Friday, September 9, 2016


Story: Simon Furman | Pencils: Don Figueroa | Inks: Elaine To
Colors: Rob Ruffalo | Color Assists: Alan Wang | Letters: Dreamer Design
Graphic Design: Kevin Lee | Pre-Press: Kell-O-Graphics | President/Art Director: Pat Lee
VP/Editor-in-Chief: Roger Lee

The Plot: Optimus Prime searches for Megatron within Cybertron while Starscream reviews Megatron's plans for the planet at Decepticon headquarters. Soon, Megatron ambushes Prime and the two duel while elsewhere, Grimlock gathers a team for a secret mission. Beneath the planet's crust, the fight between Prime and Megatron continues, while above, Starscream plots.

In Iacon, Shockwave's forces make their final march on the Autobots while under Cybertron's surface, Megatron gains the upper hand on Prime and tears him open to grab the Matrix. Above, Grimlock and his team prepare to head underground and rescue Prime, even as the Matrix somehow transports Prime and Megatron to another place.

Continuity Notes: Optimus Prime receives another talking to (sans accompanying vision) from an ethereal voice beneath Cybertron's surface.

Grimlock's team consists of Kup, Ironhide, and Wheeljack. This does not appear to be any sort of GENERATION ONE callback as far as I can tell, which is surprising from Dreamwave and Simon Furman.

Megatron explains his plan to Optimus Prime, making this the third time in three issues he's outlined the broad strokes and the second time he's gone into the specifics of using the power of the Matrix to activate Cybertron's dormant engines. Furman seems unsure whether he's writing this in a "modern" style with minimal recaps or in a traditional style where any issue could be someone's first and therefore explanations of key facts should pop up about once per installment.

Megatron also notes that even though the Transformers are effectively immortal, none of them have any recollection of their origins, and he believes the Matrix may hold those secrets as well. This ties in, at least somewhat, with upcoming plots in WAR AND PEACE and the GENERATION ONE ongoing series by James McDonough.

Reviewing Megatron's data, Starscream discovers a second layer of Cybertron's surface buried beneath the existing one, with the apparent idea being that after every war the planet will shed its skin and heal itself.

Megatron says that when he killed Sentinel Prime, there was no Matrix inside to grab. Whether this means the Matrix somehow teleports itself to safety when in danger (unlikely) or Sentinel simply left it behind before going into battle for some reason (equally bizarre) is unexplained.

The locale to which the Matrix sends Prime and Megatron appears to be Earth.

My Thoughts: And the decompression is back. So much for my high hopes last issue. Once more we have several pages of nothing happening. Really, this installment is just an issue-long fight between Optimus Prime and Megatron with a few pages of Starscream and Grimlock thrown in between to make us believe the story is advancing.

I'm not a big fan of Furman's take on Prime here, either. I understand that this is his "origin" and we're following his internal struggle to come to grips with the great power thrust upon him. That's all fine. I also don't mind that he started as a humble archivist before being selected by the Autobot Oracle as the new Matrix-bearer. My beloved cartoon continuity gave us Orion Pax as a lowly dock worker before he was mortally wounded and rebuilt as Optimus Prime.

The difference is that in the Sunbow storyline, Prime basically springs, fully formed, from Alpha Trion's brow. He's a young, impressionable kid who is betrayed and nearly killed by Megatron. Trion repairs him and he shows up shortly thereafter as a trash-talking, butt-kicking badass who suddenly speaks in Peter Cullen's no-nonsense drawl. Yes, it's unrealistic. What Furman is doing here gives us a far more nuanced and complex evolution for the character as he slowly overcomes his doubts to emerge as the legendary Autobot commander we all know and love. I get that.

That said, maybe it's the kid in me here, but doggone it, I just want to see Prime accept the Matrix and suddenly become an infallible military commander right away. I don't like wishy-washy Optimus -- which seems to be Furman's preferred characterization for the character these days too, as I observed in my coverage of REGENERATION ONE back in 2013-2014.

I generally like origin stories for most superheroes if done well, but I don't really think Prime needs one. To me, his origin should simply be: "Hey, here's Optimus Prime. He's awesome and the best has always been that way." 'Nuff said!

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