Monday, May 19, 2014

Ghost Ship: More Than Meets The Eye # 29

IT is clear from the brand new characters page that “Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye” (TF: MTMTE) # 29 is barreling straight into the depths of its first post-“Dark Cybertron” story arc as part of “Dawn of the Autobots.” The issue’s Cover A, by the series’ penciller Alex Milne, shows not only the two important characters for the issue, but also the different moods, with a glowering Megatron towering over a humorous and tiny Tailgate. The scary and funny moods work all throughout the issue.

Written by James Roberts and illustrated by Milne, “World, Shut Your Mouth Part 2: Words Hang in the Air” continues the events from last issue. The Lost Light is out to space again in its search for the Knights of Cybertron and Cyberutopia, but with Megatron as the ship’s captain. Very quickly we get a taste of Megatron’s new leadership as he stomps around the ship issuing orders and fixing problems. He is scarily effective.

The fact that Swerve does the summation of the past issue’s events all by himself confirms the issue’s intent to amuse. Meanwhile, Tailgate (welcome back! Plus he has an IDW-accurate toy now!) has just awakened from recovery and is shocked at all the changes even as he earnestly tries to lighten the mood.

“TF: MTMTE” # 29 follows his lead with the humor as inebriated Cybertronians inhabit the ship’s corridors and Trailcutter gets the idea to do a highly ill-advised thing. He winds up getting an unexpected new job that should play out in spades as the series goes along.

Then we flash back six months to the Cybertronian moon Luna 2, where Megatron’s trial for war crimes is ongoing. Starscream—Lord Starscream, High Chancellor of the Refulgent Cybertronian Dynasty, Emperor Perpetua and Defender of the Realm—testifies in a gloating and manipulative manner in the trial, reminding us all what a conniving dirt-bot he is. Rodimus gets a list of robots who don’t like him, which isn’t a problem except that these are robots on the crew of his ship, the Lost Light. Then, Megatron has a change of heart.

Back to the future, Chromedome has solicited the help of the ship’s new detective Nightbeat because he feels that he is being haunted—by his dead best friend, Rewind. Much as Nightbeat wants to debunk this, it isn’t as easy at it seems and he is in for quite a surprise.

Finally, Megatron decides to open up the coffin they found in deep space, the one emblazoned with an Autobot badge. What they find inside seems to be the very dead corpse of a very familiar and, up to this point, missing Autobot warrior.

I’ve said that the last issue shows that “TF: MTMTE” is the best of IDW Publishing’s current TF books. This issue is even better than that as it balances several plot points and makes each one work within the frame work of what Roberts wants to do. The contrasting moods meld together in the end and makes you want to already read the next issue to find out both what happens next and why. Megatron’s trial is revealed in bits and pieces, also contrasting with the current reality of Megs being the apparently unpopular skipper. But it’s the dark undertones of the issue that leave an impression, particularly the Rewind haunting and, of course, the shock of seeing who’s in the coffin.

Milne does stellar work, as usual, and I have to say it is great to see the other crew members of The Lost Light be seen even if only the background: Mirage, Doublecross and Broadside, among others. There’s a great hallway scene featuring two IDW-styled action masters, a solicitous Mainframe and a crazy drunk Jackpot. This week’s ultimate obscure character cameo: one of the witnesses at Megatron’s trial is Gripper, a 1991 Autobot Motorvator, who is, in turn, a recolor of the Japanese toy Blacker, a Brainmaster. Oh, and Nautica, Skids and Riptide prove to be very bad influences.

“TF: MTMTE” # 29 is just excellent work all around, leading us to impatient count the breems before the next issue. James Roberts and Alex Milne continue to impress and if this is the kind of work we can expect from them, then the Lost Light can stay in deep space indefinitely as far I’m concerned.

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