Welcome back to Super Reads, dear readers. Since I'm covering Transformers: Unicron, I figured I should Super Read the epic conclusion to... pretty much my favorite comic series ever.
And when you read "Super Reads," you just know that:
There are SPOILERS ahead.
This series has been dense so let's get to the unenviable task of summing things up before we get to the new stuff. Yay!
Transformers: Lost Light started its life as the Transformers series lovingly known as MTMTE.
That's "Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye" if you don't read acronyms.
MTMTE was a fifty-seven issues series (plus an Annual, a few Spotlight issues, and a few other odd stories) that detailed the adventures of Rodimus and the crew of the Lost Light. Their mission? To find Cyberutopia, the mythical home of the Knights of Cybertron, themselves the original Cybertronians who had created the first Golden Age before leaving Cybertron to spread their version of peace throughout the universe.
They went about looking for Cyberutopia by checking a map hidden inside one half of the shattered Matrix of Leadership... but they were never really THAT dedicated to completing their quest. Instead, the tales of the the Lost Light crew were filled with random adventures, tons of details on Cybertronian life, and a massive cast of mostly likeable characters who were trying to figure out what a post-war universe meant.
Eventually, the Matrix and its map were destroyed, leaving the Lost Light crew chasing minor clues until Rodimus absent mindedly carved a new map into his desk out of boredom. Since Rodimus was a previous Matrix bearer, it was believed that this map was genuine and it DID eventually lead some of the crew to Cyberutopia.
But we'll get there in a bit. First, let's talk about the main cast of the Lost Light book. Team Rodimus is comprised of Rodimus (the leader who you might know better as Hot Rod), Ultra Magnus (an uncompromising former war cop who is actually a really tiny bot wearing a big suit of legacy power armor), Drift (a former Decepticon who hasn't met a myth he hasn't believed in), Ratchet (former Autobot Chief Medical Officer- a born skeptic and likely most recognizable Transformer in the comic), Cyclonus (a gaunt and serious warrior who missed out on the war entirely and just wants to see a return to the Cybertron he remembers), Tailgate (a tiny little dreamer who also missed out on the war and is romantically involved with Cyclonus), Rewind (an archivist who was the only survivor of another version of the Lost Light), Chromedome (romantic partner of Rewind who is quick to love but devastated by loss), Brainstorm (a mad scientist whose traitorous turn as a half-hearted Decepticon helped him source materials necessary to build a time machine), Roller (a pre-war friend of Optimus Prime whose whereabouts were unknown for millions of years), Nautica (a Camien colonist, genius, and boat), Velocity (a Camien medic and best friends with Nautica), Swerve (a comedic bartender who doesn't know when to shut up), Anode (a treasure hunter trying to escape a tragic past), Lug (Anode's romantic partner and also her backpack), Rung (a disgraced former psychiatrist with a name no one remembers and an alt-mode no one knows what to do with), and Whirl (a sociopathic ex-Wrecker who just wants to build clocks).
So, yeah, it's a huge cast of characters and we aren't even CLOSE to done yet!
In the last storyline, Team Rodimus ended up finding Cyberutopia. It turns out it was a planet called Mederi, a place where the terminally ill come to be eased off this mortal plane with the help of telepathic illusions showing you exactly what you want to see. Whether you like it or not. It turns out the ancient Knights of Cybertron ended up here after contracting a terminal illness and were given a vision of the perfect, utopian version of Cybertron. Believing this to be real, the Knights carved a map to Mederi on the inside of the Matrix and sent it back to Cybertron so that anyone who wanted to join them in paradise could do so. Y'know. As long as they cracked open the Matrix of Leadership.
After escaping their own illusory reality, Team Rodimus and their new allies (we'll get to them) looked to the sky in surprise as their next adventure came a' calling...
While Team Rodimus is comprised mostly of Autobots, the Scavengers is made up mostly of Decepticons. The WORST Decepticons.
I don't mean "worst" as in "these are the monsters that will haunt your nightmares." I mean they are legitimately not great at the whole "Decepticon" thing. From a certain point of view, of course. These aren't the best soldiers or the best commanders. They are flawed individuals. They're also amazing. Like everyone else in this book, the Scavengers are just trying to make their way in a post-war universe and they do that by having wacky adventures and challenging your belief that all Decepticons are bad guys.
They also survived the Decepticon kill squad known as the Decepticon Justice Division. And nursed the mentally injured former Dinobot leader, Grimlock, back to a state of well-being! It's been a fun ride.
The Scavengers of comprised of the aforementioned Grimlock, Krok (a monoformer leader who wants to help other Decepticons navigate the new post-war reality), Misfire (the guy who cared for Grimlock but also has trouble aiming), Crankcase (a perpetually grumpy pilot looking for love), Spinister (a killing machine with low intelligence but high medical skills), and Fulcrum (a deserter with a disarmed bomb alt-mode).
The Scavengers made their way throughout the universe, looking for the next big score. This led them to the planet Frayus just as it was made into the staging ground for a three-way battle between three different galactic factions. Separated from their spaceship, the Decepticons found salvation through a space portal and ran. On their way out, they were joined by an accidental stowaway, Nickel. Nickel was the sole survivor of the Cybertronian colony of Prion and had found herself allied with one of those three galactic factions (hint: it was the one made up of Decepticons). Her joining the Scavengers was an accident but she rolled with things and joined the Scavengers on their next adventure.
That adventure? Seeking out the Magnificence. Not to go into too much more detail, but the Magnificence was a MacGuffin introduced fairly early on in IDW's Tranformers stories. It is a device that can answer any question posed to it and it had ended up in the... claws... of one particularly awful Decepticon. Scorponok.
The results of this escapade split the team up, with Grimlock staying behind on Scorponok's ship with a being called the "Firstborn" (an artificially created organic Cybertronian who would be used to harvest new Sparks to repopulate the Decepticon army) and the rest of the Scavengers (and Nickel) teleported away with the Magnificence and eventually join up with our main cast of characters.
Finally, we have the Mutineers. Because all the people we've mentioned up until now have not ACTUALLY been on the Lost Light. You know. The NAME of the comic.
At the end of the More Than Meets the Eye series, Team Rodimus was led away from the Lost Light by the rest of the crew who had decided to take control of the ship and make their way to Cyberutopia without the command crew.
Why, you ask?
Because one of the command crew was Megatron. Yep! Megatron. The founder of the Decepticons who had a slight change of heart after four million years of war and had joined up with the Autobots. Don't worry, they had a trial for him but because of where the trial was located, Megatron was able to appeal for the judgement of the Knights of Cybertron. Since those guys had been gone for even LONGER than four million years, Megatron was assigned as co-captain of the Lost Light (along with Rodimus) as the ship searched for the Knights. You can imagine how well that went over with the crew.
Mostly because I just told you. They mutinied.
In the interim, Megatron got stuck in an alternate dimension (like you do in comics) and the rest of Team Rodimus has been chasing the Lost Light ever since.
The crew of the Lost Light, over two hundred strong, made great time on their path to Cyberutopia. Led by Getaway, the leader of the mutiny, they found a path between space and time that they were able to follow to make a year long journey in only a matter of weeks.
And in that time? Everything fell apart. Hell, it fell apart immediately. Rodimus and crew ended up stranded on an alien planet and attacked by the Decepticon Justice Division and an army of Decepticons who didn't take kindly to Megatron switching sides. Faced with overwhelming odds, they sent out a message detailing their funeral arrangements. When that message made it to the Lost Light, Getaway's tenuous hold on his crew began to slip.
So, naturally, he mind wiped the crew so they thought that Rodimus and friends had abandoned THEM. And the guy doing the mind wiping was paid for with the lives of twenty-five crew members. Things just proceeded to get worse from there. When the Protectobots (and Mirage) rejoined the crew after a long absence, they ended up figuring out that things had gone terribly wrong and, while trying to escape the ship, most of them were killed. Only the Autobot Chief Medical Officer, First Aid, and two Mutineers, Riptide & Thunderclash, escaped the ship alive. And even then, only with the help of Getaway's first officer, Atomizer. Getaway brutally murdered Atomizer for the betrayal.
Just when Getaway was about to make another deal for yet another crew mind wipe, the Lost Light arrived on Cyberutopia...
Transformers: Lost Light #19
Crucible (Part 1): A Dance Before Dying
Writer: James Roberts
Artist: E.J. Su
Colors: Joana LaFuente
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Editor: David Mariotte
This issue in a nutshell: Team Rodimus and the Scavengers confront Getaway and the crew of the Lost Light... who have been turned into Sparkeaters.
• The crew of the Lost Light, all turned into Sparkeaters, descend on Team Rodimus and the Scavengers.
• Brainstorm tries to reason things out with the Sparkeater Perceptor and gets acid vomitted on him.
• Everyone runs away.
• Grimlock drops out of a space ship and starts taking out Sparkeaters, only stopped when Ultra Magnus shoots him (with Crankcase) and reminds him that the Sparkeaters are Autobots.
• The space ship shoots at the Sparkeaters, scattering them so it can make landfall, allowing First Aid and his team to disembark and fill in Rodimus on recent events.
• The Lost Light appears, damaging the earlier space ship.
• Aboard the Lost Light, Captain Getaway has a conversation with Chief Justice Tyrest, appearing via hologram communication.
• The Lost Light flies off as the sky darkens and clouds roll in.
• The Sparkeaters attack again in full force, some of them exploding when our protagonists fire at them.
• Rodimus calms down and comes up with a plan worthy of Megatron.
• That's a compliment.
• While most of Team Rodimus and the Scavengers hole up in Ward Zero, looking for a cure for the Sparkeater condition, Rodimus and a crack team of warriors repair their only space ship and chase after the Lost Light.
• Upon boarding the Lost Light, the team runs right into a trap and only Rodimus and Cyclonus make it out of the shuttle bay.
• The trapped bots are engulfed in Red Scraplet infested oil from the Oil Reservoir directly above them.
• Rodimus and Cyclonus make their way to the bridge where they are confronted by Getaway, Star Saber, and SCORPONOK!
Last issue, Team Rodimus and the Scavengers looked up in the sky in horror! Now, it's time to figure out what they were looking at.
It's the crew of the Lost Light! The Mutineers!
But our heroes aren't looking up in horror just because the crew of the Lost Light is floating in the sky above them. That look of horror is because the Mutineers have all become SPARKEATERS!
Without going into TOO much detail, a Sparkeater is basically a mythical predator/ monster that hunts the sparks of Cybertronians. A spark is a Cybertronian's life core. Cybertronians are the inhabitants of Cybertron. Cybertron is a Saturn-sized mechanical planet. I've gone into too much detail.
The Mutineers land and start shambling towards Team Rodimus and the Scavengers, like zombies. In fact, these guys act very differently from the first Sparkeater we saw in the More Than Meets the Eye series. That one was much more predatory. And terrifying. These guys... no one knows how to feel about them. Except they LOOK scary and don't appear to be showing signs of intelligence.
Brainstorm decides to try and talk it out with one of them and chooses Perceptor, the scientist that Brainstorm both idolized and tried to prove himself better than. This.... doesn't work. Perceptor just vomits acid at the poor bot.
NOW everyone knows how to react: terror!
Nautica dives in to rescue the injured Brainstorm and Ultra Magnus calls for a hasty retreat. As our heroes bravely run away, Rodimus notes that Getaway wasn't among the Sparkeaters that were once his crew.
An unidentified spacecraft flies in right in front of our cast of characters. When something falls from the ship, Roller thinks it's another attack. A bomb. The Scavenger, Fulcrum, who turns INTO a bomb, assures everyone that what just fell from the ship was NOT a bomb.
It's a GRIMLOCK.
Sparkeaters are totally not zombies.
The former Dinobot leader starts cutting his way through the Sparkeaters until Ultra Magnus gets his attention by lifting up the Scavenger, Crankcase, and using the Decepticon's backpack cannons on Grimlock. Magnus wants Big Grim to stop all the killing. After all, the Sparkeaters are former crew members.
Grimlock isn't given time to respond. The ship he dropped from starts shooting beams of light that scatter the Sparkeaters, giving it time to land. On board are a couple missing cast members: First Aid, Riptide, Thunderclash (all previously seen escaping the Lost Light) and Wipe-Out (A blacksmith friend of Anode).
When the Scavenger Misfire approaches Grimlock, Ultra Magnus thinks the Dinobot is going to attack the Decepticon and is surprised when the two hug. They're friends. Magnus recovers quickly, surmising that the Scavengers must have found Grimlock in a weakened state and nursed the Dinobot back to health, thus earning his friendship. When Misfire asks Grimlock about "the baby," Ultra Magnus gives up on the plot.
But "the baby" is the Firstborn that I referenced earlier. Grim left him with a Cybertronian collector of antiquities known as "the Curator."
From this point, the newcomers detail what brought them all together which makes sense to long time readers but is a confusing bit of dialogue to both new readers (poor, poor new readers) and the rest of our cast of characters. Misfire and Swerve bond as they make fun of the summation of events. They would get a kick out of me. XD
As fast as I can: Grimlock was set adrift after fighting through wave after wave of Scorponok's forces and his distress call was picked up by First Aid, Riptide, and Thunderclash who had just escaped from Getaway and the Lost Light. The quartet made their way to the planet Troja Major to buy the parts needed to fix Thunderclash (who was wounded during the escape from the Lost Light). Once there, Grimlock dropped off the baby with the Curator and decided to join First Aid in taking down Getaway. They hired Wipe-Out because he had a ship with quantum engines (a must when hunting down ANOTHER ship with quantum engines) and they began chasing the Lost Light, using a tracking device hidden on board by First Aid.
Rodimus pulls First Aid aside to get the 411 on Getaway, making sure that both Riptide and Thunderclash know that he doesn't want to listen to them because of their previous mutiny. First Aid fills Rodimus in on all the dirty deals that Getaway has been up to since he took over the Lost Light, which we've mostly already covered. That done, Rodimus asks Wipe-Out about using his ship to find the Lost Light... which HAS to be nearby.
Nearer than you think. Before anyone can use Wipe-Out's ship, it is blasted by a proton missile from... the Lost Light! Rodimus' lost ship is found!
The FOUND Light? Not the same ring...
As the Lost Light pulls up, Rodimus notices a familiar symbol gracing it's underside. It looks like this:
Damn taggers leave our ship alone!
This symbol is one of the Knights of Cybertron emblems. In previous issues, we've seen that the followers of the "Grand Architect" use it. We don't really know that much about the Grand Architect except that they employ a bunch of unsavory types to do their work and fulfill their grand vision. We also know that they employed a number of blacksmiths, Cybertronians who help new sparks find their form, but having no more use for them, the Grand Architect had as many blacksmiths as possible assassinated. Finally, the Grand Architect has underlings that aren't recognizable as known Cybertronians, either from the home planet OR the colony worlds.
And now that symbol graces the Lost Light.
From within the Lost Light, in the Oil Reservoir, Captain Getaway orders his Chief of Security, Star Saber, to fire again. But they can't. The last shot was their last proton missile, the rest having been spent defending the ship from "the Phantom Fleet." Well, since the ship can't kill them, Getaway sends the remainder of his Sparkeaters after Team Rodimus.
From off panel, someone doubts Getaway's conviction, believing that the head Mutineer doesn't REALLY want Rodimus and company killed. At least not EASILY. That unseen voice thinks Getaway WANTS Rodimus to come aboard. As a giant hand rises from the pool of oil, Getaway muses "Whatever gave you that idea?"
Back planetside, our assembled Cybertronians watch as the Lost Light flies away. They also notice that the weather has taken an odd turn, as the skies darken and fill with ominous clouds. First Aid remarks that this same weather effect was happening on Troja Major.
While they're all distracted, the Sparkeaters renew their attack, this time in full force. When one (Joyride) nearly gets the jump on Rodimus, the Scavenger leader, Krok, blows the Sparkeater away. Rewind tries to recriminate Krok on this but the Scavenger isn't apologizing. He just saved Rodimus' life. Krok suggests Rewind redirect that anger at the real villain: whoever turned the crew of the Lost Light into living nightmares.
Our heroes take cover behind Wipe-Out's damaged spacecraft. Riptide hands out some weapons but Ultra Magnus instructs everyone to avoid killshots.
It would be a weirder war if everyone used blanks.
This proves... difficult and not just because Whirl is a killing machine. As Ratchet explains, Sparkeaters have so many vulnerable spots all out in the open and ready to explode. To accidentally provide an example, Ratchet hits the Sparkeater, Bluestreak, with what looks like a lethal shot.
As their position is overrun, more Sparkeaters seem to be exploding. This is hard on the Autobots, especially, because they're shooting their own comrades. Sure, these guys mutinied but they did that only to be rid of Megatron and even THEN they tried to do it as peacefully as possible. They FAILED, of course, but still.
Rodimus comes to the conclusion that this is all part of Getaway's plan. Rodimus is used to leading from his GUT. All instinct. He recalls something Whirl told him (antagonistically) just the other day: "What would Megatron do?"
Well, Megatron would already have three or four plans in place just in case his first idea failed. But he'd ALSO look at the big picture, calculate the odds, and come up with a cold, logical plan that had the best chance of success. Rodimus does a deep think...
And comes up with a plan.
Back on board the Lost Light, Getaway has returned to the bridge. It's an empty place but at least the mutinous captain has an unseen voice to talk to. That voice tells Getaway to stop messing around and kill Team Rodimus (and friends). To hurry this along, that voice is sending someone to speed things up. After all, there's another plan going on and this is all distraction to that.
"Benzene has been CLEARED. The pathway has been STERILIZED. Soon, the DRILLING will begin and all of this will come to an end."
That's a bold statement and, no, I do NOT know what it means. The Benzene Cluster has been mentioned a number of times in the Lost Light series. In particular, it was where three intergalactic armies waged a battle for supremacy of the region. It is currently in the hands of the Black Block Consortia. I'm certain I'll be talking more about this as this storyline moves on. Just make a note of it, here.
After a little more chit chat, it's revealed that the voice Getaway has been talking to belongs to a holographic... CHIEF JUSTICE TYREST!
You don't know who that is? That's because this comic series is SUPER DENSE with material. Chief Justice Tyrest was one of those rare Cybertronians who tried to mediate an end to the conflict between the Autobots and Decepticons. He failed but he DID establish some rules that both sides agreed to follow, called the Tyrest Accords which mostly amounted to not sharing Cybertronian tech with other cultures. Sounds like a pretty decent guy, right? Right. In fact, he had a one man army to enforce these accords: Ultra Magnus. Tyrest served as a grand judge on the occasions where someone defied the Tyrest Accords and would have also been the guy to judge Megatron at the end of the war. If Tyrest hadn't already disappeared.
You see, Tyrest had a secret dark past. Earlier in his life, he was the bot who found out how to make the Matrix of Leadership create new sparks. When it comes to sparks, there are two types of bots: those "born" from hot spots found naturally around Cybertron and its moons (and colonies) and those "born" from the powers of the Matrix (Constructed Cold). In time, Tyrest would see his hand in creating the second generation of Transformers as a great sin as he became convinced that the Matrix spawned Transformers were a perversion of the natural order and predisposed to evil. That's why he's got all those drill holes. He drills into himself as a form of penance.
And it's probably that drilling that led to his own further madness. Because he decided to kill off the entire second generation of Transformers by using the Matrix and a Universal Kill Switch that he had created. Tyrest almost got away with it, too, but those crazy kids on the Lost Light shut him down.
However, before that happened, Getaway ended up getting captured by Tyrest and his Legislator army. He was both monologued at AND tortured during his time in captivity. So it's... interesting to see Getaway and Tyrest working together. I mean, they're both morally corrupt and they're certainly not friends. But still. They're working together. Strange bedfellows, man.
Granted, Getaway is also working with Star Saber. That's the guy who PERFORMED the torture.
Back on the surface of Mederi, most of Team Rodimus and the Scavengers have holed up in Ward Zero, the location of the telepaths that create the realistic visions that help the dying die in peace. It also makes for a nice bunker. The bots block up the doors but keep the medical equipment located within functional so that they can come up with a hot fix for... Sparkeater... itis. They're trying to cure the Sparkeaters. Which is good because the Sparkeaters are still trying to break inside.
It's also good because with the Sparkeaters focused on THIS group, Rodimus and a number of others were able to effect repairs on Wipe-Out's space craft and fly it up to intercept the Lost Light.
First Aid is quite interested in the Mederi telepaths. These guys aren't conscious but their lips are voicelessly moving. None of this interests Ratchet who shows a lack of concern for organic physiology. Which is funny if you're a long term reader because Ratchet was our introductory Autobot when the IDW Transformers series launched. He collected a rag tag group of human misfits on Earth which he really did care for... even though his lack of knowledge on their biology almost got them killed in a transporter accident.
Elsewhere in Ward Zero, Tailgate places a call to Cyclonus. Cyclonus is a member of Rodimus' infiltration team that's currently on it's way to the Lost Light. Tailgate really wants to be with Cyclonus but the ancient warrior is accepting of their temporary separation. The fight against Getaway is NOT going to be pretty and Cyclonus is planning to get vindictive. After all, Getaway's initial plan for removing Megatron from the Lost Light involved sacrificing Tailgate. Whatever happens now, Tailgate makes Cyclonus promise that they'll be together again.
Let's join Cyclonus and the rest of Rodimus' boarding party as their ship makes its way towards the Lost Light, nearly getting struck by lightning on the way. Rodimus chose the best pilot they had, Crankcase, but he's not very happy that the Scavenger isn't able to dodge lightning.
Man, I've BEEN on that road trip. Except it wasn't in space.
As you can see above, the boarding party is comprised of Rodimus, Ultra Magnus, Roller, Thunderclash, Whirl, Crankcase, Anode, Lug, Cyclonus, Drift, and Grimlock. So it's the heavy hitters. And Anode. And Lug. For some reason.
ANYWAY, their ship makes it into the Lost Light without incident, landing in Shuttle Bay Four. You might be expecting a trap at this point.
That's because this is a trap.
Once everyone is off the ship, the emergency shields go up and the blast doors start closing. Only Rodimus and Cyclonus are able to make it out before the shuttle bay is sealed off. Those remaining inside prepare for the worst. What they get are charged explosives going off on the ceiling.
This might seem anticlimactic but... wait for it.
Oil starts streaming into the room. It takes a little time for the boarding party to realize what's going on. Directly above Shuttle Bay Four is the Lost Light's Oil Reservoir. First Aid's recounting of recent events noted that Getaway loaded the Reservoir up with Scraplets, nasty little buggers who basically infect Cybertronians and eat away at their armored skin. This version (Red Scraplets) acts more like robo-piranhas. They can also act in concert, like earlier when we saw that fist rising out of the Oil Reservoir? That was a whole mess of Scraplets taking on a shape together.
Suddenly, the ceiling gives away altogether and the Shuttle Bay is flooded with Scraplet infected oil. When pressed on why the hell anyone would have Scraplets on board, Drift recalls that Brainstorm brought them with, hoping to get them to eat temporal energy in order to hide his time travel experiments.
With this all properly explained, the Red Scraplets emerge from the oil, combined into one giant, tentacled atrocity.
Meanwhile, Rodimus and Cyclonus have wasted no time thinking about the fate of their comrades. Actually, that's not true. Cyclonus brings up the fact that they just abandoned the rest of their team to a trap. Rodimus tells Cyclonus that the whole team is comprised of heavy hitters that don't need any baby-sitting. Right now, these two are focused on getting to the bridge. This isn't difficult since the entire ship is empty. Rodimus claims to know how Getaway thinks and is pretty confident on how things are going to go down.
But he's REALLY surprised when the duo gets to the Bridge and they're brought face-to-face with Getaway and Star Saber... and also Scorponok. That's the ringer Tyrest called in.
And that's our issue! Thanks for reading! See you soon!