(IDW Publishing 2016)
Writer: John Barber
Art: Andrew Griffith
Colors: Josh Burcham
Letters: Tom B Long
All Hail Optimus reaches its thrilling conclusion in IDW Publishing’s Transformers #55, a Titan has risen at Prime’s command in Monument Valley on Earth, the political intrigue on Cybertron has reached a crucial turning point, and the conflict between Transformers and humans forces caused by Optimus Prime’s annexing of Earth now becomes a desperate last ditch attempt to stop Galvatron escaping in a climatic final showdown in space.
Transformers #55 All Hail Optimus Part 6: No Fair Fights, is a bold, exciting, and extremely surprising finale to this epic storyline. Optimus Prime’s alliance with Soundwave’s forces proved crucial in holding back the Earth Defense Command forces in Monument Valley. Now, following the surprise emergence of the Titan on Earth, the philosophical, religions, and potential threat of interstellar war reverberates on all sides, as back on Cybertron Starscream and Windblade are called to an emergency meeting with The Council of Worlds, while on Earth, the White House and the President deal with the fact that a two-mile high Titan has been buried on Earth and that Blackrock is really a robotic Cybertronian Sleeper.
However, that’s not all, because with his scheme to harness the cosmic forces of combination from his base in the depths of the Indian Ocean now foiled by Arcee and her team of Autobots, Galvatron is making a desperate attempt to escape into deep space with Astrotrain. Under direct orders from Optimus Prime, Arcee and Cosmos must give chase and do everything in their power to prevent Galvatron from escaping.
To say that this is one hell of an action packed issue is something of an understatement! Writer John Barber skillfully manages to keep all the plates spinning though, despite the fact the issue does creak a little bit with the sheer strain of drawing together this many long-standing plot thread and individual character story arcs like this. There are so many standout moments its hard to choose a favorite, Cosmos’ selfless heroism, despite being critically injured, to help Arcee keep Galvatron from reaching Soundwave’s commune, Sanctuary Station, orbiting Jupiter is both powerful and emotional, as indeed is Galvatron’s despicable treatment of the helpless Astrotrain, the scenes with Skywarp, Blackrock, and the Madam President in the White House also builds the tension, and perhaps most surprising of all is how Starscream’s plan to broadcast Prime’s downfall now so spectacularly backfires on self-proclaimed “chosen one” in the most humiliating way imaginable for him.
Andrew Griffith’s excellent artwork for this issue is as striking and as impeccably detailed as ever. The bold page layouts convey a seeping sense of scale and motion as events shift seamlessly from location to location. There is a huge cast of human and Transformer characters in this issue as well, Griffith’s dose a superb job of giving everyone their moment in the spotlight, but it is when the action moves into space that this issue really becomes something very special indeed.
The colossal battle in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter is absolutely stunning. Nothing ever beats seeing the big heavy hitters from the Transformers universe slugging it out like this, Andrew Griffith ensures that every punch and energy blast thunders across the page with metal rending clarity, and it is here that the colors by Josh Burcham really come into their own as the heady blend of nebulous earthy tones and the subtle hues of the Transformers involved become intermingled against the gaseous backdrop of planets atmosphere.
John Barber’s dialogue sparkles throughout, infusing the frenetic action with past events as it becomes clear what Prime’s objective here is, we also begin to understand just how far reaching the events in this arc have unwittingly influenced the Autobot’s destiny and challenged the Decepticon’s cause – the way that the narrative links back to the realization Megatron made is also ingenious – along with a tantalizing hint alluding to the coming of Onyx Prime, and it all culminates in a face-off (quite literally in some respects) that sets up one of the most surprising, uncompromising, and shocking finales in Transformers history.
Transformers #55 rounds off with an all encompassing coda spanning the aftermath of All Hail Optimus on Earth and Cybertron, deftly polarizing political and diplomatic relations, with Optimus Prime’s and the Titan’s role now bound and clearly established in this brave new era of peace for both worlds. John Barber, Andrew Griffith, Josh Burcham have certainly wrapped All Hail Optimus up in grand style with this issue, tightly plotted, with spectacular art, this Transformers story-arc has quickly become one of my all-time favorites.
This issue cleverly sets the foundations for Titans Return and everything that will soon follow, it also offers a glimpse at what IDW’s upcoming Revolution event will have in store for us, and its also part of IDW Publishing’s special month long variant cover program celebrating the return of ROM the Spaceknight!
Transformers #55 rewards long-term readers with a thoroughly exciting and well thought out resolution to All Hail Optimus, newcomers will also find plenty to enjoy here too, and it paves the way for a startling new era in the Transformers universe.
Paul Bowler is a self-Confessed Sci-Fi Geek, Doctor Who fan, and Zombie Disposal Expert. He likes movies, comic books, and all things PS3. He likes to write about his interests, would love to write a novel one day, and also enjoys chatting to the many people he has gotten to know on Twitter. When he’s not busy being an Impossible Astronaut, he likes to take a break from his adventures in time and space to enjoy some of his favourite tv shows and movies, preferably with a nice cuppa tea & a sandwich! You can follow him on Twitter @paul_bowler, or find him at his website, Sci-Fi Jubilee.