IDW Publishing: "More than Meets the Eye" #1
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: January 11, 2012
Written by: James Roberts
Art by: Nick Roche
Colors by: Josh Burcham
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Editor: John Barber
The war between the Autobots and Decepticons has ended. Using the Matrix, Optimus Prime purged its polluted core and Cybertron has reverted to a primordial form. Responding to a message sent by Cybertron, thousands of Transformers are sent a signal to return home.
Meanwhile, inside the remains of the Matrix the Autobots discover a starmap to the world of "Cyberutopia", a fabled world that is supposed to have the "Knights of Cybertron" as its residents. At the beginning of this story, Rodimus decides to take a ship and whoever will follow him to this legendary world. Among those who decide to join Rodimus are Chromedome, Ratchet and Ultra Magnus.
This comes as bad news to Bumblebee and Prowl who feel they need every Cybertronian they can get to rebuild Cybertron to its former glory. As the conflict plays out between different Autobots, over two hundred wind up choosing to go with Rodimus.
As these conflicts play out, two events occur that add to the drama. One, the Autobot Tailgate wakes up after millions of years with a package for Nova Prime's ship, a vessel that left millions of years ago! Two: Cyclonus discovers the Autobot Whirl having gone mad in a building with Sweep bodies attached to walls in a gruesome manner. The two fight until Tailgate gets himself out of the cave he's been buried in using Energon cubes, thus damaging Whirl in the process. Rodimus' crew decides to take the two damaged Autobots with them on their journey.
Soon, Rodimus' ship takes off with its crew. As it is about to leave, an explosion goes off! Prowl managed to sneak a device on board to disable the ship and soon the ship winds up on a strange new planet with forty Autobots having been sucked out of the ship. As they burn up in the atmosphere,
Meanwhile on Cybertron inside Prowl's office, a message begins to transmit from the future warning not to let Rodimus' ship leave, and if it has, what not to do. The warnings are dire but the message is garbled so some details are lost. However the warnings are serious...and no one is there to hear them!
I'll be honest, for a long while (basically the last year) the "Transformers" comic book main titles completely lost me. A lot of the events on Earth just didn't interest me or in some cases bothered me. A lot of the "Dead Universe" threats were interesting, but in between there was a lot of bickering among characters that felt out of place, lacking a certain amount of emotional honesty. Things seemed a bit forced and I confess that for a good while the titles were not at the top of my reading pile.
As if they were drivers in a race car doing a hard turn, the crew behind "More than Meets the Eye" has recaptured my interest. I love the starting premise: after the wars are over - now what? With the figureheads of Optimus Prime and Megatron no longer leading armies charging at each other, what do the Transformers do with themselves?! Not all is roses, and that really works for me. The conflicts here feel a lot more genuine. After millions of years of war, it makes perfect sense that some Transformers would want to rebuild their world while others would want to leave the planet that is only a reminder of what has been lost for millions of years. This echoes the G1 "Headmasters" series where Fortress Maximus led a crew off Cybertron hoping to find a peaceful place to live, but war followed him and from the looks of the last page, something just as bad will be encountered by the crew of the Lost Light!
I did enjoy a lot of the personal conflicts in the issue. In particular watching Prowl be a cold hearted and emotional being in the same issue was really a treat. In his cartoon and G1 comic interpretations, Prowl was never quite shown as the ultra logical creature that his G1 tech specs made him out to be. In this issue, we see him lose his emotional control, but we also see the frightening consequences of him simplifying everything to a logical conclusion. In this case, "stopping" the Lost Light may wind up dooming the crew, and I'm really excited to see the repurcussions from this in the long run.
From an artwork perspective Nick Roche delivers as he always does. His character expressions are wonderful and he has a great sense of proportion and an understanding of captivating angles to view our characters at. He also revels in love letters to G1 including an appearance by an "Emirate Xaaron" styled character in the beginning of the issue and Tailgate's "trailer" is designed after the "Micro trailers" that were included with figures from the "Return of Convoy" toy line.
I do find myself a bit polarized on some of Roche's design choices however. I guess I'm a bit of a traditionalist. I love the way he draws characters like Bumblebee, Ratchet, Tailgate and Ultra Magnus in this issue. They're stylized but still have the bulk and angled look I expect from a "G1 themed" Transformers book. Then look at characters like Whirl and Chromedome and it feels as if two different styles of design were mashed together into one book. The analogy I would draw is imagine a character from "Transformers Animated" appearing in the same story as a character from "Robots in Disguise". The two styles don't clash, but they don't jive either. Rodimus, Chromedome, Prowl and Drift are among the characters who seem to have a more hyper stylized design, and that's not inherently bad, it just looks odd against scenes were characters with more "traditonal" design aesthetics appear. Art tends to evolutionize as titles go along however so it'll be interesting to see where Roche takes the art during his tenure on the book.
"More than Meets the Eye" #1 has drawn me back into "Transformers" comics after a year of me pretty much having to force myself to read issue after issue just so I'd have a clue what was going on. This fresh direction is exciting and for the first time in a while I'm seriously dying to know what comes next. I think that is about as high of a compliment as I can give any comic book! Great art and a set up for potentially amazing stories ahead make this comic highly recommended!