Review: More Than Meets the Eye #21 (Spoilers after the break.)

TF_MTMTE_21_cvrBSo we finally reach the end of the storyline “Remain in Light”, as well as the end of what has been referred to as Season One of More than Meets the Eye. It’s time to tie up the dangling storylines and plot points that remain in a nice bow, so we can move on into the future, first into Dark Cybertron and then onward into Season Two. A bit after the last issue Roberts dropped terrifying teasing lines that urged us to say goodbye to some of the old crewmembers of the Lost Light and welcome newbies that would replace them. With the cliffhanger from last issue, that statement filled me with nothing but dread.

As the issue opens we are immediately thrown into the action when none other than Tailgate reveal a surprisingly heroic streak, as he jumps up on the fleeing Tyrest, a mere instant before he can actually enter the portal and “enlightenment”, telling the surprised Tyrest that he had not been affected by the immobilization suggestion, it was merely his cybercrosis that had caused him to collapse. And he also pokes his finger into Tyrest’s head hole.

It’s a really amazing scene, to see the naive Tailgate find this courage within him, probably fueled by the knowledge of his impending death from his condition; he thinks he has nothing to lose, but everything to gain from doing what he can to stop Tyrest. Though Tyrest keeps going on about how the Killswitch cannot be turned off, at least Tailgate manages to turn off the mental suggestion that keeps everyone floored.

Tailgate 1 – Tyrest 0.

Tyrest holds Tailgate hostage, referring to him as the “ship’s mascot” and though Tailgate tells everyone it would be okay to shoot through him to get to Tyrest, that doesn’t need to happen. Roberts is a master of making it seem like someone is dead when he is not and the first instance when this is used this issue is when none other than Minimus Ambus shows up to blow a nice hole through Tyrest’s midsection, stopping him and saving Tailgate. Did I mention that Ambus is now really tiny? Like those Russian Babushka dolls it turns out that the Ambus that was beheaded was another shell, like the Magnus armor. I must applaud Roberts for that unexpected twist.

The others then scramble to see what can be done about the Killswitch, as Ratchet huddles over Brainstorm who is revealed to also be constructed cold and slowly dying. Ratchet can even give us an exact amount of time that the sufferers have left to live.  Though for a moment that is pushed aside, because now that Tailgate has openly informed every one of his own critical condition, Swerve feels he must ask him why he kept this a secret for so long…as well as try to console him in a way that only he could, which involves bringing up his bar tab.

Pharma manages to escape, even though Skids is keeping guard, and attempts to enter the still open portal. Skids, Rung and also First-Aid set off in pursuit and find Pharma by the very edge of the portal, huddled up in disappointment. It’s only a forcefields he says, that keeps him from entering this hallowed place on the other side. But though both Pharma and Rung are kept out, Skids has no problem passing through it. “You must be at peace with yourself”, Rung says as a smiling Skids disappears, which makes you wonder what kind of baggage the robot therapist is carrying around.

Pharma taunts First-Aid and something about the crazed medic’s behavior, his smiling and complete lack of any kind of remorse for all the horrible things he has done thus far makes the pacifist medic snap. And I do believe that is the gun, constructed from poor Ambulon’s remains that he ends up blowing Pharma’s head off with. Fortunately Rung is right there to console the distraught First-Aid, assuring him that this one act of violence was not really his fault. (Say it with me people: Awww…)

Meanwhile, on the outside Cyclonus fights Star Saber and really holds his own for a while, even stabbing his opponent in the optic with his one remaining horn, though Star Saber frustratingly enough teleports away, just as it seems his defeat is certain.

With Tyrest and his crazed lackey taken care of Perceptor had time to come up with a plan for how to save those dying from the Killswitch. He mentions how everyone constructed cold has a special code in their spark, something he now realizes comes from the Matrix and it is by scrambling this code that the Killswitch it doing its cruel work. Now, the sensible thing to do is to use what is left of the Matrix within Rodimus and re-transmit that code to all those afflicted. Makes sense right?

Unfortunately this will tear the Matrix apart, thus also destroying the map they’ve been following thus far. Oh, and it might possibly also be dangerous to Rodimus. Perhaps it’s this suggestion that prompts Rodimus to have a private talk with Ambus.

The much smaller robot informs him that he actually did lure them here, that he had felt displeased with Rodimus’ leadership and wanted him to be punished in some way. Though he had only envisioned a slap on the wrist and a light scare, he had not expected to find Tyrest so crazed and delusional. Rodimus tells him that really, he’s done a lot worse than what Ambus is accusing him of (“Magnus, I’m going to call you Magnus”), like…he actually knew that Overlord was on the ship all along. Prowl more or less bullied Rodimus into allowing the dangerous Phase Sixer to secretly come along for the ride. For those who have been upset with the attitude of Rodimus in MTMTE this is a nice thing to see, especially when Rodimus tells Perceptor, as he is turning on the machine that will hopefully save everyone, that he doesn’t want to die. He wants to live so he can atone for all that he has done.

As Skids wanders around a strange landscape where a glowing orb speaks to him in symbols, the machine does its work and it is with a huge amount of relief that Ratchet announces that it’s working. Though it is something I think we all sensed, now we get the confirmation that the Killswitch won’t have the horrible effect that it appeared to have at the end of last issue. All across the universe we see the affected robots return to consciousness, dazed and confused, probably more than a little shaky, but all of them alive. Though I must stress we don’t see all of them, as that would probably take up too much room, so unfortunately we don’t get to see Soundwave’s reaction to Ravage’s survival. But we do get to see Kaon’s pet Sparkeater huddle around him with concern in its little eyes.

We’re not quite out of the woods yet though, as Tyrest has managed to give the Legislators one more order, to seek him out and protect his person with all that they can do. On the upside, this gives us a nice scene with Whirl and Cyclonus, with Whirl appearing the most relieved that the fighting is now over on their side, he certainly looks like he could use a break. Whirl brings up the pact he offered, that they forget their little rivalry if they survive the battle and for a few panels we are led to believe that Cyclonus responds to this by throwing Whirl into the smelting pit below them. Bait and switch number two by Roberts as this turns out to be just a stray thought in Cyclonus head; instead the one-horned stoic robot just transforms and leaves Whirl behind puzzled about his response.

For the others, the fight with the Legislators isn’t going well, at least not until Tailgate performs another act of heroism, where his studies of the Tyrest Accord actually pays off. Using the computer he enters a new order for the Legislators to follow: Section 500, including an important semi-colon, which repealing the law. As the Legislators just follow the law, this renders them immobile and inert.

And then we only have one other, big dangling plot thread to deal with: Tailgate’s slow dying. After his last act he collapses completely and we then fast forward to the next day, where Cyclonus is holding a vigil for Tailgate, with barely any senses left to him, none except hearing it seems. “You stopped singing”, he tells Cyclonus and the following scene where he asks his companion to end his suffering before it becomes too much is heart rendering to the extreme. The conversation also reveals that Tailgate was only two weeks old when he fell into the pit he was pulled out of at the beginning of the series, in Transformers terms that makes him very young, which explains why his holoform was that of an infant.

The last few pages are a rollercoaster of ups and crashing downs. We find that they did discover a cure for Tailgate’s condition, but that it is too far advanced in him. Cyclonus rushes back and forth, after the upsetting news from Ratchet he returns to the med bay and appears to be doing exactly what Tailgate asked him to. He stabs him violently in the chest with the Great Sword he acquired on Luna 1.

I must admit I almost stopped reading there, merely letting my brain take in how Ambus is now back in the Magnus armor, officially back on the ship, glanced at Brainstorm tinkering with some glowing orb in his workshop -is that the point one percenter spark they found on the moon? – and then as they leave the “Miracle Moon” behind, we spot a strange symbol on it as the Lost Light moves away from it.

And then the last twist from Roberts. It turns out that what Cyclonus did, as suggested by none other than Whirl, was to transfer that incredible energy from his own spark, restarted by Vector Sigma, using his magical sword as a conduit into Tailgate, effectively jumpstarting it back online (“Instantaneous Spark Transfusion”). I also like to think of the two as quite literally sparkbonded right now, a term tossed around on Tumblr for Transformers who are very close. Cyclonus is given an official welcome to the ship by Magnus and the Neutral, now without the face scars and sporting both horns once more, actually appears pleased with that.

It is an incredibly satisfying ending and I applaud Roberts for it. The following text story fills in a few extra gaps and actually reveals some interesting information, which feels like set-up for future storylines. If you normally skip over the text stories, I strongly suggest you read this one. For one, this is where two of the goodbyes happen, as Fort Max is made the new Enforcer of the Tyrest Accord and Red Alert joins him on Luna 1.

Thank you for the wild ride Roberts, even if you made me cry a few times. I look forward to your contributions to Dark Cybertron and the beginning of Season Two!