Last issue (spoilers!) (no seriously if you haven’t read last issue quit reading!) we found out exactly how obsessed Nautica is with bringing Skids back: she’s been hiding his brain-module behind her eye patch. Inside her head. She was keeping his dead brain inside her head. It’s a gesture of extreme devotion and oh my lord is it creepy. I mean it makes wearing a vial of your lovers blood around your neck look reasonable and understated in comparison.
As creepy as it is, it’s still not as far as Nautica’s willing to go. See below for preview pages and a review of Lost Light #9.
(As always, spoilers below, though I do a tap dance around the big reveals.)
We get more of James Robert’s snappy dialog this issue, which is half of why I read these books. I do love a good “the hell is the matter with you” kind of exchange, like when Nautica finds out how much Mengel wants to charge to bring Skids back from the dead.
“You can’t put a price on life.”
“You just did! That’s EXACTLY what you just did!”
“Well, there we are. Pay up or push off.”
The cost is some very particular pieces of Nautica’s thoughts and memories, and if it’s one thing Mengel (I’m sure the similarity to Dr. Josef Mengele was no accident) can recognize, it’s the smell of desperation. And the price keeps going up, and Nautica keeps agreeing to everything, even though Velocity is trying to put on the brakes at every step.
We get some more insight into Nautica and Velocity’s relationship, and why Nautica won’t miss the pieces Mengel plans to cut out. But pay attention to the order of which parts will be removed first, that’s going to be important at the end of the story.
On a related note, I’m a fan of the “Firestarter” theory of messing around in people’s thoughts: they’re all connected in ways we can never understand, so if you go chiseling out the parts you don’t want you’re going to break something else and out of nowhere decide that sticking your arm elbow-deep into the garbage disposal is a fine idea. I’m just saying. What’s Nautica going to be doing next?
Meanwhile Lug and Anode (who is a wealth of snappy lines all by herself) are finding out that all the Sentio Metallico they’ve sold to their employer over the years was used in experiments, and now their employer definitely wants them dead to keep the secret. I think. I started to get a little confused at some of the names involved, and it turns out Lug and Anode’s adventure intersect with what Mengel does when she’s not extorting people to bring their loved ones back from the dead.
(And yes, Mengel is a she. Roberts does like to make us question our gender perceptions. I just read a Harlan Ellison story where you go several pages before realizing the narrator is a woman, and then you feel compelled to go back and reread it. I did the same thing here. There was no reason I should’ve assumed Mengel was one gender or another, but the “she” threw me off, as I’m sure it was meant to. It’s an interesting disconnect.)
In the middle of everything we get another thing that I love about Roberts’ writing: bits and pieces of what it really means to be a Transformer. When Nautica was trying to sell her arm to Mengel (oh yes, she’s that desperate) she says “I’m a Cybertronian! A bona fide Apex Mech!” And I remembered that not all the robots we meet in this world are children of Primus, and I guess Cybertronians are probably as good as they get. (…at the moment..) But then Velocity said something interesting when she questioned how Mengel could bring back Skids with a brain and not a spark.
We’re not warm-wired like you. We are our sparks. And a brain is not a spark.
So I’m trying to puzzle out what that means. Is warm-wired where the personality or “soul” is channeled all throughout the body, so a non-Cybertronian could be reborn if you had a good percentage of their circuitry to work with, and a Cybertronian’s soul is in their spark and if you don’t have that you’re out of luck? That’d work with how Lug could be brought back, they had a piece of her spark from a Necrobot flower. (Though I still call shenanigans on that one. I like that she’s back but it still seems too easy, like this is a way they can bring lots of bots back from the dead. Hm. Maybe that’s the point…)
Or is warm-wired just anything where the brain is where the soul lives, arguably like humans? Or is it that the spark is electrical in nature, but other folks’ inner selves are made up from brain mass or other things more material? So many questions.
Also, I’m not going to give away the ending, but the final word is a call-back to a very specific storyline. Search for it in the TFwiki and you’ll get the condensed version, and then you’ll wonder: what’s Hot Rod’s reaction going to be when he finds out?
As for the art, Priscilla Tramontano’s work is very fun as always, especially with Joana LaFuente’s colors, which really just leap off the page. The solid lines give it the feeling of an animation cell (…hint hint, to anyone who is thinking a Lost Light cartoon would be a good idea.) Sometimes the expressions get a little distorted when they’re very angry, but not enough to be distracting. I liked how even unfamiliar bots had enough distinctive shapes and colors that by the end of the book I wasn’t confused as to who was speaking. Plus I really like how they did Velocity this issue, colors and lines, she looked amazing.