Review by Paul Bowler
A new era begins in Transformers #50 All Hail Optimus – Part 1!, as IDW Publishing’s Transformers comic book series reaches is 50th issue! It seemed that Galvatron was triumphant, but with Optimus Prime – now supported by a new army of followers – declaring Earth will become part of Cybertron’s Council of Worlds, the citizens of Earth and the Decepticons are not about to let this go unchallenged! The new saga starts now in this landmark 50th issue of IDW Publishing’s Transformers comic book series, as everything hangs in the balance, and the repercussions will change the Transformers universe forever…
Galvatron thought victory was within his grasp, with Garrison Blackrock’s schemes revealed, Soundwave double-crossed, the Transformers on Cyberstron rallying to Galvatron’s cause, and the Ark 7 crash landing in China. However, with the assistance of the new female combiner, Victorion, events on Cybertron took a dramatic turn. Now in Transformers #50 Optimus Prime and his army have arrived on Earth to confront Galvatron as his forces celebrate their victory over the Autobots at the crash site of Ark 7 in China. Optimus Prime has annexed Earth into the Cybertronian Council of Worlds, presenting a united front against Galvatron and declaring that war is now over – in a move which leaves the Decepticons and humanity astounded!
Following on from the Conquers surprise cliff-hanging finale, writer John Barber kicks off this giant-sized 50th issue of Transformers with a short flash forward as Optimus Prime makes his addresses to the people of Earth, before immersing us in the non-stop action thrill ride that is All Hail Optimus Part 1: Once Upon a Time on Earth, backtracking to yesterday as the Autobots roll out to defend the Earth from Galvatron and the Decepticons. Optimus Prime really ups the ante to become like the Primes of legend in this issue, while Galvatron’s plan to use the humans Onyx Code to his own advantage reveals another element to Blackrock’s schemes. The epic scale of this issue sees the action unfolding on several fronts, with the face-off between Optimus Prime’s and Galavatron’s forces in Shanghai dominating the majority of scenes, while events at Earth Defence Command HQ on Bikini Atoll take a dramatic turn, and on Sanctuary Station orbiting Jupiter’s moon Io the Transformers of Soundwave’s communion are left reeling from Galvatron’s betrayal.
It’s great to see the Autobots going on the offensive against Galvatron’s forces in this issue, the action flows thick and fast, and it quickly becomes apparent that this time Prime is playing for keeps! There are some fun moments of humour interspaced between all the action though, including a heartfelt aside from EDC Director Marissa Fairborn about Thunder Cracker’s attempts at writing a screenplay being compared to his flying skills, and Glavatron’s sly dig about Soundwave’s commune of Autobot’s and “animals” certainly ruffles a few feathers!
When the Mindbomb is deployed the tide of the battle unexpectedly turns, giving the Autobots the chance they need to strike, but Galvatron still manages to keep one step ahead of everyone. The EDC have countermeasures of their own to deploy and the Peoples Liberation Army Mecha Force also attack with lethal force. Soundwave’s forces also enter the fray at a crucial moment, while Alleron and Cosmos must each face life changing decisions; Starscream does his best to maintain control on the other side of the Space Bridge, and with Victorion’s assistance Optimus Prime resolves to save the Autobots from the wreckage of the Ark 7!
Transformers #50 features some incredible artwork by Andrew Griffith, with colors provided by Josh Burcham, John-Paul Bove, and Josh Perez, with concise lettering by Tom B. Long & Chris Moway, and the “previously” artwork is by Sarah Pitre-Durdcher. With its huge roll call of Transformers every page of this issue is chock full to bursting point with Autobot and Decepticon action, the sweeping scale of the battles is glorious to behold, there are casualties along the way too, with events seamlessly switching between characters and the various locations, the Autobots press home their advantage in fine style, and Optimus Prime’s bizarre dream-like vision towards the end is both hauntingly mesmerising and impressively realized.
One of the most powerful and emotive scenes is the way Thundercracker and Optimus Prime employ the most basic Earth tradition of all. A temporary triage is established for those fallen in battle, before John Barber rounds this issue off with a great coda “New Worlds Order”, featuring pencils by Casey W. Coller, inks by Jamie Snell, and colors by Joana Lafuente. It is perhaps here that John Barber really brings all the plot threads together into a more cohesive whole, as the aftermath of Optimus Prime’s declaration ripples out across the Transformers universe. Get ready to witness some big changes on Earth involving the EDC, there’s also a new role for Spike Witwicky, while on Sanctuary Station Soundwave resolves never to be deceived again, discord is rife on Cybertron as Starscream and Bumblebee assess the situation, and back on Earth in his underwater base Galvatron and Mindwipe finally discover who Garrison Blackrock really is.
With an amazing regular cover for Transformers #50 by Andrew Griffith & Thomas Deer, there is a plethora of impressive variant covers to choose from by Jonathan Hickman, Mike Choi, Casey W Coller and John-Paul Bove, Alex Milne and Josh Perez, and Livid Ramondelli and Phases. Transformers #50 is a superb issue, its an absolute must buy Transformer fans, but it also serves as a good jumping on point for new readers as well, and it exemplifies the high levels of storytelling and impressive art which has made this IDW series so popular. Transformers #50 is a showcase for the entire range of Transformers comics and a brilliant celebration of everything John Barber and Andrew Griffith have done on Transformers together with Josh Perez, and the excellent guests artists along the way, to make this book everything that fans love and enjoy so much about the Transformers!
Publisher: IDW / Writer: John Barber / Art: Andrew Griffith
Colors: Josh Burcham & John-Paul Bove & Josh Perez
Letters: Tom B. Long & Chris Moway
“Previously” artwork: Sarah Pitre-Durdcher
Regular Cover: Andrew Griffith & Thomas Deer