One thing that’s astonishing about James Roberts’ Transformers work is how essential it all is. If there’s been an issue that hasn’t been absolutely necessary it’s probably a fan favorite; stories like “Shadowplay”, “Cybertronian Homesick Blues”, and “The One Where They Go To Earth”. Even contrasted against the extreme ‘importance’ of “The Dying of The Light” and “Dissolution”, the crew’s stopover on Troja Major proves a huge issue in regards to what may be the biggest plotline that this series has. But what makes this series so beloved is not merely that it’s tightly plotted or emotionally resonant, but the utter lack of effort it demonstrates in combining the two. Though there are better examples of this among the seventy plus issues of the two series, it’s certainly a driving force behind “Chasing the Infinite”.
Transformers: Lost Light #9 is split between two groups, with Nautica and Velocity dealing with the unscrupulous Mengel and Lug and Anode trying to elude the servants of the Grand Architect and discover the secret behind the mysterious Cybertronian they discovered last month.
Anode’s exploits suit her well. They’re pulpy, exciting, and though don’t really get anywhere they’re decidedly fun. Anode’s self definition as an archeologist feels especially Indiana Jones-esque this month, full of socks to the jaw and bi-plane escapes. Though the plotline fizzles slightly, it provides a clean way for Roberts to inject some humor, exposition, and action into the story, as well as give us time to get to know our latest villain.
The excitement of the Anode and Lug story is definitely welcome, because Nautica’s side of things is very much more cerebral…literally! Desperate to test Mengel’s Resus Cradle and revive Skids, Nautica proves an eager mark when Mengel decides it’s time to bargain. Lacking the Shanix to pay for the expensive procedure, Nautica is given a last ditch offer: to sell her feelings.
Mengel, even if her name is a little on the nose, proves a cunning antagonist, picking up on clues and playing them back just right to ensure that Nautica gives all she’s able. And the path she finds to more Shanix is heartless, even by Cybertronian standards.
Nautica’s grief is palpable in the harsh, illogical sense it makes and her attempts to justify the extremity of her actions with her perception of herself as a fundamentally decent spark are subtle and fascinating.
Velocity’s responses are certainly not everything you’d hope for, but that alone informs her own, even quieter reaction to Skids’ death and the guilt she carries around with her.
The resolution rides the line between touching and cheesy in a way that probably exceeds what has come before, but this plotline’s final reveal is wrenching and, as it settles in, it casts a cruel pall over Nautica’s choices that seems bound to linger, if only in Velocity’s mind, for a long time.
The depth of character work in this issue is superb, as one has to expect from Roberts by this point, but, even if the issue is plenty satisfying in the final assessment, it offers a lot more food for thought and resonant, heart wrenching exchanges than big memorable moments. It’s certainly one of the more cerebral issues in its plotting.
And yet Roberts definitely has my number. Touching character moments and hints about the Knights of Cybertron whittle down my defenses, but the real blow comes on the final page, with the reveal of two major elements of early IDW Transformers, that I thought we may never see again, coming very much into play to claim a particularly dangerous new technology.
Frequent Transformers colorist Priscilla Tramontano is back as the primary artist again and gives the issue a bouncy, vivacious energy, especially as colored by series colorist Joana Lafuente. Perhaps due to their shared skill set, the two work notably well together, lines and color working in concert towards the same tone.
Tramontano seemingly has no trouble accommodating Roberts’ high density scripting style and excels at giving each panel its due, even when the page is jammed full of them. Her biggest weakness this go around is probably her villains, who benefit from some slick designs and a few effective quirks, but don’t always carry the air of menace that it feels like they’re aiming for. The style works much better for our heroes.
Transformers: Lost Light #9 is merely a good issue of the series, which still makes it one of the stronger comics out last week. There’s a lot of moving parts and a need to slow down and appreciate the weight of things that restricts the story a bit. Despite this, attractive art and A+ character work keep this a book you’ll read hungrily and the quiet introduction of some major plot points, as well as a character that I think Transformers Fans will be very excited to see in James Roberts’ hands, make this a huge and positive development for the series as a whole. Though it has its faults, Lost Light #9 is an affecting tale and a herald of big changes for the waylaid crew, both in the universe around them and between each other.