14 February 2017

Review: The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, Volume 1 by James Roberts, Nick Roche, Alex Milne, et al.

Comic PDF eBook, n.pag.
Published 2012 (contents: 2011-12)
Acquired August 2014
Read November 2016
The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, Volume 1

Written by James Roberts & John Barber
Art by Nick Roche and Alex Milne
Colors by Josh Burcham
Letters by Shawn Lee

This is one of those books that you keep laughing aloud at, and your wife is like, 'what's so funny,' and you're like, 'um... it's a Transformers comic?' The new status quo for IDW's Transformers is that the Autobot/Decepticon war is over, and both sides have returned to Cybertron, along with the "NAILs," the nonaligned Cybertronians who fled the chaos of the war. So there's a lot of conflict between these three sides. The Autobots don't know how to exist in a world without war, the Decepticons are all in prison right now but that can't possibly be sustainable, and the NAILs don't see the Autobots as having any more legitimacy than the Decepticons. The first issue here sets up the basic conflict, which seems very ripe with storytelling potential, and it ends with Optimus Prime abandoning Cybertron, his argument being that he's a living symbol of the war, and peace can never truly come to Cybertron as long as he hangs around.

He's not wrong, you know.
from The Transformers: Death of Optimus Prime (script by James Roberts & John Barber, art by Nick Roche)

This leaves the remaining Autobots conflicted about what to do. Rodimus wants to hunt down the mythical Knights of Cybertron and implore them for guidance; Bumblebee wants to make a go of it on Cybertron, mending the conflict between the three sides. So once Rodimus's Lost Light takes off, the book essentially splits, with More than Meets the Eye following the Lost Light and Robots in Disguise staying on Cybertron.

I think this guy is who I would be if I was a Transformer.
from The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #2 (script by James Roberts, art by Alex Milne)

More than Meets the Eye is the whole reason I started this project to read IDW's Transformers comics in the first place, and one year in, I've finally got to it. It's quite possibly everything I could want out of a Transformers comic book: a group of scrappy underdogs united on an improbable quest. There's Rodimus, the eternally optimistic leader who always plunges into lost causes; Drift, the ex-Decepticon who has the passion of the convert; the rulebound and distrustful Ultra Magnus; the moody and morose Cyclonus (who comes on board by accident); Ratchet, the doctor who's lost his optimism and his confidence; Rung, the genius psychiatrist who seems put-upon; Tailgate, who accidentally slept through all six million years of the war; and Swerve, who talks a lot and never stops making jokes.

...though possibly I would be a less-suspsicious Ultra Magnus.
from The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #1 (script by James Roberts, art by Nick Roche)

I recently read that G. K. Chesteron once observed that the opposite of "funny" wasn't "serious," it was "not funny." (Who knows if he actually did; I can only find paraphrases and attributions, not an original, in a cursory search.) More than Meets the Eye is a book that lives by Chesterton's dictum: it is both serious and funny. I could past dozens of different panels into this review that made me laugh, but there's very much a serious idea beneath all of this. Even though they're robots, these are a group of people who have been affected by war in a myriad different ways. These are real people, and I am finally really clicking with all the different personalities of IDW's Generation One Transformers. It turns that when you write them differently, I actually can tell a bunch of robots apart!

I like this version of Drift a lot more than the original I-have-swords-and-a-mysterious-past-and-angst one.
from The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #2 (script by James Roberts, art by Alex Milne)

Next Week: Meanwhile, back on Cybertron, it's all about civil unrest with the Robots in Disguise!

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