IDW Publishing: "More than Meets the Eye" #8 Comic Book Review
Title: Scavengers (Part 2) Who's afraid of the DJD?
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: August 31, 2012
Written by: James Roberts
Art by: Alex Milne
Colors by: Josh Burcham
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Editor: John Barber
On the world of Clemency, Krok and the Decepticon scavenger team he leads are facing the very real problem of the Decepticon Justice Division coming to their world in a matter of minutes! While Flywheels prays and Misfire has a minor freak out, Krok decides to take a stand and fight. The others agree, and using the Stasis Chamber with Grimlock in it, he thinks they may stand a chance!
Meanwhile on The Lost Light, Chromedome and Skids talk about Skids' memory loss, and how he is a bit of a contradiction: a theoretician who joined the dipolomatic corps while also being a practicing master of Metallikato. Skids wants to know what it is he has forgotten, and Chromedome agrees to help him.
Back on Clemency, the Decepticons have laid out Grimlock in the Stasis Pod out in the open. As the DJD arrives, they tell him their target is disabled and waiting for them. Fulcrum is out of sorts however and asks to explain something, but Krok tells him not to worry. Grimlock has been pumped full of stimulants that Krok will activate at the touch of a button. Once he does so, Grimlock will ba jarred awake and hopefully take down the DJD for them. When they arrive, Krok springs the trap and at first Grimlock manages to put up a good fight! But soon, the Dinobot is overwhelmed. Soemthing is clearly wrong, but before the scavengers can escape the DJD finds them!
On The Lost Light, Chromedome is examining Skids' memories only to find the last twelve months have been completely eradicated! He digs deeper but then stops, explaining to Skids that the recent memory loss gave Skids the chance to bury the older memories - and for his sake (and the sake of others) they should remain buried. Skids accepts this, but asks about one thing: a melody he keeps hearing. Chromedome heard it too while probing his memories and explains it is the Empyrean Suite and says he is better off not knowing what it is.
On Clemency, the DJD is quickly defeating the Decepticons one by one. Flywheels is torn apart, Krok is heavily damaged but soon Crankcase finds a battle suit (he dubs the "Mighty Mega Puncher") that keeps the DJD distracted long enough for Fulcrum to finally make an attempt at sacrificing himself for his friends. He dives at them, transforming into a missile. The DJD runs, but when he hits the ground, nothing happens! The DJD soon get a signal that they've found a bigger target: Overlord! Believing Fulcrum is dead, they leave, telling everyone they have been added to their list.
The Decepticons slowly gather after the DJD leaves. They find Fulcrum alive (if not a bit torn up) and he explains that during the war he was accused of cowardice and turned into a K-Squad member, Transformers who sacrifice themselves as living weapons. When he wonders why he's not dead, Misfire explains that Spinister removed his payload when they first found him, a task requiring considerable skill. Spinister may be crazy, but he's good at what he does!
Soon, the Decepticons decide to leave and head out on their ship, the W.A.P., taking Grimlock with them. Something has happened to Grimlock and his mental capacity has been greatly reduced. His prior battling was all pure instinct. The way Misfire figures it, if the Autobots are in control, they are granted clemency for returning one of their own. If they're not, then they have one of the most dangerous Autobots as a prisoner. Either way, they win! But first, they decide to scavenge what they can from Flywheels' fallen body.
Eighteen months later, the legendary "Necrobot" walks up to the body of Flywheels and adds his name to his data pad - along with those of Hound, Chromedome, Dipstick, Drift and Ultra Magnus!
After the rather frantic pace of the last issue, I was very happy that this one brought us back to a more focused bit of storytelling. The main story here focuses on the Decepticon scavengers and the impending arrival of the DJD. For this I was grateful as I really like this motley crew and I've always been a sucker for using lesser known Transformers characters, tossing them together and seeing what happens. This was one of the most appealing aspects of the original Marvel Generation One comic book, which often gave characters center stage who did not get the same treatment in other media. What impressed me however was the way in which the scavengers were not just played for laughs. They had an impending crisis, they formulated the best plan they could and even once that plan fell apart, they improvised and did their best to get out of a bad situation (with an unconventional resolution). The end result was us seeing a team of misfits working together well, and we don't often think of Decepticons in those terms since they are the bad guys and are often set up to fail in stories (whether it's a direct military defeat, in fighting, betrayal, cowardice etc.). This was a refreshing change of pace. Fulcrum's "reveal" at the end actually gives us more of an insight into Megatron's madness. As see in the recent "Autocracy" series, he crossed the line from a revolutionary to a sadist ages ago, and turning your own troops into falling bombs as punishment shows the depths of his depravity.
The DJD is a fascinating stand in for Megatron (who at this time is still missing after the events of "Chaos"). They have a single mindedness and cruelty that seems to embody Megatron's beliefs (a role I once thought was reserved for the Phase Sixers). They don't care about what they do or who gets in the way. Their ultimate purpose is to serve Megatron's ideals, and it's kind of crazy that guys like them are stomping about, but also a bit sad because to them, it doesn't matter that the war is over. I'm almost curious what they would say if Megatron himself told them to stop. Would they accuse him of betraying his own ideals and try to take him down in an attempt to continue their brutal mission? They're really fargone and to me, it seems they are using Megatron's "missions" as an excuse for their cruelty in the same way Megatron used "freeing" Cybertron as an excuse for his own mad ambitions and craving for power. Part of me also wonders if their impending clash with Overlord on The Lost Light may be responsible for some of the names we saw on the Necrobots' list!
The brief interlude on The Lost Light is a bit wordy in my opinion. The huge spread dedicated to Skids and Chromedome could've been trimmed down a bit, but the point is an interesting one. We get some insight into Skids' confusion with his own incongruous nature (warrior plus theoretician plus diplomat?) and a desire to figure out just what happened to him. However, I found his quick acceptance of Chromedome not telling him what he saw very curious. I expected a much more dramatic reaction to someone denying him memories that were lost, but perhaps all those years spent studying theory and diplomacy have cooled him down a bit? or is he just stewing? It wasn't very clear but I felt the scene ended a bit too abruptly given all the build up. Still, I'm curious just what it was Chromedome saw (and will we find out before he's on the Necrobot list?).
The artwork in this issue was definitely up to Milen's usual excellent standards. With our characters getting (and looking) more and more beaten down, he manages to make them look damaged without being over the top or going too nuts with damage marks to the point where you don't recognize the character. What I found interesting however was the rather dark, and washed out coloring for most of the issue. A lot of the scenes on Clemency look very faded and dull, which I register as being on purpose. Sure it seems like it was taking place either late in the afternoon or the evening, but The Lost Light room wasn't particularly bright either. Perhaps it's a visual metaphor for the impending doom the Decepticons faced, because when we shift to The Lost Light the colors suddenly jump to being bright and vibrant again. It's a very interesting shift in tone and it helped divide the two stories, but I found it a bit jarring at first.
I was much happier with this issue than the last, and it really showed that Decepticons can be brave and think on their feet. There's a reason beyond Megatron's leadership that they reigned during the war and it's cool to see examples of that, even with a band of misfit characters. I'm a bit less interested in Skids' story, but I am excited that the DJD story and The Lost Light now have a connection and that story is one I'm really looking forward to!