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View Full Version : Megatron - better when absent? (Some mild spoilers for current comics)


Terome
2012-08-23, 03:56 PM
It's my opinion that, by and large, IDW have done a reasonably good job with Megatron as a character. But I think the present approach - with him removed from the picture but mentioned quite often - is working wonders.

Megatron is tricky to have as an active player because his stature and his reputation means that he has to be doing things all the time, and those things will inevitibly hog the plot. He's also something of a Rorschach blot for writers and tends to get muddled up even when being written by one guy over any length of time.

But the Megatron who exists in other characters' minds hasn't got any limitations, and any inconsistency becomes transmuted into something interesting because it is easily perceived as being from any character's point of view.

Right now we've Megatron the hero, as seen by Tarn, Megatron the shrewd and amoral powermonger, as seen by Prowl, Megatron the distant boss, as seen by the Scavengers, Megatron the lost soul, as seen by Optimus, Megatron the looming threat, as feared by Ironhide, Megatron the grand opponent, very much unfeared by Slag. That's a lot of Megatrons in a very short space of story-time.

So I'm happy to have Megatron off-stage indefinitely. Is anyone hankering for him to come back and snap into one of his many roles?

Denyer
2012-08-23, 07:04 PM
the Megatron who exists in other characters' minds hasn't got any limitations, and any inconsistency becomes transmuted into something interesting because it is easily perceived as being from any character's point of view.

Definitely. Reputation is better character development than being able to ignore physics and shrug off stupidly powerful weapons.

Terome
2012-08-23, 07:09 PM
Definitely. Reputation is better character development than being able to ignore physics and shrug off stupidly powerful weapons.

What got me thinking about this was reading some of the reviews for the Fall Of Cybertron game that complained that Megatron in the game behaved exactly opposite to that image of him. His reputation extends into the minds of real-world games journalists!

inflatable dalek
2012-08-23, 07:22 PM
Certainly being off stage and not the sole Decepticon leader helped his standing in the Marvel comics, especially after Furman's arrival on the American book when the characters three brief showings were treated as "Big" moments.

Terome
2012-08-23, 07:31 PM
Certainly being off stage and not the sole Decepticon leader helped his standing in the Marvel comics, especially after Furman's arrival on the American book when the characters three brief showings were treated as "Big" moments.

What were his big three moments again? Getting that lucky shot in on silly old Predaking, badgering Prime to death and... getting pasted by Shockwave?

It was weird, though, after his slightly embarrassing death on the Space Bridge, how he wasn't really ever mentioned again. I'm especially fond of how contemptuous Bludgeon was towards him and his memory in Generation 2. Though that doesn't really work because he and Bludgeon used to hang out but whatever.

inflatable dalek
2012-08-23, 07:41 PM
Coming back from the dead* and in the process reviving Starscream and "killing" Ratchet; coming back as a monster zombie Siamese twin; having a big ass fight with Galvatron*.

There seems to be a real effort to not just have him show up as The Mad Leader of the Baddies and do something a bit different each time.* OK, it's a side effect of wanting one of the most popular characters still to have some presence despite him no longer having a toy, but it works.


It was weird, though, after his slightly embarrassing death on the Space Bridge, how he wasn't really ever mentioned again. I'm especially fond of how contemptuous Bludgeon was towards him and his memory in Generation 2. Though that doesn't really work because he and Bludgeon used to hang out but whatever.

My second favourite bit of clumsy writing from Furman ever is the way Optimus Prime randomly thinks "Though my old enemy Megatron is long dead..." five minutes before he shows up again. Just being beaten by Bumblebee explaining to Xaaron who Primus is (complete with slightly patronising * box defining the word "Progenitor") three pages before he appears.





*Obviously less impressive when the UK stuff is taken into consideration.

Terome
2012-08-23, 07:57 PM
Coming back from the dead* and in the process reviving Starscream and "killing" Ratchet; coming back as a monster zombie Siamese twin; having a big ass fight with Galvatron*.



Oh, okay. Not many people really saw that stuff at the time. Furman's consistently not very good at keeping track of who saw what and who has met who, is he?


My second favourite bit of clumsy writing from Furman ever is the way Optimus Prime randomly thinks "Though my old enemy Megatron is long dead..." five minutes before he shows up again. Just being beaten by Bumblebee explaining to Xaaron who Primus is (complete with slightly patronising * box defining the word "Progenitor") three pages before he appears.



I like to think that Optimus Prime just thinks wistfully about Megatron every day. Probably just before lunch when his blood sugar is dropping.
Likewise, Xaaron spends much of his time condescening people. Also, that he speaks out those text boxes.

Thursday
Bumblebee: Morning Xaaron, would you like some breakfast?
Xaaron: Breakfast is the first meal of the day, Bumblebee.
Bumblebee: Of course, how foolish of me.

Warcry
2012-08-23, 08:42 PM
My feelings about Megatron are ambivalent at best. Most of the time I don't think he's handled very well, and he tends to sway toward madness, stupidity or generic Evil Overlord territory far too much for my liking. None of those characterizations are very believable, because no one who displays those traits is going to be able to build assemble a revolution from scratch and lead it to the cusp of victory as Megatron did because no one would want to follow him. The Marvel books handled that fairly well, I thought, because their Megatron was a nutbar...and he lost command of the Decepticons four issues in and didn't really get a sniff again until G2 when he'd started acting like a grownup, just like you'd expect would happen.

But if you want to show a successful Megatron, he needs to be smart and charismatic, even inspiring. And doing that right means that the character has such force of personality that he upstages everyone around him merely by walking into the room (a well-written Optimus does much the same). If you're writing a show like Beast Wars with a very small cast, that's not a problem. But in G1, where you have a large ensemble cast and generally about a dozen of them can be considered "main characters" at any given time, a character like that can be very overwhelming. Just like IDW's version of Overlord, a well-written Megatron can't realistically be a supporting character -- if he's in a story then the story is going to be about him whether it wants to be or not.

Neither alternative is really great, so I'd have to agree that Megatron functions best as a character when he's not there. Whether as a threatening force looming in the background or as a cherished/reviled memory, Megatron's influence can easily extend beyond his physical presence. I generally like it better when he's used sparingly, because that means when he does show up he can be the big deal he deserves to be.

My feelings about Optimus are pretty much the same -- a great character, but one that's overused so much that he loses a lot of his impact.

Knightdramon
2012-08-23, 08:49 PM
Yup, he's definitely better when absent. And unlike Optimus, he can't "rest" even when in peace time. Optimus effectively quit and went off on his own as Orion Pax when the war ended.

Megatron couldn't afford to rest when the war ends [as evidenced in AHM]. And far too often he's portrayed as immensely powerful, so having his presence on the battlefield effectively negates all the others. He single-handedly has brought down Sentinel, Zeta [with a little assistance, tbh], Optimus and even the Deceptigod in Chaos.

All the descriptions he gets from various characters, be it allies, fanaticals or bitter opponents really, really build him up. His greatest and probably most accurate characterization so far came from Prowl. He doesn't want to be on the top to correct the injustice in his society, he wants to be at the top so he can do to everybody else what was done to him.

Terome
2012-08-23, 09:31 PM
My feelings about Optimus are pretty much the same -- a great character, but one that's overused so much that he loses a lot of his impact.

Knightdramon: Yup, he's definitely better when absent. And unlike Optimus, he can't "rest" even when in peace time. Optimus effectively quit and went off on his own as Orion Pax when the war ended.

I agree that it was a good idea to put Prime on a bus. When he's dead everyone is mourning this lost father figure and comparing themselves to him. Having him on a well-earned retirement chops off all that soul-searching while letting the other characters have their own agency.

Warcry: a character like that can be very overwhelming.

Yeah, as soon as Megatron comes back on the scene, the war's back on. Ironhide's acute awareness of that in RID was a very nice touch, I thought.

They probably will bring him back when sales need spicing up. That'll be a shame, I think. There might also be a strange situation where the Bayverse delves into Megatronless territory around the same time that he pitches up again in the IDW books, like a peculiar waltz.

Knightdramon: Megatron couldn't afford to rest when the war ends [as evidenced in AHM].

That made me think of an AHM from an alternate universe to our own, which featured Megatron traveling across the galaxy shutting down his war apparatus and quashing the most volatile elements of the Decepticons.

relak
2012-08-26, 11:28 AM
I guess they are just going back to megatron's very first portrayal in idw. Remember how the mere mention of megatron would reduce deceptions to whispers and send the auto bots into panic.

Summerhayes
2012-10-04, 12:59 PM
The way he was talked up by Tarn was the best handling of the character I think I've ever seen; clearly a villain, but one you can understand the other Decepticons following fanatically.

The whole reason MTMTE and RID have been so good, in my opinion, is that they give all the characters a chance to shine because they're not in Prime or Megatron's shadow. I very strongly hope IDW don't give up on it.

@Terome; I agree even more about Prime. To a lot of people, Prime is transformers, so sending him away is the only way to have other characters be, y'know, characters.