by James Roberts, John Barber (Writers), Alex Milne, Brendan Cahill, Livio Ramondelli, Brian Shearer (Artists), Josh Perez (Colorist)
The Story: It’s the time for celebration on Cybertron, as the crew of the Lost Light returns in triumph. However, not everyone is up for good times, as debts, incriminating evidences and general hatred don’t make for a nice ambiance for everyone.
The Review: This is probably the nicest of issues in the whole Dark Cybertron storyline. While the crossover wasn’t bad by any means, the rather odd pacing and the constant jumping around did not make for the most satisfying reading experiences that both MtMtE and RiD can be sometimes. Good ideas were thrown around as well as some impressive character moments, yet those were amidst some huge events that weren’t the most fantastic or even that good to begin with. While not a mess, the Transformers certainly had some better comics in the past.
What makes this issue a different beast, though, is the fact that it celebrates the very fact that the cast of both ongoing titles are finally brought back together, alongside other characters that weren’t always around. With both John Barber and James Roberts using this to the book’s advantage, many confrontations and nicer moments that were long time due are shown, such as Ultra Magnus arguing against Prowl due to the Overlod incident, Swerve finally meeting Blur and other scenes are things that fans of the franchise should find satisfying in many ways.
Using the very continuity they established as well as past one, the exchanges between most characters feel satisfying, but also character-defining, with Prowl being on the defensive, Ultra Magnus striving to let go of his Tyrest Accord connection, Soundwave’s devotion to Megatron and many other seen in plenty of nice interactions. Some are actually amazing, with both writers showing a depth to Megatron that makes his imminent inclusion in MtMtE an anticipated affair, inserting a code of honor, a new depth and simply some relatable qualities to what was essentially known before as a tyrant, a token evil character.
With many of these scenes ranging from funny, dramatic to downright surprising, both writers let their characters shine, presenting something that hasn’t been the norm of the franchise for a long time. Showing Autobots and Decepticons together, finally sharing energon in a bar and having an actual good time, this issue indicates something that has been the new status quo for a good time, yet was never shown in a positive light like in this issue. It’s a relatively new experience for the franchise, which is frankly fun to see after a rather huge story built around a conflict going for many millennia.
Where the issue fumbles a bit, though, is in its general switch between scenes once more, with Starscream, Shockwave and Optimus Prime receiving their own panel time as well. While their scene do tend to make some sort of progress, they cut a bit the more fluid and more fun filled moments of the issue. Reminding the readers of their existence thanks to either some heavy exposition or the seriousness of their very situations, there is an odd story flow with these scenes being cut and divided in a very strange way in the issue. In one moment, the issue is funny, then it’s dead serious and more ominous, only to return to a more comedic and light-hearted approach. While the writers may try to create a certain sense of contrast with these scenes, the book jumps around a bit too much for this attempt to be as effective as it could be, leading to a more confused experience than what was most probably originally intended.
Still, those more serious moments aren’t all that bad, more than ill-placed in the context and tone of the issue. The explanation of what Shockwave is trying to do, the urgency of what Optimus and the others are living and the final page makes for scenes that aren’t horrible at all. They clash a bit with the rest, but they do serve their purpose for the plot to move on in a general direction.
Where the book is a bit mixed, yet rife with some very good moments is the art. With an approach not dissimilar to the plot in terms of division of quality, the scenes are divided with Alex Milne, Brendan Cahill and Livio Ramondelli each handling a particular corner of the book. Milne, the regular on MtMtE, is the one handling the very best scenes of the book, with him showing a more jovial, yet also particularly large cast. With him handling the more personal interactions and the scenes with more characters, Milne shows a really great handle on more packed panels. Putting quite a good number of details without removing the focus on what’s important, the artist is superb in his handling of multiple kind of scopes, from smaller to rather huge moments.
Brendan Cahill, on the other hand, tries to mimic Milne in order to make the issue more cohesive in terms of look, and succeed for the most part. While some of his pages aren’t as apt at handling faces or presenting quite as many elements in so flawlessly a fashion, but the artist does seem to present a vision that is more in line with Milne than the other artist in this issue.
Livio Ramondelli, on the other hand, is as distinct as ever. Handling the dead universe part with Optimus and the others, is very good, yet does not mix very well with the rest of the issue. It is a good kind of clash, though, with these moments having a plot-driven reason to be different, with the characters and the atmosphere doing their job very well. With him handling his very own colorization, his brush-like work and his special attention to darkness and light dancing together in every panels makes for some specially striking moments, letting the backgrounds be as effective as the characters when it comes to the overall tone.
Josh Perez, all the while, makes a potent display here, yet falls a bit short of greatness at times. With so many characters and so many designs and patterns to play with, the colorist manages more than well enough to differentiate the various elements, yet he is more handicapped by the script than he is actually bringing anything to it. While his use of brightness and brighter colors to present alien technology and his use of tones of grey to act as a background and uniting colors for everything to be more identifiable on the page are good ideas, it just doesn’t make the color that much of a striking area of the book. It is decent, yet does not pop on the page as much as some of the work from other members of the creative team.
The Conclusion: With a very decent artistic direction and some impressive character moments, the issue is nonetheless brought a bit down by a weird story flow and some moments decidedly less interesting than the others. It’s a solid effort, but a flawed one that manage to bring a lot of entertainment despite some of the faults here.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière