FOR a change, I’m going to keep things as short as I can—to encourage readers to actually pick up IDW Publishing’s “Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye” (“TF: MTMTE”) # 37 because writer James Roberts and artist Alex Milne continue to produce one superlative issue after another. Last issue was a mind-blowing issue, and this one starts off seeming like it’s going nowhere, begins to turn towards a different direction, and then plunges right into a shock ending.
There is so much going on in this issue that I will just keep to the most important bits (since it can be argued that every little and big thing here is really important). After missing the time-traveling Decepticon double agent Brainstorm, Rodimus’ own time-traveling squad has arrived in the City of Rodion in the past. It’s the time of the Clampdown, when the oppressive Senate has enforced curfews and the functionist movement is gaining strength—just as the Decepticon movement is growing. Cyclonus is shocked by how beautiful Rodion is. Back in the present, Perceptor and Rodimus realize that time itself seems to be starting to re-write itself, because the very act of Brainstorm traveling back in time has already created a new timeline even if he hasn’t succeeded yet in assassinating Orion Pax, the future Optimus Prime. The funniest scene is the Maccadam’s Oil House in the past, where Rung, distracted by seeing his past self, misses Brainstorm completely. We get an insightful conversation between Nightbeat and his partner Quark about the oppressive nature of the Clampdown. “The dirtier your job, the greater your chances of survival,” says Quark of the coming Decepticon revolution.
Cyclonus and Tailgate catch sight of Brainstorm, but is unable to ground him before Brainstorm time-jumps—to one year in the past. So the Rodimus squad jumps back, too. This begins a really complex chain of events that involve everybody’s favorite crazy Autobot, Whirl. Yes, this issue is really about Whirl. We find out everything about his past, that he was born into the aerial corps but opted to be a watchmaker. But when he runs afoul of the powers that be, he is forced to undergo the Empurata procedure—the same one Shockwave went through. We get a startling view of Whirl’s face before he was disfigured. It’s all a shocking and disturbing storyline. It gets even more complicated, because we see the bots who beat down Whirl—and, despite Chromedome’s attempts to explain that doing so will change the timeline (those same bots are to encounter Shockwave later on)—Whirl kills one. Twist number one.
But let me digress, because I haven’t gotten to my favorite part: Impactor. Impactor, you see, is my favorite non-toy original Transformers (sorry, Drift, you make a good second). Marvel UK introduced Impactor as the grim, weapon-handed leader of the Wreckers. He was a great character and I missed him—until IDW reintroduced him in their continuity. For the best Impactor story, read “Last Stand of the Wreckers.” I even have his Hasbro Generations toy, even if he only barely looks like Impactor beyond his head and hand. (He has a toy now, but waited decades to get one).
Here, we see Impactor at the very beginning, not yet a Wrecker, and we discover he is a miner—and a friend of Megatron of Tarn. The two are sharing a drink at Macadam’s when they get caught up in a brawl (yes it was started by the time-traveling Rung). The warm, jocular conversation between Impactor and Megatron is heartbreaking when you realize they will become vicious enemies in the future. Not a twist—he’s on the cover, after all—but a great appearance. Here’s hoping we’ll see Scrounge in the future (You know your Marvel TF stuff if you know who Scrounge is).
Then we get the issue’s massive twist. In the present, Perceptor and Megatron track Brainstorm as he time-jumps again, this time to 1st Cycle 02. Then Megatron realizes something. “I think we’ve made a huge mistake,” he says.
It turns out that Brainstorm really has traveled back in time to kill someone. But it isn’t Orion Pax. Megatron realizes what the time and place Brainstorm has traveled to is the time and place of his creation. The issue ends on a panel of Brainstorm pointing a weapon—at Megatron, right before the future Decepticon leader comes online. Brainstorm isn’t trying to kill Prime. He’s here to kill Megatron. Twist number two.
Really didn’t see that coming. This is an amazing issue, if a little dizzying. Going beyond the multitude of characters (new and one, past and present, named and unnamed) and the masterful main plot, it becomes even more impressive when one realizes that Roberts is tying the plot of “TF: MTMTE” # 37 to stuff he’s been planting since “All Hail Megatron.” Plus Milne gets to draw so many Transformers this issue that it’s fun just to look around the ‘bots in the background. Even the new character, Quark, is interestingly visualized, and Milne draws a nasty pre-Wrecker Impactor.
What a magnificent issue, catching us by surprise not once, but twice, with the Whirl back story coming to roost and Brainstorm’s real target revealed. There are so many questions: So is Brainstorm really a double agent, or is he a triple agent now? How will Whirl’s violent act affect the timeline? All this will be told, as the issue’s end promises, “To be Concluded!” With a story arc this good, you really don’t want it to end.
Next time: Drift Empire of Stone # 4!