The Best Comic You Aren't Reading
I usually go back and forth about the best comics I’m reading that other people aren’t. It’s usually Robert Kirkman’s Invincible or James Roberts’ Transformers with an occasional dash of Al Ewing’s Ultimates.
Invincible gives you a personal, down to earth, occasionally graphic take on the life of a super hero and it’s great. But Transformers: Lost Light (previously More Than Meets The Eye) is a sci-fi epic form beginning to end. I know some people associate Transformers with Bay films, a children’s cartoon, or they just can’t relate to giant robots. People probably feel like they know everything there is to know:
A war? Check
Optimus Prime? Check
Well, that could not be further from the truth. Sure, Prime and Megatron are there but the war is over, nothing is black and white and the expanded world is so rich it is amazing. James Roberts has helped craft a history with complex politics, deep emotional connection, and thought provoking ideology. I believe in an interview Roberts once described Transformers: MTMTE/Lost Light as a blend of the Star Trek, Dr. Who, and Community (TV Show). I would say that’s pretty accurate. Some of these elements might be a little bit much for some readers, for example, some don’t like the humor. Others feel like he writes himself into a corner (I personally feel that’s the least valid criticism) and some are just stuck in 1984 and they don’t want anything more than a war between good and evil. But Transformers like everything else needs to branch out and spread its wings a bit, and while the movies and the cartoons are still very much for kids this book is for the fan of good stories.
Slight spoilers from the most recent issue below if you haven’t been following.
One of the most brilliant and well-constructed storylines is what Roberts has done with Megatron. Megatron is now an Autobot. It seemed jarring at first but Roberts really does give you sense of the damage Megatron has done throughout the universe. He’s responsible for the death of thousands of Transformers, billions of alien lives, and has left hundreds of worlds desolate. His goal was peace, enforcing technoism, and genocide on a universal scale. Transformers never lets Megatron or you forget that fact as Megatron is struggling to make amends for his numerous atrocities. We’ve seen the bad turn good before but rarely does it have the weight that it does in TF. It’s also a bit different as Megatron starts as a well intentioned and non-violent political prisoner. He eventually loses himself in a revolution turned hunt for power. His journey to rediscover or just discover which one is really him has been an entertaining thing to watch unfold.
Of course, there are even more consequences as Autobots and Decepticons alike hate him and want his head. Autobots for what he’s done, and Decepticons for renouncing and essentially making the sacrifice of their comrades meaningless. Cybertronians have spent 4 million years hating Megatron for what he did to their world and others, but here’s more magic: through time travel some quirky but logical story telling…we eventually get to see an alternate universe where Megatron doesn’t exist. What happens? Well It turns out that corrupt Functionist government that Megatron overthrew eventually decides to the same Megatron did just for different reasons. Unlike Megatron who believed in his message and lost his way, the Funtionist are like a lot of zealots or terrorist use religion as a weapon to gain power. So here’s someone full of regrets and then he and his autobot companions get to see that what happened was inevitable and in some ways Megatron was necessary. Roberts has made Megatron the single most important character in the Transformers mythos. That’s right, Optimus Prime and countless other Cybertronians owe their life to the terrible tyrant.
That’s just one of many threads in a complex but enjoyable web of plots that make for an excellent world. I could be here all day going into different story elements but it’s hard enough to just focus on one as is it is. This doesn’t mean I have no issues with some things, there might be an overabundance on romantic relationships for my liking, but that’s a preference and doesn’t have any real bearing on the story. But the interaction and pairing of certain characters such as Rodimus and Magnus or Megatron and Rodimus or Cyclonus and Whirl just makes everything more entertaining. Overall, this a good run with strong, but exaggerated characters that come to life in their humanity but also remind you constantly that they aren’t human and their world is different. The world building has both expanded and brought into existence notions and concepts that have never existed in Transformers before.
Transfomers: Lost Light, formerly TF: MTMTE has old characters, new characters, action, smart science, depth, humor, dark moments, touching moments, and pretty much everything one comic book lover could get from a book. One may feel that you MIGHT feel that he relies too much on one or the other. But overall it’s one of the best things you aren’t reading. It's a great Transformers book, it's a better comic book.
If you still don’t want to give it a shot…..