Thursday, March 26, 2015

Galaxy Shuffle: More Than Meet The Eye # 38!

IT may not seem like it at first, but “Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye” (“TF:MTMTE”) # 38 is one of the most important TF comic books ever made. That’s because the timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly plot that writer James Roberts has been laying out—with its alternative timelines and time travel bot-hunt—all come to fruition as well as a definitive conclusion in this very issue. Amid the burst of excellent issues, “TF:MTMTE” # 38 is a worthy way of ending the affair.

As Rodimus’ team chases him back in time, the Decepticon double-agent Brainstom has finally arrived at his target. And it turns out, everyone was wrong. He didn’t travel back in time to kill Orion Pax so he never becomes Optimus Prime. He traveled back in time to kill Megatron before he becomes, well, Megatron. The double-agent turned out to be a triple-agent.

The issue begins on the Lost Light, where Perceptor and Ultra Magnus are trying to stop Megatron from trying to travel back in time so save himself. It turns out that there isn’t enough energy left in the time machine to do it anyway. Rodimus’ team arrives just in time to see Brainstrom aiming a gun at an inert Megatron—a grenade takes him down.

After a good back-and-forth, it turns out the timeline remains changed even if they stopped Brainstorm. “I never set out to kill anyone. All I wanted to do was stop the war by steering Megatron away from life-changing events,” Brainstorm said. While they’re babbling, Rewind picks up Brainstorm’s gun and shoots Megatron. “We never stopped to think—not once—not once did we ask ourselves one simple question: What if a future without Megatron is better,” Rewind explains, before sharing a warm moment with Chromedome. “Megatron dies and we lose: But the universe wins.”

But in the future, Megatron is still alive. So what’s going on? Of all people, Whirl decides to save Megatron in the past. “Megatron’s death creates a functionist future. If he dies, it means they get the last laugh. And I’m not having that,” Whirl says. So Whirl takes the spare spark Brainstorm stole and puts it in Megatron. “A forged spark inside a constructed cold body,” the first Hybrid,” Rodimus observes in awe.

With that, the timeline begins to move again—but Rodimus’ team is stranded in the past. Tailgate then takes the time-traveling radio and broadcasts warnings to the past—followed by the other Autobot. It turns out these were the odd voices the crew of the Lost Light heard bits and pieces of—when they first left Cybertron back in the very first issues of “TF:MTMTE,” three years ago, backl in 2012. That’s how long Roberts has been planning this denouement.

Luckily, the stranded Autobots figure out that there is experimental generator the Decepticons were hiding in a secret base. In short order, the Autobots overcome the Decepticon guards, take the generator and successfully return to their time.

This last bit, the epilogue of “Elegant Chaos,” features a lot of small character moments as we see the Autobots back on the Lost Light: They’re watching “Back to the Future” and singing along to “The Power of Love.” Brainstorm ponders his actions in a cell. Chromedome and Rewind take a romantic walk. Megatron ponders his place among the crew. Rung and Perceptor ponder the result of their adventure. “When I tampered with the time machine—when I tried to removed the paradox locks—I momentarily created a macro-cosmic environment within which parallel universes were possible,” explains Perceptor. “An infinity of new universes.”

This isn’t necessarily a good thing, as we quickly see that the functionist future (first remembered by the second Rewind who is now the current Rewind, and same future that Whirl sought to stop by saving Megatron_ now exists in its own separate timeline. In it, the funcionist leader, One-Of-Twelve is being aided by Quark—the robot what Brainstorm had wanted to save—in torturing the Rung from this universe. “We’ve worked you out, Rung. We know what you turn into—and it’s the very last thing we want,” One-Of-Twelve says, pointing a gun that obviously is Megatron in alt mode at Rung. But this Rung is unafraid. He smiles. “Knowing what someone turns into is not the same as knowing what someone’s for. And you’ve helped me work out what I’m for. If you pull that trigger, it’s the beginning of the end. So go on… squeeze.”

With that, the most ambitious chapter yet of the TF story comes to an end. Readers might be surprised with the briskness and the definitiveness with which an effectively three-year story arc ends, but that is the best way to end it. The Autobots on the Lost Light now carry on their journey—and yet the frightening functionist future is now real in some other reality. It really feels like we will eventually be visiting this future at a later time.

In any case, “TF: MTMTE” # 38 was wonderful, with so many character moments and genuine surprises. Even if we kind of knew where we were headed, we had no idea how we were getting there. Between Brainstorm’s secret agenda, Rewind’s act of violence and Whirl’s act of heroism, Roberts turns an ending into a tour de force of characterization. And we should give credit to Alex Milne for drawing every single Cybertronian thrown his way so well, whether they be from the past, the present or an alternate future. He has proven to be the most versatile and yet distinctive TF artist right now. Together, he and Roberts have crafted perhaps the most intellectually aligned TF story yet. One imagines it’ll be amazing when it’s collected in a trade paperback of its own.

Next: The Transformers #38!

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