Sideswipe?!!! OMG!!! See what we think in our review of Optimus Prime #9
Optimus Prime #9
Writer: John Barber
Art: Kei Zama
Colours: Josh Burcham
Letters: Tom B. Long
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Every now and then a story comes along in this series that ties up loose end and helps to move the characters along. This is one such issue and involves generation one Autobot Sideswipe who has been in a coma following a battle with Brawl some time ago. With Wreck Gar claiming to have a way to bring dying Transformers back from the brink thinks started to look pretty good for Sideswipe.
John Barber has been writing Transformers books for years at this point and his familiarity with the characters spanning multiple generations has always been an asset to his story telling. What he does in this issue is tell a self-contained tale that is full of emotion and action and serves as a great tribute to a fan favourite character who has been out of action for way too long. We also get a nice redemption tale from his brother Sunstreaker who hasn’t always been a paragon of virtue.
Kei Zama’s art brings with it a very old school generation one look to this issue and this brings a hardened, stoic look to the gathered cast. The action sequences look great and bring a real feeling of nostalgia as Sideswipe connects solid punches amidst laser blasts from his side arm. The panels of Sideswipe hurtling towards his foes are bombastic and yet, it is towards the end of the tale, after the fighting, that we truly see some of the best and most emotionally charged sequences.
Josh Burcham is on colours and uses a muted palette to help augment Zama’s retro look giving it a very distinctive feel. It very much feels like it comes from an era before digital painting became so widely used and instead the book looks more like something from the early 90s. I love the familiar colour themes used and the solid colour backgrounds, it is as refreshing now as the newer look was back then, so few books utilise this kind of visual style and I think it’s better for it.
Jack Lawrence is on art this issue and being no stranger to the world of Transformers shows off his skill from the very first page. His interpretations of our crew are both familiar and yet stylised enough to leave his own mark on them. He has the unenviable task of bringing in a lot of unfamiliar faces this issue but when it comes to the ones we know, Megatron, Rodimus and Drift, they look absolutely incredible. There is a overexaggerated cartoony look to some of the characters and a rugged handsome look to others, it is a visual treat to have such sumptuous artwork to accompany the story telling.
You would think an issue like this would be hard for a new reader to pick up but actually, this is a prime (no pun intended) example of just what the Transfomers line is all about. This story is one of the most heartfelt and emotional tales I have read in some time and absolutely represents the series and what it can be at its very best. The real benefit from using mostly older Transformers is that most of them are instantly recognisable to those who grew up with the animated shows. We are now seeing a deeper and more detailed narrative surrounding these characters we grew up with and it really brings them to life without damaging those fragile memories we all hold.
In the end this is a fantastic book for both old and new readers and even as a standalone tale holds significant value in the continuity. Transformers comics are fast becoming the standard-bearer for quality art work and intelligent storytelling and this issue is no exception to that rule. There is so much more I would say but it would start to creep into spoiler territory, if you have a spot free in your pull list this week then this should definitely be a contender.
Art – 5/5
Story – 5/5
Overall – 5/5