Transformers #23 Review: Optimus Prime Stands Around

Transformers #23
7.5/10
The tipping point has finally come to set off millions of years of civil war, and you get a front row seat for its beginnings.

One of the true powers of Megatron, one of the real reasons why he is a threat, has barely been explored. Much hay has been made about Megatron, the warrior, Megatron, the warlord, his brutality, and his raw power. The true power of Megatron, however, does not exist in his fusion cannon, but in his ability to persuade, to intimidate, and to control with his words. Megatron alone is a danger, but Megatron convincing legion after legion of angry, armed giant robots is a threat to almost anyone, and here, you get a hint of how he does it.

Transformers #23 Review: Optimus Prime Stands Around
The cover of Transformers #23. Credit: IDW

 

The only other space where you'll see Megatron's gift for oratory at work is in the Netflix animated series War for Cybertron: Siege, but here Megatron is not engaged in preaching to his blaster-wielding choir. Megatron walks right into the chambers of the Cybertronian senate to face Sentinel Prime — his greatest enemy in this era — with words and a plan, wholly expecting to win.
Brian Ruckey has been writing this series with a very deliberate, very prosaic pacing in considering how things escalate from political differences over (essentially) austerity measures into an open civil war. To finally reach the tipping point shows a great deal of patience. Still, it seems almost like a novelization would have done the deliberation and House of Cards-esque intensity more justice.
Unfortunately, this script also does something unexpected: it robs the Autobots of the moral high ground. Their entire rationale for opposing the Ascenticon/Decepticon forces is to maintain a status quo that even the best of them admit disenfranchises many based on appearance or class. The bot that would one day become Optimus Prime stands around with very little to do aside from wringing his hands over the indignity of it all, caught unsuspecting when push comes to shove. To make the Autobots essentially tools of oppression is an interesting play, but hey, it's 2020, anything is possible.
Of course, the artwork from Anna Malkova, Joana LaFuente, and Jake M. Wood does a great job of taking even quiet moments — Starscream needling a cell-bound Bumblebee, the careful glee of Megatron mid-speech — and giving them weight and intensity. You would believe that this is a society at war with itself.

This issue offers some disturbingly agreeable quotes from disturbingly disagreeable people, opening up room to discuss a lot of things, but has some pacing and ideological concerns that keep it from seizing its greatness. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

(W) Brian Ruckley (A) Anna Malkova (CA) Joana Lafuente (CA) Aline Herzspalter Baumgartner (CA) Corey Lewis
"We Have Deceived You." Cybertron has suffered. The world is in chaos. The situation on the ground truly is a crisis. Sentinel Prime, head senator and leader of the Autobots, will denounce the Ascenticons, the Rise, and anyone he thinks is an enemy of Cybertron's security. But to do it, he'll have to get through Senator Megatron first.

About Hannibal Tabu

Hannibal Tabu is a writer, journalist, DJ, poet and designer living in south Los Angeles with his wife and children. He's a winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt, winner of the 2018-2019 Cultural Trailblazer award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, his weekly comic book review column THE BUY PILE can be found on iHeartRadio's Nerd-O-Rama podcast, his reviews can be found on BleedingCool.com, and more information can be found at his website, www.hannibaltabu.com.
Plus, get free weekly web comics on the Operative Network at http://bit.ly/combatshaman.

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