MTMTE #39 Recap: The Permanent Revolution

TF_MTMTE_39_cvrRITarn discovers that Megatron has renounced the Decepticon cause! But will Decepticon rebel and DJD target Deathsaurus be willing to work with him to build a brave new future? How many Japanese G1 characters can you spot aboard his Warworld? And just how sad am I that Hellbat was wasted on Drift: Empire of Stone? (Spoilers: Very.)

It’s All Decepticon Justice Division All The Time in More Than Meets the Eye #39: The Permanent Revolution!

Alas, poor Blip. At least he looked really cool in this appearance. Though it makes me wonder if the Blip who showed up in previous issues was a different Blip entirely – a Tall Tankor/Fat Tankor thing. After all, all the good names are taken. The idea that his “cult of one” – something that was essentially just a form of self-expression – was enough of a threat to get the attention of the DJD made me uncomfortable in a good way, the way that makes you think about what can happen with a government out of control.

But let’s talk about the little blue gorilla in the room: Nickel, the tiny angry medic who is the latest addition to the DJD. The question of just what her story is adds a nice little bit of tension to the issue, especially as she seems to have been strategically placed right at the last two pages of the preview. As we learn later, she’s yet another female-identifying Cybertronian from one of the lost colonies. Combined with the female Camiens, we’re starting to get the impression that the male-only Cybertronians are the aberration, which is a nice change from the previous impression that female is the aberration, one that women have to deal with way too often.

I love that we have a character here who doesn’t take part in the violence of what the DJD is doing, but who literally supports them – serves in a support role for them – because she believes in what they’e doing. And she believes in it because she’s seen shit. She’s not ~crazy~, she’s not sadistic, at least not in any obvious way, she’s chosen a side based on her own experience. And I’m sure she was given a very one-sided view of the Autobot/Decepticon conflict, but was it any more one-sided than the one Rewind gave Tailgate all those issues ago? Maybe it’s because I have socialist leanings myself, but I’ve also been an Autobot nerd, and I really appreciate Roberts’ portrayal of the Decepticon cause as one that has attracted a lot of psychopaths and sadists but was originally a legitimate socialist political movement.

But Nickel is here for the other side of the Decepticon cause, the violent Cybertronian supremacy, and once Tarn has a nice long think about Megatron’s defection and what it means for his own beliefs, that’s the side he decides Cybertron still needs.

I don’t know if it’s what Roberts was going for, but i couldn’t help but think of it a little like America’s relationship to the Middle East. We have people who are fully convinced that they “hate our freedom”, but that’s bullshit. They hate that we’ve been fucking around in their region for decades with no regard for what’s best for anybody but ourselves. The idea that organic races are inherently anti-machine and that the Black Block Consortia’s attack on Nickel’s colony had nothing to do with Megatron’s earlier genocidal schemes is the same kind of oversimplified, self-fulfilling bullshit. But it’s bullshit that’s so easy to get behind, which is why it works so well in real life and why it works so well here. See? They’re proving we were right!

(Not to say Megatron was necessarily wrong, either. As we saw in the Functionist Universe, where Megatron never came to power, there was still hostility between the Cybertronians and the organic races. Such things are messy and complicated, and the only wrong is in pretending they aren’t.)

In the interest of full disclosure I must admit that I have a huge soft spot for Victory. As a baby fan back in the mid 90s, when my fandom involvement was mostly through print fanzines and Japanese Transformers cartoons were apocryphal to those of us who grew up in the US, a friend sent me a twelfth-generation VHS tape of four English-dubbed episodes of it (along with a handful of original-audio Headmasters episodes and one brilliantly dubbed Headmasters episode). Leozack was on my must-buy list for my first BotCon in 1995. (He set me back $35, sealed.) My nostalgia for Victory is strong.

So seeing not only Deathsaurus but his whole posse made me pretty happy. I know with a crew that large we aren’t likely to get much individual characterization going forward, but I hope at the very least Leozack gets some time to shine – or at least some lines.

There was a lot of fuss over fan-turned-pro artist Hayato Sakamoto’s involvement in this issue, considering his previous professional work was unnecessary panty shots of Flamewar for a BotCon comic. But editor John Barber knows what he’s doing here (and has pretty much the opposite of the reputation of Extreme Problematic-ness of much of the current Fun Pub creative staff) and Sakamoto instead introduced the least sexualized female Transformer in IDW. His art on this issue is distinct without being such a huge departure from Alex Milne’s style that it’s distracting. Some in the fandom dislike him for his history of drawing lolicon as a fan artist, but whether right or wrong, Japanese culture is more accepting of that sort of art. (Also I am a professionally published gay erotica author so I am so not going to criticize what others like when no actual people were hurt to produce it.) So I wouldn’t mind seeing him on another issue, certainly sooner than James Raiz, whose style in #22 just didn’t fit the book.

Also Tarn is totally Roller.