IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review

IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 1:54am CDT

Categories: Comic Book News, Reviews, Site Articles
Posted by: Va'al   Views: 44,417

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Nickel For Your Thoughts
(Spoiler free-ish)



Synopsis
RETURN OF THE D.J.D.! A punishment squad created by MEGATRON to hunt down dissidents, turncoats and cowards—no one believes more passionately in the DECEPTICON cause than the D.J.D. So what happens when they discover their founder has joined the Autobots? (Clue: it’s not pretty.)

Transformers News: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review
Ruh-roh


Story

Long after their first introduction in More Than Meets the Eye issues #7-8, their brief if displaced return during #32-34, and as an almost direct follow-up to the latter we catch up with the big bad purple wolves of the Cybertronian race aboard their ship, the Peaceful Tyranny - the Decepticon Justice Division. And things have changed, quite a bit, since we last saw them all together.

Transformers News: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review
Trojka


The issue that James Roberts brings with #39 is a wonderful, if twisted and definitely on the creepy scale, exploration of the truths behind the masks, literal and metaphorical, of the members of the DJD, as we see their downtime between slaughters, and awaiting the possible return of Vos and Helex from the events of issue #34.

Transformers News: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review


The 'personal is political' angle of Tarn in particular comes back to the fore in the issue, though much more different than previously, with some Gorbachev parallels of impeccable internal bureaucracy and the effects of Megatron's defection having significant repercussions on him as a person and Decepticon faction leader.

Transformers News: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review
And then the MTMTEnet imploded


We're also brought to some listed Decepticon characters that are popping up all over the IDWverse (and Seibertron.com, in some ways!), with Deathsaurus and his crew. Plus, the introduction of Nickel, the Winry of the DJD. And that is all I have the time and space to say about her without spoiling the issue. Onwards!

Art

The guest artist for the month in Hayato Sakamoto, who has worked with the TFCC previously, and who channels the trademark Alex Milne style, but definitely adding some of their own sensibilities (and with the collaboration of Phase6 and editor John Barber, one might assumingly add). There are some fantastic expressions for all the characters, from IDW's own to the Japanese G1 loans, and the Super Sentai UFOmaru inspired Nickel that add to this strangely contrasting issue, along with all the gore and terror and house chores.

Transformers News: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review
If looks could kill. A Memoir


What Joana Lafuente brings to the table, of course, with her colours is a sense of cohesion with the wider MTMTE continuity, in terms of both aesthetics and general tone. The darker hues of the undercurrent in the story are perfectly balances by the landscape shots, wider scenes and all the optic glows that the DJD carry with them. And add all that to some great flashback, almost sepia, filters. Bam.

Transformers News: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review
Flashback power


Tom B. Long's work in the issue is fantastic as usual, and I'm running out of ways to point it out. Just turn to later in the issue, to Deathsaurus' ship. See? There. Right there. That. That's mood setting, exemplary pacing and scene delimitation, and gorgeous fonts. On the cover front: If the DJD take the spot on the interiors, they definitely triumph on the variant covers - other than the main Deathsaurus one by Milne and Lafuente - with the glorious Tarn-centric Nick Roche/Josh Burcham collaboration (thumbnail) and the previously revealed Sara Pitre-Durocher Soviet propaganda variant.


Thoughts
Spoilerish ahead

An issue that is going to sit on some very delicate scales for a lot of the readership, for multiple reasons and all equally valid/understandable, but one that, in my view, does a superb work of addressing criticisms of over-the-top powering of the DJD, while playing with established political grounds, franchise and IDW storylines, and set up the beginning of season 2's ending in over 11 issues from now. If anything, it'll generate a lot more talk than it already has.

Transformers News: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review
Not your average reader


The art also perfectly captures the strange contrast and the bathos of the chilling, adorable, touching, emotional, terrifying nature behind what is essentially a bunch of supremacists with a cause, who lose that cause, and find another one within 20 something pages of a comic. I would not recommend missing this story, though the choice is ultimately down to the readers - it's a perfect example of what makes MTMTE, flaws, rough edges, sharp wit and all.

. :CON: :CON: :CON: :CON: :CON: out of :CON: :CON: :CON: :CON: :CON:

Credit(s): IDW, Va'al


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Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672692)
Posted by SW's SilverHammer on April 8th, 2015 @ 2:00am CDT
You didn't confirm nor deny Vos is a Tears for Fears fan [-(
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672694)
Posted by Va'al on April 8th, 2015 @ 2:05am CDT
SW's SilverHammer wrote:You didn't confirm nor deny Vos is a Tears for Fears fan [-(


He said:

Image
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672697)
Posted by SW's SilverHammer on April 8th, 2015 @ 2:20am CDT
Va'al wrote:
SW's SilverHammer wrote:You didn't confirm nor deny Vos is a Tears for Fears fan [-(


He said:

Image

I choose to take that as a yes, on the grounds of default.
Image
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672699)
Posted by Va'al on April 8th, 2015 @ 2:24am CDT
*shucks*

James Roberts wrote:@DrFumetts @seibertroncom I don't mean to patronise, and I'm not just saying this cos of the high score, but that was a v perceptive review.
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672711)
Posted by Bounti76 on April 8th, 2015 @ 4:03am CDT
Wow. I'm still processing the issue. It was a complete shock to see the DJD act as they did in this issue, because it's never been seen before that they have downtime, and scheduled maintenance. Or performance reviews. Or are so bureaucratic! Or were anything but one-note sadistic killing machines.

And Nickel! Cute as a button, however, her entire civilization wiped out by the Black Block Consortia, and she's the lone survivor. That alone is enough to permanently screw her up psychologically. But then she joins up with the group who rescues her and who also shares an undying hatred of the Consortia, and it's easy to see why she'd ally herself with the Decepticons. I know that her introduction in the previews made her seem cute and funny (and she is), but to develop her character as far more than comic relief with a single sentence gives her so many layers that can last beyond one issue. She has such a tragic backstory. Poor little Nickel :-(
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672720)
Posted by Dead Metal on April 8th, 2015 @ 4:57am CDT
So Nickel isn't the mom medic after all, she's just thankful and f**ked in the head.

Tarn, is confirmed as being Roller, not really a spoiler, and I'm super torn about weather or not he's Agent 113, but currently I'm back at thinking that he's not Agent 113 and just a super dedicated Roller.

And damn, he's kinda like Alucard from Hellsing, dude drinks blood like a fine wine.

As for the whole "DJD used to make readers piss their pants", I'm sorry, but this is a comic about giant coloirful alien robots they're about as scary as the Paranormal activity and Exorcist movies.
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672737)
Posted by ctrlFrequency on April 8th, 2015 @ 7:23am CDT
I'm still not happy with Nickel.

I should have seen the Brainstorm thing. :-x

Yes, they redeemed themselves somewhat, the DJD, and kudos for Roberts for his twists, I had no doubt something was coming up. I still think that he did rip some of the fear out of the DJD.
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672742)
Posted by D-Maximal_Primal on April 8th, 2015 @ 8:00am CDT
And thus everyone is once again treated to a case of Roberts giving a thoughtful and questioning preview only to be mostly to completely satisfied by the end. Kudos to Roberts: You never disappoint :BOT:
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672755)
Posted by MrBlack on April 8th, 2015 @ 8:50am CDT
I'm a bit surprised at the reaction to the DJD's depiction in this issue. We have been reading the same book, right? Roberts seems to subscribe to the notion of the banality of evil, and has always tried to humanize (for lack of a better word) his villains. Just because they're murderous psychopaths doesn't mean that they act differently from any other bot when they're "off the clock." I thought this issue did a lot to make the DJD a more three dimensional and believable unit, and I'm glad Roberts avoided making them a simple horror movie cliche.
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672768)
Posted by Ironhidensh on April 8th, 2015 @ 9:25am CDT
Tarn vs. Megatron........ Coming soon.
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672794)
Posted by pie-man on April 8th, 2015 @ 10:21am CDT
Dead Metal wrote:Tarn, is confirmed as being Roller, not really a spoiler, and I'm super torn about weather or not he's Agent 113, but currently I'm back at thinking that he's not Agent 113 and just a super dedicated Roller.


Just curious, but where is it confirmed that Tarn is Roller? In his flashback, he seesSkids... but nothing else significant to reveal him to be Roller.

I'm thinking that Skids was probably the previous Vos, and possible Agent 113.
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672803)
Posted by Optimizzy on April 8th, 2015 @ 10:48am CDT
Ok, I read it this morning and, after reading it, my thoughts on how the issue went can be summed up in this graphic:

0e3.png



Not exactly what I thought it should be, but not really what I thought it was going to be either.

also:Blue Bacchus. That's so awesome.
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672805)
Posted by Dead Metal on April 8th, 2015 @ 10:50am CDT
OK so now we have a hint as to why Skids knew The Empyrean Suite, as we see Skids's face (somewhat younger looking than his previous MTMTE appearances if you ask me) in Tarn's Flashback.

He looks in distress, and he has a weird mark on his face. I scrolled in on my comixology page and took this screenshot
Image
Look at that, the mark looks like The Matrix with a black aura (or maybe border?)

So what does this mean? Did Tarn torture Skids? Did Tarn discover that Skids was spying on the DJD (Agent 113) and what does the Matrix mark thing mean?
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672807)
Posted by Optimizzy on April 8th, 2015 @ 10:55am CDT
Skids had that mark in Shadowplay. I thought it showed that he was a believer in the Matrix and was religious...or something. I honestly dont know what it means here.
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672808)
Posted by pie-man on April 8th, 2015 @ 11:05am CDT
Dead Metal wrote:Look at that, the mark looks like The Matrix with a black aura (or maybe border?)

So what does this mean? Did Tarn torture Skids? Did Tarn discover that Skids was spying on the DJD (Agent 113) and what does the Matrix mark thing mean?


It's definitely a younger Skids, and he had a tattoo of the Matrix on his cheek. I vaguely remember him having that in one of his earlier appearances (timeline-wise), either in the 'Shadowplay' or 'Elegant Chaos' storylines. Can't remember what it means though.... something to do with a cult??
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672826)
Posted by Syn_13 on April 8th, 2015 @ 12:32pm CDT
Yeah, the Skid mark (sorry, just had to) is indicative of a religion he followed. Quote from TFWiki:

"Unlike many others, Transformers from this continuity hold a wide variety of religious reliefs, and the true nature of Cybertronian life remains a mystery into the modern day. The most common deistic belief is in the pantheon known as the Guiding Hand, five aspects of the warrior god Primus, a being conceived in reaction to an unknown 'opposite'. The creation myth known as the "Primal Sacrament" describes how these five gods populated Cybertron before falling in a war amongst themselves, their last remains becoming Vector Sigma, the Matrix of Leadership, and the archetypal brain module and transformation cog. Belief in these gods is known as Primalism Meet the Crew, and Primalists would sometimes wear a 'tattoo' of the Matrix on one cheek as a symbol of their faith. The religious texts known as the "Primal Prophecies" and belief in the Underbase are also associated with Primalism"


As for the issue, I liked it. It was quite cool to see them off the clock, and I for one am happy to see them humanised a little. Humanisation is what it's about for Roberts, and he's big on exploring moral grey areas. I don't mind it detracting from them being killing machines. When in the field they're brutal, and I guess that's often fuelled by their roid rage, but it's their zeal that still makes them fearsome. They're fanatics and they feel completely justified, and that zeal remains with them off the battle field, which is fearsome in itself. I love the idea of smart, articulated villains who are completely in control and at peace with the things they do.

Roberts basically built them up to be fearsome, almost Phase Sixer, type enemies who are just mindless, killing machines and what he's done with this issue is give them a personality. Some may not have wanted that, but I'm glad that we're not just seeing more generic nutjob psycho killers. Also, I liked that it explained why they're all so over-powered. Again, it goes in hand with Roberts' deconstruction of their psychopathic identities that everyone assumed they had (and by everyone I mean readers, as well as characters in the fiction).

Otherwise, I thought the idea of Tarn being incredibly by-the-book and beauratric in his leadership was amusing. It's all about instilling a sense of discipline and organisation, and I do get what Roberts was going for there, even if it's done largely for comedic effect.

I wasn't surprised that Roberts didn't address Agent 113 whatsoever (unless you count the Skids theory). However, I was surprised that he showed Brainstorm contacting the DJD. I did think it was him, after all he's a Decepticon, but I still don't get why Brainstorm would get them involved.
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672828)
Posted by Dead Metal on April 8th, 2015 @ 12:41pm CDT
Holy crap, I totally forgot about Skids having the Matrix in Shadowplay! I went back and checked, it looked a bit different (missing the black) but it'S there an Optimus points it out.
Then I saw how Roller was in the the same task force, so I payed some more attention. You see, until Optimus points out that SKids has the Matrix tattoo in part 2, you only ever see Skids from the side, from the left side!
And then I noticed that there is one moment in which Skids makes such a face, at such an angle:
Image
There is no denying it now, Roller is Tarn, it also tells us that that's not Tarn remembering a traitor he's about to torture.
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672831)
Posted by ctrlFrequency on April 8th, 2015 @ 12:56pm CDT
I don't have a problem with humanization , I've said that from the beginning, it's the way it was introduced, and still, quite frankly, Nickel is still an overused plot device. I think there would be more interesting ways. (Also: Not crazy about romanticizing something that is meant to instill fear)

All of Tarn's talk about organics, there was plenty of opportunity to take a different route in 'humanizing' them. Even still using Nickel.

I know Roberts likes to humanize the characters. That's one thing I love about his writing. Just because they are giant robots from outer space doesn't mean they don't have qualities that we consider 'humanizing' (I mark it up to sentience, even if you aren't human, you can share some qualities, after all, animals can exhibit 'human like' qualities emotionally and even in their societal structures. I consider some things universal rather than human centric, so humanizing Transformers isn't hard to grasp)

Not everyone has the same sort of 'humanization' too, ya know. For instance, most people love a nice sunny day.
I don't. Hate it actually. I prefer cloudy, rainy days. I don't like romantic movies. I hate the color pink (I'm a freaking ray of sunshine, aren't I?). But stereotypically, because I'm a human female, I should like those things.

So that's my point. Why should we humanize the DJD by the stereotypical way that most writers do by showing a contrast? Why should we humanize any character that way?

My opinion is we don't, but that's just my opinion. We all know Roberts is capable of some very beautiful intricacies, I would have really loved to see some non traditional, complex, humanization.
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672832)
Posted by Dead Metal on April 8th, 2015 @ 1:02pm CDT
The DJD have been noted to be someone you can reason with though, remember when they picked p first Aid? Tarn had a deal with the Autobot hospital, that he would spare the hospital, its staff and its patients if they supplied him with fresh T-Cogs.

Here's a bit of a thing I did for the Skids flashback
Image
Re: IDW Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #39 Review (1672834)
Posted by ctrlFrequency on April 8th, 2015 @ 1:09pm CDT
Dead Metal wrote:The DJD have been noted to be someone you can reason with though, remember when they picked p first Aid? Tarn had a deal with the Autobot hospital, that he would spare the hospital, its staff and its patients if they supplied him with fresh T-Cogs.

Here's a bit of a thing I did for the Skids flashback
Image


So, just because you can reason with someone means they have to have 'normal' lives?
Crap. I gotta change a few aspects of myself :p

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