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inflatable dalek
2012-12-29, 12:22 AM
It's been a while since I did one of these, but that's what happens when IDW suddenly start putting out comics worth reading again...

So this is the place to sum up your thoughts and feelings on the following:

More Than Meets the Eye 1-12 plus Annual;
Robots in Disguise 1-12 plus Annual;
Autocracy;
Spotlight: Orion Pax;
ReGeneration One 1-6;
Fight For Cybertron;
Rage of the Dinobots 1.

On average, it's been an extraordinary year for IDW. But it's also fair to say the batting average has been inflated hugely by one man: James Roberts. I've borderline felated him enough over the year year, but it's fair to sum up that at its worst MTMTE is a damn enjoyable book. At his best it is genuinely some of the best stuff I have ever read in any medium ever. Oh yes.

But where does that leave the other stuff? I think Barber has done a lot of good stuff as an editor, but as a writer he can be very frustrating. RID has a fantastic set up and some moments of brilliance (with the Annual probably being the peak).

But the onging political plot has moved like an asthmatic sloth culminating in Megatron's return ensuring it's wound up going nowhere. There have also been various things that haven't made even the slightest sense (Arcee being able to take out Shockwave- the guy who beat the Dinobots by himself- when he's backed up by Soundwave, cassettes and Triggerhappy?).

The "Lets kill everyone!" stuff got deeply silly as well, I don't mind named characters being treated as just cannon fodder (MTMTE 12 actually showed how to do it right, Nautilator may have been introduced to die but there's actual effort to make him a character first and so the trade off for his many fans is he gets a on page personality for the first time ever) and liked the surprisingly quick way Ratbat was dealt with in what was probably the one and only example of the political plot going anywhere.

But by the time you got to Triggerhappy and Blot being killed off panel with a joke mocking people who don't like the number of named character deaths ("Who cares") it became too much even for my blood-lust, and I feel for those who hated it from the start.

I'd still like to know how Arcee has ended up as a Mary Drift as well.

Good stuff includes Wheeljack, Blurr and Starscream before his inner monologue destroyed his ambiguity.

Autocracy started off interestingly enough, but gradually got worse and worse as it started quoting the film more and more directly. Considering it didn't fit into continuity very well to start with and has been firmly ignored by Roberts (despite what the intro to the Spotlight said) so he could do his planned follow up to Chaos Theory just makes me wish they'd set it in the cartoon Universe after Pax got rebuilt by Alpha Trion, you'd hardly have to change anything.

Spotlight was Roberts Minor, and it felt like the "Explain minor continuity issues" thing was an editorial mandate from Barber (as that seems to be very much his thing, and got a bit silly in RID). On the other hand though, it felt like a proper old school Annual story, a bit of entertaining fluff. And the Wildmanesque art was better than anything Wildman has done this year.

Ah. Regeneration One. The people who really liked it, really liked it. I'm not sure what about this book brought out the more eccentric elements of fandom (I think my favourite is the chap who described me as infamous. Because it always makes me think of The Three Amigos; "He's so famous he's IN-famous!". Plus is was slightly disingenuous to Blackjack who I think must have written more reviews for the site than me by now), possibly their own insecurities over its qualities.

[Though I should say that, as always, it's a small minority who ruin it for everyone. Most Reg fans are perfectly capable of talking about it in a smart intelligent way. It's just a shame they got drowned up by the "I've been stalking you for months, tell me why you said this in 2007!" and "Don't generalise!" "But isn't that true?" "I don't care, don't do it!" people are far more memorable]

The irony is over the last couple of issues everyone seems to have settled down into thinking the book is decidedly OK, if harmless. Which has both killed off any discussion and rendered the slightly OTT praise it was getting at the start even funnier.

I think we owe Furman a lot for the great work he did back in the day. But I think we owe Uncle Bob a lot as well and I wouldn't want him to come back again either. Time for a belatedly dignified retirement.

Did anyone actually read the Aligned stuff?

Red Dave Prime
2012-12-29, 02:17 AM
More Than Meets the Eye has been an absolute joy to read. Its been a great year for that alone. I'd agree with your thoughts on Rid as well. Its good in parts but it lacks as an overall book. But a worthy alternative to MTMTE.

Autocracy was a bit of fun and would have been much better kept out of continuity. The rumours of a sequel are troubling. The past should be kept for small visits like both. annuals or a spotlight. Like Megatron Origins, Autocracy throws up the type of questions that are more head-scratching than interesting.

Spotlight Pax was throwaway fluff and initially I didnt take to it but seeing as it came out in the same month as MTMTE #12 I can now see why it has such a light tone.

Overall, I'm really enjoying the current output and such is my enjoyment of Roberts work that if (when) he leaves IDW, I might finish up as well. I didnt mind jumping from Furman to McCarthy to Costa because they were all the same level. But Roberts has produced something that has been so damn fun that whatever follows may be a big disappointment.

On the subject of Re-gen 1, I've read downloaded files but it hasnt really grabbed my interest. Its a nice gap-filler between the proper books but there's nothing special about it from the point of view of a noob like me.

Denyer
2012-12-30, 04:34 PM
Skimming RID, it seems to be firmly rooted in what IDW have made of a backstory that includes the Ironhide miniseries... as well as killing off the cast at a rate of knots, rather than making it suffer in creative ways. I'm cringing at the thought that MTMTE will be folded back into this storyline at some point.

Not very interested in looking backwards with ReGen and ignoring the best of Marvel US (i.e. G2) and haven't seen anything past the first couple of issues.

MTMTE is justifying a mail-order price of around that of paperback books, because it's consistently high quality and a reasonably dense read, and has held interest more than anything that's been released in years.

Cyberstrike nTo
2012-12-30, 10:39 PM
For me MTMTE started out good but but by #6 the book for me has stalled. The over use of running gags and everyone on the Lost Light trying be a smartass except for Ultra Magnus who has went from bad ass to a bad joke. I found Shadowplay more confusing and a lot less enjoyable and no where near as epic as Chaos Theory, it seemed more like a weird mash-up of Rashamon, Mission: Impossible, Lethal Weapon, and X-Men while better than the DJD 2 parter which was only saved by the Scavengers who were far more enjoyable that any of the Autobots. Grimlock was a big let down and just about any other character or concept would have worked. My biggest complaint with the book has been Roberts "I'll explain it later" mentality on just about every plot on the book. When Miline isn't coping the God awful hack Nick Roche (I would rather look the horror that Pat Lee and Rob Liefeld did on a book called Bloodpool that see his crap) he comes off as a great artist, but when he's coping the style of a hack he becomes a worse hack than Roche. The only saving grace of the annual was Guido's art, but even that couldn't do much to make it worth the $8.

MTMTE gets a C-

I went into RID with no opinions on the creators because I didn't read anything that they did prior to this series. I think people who think that this series is the Transformers meets The West Wing are off base. It's really the Transformers meets Deadwood. I frankly have found this series more enjoyable than I thought it would be. I like how Prowl is protrayed as a ruthless lawman and that Bumblebee is struggling to keep things together. I keep reading about the high body count but frankly in this series I found it refreshing that some the Autobots are willing to take it to the Decepticons and the Nails. This series is starting to pick up the pace and just gets better and better ever issue. The problems I have with Barber is the same with Roberts the "I'll explain it later" mentality also mixed with a retcons on top of retcons that would give even Geoff Johns a major headache and the 2 "Optimus In Space" issues these feel like they should have been a damn mini-series. The art has been a pleast suprise and has given Cybertron a more errie feel than any other comic or TV show for matter. I enjoyed the annual and it was much better than MTMTE annual but I still don't think it was worth $8 either.

I give RID a B-

I've decided to read Regeneration One as a 20 issue maxi-series.

zigzagger
2012-12-30, 11:06 PM
I haven't been following Robots In Disguise and Regeneration One too closely, for one reason or another. Even being one of the title's more...forgiving readers - at least in the past - I've lost a lot of faith in IDW over the years. Too many times bitten; I just can't justify devoting my time or money in three ongoings. Not this time, I'm afraid :(

Truthfully, I almost opted out with the one I went with -- that of course being More Than Meets The Eye.

In the end, I'm glad I took the risk. I really like MTMTE. 12+ issues in and, for the most part, it remains solid and consistent.

I'd like to think Roberts has set a new standard, so when MTMTE eventually does conclude, I'll have the perfect jumping off point. And I'm content with that :)

The strongest -- Firstly, the Delphi storyline. True, the rather convenient conclusion and the self-referential callbacks to Roberts' earlier works - Bullets in particular - would probably turn off a few folks, but this two-parter was a joy to read. Yeah, yeah, it's Ratchet's story, but that wasn't the only thing it had going for it. First Aid, Drift, Pipes, even Pharma's mustache twirling villainy add a touch of fun (and even humor*) to what, at its core, is a pretty grim tale.

* - If gallows humor is your sort of thing, that is. Happens to be mine ;)

And, man, the follow up in issue #6....Yikes.

Shadowplay was another strong arc. As a spiritual sequel to the generally lauded Chaos Theory, my expectations were naturally going to be high. While it doesn't quite match its success, I still wasn't disappointed. All the stuff that made CT work is still there.

Overall, more world and character building, more mini-origins, and a conclusion that would definitely go on my Top 10 'What The ****?' Moments in Transformers history. A fun way to frame the whole thing, too.

The weakest -- Okay, let me start off by saying that, even at the series' 'worst', I still find MTMTE to be pretty damn enjoyable. That said, I had some issues with The Scavengers arc. Mileage seems to vary on this one. I'm somewhere towards the middle.

First, the not so good: The Decepticon Justice Division? Sigh...mmm, I'm sorry, but I think they're ****ing ridiculous. I'm just not a fan.

Also -- I wouldn't have been nearly as bothered by the, quite frankly, non-reveal that (gasp) Fulcrum was on the DJD 's naughty list, had Team Krok been better set up as also being likely suspects. You know, to crank up the suspense a few notches. The thing is, Roberts has a tendency to misdirect readers. Hell, I'd even go out on a limb and say he's close to mastering it. So I was a touch disappointed that he'd end up going with the obvious in the end.

Again, that's not to say that the arc was bad. I still enjoyed the ride. In fact, it's the Scavengers themselves that not only save this two-parter, they steal the show. Krok, Misfire, Spinister, Crankcase*; I adore these guys! I look forward to seeing more of them.

I can't entirely fault the book, or James Roberts, for billing issue #8 as part of 'Dinobot Month', though.

* - Probably Flywheels, too. Had we the chance to get to know him more...

relak
2012-12-31, 12:41 AM
I think I could be the rare few who didn't like mtmte.

I just happen to like my transformers stories take themselves seriously and mtmte was just too jokey for my taste

Terome
2012-12-31, 02:54 PM
I'm a big fan of the Scavenger's two-parter and felt it was probably the best set of comics this year. The chief complaints I've read about it, here and elsewhere - that Grimlock was misused and that the DJD are silly - don't hold much water with me. Grimlock being a brain-damaged blunt instrument for a gang of Decepticons is genuinely new ground for a well-trodden character and I find all villains in fiction to be some level of silly, so one might as well go for broke on occasion.
Can I just take a moment to acknowledge how incredible the colouring is on MTMTE? That textured, slightly desaturated look it sports really gibes fantastically with the linework. It's also one of the very few books where colour is acknowledged in the script as an important and notable part of the Transformers mythos. Seeing as the source of all of this is a line of brightly-coloured toys, it's a wonder it took so long for that aspect to be given its due.

I enjoy RID and I think I respect it but I don't think I'd recommend it to anyone who was on the fence about it. There's a lot to criticise about it but I like it for the same reason I like a lot of things - it's something I've never seen before. Granted, that is within the context of Transformers but it still counts for a lot. A racist, brutal Prowl at the end of his rope, an Autobot figurehead way out of his depth, a charismatic Starscream struggling to keep on top of his many, many sins and one of the bleakest visions of Cybertron in a franchise stuffed with them. Although MTMTE does cleverer things with its storytelling, characterisation and plot, RID has a much better idea at its core and for me that hasn't yet worn off.

Regeneration One is odd, but not in nearly so interesting a way. Right now it seems to consist of good ideas that it comes close to but stops short of before they can do anything. I think it might have worked much better as a prose story where there is more room and more opportunity for introspection. There's a real sense of pathos and sadness about the art but the story doesn't quite manage to match it. Prime certainly looks sad about Megatron dying, and that's a neat, if not entirely original idea, but why exactly would he feel that way in the context of the plot or of the old series?
So I'm glad it's around because it gives me something to muse over but it's not what I'd call a good comic.

Autocracy was the worst thing put out this year for me. I didn't get through all of it but what I did read was blunt, dumb and derivative. It's a real shame because I've gained a fresh appreciation for the Sunbow cartoon lately because it is occasionally utterly nuts. Now that I know a bit more about its D&D and roleplaying influences it strikes me as a series of campaigns that would be great to play through with friends. Autocracy is the complete opposite of that spirit - everything is prescribed and there is no sense of a wily GM trying to suprise the players with off-the-cuff, bonkers material. No fun at all.

Spotlight: Orion Pax was kind of awkward but was harmless enough. I have a suspicion that it wasn't as rigorously re-written as Roberts' other stuff. I've lost all interest in trying to hold the continuity of the IDW universe in my head now and I think that makes reading these things much more enjoyable.

I read the first issue of that Prime Dinobots comic and thought it best if I didn't read any more. This has certainly been the year of the Maximum Dinobots rehashes.

Have no idea what Fight For Cybertron is!

inflatable dalek
2012-12-31, 04:54 PM
I'm a big fan of the Scavenger's two-parter and felt it was probably the best set of comics this year. The chief complaints I've read about it, here and elsewhere - that Grimlock was misused and that the DJD are silly - don't hold much water with me.

Considering it was heavily promoted as part of Dinobot Month I can see why people who might have been drawn in especially by that would be annoyed he turns up for a couple of pages and says one line. As an aside, I hope the fact they had no impact on sales will see an end to the months experiment, as well as being Dreamwavey the Dino-One felt a bit forced and in both cases distracted from the main plot.

That was pretty much my only problem with it to be honest, there was already so much going on with the book (and we've now had Overlord hanging over us for what, six months?) introducing a whole load of new characters and their own adventure felt a bit needless. That will be an easily rectified view as and when they meet up with the main plot. Though with their intent at the end of the two parter I'd guess they're more likely to make it to RID first.



I enjoy RID and I think I respect it but I don't think I'd recommend it to anyone who was on the fence about it. There's a lot to criticise about it but I like it for the same reason I like a lot of things - it's something I've never seen before. Granted, that is within the context of Transformers but it still counts for a lot. A racist, brutal Prowl at the end of his rope, an Autobot figurehead way out of his depth, a charismatic Starscream struggling to keep on top of his many, many sins and one of the bleakest visions of Cybertron in a franchise stuffed with them. Although MTMTE does cleverer things with its storytelling, characterisation and plot, RID has a much better idea at its core and for me that hasn't yet worn off.

I think that's the thing, it's clearly the harder of the two books to write (the other is basically "Fun in space", but Roberts has worked it hard) and it's understandable it's not flowing as well with the more difficult set up. But the way it keeps fumbling with greatness without ever quite maintaining it is still annoying.

This sounds horribly unfair to Barber, but I still think the wrong author wound up with the wrong book. The one that requires the politics and wordiness still seems a much better fit for Roberts (indeed, the setting of the wrecked Cybertron with diminished population could almost make it an Eugenesis sequel).

Regeneration One is odd, but not in nearly so interesting a way. Right now it seems to consist of good ideas that it comes close to but stops short of before they can do anything. I think it might have worked much better as a prose story where there is more room and more opportunity for introspection. There's a real sense of pathos and sadness about the art but the story doesn't quite manage to match it. Prime certainly looks sad about Megatron dying, and that's a neat, if not entirely original idea, but why exactly would he feel that way in the context of the plot or of the old series?
So I'm glad it's around because it gives me something to muse over but it's not what I'd call a good comic.

Autocracy was the worst thing put out this year for me. I didn't get through all of it but what I did read was blunt, dumb and derivative. It's a real shame because I've gained a fresh appreciation for the Sunbow cartoon lately because it is occasionally utterly nuts. Now that I know a bit more about its D&D and roleplaying influences it strikes me as a series of campaigns that would be great to play through with friends. Autocracy is the complete opposite of that spirit - everything is prescribed and there is no sense of a wily GM trying to suprise the players with off-the-cuff, bonkers material. No fun at all.

Spotlight: Orion Pax was kind of awkward but was harmless enough. I have a suspicion that it wasn't as rigorously re-written as Roberts' other stuff. I've lost all interest in trying to hold the continuity of the IDW universe in my head now and I think that makes reading these things much more enjoyable.

I read the first issue of that Prime Dinobots comic and thought it best if I didn't read any more. This has certainly been the year of the Maximum Dinobots rehashes.

Have no idea what Fight For Cybertron is![/QUOTE]

Denyer
2012-12-31, 05:50 PM
the setting of the wrecked Cybertron with diminished population could almost make it an Eugenesis sequel).
Eugen is in many ways a book about putting a capstone on an era, or at least setting it up to blur into BW.

Also, the idea that a huge, many-fronts war ended with Megs getting his tail kicked on Earth feels as ridiculous as the plot point that Sunstreaker could have been key to shutting down Autobot forces across the wider cosmos. The only way I'm getting to enjoy any of the current books is by treating LSOTW and MTMTE as being as much of a reboot as AHM effectively was, ignoring most of the rest of the fragmented artists-get-to-dictate-alt-modes cluster****.

Housewife2000
2013-01-08, 03:23 PM
This has been the best year for Transformers comics in a long, long time. And that's pretty much solely down to MTMTE. It's not without flaws, but I absolutely adore it. It beats pretty much all the capes and Indie comics I've read in 2012 purely for entertainment value: it's funny, clever, full of mysteries, great characters and amazing art.

The whole Transformers line might be fueled purely by nostalgia, but what's set this year apart for me is the willingness to try new things. (And while I know that there's an argument that MTMTE and RID are reprisals of Costa's post-war plots in the ongoing, the freshness that both titles have brought these concepts earns them fresh points of originality). MTMTE is an ensemble, quest, caper and comedy series - and that's not a TF pitch (or TF status quo) I've heard before, and it's got endless possibilities. Moving on from the war has been the best thing that IDW have done.

By comparison, RID is such a mixed bag. Conceptually I think it's brilliant - it's a genuine progression of the TF status quo with some strong ideas about justice, maintaining order and community. But it can also be ham handed, with few characters to root for. I find Prowl and Arcee hugely unlikable. By their actions, they're monstrous killers - but we need to get into their heads to understand what's motivating their violence. By contrast, Wheeljack, Ironhide and Stascream are fairly good fun, but their inner monologues tend to grate with unnecessary musings and homilies. Plus, the Decepticons are woefully under-characterised, which leads me to suspect their going to be up to ruthlessly evil shenanigans off-screen, and will at some point reset the "warring factions" status quo. But I have hope - it's got a good idea at it's heart, and if Barber can concentrate on exploring it's core themes rather than tying up continuity or killing people off, it could be great.

Autocracy was quite a let down for me. I like Livio's art, and as a pitch there's a curiosity at its heart ("see Orion Pax become Optimus Prime in the new Chaos-Theory version of the past") - but the retreading of movie dialogue and "take-me-serious" combat dialogue, combined with a clearly insane and evil Zeta Prime, left this feeling fairly bland, simple and empty.

ReGeneration 1 hasn't worked for me. Purely as a premise, it needlessly ignores the two best aspects of the Marvel run (the UK and G2 stories), which seems nuts for a comic that solely exists to deliver retro nostalgia. ReGen's biggest flaw though is that it's about three years too late. It would have played much better as a counterpoint to AHM or the ongoing, but going head to head with MTMTE is colossally bad timing. Simply put, MTMTE has all the strengths of 80s Furman comics (spotlighting B-list cast, world building, humour, heartfelts deaths, short and punchy stories with overreaching arcs) whilst updating the storytelling techniques to match the depth demanded by an older audience. By comparison, ReGen1 feels simple and outdated (despite having all the same ingredients that made the 80s comics great), in a way neither MTMTE or RID ever do.