If you caught our exclusive preview of Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #10, hopefully you were on board to check into this series, because now that issue is on the stands, and it's really damn good, thanks in large part to the legend of Orion Pax, the bot who would become Optimus Prime (and then, millions of years later, become Orion Pax again).
As started in the last issue, Autobot archivist Rewind has gotten a bunch of guys aboard the Lost Light to tell a very interesting story about life on pre-war Cybertron in an effort to get the brain-damaged Rung to subconsciously listen and kickstart some synaptic activity. Being a complete history nerd full of information, Rewind is orchestrating the storytelling from the major participants they have on hand – Chromedome, Ratchet, Whirl – as well as some guys who just want to hear a good story, like the jolly Swerve and the time-displaced Tailgate.
What began as a sort of riff on police procedurals, following I.M.D. (Iaconian Mechaforensic Division) officers Chromedome and Prowl (a much more naive rookie as opposed to the grizzled take-no-prisoners hardass he's become after four million years of war) investigating the murder of Senator Sherma, unfolds in this new issue into an elaborate conspiracy detailing the depths of the corruption of Cybertron's ruling government and lending a great deal of credence to the ideals behind the rise of the Decepticon movement. They weren't always evil conquerors – they were once just the very frustrated oppressed.
Writer James Roberts is an absolute genius when it comes to building the world and culture of Cybertron, constantly giving incredible amounts of detail and hinting at even more by throwing out terms like "Proteus' promise" and "Rossum's Rule of Thirds" that serve to tease us with future developments. And, to illustrate how fantastically well-versed Roberts is, chances are Rossum's Rule of Thirds has something to do with an obscure 1920 Czech play called Rossum's Universal Robots. This guy knows his stuff. You better reco'nize. And, I'll say it again, artist Alex Milne was born to draw Transformers.
The disparate storylines begin to intersect in MTMTE #10, as Chromedome & Prowl meet up with superstar police captain Orion Pax to continue the investigation into these ever-growing murders, and Pax eventually finds out (from the unstable Whirl, the guy he imprisoned for illegally brutalizing Megatron in his cell and thus possibly causing the social crusader he was to turn into the violent warlord he became) that Pax's one buddy in the Senate – the one guy he can trust – is going to be targeted for murder, and that there's going to be a bombing they have to find and defuse. Eventually, their work leads them to what's called a Relinquishment Clinic (where 'bots can have their sparks transplanted into other bodies, so they can live life as a jet instead of a tape deck for a while), and they find that the already-shady business is actually a cover for a much more horrifying operation, a form of mental invasion known as "shadowplay."
It seems the Senate, which had been outwardly promising official political party status to the Decepticons if they could actually register 10,000 members, is actually using that registry to capture and subvert them one-by-one through moderated lobotomization. Not only that, but that bombing? It's planned at the funeral for a fallen leader Nominus Prime, which is going to be blamed on the 'Cons as well. If this all comes to pass, it means the "Evil" Decepticons never actually started the war that engulfed and destroyed Cybertron for millions of years – they will have been attacked brutally by a vast conspiracy, and they would have been entirely in the right to try and overthrow this government.
Nothing is cut and dried in war. Good isn't always good, and evil isn't always evil. Mitigating the circumstances of the rise of the Decepticons is just fascinating, brilliant and compelling stuff from Roberts – but he also always makes time for funny, natural conversational dialogue and kickass things like Orion Pax ending a threat by coming out of nowhere to jump on a jet and punch the mothersucker to the ground. Optimus Prime is so much cooler when he's not leading anything and he's just another cop on the beat.
There is so much wonderful density in plot and character to digest with each new issue of Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye, and #10 is no exception. Roberts and Milne have both found their calling, and they must never stop telling amazing stories in this world. THEY MUSTN'T. Because this continues to be the book that makes me the happiest every month.