Anyone that knows me can attest to the fact that I love Transformers. I've been a fan of Transformers since I was a little kid. It's something I've never grown out of. I love the concept, the mythology and the characters.
When I was a kid the Transformers cartoon and comic was nothing more than glorified toy commercials. The characters were fleshed out enough to make them interesting and collectable. There was enough personality to make every 8 year old boy want Bumblebee, Jazz, Iron Hide or Starscream for Christmas. Today it's a different story. Many of those kids grew up and are now working at Hasbro, in Hollywood or at comic book companies. These adults remember their favorite cartoon characters and are giving them a better treatment then they got in the 80's. Today we can watch Michael Bay movies where the robots have more depth than the human characters (sorry Meghan Fox). There are video games with amazing story telling. My favorite so far is IDW's Transformers comic book line.
It is the comic book that I want to focus on.
The greatest of all Transformers is the legendary Autobot leader Optimus Prime. To me he symbolizes the 80's. He's a mixture of John Wayne and Ronald Reagan wrapped in a red and blue semi. He's the noble leader with a strict sense of honor. He believes that freedom is the right of all sentient beings and he's willing to fight anyone or any thing to protect that right. Seems almost American doesn't it? The poster boy for US foreign policy.
Since the 80's Hasbro has tried to boost sales with gimmicks. One of those gimmicks is to kill of Optimus Prime. They did it in a 1986 animated movie. They have done it numerous times in the Marvel comic. So I was saddened to see that the current comic book company to own the Transformers title (IDW) decided to do the same thing.
I bought the issue The Death of Optimus Prime. I was surprised at the outcome.
I have always believed that good science fiction tells a story relevant to today's events in a fictional setting. Movies and shows that entertain us yet make us question our perception of things is to me the high art of storytelling. IDW has taken the Transformers story and moved into this direction. No longer is the comic a 32 page commercial.
For those that don't know, the Transformers are a robotic race of beings that can morph their bodies into alternate modes. These modes can be vehicles, planes or weapons. The Transformers are fighting a civil war which has lasted millions of years on their planet Cybertron. The heroic Autobots led by Optimus Prime fight the evil Decepticons led by Megatron. Their war has spilled over onto countless planets including earth.
In the IDW comic, the war is over. The Autobots have won. Over the centuries the cybertronians that didn't align themselves with the Autobots or Decepticons fled Cybertron to escape the civil war. Now that the war is over they are returning home. The cybertronians are not happy at the war torn planet they are returning to and they view the Autobots as occupiers. They want the Autobots gone and things are getting violent. Doesn't this sound familiar? Some may say that we are occupying countries in the middle east. There are those in the middle east that don't want us there.
Optimus Prime takes stock on the situation. He sees tensions rise. He also sees that for Cybertron to flourish everyone must work together. So Optimus gives a speech to the newly repatriated Cybertronians. He tells them that his soldiers have fought for their right to return and live in peace. Because of this his Autobot army should be allowed to live in peace also. Their war is over. Optimus tells them that he understands that he is a symbol of the war that tor them from their home and that if he stays his presence will only be a reminder of the pain and suffering everyone has gone through. So Optimus Prime decides to leave and never return.
So where does Optimus Prime die?
Before he was Optimus Prime, he was a Cybertronian named Orion Pax. When the war started his character and integrity led Orion Pax to be entrusted with the Autobot Matrix of Leadership and to be named Optimus Prime, witch is the equivalent of a 5 star general. No longer Orion Pax, Optimus Prime has fought for over 4 million years. He's seen countless friends die and planets destroyed because of their war.
Now that the war is over Orion Pax can lay down his weapons.
Optimus Prime can be laid to rest.
The last page of the comic is Optimus flying away from Cybertron. The Transformers version of riding off into the sunset.
I found this fitting for one of my most beloved childhood characters.