Friday, September 26, 2014

Big Ideas: More Than Meets The Eye # 33!

“Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye” (“TF: MTMTE”) # 33 should be dubbed “The Explanation Issue,” because writer James Roberts literally explains everything that’s been going on in the series, all the way back to the beginning. He explains both the big ideas (the disappearance and the subsequent reappearance of The Lost Light) and small details (a certain crewmember’s faceplate). And he does so with style.

After the events of last issue, the surviving crew of The Lost Light have boarded the other Lost Light and found a lot of mutilated Cybertronian corpses as well as the ship’s engines surrounded by quantum foam. The big shocker is that they have found the previously-dead Rewind—alive but unconscious.

It is notable that the crew has been shrunk to the point that there are only six Autobots left (Megatron, Skids, Getaway, Nautica, Nightbeat, Nautica, Riptide) plus the discoveted stowaway Ravage. From the suddenly spacious roll call page on, “Slaughterhouse Part 2: The Road Not Taken” is a blow to the head and a kick to the stomach. As they work to revive Rewind, Nautica, thanks to a joke by Riptide, figures out the mystery of The Lost Lights and manages to explain it in a satisfying manner, with a little help from Nightbeat...

Nautica explains it all: the origin of the Lost Light, the Hot Rod in the coffin, even the “ghost” Rewind. In short, this is another version of Rewind, created by a break in the time-space continuum. The spreading foam threatens to create an explosion that would destroy the nearby, possibly inhabited planet. This causes an insightful argument that has Skids confronting Megatron: “What does that badge even mean to you? How has wearing it forced you to modify your behavior…If the answer is ‘it hasn’t’---the nothing you’ve said or done in the last six months counts for anything.”

As they search for a solution, a discovered corpse of a crew member results in the realization that the dead guy (and the other version) was a Decepticon double agent. Yikes. I’m keeping that identity of that Autobot secret to avoid spoiling it, but I have to say I didn’t expect it to be that guy at all. Good one, Roberts. They eventually decide that a slightly shrunken Megatron and Rewind (the smallest of them aside from Ravage, who doesn’t have the skill) will make their way through the constricting quantum foam to turn off the quantum engines, bringing back the other Lost Light and its crew—and causing this Lost Light and its crew to vanish forever. That, unfortunately, includes Rewind. Rewind is faced with a difficult choice, but after a surprising discussion with Megatron, he does it. “I’m actually kinda happy to be cancelled out,” Rewind says.

The switch is pulled.

In the first epilogue, the original Lost Light is back and the crewmembers are coming back one by one. This leads to a magnificent mostly silent interlude that is the sweetest, most surprising moment of the book so far. The issue is worth reading just for this scene.

Meanwhile, Ravage is poised to make a decision of his own: where to go next. Roberts has written Ravage really well, and his talk with Megatron here highlights the ambiguous and bittersweet nature of the Decepticon faction’s nature.

In the book’s other epilogue, the Autobot now revealed to be a double agent walks into a packed Swerve’s—and then proceeds to kill everyone present. “I’ll let you in on a little secret---I can do whatever the hell I like,” he says.


Not only is “TF: MTMTE” magnificently plotted and perfectly paced, Roberts manages to tie all the lingering, untied loose ends together crisply—managing to include incredible character moments in the process—but also begins an entirely new and gripping storyline (the traitor in their ranks). Artist Alex Milne continues his yeoman’s work with the cast. I particularly like Milne’s approach to size—he pays particular attention to the TFs’ heights relative to one another. You can see how tall Megatron is, for example, compared to Skids. It should also be noted that Nautica—one of the showcase characters in this arc—deserves a toy immediately. And I really would like to see Ravage around as long as possible. And the aforementioned scene in the first epilogue shows the moodiness and atmosphere that Milne can employ in the right situations.

It really helps that Milne is working with a really, really good script. From the previews of the next issue, it seems like “TF: MTMTE” will be dealing with the missing crew’s travails before directly dealing with the devastating revelation of the double agent’s identity. It’s amazing that Roberts has squeezed out a brand new beginning (and effective jumping-on point for new readers) as a result of efficiently closing this current chapter. This is seriously mind-blowing work and that clearly shows that “TF: MTMTE” 33 is the best issue of the series thus far, Ratchet’s hands down. Pick this up, now.

Next time: Robots in Disguise # 33!

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