Over one year ago I attended a writing class and one of the lecturers brought up the term “story hook”; something, a mystery or an unanswered question that keeps us readers invested in the story and compels us to keep turning the page to see what happens next. With Roberts’ choice to have storylines from both six months ago as well as the past, he has created a pretty good “hook”. We see that Megatron has somehow ended up as the new captain on the Lost Light without any clear answer to how this came to be, so we eagerly follow the proceedings in the past, during the trial to see how on Earth Megatron will dodge the death penalty that everyone seems to clamor for and end up leading the expedition that Rodimus himself started…
And by the way, where is Rodimus? In the present day we see no sign of him whatsoever. You almost expect him to be hanging around Magnus or at least skulking in the background, since Megatron has taken over his position on the ship, but nothing. In the past we see Rodimus follow the trial, when a robot named Atomizer presents him with a list of those on the Lost Light who voted that Rodimus step down as captain. It certainly seems like they aren’t in a majority position and when Atomizer suggests Rodimus peek at the list and perhaps use some underhanded tactics to make those Transformers change their mind Rodimus turns him away. So what did happen to him? It’s another hook that compels me to read on, flicking through the pages looking for answers.
Though…For the most part I enjoy the slow return to the normal mix of heartwarming and funny scenes that I have come to expect from this comic. On the very first page we are treated to the reunion of Tailgate, just released from medbay, and Cyclonus and it is beyond adorable. Cyclonus finds himself jumped from behind as Tailgate unleashes his new signature move, the “Finger-In-The-Head”. The stoic Cyclonus, after getting Tailgate up to speed on what happened while he was incapacitated, even admits in the only way can be expected that he missed him “very much”. It’s enough to make my heart melt.
It might have firmed up a bit with the scenes where Chromedome approaches Nightbeat about the mysterious edit to the farewell message from Rewind and is questioned pretty much right off the bat about the validity of what Chromedome heard. Nightbeat doesn’t quite trust him to have a clear mind about these sorts of things he says, he’s very emotional right now. And then comes the first moment when I yell some expletive out loud for my neighbors to hear. We see a very banged up Rewind standing behind the pair, if only for a fraction of a second. Another hook sinks itself into me. What is this thing? A data-ghost like Nightbeat suggests, brought on by Chromedome’s strong association with the little guy? It’s a little heartbreaking to see Chromedome express that he hoped he had just wished Rewind back to life.
Before this scene we are thrown back in the past, hanging onto another hook. Suddenly Starscream takes the stand in a…sort of defense of Megatron, though he makes it known he does not see it as a defense. Because what he does it pretty much the non-gendered-robot version of emasculating his former leader, by asserting that Megatron was a failure, unable to control the mob of Transformers he inspired into a revolution that quickly turned to war (a “mob” is what Starscream calls it) and that he was quickly sidelined and other, stronger Transformers stepped in to do what they wished to Cybertron. Afterwards Rattrap questions Starscream about his motives and gets the response that he merely wanted to put up a nice show for his followers and didn’t expect anyone to truly listen to his speech, that the words was aimed at one and only one person: Megatron himself. As I am pulled along by that hook I am treated to Megatron changing his mind and now pleads innocent to all charges. Well, well….
But that still leaves Rodimus…In the past he is last seen pouring over a list in the dark, with a morose expression on his face, while in the past we see a drunken Trailcutter in search of Megatron’s special fuel stash in medbay, goaded on by mostly Riptide, but also Skids and Nautica, who follow him via headcam. And through Trailcutter’s crazy mischief we get to hear Megatron, Ratchet and Magnus discuss the coffin and what to do with it, when is it safe to open? Trailcutter makes a mess and interrupts the discussion and hides in his large safety bubble, forcing the others to wait it out. And look, that coffin was tipped over in the process.
I feel myself growing more anxious after the bubble goes away and Megatron (after fixing Trailcutter’s faulty chip with one karate chop to the head and assigns him the position of “Director of Security”) declares that they might as well open the coffin, since it has been leaking some fluid onto the floor while Trailcutter had his bubble out. The lid comes off and reveals the dead body of Rodimus. I stare slackjawed and probably emitted some more strange sounds. The hook has sunk itself deep into my flesh now, even blotting out some previous silly-cute scenes from Swerve’s with the Enforcer-turned-bouncer that can only repeat his name/the number “Ten”.
How did Rodimus go from brooding during the trial to dead in a coffin in space? What happened to him?
There are only two things I am certain of now: That in time Roberts will provide the answers I crave and that I will wait with baited breath for the next issue. So I can flip through it, pulled along by heartwarming and humorous scenes and that deep desire to find out what happens next.