James Roberts once again makes his case for being the best writer in TF history with the latest chapter, Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #6. We all fell right in with the triumphant return of Fortress Maximus when he came back from the near dead to kick all sorts of Decepticon aft last issue, but with this week's story, Roberts shows that Fort Max is not out of the woods yet - far from it.
While the twin relaunching of Roberts' TF: MTMTE and John Barber's Transformers: Robots in Disguise were generally seen as jump-on points and breaks from the canon of before, this issue reaches back into the past of IDW's Transformers run - although it's a story Roberts co-wrote. The Last Stand of the Wreckers was a brutal story from a few years back about an Autobot special missions force called the Wreckers running a suicide mission to a prison colony on the planet Garrus-9 to liberate it from an unstoppably powerful Decepticon maniac called Overlord. Fort Max happened to be the warden of that colony, and thus he was the target of untold amounts of hideous torture for three years before the Wreckers finally showed up, and Max has been out of action and half-dead until now. It's the kind of story that reminds you that while Roberts is an amazingly dense writer full of life and vibrancy, he's also not shy about leaving behind a massive body count as well.
Something to remember when Max flips out after going through therapy sessions with Dr. Rung, the resident psychiatrist aboard the Lost Light craft. Yes, Dr. Rung, not unlike Carl Jung. Roberts has even referenced "Rungian" philosophies. This is what he does that makes Cybertronian culture so easily relatable, and yet different enough to still be cool and alien. Anyway, Max loses it, shoots a bunch of Autobots in a bar just for looking like Overlord, and then takes Rung and local "eccentric" (read: psychopath) Whirl hostage, demanding a return trip to Cybertron to get some answers as to why it took three damn years to send help to G9.
It's a tense stand-off that's compelling to watch unfold, and all thoughts of the old pacifist Fort Max from the original Marvel series are eroding quickly. We see Max dealing with flashbacks, with awful visions, and acting out angrily and unpredictably. It even gets to the point where Lost Light commander Rodimus puts a sniper team outside the ship to "take the shot" whenever they get it - that's how unpredictable Max is acting. The resolution is a jarring and surprising moment that you don't see coming. Roberts seems to be of the George R.R. Martin school of thought when it comes to being precious about main characters. No one is safe.
Nick Roche handles the art for this issue, and his style is fantastic, and so amazingly similar to the equally talented Alex Milne, Roberts' usual artist, that it's almost indistinguishable - and that's a highly impressive feat. Both of them were born to draw Transformers, and I hope they stick with it for a good long while, because Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye is the best series this fandom has ever seen. There's just SO much to see and SO much going on at all times.