REVIEW: Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #8

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Decepticons have a much more complex social hierarchy and customs than the 1980s led us to believe. Not only do they have their own law-enforcement organizations, they’re also not all monolithic villains. Now a group of them are scared to death and stuck on a planet waiting to be interrogated/killed and all they can do is watch the clock and wait… or is it?

TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE #8
WRITER: JAMES ROBERTS
ARTIST: ALEX MILNE
LETTERER: SHAWN LEE
COLORIST: JOSH BURCHAM
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
COVER PRICE: $3.99

PREVIOUSLY IN MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE: Decepticon scavengers have made a couple of amazing discoveries on the planet Clemency: A K-Class Decepticon left over from a long-ago battle and Grimlock, the less-than-loquacious Dinobot leader. Now they prepare to face an onslaught.

ME GRIMLOCK, ME TWO-DIMENSIONAL CHARACTERIZATION

The scavengers are almost crippled with fear as they await the arrival of the Decepticons’ murderous version of internal affairs—the Decepticon Justice Division. The group all seem fairly convinced they’re going to die no matter what happens, so they resolve to fight for their lives once the DJD arrives and a comatose Grimlock is an integral part of their plan.

It’s Dinobot Month in Transformers and Grimlock is a welcome addition to any story. In the context of the story, Grimlock’s been missing for three years, but his return lacks the triumphant fanfare indicated by the cover and, frankly, the level of awesome he deserves. He shows of his battle prowess against the DJD, but his part could have been played by any sufficiently powerful Transformer. This card should have been kept in the deck a while longer.

The A-plot on planet Clemency was crying out for more space in which to tell its story and, as a consequence, the B-plot on the Lost Light came off as superfluous in a book that couldn’t afford not to have every panel count. I suppose that B-plot is in there because James Roberts didn’t feel that he could totally ignore the Lost Light, given that it’s essentially the focal point of this ongoing series.

My favorite part was Fulcrum’s big scene, where we learn exactly what a K-Class Decepticon is and the lengths he’s willing to go to keep safe his new friends. The idea of a K-Class makes me wonder if Cybertronians need to pay more attention to what is and isn’t a useful or convenient alternate mode.

AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES

Art-wise, this issue is too cramped and the book suffers form this claustrophobic storytelling. While Milne is admirably trying to give every “moment” its own panel, the result is a melange of pictures that don’t tell a clear story—there was enough art in this book for one-and-a-half or even two issues. At first I was convinced this writing was the issue’s major problem, but, after a second reading, I’m sure it’s the high panel count that makes things difficult to read.

Despite the overabundance, the art’s quality is unimpeachable. Milne’s panels range from the epic to the personal and each one isn’t drawn—it’s crafted. Both facially and in terms of body language, his characters are convincingly emotive—not an easy task when you’re drawing androids. It’s a gorgeous book, but it’s too much of a good thing.

BOTTOM LINE:  STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE?

I had a lot of trouble following the action in this issue; I mean, I think I know the gist of what was going on, but I can’t help but feel there were some details I missed out on either because someone was trying to do too much in a limited space. Granted, I didn’t read the first part of this arc, but storylines shouldn’t be so obtuse that a new reader is left wondering even after a thorough second reading and a graduate-level study of the recap blurb. There was a dramatis personae at the end of the book, but it would have been much more helpful had it been placed just after the recap. Three stars.

Rating: ★★★☆☆