IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #3 Review

The team of John Barber and Kei Zama bring us issue three of the Optimus Prime ongoing. New Cybertron: Behind My Bleeding Back continues mysteries of the past and present as Optimus Prime, the Council of Worlds, and GI Joe all continue to cope with the sudden arrival of Junkion forces on Earth.

Thoughts and Synopsis

This is a particularly hard issue to review. That’s not because it’s sub-par in any way. The trickiness comes from the layers of mysteries the issue drops. It would be easy to dedicate a complete review just exploring one of the four.
The first thread deals with the pre-war murder mystery four million years ago that kicked off the ongoing. Orion Pax and Prowl continue their investigation into the murder of a Decepticon named Hefter. This is perhaps the most basic of the story lines weaved throughout the Optimus Prime ongoing. It’s a simple “who done it?” mystery, but so far it’s been executed well. Barber keeps the story itself interesting, as it’s revealed that Soundwave lied to Orion Pax and Prowl. The IDW author also does a good job tying that mystery in with the events of the present. In this case Soundwave deceives Orion in the past while his present self hopes that he can trust Optimus, who he has grown to regard as a friend.
That dovetails nicely in with the second thread that makes its way throughout the issue. Soundwave’s true nature. He makes it clear he’s the only one of his kind among his fellow Cybertronians. He also remarks that the revelation of who or what he is could frighten Cybertronian and human alike.
The Junkions themselves provide perhaps the most enticing question of the series. It is specifically stated that they are not Cybertronians, nor are they of Cybertron. Their ties to a Quintesson ship, technology that hasn’t been seen since the days of the Thirteen, and the vague treatment the Cybertronian religion has gotten in IDW beg all sorts of speculation as to their origins.
Finally Optimus Prime claims to have found a way to align Earth with the Council of Worlds despite Starscream’s objections. How will Optimus overcome Starscream’s efforts to block him out of the Council?

Final Thoughts

Optimus Prime #3 excels at building suspense. It’s quite telling that the very well executed pre-War detective story that kicked the series off is the least intriguing of everything that is happening. It’s a relief to see pre-War Cybertron treated as a means to accentuate the present story, rather than being the event unto itself. The questions issue #3 leaves us with constitute sweet, tasty, world building brain candy.
GI Joe’s presence in the book improved in a very subtle way. A relationship that we have long suspected is confirmed, and the characters seem to be settling into defined but not static roles. The GI Joe brand doesn’t seem force-fed, which is a huge relief. The massive Revolution cross-over could only succeed if they made the GI Joe brand feel like it was a natural part of the Transformers’ world. I’m happy to report that Barber has succeeded.
Optimus Prime #3 has most certainly hooked me in for the long haul.
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