Are you fed up with the gross taste that the Bayformer movies leave you with? Do you desire well thought out plots and wonderful characterization? Then this series is for you!
Whether you're a fan of the franchise or not, this is a comic book series that is def. worth reading especially if you enjoy characterization and character focused series or plots.
Where to get the series
TF Spotlight: Kup
Last Stand of the Wreckers on Comixology
Transformers: Chaos Theory
More than meets the eye Comixology page
Transformers: Dark Prelude
Dark Cybertron on Comixology
Some of the IDW series are part of Comixology Unlimited's offer so consider using it to read the series.
Brief History of IDWs Transformers comics
IDW got the rights to make comic series based on the Transformers franchise in 2005. At the time the series was primarily written by long time TF comics author Simon Furman, although other authors also contributed to the series since it began.
By 2009, Mike Costa became the main writer on the mainline TF book, with various miniseries and one shots being published still. In 2010, IDW published a 5 issue mini series titled Last Stand of the Wreckers, this is James Roberts, long time TF comics fan, first officially published Transformers work and was co-written along with Nick Roche who did the art for the book.
On January 2012, IDW launched two series that would serve as the mainline Transformers books:
Robots in Disguise with John Barber as the writer. This series follows Bumblebee & Prowl and their band of Autobots having to deal with situations and events going on a Cybertron that is being repopulated by not just Autobots and Decepticons but also Cybertronians who chose not to participate in the war. Starscream eventually becomes one of the main characters in this series.
Primary cast for this book are: Bumblebee, Metalhawk, Starscream, Prowl and Arcee.
The 2nd book is More than meets the eye with James Roberts as writer and Alex Milne being primary artist on the book (over time a few issues would be drawn by different artists). This thread is mainly for this book, while RiD is good in its own way, MTMTE manages to stand out for its characterization and writing.
More than meets the eye (MTMTE for short) follows Rodimus who declares to the citizens of a newly rejuvenated Cybertron of his epic quest-
Managing to convince 200 Autobots to join his cause, he along with Drift and Ultra Magnus set off in their star ship the Lost Light in search for their long lost great ancestors, the Knights of Cybertron.
Primary cast for this book are: Rodimus, Drift, Ultra Magnus, Ratchet, Cyclonus, Whirl, Chromedome, Rewind, Brainstorm, Swerve, Tailgate, Rung & Skids. To name a few.
Personally I like to think of MTMTE as Roberts, Roche and Milnes Transformers run, as the series truly begins with Last Stand of the Wreckers, from which Roberts would base and lay down the foundation for MTMTE and his world building of the Transformers universe.
What to expect from the series
More than meets the eye is a series that is very character-centric; the characters move the plot, and there is a lot of characterization as well. Even if you've never heard or dislike some of the characters in the series, I still recommend reading it, as the writing itself is superb and the art at its best is spectacular and vibrant.
The series has great world building too, the creative team on MTMTE have gone very in depth to flesh out the universe going so far as to look at Cybertronian and post-Cybertron society and personal views.
The SUGGESTED reading order
If the mere mention of a good comic book series is enough to pique your interest, follow this simple guide to get into this fun entertaining series.
First however I'd like to point something: Last Stand of the Wreckers can still be enjoyed stand alone, so even if you've never read the TF comics before, so you could always just get that and if you liked it, move onto the other titles mentioned below.
Same applies to More than Meets the Eye, as you can just dive straight into that if you want and then go back and read up the other titles.
1- Last Stand of the Wreckers
1b- Spotlight: Kup (This one is optional but was written by Roche and gets a small reference in LSoW. It has great art too)
2- Transfomrers: Chaos Theory TPB (You only need to read the 2-parter story in this book as it was written by Roberts and offers more world building. It also gets referenced later in MTMTE)
3- More than meets the eye Volumes 1-3
3b- Robots in Disguise Vol. 1 onwards (You can start reading RiD after Vol. 1 of MTMTE, feel free to alternate between the books. Note that at one point the RiD subtitle is dropped and the book is simply titled Transformers)
4- Transformers: Dark Prelude. This is a collection of one shot stories, but some are written by Roberts and features a plot point that becomes important in a later story. Also shows Megatron putting Starscream in his place so that's always fun.
5- MTMTE Vol. 4-5
6- Dark Cybertron
7- MTMTE Vol. 6-9
7b- Transformers Holiday Special 2015 (Optional but has a nice story ft. Whirl)
8- MTMTE Vol. 10
9- Sins of the Wreckers (This book is more to do with LSotW and Robots in Disguise although you can still read it even if you hadn't read RiD)
10- Transformers: Titans Return
If you look at the Comixology pages I linked above you'd notice that the other books mentioned cost more than the bundle, so if you want to skip them for now, that's fine as the main series is still enjoyable and you can go back to read those other books whenever they go on sale. Alt. check out Comixology Unlimited offer as it includes many series as well.
For a more comprehensive reading order/list check this post
A quick write up on the series
Here are some quick write ups for the first 5 or so books in the reading order for anyone who wants an idea of what the books would be about. Ive aimed to make them as spoiler free as possible as well.
Last Stand of the Wreckers
The rogue Decepticon Overlord had taken over the Autobot Prison Facility Garrus-9 and has been ruling over it for 3 years. Autobot High Command, upon realizing they had lost contact with the facility, mobilize the Autobot's Black Ops unit, The Wreckers, lead by Springer, to infiltrate Garrus-9 and free it from Decepticon control.
The art in this book is handled by Nick Roche, with Josh Burcham doing the colors. Josh Burcham's colors add great depth and visual style to Roche's pencils, helping panels that are character focused to really stand out and be imposing.
The first issue begins by showing Garrus-9 under siege by the Decepticons. The chief warden, Fortress Maximums, aka Fort Max, is undeterred by the assault. Notice how the very first page sets things up instantly with the pace of the dialog not dawdling and giving the reader all the information they need.
On the next page, Overlord enters the scene to much fanfare:
Following the fall of G9, the book switches to a group of Autobots, never before or rarely if ever known or seen in the many TF media, they are the new recruits for Springer's Wreckers team, waiting at a space port to join up with Springer.
As this ragtag group boards the ship they meet with Verity, a human who the Autobots befriend during their battle with the Decepticons on Earth. She had stowaway-ed on Magnus' ship and has been working with him for the past few years. They eventually meet with Springer who briefs them on their mission; free Garrus-9 from Decepticon control.
The remainder of the issue becomes character focused, letting the reader know about the characters, their personalities and quirks.
By the end of the first issue much is established (at least character-wise), such as the brutality and the ferocity of Overlord, and Ironfist's interest in the Wreckers.
The 2nd issue shows the team preparing for their mission along with some more characterization and interaction between the cast. It closes up with the mission being underway, and like many stories have shown, nothing ever goes according to plan
With LSotW, Roberts lay down the foundation for what MTMTE would build off of, as in LSotW he introduced many aspects and ideas that serve to expand on the lore of the TF series.
As an addendum, consider tracking down the one shot story Spotlight: Kup, which was written and drawn by Nick Roche. It serves as the motivation for Guzzle joining the team and remains a solid and interesting stand alone issue.
The events of this story takes place a few years after the events of LSotW, with a most peculiar incident; Megatron willingly surrendering to the Autobots. No Fusion Canon blasting or bludgeoning with a cyber mace, nothing; straight up surrenders to Prime and his cadre of Autobots.
The Autobots wouldnt have time to contemplate this surprising turn of events for long though; a sinister threat is approaching their once home planet of Cybertron, and so Optimus forms a crew and together they leave Earth and travel to Cybertron taking Megatron along as their prisoner.
Thats about all you need to know going into these 2 issues which are a must read primarily due to the fact that it focuses on Optimus and Megatron and their views of each other. Even if you've never read a TF comic before, these 2 issues can easily be gotten into primarily for the focus on these 2 characters and the flashback story, making it a really good standalone story.
This story focuses on 2 events: Pre-war Cybertron flashback that tells the events of and following the arrest of a miner by the name of Megatron, and the present time events that unfold aboard Omega Supreme between Prime and Megatron, as the Transformers are traveling to Cybertron
Before I continue I should point out that this is one of the earliest collaborations between James Roberts and Alex Milne; Milne would go on to become the main artist on the More than Meets the Eye series, if his artstyle isn't recognizable here, then it is very likely due to the coloring, which was done by Joana LaFuente.
There's a lot I like about this 2 parter; for one the writing and dialog is well done, gets the message through, fun to read (IMHO) and is easy to follow. In addition, much like how one of the things All-Star Superman is praised for being that a single page tells a lot on its own applies here. For example, here is the very first page of Issue #22-
From this one page you learn about the status of pre-war Cybertron's society. Here's the 2nd page that follows it, the dialog and writing works to expand on what was established in the prior page-
The first issue would jump between the Megatrons arrest (in pre-war Cybertron), and Optimus (in the present time) getting around to doing something we've rarely, if ever, seen been done in many TF media; just sit down and talk to Megatron.
Remember how I wrote about how a single page tells a lot on its own? Same applies here even though I've shown 2 pages, but show that to ANYONE who is a huge fan of the 80s cartoon and they're likely to get a big stupid grin on their face. I just can't get enough of Megatron just sitting on that chair all casual, arms behind his head in a relaxed manner talking to Optimus Prime like he's a good old friend.
Their discussion goes on for quite a few pages, filled with some great back and forth between the two.
Following their interaction, we get to see Autobot High Command deciding on the fate of Megatron, presented in a 2-page spread, what I like about this panel is how the reader gets a look at the politics surrounding what the Autobots should do with Megatron and each one giving their view on the situation, something you wouldn't normally see in the animated series and the films.
The 2nd part of the story goes on to focus on the fallout of Megatrons arrest, shifting focus onto Optimus Prime, then Orion Pax. If you were ever a fan of Optimus, then you will love this issue because it is full of badass and awesome moments of the character.
More than meets the eye would build off elements mentioned in these 2 issues as well, hence why they are necessary for the enjoyment of the main series as a whole.
In closing, this 2 parter is a great self-contained story that one can go back to time and time again, and even those who hadn't touched anything or many Transformers related media other than the 80s G1 cartoon will appreciate and enjoy.
More than meets the eye Vol. 1
The first volume follows Rodimus and his crew's departure from Cybertron as they begin their quest...or at least try to.
After a rocky start that requires the team to land on a nearby planet for repairs, the crew must deal with unforeseen terrors befall them as they recoup in order to continue with their quest.
It should be noted that the first part of the story is intended to set up both MTMTE and Robots in Disguise, which also shows Rodimus' inspiration for taking to the stars in search of the Knights.
Also a bar is opened in the Lost Light.
More than meets the eye Vol. 2
The 2nd volume of the series is Decepticon-centric as the ramifications of this faction's actions are explored in this book.
The book consists of 2 stories:
In the first story, with the Lost Light well underway, we follow Ratchet as he make a short visit to the Delphi Medical Facility on the planet Messatine after finding a cryptic message. In addition, newly resuscitated Tailgate begins learning the Autobot Code from non other than Ultra Magnus, Duly Appointed Enforcer of the Tyrest Accord, himself.
The second story focus on a group of the most wild and manic group of Decepticons you've never known: The Scavengers. These bots are so pathetic they make G1 cartoon Starscream look competent: let that sink in for a while.
In addition we get our first look at a main antagonist to the series: The Decepticon Justice Division (who are actually mentioned early in the first story).
More than meets the eye Vol. 3
This 3rd volume begins with the group seemingly making progress in their quest as they approach a planet that is home to the Circle of Light, a group of Cybertronians with knowledge of the Knights of Cybertron.
Following this story is a 3 parter that follows the ramifications of the first story from Vol. 2.
In it Rewind gets a group of Autobots to help him tell a story from pre-war Cybertron, at a troubling time in the planet's history with the social climate being shaken by the rise of a faction known as 'Decepticons'. This 3 parter features copious amounts of Optimus Prime (then Orion Pax) being a total badass and reminding fans of the character we they liked him in the first place.
As mentioned previously, the bundle linked at the start of this post will contain most of the volumes of MTMTE and Robots in Disguise, while the rest can be filled by grabbing them off of Comixology for example (also linked at the start of this thread).
So all you need is the $8 tier bundle. Revolution is the major crossover comic event IDW has going on atm so up to you if you want to read it or not.
In closing, I do hope you'll give this series a chance and enjoy it as others have.