Transformers: MTMTE 33: The Review

James Roberts resurrects a character without breaking the narrative, provides growth for two Decepticons, and introduces a possible traitor that will blow your mind. All of this and… THE BRIEFCASE!!!!

The body:

Full warning: there is a minor spoiler in the review below.

Redrum! Redru- I mean. Rewind! Rewind!

Redrum! Redru- I mean. Rewind! Rewind!

For 33 issues James Roberts has taken the hallmark Hasbro franchise and raised it to creative and narrative heights it hasn’t reached since the halcyon days of Simon Furman. After a detour into the giant sized crossover of Dark Cybertron, Roberts is back in action helming the creative destiny of smaller set of Transformers characters. This time Megatron is on board and by the end of this issue; it seems Ravage is as well.

This current story is showcase of all the things that makes Roberts not just a great Transformers writer but a great science fiction writer.

It’s clear with the end of issue #32 that the derelict Lost Light was not the Lost Light that we have followed since their disastrous launch, which  had disappeared in the early part of this multi-issue story. This issue sews up the Lost Light of two worlds mystery, while seeding further questions that need to be answered, perfect comic book style writing.

The explanation of why there exists a secondary LL is the stuff of Doctor Who but is satisfying an explanation and ties the current events back to issue #1, maintaining a pace of answering questions and keeping the narrative tight. The beauty is that 33 issues in and still dealing with actions from issue #1 in no way makes the narrative seem like it’s dragging. This ship and crew have been through the ringer three times over in the last several months of it’s timeline and facing a problem that was created by the launch is a great way to tie what has been going on even closer into where they are going now.

The explanation of the Quantum engines being responsible for creating two versions of the ship and crew, is so much techno-babble at it’s finest. I’ve come to believe that if Roberts isn’t an outright science major, he is friends with a physicist who he turns to for the most off the wall science-y stuff possible.

He uses this quantum jolt to bring back to life a popular character that was last seen sacrificing himself to help be rid of Overlord. I’m referring, of course, to Rewind.

I am of two minds of this resurrection.

For one thing, I’m not a fan of reanimating dead characters. Call it the comic fan in me, but death has become so meaningless in the medium that it has no impact anymore. Rewind was the first character in a long while who’s death was significant. For a myriad of reasons but the biggest one is that his wasn’t an “event death”. He didn’t die in a huge crossover (ala Bumblebee in Dark Cybertron) he died in the narrative of the ongoing and that gave it impact. It had consequences. It had meaning.

The best part of Rewind’s death, which is an odd thing to say I know, is that killing a popular, major character made every other member of the Lost Light crew vulnerable to the same fate. The beauty of this book has been that it contains no one of the Prime or Bumblebee variety. Someone that Hasbro wouldn’t allow to be gone for long.

Roberts use of minor characters that he then makes endearing and loved has been another hallmark of his. In showing a willingness to kill off these characters he’s created a real sense of urgency when a big story arc and villain approach.

The impact of the succeeding story arc (the Tyrest arc) was huge in large part because of the feeling that anyone could be next. The story had dramatic weight added because Roberts was willing to kill Hasbro’s creations. The inherent risk to bringing him back now (no matter how ingenious the explanation) lessens the impact of that initial death and will negatively affect the impact of the next one, I believe.

However, the page where Chromedome is reunited with his lost partner is perfection itself and I want the art for that page plain and simple.

Frankly, I’ll gladly take the return of Rewind simply for the beauty of that one page. Comic book perfection in six panels.

This is another thing that needs to be said for More Than Meets The Eye; James Roberts and Alex Milne are an absolute fantastic team. Comic books become something truly special when the writer and artist come together in perfect harmony. I think it’s safe to say that Roberts/Milne are in the same vein as Calremont/Byrne (minus the drama there), Wolfman/Perez, and Robinson/Harris to name a trio.  This of course leads me to:

The Art:

I'm not touching you!

I’m not touching you!

What can I say, I love Alex’s work. I’ve spent the last few issues gushing over his work on Ravage and this issue continues more of the same. Milne’s Ravage has become the definitive for me. He is the best at adding so much life and personality into these characters and his work should be lauded from the mountaintops. Wildman, Senior, Milne for me please.

The inkers Brian Shearer and John Wycough have shown time and again they have a real knack for drawing out these characters and adding the little touches that matter. The shading and depth they give to Brainstorm in the second epilogue speaks volumes to their talent.

The colors of IDW Transformers has been lush and rich and this issue is, again, no different. Joanna Lafuente is a real treat and I hope she stays on this series for a long while. Her varying shades of red in the background to highlight the ever increasing foam, softening in a tender moment only to make them deep cherry red when the tension is heightened gives some beautiful visual appeal to the eyes.

If I have one complaint about the art at all, it’s that there is a lot of white background.  I am thinking  it is an artistic choice to give the sense of being in a void as a visual acknowledgement of the precarious nature and threat to reality the still living crew is dealing with. It may also be to give a sense of discomfort and alienation. It could also be that Alex didn’t really want to add much background this issue, but I doubt that.

The last part of the art is, funny enough, the first thing you see: the covers. This Wednesday you’ll have a choice of three (but only if you subscribe to the series through your local comic shop). The retail cover is an Alex featuring a very tense Rewind in shadow. It’s pretty good, setting the tone and expectation for what’s ahead.

The second option is for subscribers and features the art of Transformers uber-artist Nick Roche (NICK COME BACK!!!). The Decepticon Justice Division cover is a fun choice but the characters don’t really appear in this issue which dampens it somewhat for me. It is an arresting image.

Your third option (if you have the ducets) is by artist Sarah Stone and it is by far my favorite image. Tarn leaking onto Fulcrum. It’s too arresting an image not to admire and frankly, I would grab the issue for no other reason than for this cover.

You also have an option for a fourth comic by Casey Coller if you happen to be attending the Alamo City Comic Con. Featuring Grimlock in dino mode in a Transformers/ Jurassic Park mash up. The cover is cute and full of that Coller quality that has made him another go to artist for the franchise.

Overall:

Take That Spielberg!!

Take That Spielberg!!

This issue gave a satisfying conclusion to the mysterious disappearances and the Lost Light of the dead while creating  more questions and an engaging cliffhanger to entice us back for more. I will take this time to also point out to comic book writers (both aspiring and current) to pay attention to how James Roberts ends an issue. THAT’S HOW IT’S DONE FOLKS! James is nothing if not a master of making you near insane waiting for the next month. IDW has a gem with this Transformers scribe and they would do well to keep him happy, which I believe they know all too well.

But enough for my laurel polishing, to say that More Than Meets The Eye is a good Transformers book would be doing it a disservice. Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye is a good comic book. The proof is in this literary pudding.

To put it even more succinctly: If you are not reading this series, it’s a crime to quality comics everywhere.

 

Until next month, keep reading and give IDW’s Transformers series a go. You won’t be disappointed.