Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye
Issues 1 – 3
Liars A to D (Parts 1-3)
Written by James Roberts
Art by Nick Roche & Alex Milne
Colors by Josh Burcham
IDW Publishing

            Let’s go back. IDW is the latest company to hold the Transformers franchise and has done a lot with it since taking it over. First, we had a bunch of miniseries: Infiltration, Escalation, Devastation, Stormbringer, Maximum Dinobots. Then we got things like Transformers: Spotlight. They reprinted War Within and a bunch of UK stories (which are awesome.). Then we had the epic All Hail Megatron which in turn lead to the recently ended Transformers ongoing they had. And while the majority of the miniseries took place on Earth, there were glimpses of Cybertron and other planets. Which comes to our current state . .. the recently ended Chaos and Police Action storylines.  

            Before leaving Earth, fear of Transformers, no matter the faction, was at an all time high. The United States had developed mecha of their own to take down any Autobot and Decepticon, reversed engineered from other Transformers. Optimus Prime had stepped down as leader of the Autobots and turned himself to the United States’s group, Skywatch, which is under the command of Spike Witwicky.  Hot Rod was leading a bunch of Autobots … and some Decepticons on building a ship but things turned sour as the Stunticons were assembled and formed Devastator. Hot Rod escaped Earth to meet up with Starscream, taking back the Matrix, which he had since the end of All Hail Megatron.  

            Bumblebee had become the leader of the Autobots and while undermined at first by Prowl and Ultra Magnus at first, soon came up to be a capable leader. After Megatron returned with a plan that used guns fashioned like his G1 self that mind controlled humans. The plan stopped but not without Jazz killing a human, who he thought was still mind controlled and about to kill Bumblebee. Then the Scrapper ended up dead and no one knew way. So, Police Action covered the investigation that lead to Spike using the Autobots in order to get more advanced tech and killed Scrapper. Meanwhile, A threat to Cyberton had loomed as Hot Rod returned, with the Matrix, Wheelie, Ironhide (who we thought had died in the first issue), Sunstreaker and another alien. They told of the threat of Galvatron coming with an army.
            The Autobots went to space, heading back to Cybertron as Galvatron came, stating a threat called D-Void was coming. And it did … using Galvatron as a pawn. All Decepticons, save for Galvatron, Cyclonus & Megatron fell to the sway of D-Void … becoming a giant composite being. Optimus Prime used the Matrix to stop it … but left it empty.
            After Chaos ended,  many Cybertronians who had left, not wanting to be involved in the war between Autobot or Decepticon, began a mass exodus to return to Cybertron. Yet, they immediately were against Autobot government they had installed. Bumblebee, Prowl, Ultra Magnus and the other Autobots on Earth joined the rest on Cybertron  .. . leaving Earth … seemingly forever. 

            The Non alined Cybertronians, nicknamed Nails, continued to protest against the Autobots as the remaining Decepticons were locked up. Leader of the Nails, Metalhawk continued to point out how the Autobots and the Decepticons ruined Cybertron. Optimus, wanting the Nails to accept the Autobots and bring piece, decided to put himself in exile, returning to the name of Orion Pax after giving one half of the now dead Matrix to Bumblebee and the other half to Rodimus.
 And now … here we go.


            Our story begins with Rodimus talking about the past, standing on the site where the original Ark had left and the fabled Knights of Cybertron. Oh yes … back during the on-going, right before Chaos, the Knights of Cybertron were mentioned several times. They are said to be these legendary Cybertronians who went out into the universe to make a peaceful home for their people. Oddly enough, they were lead by Transformers: Zone lead, Dai-Atlas. But I digress.

            Rodimus goes on about how he was gonna lead an expedition on the ship called the Lost Light and that the Autobots worked hard fighting the war but the Nails do not appreciate everything they’ve done. That it was time to stop fighting and leave their world in search of their ultimate destiny … blah blah … to share is to care and to care is to share. WHOA!!! Creepy Transformers flashback there. Excuse me.

            Wheeljack muses on how Rodimus is working the crowd while Prowl states he already knows that this whole set up is gonna end up being a non-event. And he couldn’t be more wrong. The next dozens of Autobots are lined up to board the ship. A non-event huh? Good one Prowl. I wonder what else you are gonna do wrong today.

            Meanwhile, Rachet explains to Bubblebee how a Nail died protesting the Autobot government by transforming . . . continuously till he kill himself. .. even getting a little shock when the Nail transforms one last time to vehicle mode.

            Rachet: Relax. It’s just a reflex action. Rigor Morphis. The dead body assumes its preferred shape. And yeah, sometimes it’s the alt mode.

            That’s . . . just morbid. Anyway, Rachet goes on about him getting too old. That his hands are seizing up. Then goes into complete silence.

To Share is to care and to care is to share . . .

To Share is to care and to CARE is to SHARE . ..

             . ..

            Rachet tells Bubblebee that he’s leaving. And Bubblebee handles it with the kind of grace you expect from the bot.  Hahaha. Who am I kidding? He was in complete denial. Bumblebee goes on to saying that he’s needed here, going over the fact that he’s saved the life of every Prime since Nominus; which I am guessing is at least 2 or 3 before Optimus cause I believe Sentinel was his predecessor. When Rachet says that he’s been Chief Medical Officer too long, Bumblebee resorts to looking like he’s panicking (btw, I forgot to mention earlier, when Bumblebee was hurt during the ongoing, he started using a cane. He still is.) and accusing Rodimus of seeking him out. Also, continuing in his childish rant, Bumblebee states that Drift writes Rodimus’s material. Rachet replies that it is not about the destination but the journey and that Rodimus promised to pick up waifs and strays along the way. That he can find himself a successor on the trip.

            In a different, deserted section of Cybertron, Cyclonus . .. yes Cyclonus lements over the loss of parts of Cybertron he loved, thinking about how he has a new lease on life after being ejected from Vector Sigma (aka Primus aka the All Spark aka Transformers’ GOD) as he relents he picks up a familiar signal that  . . . We’ll get back to this later. Hehehe

            Back on Autobot Headquarters, Prowl is having a discussion with Chromedown and Rewind. Prowl goes on to saying, and he admits he can’t believe it, that Rodimus was able to get over 200 hundred Autobots to join him. Ah .. . asphalt not tasting so good there Prowl? Prowl then says he’s glad that those Autobots are leaving cause their useless to him . . .

            Chromedome: Even Rachet?

            Prowl ignores that comment to say that he can’t make due without Chromedome and his talents. Prowl then asks Rewind, who is Chromedome’s best friend, to stop him.  First, we get whining from Bubblebee. Now we got Prowl acting just as childish trying to use Chromedome’s best friend. Oh Prime, how the mighty have fallen. Prowl noticing that Rewind is recording and tells him to stop but Rewind says that this conversation could have big repercussions and that he’s an archivist anyway. Chromedome blasts back how he’s done things for Autobot Cause that he … doesn’t mention but it seems it wasn’t pretty. Chromedome and Rewind walk away . . . which causes Prowl to flip over his desk. Our second-in command of the Autobots ladies and gentlemen.  So, Prowl, in this issue thus far: 

            -has looked down on hundreds of Autobots.
            -Demeaning Rodimus and other Autobots for their choice to leave.
            Pretty much said that the other Autobots, except for Chromedome, were useless to him.
            -Tried to be manipulative by using Rewind as a way to keep Chromedome here.
            -Alienated himself from the Autobots leaving by insulting them.
            -Insulted Rewind by not saying how vital he is as well.
            -And thrown a temper tantrum for not getting what he wanted.

            And this is only page 7 of the first issue. *facepalm*  So yeah. Prowl is full of wrong and douche here. Well, at least it’s not going to get any worse. Oh wait … Prowl is contacting someone (we don’t see who) about making modifications and loading the cargo. And that he’s always serious. Uh oh.

            We cut to 6 Million years ago, where a Cybertronian … looks like a Nail named Tailgate is stuck in a cave with 2 energon cubes, separated trailer … and NO legs. Looks like they were destroyed by the fall. Tailgate does a self diagonostic which calls him an Idiot.

 *laughs hard for 5 minutes*

            I am serious. His reading states:

            Preliminary Damage Report: YOU’RE AN IDIOT

*laughs again*

            And we cut to an Autobot, Whirl, who is seemingly talking to himself about how he needed to have this downtime and was happy to unload his frustrations … while holding a light. Hmm . ..

            He goes on about how being kicked off the Wreckers pissed him off but how he/she/it … we haven’t seen them yet … have been a big help but it is on to bigger and better things … while holding a light.

            The light that Cyclonus sees following a familiar signal that he had picked up earlier. Which leads to Cyclonus seeing the broken, tortured bodies of the Sweeps and maybe Scourage, strung up on the walls like slabs of meat. Cyclonus gets tackled but leaves … with Whirl hot on his tail.

            Meanwhile, on the ship, the Lost Light … wow. I guess that is significant. I guess they fell they are the missing light of the Circle of Light aka the Knights of Cybertron. *shrugs* Red Alert is head of security on the Lost Light, checking over people.  Red Alert wants to look at baggage that Brainstorm was gonna bring on but Brainstorm shows that he’s exempt from security checks. Even showing an id with the classic rubsign that used to be on the toys. Nice touch.

            After that, Red Alert asks who is next when we hear someone say “Megatron.” But it ends up being the Autobot Swerve. Rung is about to board the ship next with a bunch of model kits. Red Alert asks how Rung has kept them for so long.

            Rung: I guess I have a knack for keeping out of harm’s –

            And gets his arm severed. Ah … I love this already. This is one of those books that when you say something, you might just invoke some kind of divine wraith.

            On the bridge of the ship, we see our great commander talking with his second and third in command: Ultra Magnus and Drift respectively. Drift goes over the Autobots who have come thus far. And our captain deals with it with the décor we have come to expect from great captains like: Kirk, Picard, Solo, Reynolds or D’argo.

            Rodimus: Oh yes. Stick that up your exhaust, Bubblebee. You know, when I gave that ‘Gun In Your Hand’ speech I - . . . never imagined so many would sign up. Two hundred and eight? That’s amazing. That’s gotta be some sort of record.”

            Our captain, ladies and gentlemen. Obviously, it seems that Autobot leadership didn’t get past the pre-teen phase. After that wonderful reaction, Drift hands over the list to Ultra Magnus who … well, goes down the list and says something bad about at least ten of the Autobots that boarded. He states that he should be the one at the entrance of the ship to make sure they don’t have any riff-raff.
Great … childish like leader .. . gruffy, stick in the mud second in command. Oh, this ship is gonna be in for some great times ahead.

            We get Cyclonus and Whirl duking it out while Rachet, Chromedome and Rewind walking quickly to the ship. Chromedome states to Rewind that if he were to transform into a decent alt mode other that his memory stick, they’d be on the ship by now. Rewind states that every form has a purpose.

            Rachet: Yeah? Tell that to Sky Lynx.

            Cyclonus crashes in front of them with Whirl ready to go in for the kill. Rachet, tries to stop him cause Cyclonus is knocked out but Whirl begins to go … kinda crazy. Yet it is stopped by an explosion … that burns Whirl and knocks him down. Chromedome, Rachet and Rewind pick up something from a cave and its … Tailgate! Yes. TAILGATE! Who’s been in the hole for like … 6 MILLION YEARS!!! He looks at Whirl, going into panic for hurting him … then goes unconscious.

            The ship is about to launch as Ultra Magnus tells Rodimus that a call is coming in from Bubblebee. Rodimus does not take it and they blast off, with Bubblebee and Prowl watching.

            Bumblebee: I thought you said you had a plan.

            And EXPLOSION!!!

            And they all died. The book ends and …

            To share is to care and to care is to share . .. to share is to care and to care is to share . . . to share is to care to care is to …

            SHUT UP!!!

            Actually, that is not the end as the Lost Light hyperjumped during that explosion.

            HOLD ON ONE MINUTE! SO … now we can add sabotage, smuggling, subterfuge and attempted murder to PROWL’S rap sheet. Really Prowl? REALLY? You would stoop to blowing up and/or sabotaging the ship just cause you did not get your way.

            Meanwhile in a galaxy far, far away. The Lost Light is trying to stabilize as Rodimus finds out there’s been a breach and 40 Autobots were sucked out of the breach and falling into a near by planetoid.  Rodimus proclaims that no one else dies on his watch and lands the ship on the planetoid to look for the missing Autobots. While Rodimus, Ultra Magnus and some of the others look for their missing shipmates, Brainstorm reports while the explosion happened. It seems that one of the Duobots were next to the generator as it was going through hyper jump … aka Warp Speed aka Starburst.

            As the crew of the Lost Light help their own, another ship comes out of hyper jump. We get introduced to Skids as he goes through inner monologue to find out that he has amnesia. He thinks he’s escaped. But on the wall behind him states that he has NOT escaped. Skids takes out a mode lock then jumps off the ship. The ship crashes … to reveal  2 robots with huge swords that … keep saying 1984.

            Hmm … 1984 the book?

            Probably the year cause 1984 is when Transformers debuted and were created.

            Back on the Lost Light, Rung is in the medback with Whirl still knocked out on another table. Rung is getting his arm fixed by Rachet. Rung goes on and on about how well known Rachet is to the Autobots and how he’s touch is light as a feather  … until we see Rachet hammer his own arm to keep it working. They look over to the other table where Tailgate is … carbon dating him. After finishing up with Rung, Rachet admits that he would not made not fixing Whirl right away. As Rung is about to leave, Whirl grabs his neck. Rung reminds him that he’s his psychistrist and that if Whirl does not behave, he’s off to prison forever. And that Ultra Magnus would see to it. Whirl stops and walks away.

            Swerve enters the Medical bay as Rachet moves on to Tailgate. Tailgate ask if Nova Prime on board and Rachet is about to tell him what happened when Swerve begs to tell Tailgate and  . . . well

            Tailgate: Six Million Years?!

            Skids is fighting off the two robots as best he can … using the dead bodies of the last two missing Autobots to do so. Rodimus and Cyclonus have a heart to heart, stating how Cyclonus attached himself to the hull and hoped for the best. Cyclonus goes on about how Cybertron he knew is gone and that something inferior has taken its place and wants a new start. Rodimus agrees for him to join the crew and Ultra Magnus comes in with Whirl, threatening to demolish him if he screws up. Whirl tries to make by-gones be by-gones with Cyclonus … as the Decepticon hugs Whirl.  Cyclonus lowly promises to kill Whirl one day.

            Skids can’t use his wepons in battle due to some interesting claw but when Chromedome, Swerve, Rewind and Tailgate find him, they remove the claw and Skids gets all his weapons back. Swids than proceeds to prove his bada**-ness by taking down the two Robots with swords … by himself. Swerve immediately asks if he was a former Wrecker, a pit fighter or elite warrior. Skids says that he’s a theoretician.

            Rodimus tells how sorry he is to lose the 2 Autobots who died but that they will continue their question. And that is when Red Alert calls him to say that there is a Sparkeater on board. We get a quick flash back to the Duobots brother, Shock, looking at the now dead body of Ore. Shock covers up Ore’s tracks as a spy for Prowl   . ..

            REALLY? More Prowl crap. Grrr. Things like this are why I like Rodimus. And I don’t care what Chris Ryons & Kyousuke Tsunaga say  … RODIMUS IS NOT A DECEPTICON!!

            Shock is about to get the tracker that Ore was supposed to put on the engine when . . . we see a claw like hand scratch through the door. We see Shock opening his mouth … a weird ball that looks like a mini Cybertron getting thrown out. Then his chest being ripped open as he spark floats out.

            We get back to the present where Rodimus thinks that its cool that a Sparkeater is aboard. Rodimus orders all but Rachet, Chromedome, Trailbreaker, Ultra Magnus & Drift to pair up and stay in their quarters. As everyone leaves, we see Tailgate ask for help … cause he’s got no legs again.

            Wait. Wait. Wait . .. *flips through issue 2 of TF: MTMTE* He had legs again last issue. Oh come on!!!

            Cyclonus picks up Tailgate and takes him to a suite. Meanwhile, Rodimus, the party he chosen plus Rewind, meet up with Red Alert to look over Shock’s dead body. Trailerbreaker and Red Alert go on about how Sparkeaters were considered myth. They figure out that Shock had VOMITED OUT HIS OWN BRAIN … yeah, the little mini-cybertron thing … that was Shock’s Brain. Rachet confirms from his examination that it is a Sparkeater while Rodimus looks to Chromedome for a second opinion.

            And we get to see what Chromedome’s special talent is … he’s a Mnemosurgeon. He can gain access to the last few minutes of a Cybertronian’s life by going through their memories … while the Brain is still attacked to the head. Chromedome reattaches said brain and gets our first look into the Sparkeater.

            Cyclonus drops Tailgate in as we find out that he has not lost his legs again … he is just stuck between his Alt mode and his robot mode. *laughs* Poor thing. 

            Skids is with Swerve and Skids decides to leave the room and investigate. Meanwhile, Rodimus splits up his group into teams to go after the Sparkeater. Whirl ignores the pound on his door by his roommate … only to see that his roommate becomes the latest victim to the Sparkeater. Whirl attacks it … using missiles. Trailbreaker stops and holds the missiles in a forcefield while Ultra Magnus yells at Whirl for possibly destroying half the ship.

            Whirl: Which half?

            *facepalm* I am actually gonna be happy when Cyclonus kills him. Red Alert join Ultra Magnus and company to find that the Sparkeater is gone, going for the Brightest Spark. The Sparkeater attacks Rung in his office only for Rung to be saved by the disobedient Skids. Skids and Rung do their best to outrun the Sparkeater, falling onto the elevator on the ship and telling Brainstorm to go to the engine room. The Sparkeater follows them … with Skids and Rung running off. The Sparkeater has Brainstorm cornered when he holds up his case, looking away. The Sparkeater does NOT attack him. Hmm … interesting. Rodimus stays in the Engine Room with Drift  as Skids and Rung run in. Rodimus immediately holds up Rung as the Sparkeater is coming. The Sparkeater jumps towards them but Rodimus pushes Rung out of the way and holds on to the Sparkeater. Rodimus quickly pushes him against the engine when he tells Preceptor to prepare for Quantum Jump. Rodimus pushes the Sparkeater into the engine to get it … and his forearms stuck into the engine like Ore did.

            Our book ends with Rodimus getting lectured by Ultra Magnus about using Rung only to have Rodimus tell him that on the ship, he’s the one in charge . .. oh, and Tailgate with Rachet saying that since he missed the war but choosing a side is important . .. he’s gonna be a Decepticon. Wait …WHAT?!


            Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye opens with a bang and the pace does let up. Both Nick Roche and Alex Milne have really come to make the Autobots have distinctive looks that give them a little more variety instead of some other artists always make them box and having smaller mass. Red Alert here looks more like a beefier Autobot and he should … he’s a fire inspector car. Rodmius is a bit thinner than Ultra Magnus and Trailbreaker, which makes sense. Rodmius’s alt mode is sleeker and thinner then their bulky alt modes.  Kudos to Roche and Milne for really fleshing out these Autobots to look more distinct.

            Josh Burcham does a great job with colors, helping pitting modes and distincting not only the Cybertronians, but also the settings and moods for the scene. For lighter scenes, he made sure the colors were a bit lighter. Compare to a lighter scene on Cybertron and a lighter scene on the Lost Light, Cybertron was dreary and that matched that area while the Lost Light is a bit more lively and colorful; giving a sense of hope.

            James Roberts writing is solid from the word go. Every Cybertron has a distinct voice and personality that you will either love or hate .. . and he will make sure it stays the way he wants it to be. From the somewhat childish yet noble antics of Rodimus, to Ultra Magnus’s super clean-cut, by the book style to Whirl’s mania, every character in the book is fleshed out, realized and make you notice them. Particularly, what he did with Prowl in the first issue and how Prowl’s presence is STILL being felt by the third issue. Cyclonus is an interesting yet fitting choice to have on the crew of The Lost Light cause he will bring a different perspective and that fact that there aren’t supposed to be two factions anymore. Everything that has happened in the book ends up working into some kind of sub plot, plot and/or character development … such as hints on Chromedome’s skills to how they deal with the Sparkeater. Everything weaves itself into a tapestry of action, comedy and sense of emotional reflection. The book is fun with that mix and we have Roberts to thank for writing it that way.

            Overall, Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, Liars A to D Part I-III have proven to be a strong book. It has great sense of plot, easy to pick up and read, wonderful & consistent character, exquisite pacing and spectacular art that you will enjoy.  If you haven’t picked up a Transformers comic recently and you only had to pick up one … get this book. It’s smart, fun, easy yet complex read that you will enjoy after multiple readings.

            It is my pleasure and honor to give Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, Liars A to D Parts 1-3, a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERSHIP (aka a 5 out of 5).  So go. Pick up now. It’s available on digital and print from IDW Publishing.

            Thanks again everyone.

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