, 2018 @ 10:18am CDT
I was super confused by the ending. To a point I was upset and didn’t like it and had to read the tfwiki article to understand what happened to Optimus and Bumblebee.

However I think I was also mad because I expected this to lead straight into Unicron #1and it doesn’t. Obviously #22 is going to be an epilogue and after accepting that I really did like the issue.

Fair warning if you haven’t read it, don’t expect it to completely tie up with this issue and lead straight into unicron. It doesn’t. If you do you might enjoy it more but this very much like the final issue of Remain in Light. Too much happens and is way too crammed
Re: Review of IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #20 (1971974)
Posted by ScottyP on July 18th, 2018 @ 10:32am CDT
Randomhero wrote:I was super confused by the ending. To a point I was upset and didn’t like it and had to read the tfwiki article to understand what happened to Optimus and Bumblebee.
My respect for what Mr. McFeeley wrote up on TF Wiki for this issue is immense. He did a great job taking this scattered mess and putting it into a discernible sequence of events.

But it does bear repeating that this shouldn't be necessary. A good summary by an outside source doesn't make up for the wandering experience in the issue itself. I can tell that Barber knew what was going on, and the artists probably did too, but something about the package together doesn't deliver the message with clarity. More words would help in some places, less in others? Not sure, but hopefully everything from here out is more coherent.
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