IDW Transformers: More Then Meets The Eye #12

From battle comes casualties, a reality that strikes all too close for several of The Lost Light's crew who are left to cope with the aftermath of combat as More Than Meets The Eye closes out its first year. Written by James Roberts, art by Alex Milne and Brendan Cahill, with inks by Atilio Rojo, Alex Milne, and Brian Shearer, and colors by Josh Burcham.

I cannot tell you how thankful I am for the absence of an utterly exhausted "dealing with it" joke here.

This issue focuses on a task force from The Lost Light on a mission to Decepticon-occupied Temptoria, in hopes of picking up the trail of The Circle of Light and liberating the planet. The story is told in a back-and-forth format, beginning with the first page marked as being "-99 minutes, 24 seconds". Counting down to what, exactly? Well, when you get to the answer at the end of the book it all makes a sad, perfect sense. Meanwhile, the notations work in both directions through the book, helping keep a solid idea about the progression of the operation, as well as the aftermath. It's clear early that the Autobots were technically successful in at least routing the Decepticon forces on the planet, that's really not what the story in this issue is about anyway. The real push of the story is focusing on what happens after, with a lot of wounded, some life-threatening. This is largely about Chromedome and Rewind, and the circumstances of the story motivate exposition of some backstory, as well as elaborating on their relationship to each other. The story structure of course means we see many results before the events that caused them, and some of them are almost heartbreaking for how senseless it feels. Whirl to me stands out as a special case this month, because for a while it's seemed like the focus on him was more towards hilarious awesome, but the utterly sociopathic side has never been very far away as this issue finally demonstrates as Whirl is let loose in a combat situation - and essentially psychologically tortures one Decepticon before almost-off-handedly killing him - and ends up with an opportunity to assure his own safety at a later point which he avails himself of with nothing even approaching hesitation. Finally, the mystery of who put Overlord in the "basement" deepens as a yet-unidentified crew member makes it clear he not only is perfectly aware Overlord is on board, but has a plan to use the secret prisoner somehow to end the threat of the Decepticons once and for all, of which Chromedome seems to be an integral component.

It's the end of the first year with More Than Meets The Eye, and I am continually stunned by the quality of this title in every way without fail month after month. As the year-ender, this book goes with a bang that's likely to simply kick off what's in store for the second year of the title. To say the book was densely packed this month would barely be doing it justice. So much was packed in to each page, the book just felt like it was continuing forever. At one point I checked the page number, feeling that as long as I'd been reading I must have been near the end, but I was not yet even halfway through the book! It's almost a disbelief that so much can happen in a basically regular length issue. One thing I appreciate is how the battle itself is not the driving force of this issue, but rather what happens afterward. Transformers are tough, but even with no immediate fatalities recorded, the story takes a deeper look at the trauma and loss associated with violent battle than I would have thought to expect, although it's not exactly unprecedented. It's plain at all points that the characters are what we're looking at - what we're meant to be looking at rather than watching a fight unfold and using the individuals as set pieces to stage a situation. As rich as the story itself was, you almost stop consciously processing the art, but that shouldn't be downplayed. More Than Meets The Eye typically has my favorite art style among the current Transformers titles, and Milne and Cahill really don't hold anything back in either the brief direct glimpses of the battle, or the depictions of the resulting grievous injuries. It's top form stuff here, and Josh's coloring brings every scene and panel to life and always feeling exactly appropriate to the mood of the situation.

I can't remember another time in being a fan where my hopes for Transformers fiction were pinned completely on the comic books, but somehow IDW has created a world where Transformers comics are not simply the lesser of two evils, but legitimately the best official Transformers fiction going, with MTMTE leading the way Don't ever change. PLEASE.

DateDecember 19th 2012  
Score 10 stars (10 out of 10)  
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