Tag Archives: john barber

Review: Transformers: Optimus Prime #23

The battle against Unicron forces Optimus Prime’s colonist soldiers to contend with a brutal reality-they have no homes to return to. But when they make a move against Trypticon, the human-controlled home of the next generation of Cybertronians… can the end be far behind?

Transformers: Optimus Prime #23 could have been an interesting tie-in to the current “Unicron” storyline. Instead of exploring the concept of the end of the world and what you should do, the issue devolves into a typical battle due to misunderstandings. Like the “Unicron” main series, it also has no problem killing characters off, indicating the end is near in multiple ways.

Writer John Barber gives us a pretty typical story of things getting out of hand due to misunderstandings. It all escalates in expected ways and of course there’s that moment of no return. In all of those ways, the comic is pretty lackluster for what’s presented.

What’s interesting though is the exploration of the Cybertronian history and their true nature of destruction. Even though they think they protect, they destroy. It’s a cycle that seems to play out in numerous ways over and over. It’s even manifested in the character Jazz himself. Unfortunately, the protector/destructor duality is spelled out for us. Jazz reminds us multiple times in his dialogue. So, even the interesting aspects stumble in this issue. Add in those who reject Optimus and decide to attack, it all just comes together in a comic that throws a lot into the pot but doesn’t quite make the case for any of it.

The art by Priscilla Tramontano is also a let down. The G.I. Joe characters look a bit too cartoony and their style doesn’t mix well with both their vehicles and the Transformers that surround them. It feels like two different stories mashed together in that way. Tramontano’s style would work really well for a younger reader Transformers/G.I. Joe series, or if the Cybertronians had a similar flow in their style as the humans. The color by Josh Burcham is cool and reminds me of the comics from the 80s that I love so much.

The issue has an interesting idea and set up but never quite lands things. It has to spell things out for the reader or falls into a story that we’ve seen too many times before. As far as a tie-in, this issue falls flat when so many others have been so good. It feels like a wasted opportunity to explore more of the Hasbro universe before things wrap up.

Story: John Barber Art: Priscilla Tramontano
Color: Josh Burcham Letterer: Tom B. Long
Story: 6.0 Art: 6.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Transformers: Unicron #4

Unicron sets his sights on Earth… but is anyone left to defend it?

The end nears. Transformers: Unicron is THE story bringing together years of plotlines together. With references to G.I. Joe, Visionaries, the comic reads like concepts explored too little. Written by John Barber, the event brings the doombringer Unicron into the Transformers universe as part of a plan by Shockwave to rule all. With the Transformer colonies destroyed, Unicron has set its focus on Cybertron. And, with the results of this issue, it’s clear that we may be looking at the end of what we’ve known about IDW’s Transformers or the end of IDW’s run of Transformers.

There’s death. Lots of death. There’s destruction. Lots of destruction. Characters we love are killed off and everything is on the table as to what goes. It feels like everything is by end.

The issue is crammed packed with so much, much of it feels like cut scenes of a movie giving us 30 second bites as to what’s going on. Those cut scenes still give opportunity for heroes to be that and for fans to mourn their loss. Barber, along with art by Alex Milne, color from Sebastian Cheng and David Garcia Cruz, and lettering by Tom B. Long, are delivering a cinematic event. It’s an update on the classic animated film incorporating the Hasbro Universe concepts. Some of that isn’t given enough to shine with so much thrown at us.

The art is jawdropping with scenes that evoke my memory of Unicron raking his hand across Cybertron so many years ago. There’s lots here, lots packed in, and the artistic team pulls it off giving nothing short shrift.

The back-up story features the Micronauts and it’s ok, an bonus to the main feast. It’s ending of a “thanks to all of you” has me wondering if the Hasbro Universe’s time at IDW is up? That simple line along with the epic changes happening within the main story point to nothing being the same.

The comic continues an epic event that lives up the promise and shows you can do big budget popcorn event comics and make them work. The team taps into the emotion of it all giving us deaths that feel heroic and remind us “till all are one.”

Story: John Barber Art: Alex Milne
Color: Sebastian Cheng, David Garcia Cruz Letterer: Tom B. Long
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Transformers: Optimus Prime #23

Transformers: Optimus Prime #23

John Barber (w) • Priscilla Tramontano (a) • Kei Zama (c)

The battle against Unicron forces Optimus Prime’s colonist soldiers to contend with a brutal reality—they have no homes to return to. But when they make a move against Trypticon, the human-controlled home of the next generation of Cybertronians… can the end be far behind?

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Preview: Transformers: Unicron #4 (of 6)

Transformers: Unicron #4 (of 6)

John Barber (w) • Alex Milne (a & c)

Unicron sets his sights on Earth… but is anyone left to defend it?

FC • 32 pages • $4.99

Preview: Transformers: Bumblebee Movie Prequel #3 (of 4)

Transformers: Bumblebee Movie Prequel #3 (of 4)

John Barber (w) • Andrew Griffith (a & c)

Energon is Forever. It’s war in the streets of swinging 1960s London, baby—and it’s freaking Bumblebee out! The Decepticon scheme to lure the world’s top espionage organizations into war shifts into high gear—so Bee and his super-spy friends call in some international help!

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Preview: Back to the Future: Tales from the Time Train

Back to the Future: Tales from the Time Train

Bob Gale & John Barber (w) • Megan Levens (a & c)

What does the future hold for the Brown family? Find out what happens to Doc, Clara, Jules, and Verne after the end of BTTF Part III! It’s 1893, and at last, Doc Brown fulfills his promise to Clara as he completes the project he’s been working on: the Time Train! But where in time and space will the Brown family go on their inaugural trip? And what could possibly go wrong if and when they get there?

TPB • FC • $19.99 • 144 pages • ISBN: 978-1-68405-313-1

Preview: Transformers: Optimus Prime #22

Transformers: Optimus Prime #22

John Barber (w) • Sara Pitre-Durocher (a) • Kei Zama (c)

END OF THE ROAD! Trapped between Shockwave’s attack and Unicron’s onslaught, Optimus and the Autobots struggle to make sense of what’s left of their world. Shockwave reveals ancient truths—as an old friend tries to reconnect with Cybertron.

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Preview: Transformers: Unicron #3 (of 6)

Transformers: Unicron #3 (of 6)

John Barber (w) • Alex Milne (a & c)

Unicron approaches Cybertron, so Windblade enacts a desperate plan—one neither Optimus Prime nor Starscream agree with! Has Windblade outmaneuvered Shockwave’s machinations—or played right into his deadly hand?

FC • 32 pages • $4.99

Review: Transformers: Unicron #2

Bumblebee investigates a dark corner of Cybertron’s past, searching for answers: what is Unicron, and why does it want to destroy Cybertron? Meanwhile, Windblade scrambles to figure out a plan as Chromia makes her return-with a Decepticon fleet in pursuit!

Things look desperate and in desperate times there’s an opening for despots to make a play for rule. Transformers: Unicron #2 picks up from the previous issue as Starscream makes the case that he should be leading the Transformers against Unicron and the Maximals. Optimus Prime’s willingness to plan and be pragmatic is exploited as a weakness and in that way, it feels like the issue mirrors our reality. Writer John Barber continues to do what IDW Publishing‘s Transformers comics do best. Roberts includes political undertones in what is giant robots battling each other.

The past series have discuss politics with no issue at all weaving them seamlessly into the narrative. Here, while leadership is discussed, the concept of taking advantage of fear to gain power is present but not overt. It’s clear though that Starscream’s boisterous claims echo the fears post 9/11 and current ones such as Isis and undocumented immigration. The fear of the unknown and the other exploited to manipulate the masses with empty promises, shows of force with little depth, all in the name of personal gain. Starscream will fail and Optimus will rise, so goes the logic, but the series in the past has shown to never get settled on the expected.

The art by Alex Milne is fantastic as always. The characters and design of everything is fantastic and the overwhelming force of the Maximals suffocating in a way. There’s that moment of dread and fear just as you realize the actual reality that’s evoked amazingly in the art and comic, slowly teased out for maximum impact.

The issue is a solid second one. The first evoked our childhood and this second one evokes our adulthood and the reality we now live in. As usual, when it comes to Transformers comics, there’s more than meets the eyes.

Story: John Barber Art: Alex Milne
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Transformers: Bumblebee Movie Prequel #2 (of 4)

Transformers: Bumblebee Movie Prequel #2 (of 4)

John Barber (w) • Andrew Griffith (a & c)

THE LIVING HEADLIGHTS! In swinging 1960s London, Bumblebee teams with a pair of bickering master spies to unravel a Decepticon conspiracy—but is one of Bee’s friends a double agent?

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

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