Unicron is on the move, and Elonia, homeworld to the Space Knight Rom, is directly in his path. Optimus Prime leads a crew to try to save the planet's population, but will it be anything more than delaying the inevitable? "Our Darkest", written by John Barber, art by Alex Milne, colored by Sebastian Cheng. Special thanks to Alex Milne for providing us with copies of the Free Comic Book Day issue to review!
The end begins here in a big way - wiping out a planet that has been significant to the admittedly somewhat short-lived shared Hasbro universe under IDW. The motivation for the story is to try to head off Unicron's approach and, while seemingly acknowledging the planet Elonia itself is doomed, rescue the population thanks to a mass space bridge-backed teleportation system devised by Wheeljack. of course it's never quite that simple. The Space Knights as well try to mount some kind of defense against Unicron, but are hopelessly out of their depth. This largely forms the backbone of the mood going forward: hopelessness. Optimus Prime is forced to confront something so far beyond his experience and even understanding that it clearly overwhelms him with the weight of it all. In truth, I don't feel particularly compelled toward this miniseries just based on this issue 0. It was easy to predict based on promotional releases and interviews and such, the reveal that this is indeed the end of the universe as we know it, that there would be a tone of despair and loss and even a pointlessness to everything being done to work against it. What I got out of reading this was just reinforcing those ideas, and... well, it's not anything that makes me excited to keep going forward.
The interesting thing to me with this was how plot-dense the issue was for a giveaway issue for FCBD. The events matter to the overall narrative, but more than that, there's exposition and details that are pretty important to know - things you'd really expect to be more held for regular run issues. Of course much of this may well get reintroduced as the story goes forward just to make sure readers are keeping up. But we have info drops of things like Elonia being a lost Cybertronian colony thanks to the discovery of a derelict Titan lying beneath its surface. Oh, and as such the metal that Space Knight armor is made of is also of Cybertronian origin, because of course it is. But none of this has lasting importance, as the Titan is killed in order to save the population, and then the planet itself is destroyed. And it turns out this isn't even the first planet lost. We get some dialogue devoted to explaining the fates of LV-117 and Gorlam Prime, and by issue's end two of the colony worlds we've gotten familiar with since the first Windblade series introduced the concept have also fallen to Unicron. Like I said, there's a lot going on here, for better or worse.
Interior art is provided by Alex Milne, and as one of the staple artists of the Transformers comics during their period of high popularity since the soft relaunch back at the start of 2012, it's good to see him get to bring life to the end of the continuity whose look he did so much to help define. And he's bringing his best game to this, which had to be seriously challenging. So many panels are full of complex little details and variety, with the alien life, landscape being torn away up toward Unicron, and the action shots scattered through it all. Combine that with establishing shots of Unicron, or Elonia from space - while it lasts - or the half-buried form of the Titan which require care to really convey their scale sometimes in isolation from other elements. Everything came out really beautifully. Even the dead bodies. Sebastian Cheng is a good match to Alex's style, too. The strong colors help to bring out the small details, and highlight things like more subtle changes of expression on the robot faces. In particular there's a part late in the issue where Bumblebee is standing in the middle of essentially a sea of refugees from Elonia, and right up to the panel where the view pulls out to the farthest, it's kept looking like numerous individuals, even if necessarily low-detailed. It's something that could have probably been very easily corner-cut from earlier in the sequence, but keeping so many individual figures discernible helps sell the scope of what Optimus and his crew achieved. Pyrrhic victory or not. Overall, it's a really enjoyable issue to look at just from an art perspective, even if the subject imagery itself isn't the most fun for the length of it. I'm not sure if Milne and Cheng are going to continue to be the art team for the rest of the miniseries or if other colorists will be taking part, but I'll be really happy if it turns out to be the two of them for the whole ride.
I'll be coming back to review at least issue #1 of the Unicron miniseries. I'll be interested to see how much of that might end up treading over some of the narrative ground we covered here just in order to cover their bases, but with a whole universe to bring to an end, I wonder if they'll even have the time? Well, see you soon when we'll all find out together!
|Date||July 9th 2018|
|Score||(8 out of 10)|
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