18 April 2017

Review: The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, Volume 5 by James Roberts, Alex Milne, et al.

Comic PDF eBook, n.pag.
Published 2013 (contents: 2013)
Acquired March 2015
Read March 2017
The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, Volume 5

Written by James Roberts
Pencils by Alex Milne and James Raiz
Inks by Brian Shearer, Alex Milne, and James Raiz
Colors by Josh Burcham

Color Assist by John-Paul Bove and Joana Lafuente
Letters by Tom B. Long

No actual tears this time, though I did feel my eyes misting up at one point.

I read a review that described volume 5 as the perfect jumping-off point for More than Meets the Eye, and though I haven't read what comes after yet (before we get to volume 6, there's a crossover with Robots in Disguise, Dark Cybertron), I can see why. Most of volume 5 is given over to "Remain in Light," a story about the Lost Light making it to Luna-1, the lost moon of Cybertron, and what they find there draws together a number of the ongoing character and plot threads of the series: Rodimus's often misguided brashness, Ultra Magnus's love of the rules, Ratchet's lack of confidence in his own abilities, Skids's inability to remember large chunks of his own past, the mysterious "legislator" robots from way back in volume 1, Tailgate learning about the importance of semicolons, the missing Circle of Light on Theophany, Fortress Maximus's postwar aimlessness, and so on. It's not quite as good as volume 4 (but it seems unlikely to me that anything could be), but it is a solid tying up on the main ideas of this series-- yet at the same time it sets up revelations for future issues.

Admit your love, Cyclonus!
from The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #17 (art by Alex Milne)

The emotional core of this volume was Tailgate. Tailgate has been a wannabe and and outsider this entire series. He woke up from a four-million year deactivation in volume 1, having missed not only the Great War, but even its political context, and volume 4 revealed that he wasn't the bomb disposal expert and potential Ark-1 crewmember he had claimed to be, but a waste disposal expert who was supposed to prepare the Ark but not crew it. Tailgate is obviously in love with Cyclonus, who's from the same time period as Tailgate, but lived through that four million years, much of it as (if I understand correctly) a resident of the Dead Universe and sort of a zombie(?). Tailgate is excited to be on the Lost Light because he finally belongs somewhere doing something, but Cyclonus would rather be nowhere at all. He hates everyone else, and he hates himself, and he hates Tailgate for trying to get him to open up. Yet sometimes they bond (in one of the previous volumes, they sang songs of ancient Cybertron together).

Anyway, volume 4 ended with the revelation that Tailgate had a week left to live, as he's so old that he had contracted cybercrosis. Salt is rubbed in the wound by the extra revelation that Tailgate was only two weeks old when he began his four-million year nap... his body's millions of years old, but he's only had a year and a half of actual life experiences. Throughout the adventures in this volume, a countdown timer periodically appears, showing us how long Tailgate has left to live, and it is brutal.

Admit you're dying, Tailgate!
from The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #18 (art by Alex Milne & Brian Shearer)

Of course, things don't go quite predictably, and I won't spoil it here, but James Roberts includes two good fakeouts as regards Tailgate and Cyclonus, and got me both times. Chromedome and Rewind's love may have formed the the core of volume 4, but Tailgate and Cyclonus obviously share love too, and Roberts does a fantastic job with its intricacies here. Who'd ever thought I'd be effusing about robot love? (Well, anyone who ever heard me go on about Silverbolt/Blackarachnia when I watched Beast Wars, I suppose.) Tailgate gets a day-saving moment that's amazing.

Admit your own culpability, Whirl! (Seriously, the reason Cyclonus is mad at him is because Whirl desecrated the bodies of Cyclonus's comrades.)
from The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #21 (art by Alex Milne)

This just scratches the surface: like in volume 4, a lot of characters get great hero moments (Ratchet is awesome!) and there's also a lot of intriguing Transformers mysticism (Skids may or may not go to Cyberutopia, but wherever he was, it's weird), and an extra bit of information is revealed about Overlord's presence on the Lost Light and Drift's departure (never thought I'd say it, but I miss Drift). And, of course, there's the usual assortment of jokes: Rodimus talking about how he has to live up to having flames on his chest, or Swerve defending his bar with a talking/singing blaster designed for kids.

The volume is wrapped up by a coda issue, where the Lost Light crew tries to recruit the Circle of Light to help on their quest by showing them the documentary film Rewind was working on before he died in volume 4. As you might imagine, hilarity ensues, especially as a large chunk of the documentary (it spans the Lost Light's whole voyage) is about Thunderclash, the Greatest Autobot of All Time, who knows as much about typefaces as Ultra Magnus, helped Ratchet pass his medical exams, was fatally injured saving orphans from a supernova, is capable of teaching Perceptor things he doesn't know about science, once bore the Matrix of Leadership while Optimus Prime was on sabbatical, and turns out to be on the exact same quest as the Lost Light:
Rodimus is always so emotionally mature.
from The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #22 (art by James Raiz)

The Circle of Light turns out not to be fans, summing up the whole approach of this series highly effectively:
You know, they haven't really accomplished anything they set out to, have they?
from The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #22 (art by James Raiz)

But the reader is part of it, and the last page of this volume warmed this reader's heart:
Cast shot! (I think only one of these characters is dead.)
from The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #22 (art by James Raiz)

No matter what comes next in More than Meets the Eye, these five volumes will have been a work to treasure.

Next Week: Meanwhile, on Cybertron... Starscream is king and the Autobots are in exile in Robots in Disguise!

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