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View Full Version : Hindsight is 20/20: How would you have set up the IDW comics?


Terome
2010-02-09, 08:41 PM
It is the year 2005. You are Chris Ryall. You are, by all accounts, both likeable and sane. The comics publisher at which you are the editor-in-chief has just secured the troubled Transformers licence. The license-holders has given you an agreeable amount of latitude on the property and trust your judgement.

Hot dog! You think. You've got a few great ideas in mind. You've got a list of people to call, some message boards to trawl, some opinions to solicit, you're beginning to get a real good plan together the legal pad you keep in your jacket pocket. But just before you pick up the phone, your office and your eyeballs are filled with a brilliant blue light. After your eyes have recovered from the photonic assault, you discover that there is a new laptop on your desk. It is turned on. It is not a fancy laptop and there is nothing particularly suspicious or unusual about its design, its screen displays some crazy new Google web browser. There are many tabs open within the browser window. They point to www.tfarchive.com, and the comic reviews of a man named 'inflatable dalek.' As you read, the mystery of this device becomes clear. Certain decisions you were about to make concerning the Transformers licence would result, in four-five years' time, in comics that would crush a portion of man's soul. As a gentleman, there is no possible way you could allow that to happen, knowing what you now know.

You throw away the pad you had in your jacket pocket and you pull a fresh one out of your desk. Your career demands that you always have a good supply of blank legal pads. You start to draft a new plan, one that won't end up such a lamentable mess.

What is that plan?

Cliffjumper
2010-02-09, 09:02 PM
Broadly?

- Assuming that mini-series are a must, make them all function as stories in their own right. This means giving them a beginning, a middle and an end, rather than one miniseries of beginning and then sixteen miniseries of middle.
- If you're going to do a Spotlight-style series, keep those issues self-contained too. Make them concentrate on their subject rather than crack open more nebulous plot threads which never go anywhere. On the other hand, character development could always be handled in the central series, if you're feeling absolutely ****ing crazy.
- Drop the kid association characters. Not necessarily human characters full stop, but we don't need three whacky kids to pal up with the Autobots and get into scrapes. The readers of the comic will not be four years old.
- Concentrate on making good 100-page stories, the big concepts will then look after themselves.
- Get any new writers to broadly follow the continuity of the previous writers. As long as you haven't let some burnt-out hack grind out 45 issues of sideways development with frequent pauses while said writer gets on his soapbox about robot sex, the continuity won't be unwieldly anyway.
- If you do feel like doing some comics based on the live action film series, try watching aforementioned live action film series. Try thinking "hmm, what makes this popular and different?" rather than "Hmm, how can we make this shit and as much of a mess as our car-crash of a G1 series"?
- Get your ****ing head out of your arse and have some fun, for Christ's sake. Not everything has to be po-faced nonsense about The Ominous Noun and be ran by serious men in sunglasses with biblical epiphets.
- Destroy Joe Ng's hands. He may or may not be in your plans, but blind children will thank you.

Terome
2010-02-09, 09:44 PM
Something I think would have been an effective antidote to a lot of the unfolding gubbins would have been to have launched with a Sunbow continuity 'Transformers: The Lost Season' or some such thing. The casual fans and the unfortunate could have Dery designs, toy-package logos and silly Soundwave up the wingwang, with Guido or someone on art, which would neatly excise all of that baggage from any sort of new middlebrow continuity that would follow. There's plenty of material to whip up for a title like that - start with the obvious Season 2 - Movie gap, jump to post-Headmasters once that's exhausted, do a War Within thingy afterwards, then Masterforce it up until it crashes into the mud. Hell, you could even do a Brad Mick and lead up to Beast Wars. That could be sixty issues, easy. While that's going on, you shadow it with a proper series that can do it's own thing and aim for the audience that Infiltration et al craved but never quite appealed to.

The miniseries structure was definitely a misstep. One retro-themed toon series, one Bold New Direction series and a Spotlight series that could pick from anywhere it wanted, kind of like the Mosaics but hopefully not as awful. You could use it to blood new talent, play about on the sidelines of one of the running comics or just to throw shit around and see what sticks.

Furman's Infiltration set up of a universe to play in was great, as far as I'm concerned, and I'd port Spotlight: Shockwave from the real world directly into this alternate-2005 we're discussing, but they should have kept at least some sort of eye on Furman and his sprawling story structure. Or at least give him a quota on the number of times he was allowed to write 'well and truly.' Twice a month, tops. It might have even worked to have hired Furman as an editor / head writer and had talented young chaps like James Roberts on the bulk of the scripts. That's the way they do it in all those American TV shows that Furman apes. It would give him something to push against, at the very least.

Also on Furman, who has demonstrated himself to have no grasp on the Beast Bits at all, should have been kept far, far away from Beast Wars. It's not as if the world particularly wanted a Beast Wars comic in any place. And if it did, it should have had a Beast Wars comic with art by a fellow who can draw animals.

Also important: never return Alex Milne's calls.

I'd keep E.J Su though. Hiring him is the best thing IDW ever did. They handled the Animated comic about as well as could be expected too. Oh, and they threw Roche a few tidbits while they sank an ungodly amount of time and effort into that Sourcebook thing.

Cliffjumper
2010-02-09, 10:14 PM
Yeh, I can see Furman working best as some sort of consultant - maybe he could work out the grand plan, and then IDW would get in some proper writers to do scripts which nibbled at the edges of said grand plan (when has a grand plan actually helped Transformers at any point?) but concentrated on the more important aspect of being fun to read. And if after a year the grand plan is becoming outmoded because of the stories, thrown the grand plan in the bin.

And I agree on Beast Wars - the comic is alongside the Movie stuff for completely missing the point. A writer looks at something, goes "Wow, this is a bit different from other Transformers stuff!" and instead of suing that as a springboard, strips out all the unique bits in order to make another generic comic about bad guys with big, complicated plans up against a group of off-the-shelf heroic archetypes. At least the Movie stuff might have had an excuse - a Hasbro exec could well have turned up at IDW's offices and offered Ryall a crisp five pound note if he'd lie and say Swindle was a proper Transformer. I mean, he'd take it, and probably dance for the privilege.

What's the excuse for Beast Wars, though? BW was, and is, praised for the way, by default or design, it had a small cast who were by and large organically developed to an excellent extent. So what does Furman do? He throws in every no-mark toy character he can think of to produce an abject generifest (was there any Maximal whose personality couldn't be summed up as "exactly like the Triggerbots"?), and then throws in a couple of his G1 faves just to make absolutely sure it's nothing like the Beast Wars show. Hell, 3H handled BW comics better, and they were ****ing idiots.

EDIT: Agree re: the artists, though I do think Milne was largely miscast - Megatron Origins' darkness didn't really seem to suit him, and the Movie stuff definitely didn't (FWIW, I don't think many regular TF pencillers could capture that look well - the answer would be to think outside the box; obviously he probably gets work for proper comic companies, but I'd love to see Jae Lee have a crack). The rest of them were excellent by and large, even if Figueroa's potential has completely congealed.

Terome
2010-02-09, 11:39 PM
So what does Furman do? He throws in every no-mark toy character he can think of to produce an abject generifest

What's weird is that he did exactly that for the Botcon Omega Point story and ended up with crap paste. He must have read that, realised it didn't work, steeled himself to do it differently this time - to do it right, then went out and did the exact same thing again.

Actually, I suspect that it was a bad case of Wanting To Be Alan Moore. Wry allusions to defunct or ignored plotlines, blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameos, meta-references to silly, unintentional parallels across certain parts of the fiction - it's good if you're dealing with the whole of written literature and beyond and have an almost infinite palette to mix from, but it doesn't work so much if you're working within the confines of one franchise.

I think the Brad Mick machine could have given the Beast Wars story a fair shake, actually. They seemed to have a better grip on what the show was about. It's possible that they were asked, but might have been feeling a bit raw about not being put in charge of everything. We can only speculate!

Ackula
2010-02-10, 05:48 AM
I don't really mind the fact that each mini series had plot points attached to a larger overall story, but I would have preferred if they worked on their own AND were part of a larger story overall. Much like Doctor Who with McCoy, each serial was in and of itself independent of each other and can be enjoyed separately, but in the overall whole they worked together to tie up a larger story.

As far as the art work I'd like a bit of uniformity. I personally hate the character designs of the new ongoing series, however they would be less annoying if they were carried over into the other series, such as Bumblebee Spotlight/mini series/whatever that shit is called. I can't stand the fact we have two stories going on simultaneously, yet they have completely different character designs, what the ****?

As far as the spotlights, it would make more sense for them to be self contained stories, instead of having to scour the internet for a "reading order list" to try and sort out when the hell each takes place in the over all continuity. A nice origin story for each bot would have been a good way to handle the spotlight series actually, in my opinion.

As far as Beast Wars goes, I seem to be in the minority, because I really liked those. I'll admit that there is way too much going on at once, and not enough focus on main characters, but its nice to see some sort of love for the obscure characters that never came out in the west. I also thought they did a nice enough job of fitting it into the original show continuity without potentially cocking things up beyond repair. However those Beast Wars Sourcebooks did a great job of cocking plenty of stuff up....

inflatable dalek
2010-02-10, 08:55 AM
Oh Ryall, you fool. I have no soul left to save.

Generally agree with all the broad points mentioned, especially on the inaccessibility to new readers because unless you trawl about for hours online there's very little clue as to what order you're supposed to read things in. Presenting the DW reprints in a similar style to the main range didn't help either. I've said before, you go into your local bookshop on a high from the film and wanting to sample some Transformers comics goodness only to find what they've got Book 1 called War Within, Book 2 called Stormbringer and Book 4, All Hail Megatron Coda. You pick up those in good faith and you're screwed.

One thing I'd also have done to aid that is if I'd decided things had gotten so bad a complete "soft reboot" (?!?!) was in order I'd have stuck to my guns with it and kept everything as simple and straightforward as possible. That means letting Revelation at least come out before starting AHM, it means not suddenly doing back flips over the negative criticism to AHM and trying desperately to shove in as many continuity references into the second half as possible unbalancing the whole thing (and at the same time missing the most important complaint, the piss poor story structure). As a result we've ended up with another "soft reboot" (?!?!?!?!!?) already. And already I see people are confused about how the hell the three different series that have launched it are supposed to fit together. Madness.

Soft reboots, they're like soft porn but without Shannon Tweed.

I actually liked the set up for the BW stuff, it was smart to not try and fit in loads of missing adventures between stories but to instead come up with a "Next Generation" style idea that kept the same basic set up but did it differently, trying to take advantage of the fact a comic can have a larger cast than the TV show. The problem is the set up is that of an ongoing, not two four issue mini series where the second seems determined to shut everything down as quickly as possible meaning none of your huge cast actually do anything. I suspect IDW didn't have much faith in the idea in the first place, the fact it was more of a sequel than a BW comic proper wasn't hugely promoted and the covers in particular (even by IDW standards) for the first one seemed determined to try and disguise the fact the TV people weren't in it.

I still think that incorporating the BW stuff into the Spotlight series with small, self contained little stories focusing on the TV cast would actually go down well if they got the right writers, but the mess of their previous efforts seems to have killed that dead. [Though to be fair, the BW comics seemed to have gone down better with the Titan audience, even the best part of a year after the reprints ended they're still getting BW art sent in by kids. Compare to the complete lack of All Hail Megatron feedback].

I wouldn't have let either Furman (who is self confessed to have no knowledge of most of the characters. Why waste time with him trying to get a grasp on researching it all on the internet and failing when the people who did those net write up will probably do it for half the price?) or Ben Yee (no doubt a lovely fellow but doesn't seem to have any grasp on character or writing fiction. There's a reason the TV show used him as Ian Levine rather than going "Hey, you know some shit, wanna write The Agenda?") anywhere near the Sourcebook. Character profiles that are badly garbled synopses of episodes, poor choice of art (if you don't have enough space for all his looks you pick Megatron's appearance as seen in the TV show over the alligator toy) and a bizarre and confusing desire to try and make sure every single toy for every character is "canon", giving us the deeply stupid explanations for transmetal Rhinox and Airrazor amongst others.

And that's without even mentioning the stupid duplication of identical toys. The logic should have been simple, "This American and this Japanese toy are completely identical in every way apart from the name. Giving them separate profiles would be as silly as giving Cosmos and Adams separate ones in a G1 book. Instead, as the American version never did anything but the Japanese was a major player in BWII (or vice versa) we'll just have that guy in the book rather than making our artists weep as they try desperately to come up with two different drawings of exactly the same toy twice so it looks like different people".

EDIT: As for the art as a whole, I like variety, probably as a result of growing up with the UK comic where every week would bring something different. But there's a difference betweeen style and not actually drawing the same version of the characters as seems to be happening at the moment. We mock Dan Reed for drawing Skids with the wrong head so Chee deserves a poke in the eye with a Zander Canon for not seeming to have noticed Bumblebee doesn't actually look anything like the cartoon model in IDWverse.

Ackula
2010-02-10, 03:37 PM
As for the art as a whole, I like variety, probably as a result of growing up with the UK comic where every week would bring something different. But there's a difference betweeen style and not actually drawing the same version of the characters as seems to be happening at the moment. We mock Dan Reed for drawing Skids with the wrong head so Chee deserves a poke in the eye with a Zander Canon for not seeming to have noticed Bumblebee doesn't actually look anything like the cartoon model in IDWverse.

Yeah, don't get me wrong, I like different art styles as well. But for crying out loud, at least use the same basic character model, not completely different ones in series that are supposed to be set at the exact same point in time.

Actually I think one of my favorite issues as far as art goes was the Kup Spotlight, I liked how it utilized two completely different art styles within the same issue, but that is a different story all together as there was an actual reason for it in the story.....

Terome
2010-02-10, 04:18 PM
Yeah, don't get me wrong, I like different art styles as well.

I agree on the matter of character designs but Chee, the biggest culprit of this trend so far, is probably my favourite artist that IDW have enlisted. His stuff is gorgeous.

Warcry
2010-02-10, 04:27 PM
Well, I think the general idea of Infiltration was right on the mark. It did a good job of establishing the status quo and sketching out a (thankfully small) cast of characters. And perhaps most importantly of all, it showed a few differences from previous TF continuity, enough to act as a hook for later stories.

But after that is when things really went off the rails. Here's a few things I would do differently.

1: Characters. This isn't 1984, and we don't have to advertise 40-something new toys each year. I realize that everyone has their favourite Transformers and that they want to see their favourite Transformers, but that's not necessarily conducive to good storytelling. That means that you should keep the cast small and only add characters if they're actually going to be important to the plot. It also means that, if you've got a character in play, you shouldn't just drop them for no reason.

IDW's first two minis established Ratchet and Jetfire as major characters only for both of them to be relegated to background extra duties for the rest of the series. That's just bad storytelling. You've spent ten issues getting readers to invest in these two -- don't throw that away because your writer wants to play with a different set of toys now.

2: Story Arcs. Yes, I realize that other media (such as TV shows) will often have dozens of major and minor plots running at the same time. And yes, I realize that other comic book companies do the same thing. But it's a terrible idea, it doesn't work in the comic medium and it needs to stop. Comics only have 22 pages, and you need to tell a coherent story in those 22 pages. Even if (as with most comics these days) individual issues are just a chapter in a larger story, the issue itself needs an identifiable beginning, middle and end. If you end up spinning your wheels on six different storylines at once with no progression from issue to issue, your readers will feel cheated.

What it boils down to is this: finish one story before you start the next one. If you're telling a story about the Decepticons' stealth invasion of Earth, then tell that story -- don't bog things down with a bunch of secret conspiracies or cosmic horrors that threaten the entire universe.

3: Your characters are robots. Robots don't have genetic code. Robots don't have cells. There is no such thing as 'CNA'. And if they have souls or sparks, they certainly wouldn't be a physical thing that you can reach into their chest and crush. Robots are made from metal and have computers for brains. If a writer doesn't understand what a robot is, don't hire him. And if he tries to retcon them into being something quasi-organic, slap his wrists and tell him 'No! Bad Furman!'.

4: Consistent tone is important. If you want to sell the series as a serious sci-fi concept, then stick with that and make sure all of your scripts have that feel to them. If what you really want is a silly fantasy romp that's fine too, but at least admit as much from the get-go.

5: Continuity is important. If you hire a new writer and he wants to tell a new story, that's fine. But if he either can't or won't reshape his story so that it makes sense with what came before, then it's up to your editors to make him.

Cliffjumper
2010-02-10, 06:52 PM
What really annoys me when writers retcon Transformers is that there are, like, hundreds of extant G1 Transformers. If you want a crimebusting jazz singer, don't get Ironhide and **** over any extant development (okay, so it's the Dead Furmanverse and there hasn't been any, but bear with the theoretical answer). Just use Boss or High Beam.

Furman works much better with some constraints - his Marvel UK stuff was excellent because he was working around Bob; his Marvel US and G2 stuff was excellent because he had to focus as the thing could have been axed any time; War Within was relatively good because Pat was calling the big shots for the G1 series, and so on. IDW let him do the Plotmaster thing (though I always though he wants to be Mark Millar rather than Alan Moore) and you get this car-crash.

Infiltration and Escalation edited together into a four or six part mini, with the Adventure Kids cut right down (what with them basically not having anything to do wiyth anything remotely important), would have been a palatable opener, and if you then followed it up with proper storylines rather than a series of overhyped anticlimaxes, who knows. Stormbringer showed that semi-related, largely self-contained stories could work, so what do IDW do? Devastation. Yay.

Warcry
2010-02-10, 07:56 PM
What really annoys me when writers retcon Transformers is that there are, like, hundreds of extant G1 Transformers. If you want a crimebusting jazz singer, don't get Ironhide and **** over any extant development (okay, so it's the Dead Furmanverse and there hasn't been any, but bear with the theoretical answer). Just use Boss or High Beam.
Totally agreed. I don't mind seeing characters put into different situations if it meshes with what we know about them from previous incarnations (like what Furman did in Blaster's spotlight). But if you've gone so far afield that you've basically created a new character, it would make a lot more sense to attach that character to one of the countless faceless cyphers that already exist in the Transformers universe instead of totally rewriting an existing character (like, say, Arcee).

Infiltration and Escalation edited together into a four or six part mini, with the Adventure Kids cut right down (what with them basically not having anything to do wiyth anything remotely important), would have been a palatable opener, and if you then followed it up with proper storylines rather than a series of overhyped anticlimaxes, who knows. Stormbringer showed that semi-related, largely self-contained stories could work, so what do IDW do? Devastation. Yay.
Actually, even though I enjoyed it I think Stormbringer is where it all started to go wrong. It was the start of Furman's "throw every character I can think of into the main plot" binge and none of the characters it brought into play got any real attention afterwards until the Wreckers book four-odd years later. And -- worst of all -- it was plunked down square in the middle of the Earth arc.

Infiltration (which should have been cut to four or five issues, not the six and two-thirds it actually got) should have been followed up immediately by Escalation (which could have been trimmed to three issues easily if the Machination silliness was cut out). Let's say eight issues altogether, to be generous. I'd probably reverse the outcome of the Prime/Megs fight, scaring the 'Cons straight and letting both faction leaders exit the scene gracefully (Megs after installing a new unit commander, Prime to recuperate and because he's not needed with Megatron gone).

No Hot Rod, Nightbeat or Hardhead required, because in retrospect they contributed exactly nothing to the main Earth plot -- Hot Rod was mainly used in the Machination stuff and the other two were there for the Dead Universe story.

Then we could follow it up with a series that advanced the Earth invasion arc into "worlds aflame" territory as the Decepticons' plans began to bear fruit, and one more that brought the Earth arc to a conclusion. Say two four-issue minis, or a single six-issue one.

So you'd be looking at your first completed story arc after around sixteen issues, which is where Escalation ended in the real world. Then you could either carry on with Stormbringer and a proper arc for the Dead Universe, do an AHM-style 'soft reboot', or take things in a totally different direction.

Cliffjumper
2010-02-10, 08:48 PM
I think my big bugbear with the -ations is they're building up nicely for a very good take on "Holy balls, the Decepticons are invading the planet", but instead it just meanders off into all this peripheral crap and turns into a bit of a damp squib.

I do agree on Stormbringer's placing, BTW - it also seemed to show that IDW had no real clue as to the direction of the series, and was an early sign of them being willing to shift anything around to whore some comics - on the one hand they're telling us to bear with the Adventure Kids because they're doing ti their way, on the other they're putting out a blatant sop to Marvel fans. At least The War Within was effectively a seperate thing to DW G1, in that the timeframe meant it had no significant impact... IDW throwing out so many books in such a short space of time meant resources were overstretched from the start, and Megatron: Origin meant there were continuity issues from almost day one.


Another thing I'd change is the mortality of the Transformers. There were two big problems - the CR chambers were far too much of a get-out, and meant not even the Nightbeat death had much impact - if Furman had carried on, do we really think such an absolute favourite would have stayed dead? Infiltration seemed to throw down the gauntlet and have Megatron actually kill some Decepticon traitors, but within a few issues Starscream's wandering around Sunbowing because Furman likes Starscream. Therefore the deaths of anyone who isn't some random G2 toy have no impact whatsoever.

The other thing is a further aspect Furman's toy-collecting attitude. We;ve already established that he's the guy who plays with his new figure compulsively for a week, until the next one arrives at which point the old one is ignored. But he's also a compulsive hoarder - he might not want to play with Jazz anymore now he's got Sideswipe, but he's damned if he's going to let Jazz go. For example, take the end of the laughably named Devastation - the Autobots pull back from Earth... That should have had some sort of impact, and Sixshot taking out Ironhide, Jazz, Ratchet and Wheeljack and actually forcing the withdrawal might have got that impact. IIRC none of those four have really done anything since that couldn't be handled by someone else, especially within the Dead Furmanverse stuff (it might have then got undone for AHM, but that's another matter), but he just can't bring himsel to hurt any of his favourites.

Terome
2010-02-10, 09:06 PM
Cliffjumper:but within a few issues Starscream's wandering around Sunbowing because Furman likes Starscream.

Too right. He should have nuked Starscream then and there. He'd have given a few guidelines on Transformer death, established that this isn't a retread of the old stuff and saved us all from a character who doesn't, by this point, have much left in him. There are about a zillion other Decepticons who could fulfil Starscream's role in any anticipated 'show Megatron he's wrong' storyline. One of the many ways to have improved Devastation would have been to use Soundwave to set Megatron straight again rather than Starscream.

But yeah, someone else would totally have brought him back post-Furman.

Cliffjumper:I think my big bugbear with the -ations is they're building up nicely for a very good take on "Holy balls, the Decepticons are invading the planet", but instead it just meanders off into all this peripheral crap and turns into a bit of a damp squib.

Reckon you've had liked the -ations better if the Dead Universe stuff had ended with Spotlight: Nightbeat? To me, it was a storyline that became worse and worse the more information was revealed.

Ackula:IDW's first two minis established Ratchet and Jetfire as major characters only for both of them to be relegated to background extra duties for the rest of the series.

Hadn't thought of it that way. Keeping Ratchet as the central character could have worked well and would have stopped the plot from jumping around a lot. You could keep the feeling of big-scaliness with devices like Prime's Command Chair and Spotlights and whatnot and you could get a lot of characterisation out of any given character's relationship to Ratchet. It's such a natural thing to go ensemble with Transformers that it's easy to forget that there are other ways to grapple it.

Warcry
2010-02-11, 02:05 AM
I think my big bugbear with the -ations is they're building up nicely for a very good take on "Holy balls, the Decepticons are invading the planet", but instead it just meanders off into all this peripheral crap and turns into a bit of a damp squib.
You've neatly summarized six months of my bitching into one sentence. I was really looking forward to seeing how the Decepticons' "take over the world in secret" plan was going to play out, and I feel kinda cheated that it got sidelined in favour of secret agents, funny aliens, cosmic horrors, more secret agents and Dinobots.

I wonder if Furman ever actually planned to tell that story, or if it was just a jumping-off point before he started in on the same sort of stuff he's been doing for 20 years.

Another thing I'd change is the mortality of the Transformers. There were two big problems - the CR chambers were far too much of a get-out, and meant not even the Nightbeat death had much impact - if Furman had carried on, do we really think such an absolute favourite would have stayed dead? Infiltration seemed to throw down the gauntlet and have Megatron actually kill some Decepticon traitors, but within a few issues Starscream's wandering around Sunbowing because Furman likes Starscream. Therefore the deaths of anyone who isn't some random G2 toy have no impact whatsoever.
But...the Battlechargers! He killed them! And it's not like he inserted a joke about how it's OK because they're not popular right into the story, right? Right?

...

I can see both sides of the issue here. On the one hand, Transformers should be very hard to kill. Their only truly vital 'organ' would be their memory/personality storage, and as long as that's intact rebuilding them should only be a matter of time and resources. But on the other hand, knowing that the characters pretty much can't die unless someone physically sifts through their debris and crushes their brain module sucks a lot of the drama out of things.

Of course, in the case of Starscream any sane commander would have done exactly that...

But yeah, someone else would totally have brought him back post-Furman.
That's a problem endemic to comics as a whole, though. Editors don't want to tell their writers, "No, you can't kill off that main character, they're too popular", and they're too scared to tell the next guy "No, you can't bring him back, he's dead". Honestly, it's the main reason why I can't be bothered with the comic industry in general.

Frankly, if any comic franchise lent itself to killing off characters for real, it would be Transformers -- there are so many characters out there to play with that you're bound to run out of stories before you run out of Autobots and Decepticons.

Hadn't thought of it that way. Keeping Ratchet as the central character could have worked well and would have stopped the plot from jumping around a lot. You could keep the feeling of big-scaliness with devices like Prime's Command Chair and Spotlights and whatnot and you could get a lot of characterisation out of any given character's relationship to Ratchet. It's such a natural thing to go ensemble with Transformers that it's easy to forget that there are other ways to grapple it.
Going for an ensemble cast is fine, but you need to keep the numbers down to a manageable level. If Furman had stuck to seven main Autobots (Prowl, Ironhide, Ratchet, Sunstreaker, Jazz, Wheeljack and Bumblebee) he would have been able to give everyone some time in the spotlight without making it seem like last issue's hero was being pushed aside to make room.

inflatable dalek
2010-02-11, 10:38 AM
As a few people have made comparisons with what Furman/IDW were trying to do with the way a lot of arc driven TV shows work thesedays I think it's important to point out the comics have gotten it entirely wrong.

You look at an individual episode from the middle of a season of 24, probably about the most arc driven show on TV, and though it's very much part of an ongoing story it's still a piece of drama in its own right. It's got beats and a rhythm for a 45 minuet TV episode and builds from a beginning to a climax (and a cliffhanger can still be a climax, look at the Galvatron whooping Ultra Magnus thing mentioned earlier). Unless it's an unusually bad episode the new viewer will, despite not knowing the overall plot, be able to follow the structure with no problems. Or to pick a show I don't watch I happened to see the first two episodes of the last season of Lost whilst visiting family. No idea what was going on and I don't particularly care to find out but despite the dense ongoing plotting and a non-linear/parallel lives thing going on both shows were still properly structured drama with a beginning middle and (cliffhanger) ending, and the editors are clearly no help.

A lot of the IDW stuff simply isn't doing this. At best an issue will feel more like a random 22 pages ripped out of a trade rather than an issue in its own right. One of the most telling things Shame McCarthy ever said was when he responded to complaints of the early AHM issues with "You wouldn't rip apart a movie after the first five minuets". Which is stupid not only because people can and do (I love Moulin Rouge but the opening is to in your face) but because it shows he has no idea whatsoever about the media he's writing for.

As far as overreaching plot in general go, I usually enjoy that sort of thing greatly, even with the risk of outside forces meaning stories don't get finished or changes are forced on the writer. I can live with the disappointment of never seeing the promised final Galvatron/Magnus fight because the stories setting it up are still well told, same goes with the earlier seasons of Babylon 5 still being exceptional even though the arc pretty much got thrown out the window for the final year. But IDW have shown twice now they have no stamina for this sort of thing and really need to drop it.

That's partly why I was so staggered to see an interview with Andy Schmidt (possibly the same one where he claims the continuum book was filled with mistakes deliberately and thus they weren't mistakes at all) where he's talking about more long term plans, how they won't reveal things like what Metroplex was up to or wtf Galvatron till late 2010 or 2011. I have no faith in the company to stick to whatever they've got planned now and can't believe their soft enough in the head to try. Sure Mike Costa is the guy currently setting the pace. But a year ago it was McCarthy and a year before that it was Furman. By October it could be Barry Chuckle writing with no idea what the hell to do with this Galvatron thing.

Halfshell
2010-02-11, 11:14 AM
But if you've gone so far afield that you've basically created a new character, it would make a lot more sense to attach that character to one of the countless faceless cyphers that already exist in the Transformers universe instead of totally rewriting an existing character (like, say, Arcee).

Mhm. Part of McCarthy's justification for the creation of Drift was that there was no character already in the universe who fits the criteria he was after.

Which is fair enough. Don't want to go and contradict a bio. Fine. Of course there are loads of characters towards the end who didn't really get much of a tech spec bio to be contradicted, but there you go.

But that wasn't the kicker. The kicker was that Drift's character (and I use that term in its loosest sense) is basically "badass Decepticon who sees the errors of his ways so starts hanging out with what's left of the Wreckers."

Which, as anybody who read Marvel UK can tell you, is a pared-down version of Carnivac. So why not just use Carnivac?

Cliffjumper
2010-02-11, 02:17 PM
I don't know, I'd have no problem with Drift in theory, even if there was an extant character that fit the remit. It's more the way Drift was such a bad, fanfic-level Mr. Awesome who was basically impossible to take seriously, and who was then promoted as Mr. Awesome by a company who do not have a single ****ing clue what they're doing, and seemingly haven't seen that itchy & Scratchy & Poochie episode of the Simpsons. If a writer finds it easier or more useful to create a character from scratch to fulfil a role they're after, more power to the - on the presumption that they're not a complete plum.

Halfshell
2010-02-11, 02:20 PM
Oh, I've no issue with that. It was just the promotion of "because there's never been any character like this before in TF, ever - I'm so awesome for doing this!"

I mean how pissed off would you be if they said "we're going to do something that's NEVER been done ANYWHERE before... you've never seen ANYTHING like it" and then followed through by having a big red robot cut the planet Earth in half?

inflatable dalek
2010-02-11, 02:51 PM
This brings up another problem really, the PR department seems determined to undermine the product as much as possible. As said, if Drift had just turned up with a minimum of fuss there wouldn't really be a problem, there's more Transformers in Universe than there are toys for them after all. But he's not just a random new guy, he's the GREATEST NEW CHARACTER OF ALL TIME! HE'S GOING TO BE THE FIRST EVER COMIC CHARACTER TO GET A TOY! (not the first, and to date no he hasn't) HE'S NOT JUST A NINJA MARY SUE AND WILL BE A VITAL AND IMPORTANT CHARACTER! (Already seems to have been forgotten about).

Promoting your product and trying to make it seem good is one thing, but they're so over the top and aggressive with their promotion you just wind up wanting them to fail.

Ohhh, and remember the claims of the AWESOME sales figures for AHM1 only for the official chart to show it was actually much less and about the same as Devastation? Indeed, considering the sales figures are staying about the same level for whatever the main title is despite the constant relaunches (bar the odd bump for issue 1's or a movie) I think IDW need to get down with the fact they've found their mean audience. Whatever new readers are being attracted are balanced by those being put off by each change.

Warcry
2010-02-11, 03:41 PM
As a few people have made comparisons with what Furman/IDW were trying to do with the way a lot of arc driven TV shows work thesedays I think it's important to point out the comics have gotten it entirely wrong.
Agreed. I think there's an important difference between TV and comics that they tend to ignore, though. A comic has 22 pages per month in which to tell it's story, while a TV show has ~4 hours per month. That means that it's a lot easier to divide your TV show up between four or five ongoing plots than it is to do the same to a comic. Comics just have a lot less room to play with, and if you have a lot of ongoing plots in a comic it's very easy for things to come grinding to a halt.

A lot of the IDW stuff simply isn't doing this. At best an issue will feel more like a random 22 pages ripped out of a trade rather than an issue in its own right.
Agreed. The trend is so pronounced by now that I usually don't even bother with individual issues at all anymore -- I just wait until I can buy the trade, since that's obviously how the stories are intended to be read.


Re: Drift, the character doesn't bother me all that much, although I was as annoyed by the "He's the best character EVER!" marketing as much as anyone. What really annoyed me is that they gave him such a huge sales pitch -- including a spotlight issue and a supposed Universe toy -- and then he turned out to be nothing more than a generic background extra in AHM.

McCarthy doesn't have a very good sense of the dramatic so I wouldn't be surprised if things were always scripted like that. But after the way IDW kept telling us that they needed a character like Drift for the story AHM wanted to tell, I was left with the feeling that the editors told McCarthy to drop his plans for Drift entirely because of the fan backlash instead of just rolling with it and trying to turn fan perceptions of the character around. What we're left with in the end is really kind of weird...a new character introduced to massive fanfare and given a lot of build-up in the comics themselves, who goes on to do absolutely nothing and be a less important part of the ongoing story than Guzzle.

Halfshell
2010-02-11, 03:50 PM
Yeah, but Guzzle's awesome.

Terome
2010-02-11, 03:59 PM
Warcry: McCarthy doesn't have a very good sense of the dramatic so I wouldn't be surprised if things were always scripted like that.

Signs point to 'yes.' He hamfistedly name-dropped Scourge and Zeta Prime as if they were important entities without having any ability to explain what the hell they meant for the story. There's a big thick line between creating texture within a fictional universe and just plomping down mysteries that can only be resolved beyond the tenure of the story one is currently writing. See also: That Quintesson bit in Spotlight: Wheelie.

Cliffjumper
2010-02-11, 06:45 PM
Oh, and I wouldn't do Spotlight - Wheelie either. WHEELIE IS TOLERABLE TO ADULT READERS WHEN HE'S NOT SCRIPTED AS A SMALL CHILD IN A CARTOON FOR SMALL CHILDREN SHOCKING ****ING HORROR. Can we have 22 pages that further the plot instead, please?

This is how I'd actually run the titles from Day 1.
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I'd have Ultimate Transformers as the main book (probably not named exactly that, but something similarly prosaic). This would be what it sounds like - the big names, remixed slightly. The Decepticons people outside of fandom remember are invading Earth for some reason under the command of Megatron. The Autobots people outside of fandom remember are here to defend the planet. Unashamedly populist, relatively straightforward action-orientated reboot, something which could be tremendous if handled properly. Rip off Ultimate Marvel for all it's worth.

Ideal writer would be some hip young gunslinger with minimal previous work on Transformers, a cheap version of Mark Millar. Drawn primarily by EJ Su, or maybe Guido. If the writer buggers off, the next writer has to work with what they've done so far - and a good editor should prevent the first writer from screwing anything up. Break it up into mini-series if unavoidable due to distributors or whatever, but have the series run sequentially with as few a breaks in publication as possible. Come up with an overall numbering system, possibly just calling each mini Ultimate Transformers, Ultimate Transformers #2, Ultimate Transformers #3, etc.
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Secondary series would be something like Transformers - Tales of Cybertron or something. This would be our fan title, possibily with Furman as writer. Because he'd be given a set group of characters, i.e. exclude the Ultimate cast. Ultimate would have at least a one-arc headstart, publishing-wise. This would basically be set in space, or maybe even just Cybertron. Interaction with the Earth storyline would be minimal, keeping it self contained but still in continuity - maybe simply put Cybertron a long, long, long, long, long way from Earth, and Prime's forces are an expeditionary force which has followed the Decepticons to Earth. Something like that, the end result being this book stands up by itself.

We're possibly going with the classic Decepticon rule/Autobot resistance here. The first arc would cover the plight of the Iacon cell of the resistance, something like 12-20 Autobots, and if that went well, we'd have them gradually getting in touch with the groups at Kalis or whatever. None of these settlements would be called Simfur or Orsonisaaronarcherlol. A strong editor would keep control of Furman - he has to justify any cast expansions and the like. Nick Roche on pencils.
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The Spotlights would be junked as a series. Instead, there'd be an annual mini-series or, er, annual featuring solo or small team stories, either focusing around loose ends from either main series, or introducing 'new' characters to be folded into either, or flashback stuff. This title would function as a try-out book, both in terms of the characters and the creative teams. Short, sharp stories - you do not need 22 pages to tell us Mirage might have a bit of internal conflict. Maybe if it was a mini series a highly highly modified version of the Revelations model - four issues focusing on four characters that tie together.
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Other series would be carefully considered before publication. Movie stuff obviously is a cash cow, but after the first film I'd keep on going and just stick to what I'd done. No problem with doing a ROTF adaptation for Hasbro, but I'm damned if it's going to affect our burgeoning Movie comic continuity. Beast Wars - slot something between the episodes, stick with the TV cast. No stupid crap like Hearts of Steel, at least nothing like that until the two main titles are well established. Bung out a kid-orientated comic based on whatever the current cartoon is.

Clay
2010-02-11, 08:17 PM
Can't say that I've read many of the IDW comics, but I do have the Beastwars TPB with everything they did (2 miniseries + character profiles).

For what it was, I liked it. What I didn't like, and what was more predominant in the second miniseries, is the whole tone of "ZOMG ALL CYBERTRON IN DANGER MUST SAVE UNIVERSE FROM UNJICRON!!1" It seemed to miss a lot of the humor of the cartoon and replace it with "serious business." Was the principle comic the same way?

Cliffjumper
2010-02-11, 09:53 PM
Mm, that's another thing I'd put in place with my editorial diktat: no big universe threatening events or othe things that will CHANGE TRANSFORMERS FOREVER. Big events should evolve naturally, not be quota-written into each mini-series. I'd gladly just take an attempted invasion of Earth for a change...

Failing all this, if I'd got myself into a situation where I had to do an AHM, I'd a) make it a full reboot and b) keep my guts and follow through for the whole series.

Clay
2010-02-11, 10:13 PM
Hmm, of course that's a criticism not limited to IDW or Transformers, really. Lots of these properties that are based on some fantastic premise tend to follow through with some grandiose or bloated threat to everything in existence. If I had to analyze it, I'd say it's a mechanism for creating dramatic tension when the audience doesn't really care about the characters (if the hero fails, you die too! AIIEEE). Does that make sense?

Cliffjumper
2010-02-11, 10:19 PM
Yeh, I know Marvel tend to do it - especially now they've gone back to the 1980s/early 1990s big big big crossovers, meaning that for nine months a year most characters are basically making time. It's just a shame IDW don't have it in them to innovate rather than imitate. Well, not innovate exactly, but go back to basics - the comics market is contracting, so surely this is the best direction?

Terome
2010-02-12, 01:39 AM
It's just a shame IDW don't have it in them to innovate rather than imitate.

This was actually their defence for a few of the more baffling AHM changes. Denyer called them very nicely on it at the time with words to the effect of "Saying that the bigger boys do it too doesn't make it okay."

Warcry
2010-02-12, 02:44 AM
Secondary series would be something like Transformers - Tales of Cybertron or something. This would be our fan title, possibily with Furman as writer.
I'm not sure having as second series of any sort is a good idea, to be honest. Having different series for different types of fan is a good thing on paper, but in practice it seems like it just splinters the readership even more. Certainly you'll have a hard core of readers who'll buy anything you put out, but on the other hand you'll also have more casual readers (like me) who are only going to follow one series at a time regardless of how many you put out. Considering the low sales numbers on IDW's regular book and the frankly horrible numbers for things like Spotlights and Max Dinos, I would be inclined to just say "screw it" and concentrate on attracting as many sets of eyes as I could to the main title.

If the sales numbers for that one book got up to, say, double what IDW are pulling in right now, then I'd say it would be worth the effort of doing spinoff books. But not before.

Can't say that I've read many of the IDW comics, but I do have the Beastwars TPB with everything they did (2 miniseries + character profiles).

For what it was, I liked it. What I didn't like, and what was more predominant in the second miniseries, is the whole tone of "ZOMG ALL CYBERTRON IN DANGER MUST SAVE UNIVERSE FROM UNJICRON!!1" It seemed to miss a lot of the humor of the cartoon and replace it with "serious business." Was the principle comic the same way?
I never even bothered with the second mini, the first was so dire.

"Magmatron is going to take over all of Cybertron with the Axalon's two dozen protoforms! Even though there are thousands, if not millions, of Maximals on the planet. And the fact that the Axalon was a science ship, and there are probably dozens of other ships out there with similar numbers of crew. Not to mention the thousands of already-existing Predacons who would probably flock to your cause if you asked nicely."

Gah, even thinking about it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Mm, that's another thing I'd put in place with my editorial diktat: no big universe threatening events or othe things that will CHANGE TRANSFORMERS FOREVER. Big events should evolve naturally, not be quota-written into each mini-series. I'd gladly just take an attempted invasion of Earth for a change...
This is one thing that Dreamwave got right. Regardless of the quality of the final product, it was obvious that they put fun first and ZOMG EPIC DRAMA a distant second. Except for, oddly enough, whenever they let Furman write something...

Blackjack
2010-02-12, 12:40 PM
Well, there's very little that you guys haven't said. Personally, I'd go with something similar with Cliffjumper's and Warcry's designs.

-Make a simple 'Transformers' or 'Ultimate Transformers' or 'Transformers G1' or something along those lines, an ongoing based on Infiltration with a cast of, say, seven to nine on each side. Say, Starscream or Sounwave leading a group of Decepticons -- a mixture of well-known cartoon guys and some randoms from late G1. On the other side, Prowl or Prime with their own group of a mixture of Sunbow cartoon guys and some randomly picked Autobots. Then, after several arcs, we have some issues focusing on the situation on Cybertron (like in the ole days of Marvel), perhaps between Prime and Megatron. Drop all the Hunter O'Nion thing, drop the Reapers, drop the Dead Universe, drop the Machination and Skywatch and Dinobots being in stasis and all that, and focus on telling the story.

-Don't kill every second G2 character. Can't stress this enough.

-Stop shelving guys like Jazz or Wheeljack to the background once someone else comes. I mean, a scene in Revelation where Nemesis Prime faces off against a group of random Autobot troops could've easily been filled with, say, Bumblebee or Ratchet, thereby necessitating their move to Garrus after Devastation.

-Spotlight issues should be used to introduce a character, not to set up plot threads which would be shoved aside anyway. Some of the Spotlights are self-centered enough, like Kup or Ramjet. But some, like Sixshot and Arcee and Soundwave and Grimlock are simply holding important parts of the plot which should've been in the ongoing (or the main title at least). Stop wasting pages on Mirage. I mean, like someone earlier in this thread said- 22 pages to say that 'Mirage might have a split personality disorder'?

-No soft reboots. Gawd. If it needed rebooting, reboot it hard.

-No advertised self-styled MR AWESOME fancharacters. Drift himself doesn't annoy me. To me he's just like Scrounge or Nightbird, but then the advertisement put behind him... the meh-tastic spotlight devoted to him... eesh.

-Stop changing character models. Those guys in AHM- the Seekers and Sunstreaker and Sideswipe could've been excused somewhat due to the 'One Year Later' gap. As absurd as it sounds, the upgrade to Don-style in the ongoing could be placed to some sort of change between the years that passed as well. But changing both the art style and the character model in two stories that should take place at the same time? Eesh.

-And for goodness sake, make the new readers read old comics. Or at least read summaries of them. Please? Continuity matters, you know.

Cliffjumper
2010-02-12, 01:22 PM
Actually, IDW usually have letters pages in their comics, don't they? (I'm asking because scanners for some reason don't bother with the pages of some cosplaying twat spouting platitudes to morons who write in going "I was a fan of the original Transformers until G2 started in 1986! Soundwave is my favourite, how about you have Laserbeak turn into an electronic guitar, that would rock to the x-treme! Autobots Roll Out! LOL"). Why the Hell couldn't that space be used for a Robot War-style summary? Letters pages are surely a bit old hat, and IDW's were always shit beyond words anyway.

Going back to the original post, actually, if I was Ryall I'd fire myself and get a proper editor in. IDW's comics have been pretty poor, but it's been exacerbated by poor control - continuity errors, publishing errors, contradictory statements, flip-flopping, unlikeable PR, lack of focus.

I know no-one really reads it anymore and we're meant to affect a sort of snooty attitude to straightforward superhero comics because all the edgy revisionist stuff would totally work if they'd never put the straight version in place, but Marvel's handling of the X-Men from the 1970s onwards is still surely the way to go. Start off with one book, relatively easy to follow from month to month. keep doing that one book, keeping quality as high as possible - leave it in the hands of the writer who's made it a success, pair him up with promising artists, keep the faith during the odd sales dip rather than panicking and replacing him with Stan Lee or some guy who'd done an arc on Detective comics. Then, when demand gets truly insane, break out the second book when you're assured of success. Then if demand continues to rise, start with your various spinoff/reprint titles. Sure, after 25 years it might all contract in on itself, but that's better than it all contracting in on itself inside three or four years.

But then IDW are a shortcut company - it's all about the quick buck (hence there generally being four or five Transformers titles out per month) and the quick fix.

Patapsco
2010-02-13, 01:39 AM
Going back to the original post, actually, if I was Ryall I'd fire myself and get a proper editor in. IDW's comics have been pretty poor, but it's been exacerbated by poor control - continuity errors, publishing errors, contradictory statements, flip-flopping, unlikeable PR, lack of focus.

even at the risk of sound like internet cliche #237896, but this to an infinite degree. If someone at IDW had actually gotten on Furman's back at any point during the initial run and either reined in his scope or split off his ideas into two seperate but interlinked stories i.e. one dead universe title vs one earth/ore 13/facsimilies title, it would have been so much better. I may be in the minority but Infiltration was great as an introductory piece if a tad slow (not as slow as some people think anyway), but it went quickly downhill after that as multiple plot threads just strangled it.

Also, has anyone read his intro piece for Infiltration or the Q&A at the end of Devastation he did? Interesting stuff in there

Red Dave Prime
2010-02-13, 12:34 PM
I thought the furman stuff had some sound ideas. Infiltration set the scene up nicely, stormblringer explained why the transformers had to leave cybertron, then ore 13 gave the fight a reason to threat earth differently to other planets the decepticons attack. But then the layers started being flung on for no reason. The machination plot would have been fine AFTER the main earth invasion arc was done. It woudl have made a good ligh-hearted read after the intense attempt at taking over earth.

The reapers were, I suppose, a doable threat but their design was (and I cant stress this enough) absolutely SHIT. They certainly werent needed (and sixshots dilema related to them would have made more impact after he had done some damage to earth during the main plot) Then we could have gone onto the dead universe. Which in itself was an ok idea but done so badly as become a mess at the end.

If I was to sum up the biggest problem with Furman it would have been that plot & characters took a backseat to BIG ARC and toy explanations (gestalts, headmasters, pretenders, arcee...)

How would I like to have seen it done?

Robots in disguse. Start there. Have an earth centred plot with (adult) humans uncovering the decepticon invasion. Keep it small scale robot wise. Transformers should be though but I've never bought the idea that they should be able to just march in and destroy human forces. Kinda took away their need for infiltration. The parallell lines to the problem that terrorism provides would make it a relevent story (humans cant tell if machine is a decepticon until it makes its presence felt) and the idea of decepticons turning nation against nation to the dirty work i felt was excellent. More please.

The autobot squad could intially be mistaken but dont dwell on that problem - its been done to death. Earth could also be given a special relevence compared to other planets - maybe a natural reason like power source or artifical like autobot spies have stolen some vital tech to the decepticon cause. Basically a mcguffin to explain why the cons dont just blast the planet from orbit.

Keep most of the bots similar powered - no super gestalts or leaders. Keep the tech level sane - no mass-displacement. And when its all done a teaser could be the one remaining decepticon not captured sending a signal back to cybertron and Decepticon HQ, where megatron is revealed.

And no matrix/ unicron. They've been done and its unlikely a new version is going to better them.

Cliffjumper
2010-02-13, 12:56 PM
Robots in disguse. Start there. Have an earth centred plot with (adult) humans uncovering the decepticon invasion. Keep it small scale robot wise. Transformers should be though but I've never bought the idea that they should be able to just march in and destroy human forces. Kinda took away their need for infiltration. The parallell lines to the problem that terrorism provides would make it a relevent story (humans cant tell if machine is a decepticon until it makes its presence felt) and the idea of decepticons turning nation against nation to the dirty work i felt was excellent. More please.

The autobot squad could intially be mistaken but dont dwell on that problem - its been done to death. Earth could also be given a special relevence compared to other planets - maybe a natural reason like power source or artifical like autobot spies have stolen some vital tech to the decepticon cause. Basically a mcguffin to explain why the cons dont just blast the planet from orbit.

Keep most of the bots similar powered - no super gestalts or leaders. Keep the tech level sane - no mass-displacement. And when its all done a teaser could be the one remaining decepticon not captured sending a signal back to cybertron and Decepticon HQ, where megatron is revealed.

And no matrix/ unicron. They've been done and its unlikely a new version is going to better them.

That's more or less the first film...

And I agree completely. Whether or not you like the execution of the Bay films, you've got to admit they've got the best set-up imaginable for something like this. I still find it amazing that the comic's never tried to duplicate this properly.

Strip the Adventure Kids out of Infiltration and you have an excellent start - removing all that SuicideGirls blog stuff out from Jubilation Lee, what with her having nothing signficant that warranted such focus would automatically tighten the mini. Ratchet can still meet up with some humans who would prove sympathetic, but is there any reason we have to know they're a whiny emo bitch or comedy computer nerd first?

Having nicely inched along the Infiltration cast... stick with the cocking Infiltration cast. Why start roping in more characters straight away? What does Jazz do in Escalation/Devastation? Very little, because here's Drift Rod as Furman has no attention span.

Fully agree that the storylines probably being better suited to linear telling. I mean, any partiular reason there has to be three/four storylines stacked? It's the Plotmaster pretension again, isn't it?

Halfshell
2010-02-13, 07:08 PM
I mean, any partiular reason there has to be three/four storylines stacked?

So that the resolution of one of them can be completely dropped in the last issue due to lack of page space, thus giving people on the interwebz something to bitch about.

OBVIOUSLY. I mean come on, man. You know this by now.

Red Dave Prime
2010-02-14, 01:55 PM
I detect a hint of sarcasm...

Fully agree that the storylines probably being better suited to linear telling. I mean, any partiular reason there has to be three/four storylines stacked? It's the Plotmaster pretension again, isn't it?

I suppose it kinda makes sense when you can have storys in areas of the story world that are far apart. Like you could have run the dead universe with one cast of autobots in one series while megatrons earth assault was done in another series. There could be a few crossovers to encourage readers to follow and buy both comics. In a way, similar to how Buffy and angel would do small crossovers in the tv show. But running several stories in the one series (especially one set in a 6 issue run) was pure silly.


remember IDW, its your ASS thats for sitting on and your HEAD for thinking with, not the other way round...

inflatable dalek
2010-02-14, 02:05 PM
A
Going back to the original post, actually, if I was Ryall I'd fire myself and get a proper editor in. IDW's comics have been pretty poor, but it's been exacerbated by poor control - continuity errors, publishing errors, contradictory statements, flip-flopping, unlikeable PR, lack of focus.

That's probably the best idea yet- The editorial stupidity at IDW (especially from Schmidt who seems not to have a clue about anything) is the big stumbling block. True, McCarthy's got no one to blame but himself for being a bit cack but equally when he came to IDW with a six issue series with no plot the response should not have been "Lets do it as 12 issues".

Commander Shockwav
2010-02-14, 08:15 PM
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I'd have Ultimate Transformers as the main book (probably not named exactly that, but something similarly prosaic). Rip off Ultimate Marvel for all it's worth.

That's exactly what I would do.

My version of Transformers would certainly have it's share of characters biting it, once and for all. There has to be something at stake for readers to really get intense about a comic. I wouldn't worry about fan reaction to the death of their favorite character.

My first two issues would have Bumblebee biting it in a way very much akin to when Scrounge bit it in the Return to Cybertron Marvel two-parter. That would set the tone immediately. It wouldn't be a casual death, but a heart-rending one.

Hasbro would raise a stink, so I'd probably have to bring him back at some point, somehow, someway. But I'd still start off with his death.

windsweeper
2010-02-16, 10:23 PM
Personally, I'd have been happy if they just continued on from the Marvel G1/G2 books or Dreamwave.

People criticise Dreamwave but some of us loved it. War Within gave us a nice starting point with excellent Cybertronian designs not like the bland Movie Protoforms. They also made Armada/Energon likeable, giving all those Mini-cons character.

What I really liked about Dreamwave was that they really grasped each character. The MTMTE profile books were amazing. Even in the ongoing, the TF's had character. They had the quirks and more that the tech specs gave them. I loved DW's take on Sunstreaker.

For me, it's always been about the characters. The tech specs elevated the original toys from other toy robots because each one had a personality. Dreamwave respected this source material whereas IDW do not. They take recogniseable, already interesting characters like Prowl and Sunstreaker and ruin them. As previously said, there are hundreds of TF characters, most of which barely been glimpsed that could be used rather than destroying the icons some of us love.

Spotlight: Ramjet was an abomination. The story would have been better suited to Thrust. DW got Ramjet perfectly in one great splash page with his charge on the Ark and that great quote: "Bring it on, you slaggin' cowards!"

Stormbringer was the most boring, soulless piece of TF fiction I've ever read. Just once I'd like to see an Autobot scientist who isn't one of their triumverate of know all, pains in the aft - Jetfire, Perceptor and Wheeljack. How about the supremely intelligent yet very underused, at least in that capacity, Skids?

Look at other franchises. Buffy and Batman both have a great rogues gallery. The likes of Spike, Joker, Ras AL Ghul or the Mayor were iconic and memorable because they were such great CHARACTERS.

Ask anyone to name a character from Lord of the Rings and most will surely say Gollem.

Personally, I read or watch a series because I like the characters. I could have watched Spike or Mark Hamill's Joker all day because they were intersting characters. These grand, world threatening epics can get tiresome very quickly. I always found the Avengers boring. It just seemed to be one big threat after the next. At least X-Men had characters.

I so miss the days of my childhood where I'd eagerly look forward to next week's Marvel TF comic. I recaptured it for a while with Dreamwave but IDW for the most part is severely lacking.

I don't know the first thing about putting a comic book together but I know what I like and that's characters.

Strangely I do find I like their Beast Wars profiles, Movie comics and All Hail Megatron.

I also really like Alex Milne and EJ Su. It's Roche I'm not big on.

In fairness, IDW has done a lot of stuff I like but it just doesn't capture me the way the Dreamwave and Marvel transformers did.

Commander Shockwav
2010-02-17, 01:41 AM
So are you saying you like characters? :)

In seriousness, I understand what you're saying and I agree with it. IMO, the foundation for any great story, sci-fi/fantasy or otherwise, lies in the characters. Even with a great plot, if the characters don't draw you into the story, it will fall flat.

Though DW surely had it's share of bombs (i.e. Micromasters), I was a big fan of their ongoing and felt one of the things they did well was make each bot distinct from the other. Many were very critical of giving the characters the vocal tic and quirks they had in the cartoon, but it still helped instill some individuality to the huge cast of Transformers. Granted, different sounding voices do not translate into characterization per se, but sometimes, it really is a reflection of that bots character. Omega Supreme's abrupt tone reflects his stoic nature. Blurrs slurring of words together reflects his hypermanic persona. Etc, etc. DW did a good job of uisng this. I never found DW's stuff to be a rehash of the cartoon as was claimed. I hated the cartoon, yet liked the ongoing.

The saddest thing for me was that it looked like the ongoing found it's stride when DW went under. I feel the best was yet to come, that big things were in store for us. For the first time in the many years since Marvel had the license, I was excited.

DW had Don. The real Don. The Predaking vs. Bruticus Don. Don was the best thing to come out of DW, hands down.

Not to say IDW has been bad, but let's face it, the pearls they have produced can be counted on one hand. The Shockwave Spotlight. The Kup Spotlight. And whatever Roche writes. Really, that's all I can say I can really take away from IDW's stint with the license.

Red Dave Prime
2010-02-17, 12:13 PM
Dreamwave also had a lot of mystic spouting. The sunstorm tale was quite good but got caught up in all sorts of guff by the end. Felt the same with both the war withins - good start but then silly finishes (finger of primus doom!)

Certainly felt it was finding its feet a little though.

IDW on the hand gots slagged probably a bit more then it should. (and I am guilty as any). The problem with the early stuff was it was all build up and then poor (or none at all) pay-off. Then we got AHM which I didnt find as bad as others but jarred with what came before and doesnt fit with what came after. It also seemed to have a few mid-series re-writes which made its plot points make little sense. And a really bad "suprise" save from Omega.

Now on the ongoing and it feels like a new series all over again. Think it would have worked better if bumblebee didnt get his own series just yet. Its splintered the new ongoings image before we had a chance to get used to it.

Commander Shockwav
2010-02-17, 03:25 PM
The problem with the early stuff was it was all build up and then poor (or none at all) pay-off.

Agreed. I was really digging Stormbringer...until that ridiculous ending when Thunderwing runs out of gas.

Same with the Dead Universe stuff. Liked it, but then they decided to rush the thing to bring on AHM, and save for E.J.'s incredible painted art at the end, the whole story just fell flat. Add in the whole Machination thing at the same time, and you've got yourself one rushed cluster****.

AHM sucked for the reasons you mention. It was Prime Directive all over again. Cleary McCarthy hadn't read that DW story.

Now on the ongoing and it feels like a new series all over again. Think it would have worked better if bumblebee didnt get his own series just yet. Its splintered the new ongoings image before we had a chance to get used to it.

I actually believe now, after two years of f-ups, that IDW is righting their ship. They started fresh with the ongoing, and who can blame them? It needed to be done. True, the Bumblebee series has been somewhat of a distraction, but I think it's enough to the side that it doesn't impact the main story, at least not to this point. I'm willing to give Costa time to see where he's going. Hell, if I can give Simon six issues with the snail-paced Infiltration and McCarthy six issues, I can give Costa six issues to see what he can do. And so far, I'm pleased.

And of course, another reason why I think IDW is getting their act together is having Roche write. LSOTW or otherwise, clearly, he's one of the stronger writers on TF at the moment and probably the biggest talent IDW has at their disposal.

Red Dave Prime
2010-02-17, 03:49 PM
I didnt mind the end of stormbringer so much as it tied in to ore 13s failings quite well.

Completely agree with you on the ongoing - I'll give it a bit of time but
The cover with prime taking on menasor for issue 5 or 6

doesnt fill me with confidence.

inflatable dalek
2010-02-17, 05:07 PM
Hey, that's officially the BIGGEST threat the Autobots have ever faced. How can it possibly fail?

Commander Shockwav
2010-02-17, 07:47 PM
I never judge a book by it's cover. Especially a comic book.

One thing I think Costa does well is character development. The plot thus far looked to be quite fast-paced after that first issue, but seems to be plodding along now.

This fourth issue will be critical in terms of moving the story along.

Red Dave Prime
2010-02-17, 09:47 PM
You know, I think thats been said of nearly every IDW series. The fourth issue is KEY :)