IDW Publishing "Autocracy" #9 Comic Book Review
Cover Price: $.99 (Digital Exclusive)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: May 9, 2012
Story by: Chris Metzen & Flint Dille
Art by: Livio Ramondelli
Letters by: Robbie Robbins
Editor: John Barber & Carlos Guzman
In Iacon, Megatron addresses the population, telling them he is now the ruler of the city. He offers amnesty to all Autobots who want to help him rebuild Cybertron's "great society". As he makes this announcement, Decepticons begin to parade through the streets of Iacon without fear.
In the Torus City Ultrix, Ultra Magnus, Bumblebee and Ironhide are hiding out in a safe house. The security forces have been scattered making resistance almost impossible. Ironhide is ready to go down fighting, but Bumblebee tells him that they need to regroup. Before they come to any conclusions, Hot Rod finds them and tells them it may be time to think differently.
Under Iacon, the wrecked body of Orion Pax lays still, barely alive. He is heavily damaged, but still feels a pull towards an ancient chamber. When he enters, he sees the ancient Matrix of Leadership calling to him. When he touches it, power begins to flow through him, giving him a view of the universe he has never experienced before! He can feel the emotions of Cybertronians and Sparks everywhere. He realizes the Matrix of Leadership or the Creation Matrix were simply aspects of the Matrix of Sparks and a transformation begins!
Back at the Safe House, the Autobots have been found! As the Decepticons break in, they are quickly captured despite their resistance. Starscream tells Hot Rod that Megatron wants to see him to recruit him even as the others are taken prisoner!
Underground, the Matrix energy finishes its work, repairing Orion Pax's damage and helping him understand that unity among Cybertronians is a matter of perception and that freedom is the right of all sentient beings! Orion Pax is now Optimus Prime!
Unlike previous issues, "Transformation" pretty much goes exactly as you'd expect it to. Hot on the heels of Megatron's betrayal, I was quite sure that Orion's severe damage was a set up to him being "rebuilt" into Optimus Prime just as it was so in the Generation One cartoon series. The other element that I expected was Megatron's bit of gloating. Sure it was couched in promises of "amnesty" and talk of being "freed" from the rule of the Primes, but at the end of the day Megatron is sensing victory and his intention is to clean house, not to keep around potential rebels. Just because these elements were expected, it doesn't make them bad in any way. Indeed, the story has taken enough twists and turns at this point that I think it was time that the path of the story take a more straightforward (and expected) direction. Even though we know their struggle will go on for millions of years, it's exciting to see just how the ancient battle between Megatron and Optimus Prime began.
What did surprise me was the small section where Hot Rod calls into question is very association with the Autobots. Hot Rod has been portrayed in many ways as the type of 'bot who thinks "outside the box". While his personality has bounced around different writers (going from more of the happy G1 Hot Rod to the current and and more sullen Rodimus) one consistent element has been his tendency to do what is unexpected. When he blew up the city previously, that was a drastic and unexpected move. Now his meeting with Megatron should be interesting since we know he eventually does join the Autobot army. What events will come out of that? I wonder!
The other really nice element to this story is Orion's journey to becoming Optimus Prime. I appreciated the inner monologue which paid homage to several Generation One "mystical" Cybertronian elements including the "Matrix of Leadership" and the "Underbase". I like the use of this universe's version of the "Allspark" to reconcile the inconsistencies that crept up over the years between the Matrix of Leadership and the "Creation" Matrix. I also like the aspect of the Matrix that gives Prime more than just power and the "wisdom of the ages" but also a bond to the emotions of other Transformers, something I hope to see touched on in future issues.
I tend to rave about Livio's work in this book so I'll spare you that again. On an interesting art note, I found myself wondering (after several issues) why he uses the particular Bumblebee head design that he does. If you look at the curved helmet design with the grille lines on the sides, this design actually resembles the G1 Autobot Cliffjumper a lot more than Bumblebee. Granted the two were basically retools of a very similar mold in G1 (and the two have been intertwined ever since), but I found the artistic choice interesting. Reaching back a bit, my guess is that this head design is in part based on the G1 Pretender version of Bumblebee, whose head design did resemble Cliffjumper's a lot more than Bumblebee's. If so, I can appreciate such an obscure art nod as I tend to write such nods into comics myself when given the opportunity!
"Autocracy" #9 doesn't offer any surprises, but it definitely entertains you. Knowing Prime's eventual fate in the future, seeing this part of his journey is quite fulfilling. Whereas in G1 we saw Prime built "off screen", this really gives us an idea of his struggle and growth from Orion Pax to Optimus Prime.