I've made a lot of noise (not enough, for there will be more, I'm certain) about Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye being the best ever comic series for our big bots from Cybertron. However, it bears repeating that its sister title, Transformers: Robots In Disguise, is also a really strong read, making it an amazing one-two punch of awesome sauce for those of us who love these characters and finally get to see them treated so well.
While the former deals with a crew of bots that have left their home in search of ancient fables and have gone way off course, the latter deals with those left behind on the newly reborn Cybertron, trying to make a legitimate go of a post-war peace between the Autobots, Decepticons and the Non-Affiliated Indigenous Lifeforms, called NAILs, a term they hate. In John Barber & Andrew Griffith's Transformers: RID #9, we watch Bumblebee struggle under the mantle of leadership he never wanted – a frustratingly constant fight against distrust and political maneuvering – and trying to remind himself that there's beauty in the world beyond that – and that's when a giant dino-bird bot named Sky Lynx crashlands in front of him and tells him that way out in the new, promordial wilds of Cybertron, something's gone completely haywire and Ironhide and four of the Dinobots are lost. That prompts 'Bee to play on the frayed loyalties of Blurr, the fastest Autobot alive, to try and find them.
What's happening out there is that something is driving the Dinobots insane. They're normally thick as thieves and undyingly loyal to each other, but now they're attacking each other and Ironhide, who seems surprisingly unaffected – but he's been kind of a unique case lately. He's been dead and resurrected and now believes he can't die because he's had a vision of the future where he's alive. That's made his friends think he's a bit crazy, but right now, he's the sanest. Back at the big city of Iacon, mad scientist Wheeljack is splitting his time between figuring out a sinister new time machine brought back there by a jerkaft Decepticon named Turmoil and hypothesizing about what's making them crazy… and then suddenly, that there time machine vanishes right in front of them, seemingly on its own. That can't be good.
And Ironhide runs into an even bigger problem than crazed Dinobots. Literally. Because he was tracking the runaway Aerialbots and their distress signal, and what he finds is one of the most bitchin' splash pages ever. I seem to be saying this in every review, but Griffith seems like was born to draw Transformers just the way Nick Roche and Alex Milne were, and the big reveal at the end of this issue is just powerful and amazing work. It helps to know that gestalts, meaning the "combiners" – the groups of bots who can unite Voltron-style into one giant robot – have been pretty scarce in IDW's Transformers continuity. A smart move, since too often TF books have been "the race to giant combiner fights" because everyone loves Devastator. Here, however, I don't think we've ever even seen Big Dev, and the Constructicons were killed in RID a few issues back, so we might never. Thus, it's ten times more special and stunning when somehow, Superion shows up as the combined (seemingly against their will, adding a layer of mystery) form of the Aerialbots, stomping in heavily and scooping up Ironhide and claiming the old guy has to answer to him.
It's a hell of a splash. I seriously exclaimed "HOLY SHIT, SUPERION" when I opened it. Job done well, Mr. Griffith.
So something out there in the strange natural phenomena of Cybertron is forcing groups of mechs to become gestalts? Will the same thing happen to Ironhide and the Dinobots (since Grimlock is over in MTMTE and unavailable to make it a pure Dino-thing)? It's hard to say right now, but Barber's doing a really good job at setting up mysteries and intrigue, and that's why we love it.