ICYMI: All The Robots Got Super Emotional in ‘Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye’ #53
It used to be a truth universally acknowledged that any time a robot gets emotional, comics are about to get real bad. But bucking the trend and breaking the mold are the Transformers, and specifically the Transformers of the Lost Light in More Than Meets The Eye #53, by James Roberts, Alex Milne, and Hayato Sakamoto. Those robots are in a real devil of a pickle now, and they're making their peace with it the best they can.
Most of the story thus far was covered by my colleague Chris Sims here, but the more recent developments are that the main characters are stranded on the planet of the Necrobot, the robotic keeper of all the Transformers’ deaths. If the Necrobot wasn’t dead himself he’d be ready to add a lot more names to his list, because the Decepticon Justice Division have shown up, and they have a list of their own they’d like to cross a few names off of.
Facing down the DJD --- “certain death with fewer letters” --- the crew is doing its best to solve a final mystery or two, and to say --- or leave unsaid --- a few things they can’t say later.
While Tailgate --- who is a Superman now --- is punching a chunk of building into scrap to turn into armor and guns, Cyclonus and Whirl have a heart-to-heart (spark-to-spark?) conversation about the nature of Cyclonus’ relationship with Tailgate. It’s made clearer than ever that Cyclonus hasn’t made a move because Cyclonus --- the ancient, unstoppable Cybertronian warrior --- feels humbled by how genuinely good Tailgate is.
Meanwhile, the long-running mystery of what happened to Dominus Ambus --- the spark-brother of Minimus Ambus, AKA Ultra Magnus, and former conjunx endura of Rewind --- is resolved. And in true More Than Meets the Eye fashion, the answer was under our noses all along.
So some background: a while back, the Scavengers (rhymes with “Avengers,”) who are the least important Decepticons in history, uncovered a scheme where Transformers were getting mentally mutilated, stuck in an animalistic alt-mode, and sold as “domesticated slaves.” Also a while back, First Aid found a bullet in Swerve’s shoulder that was killing him, left there years earlier --- with a message from a mole within the Decepticon Justice Division, a mole that had since gone silent.
Now we know who the mole was, and what the DJD did to them when they found out they had a mole. And it’s horrifying, how it all plays out.
But my favorite part would be when, faced with certain death, Nautica decides to do what she’s always wanted to do: tell everyone she's friends with that they’re her best friends.
On Nautica’s home world, the notion of a best friend --- an amica endura --- is considered a sacred bond not to be entered into lightly. To see Nautica, who had a difficult relationship with her own best friend back on Caminus, literally open herself up to her new friends --- to the point they’re all bathed in the light of the equivalent of her heart --- makes for a touching scene, and brings into sharp relief an ongoing debate in comics fandom.
There’s a lot of dumb counter-arguments to the notion of pairings like “Stucky” --- the same-sex pairing of Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes --- but one that’s not so much dumb as misguided is the notion that casting all male companionship as physical intimacy and love diminishes friendship for its own sake and plays into certain expectations about masculine friendship. I feel that representation for gay characters is a more important choice to make, but the key is this: More Than Meets the Eye shows you don’t have to choose.
You can have a fraught romantic relationship that’s hit a rocky point with Rewind and Chromedome, with the two of them still willing to walk through Hell for each other. You can have the relationship of Tailgate and Cyclonus, one-sided and potentially never consummated with the words, “I love you.” And since you have these same-sex relationships and many others (Brainstorm famously tried to change history to save his conjunx endura), you can have friendship just be friendship, and none of it is diminished, because all of it is present.
When you have enough love, there’s enough room for all the types of love --- long-term marriage, the beginnings of romance, and yes, even friendship simple yet powerful enough to light up a room. More comics could do with following More Than Meets the Eye’s lead on this.
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