IDW Publishing: "More than Meets the Eye" #6 Comic Book Review
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: June 27, 2012
Written by: James Roberts
Art by: Nick Roche
Colors by: Josh Burcham
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Editor: John Barber
Onboard the Lost Light, Fortress Maximus is undergoing therapy with Rung, but despite Rung's efforts the memories of his suffering on Garrus 9 at the hands of Overlord. Despite the difficulty in treating him, Run is determined to help his patient.
Elsewhere on the ship, the Autobots are enjoying themselves at Swerve's Bar, but soon enough Ultra Magnus takes Swerve away for opening the bar against the rules. Soon after, Fortress Maximus shows up and the Autobots try to welcome him, but in no time he begins to attack! He chooses targets carefully including Dogfight and Boss and then proceeds to lock himself in Rung's office. Soon, it's discovered the Autobots have a hostage situation on their hands with Fortress Maximus attacking Whirl and holding Rung hostage. His demands are simple: he wants the ship turned around back to Cybertron so he can confront Prowl, who waited three years before sending the Wreckers to Garrus 9 following it's fall.
In an attempt to subdue Maximus, Rodimus and the Autobots devise a plan (with a bit of Rung's help) to blast Maximus from a window outside the ship. Rewind and Swerve are out there working on the ship so they're the perfect ones to execute the plan. Rewind uses images from Garrus 9 to distract Fortress Maximus while Swerve takes the shot. Unfortunately, Swerve is not that great of a shot, and very quickly the plan goes awry as he winds up shooting Rung by accident! Fortress Maximus is distracted just long enough for Whirl to jam a spear through him and take him down, resolving the situation for now.
Much later, after Rung's funeral service, Rodimus and Drift reflect on the events of the day in his quarters. They discuss Red Alert, who's been more and more secluded from the rest of the crew, going off on his own throughout the ship. Unbeknownst to them, Red Alert has been digging for the source of the noise he discussed with Rung and he finally finds it in the lowest chambers of the ship: Overlord!
In order to understand my feelings for this issue, you have to understand how I view the character of Fortress Maximus. I've always loved the character from the day I first saw his toy to the day I sat down and read Marvel's original "Headmasters" mini-series. The idea of a reluctant leader/warrior/hero always appealed to me and frankly, Cityformers are one of my favorite aspects of the Transformers toy line. With all that said, this issue honestly left me really down. Understand, this issue wasn't bad, in fact, the story was told very well and what could have been a completely dead serious issue actually has a couple spots of humor in it. In Roberts' deft hands, the story actually flows very naturally, but it was still hard to read because of my attachment to the main character of the piece.
What happens with Fortress Maximus in this issue makes perfect sense. First off, there's never been any indication in this series of comics that Fortress Maximus was any sort of pacifist. He's definitely a warrior and a powerful one at that. In the simplest terms, what we're seeing is an Autobot going through severe post traumatic stress disorder, and as Ultra Magnus so keenly points out, I'm sort of amazed that they let him carry weaponry at all after what he went through. In the end, I just wound up feeling really horrible for everyone involved in the incident but I feel a bit like I've seen a childhood hero character fall - again.
What is a bit less successful is Whirl's story. I liked the idea of Whirl revealing that he considers Rung a friend, and it was kind of cool learning a bit of his history. However, given Fortress Maximus' story, it felt like a lot of extra back story got shoehorned into the issue. I almost wish we had gotten to see a more expanded version of Whirl's story that didn't reduce it to a ton of speech bubbles and a couple flashback panels. There's something much more to Whirl than just being a psycho Wrecker with quirky thought patterns and I hope future issues give us more insight into him as a character.
On the "C" story revealing Overlord's presence on the ship, I was surprised especially since there had been a red herring set up earlier in the issue mentioning he had been dismantled. The big shock is of course that he's still in one piece and locked away in the Lost Light. Part of me thinks Rodimus and Magnus are well aware that Overlord is down there and another part of me thinks this may have been a "package" that Prowl put onboard to get it as far from Cybertron as possible. I look forward to seeing what will come of this storyline in the future (and how Red Alert will warn the crew). I'm also expecting an Overlord rampage on the ship, but hey, this title has a way of offering surprises. I look forward to seeing them.
Nick Roche returns to take over the art duties in this issue and he does a bang up job in the process. He has moved a bit away from his very angular, super exaggerated art format and more towards the style we last saw in "The Last Sand of the Wreckers". This is my preferred style when it comes to Roche's artwork so I'm glad we got to see it again. I have to say one of my favorite panels in the entire issue is one of the simplest: the shot of Rewind and Swerve on the outside of the ship. It's a breathtaking panel and really shows that despite their relative great size to humans, the Transformers themselves can look pretty small themselves.
This issue was very dramatic, and quite a downer in many respects - but it sets up some amazing story possibilities. In many respects, this feels very much like a first issue to kick off several arcs so I'm looking forward to seeing what come sout of it.