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Transformers #51

Review by Paul Bowler

The bold new era continues in IDW’s Transformers #51 as All Hail Optimus: Part 2 sees the implications of Optimus Prime’s actions in the series’ landmark 50th issue begin to unfold. After Optimus Prime and his new army of followers repelled Galvatron and his Decepticon forces in Shanghai, Optimus Prime decided to annex Earth and make the planet part of Cybertrons Council of Worlds. Now, as a hostile world responds to the Autobots’ declaration, grievances begin to resurface, but it seems that Optimus Prime has other – distinctly more troublesome – concerns weighing on his mind…

Yes, that’s right, Optimus Prime is back to save the Earth, whether the people of Earth want it or not! Writer John Barber quickly builds on the startling outcome of issue #50 to steer IDW Publishing’s Transformers series in an entirely new direction; as the far reaching consequences of Optimus Prime’s annexing of Earth begins to cause major upheavals throughout the Transformers universe.

Numerous plot strands begin to develop in Transformers #51 as writer John Barber explores the repercussions of the Optimus Prime’s decision to annex Earth – particularly from the human’s perspective of their actions. All Hail Optimus Part 2: Edge of the Earth sees the Autobots busy doing “good deeds” around the world. EDC command director Marissa Fareborn is quick to point out to the President that Optimus Prime’s forces are trying to protect and help people, never retaliating, or allowing people to be harmed. Meanwhile, Spike Witwicky is briefly reunited with his mother before resuming his new duties as the EDC’s American Liaison, and Optimus Prime’s dreams continue to grow ever more ominous.

Transformers #51 (COVER)

John Barber skilfully blends the disturbing aspects of Prime’s vision into the narrative of this issue. If anything, the dream actually proves quite prophetic, and it almost seems to feed the growing sense of unease and doubt that some Autobot’s are now openly expressing about the path Prime has chosen for them. However, when Aileron, who is still grieving after her best friend Sterling was killed by a tactical weapons satellite, decides to take matters into her own hands and make a very special house call, Optimus Prime is forced to intervene and it gives the EDC the opportunity they’ve been waiting for…

Andrew Griffith’s art in Transformers #51 is uniformly excellent throughout, with bold page layouts that relay events at a brisk pace, with overlapping panels often punctuating key moments in the action, that in turn collectively brings a real sense of drama and urgency to the issue as events build towards the violent face-off where Prime learns to his cost that words and understanding might not be enough this time. There is a highly impressive roll call of characters, humans and Transformers, this issue, and Griffith’s ensures everyone gets a moment in the spotlight. Josh Perez, Josh Burcham, and John-Paul Bove provide the colors for this issue, delivering a vivid blend of tones and shades to make every page reflect the time, place, and emotional context of events as they unfold across a myriad of locations.

The issue builds to a tense showdown for the Autobots and the EDC, fortunately back up arrives at a crucial point, and the ensuing coda which follows illustrates that the time for talking has indeed only just begun… Transformers #51 is another action packed, character driven issue by John Barber, which, together with the fantastic artwork by Andrew Griffith’s, continues to deliver stories with more than meets the eye as this IDW Transformers comic book series embarks on its most thrilling chapter to date.

Publisher: IDW / Writer: John Barber / Art: Andrew Griffith

Colors: Josh Perez, Josh Burcham, & John-Paul Bove / Letters: Tom B. Long