IDW Publishing: "More than Meets the Eye" #3 Comic Book Review
Title: Liars, A to D Part 3: The Chaos of Warm Things
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: March 14, 2012
Written by: James Roberts
Art by: Alex Milne
Colors by: Josh Burcham
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Editor: John Barber
The Lost Light, then...
The Duobot Shock has found his partner Ore embedded inside the engine block of The Lost Light. As he laments his friend's loss, he begins to collect any evidence that would indicate he and Ore were actually spies for Prowl! As he reaches for a tracer that was supposed to be attached to the engines something comes cutting through the door and kills him before devouring his Spark! When Red Alert finds his body, he quickly alerts Rodimus.
Rodimus orders the Autobots to pair off and find a room to await further orders. He takes Ultra Magnus, Chromedome, Trailbreaker, Drift, Ratchet and Rewind to check out the situation in the lower decks. When they meet up with Red Alert they begin an examination of the fallen Transformer. Through his examination, Ratchet confirms that something ripped Shock's brain unit out before devouring his Spark! Chromedome decides to use his special power to see into the minds of fallen Transformers. When he does, he sees nightmarish images of the Sparkeater itself!
Elsewhere in the ship Transformers are pairing off. Cyclonus and Tailgate wind up in a control room while Swerve and Skids wind up in a bar. Swerve decides to enjoy the drinks but Skids is impatient and goes through a ceiling panel to investigate what's going on - the very thing Rodimus knew someone was going to do.
In a hallway, Animus is pounding on a door for Whirl to let him in. Whirl is about to do so but he's too late as he sees the fallen body of Animus with the Sparkeater over it! Whirl quickly transforms and fires missiles at the creature but Trailbreaker quickly uses his force field to stop the blast, lest it make contact with the floating Spark and destroy a section of the ship. The Sparkeater goes running and the Autobots realize it's heading to the "Brightest Spark" on the ship: Rung's office!
Inside Rung's office, he is busy getting his office put together when the Sparkeater barges in! Before he is hurt however, Skids pops in from the ceiling and lifts him up, much to his confusion.
Elsewhere, Cyclonus and Tailgate are discussing the time that he missed. Cyclonus explained what had happened with the Great Wars and what he felt the differences between the Autobots and Decepticons were. At the end, Cyclonus asks Tailgate simply: which side would he have chosen?
Meanwhile, Rung and Skids scramble to escape as the Sparkeater chases them. Rodimus orders Skids to use Rung as bait and lead the creature to the engine room. There, Rodimus is waiting to take the Sparkeater on - but he has a plan! Ordering Perceptor to activate the engines, the Sparkeater winds up getting sucked into the engine just like Ore! Rodimus is not unscathed however as his arms that were holding the Sparkeater back are stuck in the engine with the Sparkeater!
Later, Rodimus is in repair bay where his arms have been replaced by the handy work of Ratchet. As he chats with Ultra Magnus, Ratchet is busy repairing Tailgate's transformation cog. As Ratchet works, Tailgate talks to the medic and tells him he has decided to choose a side. Tailgate wants to be a Decepticon!
Wow, quite a bit comes together in this issue! I had commented that the last issue felt a bit disjointed, but this time out the various story threads really come together nicely. The title of this issue "The Chaos of Warm Things" comes from the 2001 novel "The Corrections" by Jonathan Franzen. It's an appropriate title as "The Corrections" deals with a family coming back together long after the children have grown up and moved away from home. Issues come to the surface during this gathering resurrecting old ghosts and reopening wounds. In much the same way, several threads of this story represent this very concept. Let's take a look at them:
- Tailgate has sort of "returned home" to the world of live Cybertronians, and his own issues of who he "is" come into play.
- Skids' own missing memories put him in a similar place as Tailgate, except he's decided to express his "issues" through action and near suicidal choices (wrapped in heroism).
- The Sparkeater is said to be drawn to pain and emotional trauma. There is a sense of an "evil" coming home to roost so to speak.
Now, it goes without saying that this is a heavy duty issue. A lot of bad things happen here. Two Transformers are killed and a creature wreaks havoc among the crew. However, the quirky sense of humor characteristic of the title is present as well. One of my favorite gags was a visual one. When Chromedome looks into Shock's energy, things are said to get "sketchy" and the next panel shows a "sketch" panel in black and white, looking like a rough drawing. Even the normally serious Ultra Magnus gets to deadpan a joke when he describes a Transformer he once chased down who thought he was a Sparkeater (whose name was actually "Blip"). These little moments really help break the potential monotony of just having dark scene after dark scene.
In an interesting expansion of "Transformers" lore, "Rossum's Trinity" is introduced, indicating the Spark, Brain and Transformation Cog are the essential parts of a Transformer's existence. "Rossum" refers to the 1920 science fiction play R.U.R., responsible for the creation of the term "robot". In R.U.R., the "robots" were more like what we would consider androids nowadays. The creatures weren't tin men stomping around. Instead, they were human looking and had personalities and were able to think for themselves, much like the Transformers (on the first point, most Transformers are rather human in design). This homage is really interesting and quite appropriate. I really appreciate a nod in "Transformers" to the great grand daddy of all robots.
The other part of the story I really enjoyed was Cyclonus' explanation of the Great War. It's not often we hear the point of view of a Transformer that did not fight the war or take sides. It's timely that the "Autocracy" series is out now because we do get to see the point of view where both Autobots and Decepticons wanted change, but their definitions of change were almost entirely different. It's a great tragedy, and seeing how serious Cyclonus is telling the story was quite sobering.
The artwork in this issue was up to Milne's high standards, no surprises here. The centerpiece of the issue was the Sparkeater creature. The look of the creature and the way Milne uses it in the panels all point to it as being inspired by the science fiction classic "Alien" movie. Like the iconic "Alien" creature, the Sparkeater is rather thin, it has very skeletal features such as an exposed rib cage on its torso, clawed fingers and a partially exposed spinal column. He also has tubes sticking out of his back reminscent of similar features on the "Alien" monster and his tendrils are akin to the tail on the "Alien" creature. I really enjoy that in addition to Rossum, this issue had another classic science fiction reference. In a nice story touch to bolster the "Alien" association, I dig that Rodimus used the ship's engine to dispose of the creature. In "Alien", the character of Ripley also used her ship's engine to stop the "Alien", albeit in a very different way.
After being somewhat lukewarm on the last issue I was very happy to see this issue bring the title back to the promise of issue #1. The issue had dark themes, quirky humor, action and some fantastic artwork with wonderful scifi nods. Highly reocmmended!