IDW Transformers: Optimus Prime #10 Review
Some say that all myths have a kernel of truth in the centre. If that is true, then what truth lies at the centre of the Cybertronian legend of the Thirteen?
Thoughts and Synopsis
We begin with Alpha Trion telling Optimus Prime, Starscream, and Pyra Magna the origin of the symbol now used by the Autobots. We had previously seen bits of Cybertron’s distant past thanks to flahsbacks to the end of the War of the Primes. With Galvatron killing Nexus Prime, the rest of the Primes vanishing, and Nova Major picking up the mantle to unify the planet. Today though? Today we go back further.
Two Galvatron-esque twins battle for the amusement of Septimus Prime. We are right away made aware that the story of the Thirteen is not what it seems. That legend holds that the Thirteen were the first Primes. Yet Septimus was not among their number. So how does he play into all of this? He currently seems to be the ruler of Protohex.
This doesn’t last long though. Megatronus arrives, declaring himself the “first named,” fitting with the “Megatron” described in the Covenant of Primus from Beast Wars; the Alpha and the Omega. Megatronus eliminates Septimus Prime and recruits the “barbarian” twins- Galvatron and Arcee- into his “Darklands” army.
We then go to what appears to be a shanty town. A location Alpha Trion declares to be Crystal City, the place where Primus himself supposedly delivered a sermon. Alpha Trion, Alchemist Prime, Solus Prime, and Nexus Prime are visited by Vector Prime. Vector informs the “council” that Onyx Prime and a companion approach. Onyx arrives with Liege Maximo- a Cybertronian none of the other Primes recognize- and explains that Darklanders have killed Septimus. Alpha makes a deal with Onyx and convinces the council and their Energon farmer followers, to ally with Onyx’s beasts.
The war with the Darklanders ends when Onyx recognizes his old friend Megatronus. The two reconcile, and through that the two warring factions are united. Arcee mentions to Alpha Trion that Megatronus, combined with Onyx, the Council, Liege Maximo, and Nexus’ “brother,” will make thirteen Primes. And Arcee fears this will eventually lead to tyranny. Meanwhile Onyx has unveiled a new banner- the face of Primus- as a symbol for the newly united Cybertron.
Starscream doesn’t believe any of it. Optimus muses that whether it’s true or not is unimportant. The future of a unified Cybertron was as uncertain then as it is now.
I love this issue. I make no apologies with that glowing review. History was, and remains, my academic passion. That passion is at least partially fuelled by my desire to learn as much as I can about the origin of myth. What true stories led to legends of kings, heroes, gods, prophets, miracles, and plagues? This issue is all about examining that within the Transformers universe.
Septimus Prime, Liege Maximo, and Megatronus are the three we have to focus on if we’re going to get to the meat of this issue. Septimus Prime is an early Prime- the rest of the Primes we see confirm that he’s a “true” Prime and not a pretender- who isn’t counted among the Thirteen. Liege Maximo and Megatronus become enshrined in the legends of the Thirteen but they aren’t declared “Primes” until after all sides of the conflict are unified by a truce. So right away we can deduce that the Thirteen weren’t the original Primes. At least not all of them. The legends of the Thirteen came from thirteen leaders who emerged to unify Cybertron. They were not, however, the original Primes.
Crystal City as a shanty-town populated by meagre farmers and Septimus calling Arcee and Galvatron “Primus-condemned barbarians” gets me thinking about where this story sits on the timeline of Cybertronian’s civilization. I am reminded of a theory that holds that the Israelites of the Bible and the Mesopotamians came from one people who eventually split along rural nomadic and urban lines. The creation stories of both are eerily similar, with the difference being that the Israelites condemn cities as places of wickedness while Mesopotamians celebrate them as centres of culture and condemn the wilderness as rife with bandits. So I cannot help but think that we are seeing a Cybertron that just now becoming “civilized.” Those who refuse the new centres of power that are forming are cast out as “barbarous.”
There is one last point I wish to touch on. This issue takes place so far back that it tells us the story behind the legend of the Thirteen. Despite that the characters speak of a further, more distant past. Primus’ exploits are explained, and yet none of the eventual Thirteen know for sure if he existed. The legends of Titans are held to be myths before they appear. As far back as we’ve gone? There’s still more to Cybertron’s history that even the Thirteen were not witness to.
This issue was a special treat to someone like me. I do appreciate if you, dear reader, stuck with me until the end and tolerated my lengthy exploration of the themes and story elements on display.
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He also like the Primes. All of them.