Post by Grand Moff Martin on Jul 26, 2011 4:45:18 GMT
Is it my imagination, or on page 4, panel 3, just to the right of Cosmos, is Mirage taking a photo of Megatron on his mobile phone?
(Not having followed #1-21, I've been looking out for appearances of the original characters in issue #22. I think I spotted all the 1984 Autobots in there somewhere except for Cliffjumper and Bluestreak - and Bluestreak may be one of the Prowl heads on Megatron's throne of heads. Plus I see Omega Supreme is also carrying Cosmos, Hot Rod or whatever he's called, Xaaron, Jetfire, Perceptor, and that Drift character. I'm sure more crew will become apparent in due course... And I couldn't identify all the heads on Megatron's throne - who's they red and yellow one bottom left?)
I said that it was full of words, but more than that this issue is full of world. There is a lot of the almost off-hand world-building that James Roberts does so well. A sentence tossed out here and a thought there that end up adding unexpected depth and texture to the universe. Megatron's jailer asks him whether he was forged or constructed cold. What does it mean? I don't know, but I know from the context that the distinction is important, and a fracture point in Cybertronian society. So the fictional world grows just out of my line-of-sight.
In a similar way this issue takes a universe that has sometimes felt relatively devoid of lifeforms and fills it with the sense that there is a bustling galactic community out there whom we haven't met because the guys we hang out with have been sent to the naughty step until they either grow up or wipe themselves out. It tells more than it shows, but does it in a wonderful way - giving the audience the credit to process some of this stuff themselves from what we glean from overhearing the characters conversations.
It also makes wonderful use of the existing history, the flashbacks feel like a logical addition to the IDW backstory, and combined with what we learn in Prime and Megatron's conversation gives a stronger throughline to connect Megatron:Origin with the Present Day material.
It has to go down as one of the great Megatron/Prime face-offs as well. It may be two robots in a room talking to each other, but it is as gripping as any pitched battle because they have important and meaningful things to talk about.
There are ideas here, lots of them. Some I never thought I would hear in a piece of official Transformers fiction (for that matter I would have laid very poor odds that I would ever hear of Technoism being mentioned _ anywhere _ ever again) and some that are new examinations of ideas that have floated around on and off but looked at from different angles.
The amount of content in this comic is impressive. In these days where so much is stretched out beyond its natural length the amount that is squeezed in between these covers is truly heartening. Every page and every panel seems to have something to contribute. It is old-school comics writing in a really good way. On the strength of this I will definitely be getting the remaining Roberts written issues of this ongoing as we run up to ish125
About time I said something about issue 22, quick version: it was really good.
For one thing, as has been said, it was nice to have a decent length read; I still had half of it to go by the time I got off the train from town and normally I've read IDW's comics by the time the train has reached the end of the platform at my station of origin. Another read has followed, and what really struck me was that when I finished the comic I just sat and pondered what I'd read, and I can't remember when that last happened with a TF story.
I thought Megatron was brilliantly portrayed (although, I didn't recognise him in that hulking, ridiculous form), and I thought it was remarkable the story James was able to weave out out of such rotten ingredients (Megatron Origin). I actually don't think I've read a more convincing explanation of why Megatron is the way he is - I hope we get similar insights into the other characters as the series progresses.The art was solid and told the story, albeit in a leaden and lifeless way, which seems to be best Milne can produce.
That said, it won't go down as one of my favourite TF stories, simply because so much time was spent 'putting right what once went wrong' (sorry), rather than doing something new (there were enough hints of newness to come that I'm eager to see what happens). Also, whiny Prime (spot on as he may be with the wreck Costa has left) just irritates me; one of the best things about Furman's IDW was the strong, competent Prime, so I hope Op manages to pull himself together.
Inspired by Issue 22 and given that they seem to have been fairly well received by the fan community, I went back and picked up issues 19-21 from my local shop (Â£3.30 each! I know some shops charge a lot less - Jim's for example - but shit, comics can be expensive!) To give Costa his due, I actually enjoyed 19 and 20: he obviously suffers by comparison to James, but both of these issues raised a smile - even Bob (I've noticed that 13 year-olds - I'm an English teacher! - insist on having a character called Bob or Jimbob or, these days, Boris, so make of that what you will) - and if Costa could maintain this standard then I would, much to my surprise, be willing to read stories by him if they are a companion to something more substantial. I actually think he'd write a decent RiD (the original toyline, not the new comic) tale, and could probably pull off an amusing Sky-Byte. My impression is that he can do whimsical, not to be taken too seriously characterisation, but he's incapable (spectacularly from what I've seen) of writing a more weighty story because his dialogue is clunky and his ideas rather small.
Unfortunately, issue 21 was much more what I expected from him and the dreadful excerpts from the book of Primus (or whatever it was) were just painful to read.
I am now slightly curious to read Heart of Darkness, but I've picked up that the consensus of opinion is that it's dreadful, right?
Post by Grand Moff Martin on Aug 12, 2011 17:00:20 GMT
I've no appetite whatsoever to read any more of issues #1-21 from what I've seen of them to date, but issue #23 arrived through my letterbox today and it's 10/10 again as far as the script's concerned. I'll be interested to hear what you think of it, Rich, as it's all about Optimus - but I wouldn't call him whiny in this issue - self-questioning, wise, outspoken, idealistic, inspirational and hard as nails, but not whiny.
On balance, I find this issue more satisfying than the last, as it reminds me why I loved the big red guy so much back in the days of 'Prime Time' and 'Crisis of Command'. Any respect I might have gained for Megatron in issue #22 by virtue of who he once _was_ is gone when Optimus points out that he shared those same beliefs, but unlike Megatron, he kept to them and believes them to this day.
Looking at these two masterful issues as a package, I don't feel restricted to regarding them as part of a TF continuity I have read very little of (the IDW continuity). Like 'Last Stand of the Wreckers', with these stories I feel like I am reading a spin-off to my more familiar Marvel TF universe.
In issue #22 my one artistic gripe was giving Xaaron a human mouth. In this issue my only artistic gripe is giving OP a human mouth...
Little is known about this goblin beyond its dual role as an offensive weapon and teapot.
Spoilers: More detailed thoughts to come when I've given it a second reading, but the main thing, and in answer your question Martin, is that I thought the portrayal of Prime was brilliant; it's hugely impressive the way James has fixed him in the space of one issue, although, actually, the process began in the last issue now I think about it.
A question for you Martin, what do you make of the use of the matrix?
A question for you Martin, what do you make of the use of the matrix?
Well, I was starting with low expectations, i.e. that in the IDW universe it would be basically what it was in the cartoon series, so it's nice to see it referred to as the Creation Matrix and to learn it can create life. (Aside: If that came as a surprise, can long-time IDW readers tell me what the default/accepted method was for creating TF life in this universe?)
I like the idea that people (Primes in particular) have a tendency to rely or think they are relying on the Matrix for guidance and wisdom, and that this makes Prime uneasy and is a major cause of his self-doubt. I've never considered the Matrix to be a source solely for good (it created the Constructicons and declared its intention to create the Stunticons and Combaticons long before it became corrupted in 'Matrix Quest' / 'Legacy of Unicron') and we always knew that possession of it was not an indicator of wisdom. Optimus did just fine as a Powermaster when the Matrix was missing, while in the UK comic Rodimus made one bad decision after another while he had the Matrix ('Wanted: Galvatron', 'Headhunt', 'Legacy', etc.).
Interesting. I haven't seen that before. I guess that IDW consider HoD as essential reading to understand the primary storyline, rather than a side quest like Bumblebee, and have moved it into the ongoing paperback series (or however we should reference it).
To those who attended AA: was anything interesting revealed about any of the comics at any of the panels? I've done a couple of google searches but haven't turned up anything.
Further thoughts on issue 23 (spoilers): Firstly, I was rather damningly faint in my praise of Milne's issue 22 art, so it's only fair to start by saying that I thought he did a really good job on issue 23, and I was much too harsh in my previous assessment. I actually thought there was a good sense of motion in this issue and that the key action sequence was as well executed by the artist as it was written by James (more to come on this). The only problems I had with Milne's 'art' (did he do both pencils and inks or have changes in technology killed the inker?) were two panels where the action seems to be unnecessarily reversed (panel 1 page 5 where Wheelarch and Springarm are moving left to right and transform right to left, and pages 14/15 where Prime seems to be about to backhand the purple guy and then forearm smashes him). Still, compared to what I'd seen him produce before #22, it's like this Alex Milne is an entirely different, infinitely more talented artist than that other guy with the same name.
I find the colouring a little frustrating (although, having had a glance through the reviews on the IDW board, I seem to be alone in this), mainly because the well-lit panels are so clear and appealing that the dark and gloomy purple-hued ones are harder to accept. The gloomy, hard-to-see depiction of Cybertron in so many TF comics really annoys me - for one thing, in many comics, of which this is not one, Cybertron is a cold dead husk and there aren't any light sources at all, so realism - silly term to use when talking about TF - may as well go out the window. Similarly, I don't see why the street on page 1 panel 1 needs to be so dark - it may set up a contrast to the interior and reflect the difference between Prime and the outside world, but James does that through the script - I'd rather just be able to see the street and there are plenty of light sources on it, which could justify 'realism' IMO.
That turned into a bit of a rant, which, based on lots of recent evidence, I'll probably decide I disagree with next week...
As I said in my earlier post, the key to this issue is the Transformation (budum bum) of Prime. I know that it's not always the way he came across in the Marvel days, but I see Prime (interestingly, so did Peter Cullen when he was making the original cartoon) as an archetypal heroic figure and so all the time that he spends whining about the weight of leadership is just a waste IMO and not very engaging. Further, it's not very 'realistic' either, some people are good leaders, and they do enjoy it; yes, in the real world they are probably prone to some less attractive traits like narcissism etc, and / or they are non-violent (that doesn't work in TF), but you don't have to be Mao or Stalin (or Megatron) to enjoy leading, nor does this need to make them tedious or one-note. What's tedious and one-note is writers thinking, 'Oh no, Prime's boring because he's so 'Good', let's make him hate telling people what to do because I hate telling people what to do and I'm a 'Good' person.'
I'm ranting again, sorry. Anyway, Prime is interesting in this issue: he takes action; he has philosophy, which he changes and adapts (in the past and the present) ; he has frustrations that he deals with as best he can; and, above all else, he is heroic and inspiring, the little guy (in this case) standing up to the big guy (twice) and putting everything on the line for what he believes in. This is what Prime should be - we should want to be him, not despise him - he's a hero. We've seen it before, but who cares? Pretty much everything's been done before somewhere or other.
There's a lot more I could say, but I need to go, so I'll have to leave it at:
The action was superb (the gun not working, (cliche, but superbly timed / judged); the joke about the arm cannons; and the creative 'assault and battery'). TF comics _need_ action, as well as ideas, and it's great to see James demonstrate not only that he can do it on his own, but also the panache with which it should be done.
My only anxiety with the story is that the political situation on Cybertron, and the players involved, is becoming a little confusing (there seem to have been a lot of Primes in IDW TF) and these details don't seem to be throw-away enriching nuggets like the Software Wars in Telefunken, or some of the things mentioned in Wreckers, or (?) Triple M. Perhaps this politicking is part of what will be explored in James and Nick's ongoing?
Anyway, James if you are reading this, this was another brilliant issue, and actually, I think, demonstrated the range of your writing, and your absolute suitability to writing comics generally, as well as TF specifically, better than anything else you've been paid for.
As has been said by Martin and Garry, it's quite easy to see this story within the TMUK framework (James, you need to let Ms Lafuente and Messrs Milne and Lee know they've joined the club. Not Mr Guzman, though, no editors in TMUK, unless you count Martin), so until I receive evidence to the contrary, I shall continue to believe the Institute is a ref to one one of my own fanfics and declare with some confidence (we need the CG2 reprint / redux to persuade me otherwise) that this is the best TMUK comic strip ever written and has massively boosted my interest in TF at a time when it was flagging (one good thing about missing AA this year is that it's a such an orgy of TF that it usually leaves me rather Transformered-out).
Oh! And the thing on Springarm's face! What does it mean? It's clearly going to be important.