More than Meets the Eye

Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye Volume 1Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye Volume 1 by James Roberts

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is it. All your best friends from childhood getting on a spaceship and heading out who-knows-where to have adventures. The main characters you’re tired of are out of the way. The second-stringers you always wanted to get more development are getting exactly that. With a real story. And humor. And fantastic artwork. This makes all the badness that was the live action movies go away. You can even ignore the disappointing Dreamwave reboot. I haven’t had so much fun with a comic since Titan Books reissued the original Simon Furman Marvel run, and if I’m completely honest– this is better.

Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye Volume 2 (Transformers (Idw))Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye Volume 2 (Transformers by James Roberts

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve read more Transformers comics than I would readily admit, always trying to get back to the wonder that was the finale of the original Marvel series scripted by Simon Furman. I’ve always been disappointed, until this series came along. I purchased the first volume for my son for Christmas and sat down to preview it. I quickly realized that a) this was not a comic for kids and b) it was amazing.

The second volume just gets better. Finally, someone actually building characters and writing stories that explore what it might be like to be a mechanical life-form involved in a six-million-year-old war. There are three “episodes” in this volume. The first involves Rachet solving a medical mystery on an Autobot outpost devastated by plague and actually uses the fact that Transformers transform as a pivotal plot point. The second involves the ship’s psychiatrist and a damaged patient, and– impossibly– makes you start to like Whirl. And the third– which shifts the focus from the primary players– surprises by taking some of the misfit Decepticons that usually sat forlorn in the bottom of your toy chest and making real characters out of them.

I still read more Transformers comics than I would readily admit, but now it’s usually the volumes from this series, which repay a careful re-reading.

Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye Volume 4Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye Volume 4 by James Roberts

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have been following this latest (and by far best) comic incarnation of the Transformers since it began, and with each volume I have been more impressed. Finally real story-telling and fantastic artwork combined to bring my favorite characters to life once again. This volume though was the first that disappointed. It was still quite good, and I liked it even better on the second read, but I have some major complaints:

1. The artwork. Not up to the standards of the previous volumes. Milne’s name was on the spine, but so were a few others, and it made me realize how much the previous storytelling has been married to the artwork. There are some things you just can’t do well without the art to back it up. The final scene of the “guys night out” issue, for instance, with Cyclonus teaching Tailgate ancient Cybertronian ballads at a table in an empty bar. It just doesn’t work if the art isn’t strong enough to carry it, and it wasn’t.

2. The resolution of the Overlord story arch. This had been building for a while, and the issue leading up to the final confrontation built it even more (and was perhaps the most effective issue in this volume). But then, when he finally faced off against the crew, it was over so quickly, and a good part of the action happened off panel. I felt we were entitled to more here. There were deaths, but it was that of a minor character that I found the most effective. Later, the ship dropped five coffins, but we never even really learned who.

3. The drama. I know all these characters have been together on a ship for quite a while now, but the drama is starting to get old. If you’re going to hang so much on the relationship between Chromedome and Rewind (which, to be fair, is quite well done), then ease back on everyone else. Magnus opening up to Swerve. Tailgate’s attachment to Cyclonus. Rodimus’s not growing up. Ratchet and Drift’s love-hate thing. I love it that these characters are being developed, but this volume in particular just seemed to be laying it on a bit thick.

None of this, of course, will stop me from scooping up Volume 5 as soon as possible.

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