Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21

Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21

Wednesday, July 18th, 2018 9:57am CDT

Categories: Comic Book News, Reviews, Site Articles
Posted by: Va'al   Views: 23,517

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...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?

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21
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...

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21
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.

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21
...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.

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21
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.

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21
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.

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21
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.

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21
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:

Credit(s): IDW


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Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (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 #21 (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.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1971976)
Posted by Randomhero on July 18th, 2018 @ 10:52am CDT
ScottyP wrote:
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.



100% agreed! I don’t think you should ever have to go to the wiki and Chris is an amazing with how much devotion he has to the comics. More than either of us and we’re both very pationate about the comics.

The one thing I didn’t have a problem and I know some people would and will is Shockwave. He never actually revealed what he was doing when he returned as Onyx. He comes, he stirs up a lot of stuff, revealed he’s Shockwave and stirs up more problems and then just stops and his response is “i miss my best friend”. There is a line that he intended to inoculate everyone to be able to be fueled by the tainted emerging but he caused so many problems just to try and save everyone. He didn’t need to kill Alpha trion, he didn’t need to bring Metrotitan to Cybertron and isolate tryipticon and he certainly didn’t need to ostracize Soundwsve. Really didn’t need to bring an army with him either. He does a lot of things that didn’t actually need to happen.

Now his change of heart I did love and get. Shockwave was known for being overly emotional and he got his emotions back and there’s parallels to Dark Cybertron. His emotions stopped him. It happens again here. He finally-after 12 million years- reunited with his best friend and seeing Optimus disintegrate and be engulfed into the singularity brought back how he felt. It’s not spelled out and in my opinion it should have shown him being conflicted because the end result wa adjust “I messed up”

All in all like you said Scott, you can see the attempt with this story and I’m just speculating but this story was planned 4 years ago and has been building to it and if it wasn’t for the universe ending and unicron coming then John could have spent more time laying it all out. Kinda hard to even say since this was a 7 issue story with one more to tie up the loose ends that this arc leaves.

When I get off with I intend to read this whole story and maybe it’ll all jell much better.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1971995)
Posted by Randomhero on July 18th, 2018 @ 12:09pm CDT
Good lord there’s only 4 issues left of those series. Where the Hell is prowl? Blackrock? Centurion? Bludgeon?! We know prowl will be popping up soon but there’s so many threads and plots that are dandling. One I don’t think will get touched in is Slag and what was going on there with his resurrection. He’s just back.

I’m surprised Blackrock and Centurion didn’t show in this story. They’re both connected to Shockwave and I hate to say it but it feels like they’ve been forgotten. I have faith in John but like I said 4 issues left. Never did learn why Shockwave sent Blackrock to retrieve the Enigma or what true role and plans he and for Sentinal in titans Return.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1972003)
Posted by ZeroWolf on July 18th, 2018 @ 12:29pm CDT
You know, I now understand the message to unicron at the end of first strike. Seems like one of those things though that if it didn't happen then there wouldn't be any threat...
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1972044)
Posted by Sunstar on July 18th, 2018 @ 3:40pm CDT
I am hoping this will be posted on that site I browes, or my husband returns home with it tonight. I hope he picked it up for me. I'll be sad as pit. *I need my tf fix - not that I didn't have a whole weekend of fix*
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1972054)
Posted by D-Maximal_Primal on July 18th, 2018 @ 5:57pm CDT
It was really a hard issue to follow for sure, and rang sort of hollow.

I did like the Pyra/Optimus/Bee thing in her head though, that was neat.

But, considering Shockwave made EVERYTHING up and the matrix is completely 100% gone now, A) how can they stop Unicron now? and B) how did the Matrix come into play to begin with if everything mythical was a false story made by Shockwave save Unicron and the Matrix?

Also, I do like Shockwave coming back, it's more a storytelling thing that I am not sure will be answered
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1972061)
Posted by Randomhero on July 18th, 2018 @ 7:14pm CDT
D-Maximal_Primal wrote:It was really a hard issue to follow for sure, and rang sort of hollow.

I did like the Pyra/Optimus/Bee thing in her head though, that was neat.

But, considering Shockwave made EVERYTHING up and the matrix is completely 100% gone now, A) how can they stop Unicron now? and B) how did the Matrix come into play to begin with if everything mythical was a false story made by Shockwave save Unicron and the Matrix?

Also, I do like Shockwave coming back, it's more a storytelling thing that I am not sure will be answered



Yeah that’s been on my mind too. I don’t care about the Matrix used to defeat Unicron. Unicron has been bested before without it in other stories but the matrix also not only reformatted Optimus twice in IDW but also reformatted the entire planet during chaos. So there’s that. What was it?

There still is the Guiding Hand and Primus. Shockwave didn’t make up all religion like he says. He made up the primes but now we know the Knights of Cybertron did exist and they did worship the guiding hand. They pre-exist shockwaves meddling by a smidge.

It’s like he made up the New Testament but not the Old Testament.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1972064)
Posted by Randomhero on July 18th, 2018 @ 7:22pm CDT
After posting my last all I can think about is in dark cyberton when they wanted to ask metroplex if the knights are real and Nautica did and said metroplex they don’t deserve to know. Well now we know they did exist and weren’t really anything. Damn metroplex was just being a dick.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1972147)
Posted by Sunstar on July 18th, 2018 @ 10:29pm CDT
that was... not as good as I had hoped it would be.

Starscream appeared to regress, no idea how bee and prime get out and bee is returned to the real world... This is the last book? or is there one more after? I suppose unicron 0 - 1 are out so those are what follows after? I am left with many questions.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1972249)
Posted by Randomhero on July 19th, 2018 @ 6:13am CDT
Sunstar wrote:that was... not as good as I had hoped it would be.

Starscream appeared to regress, no idea how bee and prime get out and bee is returned to the real world... This is the last book? or is there one more after? I suppose unicron 0 - 1 are out so those are what follows after? I am left with many questions.



Optimus and Bumblbee were reduced to data in infraspace. Shockwave used Pyra Magna as a vessel for their minds due to her being a combiner so her being able to handle multiple minds was the best choice. This was the end of this story but issue 22 will be an epilogue to have Optimus and Bumblbee be transferred out of her mind and prepare for what’s coming. Hence why it ended with “unicron coming” not “unicron arrives”
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1972261)
Posted by Sunstar on July 19th, 2018 @ 8:22am CDT
Okay, so there is an issue 22. I was under the impression that the 20 was the penultimate and 21 was the end. Thanks for clearing that up. Okay, I will settle down and allow my previous disappointment to fade as it wasn't an end.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1972287)
Posted by ScottyP on July 19th, 2018 @ 9:34am CDT
Sunstar wrote:Okay, so there is an issue 22. I was under the impression that the 20 was the penultimate and 21 was the end. Thanks for clearing that up. Okay, I will settle down and allow my previous disappointment to fade as it wasn't an end.
21 is the end of "The Falling", but Optimus Prime the series runs until issue 25 :)
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1972303)
Posted by Randomhero on July 19th, 2018 @ 10:35am CDT
Sunstar wrote:Okay, so there is an issue 22. I was under the impression that the 20 was the penultimate and 21 was the end. Thanks for clearing that up. Okay, I will settle down and allow my previous disappointment to fade as it wasn't an end.



Like I said earlier, I think everyone was just expecting the arc to end at 21. They never said everything will be tied up but I think-and I’m included- were just kinda expecting that.

And sadly it happened to be explained to you and me and others what was going on in this book and that’s never a good thing but once you know and go back read the issue it all does make sense. I’m not sure if that’s a problem with us or the book to be honest.


You do see Optimus and Bumblbee glowing and turning into streams of light and by the end of that page those streams of light going into pyra and the dialogue is very heavy and shockwave does explain they are just data that needs transferred.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1972316)
Posted by Randomhero on July 19th, 2018 @ 11:03am CDT
I think everyone was just expecting Optimus to use the matrix to walk out of that but we did see him completely shredded in an earlier issue. John Barber is a genius and crazy person. Thinking about this story and syndromica from RID and plots like dark Cybertron and making hearts of steel part of the IDW-verse, barber and Roberts and others treat their audience like they’re smart. So much media nowadays is dumbed down. I went back this spring and read infinity gauntlet, war and crusade and there’s some heavy stuff in those books. I don’t think modern day and casual readers would want to finish those stories or even understand some of the stuff in those books. Personal I think marvel just dumbs down their books so everyone can enjoy them. DC not so much but I find it hard read anything that’s DC.

I’m not trying to defend OP 21 but going back and reading this arc. Some really deep and heavy stuff in here.

And no one has mentioned it but the Aileron and Arcee scene was great. First actual onscreen kiss between two transformers in 34 years! That nuts. Closest was silvebolt and black arachnia but they always cut away or did camera tricks.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1972366)
Posted by AllNewSuperRobot on July 19th, 2018 @ 12:47pm CDT
Most likely because Silverbolt didn't technically have a mouth, as such. Although I think the 34 year gap can be attributed more to the relevance of such an event, than it being some watershed moment.

Segue..

One of the first stories that really grabbed my interest in the revamp going on in IDWverse was Spotlight: Arcee. Arcee's dubious origins always rang of hollow marketing and yet since her last stint in G1 being relegated to Secretary, the Spotlight made her 1000 times more interesting. An entirely fresh perspective on a previously one-note Marketing mandated character.
So then, through the Wiki, I read on about the "Later Retcon"...

:roll:

I've said before, IDWverse never reached an age wherein Retcon was needed. I'd say the benchmark should be if your series has lived beyond a generation of fans IE 20-30 years. The more I read on the Retcon and the subsequent fuss generated, I see as just another reason why this Reboot has become necessary.

In other words, If you're only at issue 50 and you're already trying to re-write issue 5, it's time for intervention.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1972378)
Posted by Randomhero on July 19th, 2018 @ 1:15pm CDT
Let’s not bring retconning again. We don’t need 3 days of people explaining that word to you again. You have your version of that word and everyone else uses the actually meaning and definition.

Also they have over 300 issues of transformers comics.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1972402)
Posted by AllNewSuperRobot on July 19th, 2018 @ 2:10pm CDT
Randomhero wrote:Also they have over 300 issues of transformers comics.



Oh, I didn't realise IDWverse had been going for that long.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1972415)
Posted by ZeroWolf on July 19th, 2018 @ 2:30pm CDT
Idwverse all adds up to an impressive number, though does that include the twenty (?) Odd issues of regeneration 1?
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Optimus Prime #21 (1972418)
Posted by Randomhero on July 19th, 2018 @ 2:45pm CDT
ZeroWolf wrote:Idwverse all adds up to an impressive number, though does that include the twenty (?) Odd issues of regeneration 1?



No just what’s in continuity. Literally they hit 125 issues December 2011. They have done a lot. That’s not even including regeneration one or the Beast Wars and the infestation cross overs. That’s just the IDW-verse

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