John Barber and Andrew Griffith kick off their new event, All Hail Optimus, in the double-sized spectacular, Transformers #50. The premise of this arc is fantastic. After a series of revelations, Galvatron makes his move in his quest for world domination. Optimus, and his loyal followers, take one final stand to save the Earth once and for all. Except the world does not want his help, and takes matters into their own hands.
The ambiguity of Optimus’, Soundwave’s, and Faireborn’s actions during this issue shine a new light over the series as a whole. This team leaves behind the ideology that the Decepticons are ‘pure evil’, and the Autobots are ‘pure good’, which opens up new possibilities for storylines and character progression. However, while the theme and plot for this issue were well written, the same cannot be said for the dialogue and the script. At times the pages felt rushed with no cohesion from panel to panel. And this, coupled with equivocal dialogue, is the type of mistake that can pull a reader out of the story. For example, the few pages of dialogue betwixt Faireborn, the Autobots, Witwicky, and Dr. Bharwaney jumped all over the place, and reading through it was like getting sucked down a river; it was too fast to gather your thoughts. In turn, the narrative was also a bit turgid at times. In a few of the fight scenes, there was too much sensory overload to really appreciate the impression Optimus’ plans going haywire. Maybe a way to solve these complications is to stretch the story out a bit further. Maybe turn this one issue into two, the first being double-sized, and the second being regular. But not all was bad! There were a quite a few admirable scenes, such as any panel with Thundercracker. That character is probably the best of the series, and Barber does a fantastic job using him to show a different side of the Transformer Universe than is usually exposed. And the scenes with Soundwave were also well written. The best scene in this issue, by far, is the interaction with Swift and the Decepticons. It gives a new bias to the story, which gives a compelling reason to root against Optimus.
The art for this issue also had it’s own up’s and down’s. While the pencils, and inks, for this issue were very clear and concise, the colors suffered from the same downfall as the writing. There were some panels either had too little color, or too much, the consistency was just not all there. Specifically Josh Burcham’s colors, for the first 15 pages, showed this problem the most. Josh used too many similar colors stacked on top of each other, like red-on-red, grey-on-grey, purple-on-purple, which stripped some of the depth away from Andrew’s linework. It is an easy mistake to be made, especially with underground government bunker backgrounds, but it not something that should be overlooked. Everyone else, John-Paul Bove, Josh Perez, and Joanna Lafuente did an excellent job recovering the rest of the issue. The dream sequence at the end, by Josh Perez, was definitely a treat, and extremely well composed. And, to state, again, Andrew did a very good job for this issue. His linework was very well done, as were his inks. Dealing with multitude of robots, and man-made shapes, it is easy to botch the perspective, but Andrew did exactly the opposite and should be congratulated for it. Casey W. Coller and Jamie Snell also did an excellent job of this as well.
All in all, this issue was very big. And with that comes all sorts of possible complications. Luckily the few that were present did not ruin the entire story. The writing and coloring had their problems, but overall the rest of the issue was very well done. If you are new to the series, this maybe a difficult starting point, but nothing you cannot workout for yourself. I would recommend the buy if you are curious about the new Transformer mythos. Congratulations John on your 50th issue. I give Transformers #50, 3 out of 5 stars.
STORY BY John Barber
ART BY Andrew Griffith, Casey W. Coller, Jamie Snell,