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Red Dave Prime
2010-08-22, 02:34 PM
Hello folks!

Was idling about today and noticed how large my IDW collection is - basically have bought everything from Infiltration #0 onwards. So I thought it would be interesting to read through the collection... using the chronology featured in continum. May be interesting, may not but if anyone fancys adding in thoughts along the way, that would be cool.

First up will be section 1 - The Megatron: Origin Series issues 1 to 4

Red Dave Prime
2010-08-22, 02:46 PM
1. Megatron Origin #1-4

What a way to start off a series. By my recollection, this was the first big mis-step of IDW and started a pattern of bad continuity. Coming around the time of escalation if I remember right, it apparently was meant to be a six part dreamwave series. It shows.

The art is by Alex Milne and he produces an overly dark and generally confusing style. Had to re-read several panels to get a clue of whats going on. The end battle between Sentinal Prime and Megatron is particularly tricky. If anyone knows what happens when Prime blasts megatron while in front of him only to have a destroyed Hound thrown at him by Megatron from up above please fill it in here.

The story itself isnt totally without merit. The basic idea of the story is of the decepticon rising (really, altough he is the main con, megatron gets little insight. what turns hims from miner to psycho killer-ruler is never addressed). The 2 main problems I had was :
1.) its overly muddled and doesnt know whether to focus on the gladitorial problem or the political play of Ratbat and the result is niether gets a proper pay-off
2.) they are desperate to shoe-horn in anyone and everyone into cameos. Ok, no problem with Clench or Cy-kill, and Bumper is fine but it seems everyone was already an autobot trooper before a single decepticon appeared which doesnt make sense with the current IDW feel of the autobots forming after the cons appear and indeed, even the first issue of Origin gives an impression of the autobots being an elite, military dictatorship - which makes it odd that we see Hound, Prowl, Bumblebee etc involved from the start.
It suffers with the decepticons cameos as well as we get so many so early that none make an impact - the seekers just appear as if from nowhere.

So we start with a muddled series that sets the scene in a way which will be slightly contradicted later on. Not a favourite mini of mine by any strecth and really, could/ should have been ret-conned out of exsistence by Continuim.

edit: I should point out, I have kinda speed reviewd this one. Any other minis will get a proper issue by issue look. As shockwave attests, this one just isnt really worth the effort of checking over anything in major detail.

Next up folks, is Blurr...

Commander Shockwav
2010-08-22, 03:28 PM
M:O was awful. Artwise and storywise both. I don't think I've ever anticipated a miniseries so much and then been so disappointed in it.

It makes AHM and the ongoing look good.

Red Dave Prime
2010-08-22, 05:51 PM
Spotlight Blur
Story: Shane McCarthy
Art: Casey Coller / Joana Laufuente

Right, after the quick and ever so slight look at Megatron:Origins, we come to our first proper written-for-IDW issue. The plots quite simple as Spoilt, rich racer Blur gets brought down to earth (as it were) when the starting civil war on cybertron impacts on his hedonistic lifestyle.

Coming from the style of Cybertron that Origins portrayed, Blurs story is set in a more pristine world. This is in part thanks to the art from Coller which features lovely character designs but backgrounds that are very light and a bit bland. Its something which runs through his style I think as the Ironhide mini features a similar problem. Altough saying that, its not much of a problem and I would take this style over Alex Milne or Chee.

Back to the Issue and this is what I would have classed as one of McCarthys “slight” issues in that the story makes no major impact on the major but is supposed to add a bit of colour to characters involved. Cliffjumper is the other and while Drift does add backstory to both preceptor and Drift it still has a slight feel to it.

Its not a particularly amazing issue but does have 2 nice scenes. Starscream trying to recruit Blur is really nice, well drawn and fits Screamer well. The other scene that made me laugh was when Blur and his crew hit the flash nightclub after the race. Despite the stringent door policy, one table is taken up by 2 Simultronic junkies out of their minds. That’s fantastic work Mr. Doorman. Ok, that scene probably wasn’t meant to be funny but it made me chuckle.

Outside of that, this issue doesn’t really have much. The art carries a lot of it as nothing is badly written but nothing is written in a way that really grabs. Primes pep talk with Blur feels by the numbers and even the ending where Blur intercepts the decepticon party is silly – why the cons didn’t fly to their target is never explained. They just seem to be trudging along a street. Even worse, why blur felt he couldn’t take an alternate route to get ahead of them. He heads right into a group of assassins for Christ sake, just to run past them. Pure Silly.

So, as I said earlier, a slight issue. Nothing terrible but nothing that needed to be addressed as a stand alone issue.

Funny, if someone has bought IDWs compendium of TF stories they would have gotten through 100 pages of "meh" before they got to our first decent issue - next review is spotlight:Shockwave!

inflatable dalek
2010-08-22, 07:52 PM
Useless Fact: There was some art at AA and the title on it was Megatron: Precursor.

Red Dave Prime
2010-08-22, 08:32 PM
Megatron - the mining years?

Neuronutter
2010-08-23, 04:11 PM
Funny, if someone has bought IDWs compendium of TF stories they would have gotten through 100 pages of "meh" before they got to our first decent issue - next review is spotlight:Shockwave!

Spotlight Shockwave review: awesome. Probably the best single issue IDW has produced to date.

Red Dave Prime
2010-08-23, 11:20 PM
Spotlight Shockwave
Story: Simon Furman
Art: Nick Roche / Josh Burcham

The very first spotlight that IDW and one of the best, Spotlight Shockwave was exciting, vibrant and fresh at the time of its release. How does it stack up now? Still a quality issue.

Furman hits 2 goals with this issue. First off, itís a nice play on the original Marvel origin story of the Dinobots and Shockwave but with its own twist. Secondly it sets up a clever reason for Earth to be so central to the cybertronian war Ė Ore 13. Sadly, now ignored/ forgotten / never-read-about-in-the-first-place (delete as suits the writer)

As all good spotlights, this one is told from the view of the named character, Shockwave and his efforts to create s new form of energy supply for the species thousands of years ago. He seeds various planets (take note IDW writers, you could use this!) but unknown to him, he is being tracked by the Autobot Dynobots squad Ė a somewhat anarchic military squad hellbent on revenge. As he seeds the planet Earth, the Dynobots attack, equipped in Living Dinosaur forms which allow them to function in Earths unstable atmosphere. Battle ensures and its an excellent one. Roches art is excellent here and captures the action brilliantly Ė especially Shockwaves comeback.

In the end, shockwave is victorious but dynobot grimlock had a back up plan which involves all the combatants getting blasted from a remote ship in orbit. This causes a volcano to erupt burying Shockwave and the Dynobots in molten lava. As the issue ends, we see Bludgeon in the present day being assigned to look into shockwaves activities which will lead nicely into Stormbringer (if I remember right, Stormbringer issue 1 was already out)

This is a great issue in my view. The art is lovely, the plot is fast but intriguing at the same time and while itís a complete story in itself, it sets up other plot points in the overall arc. An early high point for IDW.

Spotlight Jazz is next on the review block.

horizon
2010-08-24, 05:40 AM
Yes, Spotlight: Shockwave is really very good all around.

Commander Shockwav
2010-08-25, 09:35 PM
Spotlight:Shockwave still holds up as IDW's best single issue yet, IMO.

Skyquake87
2010-08-26, 06:05 PM
Whilst it is a good issue, the Dynobot's reason for attacking Shockwave didn't have enough 'meat' to it for me. It seemed a very flimsy reason for Grimlock to get angered about (an attack at a depot?!). Otherwise, it is a great little issue.

Terome
2010-08-26, 10:15 PM
It seemed a very flimsy reason for Grimlock to get angered about

That's the point, surely? The Dynobots are little better than gangsters. I like the implication that no one missed them at all except for Ultra Magnus, who is a bit of a pedant.

Terome
2010-08-26, 10:21 PM
Red Dave Prime: 1.) its overly muddled and doesnt know whether to focus on the gladitorial problem or the political play of Ratbat and the result is niether gets a proper pay-off

That really hits the nail on the head. Despite the rest of its flaws, if Megatron had just had a damn focus, it could have put some of its fairly decent ideas to good use. It's a problem across almost all of the IDW minis, really. Which might be why the Spotlights stand out... until they get sucked into the Dark Universe guff.

Red Dave Prime
2010-08-29, 11:50 AM
Spotlight Jazz
Story: Josh Van Reyk / Shaun Knowler
Art: EJ Su / Priscilla Taramonta


This is IDWs next issue in terms of continuity but it sure donít feel like it. Its main story is set in the past alright but really it should fit in at around the end of the first part of All Hail Megatron. If you (like me) are reading these issues in the order that IDW recommend, youíd be hard pressed to know why Bumblebee and Cliffjumper are arguing at the start and why the autobots are in need of a pep talk.

This issue also fails in what I think they were trying to achieve. One (of several) character problems AHM threw up was how Jazz went from being a background soldier in the furman run to the elite, black-ops type leader in AHM. (Its not that Jazz isnít a fit for the role but more that he has already been established. McCarthy could have used another bot for the role. )

We donít really get the AHM character here either. Essentially, this is a (possibly made up) story from Tracks about how Jazz saved him and made him realise autobots should never keep up and fight to the end. And thatís fine. But it suits Furmans Jazz more than McCarthys. So Fail.

The story itself isnít too bad. Art is ok, but its not one of EJs finest. The story itself feels like something you would get in an old marvel annual. If it wasnít for the bookends you could slot it in to any part of the timeline. Jazz is seen as a resourceful fighter although I wasnít quite convinced that he should have been able to take down the Predacons so simply. They are supposed to be Megatrons elite hunter squad but they drop quite easily. Well, except for Razorclaw but still. Maybe the combaticons would have been a better fit.

Its throwaway but not in a bad way. Thereís a decent enough flow to the story and it doesnít thread over previous plots too much. Altough I had to wonder why Ironhide is so wrapped up in listening to the story seeing as how he is part of the rescue party. But thatís nit-picking.

Spotlight Cliffjumper is next. As a sneak preview can I just say: ďsighÖĒ

Red Dave Prime
2010-08-31, 01:44 AM
Spotlight Cliffjumper

Story: Shane McCarthy
Art: Robby Musso

Ah, now this is a bit silly...

I think this issue was to set up cliffjumper as a bit of a bad ass. Not sure why they felt the autobots needed another bad-ass what with Jazz, Grimlock, Drift, Springer... But anyway, if Spotlight Jazz felt like a Marvel Annual Story, Spotlight Cliffjumper is like a ladybird book - but without the depth.

Ok, thats a bit harsh. But this issue doesnt hang together at all - regardless of the transformer aspect. The basic premise is that Cliffjumper is stranded on an alien planet and intergrates with a pair of orphans (no, I'm not kidding). After settling into a somewhat peaceful life for a bit, Cliffy has to defend himself from a pack of hunting Decepticons while the aliens get caught up in the crossfire. Not too bad a premise (orphans aside) but it just gets everything wrong.

Apart from the art. He may have drawn the aliens far too cartoony but I really like RRs colourful and vibrant art.

But the rest is a little bit of a mess.

The problem is that while McCarthy wants to explore the effects of the transformers war on other species (a theme which pops up again in Spotlight Drift and AHM) but he doesnt have the chops to give it any depth. Instead it feels throwaway and you can tell Cliffy feels the same because the whole traumatic event is never brought up again. Why spotlight it? I dont know fellow readers.

The other problem is the revelation that cliffjumper is actually a rock hard assassin who can take on 2 (count 'em!) squads of Decepticons - with primitive weapons no less! It just seems silly and it doesnt make cliffjumper look like a kick-ass warrior, more that the decepticons are much weaker than single autobots. I got a kick out of seeing Cliffjumper ridiculously tooled up in AHMs flashback when he had 4 or 5 guns attached but the idea that he is not just a gun nut but actually one of the autobots most feared and effective assassins... eh, no.

Nothing really gels here and its forgotten by the IDW verse as quickly as I forgot it. it passes a few minutes for the read but thats it.

On a funny note, the Don Fig cover is the first sign (I think) of his new direction I think - only just noticed it has the Don "universal face" that has blighted the ongoing.

Ok, past this something good must be up next... Its Wheelie!

Woot!

Cliffjumper
2010-08-31, 04:31 AM
That really hits the nail on the head. Despite the rest of its flaws, if Megatron had just had a damn focus, it could have put some of its fairly decent ideas to good use. It's a problem across almost all of the IDW minis, really. Which might be why the Spotlights stand out... until they get sucked into the Dark Universe guff.


Yup - a big problem with much of IDW's stuff is that you'd struggle to relay to someone succinctly what it's actually about. I'm not sure if it's just down to Furman writing a rolling monthly/bi-monthly Claremont plot regardless of the format or what, but most of the non-Spotlight stuff (and some actual Spotlight stuff, from about Monstructor on) lacks any real focus.

The same way you couldn't just pick up a 1989 issue of Uncanny X-Men and really pick up what was going on, you couldn't nip into Waterstones, buy "Escalation" and have much chance of it making sense, as there's no spine to the plot. Whereas "Last Stand of the Wreckers" or an Authority trade might be peppered with continuity references that'll go over the heads of casual readers, but at least have a strong self-contained narrative in their own right.

Whereas the Dead Furmanverse is too much of an all-or-nothing thing, and considering the nebulous plotlines don't really go anywhere, most people are going to chose the "nothing" route. And all because a failed comic writer (seriously, he's now made himself near-unemployable for the one line where he was previously guaranteed work - this time there was no "but that's Bob/Hasbro/Pat Lee's fault!", despite claims that it was McCarthy/IDW's fault he managed to write 40-odd issues that acheived nothing) wanted to play plot master.

inflatable dalek
2010-08-31, 06:17 AM
Blimey, do IDW really officially recommend (as in that's the place they put it in in the soon to be out of date thanks to Drift chronological order book) reading Jazz at the point the flashback's set? Even though it's really a present day story tied into what was going on at the time that just happens to be flashback heavy?

That'd be like watching the In The Beginning Babylon 5 film before any of the series just because that's where most of the flashbacks in it take place.

Red Dave Prime
2010-08-31, 10:29 PM
Yeah, the placement of Jazz in the run of things is very odd. But hey, machination and skywatch are seen as the same thing by the person who came up with the order.

Raze
2010-09-02, 05:11 AM
Not sure Spotlight Soundwave is in the right place either may need to be after Stormbringer. I'm not sure though.

Takes place in 1984 with Bludgeon and the others trying to resurrect Thunderwing which Soundwave interrupts. Soundwave then mentions Thunderwing as the being that came closest to destroying them all, there's then an editors note telling you to see Stormbringer.

I don't know, I've just been reading through them again in the suggested order and that stood out.

inflatable dalek
2010-09-02, 06:24 AM
It is before the main action of Stormbringer, Thunderwing's initial wave of destruction is seen in flashback in that story. Bludgeon himself is put out of action until after Soundwave gets rescued in the main Stormbringer plot so it has to be before.

Terome
2010-09-03, 11:53 AM
The same way you couldn't just pick up a 1989 issue of Uncanny X-Men and really pick up what was going on, you couldn't nip into Waterstones, buy "Escalation" and have much chance of it making sense, as there's no spine to the plot. Whereas "Last Stand of the Wreckers" or an Authority trade might be peppered with continuity references that'll go over the heads of casual readers, but at least have a strong self-contained narrative in their own right.

At least X-Men, even at its most long-winded, has a consistent theme that it can stick to - the racism/homophobia thing served as the solid backbone of even the tackiest soap opera sludge that the series feels obliged to tread through.

Writers for Transformers generally don't seem to bother much with things like themes or metaphors or anything that resonates with anything in the real world except contemporary fiction. Which is kinda weird when you think about it, because successful pulp culture seems to gravitate towards such things because it is a quick and relatively easy way to inject some weight into a story. I was never hooked into the franchise, but I understand that GI Joe does that sort of thing regularly.

So I'd argue that you could hand someone a 1989 issue of Uncanny X-Men and say, "This is a story about people doing a great thing that they are never thanked for because of prejudice," and they'd probably be able to at least muddle along with that information, with Escalation, you'd only be able to point to the mishmash of genre fiction it is: "This is a war story, an alien invasion story and a bit of a spy thriller, only it isn't, really."

Last Stand Of The Wreckers gets a lot of mileage out of the fact that it is simply a story about guilt. That is something everyone knows a bit about and people can work from that point on outwards. I'd argue that the inclusion of an actual theme into the story is a large part of the reason people find it so much more compelling than the rest of the Transformers fiction that is about. Just like how the first Baysian Transformers movie was about growing up and gaining mobility. Even though it dealt with its central theme in a very calculated and basic way, at least it had one and people responded to it with a billion dollars.

The only other IDW story I can think of that tried that was Stormbringer, but did it in such a mealy-mouthed and muddled way that you can forgive anyone for missing it. Similarly, All Hail Megatron would swear blind up and down the hallway that it had some kind of point to it, and good luck to anyone who can extract it from the hopeless storytelling, but I can imagine that, at the pitch stage, all of that was laid out before the editors and they jumped at the chance to publish something that was about something - anything.

Red Dave Prime
2010-09-04, 08:40 AM
At least X-Men, even at its most long-winded, has a consistent theme that it can stick to - the racism/homophobia thing served as the solid backbone of even the tackiest soap opera sludge that the series feels obliged to tread through.

Writers for Transformers generally don't seem to bother much with things like themes or metaphors or anything that resonates with anything in the real world except contemporary fiction. Which is kinda weird when you think about it, because successful pulp culture seems to gravitate towards such things because it is a quick and relatively easy way to inject some weight into a story. I was never hooked into the franchise, but I understand that GI Joe does that sort of thing regularly.

So I'd argue that you could hand someone a 1989 issue of Uncanny X-Men and say, "This is a story about people doing a great thing that they are never thanked for because of prejudice," and they'd probably be able to at least muddle along with that information, with Escalation, you'd only be able to point to the mishmash of genre fiction it is: "This is a war story, an alien invasion story and a bit of a spy thriller, only it isn't, really."

Last Stand Of The Wreckers gets a lot of mileage out of the fact that it is simply a story about guilt. That is something everyone knows a bit about and people can work from that point on outwards. I'd argue that the inclusion of an actual theme into the story is a large part of the reason people find it so much more compelling than the rest of the Transformers fiction that is about. Just like how the first Baysian Transformers movie was about growing up and gaining mobility. Even though it dealt with its central theme in a very calculated and basic way, at least it had one and people responded to it with a billion dollars.

The only other IDW story I can think of that tried that was Stormbringer, but did it in such a mealy-mouthed and muddled way that you can forgive anyone for missing it. Similarly, All Hail Megatron would swear blind up and down the hallway that it had some kind of point to it, and good luck to anyone who can extract it from the hopeless storytelling, but I can imagine that, at the pitch stage, all of that was laid out before the editors and they jumped at the chance to publish something that was about something - anything.

And when you thiink of it - it should be the easiest think in the world to stick a metaphor in to a TF comic. I would have sworn that Infiltration was leading to a loss-of-liberties world. Equally, the general TF fiction lends itself to a world of never knowing your enemy - kinda like terrorist tactics.

The state of cybertron COULD have lent itself to a how-to-feck-your-world story and theme but it looks like cybertron will be healed so its as you were.

Cliffjumper
2010-09-04, 12:57 PM
I think AHM was meant to be as simple as "bad aliens have taken over Earth, now the good aliens are going to sort it out", but it got sidetracked by rolling rewrites. The Deadfurmanverse started off as a middlebrow Ultimate-aping invasion story, but sidetracked itself almost immediately into being about spooks, omega weapons, heralds of Unicron, the shit kids off Armada and Captialised Words = Dramatic.

Nobody seems to really play to the strength of Transformers, which is that there's an astonishing array of characters out there, I'd say between about 80 and a hundred with already existing competent basic bios plus a wide number after that would be salvagable under a good writer. So, make the story relatively simple (bad alien robots are invading Earth, good ones are here to stop them) and let the character interaction make the book - to bring it up again, go the Authority route. It could work, but only with a proper writer.

Red Dave Prime
2010-09-08, 08:33 PM
SPOTLIGHT WHEELIE

Story : Simon Furman / Klaus Scherwinski
Art : Laus Scherwinski & Josh Burcham

If you're unlucky enough to have been reading up to now via IDWs complete anthology book than you must be fed up of these spotlight issues by now. Spotlight Shockwave aside all we've had has been issues which, good or bad, feel like old-school marvel annual filler. Oh, and you would have had the squinty eyed joy of Megatron:Origins.

From that point of view (which is also the way I'm re-reading my collection) Spotlight Wheelie is about as welcome as a kick in the autobutt. Which is unfair as its one of the nicer spotlights and at time of original release was a nice change of pace.

Much like cliffjumper, wheelie has crashlanded on a strange planet but this time the planet is desolate of intelligent life and the first half of the story involves Wheelie becoming somewhat miserable battling against the planets wildlife.

The second part of the issue sees Wheelie taking on the camera decepticons while rescuing a rhyming alien which is a nod to his movie characters own rhyming scheme of talk. Its touches like this throughout which pepper the story, things like the Ba-wip-grana bit, the quintessons hyroglyphics and so-on. Coupled with the damn-nice art and its a nicely put together issue thats been lovingly created.

Glitch in the chronology occurs however with the camera-cons. While the early part of the story is clearly set in the great war period (possible after thunderwing pass), the rest of the story could have occured at various points. Wheelies SOS message does turn up in spotlight prime (more as a gag than anything else) which is 3-5 years ago from the current comics era. However the camera cons are destroyed in this even though they have turned up in AHM and the ongoing. It actually made sense that they could turn up after retreating from the events in AHM but that idea gets a bit peed on with the appearance in ongoing.

Unless... Maybe the robot in AHM and ongoing is reflector while the camera cons in wheelie are (identified by wheelie as) Spyglass, viewfinder and Spectro. Well, thats the best sense I can make.

Quite like this issue, it has a lot of charm. But I'd like something with a bit more substance next please IDW.

Whats next? Spotlight: Sixshot - and the -tion series begins proper.

Cliffjumper
2010-09-08, 09:01 PM
I can't stand the Wheelie spotlight... The whole premise was about Furman stoking his ego to get people going "OMFG Furman made Wheelie not suck!" when that's actually pretty easy to do when you don't write the character as a retarded child brought to "life" by Frank Welker's second-worse performance of all time (Scooter's worse, or at least more omnipresent... Scooter would probably be around 35% less hated if Welker hadn't voiced him like that). I also remember it came out at around the time Furman already had something like sixty plotlines on the boil and really needed to start heading somewhere, only to provide 22 pages of disposable filler nonsense with the odd vague overtone (cf. Spotlight Mirage).

It was around the point I started stealing IDW's output rather than paying for it.

Halfshell
2010-09-08, 10:04 PM
To be fair, Spotlight Mirage wasn't a Furman issue, iirc.

IDW's output at the moment is sterling in my opinion. Well, the output I'm reading anyway. That Drift webcomic on the message board counts, right?

Warcry
2010-09-08, 11:28 PM
I also remember it came out at around the time Furman already had something like sixty plotlines on the boil and really needed to start heading somewhere, only to provide 22 pages of disposable filler nonsense with the odd vague overtone (cf. Spotlight Mirage).
I can see where you're coming from, but Furman having the attention span of a two year old doesn't really say anything about the quality of this story. On its own Spotlight Wheelie was pretty good, and honestly this is what the Spotlight format should have been used for from the get-go. Something marketed as a stand-alone character study shouldn't be advancing the main plot anyway, and using the Spotlights for that was the first sign that IDW had no idea how to handle the licence.

Maybe I'm alone in this, but I'd rather have 22 pages of disposable filler nonsense that actually tells a complete story than another 22 pages of meandering ZOMG MACHINATION DEAD UNIVERSE REAPERS LOL.

Cliffjumper
2010-09-09, 03:53 AM
I agree in theory - when the Spotlights began they were generally much better, and when they started entangling with the main plot is roughly the point at which the plot tumour started. However, having taken that route, seeing it reversed just when space was needed was frustrating (admittedly the biggest problem was Devastation being ~132 pages about nothing at all).

My biggest problem with Wheelie remains the attention whore smugness of the thing, though.

inflatable dalek
2010-09-09, 07:04 AM
Love or hate it (I think it's rather fun, the big problem is the various nods/homages/rip offs from the Kup Sptolight) you can't really blame Furman for Wheelie. It was someone elses idea and plot after all, IIRC he just came in at the end to help out a new writer with the scripting. If anything it's more IDW's fault for commissioning a standalone when the ongoing plot needed it more (but then, it's much better than any of the plot tied in Spotlights around it).

Red Dave Prime
2010-09-09, 11:10 PM
I think in fairness to the spotlight series, none of the first five are stand alone character studies. Shockwave plants the seeds for ore 13, Nightbeat is the first part of the expansion saga, Hot Rod involves Double dealer and the magnificrap which I'm willing to credit furman with knowing roughly how that would end up. Magnus starts off Scorponoks story and Six Shot starts the reapers shit.

Even moving into the next series, soundwave featured the stormbringer plot, and Prime and Galvatron both focus on the expansion. I think that the best ones however manage to advance or add to those plots while still concentrating on the named robot. Some of the other ones - Drift, Metroplex, Mirage, Blaster may seem more self contained but they are more plot focused than character.

Anyway, I'll post up the sixshot retrospective in the next few days... really curious how people remember that one :)

Warcry
2010-09-09, 11:56 PM
I think in fairness to the spotlight series, none of the first five are stand alone character studies.
IMO the problem isn't just that some of the Spotlights served as backstory for the main book or expanded on it. The problem was when the Spotlight characters ended up playing second fiddle in their own books because Furman needed to push his Dead Universe arc.

Nightbeat was the start of this, but because of the character's personality, the story he was in worked for him. But we didn't learn anything about Galvatron in his Spotlight other than that he was badass -- Hound and Sideswipe were both better-developed, but none of them really got to shine because the book was really about the Dead Universe. The same goes for Spotlight Optimus, which was really Spotlight Monstructor, Omega Supreme and Nova Prime. Spotlight Arcee was an atrocity for all sorts of reasons, one of which being that the title character did sweet bugger all aside from violencing stuff to advance the Dead Universe story. And then there were the Revelations books, which cranked everything up to eleven as Furman raced to finish his arc to the point where Sideswipe was barely even in his own book. Some of these books were entertaining reads, but none of them should have been told in the Spotlight format. A separate Dead Universe miniseries would have been a much better way to handle things, because what we ended up with was frequently incoherent and just an overall mess.

I'm a lot more forgiving toward the other arc-related Spotlights is that they still manage to stay focused on who they're supposed to be focused on. Take Spotlight Grimlock. Even though it's blatantly Maximum Dinobots Issue 0 it's still about Grimlock, rather than being about something else entirely with Grimlock just getting shoehorned in.

I do think that McCarthy handled the Spotlight format a lot better than Furman, though. Quality aside, Blurr, Cliffjumper and Drift were all short, self-contained stories that told you something about their title characters.

Cliffjumper
2010-09-10, 12:31 AM
Yeh, too many Spotlights ended up being 'regular' comics but with the subject narrating things - occasionally it might be something enlightening, but in Ye Olde Days this was called characterisation and not cause for headlining a book.

Personally I think very few of the series were genuine Spotlights - but some had enough good stuff going on to make it not matter (I concur about Nightbeat, which kicked off the Dead Universe rubbish, but managed to put the character front and centre while doing so), while at the same time some (like Wheelie) were what I would call Spotlights but were still terrible.

I think the right approach, rather than having them exist as bubbles, would be to make them focused on the title character and connected in some way to the main plot (with the accent on the former), but in a way that was easily accessible and leaves you wanting more, rather than feeling like you'd missed a bunch of material. Kup managed this, at least relative to Last Stand - there's nothing to impede enjoyment of the book on its' own, but it leaves you wanting to find out what happened to Kup next.

But of course, it was IDW, so we ended up with a series of dreadful messes that never went anywhere.

Red Dave Prime
2010-10-02, 11:43 AM
SPOTLIGHT: SIXSHOT

Writer: Simon Furman
Artist: Rob Ruffolo

Been a while, but with the current ongoing being mediocre at best and Drift not giving me any fun, I thought I'd go back to running through the original stuff in IDWs new sequence.

So before I go on about Sixshot the spotlight, I'd like to mention a few points on Sixshot the IDW ****-up. Sixshot should have been one of the better characters that IDW could call their own. And things started out well but soon became farce. Why? Well, the main problem I could see was that everyone talks about sixshot as a planet killer. A one robot army that destroys anyone he comes up against. The only problem is that any time we see sixshot, sure, he comes across as apowerful bot and pretty dangerous but a planet killer? No way! It also doesnt help that we never see him win.

Contrast this with Overlord in LSOTW. Everytime we see Overlord, be it in flashbacks or brief encounters you see that he is indeed a killing machine, able to take on large groups of autobots without a glitch and like all good villans, does what he says he will. Sixshot? Er... well, at least this issue shows him in a somewhat good light (altough it could be argued his opponents in this issue suffer from the same problem sixshot has)

Ok, so on with the look back at what seemed just a mere character issue but actually lead up to one of the key events in the intial 3 arc "tion" series - altough not a welcomed one.

The main story seems to be full of silly now that I look back at it. We get a nice intro to sixshot as he contemplates his role as basically a living weapon of mass destruction. I actually like this part. It works well and I like the idea of examining a transformer who is being used as a weapon by his own kind.

But then things go downhill a bit. We fin out that sixshots only buddies are the terrorcons, who want to have a rep like sixshot. When they go missing, Sixshot (out of boredom) decides to track them down. And here we start with the silly.

Get this. The terrorcons havent been heard from for a while. They were stationed on a planet of tactical importance but may/may not have fallen to the Reapers (ooooooh!) But no-one at Decepticon HQ has bothered to check.

I kept wondering why the planet is said to be of tactical importance but not enough that its current events can be kept track off. Also the reapers are potrayed as Boogeymen which implies no-one is sure if they exsist or not. Fair enough. But if the planet has fallen to this deadly force and a decepticon unit is planetside surely thats worth looking into? You get the feeling no-one would have bothered if sixshot hadnt been bored standing around.

So 6shot heads off to the planet and encounters some resistance from defence systems which he gets by handy enough (and nicely shows how adaptive and effective he is - this wont last people). He also discovers a world that has been decimated. And then the reapers appear.

I'm not quite sure what the original plan was with the reapers. They seem to be an evil ABC warrior version of the four horseman - only there is six of them! (see what furman did there) Sadly the design of these robots looks awfully rushed. None of them are given any real character apart from the deathbringer who looks like a chaos knight from Warhammer.

Sixshot realises he has to take them to get the terrorcons back. Cue a TERRIBLY drawn battle. Really, its awful in parts with one panel I can only liken to when a child draws a few robots and draws lines from their guns to each other to indicate shots. I think its page 15 but it really looks like all the reapers were drawn and than Ruffolo drew lines of fire to sixshot from their weapon points.

The battle ends in stalemate and the terrorcons appear. Turns out the reapers were just testing Sixshot to see if he was cool enough to join their crew. (altough they never reveal how they know of sixshot or his misgivings about his role in the decepticons) All he has to do is kill the terrorcons. He decides not be by shooting the ground around their feet (I still cant follow what is meant to be happening in these panels - answers please) He decides to stick with the decepticons for now, and the disappointed reapers waddle (well, thats how it looks) off. End.

This issue didnt seem so bad at the time but when we see how the reapers will impact on future events and at how sixshot ends up it reads pretty bad. The arts not great either - the reapers design lacks any impact and sixshot is a bit all over the place regarding his head and body shape. Looking back, I wonder why Sixshot wasnt approached by Jiaxus or Galvatron instead of the reapers who could have been dropped easily. It would have tied things together a bit better. Ah well, a knacker of an issue.

Next one on the chopping block is Spotlight Hot Rod.

inflatable dalek
2010-10-02, 12:00 PM
The Reapers were a big, big mistep. There was nothing the did that couldn't have been handled by a group of Autobots in actual plot terms, which would have streamlined things considerably. This issue would have worked as well, say, if it had been the Wreckers who had the Terrorcons pinned down. Indeed, doing a Wrecker story from the Decepticon POV could have been very interesting.

Same goes for the Reapers showing up in the tions, it could just as easily been the threatened-to-turn-up-any-second-but-didn't Hound's group. Hell, when that sequence got shamelessly recycled into AHM even Shame McCarthy had the sense to just have Autobots turn up in the middle of the Starscream/Megatron bitchfest.