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Knightdramon
2013-09-18, 11:21 PM
So I've been half-assedly reading some Regeneration One here and there whenever I can, and have read the first ten issues of Marvel G1 [which I found entertaining and better than the cartoon].

Being in a moody vintage/retro mania [maybe helped by the plethora of upcoming retro masterpieces] I think I'm ready to fully indulge myself in the original marvel G1 series...the main question is, how? In which order?

I have an ancient DVD my sister burned years ago with pretty much all the UK material, got G2, and can hunt for USA G1 as well.

How should I start? Pick up from where I left off at issue 11 of US series, or start over in the UK series? Would I be missing much if I only went with one series?

Blackjack
2013-09-19, 04:50 AM
Regeneration One wholly ignores everything in the UK series, but I heartily reccommend you give the UK series a read. It's a bit confusing but mostly straightforward and can be inserted neatly inbetween the Marvel US stories (though, again, it cashes with Regen One)

Recommend you to check out Cliffy's guide to the Marvel series in this site, certainly helped me out a lot when I read through the Marvel comics myself.

Cyberstrike nTo
2013-09-19, 08:08 PM
Regeneration One also throws G2 under the bus and IMO G2 is Furman's best work in the US. It screams for a true ending.

My advice is read IDW's The Transformers: Classic and The Transformers: Classic UK TPBs. I only have the first three TPBs of the UK series, (because I own all of the US and UK Titan TPBs and most of the Titan US HCs as well).

The Transformers: Classics UK vol. 4 is supposed to be coming out soon, vols. 5-8 are supposed to be coming out in the future.

inflatable dalek
2013-09-20, 12:16 PM
Out of curiosity, as a Reg reader who isn't familiar with the Marvel stuff, and thus someone the series has bent over backwards to try and make itself accessible too, what do you make of it thus far?

As for the Marvel stuff, I'd also recommend reading all UK and US stuff in order, though keeping track of when to switch from trade to trade can be a bit of a pain in the ass (I'd personally recommend reading the Annual stories after each Christmas issue even though they were released earlier as that's when they were intended to be given to kids).

Alternately, as a try before you buy thing, Target: 2006 has been reprinted multiple times by this point and should be as cheap as chips to get hold of, that's a good one to tip your toe into the water with.

In terms of help, our own guide by Mr. Jumper may, as he claims, be creaking at the seams a bit but still covers most of the basics and is a handy at a glance guide to what goes where.

A newish site that's still onging in its efforts to cover the series by our own Ryan F is well worth a read as well, it's in a similar style to Cliffy's but with the advantage of all the extra information that's come out in the last few years and rather pleasingly has taken the insane decision to try and fit everything together into one timeline as much as possible:

http://rsbwpc.weebly.com/

Now, if only there was some other site that did a brilliant, well written sexy awesome all singing all tap dancing ongoing guide to the Marvel comics. If only I could think of one.

It's lucky I'm not some sort of shameless attention whore really.



http://i218.photobucket.com/albums/cc147/inflatabledalek/LINK.png (http://thesolarpool.weebly.com/transformation.html)

Knightdramon
2013-09-20, 02:39 PM
I did read Target 2006 earlier this year ;)

Then 10 issues of Marvel US, yesterday I went through 11 and 12. Will probably stick to it, got around 68 issues and then dive in the UK issues.

As for the order, I think the files I was given are in reading order, numbered.

For your question, reading the first year of Marvel US, I kind of enjoy it. I never did like the G1 cartoon in my adult years and it gets worse the older I get, but these comics do provide a very alternate series of events. Sure there are hickups here and there, but the story doesn't reset every week. The one thing I don't enjoy is comic Prime so far.

Knightdramon
2013-11-02, 08:07 PM
Very slowly been reading more; up to issue 19.

I do find it funny how many parallels of MTMTE show up here, one way or another.

"May your wires never cross and your --something-- never luster"--Prime said it on christening Jetfire [the rite of autobrand, in those exact words], Magnus says it to the Wreckers.

Skids is an interestin parallel; he's way too music savvy in marvel G1, some of his first encounters in MTMTE have him asking about music.

Scrounge and what can only be classified as the precursor for the idea behind Rung's thumb microphone.

The ever-changing and decreasing cast; love it so far. Love how randomly put together S2 Autobots stand next to a few S1 Autobots and their numbers keep dropping. Same for the Decepticons.

Not many/ANY furmanisms or prequels to those yet; the book is Furman free for around 30 more issues, isn't it?

And how awesome was the "Bridge to Nowhere" story? Furthermore, how much more of a badass is Marvel G1 Blaster to pretty much ANY Blaster after him?

Cliffjumper
2013-11-02, 09:05 PM
For a long, long time the US material was incredibly tightly interwound with the UK stuff and that it was American material was basically secret - the first half of Bob's run especially is as much gospel to Roberts as anything Furman's done (not to mention the complete re-evaluation both Bob and his work on Transformers has received over the past decade).

With the cast, the comic's generally a bit better at keeping track and you can assume pretty much everyone not seen has been deactivated on or off panel (keep an eye on any scenes in Ratchet's workshop); some of the continuity is pretty tight. The other oddity with the comic is that a lot of the Series 1 guys really aren't in it much - Sunstreaker gets knocked out at some point in the first four-parter, has his body ripped up by Shockwave and then isn't in it for something like thirty issues (and then only really as a joke).

(Can sort out UK scans on a DVD-R for you if you want BTW, mate - still owe you a solid for those Ideon discs)

Knightdramon
2013-11-03, 11:22 AM
No worries about the UK scans brother; sister still has a DVD full of the entire comic run of transformers from G1 to dreamwave-only missing the USA run which I managed to acquire ;)

Continuity is tight, yes, the only odd thing is how Prime/Ratchet lament about not having enough spare parts to fix anybody, yet a few issues later, the S2 bots, Omega Supreme and the Aerialbots are *built on earth*! :lol:

Looking forward to reading more of it, yup.

Cliffjumper
2013-11-03, 04:10 PM
Cool cool :)

And yep, Bob really is the ONLY Blaster writer. Furman for some reason always seems to write him as a slightly less street version of the cartoon character (or, more fairly, more in line with the TFU profile/tech spec). Bob Wolverines Blaster a little bit (he's a dick in the one with the Scraplets) but generally he's good fun.

Knightdramon
2013-11-03, 04:47 PM
I got to the Scraplets issue [29]. Target 2006 happened right before that in the UK?

Which is a bit weird, seeing as Prime is dead in the US series, most of the Autobots featured in Target are still de-activated and Megatron is lost :lol:

Loving this Blaster. Goldbug turned up with no explanation at all, didn't he?

Denyer
2013-11-03, 05:16 PM
Re: scans, would recommend, it's interesting to read the comics as issues rather than story fragments. (Although you've got to remember the Marvel UK stuff does occasionally re-run things and that there were all of the balls-ups with the Collected Comics.)

Denyer
2013-11-03, 05:21 PM
http://rsbwpc.weebly.com/

I have been reliably informed that it's highly unlikely that a professional publisher would consider taking a financial risk on my work if it was being made available online for free. Even if I went down the e-book route, amazon's KDP Select scheme also stipulates that the material not be available online.
Doesn't seem to have held back Tardis Eruditorum.

Cliffjumper
2013-11-03, 05:29 PM
Goldbug's origin is in the (abysmal) GI Joe crossover; there's a much better alternate one in the UK comic. Target 2006 was, IIRC, fairly close to the debut of Omega Supreme (hence the awkward dialogue mentioning him when the story had clearly been planned before he turned up).

Knightdramon
2013-11-03, 07:31 PM
The thing that gets on my nerves is that I like what I'm reading, immensely, which will in turn prompt me to read the UK run as well. Which in turn will result in me reading the same US stories, with different dialogue occasionaly?

Anyway, ace stuff so far. Love how it focuses on typical 80ies Marvel villains at points, but gives full props to various Autobots and Decepticons as well.

Cliffjumper
2013-11-03, 07:57 PM
The thing that gets on my nerves is that I like what I'm reading, immensely, which will in turn prompt me to read the UK run as well. Which in turn will result in me reading the same US stories, with different dialogue occasionaly?

Depends on how well your memory works... I'd at least consult a guide so you can work out what fits where. Some UK stories follow plot threads started off in the US stories (example - there's a UK story featuring Blaster [albeit miles out of character] and the Throttlebots set right in the middle of the post-Scraplet storyline) whereas others are almost completely independent (post-Target 2006, Furman began using the post-Movie cast for a lot of storylines as he didn't have to worry about the US book as much).

The dialogue changes are largely minimal and intuitive - tidying up a few minor continuity points (not hugely spoilery example - the Predacons appear in a UK story that was printed before their US debut, so some dialogue was tweaked so the US reprint mentioned this). Occasionally some background characters are changed (IIRC Broadside turns up randomly on the Ark in a couple of US frames, whereas in the UK he was meant to be on Cybertron with the Wreckers) but it's minor and not exactly thorough - sometimes characters just turn up in the background where they're not meant to be.

Generally they get more independent as the (UK) comic goes on. By the time Furman's writing the US book the continuity's a complete head**** as eighties logistics meant early attempts to tie it all together fell flat and he wandered off into a dead-end instead.

inflatable dalek
2013-11-04, 08:33 AM
Blaster's character in the US book is odd really considering it's from the same bloke who wrote his profile... I wonder if Bob just changed his mind between writing that and bringing the character in or if that was one of the few profiles that was more down to Hasbro than him and he never liked the music loving guy and was cheerfully happy to ignore it?

It is surprisingly how bland (it's slightly more like the profile in that Blaster's speech is a bit more slang-ey but it's hardly Buster Jones voicing him) UK Blaster is considering he shows up long enough after he's played a major role in a few US issues for Furman to have gotten a better handle on the character.

inflatable dalek
2013-11-04, 09:57 AM
Ah, missed this bit...

Doesn't seem to have held back Tardis Eruditorum.

Assuming it's just not bad advice I wonder if it's just down to the fact Who books are likely guaranteed sellers in a way a much more niche project like a Transformers comics guide wouldn't be makes it be seen as more worthy of a punt?

Cliffjumper
2013-11-04, 11:01 AM
Lulu is always an option - print a few vanity/gift editions and with something like a guide which has less copyright issues (it's where I did that Robo Machines trade thing I tend to give people, but a text TF guide - maybe avoid using "Transformers" on the cover and commission a cover from someone?) you can leave it publicly listed and see if anyone wants it, maybe make a couple of quid but not really lose anything beyond time if they don't.

Regarding Blaster, Bob probably didn't think the profiles/tech specs should be overly restrictive - he needed a resistance badass and had only a handful of characters available, so promoted the guy who had the greatest scope of abilities. Worth remembering there were probably around thirty-forty official Autobots at the time and most of them were accounted for on Earth; the use of Blaster, Percy and the '85 Minibots was probably mandated and they're a pretty flaky bunch.

Denyer
2013-11-04, 08:06 PM
Assuming it's just not bad advice I wonder if it's just down to the fact Who books are likely guaranteed sellers in a way a much more niche project like a Transformers comics guide wouldn't be makes it be seen as more worthy of a punt?
Think it's because he's angling for a specific promotion, with exclusivity conditions;

https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A6KILDRNSCOBA

As far as I can see, small press books that are successful (which means selling a few hundred to low thousands of copies, but not having to pay many middle-men a cut) rely heavily on word of mouth, and that means having a ready-made audience following an already-successful blog or printed column. That goes double for retro-oriented "essay" books with a natural audience of a holiday week next to the Waterstones till for those that are incredibly lucky or a publisher chooses to buy into that spot, before they get remaindered and show up on Amazon Marketplace for the cost of postage.

Poetry, essays, tech manuals, short story collections, etc. are worth even less than novels, basically -- and the latter field is incredibly saturated for non-franchise genre fiction too; the breakaway category for ebooks is erotica, which people prefer to get from Amazon and remain less identifiable in doing so.

Freelance writing to spec is a bit more sustainable, but often pretty soul-destroying.

Knightdramon
2013-11-05, 06:25 PM
Kept reading, up to 35 now.

Blaster's still my favourite comic bot. *Now* I get why he's so popular. He's like the Chromedome/Whirl of that generation, in comparison with the others.

The UK story with the "Iron Man" made me want to throw up in my mouth. It couldn't have been used in a more out of place spot in the series, either.

Grimlock's kind of an asshole. On the episode where he's elected leader by the Autobots, not by force, he's actually pretty badass. Then he turns all retarded and Megatron-like. It's like reading Ongoing 1 after AHM15 about Prowl all over again.

The comics didn't run concurently with the TV show, did they? Because it's still early in the run [36 of 80], the S1 cast was discarded within the first 12 issues, S2 cast showed up briefly with Blaster taking over the main character duties, and now I'm seeing Predacons/Ratbat/Runamuck/Skylynx/Throtlebots show up, which, unless I'm mistaken, are toys that appeared AFTER the movie.

inflatable dalek
2013-11-05, 08:53 PM
The comic did happen roughly in line with the cartoon, the complete absence of the Movie characters is likely down to the fact Bob didn't come up with their names and backgrounds and thus didn't like them very much coupled with the fact Hasbro were confident enough the film was going to be such a mega blockbuster they didn't mind if the comic didn't promote them.

Magnus, Galvatron and Rodimus are the only "BIG" toys the American comic would ignore at time at release (there are however a couple of Hot Rod ect sized ones that fell through the gaps, often people like Roadbuster who were owned by other companies).

Come 1987 when the film bombed harder than a US drone Budiansky wasn't given any leeway and has to include the targetmaster versions of Hot Rod and company. Though even then IIRC outside of their "My name is Scourge is and this is Fracas!" introductions he did his very best to give them nothing to do in either the Headmasters mini or subsequent issues.

Most likely the Smelting Pool two parter (which has a heavy movie influence anway- Two moons, Beachcomber turning into Kup and the idea of a small hidden resistance trying to take Decepticon ruled Cybertron back) would have been where the "Present Day" versions of the bulk of those 1986 characters would have been introduced if Bob hadn't been allowed to ignore them.

It's very easy to see Hot Rod in the Blaster role (which is where I disagree with Cliffy, the story didn't require Blaster completely ignore his profile, a more upbeat character could still have been a maverick within the cell and still cared about Scrounge, I just think that, for whatever reason, Bob just wasn't keen on Blaster's profile by the time he came to write the story).

There's actually something rather wonderfully peverse that, having written out Optimus and Megatron, Bob goes out of his way to replace them with the two year old Grimlock and the cheap and cheerful Ratbat despite there being "New" leader toys on shelves. There's no other point in the comic's life that would have been allowed to happen (though it's lucky for the UK it didn't, Rodimus and Galvatron just being introduced as present day characters with no fuss or bother would have buggered everything up for Furman).

Skyquake87
2013-11-05, 10:47 PM
I wonder if Bob was taking the p*ss a bit with Ratbat -

Hasbro : "You need to promote this new tape toy, cos small bots sell well"

Bob: "F**k's sake...."

Hasbro : "yeah, he's this cool little bat dude whom drinks fuel from trucks like a vampire"

Bob (saracastically) : "Oh well, sh*t the bed. he's so awesome i'll make him leader!"

Hasbro : "Great Idea Bob! I knew we could rely on you!"

Bob : "...."

Cliffjumper
2013-11-05, 11:46 PM
I've always thought the Movie cast getting ignored was Hasbro perhaps hedging their bets a little, or at least commerical sense - Grimlock was still shipping until 1987, ditto Blaster, Perceptor, Jetfire and several others (G1s often shipped for three, four years - the idea of a toy being 'old' within 12 months came in around Beast Wars). So it's still big exposure for current merchandise.

Plus it's easy to forget that the Scramble City teams were as much part of the third series as Hot Rod & co, as was 'post-movie' stuff like the Predacons and Sky Lynx.

Warcry
2013-11-06, 07:14 PM
Yeah, I think Hasbro was perfectly happy to have the Movie characters left out of the main comic. The movie itself was liable to reach a much larger audience than the cartoon, since it was in theatres, and don't forget that they did a comic adaptation of the film as well -- so the movie characters did appear in print, even if they weren't in the main comic storyline.

Plus, in 1986 and 1987 there was so much stuff available that Hasbro probably didn't care who the comics were featuring as long as they were advertising some of the new toys. It actually worked out pretty well in the end, with the comics advertising a lot of the stuff that the cartoons didn't pay much attention to. Ratbat, the Throttlebots and the like...

inflatable dalek
2013-11-06, 09:03 PM
Well obviously Hasbro were fine with them not being in the main comic or they'd just have insisted on it (before and afterwards the sheer amount of characters being introduced at any one time never seemed to bother them, I'm sure Bob would have quite gladly not featured a few more of the 86/87 boys as well). I just don't think they'd have minded either way if he had included them or not, the final choice was Budiansky's and that was driven by his dislike of the Movie cast.

Mind, as I'm sure the man himself doesn't remember either way it's all speculation, though how poorly written the Universe profiles for the film cast are may give a sign in that direction.

Though toys did indeed stay on sale longer back then, the American comic did generally follow a rule of characters getting faded out fairly quickly with the introduction of each new wave, either being reduced to background extras or swiftly killed/dropped down a mineshaft. The mainexceptions tended to be obvious favourites of Bob's, Shockwave probably being the most overt example but Blaster generally kept a major speaking role longer than anyone who came into the comic with him as well.

Interestingly Grimlock doesn't seem to have been a character Bob was particularly bothered about before or after his stint as leader. The Dinobots have their intro issue, vanish for ages, pop up to explain why they're not going to be taking part in Command Performanes and then aren't seen again till Grimlock takes over. Then after Optimus Prime comes back he just sort of hangs about in the background saying the odd line until he dies. That coupled with the age of the toy makes the choice of him as the boss just a bit odd.

Skyquake87
2013-11-07, 09:19 AM
It's interesting as well how much of the new characters introduced to the comic and whom get major page time are from the cheaper end of the spectrum.

inflatable dalek
2013-11-07, 09:36 AM
It's interesting as well how much of the new characters introduced to the comic and whom get major page time are from the cheaper end of the spectrum.

The UK comic seems to get to play a bit more footlose and fancy free, but as far as the American series goes Mini-bots (jncluding Throttlebots) are almost totally ignored as individual characters. Bumblebee/Goldbug gets to be the official face of all of them and Gears and Huffer get "Focus" issues early on (and out of all of them, it would be the two with the same personality. Is hanging around with Bomber Bill better than hanging around with Spider-Man though?), everyone else just turns up all at the same time with the rest of their wave and feels lucky if they get to say a line before being reduced to background extra.

Major brain fart- did the third year mini-bots even make it into the US comic as anything other than Delbo-random-characters? Pipes and that lot?

Micromasters do manage a little better, mainly because there were so many of them, but I wouldn't rule out Bob being desperate to write about anything but Bloody Pretenders.

On the con side, the cassettes tend to get more moments than the cheap Autobots (and indeed, the Autobot cassettes), maybe because they're less of them, maybe because they're an essential play element of a bigger more expensive toy or maybe because Bob really liked Ravage and whichever one couldn't see humans.

Other than Movie toys and those licensed from other companies (and in the case of Omega Supreme and Jetfire it's clear that a licensed toy over a certain price will be featured no matter what) I can't think of any Autobot Car sized and bigger toys that didn't get the "My name is X and my gun does Y" moment before Furman took over (at which point I think more started to get skipped, there's a few Action Masters that never turned up IIRC).

My favourite being the issue that introduced both the Triggerbots and the Sparklebots, because Bob has written a script that's clearly been intended to feature three new characters and has been told at the last second to include both groups, meaning half stay home whilst the others get chased about.

Cliffjumper
2013-11-07, 10:57 AM
The third-year Minibots were probably one of the most dicked-over mass retail groups, at least before the Micromasters/Action Masters (taking Wheelie out of the equation as that was just assortment convenience):

- Outback has his UK storyline of course and a handful of speaking roles in the cartoon, but only a Delbo cameo in the US book (Club Con?)
- Pipes was (IIRC) in the background of the "Prime on Cybertron" UK story, had his brief cameo in "Underworld" but a couple of fairly meaty roles in the cartoon (though I think we're talking, like, two - FFoD and the Trek KO?); maaaaaybe a Delbo cameo.
- Tailgate was in the background during Prime on Cybertron, had his odd little star turn in "Underworld", a non-speaking cameo in the cartoon and that was about it.
- Swerve I don't think was in the comic at all (I half remember a miscoloured Gears in one of the genuine Delbo/Yomtov classics which could go either way) and had a non-speaking role in the cartoon which ended with him getting trodden on by Trypticon.
- Hubcap I'm 99% sure didn't appear in a Western comic or cartoon until his MTMTE profile came out.

Warcry
2013-11-07, 02:50 PM
Other than Movie toys and those licensed from other companies (and in the case of Omega Supreme and Jetfire it's clear that a licensed toy over a certain price will be featured no matter what) I can't think of any Autobot Car sized and bigger toys that didn't get the "My name is X and my gun does Y" moment before Furman took over (at which point I think more started to get skipped, there's a few Action Masters that never turned up IIRC).
There's actually a fair bit more than that, though few of them are prominent enough as characters for anyone to notice or care.

The Jumpstarters and Omnibots never showed up in the US books, and were more-or-less the same size as the cars. More glaringly out of the second assortment, Inferno and Red Alert weren't introduced alongside the other '85 cars and were completely absent for the entire US run until Furman came aboard. Other notable non-movie, non-licensed omissions were Metroplex, the Autobot and Decepticon clones, Punch/Counterpunch, the Duocons, all of the Decepticon tapes post-Ratbat, Sixshot of all things, Chainclaw, Catilla, Gunrunner and Roadgrabber. I don't think Bob used any of the small Targetmasters or the Autobot small Headmasters either, but Furman introduced them right away when he started writing so it could be that was Bob's plan as well.

A few of these guys got attention in the UK, and some were just ignored entirely.

Knightdramon
2013-11-07, 05:43 PM
Yes, a bit further down the road [with Fortress Maximus and the other headmasters] it's become quite apparent that Hasbro does not want this comic to be succesful as a comic book (whether or not it actually was I can't tell).

Just in the past 2 or 3 issues there's been like 10+ characters introduced, all of them with a throwaway "hi I'm X and I'm special because..." line. The only exception being Fortress Maximus. He and Blaster are still the stars.

Perceptor hasn't even said anything since he was among the group proclaiming Grimlock to be the leader. Prowl has not uttered a word since he was awoken by Ratchet.

On the Decepticon front, nobody has spoken much except for the new headmasters, the predacons, ratbat and shockwave.

I can't even remember where the f*ck Soundwave is supposed to be. Ravage is lost ever since that Skids skirmish.

Targetmasters came up, and actually the guns had more of an expose than the bots, which is odd, considering Hot Rod is among them.

So yeah, while I'm still kind of enjoying the story, the "new toys come along and take over" thing is getting a bit tedious.

Skyquake87
2013-11-08, 04:12 AM
The US book sold very well considering its 'limitations' - i.e. being a book based on toys. At the time it was axed, it was selling in the region of 100,000 copies (in context : Spider-Man and X-Men were selling in their millions in the early 1990s) , but that wasn't considered enough to sustain the book. I liked that Transformers was a 'proper' Marvel book and wasn't placed under the umbrella of their kiddie 'Star Comics' imprint.

In the UK, the comic at its peak was shifting 200,000 copies, matching 2000AD which gives you a fair idea of how well it was doing.

Around the time of Headmasters, the US book does go loopy with new toys turning up every issue. Its no wonder the Underbase was effectively a massive house clearing exercise. Its a miracle the book reads as well as it does, given that Hasbro pretty much treated the whole thing as a massive advertorial for the toys. I can't honestly recall Soundwave doing much in the US book, apart from shitting up some power plant workers and growing a mouth during Underbase.

There aren't too many plot threads left dangling by the time Bob goes, IIRC. I think the only one that isn't satisfactory is the sudden fade out of the Throttlebots/ RAAT thing, which is explained away in a line of dialgoue.

...and what Cliffjumper said about the '86 bots. They're there, but they may as well not be. And yes, no appearance for Hubcap. That's what you get for being weedier than Bumblebee.

inflatable dalek
2013-11-08, 03:54 PM
- Outback has his UK storyline of course and a handful of speaking roles in the cartoon, but only a Delbo cameo in the US book (Club Con?)

I never knew till today that cartoon outback pulls a Skids and manages two different voice actors in his two episodes.


- Pipes was (IIRC) in the background of the "Prime on Cybertron" UK story

- Tailgate was in the background during Prime on Cybertron.

I've no recollection of either of those, but it'll be fun looking out for them when I get that far.

There's actually a fair bit more than that, though few of them are prominent enough as characters for anyone to notice or care.

After typing that I remembered the non-Movie Autobot triple changers as well (and anyone who has read Broadside's profile may be of the opinion the reason Bob left him out- Delbo moment aside- is because he ****ing hated the guy).

[You're wrong about Sixshot though, he's in one one tiney tiny panel of Headmasters. But if not for it being on his Wiki page I'd have never noticed].

Still, other than Broadside, Sandstorm, the Omnibots, the Jumpstarters, Inferno, Red Alert (two odd ommisions considering Rock and Roll Out wouldn't be that affected by two other characters hanging about in it, they could have stayed on the Ark with Grapple), Metroplex, the Autobot and Decepticon clones, Punch/Counterpunch, the Duocons, all of the Decepticon tapes post-Ratbat, Chainclaw, Catilla, Gunrunner and Roadgrabber what have the Romans ever done for us?

I'm amazed you people pay any attention to anything I say.

One thing I do think Bob deserves credit for, especially considering how few stories he did set on Cybertron (the one place in the Universe you could just have new Transformers turn up without explanation), is mostly avoiding going down the cartoon route of never properly introducing characters and just hoping folks don't wonder where they came from.

Hell, he even mostly avoided the obvious and easy explanation of "We've been sent to Earth as reinforcements" (the big example of which is All The Micromasters), he'd often try to make it interesting and give characters a specific reason for coming to our planet. They've been kidnapped (which admittedly happened twice); sent on special missions; summoned for help by Wheeljack; built by magic Matrix energy...

The only place he really cops out is with the Pretenders and second lot of Headmasters, who literally are handwaved with "No, totally, they were like, really on the ship all along just off panel the entire time". And even then with the former he at least gives the shells a special origin.

Furman had the advantage of doing more stuff on Cybertron and thus could more easily go "Here's Springer and Scoop, they live here". Even with that he managed a few more odd under the radar introductions, most obviously Krok. "Hello, today I am the second most important Decepticon on the planet. No, not one of our new leader's two BFFs he's always hung round with before, not Soundwave. Me. I get a chair at meetings and everything. For no readily apparent reason".


Around the time of Headmasters, the US book does go loopy with new toys turning up every issue. Its no wonder the Underbase was effectively a massive house clearing exercise. Its a miracle the book reads as well as it does, given that Hasbro pretty much treated the whole thing as a massive advertorial for the toys. I can't honestly recall Soundwave doing much in the US book, apart from shitting up some power plant workers and growing a mouth during Underbase.

IIRC the odd thing about that is right before the Underbase a load of characters who hadn't been in the American book for years and were probably supposed to be dead start popping up again. I don't know how much of it is down to that wacky Delbo (though obviously bringing back all the Decepticons knocked out by Omega Supreme even though Starscream was the only one he really needed was a deliberate act on Bob's part). But the upshot is the like of Hound and Bluestreak have to be blown up with characters who have actually spoken since 1985 when otherwise by that stage I don't think anyone would have missed them.

The real one I want to know about is the almost instant death of the Seacons. I can think of three theories:

1: Bob was savy enough to realise the more attentive readers would spot the pattern in who was being killed off, and so deliberately played the Seacons as a wild card in the hope it would make it less obvious he was wiping out the pre-86 toys and add more of an element of risk to the chances of survival of the more recent Bots and Cons.

2: Bob really ****ing hated the Seacons, almost as much as he hated Broadside.

3: The dull one, for some archaic reason there was a delay in getting the Seacons into the comic meaning they didn't appear till a good while after their toys had come out, making them eligible for INSTANT DEATH.

There aren't too many plot threads left dangling by the time Bob goes, IIRC. I think the only one that isn't satisfactory is the sudden fade out of the Throttlebots/ RAAT thing, which is explained away in a line of dialgoue.

Hell no, what happened to the original Headmaster heads was like, a totally valid loose end that was well worth the five issues of Reg it took to explain!

Cliffjumper
2013-11-08, 06:10 PM
IIRC Tailgate and Pipes are in the crowd being addressed by Prime in... Resurrection? Will Simpson art and seemingly a guest spot from Nelson Yomtov on the old colouring. Looking at the trade Tailgate's a solid... Pipes is a bit weaker - there's someone with a similar head design but missing the "box", so YMMV as to whether it's a coincidental generic and people are joining the dots because Outback and Tailgate are already in it or just a bad render.

Talking of Underbase and Soundwave, it pisses me off no-end that some people claim he survived on the grounds that Soundwave always survived - what the Hell made him powerful enough to withstand it? As for characterisation, Soundwave in the US comic is just prominently THERE the whole time in a way no-one else is. Furman clearly loves the guy as he gets some very good work in the UK stuff (like being the only Decepticon leader who isn't a complete idiot - twice), and just about the first thing he does is slot him back into place long before the AM is on the horizon.

Re: Sixshot in Headmasters, I've never really bought that. Headmasters has THE worst-edited art in TF history (Delbo had no good reason not to chuck Broadside into background panels) with Frank Impactor just grabbing whatever character sheet he felt like - most memorably leading to Krunix. What amazes me is that certain people will insist that Sixshot's on Nebulos letting a couple of goons hitch a lift to the planet and doing NOTHING else while at the same time being more than happy to declare the Dinobots' buggy in War & Peace is just some sort of massive coincidence.

(On that sort of nerdy note, Red Alert does make a US G1 appearance - his car mode's on the cover of "Totaled!" (#41?), coloured like Sideswipe. CANON! If Nevermore was still here he'd never let you get away with that...)

Chainclaw, however, is in "Rhythms of Darkness". Been out a bit but probably still shipping.

I think those spared by Bob are just down to simple saturation in that by the time he'd introduced some characters their opposites (say, the Autobot Headmasters) had been suceeded by newer toys. I do think Hasbro took their hand off the book a little around 1988 and perhaps limited the amount of characters they expected to appear - as long as a chunk of the latest range was in the book they didn't really expect it to be absolute, probably just due to the way the number of characters had exploded since 1985/86.

The Headmasters series was actually a nice way of doing it, with its' separate plot and Bob only really giving much space in the main book to the big guys (Maximus and Scorponok; the rest just largely fade into the ranks until Furman picks up guys like Kup, Hot Rod, Triggerhappy and Mindwipe for a bit later).

With the Seacons, "Enemy Action" was published in Feb '88, so the toys were almost certainly out in the UK then; release dates seem to have largely been quite similar at the time curiously, not much different to now (I guess when the big shipping haul is from Asian factories it doesn't make much difference as to UK/US). "Club Con" was cover-dated December '88, which means it was out something like August (Marvel dated issues waaaaay in advance at the time; the whole "Mid Dec" thing for Primal Scream was part of a company-wide attempt to bring them back in line), so yeh, they'd be pretty obsolete toys anyway by the standards of the insane 1988 line. Possibly just a bone thrown to Hasbro as they'd fit in with "Club Con" anyway?

Cliffjumper
2013-11-08, 06:26 PM
Incidentally, it's worth laying it out like this - intros pre-Furman in the US comic (subject to slight correction, the US as a separate series is a bit of an unfamiliar concept): -

#1 - everyone
#4 - Shockwave & the Dinobots (kinda)
#10 - Devastator
#14 - '85 cars (bar Inferno and Red, naturally)
#17 - Blaster, Perceptor, 85 Minibots, Insecticons, Coneheads
#19 - Omega Supreme
#21 - Aerialbots
#22 - Stunticons
#23 - Battlechargers
#24 - Combaticons, Protectobots
#25 - Predacons
#27 - Trypticon, Ratbat
#29 - Decepticon Triple Changers
#30 - Throttlebots
#36 - Sky Lynx
#40 - Pretenders
#41 - Autobot Powermasters (kinda)
#42 - PM Prime, Decepticon Powermasters
#46 - Triggerbots, Sparkabots, Firecons
#47 - Seacons
#48 - Triggercons
#51 - Carnivac, Snarler
#54 - Sportscar, Off Road Patrols
#55 - Air Patrol

I make that debuts on average every other issue.

And that's with Headmasters introducing the bulk of the '87 range and the TF:TM mini-series probably helping to mollify Hasbro as to the movie guys (thinking about it, that was probably a big factor in Bob getting away with it, seeing as three issues was about the average for new guys staying new); the gaps also include three issues not written by Bob (Man of Iron and Big Broadcast). Laying it out like that it's amazing anyone got any real characterisation at all.

O'course, what makes it all the more frustrating is that whenever Bob was given a bit of a breather he ambles off and writes about the Mechanic or what a boring dickhead Cloudburst is, but that's neither here nor there.

Warcry
2013-11-08, 09:28 PM
Around the time of Headmasters, the US book does go loopy with new toys turning up every issue.
Easily the worst stretch of the book, IMO. From the time the Headmasters cast joined the main book up until the time when Furman took over it became increasingly more and more clear that Budiansky just didn't care anymore, because no matter what he did with the characters it would be forgotten six months later when new characters came along. Can't say that I blame him, to be honest.

[You're wrong about Sixshot though, he's in one one tiney tiny panel of Headmasters. But if not for it being on his Wiki page I'd have never noticed].
Eh. Although I'd agree that that's definitely his jet-mode character model, it really doesn't fit the spirit of what we're talking about. No kid reading at the time would see that one panel cameo and say "There's Sixshot I have to buy him!", after all.

Now, if that one panel had him shifting through all six modes, introducing himself and talking up his hypersonic concussion blasters...

One thing I do think Bob deserves credit for, especially considering how few stories he did set on Cybertron (the one place in the Universe you could just have new Transformers turn up without explanation), is mostly avoiding going down the cartoon route of never properly introducing characters and just hoping folks don't wonder where they came from.
Honestly, I dunno. Given the comic's logistical challenges (twelve 22-page issues per year instead of twenty to sixty 22-minute episodes), I think it would have made more sense for Bob to go the cartoon route and just toss the new guys in there so he could get on with telling a story.

"Oh, him? He was injured in the Ark crash, but he's better now. Moving on..."

For the first few issues he seemed to have a handle on it, but after #12 there were so many new characters showing up in bunches on top of so many existing characters that his approach really seemed to sap a lot of energy from the book.

Ironically, the cartoon had more than enough time and space to give an intro episode to every single new character or team in season two and three but the writing staff just didn't bother, even though most of those characters got star billing in at least one episode anyway.

Hell, he even mostly avoided the obvious and easy explanation of "We've been sent to Earth as reinforcements" (the big example of which is All The Micromasters), he'd often try to make it interesting and give characters a specific reason for coming to our planet. They've been kidnapped (which admittedly happened twice); sent on special missions; summoned for help by Wheeljack; built by magic Matrix energy...
I think he pulled that card for the Insecticons and Coneheads too, but only after they'd been introduced on Cybertron so I don't know if it really counts.

Furman had the advantage of doing more stuff on Cybertron and thus could more easily go "Here's Springer and Scoop, they live here". Even with that he managed a few more odd under the radar introductions, most obviously Krok. "Hello, today I am the second most important Decepticon on the planet. No, not one of our new leader's two BFFs he's always hung round with before, not Soundwave. Me. I get a chair at meetings and everything. For no readily apparent reason".
My favourite bit about Krok is how his existence isn't acknowledged at all in G2, in spite of all of Bludgeon's other minions showing up and Krok clearly being an important officer. It's like even Furman had decided it was a stupid idea by then.

On the other hand, the rest of Bludgeon's inner circle wound up conveniently getting killed (well, conveniently for Megatron anyway...) so maybe Krok was the only one smart enough to go into hiding and wait until Megatron forgot he wanted him dead?

Talking of Underbase and Soundwave, it pisses me off no-end that some people claim he survived on the grounds that Soundwave always survived - what the Hell made him powerful enough to withstand it?
Don't we actually see him get killed, too?

O'course, what makes it all the more frustrating is that whenever Bob was given a bit of a breather he ambles off and writes about the Mechanic or what a boring dickhead Cloudburst is, but that's neither here nor there.
I can't say that I blame him, honestly. His favourite characters (or at least what seem like his favourites based on how he wrote them) were snowed under so quickly by newer, shinier releases that I can totally see why he gave up on trying to make anything out of any of the new characters who came around. Who was the last genuinely interesting Transformer character Bob brought into the comic? I'm thinking Ratbat (Scorponok stood out later but he was just a generic braying idiot until Furman got his hands on him). Ratbat, Blaster and Shockwave were certainly the only ones with staying power. Even Ratchet basically disappeared after the first couple years, and I think after someone forced him to turn "noble savage" Grimlock into "cartoon moron" Grimlock he didn't put much effort into making the new robots interesting anymore.

In retrospect I don't think it's any surprise that he focused a fair bit of attention on human protagonists and enemies...at least with them, he could bring them back whenever he wanted without worrying about whose toy was for sale.

inflatable dalek
2013-11-08, 09:31 PM
IIRC Tailgate and Pipes are in the crowd being addressed by Prime in... Resurrection? Will Simpson art and seemingly a guest spot from Nelson Yomtov on the old colouring. Looking at the trade Tailgate's a solid... Pipes is a bit weaker - there's someone with a similar head design but missing the "box", so YMMV as to whether it's a coincidental generic and people are joining the dots because Outback and Tailgate are already in it or just a bad render.

I really lack observational skills, I've been amazed how many little details I've somehow managed to never notice before (especially on covers, including this week wondering what is going on with Prowl on that first 2006 cover). As anyone who has seen the complete proof reading failure on this week's write up will note, I'm just not very observant.

Talking of Underbase and Soundwave, it pisses me off no-end that some people claim he survived on the grounds that Soundwave always survived - what the Hell made him powerful enough to withstand it? As for characterisation, Soundwave in the US comic is just prominently THERE the whole time in a way no-one else is. Furman clearly loves the guy as he gets some very good work in the UK stuff (like being the only Decepticon leader who isn't a complete idiot - twice), and just about the first thing he does is slot him back into place long before the AM is on the horizon.

The comic itself seems to get a bit confused as to who is dead and who isn't (again) IIRC, there's a strange mix of characters who pop up as being specifically resurrected by Nucleon and those who just sort of pop up without much explanation to fill out crowd scenes. Though it's post Bob Quake managing to die twice (and that's just during the original run!) is probably the most obvious. By the time the comic is into its second half century keeping track of who's who and where's where seems to have (understandably) gotten more than a bit confused.

Speaking of the trades... I know we've talked about the Legacy of Unicron trade I didn't give you before... But I don't suppose you're missing one of the US paperbacks as well? I found The One With Soundwave On The Cover a few weeks ago and as I'm fairly sure I didn't buy two I'm beginning to think I may have completely shafted you on that sale.



Chainclaw, however, is in "Rhythms of Darkness". Been out a bit but probably still shipping.

Well, that's the last time I take anything Warcry says at face value. Why can't he be completely consistently accurate like wot I is?


With the Seacons, "Enemy Action" was published in Feb '88, so the toys were almost certainly out in the UK then; release dates seem to have largely been quite similar at the time curiously, not much different to now (I guess when the big shipping haul is from Asian factories it doesn't make much difference as to UK/US). "Club Con" was cover-dated December '88, which means it was out something like August (Marvel dated issues waaaaay in advance at the time; the whole "Mid Dec" thing for Primal Scream was part of a company-wide attempt to bring them back in line), so yeh, they'd be pretty obsolete toys anyway by the standards of the insane 1988 line. Possibly just a bone thrown to Hasbro as they'd fit in with "Club Con" anyway?

Makes sense, though there's nothing firm to say Budiansky didn't really hate the buggers as well so that's what I'll chose to believe.

It'd be nice to think the delay was down to a desire to wait for a story where aquatic misadventures could be included so as to avoid the same problem as that G.I. Joe where the swimmer guy (lets call him Aqua Lung) helps foil a bank robbery in full scuba gear.

Though it does suggest that sea (hahaha) change in Hasbro's attitude, as I think that even a year earlier they'd have gone "oh, so you don't have a sea based story coming up... well make one bitch, this is a combiner! It needs promotion!".

I'd be curious to know if Bob knew the Action Masters were coming when he decided to make Starscream (a character he otherwise had almost no interest in whatsoever) the big villain of the 50 issues story arc. The Flames of Boltax is the first time the American comic suggests Megatron is coming back (the "See issue" box describes him as having "Disappeared" rather than been killed) so it's not impossible.

Though that takes us into an area that was at one time a keen area of debate but seems to have been completely forgotten about in the last few years (probably because Furman has done more than enough dodgy stories off his own back recently without needing help from others): Was the "Return of Megatron" arc the Brit opens with something Bob worked on at least slightly before the handover?

Personally, I'd put a small but decent amount of money on the fact that (considering the changeover seems to have been fairly random and sudden and basically boils down to Uncle Bob being so overjoyed at meeting someone he could palm the job off onto he chucked it at them and run) before Furman came onboard it was penciled in that Megatron would be in those issues (possibly as a lead into the Action Master) and which new Classic Pretenders and Micro Masters would be introduced was already pencilled in and he had to work it out.

I would put a smaller and less sure amount of money on Ratchet (a character Furman had pretty much almost totally ignored up to that point and whose survival of the Underbase when all his remaining 84 comrades fell is likely down to the fact Bob was very fond of him) being in those issues was something set in motion by Budiansky.

but everything else in it is Furman's (including the Decepticon Powermasters, whom I can't imagine Bob would give a shit about but would have been fairly fresh on Furman's mind thanks to the letters page).



Incidentally, it's worth laying it out like this - intros pre-Furman in the US comic (subject to slight correction, the US as a separate series is a bit of an unfamiliar concept): -

#1 - everyone
#4 - Shockwave & the Dinobots (kinda)
#10 - Devastator
#14 - '85 cars (bar Inferno and Red, naturally)
#17 - Blaster, Perceptor, 85 Minibots, Insecticons, Coneheads
#19 - Omega Supreme
#21 - Aerialbots
#22 - Stunticons
#23 - Battlechargers
#24 - Combaticons, Protectobots
#25 - Predacons
#27 - Trypticon, Ratbat
#29 - Decepticon Triple Changers
#30 - Throttlebots
#36 - Sky Lynx
#40 - Pretenders
#41 - Autobot Powermasters (kinda)
#42 - PM Prime, Decepticon Powermasters
#46 - Triggerbots, Sparkabots, Firecons
#47 - Seacons
#48 - Triggercons
#51 - Carnivac, Snarler
#54 - Sportscar, Off Road Patrols
#55 - Air Patrol

I make that debuts on average every other issue.


And that is really, really is staggering.

God bless the good ship Bob (and why do I automatically gravitate to calling Bob Bob and Furman Furman? A sign of how he comes over as the lovable Uncle of Transformers? Or is it just that Budiansky is a pain in the ass to write?) and all who sail in him.

inflatable dalek
2013-11-08, 09:44 PM
Oh, sneaky people posting faster than I write hey?


Honestly, I dunno. Given the comic's logistical challenges (twelve 22-page issues per year instead of twenty to sixty 22-minute episodes), I think it would have made more sense for Bob to go the cartoon route and just toss the new guys in there so he could get on with telling a story.

I agree it would have been logistically sensible, but however Cnut-ish it may have been the fact he really seemed to be trying to make each new character matter and make some sort of impact as they arrived is a valiant thing to have done. It's trying to service drama (where characters motivation and where they came from and where they're going should matter) as well as the toy intros. A lot of the times it fails but it's a magnificently daft failure.


My favourite bit about Krok is how his existence isn't acknowledged at all in G2, in spite of all of Bludgeon's other minions showing up and Krok clearly being an important officer. It's like even Furman had decided it was a stupid idea by then.

Not to beat Reg with a stick like a tired elderly relative you want dead so you can inherit their house... But his use there is equally funny. He's in scenes with Bludgeon because Furman has clearly decided that Krok being there is a nice Easter egg for fans of the dying days of the comic... But he's just this guy in the crowd of no importance whatsoever. Alas poor Krok.

Cliffjumper
2013-11-08, 10:17 PM
The comic itself seems to get a bit confused as to who is dead and who isn't (again) IIRC, there's a strange mix of characters who pop up as being specifically resurrected by Nucleon and those who just sort of pop up without much explanation to fill out crowd scenes.

I dunno, I found the dialogue in "Man in the Machine" and the first Mechannibals one covered them nicely - huge systems overload, basically every circuit needing rebuilding from scratch, no-one dead but a Hell of a work load (so it's even more of a compliment to Soundwave that he's back so quickly rather than granting him magic powers). Generally though it's rather consistent - no-one else comes back without some sort of explanation (Pretender shells, nucleon) - even Delbo limits himself to the Pretenders and *masters that were explicitly (if weakly) saved.

Though it's post Bob Quake managing to die twice (and that's just during the original run!) is probably the most obvious. By the time the comic is into its second half century keeping track of who's who and where's where seems to have (understandably) gotten more than a bit confused.

Dunno, I don't think either of Quake's "deaths" are particularly solid. There's no sign of tank debris from Operation Foot Attack (just bits of Joyride and Waverider), and everyone else from the End of the Road hunting party turns up okay in G2 (including Fangry).

I found The One With Soundwave On The Cover a few weeks ago and as I'm fairly sure I didn't buy two I'm beginning to think I may have completely shafted you on that sale.

Nah, complete set here cheers matey :)

Though it does suggest that sea (hahaha) change in Hasbro's attitude, as I think that even a year earlier they'd have gone "oh, so you don't have a sea based story coming up... well make one bitch, this is a combiner! It needs promotion!".

I'd be curious to know if Bob knew the Action Masters were coming when he decided to make Starscream (a character he otherwise had almost no interest in whatsoever) the big villain of the 50 issues story arc.

Probably more likely to be a nod to his original profile (largely underused in the US comics) than that (though the Pretender was probably on the agenda at the time). Underbase is clearly Bob's big blow-out, the five issues afterwards are seriously marking time.

The Flames of Boltax is the first time the American comic suggests Megatron is coming back (the "See issue" box describes him as having "Disappeared" rather than been killed) so it's not impossible.

Nah, more standard Marvel practice. No body, no death, never put any hurdles in the way of a character resurrection. Basically no toy characters in Bob's entire run are killed off in a way that it wouldn't be easy to bring them back (same for most of Furman's work up until the end of the US comic too) - right from the start we know Ethan's got that disc, that Megatron's disappeared with the spacebridge, that Shockwave looked like he was burning up..

Was the "Return of Megatron" arc the Brit opens with something Bob worked on at least slightly before the handover?

I think the building blocks were there - Megatron back, bring in Classic Pretenders, give Ratchet something to do, Sports Car Patrol. Not sure Megatron's Action Master figure was the point - it was still a year off and there would be no point in him returning and leaving before it went on sale. He just fit the profile of a returning villain as a third party while also bringing back a well-known character (maybe good feedback to the Boltax appearance). Roughly from when Furman takes over Hasbro seem to get a lot less pushy.

Hasbro seem to have been happy enough for the concept of Action Masters to be broached in the comic (and character models being updated) rather than the range being excessively pushed.

That the likes of Shockwave, Prowl and Megatron come back into the mix is as much about them being big characters who Furman had plans for as them having Action Masters out; just as many characters have a sizeable role in the Unicron stuff despite not having Action Masters (Kup, Galvatron, Scorponok, Swoop, Hot Rod) or indeed any toys out, while the likes of Bumblebee and Jazz actually fade compared to their Classic Pretenders exposure and guys like Inferno, Soundwave and Blaster are largely background.

Krok aside (and he's really just Generic Decepticon Lieutenant #146) they just fill out the odd group shot and the creative team were probably happy enough to keep the numbers up after the Unicron carnage.

Denyer
2013-11-08, 10:19 PM
why do I automatically gravitate to calling Bob Bob and Furman Furman? A sign of how he comes over as the lovable Uncle of Transformers? Or is it just that Budiansky is a pain in the ass to write?
Possibly the same way that most Who actors get two names when they're referred to apart from Pertwee.

inflatable dalek
2013-11-08, 11:10 PM
I dunno, I found the dialogue in "Man in the Machine" and the first Mechannibals one covered them nicely - huge systems overload, basically every circuit needing rebuilding from scratch, no-one dead but a Hell of a work load (so it's even more of a compliment to Soundwave that he's back so quickly rather than granting him magic powers). Generally though it's rather consistent - no-one else comes back without some sort of explanation (Pretender shells, nucleon) - even Delbo limits himself to the Pretenders and *masters that were explicitly (if weakly) saved.

Though it just about holds together, I do think those lines in the issues immediately after Underbase were part of the back-peddling; Bob was so sure he was going with 50 he killed all the old characters with gay abandon, when it turned out he was going to be around for a while longer and any resurrections required by toys could still be his problem the All Powerful Might of Underbase gets seriously downgraded.



Nah, complete set here cheers matey :)

Then... why do I have another copy? Why would I buy two? What sort of madman am I?


Probably more likely to be a nod to his original profile (largely underused in the US comics) than that (though the Pretender was probably on the agenda at the time). Underbase is clearly Bob's big blow-out, the five issues afterwards are seriously marking time.

Would I be right in thinking the last (only?) time before being brought back in Totalled the American series even slightly referenced Starscream's profile was that bit in the original mini where Megatron bitch slaps so hard it kills Reflector to fix him for making a suggestion Megatron thinks is a good idea? Between that and being Omega Supremed I think he was just this guy of no opinions whatsoever.

It does feel strange Bob would focus on that as part of his final when the character he did chose to focus all the duplicitous leadership ambitions on was clearly a favourite of his and had only been written out relatively recently. A Budiansky Underbase story where Shockwave comes back and is the main super power absorbing villain seems far more likely than what actually happened.

Though I suppose the Grimlock factor could be in play where a bit of an absence had simply made Bob forget Starscream had never been written like he was in the cartoon.


Nah, more standard Marvel practice. No body, no death, never put any hurdles in the way of a character resurrection. Basically no toy characters in Bob's entire run are killed off in a way that it wouldn't be easy to bring them back (same for most of Furman's work up until the end of the US comic too) - right from the start we know Ethan's got that disc, that Megatron's disappeared with the spacebridge, that Shockwave looked like he was burning up..

I'm not sure in Megatron's case that we're not conditioned as Brits to already regard being on a blown up space bridge to be something you just sort of get over. From the American perspective, there was no Straxus head nor the return of...err... Megatron so there's no reason not to assume that...err... Megatron isn't as exploded as, well, Straxus was.

That two Megatrons thing really was a piece of piss wasn't it? I was at one point a fairly rigorous defender of it, until I woke up one day and realised I'd wasted great lengths of my life trying to make an issue that read great when I'd not read any of the issues it buggers harder than a gay porn film, but is in fact annoyingly stupid fit.


I think the building blocks were there - Megatron back, bring in Classic Pretenders, give Ratchet something to do, Sports Car Patrol. Not sure Megatron's Action Master figure was the point - it was still a year off and there would be no point in him returning and leaving before it went on sale. He just fit the profile of a returning villain as a third party while also bringing back a well-known character (maybe good feedback to the Boltax appearance). Roughly from when Furman takes over Hasbro seem to get a lot less pushy.

We do have Bob's Action Master plot outline (all that black hole stuff) suggesting he was already coming up with something for those toys when he left, which also assumes Megatron is alive and leading before they get their hands on Nucleon, suggesting plotting would be well in advance of the toys being released as well (IIRC that document is dated, I don't have the hardbacks easily to hand but if you can reach that trade with little fuss- It was one of the last couple of Bob ones IIRC- that'd give us a clue of the time frame in relation to the published issues. I think I took a stab at it in my review for this site but based my assumptions on the mistaken assumption the cover dates were reliable).

Mind, the random element is that at one point Furman talked about how Bob still hung around offering advice and writing profiles after he stopped writing the book. But this seems to get strangely ignored these days and Bob himself makes it sound as if he was out the door like greased lightning as soon as the handover was done (sweetly he's fairly upfront he was keen enough to get gone that- understandably- having no prior idea of the UK comic beyond its existence and not having read any of Furman's stuff beforehand, if Gerry Adams had wandered into that pub and gone "I'll have a go at that to be sure" at that moment Bob would have been grateful enough to give him the job).


Krok aside (and he's really just Generic Decepticon Lieutenant #146) they just fill out the odd group shot and the creative team were probably happy enough to keep the numbers up after the Unicron carnage.

The odd thing about Krok is, all the other "New" Action Masters who appear (and of those that don't there's there's no Banzai Tron despite having a much cooler name than Krok; did he come out too late for the comic or was Furman worried about another super space ninja stealing old boney's skit?) are just background extras whilst he is positioned in scenes as if he is important despite not actually being important.

Was there just something Furman liked there (what?) or did Hasbro insist one of them get a major role and that was the best he could do.

I'm so sorry Knightdramon if this is spoilering your future reading which you were hoping would be full of Seacons and Banzai-Tron.


Possibly the same way that most Who actors get two names when they're referred to apart from Pertwee.

Wait, you're suggesting a link between Pertwee, the one who started quite good and got worse and worse as time went on and on, and Furman?

Pertwee, the one who descended into self parody, and Furman?

Pertwee, the one who spent his later days going round and round the fan circuit in character doing the same old same old anecdotes to earn a crust and Furman?

Pertwee who almost certainly was shagging the person he did the bulk of his work on the franchise with and...


no one in particular obviously.

Cliffjumper
2013-11-09, 03:05 PM
Yeh, I've read the AM treatment but the problem is it doesn't even remotely marry up to what happened in the book - Furman's on the book for about a year before he even starts addressing the Nucleon.

Which brings me to another point - there are two ways to look at Budiansky's character introduction rate; either that he was under the cosh of Hasbro or that he was just far too eager to help them introduce new characters. The character introductions drop off to basically nothing once Furman's onboard (the small Autobot Headmasters, Thunderwing, the small Pretenders, the small Targetmasters, Krok, Monstructor) and Hasbro seem largely satisfied if they're just generic muscle with minimum story involvement.

Obviously Hasbro's interest was dropping but that they went from having a death grip with #55 to nothing within a couple of months is ridiculous. A long time ago (and possibly contradicted by either Furman or others since) I read an interview where Furman said Hasbro were pretty uninvolved in the whole process - they'd send character models and the like along to him, he'd write whatever he wanted but with an open mind (so, say, no harm in having Monstructor with Galvatron in RoD rather than, I dunno, the Terrorcons), send it off and it'd always get approval (apart from, IIRC, a joke script which killed literally everyone off).

So maybe Furman took Hasbro's suggestions as guidelines and Bob took them as gospel. Maybe Bob just didn't chance his arm enough... he certainly had less of an eye for incorporating this sort of thing into an ongoing plot; the Matrix Quest for example does a fairly good job of introducing, what, nine new characters while feeling very organic as the plot remains the writer's.

Bob's decision to remain Earthbound as much as possible and determination to give everyone an origin limited the stories somewhat as issues were wasted on origins (Nightbeat, a diamond character, pops out of thin air in both the US and UK, leaving the reader to deduce where he's come from) and explanations kept having to be found for characters travelling from Cybertron to some random mudball.

inflatable dalek
2013-11-10, 04:53 AM
Yeh, I've read the AM treatment but the problem is it doesn't even remotely marry up to what happened in the book - Furman's on the book for about a year before he even starts addressing the Nucleon.

Oh sure, Furman seems to have chucked/ignored whatever rough plans Bob had in place, but it seems the lead-in time on developing the toys means Budiansky was still working this stuff out even a year in advance and may have been setting up the dominoes for what he was expecting to come (though of course, Blaster style, he might have completely ignored the black hole stuff if he'd still be about as well).


Obviously Hasbro's interest was dropping but that they went from having a death grip with #55 to nothing within a couple of months is ridiculous. A long time ago (and possibly contradicted by either Furman or others since) I read an interview where Furman said Hasbro were pretty uninvolved in the whole process - they'd send character models and the like along to him, he'd write whatever he wanted but with an open mind (so, say, no harm in having Monstructor with Galvatron in RoD rather than, I dunno, the Terrorcons), send it off and it'd always get approval (apart from, IIRC, a joke script which killed literally everyone off).

I don't know, if we allow for the fact Bob's last couple of issues were slightly skewed percentage wise by having to introduce a huge chunk of that year's toys and most of them were in teams of four, I'd say Furman initially carries on in the same style. His first arc brings in Classic Pretenders and two teams of Micromasters; then (what is effectively) a two parter for four new Decepticon Pretenders and another Micromaster team; and then two of the first three issues of Matrix Quest are entirely about showing off new Autobot teams (the Triggerbots are really odd as they wind up with about three American issues that read as if it's their first show off appearance) with support from some of the new Decepticons.

it's only after that things settle down and new introductions tend to get a lot more relaxed and casual, the Pretender Monsters probably being the last great hurrah for the idea and even then there's not the obligatory show-off-Monstructor bit that even Piranhacon got.

Though how much of that is down to Hasbro's decreasing interest and how much is down to so many of the new toys starting to be old characters is a bit of a blurry line.

What may be worth factoring in is that Furman wasn't just a straight swap for Budiansky- the later had been much more involved directly with Hasbro behind the scenes whilst Furman seems to have just come in as a writer (I don't think I've ever read mention of him being involved with names or profiles, either Bob carried on with them or Hasbro brought them in house). Considering any request on what characters should or shouldn't be included would have presumably gone through the editor rather than the writer it's likely Furman was simply more out of the loop on those decisions than he predecessor.

I would suspect that story of the false story pitch is one that's been exaggerated hugely by Furman and others over the years in order to work better as a convention/trade introduction anecdote (across just about every franchise in the world guests are-understandably- more interested in being entertaining than accurate). IIRC it's even managed two different endings- in the first Hasbro just approve it and in the second they notice and send back a worried message but still think it's genuine. I would bet the truth is more likely Hasbro got the joke and had a good laugh at it.

I also think Furman, much more than the long out of comics Bob, has two good practical reasons to play down the involvement of Hasbro.

The first is he's still a freelance comic writer and there's a stigma attached to tie in work in general and toy tie in work in particular that means he would want to do everything he can to be seen as a serious creative writer in his own right rather than a toy company lackey so as not to put off potential employers in other fields.

Secondly, he still effectively works for Hasbro via IDW. He's probably got enough sense to realise saying anything that could be seen as even slightly slagging off the working relationship even twenty years ago might not be the best idea ever, in much the same way I'm sure we'll never hear his true feeling on being sacked from the lead book and being called a liar by Andy Schmidt as long as IDW have the licence.

And that's not just a Furman thing of course, is there any writer who has been involved with the comics right up to the present day who doesn't go on about how wonderful and supportive and mostly hands off Hasbro are? You'd get the impression they occasionally make the slightly sweet and hesitant "Would you mind please doing a bit more with Optimus Prime if it isn't too much bother pweeeety please?" suggestion but otherwise have complete faith in the towering geniuses that are the writers and editors.

When I would suggest I can't imagine John Barber was only politely requested to devote half an issue of RID in the big build up to the EPIC crossover to pimping Scoop and his new toy 50000000% more than Marvel ever did with the original. The relationship has almost certainly always been a lot more hands on that anyone will admit publicly. Which is fair enough of course.

Cliffjumper
2013-11-10, 06:28 AM
Oh sure, Furman seems to have chucked/ignored whatever rough plans Bob had in place, but it seems the lead-in time on developing the toys means Budiansky was still working this stuff out even a year in advance and may have been setting up the dominoes for what he was expecting to come (though of course, Blaster style, he might have completely ignored the black hole stuff if he'd still be about as well).

Yeh, but my point is that - arguable Megatron aside - Furman completely ignores the AM stuff for over a year, and then it's about another six months before any of it really feeds into the book (and even then it's largely on Furman's own terms). Which means Hasbro weren't being especially pushy about it either way.

I don't know, if we allow for the fact Bob's last couple of issues were slightly skewed percentage wise by having to introduce a huge chunk of that year's toys and most of them were in teams of four, I'd say Furman initially carries on in the same style.

No, he doesn't. He carries on with the same number of introductions. Aside from the Classic Pretenders (and that's more than a little down to them being Jazz, Bumblebee, Grimlock and Starscream - they stay as leads of the comic for about five-six issues) the new guys could easily be switched out for basically anyone else and don't tend to take over issues unless Furman wants them to (it's worth noting that ahead of the Matrix Quest Furman's already shown certain interest in Nightbeat & Siren, Longtooth and the Triggerbots).

What may be worth factoring in is that Furman wasn't just a straight swap for Budiansky- the later had been much more involved directly with Hasbro behind the scenes whilst Furman seems to have just come in as a writer (I don't think I've ever read mention of him being involved with names or profiles, either Bob carried on with them or Hasbro brought them in house).

Furman - new to Marvel US and probably to Hasbro US too, and with his usual willingness to do anything for money - would have been easier to push around and dictate to than Budiansky. Again, this leads me to the conclusion that Bob was only too happy to help Hasbro out for whatever reason, be it extra financial gain, keeping Hasbro sweet, genuinely thinking he should play things straight, lack of writing skills to do things a smoother way, etc. and his attitude may have damaged the quality of the stories.

I also think Furman, much more than the long out of comics Bob, has two good practical reasons to play down the involvement of Hasbro.

Agree with the reasons but the problem is it's born out by the comics - Hasbro seem to have largely been placated with background roles for a lot of the newer toys, didn't argue with the likes of Scorponok, Galvatron, Fort Max, Kup etc. taking up space on the book, didn't object to Furman basically starting a 20-issue plot arc with a villain who didn't even have a toy, etc.

Knightdramon
2013-11-10, 02:09 PM
Read, or rather skimmed through #43. If this isn't plain old filler I don't know what is.

I really wonder, with 43 and 37-38 [I think, the Man of Iron story] what kind of feedback Marvel received.

And on the topic of toys, it's both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing in the sense that when you get your, say Generations Skids toy, it'll pretty much match up the comic design that made you interested in the guy. It's a curse in that it sometimes interferes with the story and it suffers, big or small time.

-SL Hoist having Hoist with an Earth mode for no reason
-Dark Cybertron having Starscream in a new body for no reason
-RID 18 spending time explaining why an essentially punched in face required a complete body overhaul with an alt mode unsuited for the planet
-RID 19 with Scoop, enough said
-SL Bumblebee being centered in Earth, around a store nobody gives a crap for, with Bumblebee once again "proving himself worthy of being the leader" by keeping 5 out of 30 or so Decepticons from going on Cybertron.

So, um, yay toys!

inflatable dalek
2013-11-10, 08:31 PM
No, he doesn't. He carries on with the same number of introductions. Aside from the Classic Pretenders (and that's more than a little down to them being Jazz, Bumblebee, Grimlock and Starscream - they stay as leads of the comic for about five-six issues) the new guys could easily be switched out for basically anyone else and don't tend to take over issues unless Furman wants them to (it's worth noting that ahead of the Matrix Quest Furman's already shown certain interest in Nightbeat & Siren, Longtooth and the Triggerbots).

Lets not forget though what can create a slightly false impression is that as Furman's run goes on a great many of the new toys are old characters. I'd go as far as to say the Action Masters get more individual attention under Furman than the initital Pretenders got under Budiansky (the only ones of whom to get any indervidual attention were, IIRC, Skullgrin; Cloudburst and Landmine and possibly whichever one it was got zapped on the Empire State which is an arresting image if nothing else).

Compare that to Prowl, Grimlock, Starscream and Shockwave all getting decent lead roles plus varying degrees of support from most of the rest ranging from a strong guest star role for Meagtron through Blaster just standing about having the odd line like most of the Pretenders managed.

Furman's main act of free will seems to have been to focus on the Action Masters who were already established characters rather than the new boys, but even under Bob Hasbro didn't expect every single character to have a massive role and probably didn't mind that it was Prowl who get a leading role rather than Gutcruncher (anymore than they did when it was Skids rather than Tracks under Bob) as long as some (most? Someone more maths minded than me could work out the percentage of Action Masters in those last ten issues) of them did, from their POV all those characters are new toys.



Furman - new to Marvel US and probably to Hasbro US too, and with his usual willingness to do anything for money - would have been easier to push around and dictate to than Budiansky. Again, this leads me to the conclusion that Bob was only too happy to help Hasbro out for whatever reason, be it extra financial gain, keeping Hasbro sweet, genuinely thinking he should play things straight, lack of writing skills to do things a smoother way, etc. and his attitude may have damaged the quality of the stories.

It's hard to be sure about the quality of the stories, many, many of his odder moments have nothing to do with character introductions (and his very best regarded story in the Return to Cybertron is wall to wall new guys showing he could do it well) and all those slightly off-kilter Joey Slick style wacky human escapades are presumably exactly the sort of thing Hasbro would have cheerfully ditched in favour of more focus on the actual toys, so I would say as long as he did the required amount of introductions Bob had at least as much freedom to do things in his own sweet slightly eccentric way as Furman would.

For what it's worth, the only time Furman ever acknowledges having to bend over for Hasbro is when it's really blatantly obvious and/or something that gets a lot of stick (Second Generation, World's Apart), to pick a non-Marvel example the classic of Smokescreen getting shot in the head at point blank range in Armada only to get immediately better (in a seminal moment for James Roberts) rather than killed was laid squarely at their doors. It makes you wonder how many other things he did that were down to meeting their requirements he never mentions because it worked.

Agree with the reasons but the problem is it's born out by the comics - Hasbro seem to have largely been placated with background roles for a lot of the newer toys, didn't argue with the likes of Scorponok, Galvatron, Fort Max, Kup etc. taking up space on the book, didn't object to Furman basically starting a 20-issue plot arc with a villain who didn't even have a toy, etc.

Oh, I'm not suggesting there wasn't a decrease in Hasbro's interest (by the last few months they must have realised they were going to be winding the line down), just that I don't think they were as completely disinterested as is often made out to be the case.



I really wonder, with 43 and 37-38 [I think, the Man of Iron story] what kind of feedback Marvel received.

Well obviously everyone love the British story because the British are awesome. ;)

Skyquake87
2013-11-10, 10:25 PM
Probably not terribly positive. The artwork for Man Of Iron looks really muddy reproduced on newsprint and scaled down, and Yomtov's mixture of benday dots and random block colours conspires to make the whole thing look a ghastly turd-brown mess.

It's a bit of a shame, as there was at least one letter to the US book about how much more interesting the British stuff was with Galvatron and time travel, and then to show US readers what they'd been missing, they get this.

Cliffjumper
2013-11-11, 01:36 AM
I love Man of Iron, but as a strange oddity that handles the TFs like basically nothing else - and yes, the US presentation dicks it over badly, the full colour Collected Comics is majestic. I can see why Marvel USA went with it, though - not many other self-contained 44-page stories out there. It was a very bizarre situation for a Marvel comic of the period, though - titles rarely ran late and even when they did a genuine filler story was rustled up. I guess it was a case of the material being there for an even cheaper fix, but God knows how Bob dropped three months in about a year.

The shame is (and I realise it was probably unavoidable) that instead of Man of Iron and Big Broadcast they could've ran Legacy of Unicron for those 66 pages, which was fairly self-contained (working knowledge of TF:TM is all that's really needed, just take Galvatron as defeated at the end of the film and you're basically there or thereabouts; it's not like they tried to explain anything context-wise about Man of Iron), didn't tread on the toes of the US book overly, covered the future guys (even if "let's see the future Autobots!" was obvious spin for Big Broadcast), had Bryan Hitch, might have given Death's Head a helping gauntlet and is ace. Sure, Furman would have had to think of a plot for "Primal Scream" a couple of years down the line, Yomtov would have still ****ed it up and I'm not sure the dates would have met up (plus it might've put Bob's nose out of joint) but it would have been a nice treat for the Yanks (and might mean the Wakitards didn't act like the UK comic is less of a valid TF media than shitty 3D battlecards).

inflatable dalek
2013-11-11, 08:48 PM
Hmm, the next issue box for 32 described what ended up happening in 35 didn't it? That would destroy a theory brewing in my mind that it was a planned break for Bob so that writing Headmasters as well didn't break him mind. Though they obviously knew Big Broadcast was coming, so that may well have been a straightforward "I'm off to a wedding/funeral/month's vacation" rather than dropping the ball.

Considering the book was selling well enough for them to at least semi-seriously consider a Headmasters ongoing using Man of Iron might have been a testing the waters move to see if a series of cheap as chips series reprinting some of the British stories similar to their Doctor Who one (which must have been about the same time?) would be a goer.

From a purely selfish perspective I'm glad they didn't go for any other stories; considering loaning the masters to the US is almost certainly the reason the UK couldn't reprint Man of Iron themselves again later on I'd rather not have lost my first chance of reading Legacy if the same had happened to that.

Cliffjumper
2013-11-11, 10:35 PM
I doubt Bob specifically got time off for Headmasters; it wasn't uncommon for writers to be doing 2, 3 books a month at the time (Chris Claremont probably managed more).

Oddly Marvel did do their Action Force reprint thing (European Missions) in the cheapest possible way and with absolutely no attention paid to the way it contradicted GI Joe; I'd guess if they thought the TF idea would be a goer they'd have done it even if it had been incomprehensible.

Knightdramon
2013-11-30, 10:46 AM
...aaaand after a long break, finally got to do more reading.

Finished the underbase saga with issue 50.

Issues 43 or so to 46 was just months of filler, then the real thing started going.

As real as a mcguffin with no prior reference can be, but whatever. Loved the brief team-up of the autobot badasses (Grimlock, Blaster, Maximus and Prime). The battle scenes with Starscream in issue 50 were nifty, though a very easy way to just write off whomever didn't have a toy yet. Some of them were gritty instances, but my favourite was the Blaster fight as well as the Grimlock fight. Funnily Prime mentions how awesome the new bodies for the throttle bots are, and they just explode next panel. Or how the technobots appeared for one panel, in alt modes, just to get blown away.

The Marvel comic team really didn't like Megatron, eh? He's been gone ever since that Predacon hunt back in issue 25 or so.

So, does Furman come in soon?

inflatable dalek
2013-11-30, 12:37 PM
You've four issues till Furman. If you like giant SPACE slappers and wrestlers you'll really enjoy the end of Bob's run.

If not, then you may find it a struggle.

No love for Ratbat bitchslapping Fort Max?

Knightdramon
2013-11-30, 02:51 PM
I'm diving into issue 54 now. I really liked the previous 2 parter with the mechaniballs.

Knightdramon
2013-11-30, 06:07 PM
Issue 61, the legendary Primal scream, finally read, 11 years into the fandom :lol:

Even though some Furmanisms have crept up relatively quickly, it's still very enjoyable. The plot is actually character specific and centric, instead of "toy of the week gets into an adventure".

Issue 60 was a bit crap though. Oh Furman, why did you write Prime as if he had lost NOBODY at all in over 4 million years of fighting? And the entire Hot Rod prepping a guardian droid for mayhem was not just face-palm able, it made me want to ram my head on the wall.

Kudos for finally getting a different penciler...the Powermaster Prime design was so god-awfully ugly and drawn like crap it's a miracle the toy sold as well as it did. It looked like a bunch of geometric shapes with a fat upper body on it. People complained about Energon Prime in 2004, this went by unnoticed? :lol:

Warcry
2013-11-30, 06:30 PM
Kudos for finally getting a different penciler...the Powermaster Prime design was so god-awfully ugly and drawn like crap it's a miracle the toy sold as well as it did. It looked like a bunch of geometric shapes with a fat upper body on it. People complained about Energon Prime in 2004, this went by unnoticed? :lol:
Things were very different then, though. Powermaster Prime was the only Optimus toy available for...three years? Longer, if you don't count the non-transforming Action Master. They could have made him a square with a face hastily scribbled on it in the comics and still would have sold toys, because every parent whose kid loved Transformers had exactly one Optimus to choose from when buying something for them to open up on Christmas morning.

(And speaking as someone who had that exact scenario play out as a kid, PM Prime is an awesome toy when you're five. :) )

But Energon Prime came out at a time when four other, better-looking Optimuses (the first Armada Prime, it's redeco, the smaller Armada Prime and Universe Primal) were either still available or had been available in the last year. It's a lot easier to judge something harshly when you've got comparable close to hand.

inflatable dalek
2013-11-30, 07:39 PM
As bad as Prime crying like a baby over just Ratchet whilst not giving a flying **** about anyone else who died in the last year is, at least he gets over it within just the one issue and- as Marvel Prime did so often- sorts through his emotional issues by punching something repeatedly (I think the thing with Marvel Prime was inaction got to him as much as anything else, give him something to do and he got over any sulk almost instantly).

of course, Reg1 pretty much forgot all of that instantly. Oh well.

Knightdramon
2013-11-30, 07:59 PM
Yeah--I know the feeling. PM prime was also my Prime as a kid. If somebody had bothered to translate the powermaster gimmick for me I wouldn't have broken the hitch on mine on the legs :lol:

Fiiiiinally seeing Hot Rod get some attention and action--as much as he is pimped out in RG1 as the next Prime, and how much of a presence Rodimus had in the UK timelines, he's been fantastically absent for 20 or so odd issues from his appearance to stepping out to aid Prime in 60.

Death's Head
2013-12-01, 02:15 AM
At some indeterminate point, perhaps even in the box prior to my infant self opening it, my Powermaster Prime lost the eyes on his big head. For my entire childhood I assumed that was how he was supposed to look - a dead, eyeless husk.

It wasn't until the internet was invented, some time around 1998, that I realised he was supposed to have eyes!

Warcry
2013-12-01, 04:22 AM
Speaking as someone who disassembled his PM Prime's head for some reason when I was a kid, there's no way the eyes could be lost without taking the whole head apart. The factory must not have installed them to start with. :(

Fiiiiinally seeing Hot Rod get some attention and action--as much as he is pimped out in RG1 as the next Prime, and how much of a presence Rodimus had in the UK timelines, he's been fantastically absent for 20 or so odd issues from his appearance to stepping out to aid Prime in 60.
Yeah, when I read through the series I was struck by the same thing. Bob clearly wasn't enthusiastic about the movie characters. In fact, he didn't seem too enthusiastic about the Targetmasters in general, probably because the Headmasters offered a much bigger plot hook than "my gun turns into a shorter guy". With the exception of the issue where Fort Max got shot down by Ratbat's flying island I don't think he even gave lines to any of the Targetmasters after the Headmasters mini was up, and even then everyone but Kup was a cypher. And then when Furman takes over suddenly Hot Rod and Kup are in everything, even though I don't think their toys had been shipped for a year or two at that point. Not that I'm complaining, Hot Rod and Kup being two of my favourites.

Cliffjumper
2013-12-01, 04:44 PM
The same ""star for a month, extra for the rest" thing hangs on for a while; it's only towards the last ten or so issues of Furman's run that things become a bit more organic - characters like Nightbeat and Grimlock have their "new toy" days in the sun relatively early in his run then drop off until the final arc really gets going (some - like Jazz and Bumblebee - don't really come back much at all); even then some just happen to turn up in panels a lot rather than get any actual development. In Furman's issues, once the British artists come over, there's definitely a solid attempt to keep the Ark's crew finite, small and consistent even if it means Point Blank disappears without explanation.

EDIT: The interesting thing about Furman versus Budiansky is Furman's last few issues do much the same as Underbase did, with most of the 1987 Headmasters and 1988 Pretenders getting wiped out in a single issue, but the general style works a lot better simply through them being mixed up, varied deaths

Warcry
2013-12-01, 06:02 PM
The same ""star for a month, extra for the rest" thing hangs on for a while; it's only towards the last ten or so issues of Furman's run that things become a bit more organic - characters like Nightbeat and Grimlock have their "new toy" days in the sun relatively early in his run then drop off until the final arc really gets going (some - like Jazz and Bumblebee - don't really come back much at all); even then some just happen to turn up in panels a lot rather than get any actual development. In Furman's issues, once the British artists come over, there's definitely a solid attempt to keep the Ark's crew finite, small and consistent even if it means Point Blank disappears without explanation.
I think I have to disagree about Grimlock. Optimus aside, he's about the only constant throughout Furman's run -- he gets three or four issues right at the start as they're pimping the Classic Pretenders, an issue in Matrix Quest and then carries his own side-story from #69-75 before rejoining the main narrative and becoming one of the central cast for the last few issues. I don't think you can point out more than two or three issues at a time where he's absent, and for most of those Optimus and the other main characters are absent too. Jazz and Bumblebee for sure, after Dark Creation they only have a few lines and background appearances through to the end of G2, but Grimlock is pretty much a constant.


EDIT: The interesting thing about Furman versus Budiansky is Furman's last few issues do much the same as Underbase did, with most of the 1987 Headmasters and 1988 Pretenders getting wiped out in a single issue, but the general style works a lot better simply through them being mixed up, varied deaths
Not sure I would compare the two scenarios, actually.

Bob killed off entire lines of characters strictly for commercial reasons. Furman killed off large parts of the '87 and '88 lines but he did it in a way that served the story he'd been telling for the last couple years -- he seemed to approach the story by thinking "who will they let me kill off for drama?" rather than "gotta get rid of all the Headmasters, Targetmasters and Pretenders!" Kup, Hot Rod, Weirdwolf, Fortress Maximus, Skullgrin, Snapdragon, probably a couple others survived and continued to make appearances well into G2, unlike the Underbase where entire subgroups were wiped out en masse just to be rid of them. The end results felt different because the initial motives were different, IMO.

Cliffjumper
2013-12-01, 09:00 PM
Yeh, sorry, that was sort-of what I was getting at - on paper #75 guts a couple of sub-groups but the approach is more mix and match; Furman kills characters off because he can, Bob seemed to kill everyone off to some sort of checklist. Furman tends to give his favourites immortality (sometimes to a frustrating extent) whereas Bob was lumping Blaster and Goldbug in with people we hadn't seen for forty issues.

I certainly like the scattered approach in EoE more - we get fragments of the battle in terms of the grunts and the precise death toll is difficult to guess (does, say, Chromedome die? Or the Triggerbots? Or Sunstreaker?). Whereas Underbase felt like everyone was lining up in subgroups waiting for Starscream to take them out; it didn't even feel like there were any gaps you could fit Wheeljack or Ironhide into, but Flashback was neat enough for me to forgive it.

I can forgive Bob a lot and Dark Star has some good scenes in it (particularly the Prime/Scorponok/Ratbat stuff) but the massacre stuff is really bad - Starscream randomly picks three cities, wipes out all the Transformers in them in case assortment order (apart from anyone new enough to have character armour - surely the Underbase would just fry the mechanics of anyone binary-bonded even if it left the actual Nebulans unharmed?) and then flies off. Rinse, repeat.

Knightdramon
2013-12-01, 09:33 PM
Interesting detail---some bots do diddly squat in the comic but thrive in the cartoon, some bots are very constant faces among the mass in the comic but don't do much in the cartoon. It's also a wonder how some characters got any exposition at all!

Case in hand--

Ultra Magnus---up to issue 68 or so [that horrifying issue with galvatron in the future], no appearance at all in the US run. I'd gamble to say he doesn't appear in the remaining 12 issues.

Prowl--background in the cartoon at best, somewhat prominent in the comics

Sunstreaker--does nothing in the cartoons, does even less in the comics. Did he last appear in issue 4 or something?

Ratchet--not so prominent in the cartoon, a star in the comic even through long absences.

Ironhide--prominent in the cartoon...I think I last saw him around issue 4 or 12 in the comic.

Sideswipe--has done NOTHING in the comic that I remember...

And the list can go on. I wonder why Thunderwing isn't on an equal level to Grimlock in terms of popularity and figures!

inflatable dalek
2013-12-01, 09:36 PM
*Waits for Cliffy's ten point list of reasons why Thunderwing is awful*

Cliffjumper
2013-12-01, 10:20 PM
Sunstreaker's bought back (blink and you'll miss it) in the one where everyone has a big fight on the moon, pretty much because EVERYONE's in that group shot. Bob explicitly lists him as heavily damaged earlier (Constructicon debut when they're showing Blackrock around the Ark?). He gets a bit of a chance to shine in some of the later UK strips.

Ironhide is similar, though he gets a bit more to do in some earlier UK stuff (Sunstreaker's absence is treated quite reverentially in the UK comic; that said, IIRC Ironhide was held over to the second wave of cars in the UK line, which'd explain why he gets face time in the comic alongside the likes of Smokescreen and Tracks).

Sideswipe gets dicked over even in the UK. His biggest part comes in G2 and even then he drops off fairly quickly (but makes a good impression thanks to a solid design and the nifty G2 scheme).

The Thunderwing Roll of FAIL:




He's given a bunch of dead-heads to hunt and kill as some sort of stupid leadership test and gets blown up by a generic and Robert Mitchum.
He attacks his rescue squad.
He attacks the Ark backed by half of the Triggercons and the crap Firecon. Optimus Prime lets him off because he's hilariously bad and the Decepticons will be no bother with this idiot in charge.
The Decepticons treat said leadership test as an afterschool special and make Thunderwing leader because the aforementioned adventures taught him the true meaning of keepaway.
Thunderwing then sits on his fat arse and triggers the start of the Unicron war with his innovative strategy of sending three guys to kill three other guys.
Thunderwing then sets off to nick the Matrix because **** You. After getting frustrated by various comedy aliens and that wanker Longtooth he resorts to slapping around his own men until he finds someone much, much, much smaller than him. After an epic beatdown with a knackered Bumblebee, he gets the Matrix.
He then flies straight to the Ark with his four men because that's all he can think of to do with the Creation Matrix.
He then uses said Creation Matrix as a laser.
Even the Matrix realises how dumb he is and takes over.
Thunderwing then gets shot and killed by a harpoon. A ****ing harpoon.




Harking back to earlier 'Bots, given that the Furmanator presumably had the issues to work with I've always been a little surprised he wasn't tempted to add the likes of Ironhide, Prowl, Wheeljack etc. to Time Wars' bodycount. On the one hand the lead-in would have been tight; on the other a whole bunch of old characters do suddenly reappear in those issues and Time Wars is very obviously truncated at short notice (presumably as part the fabled near-cancellation which led to the three stories B&W era - personally I feel Furman was/is hubristic enough to initially be aiming for something longer than T2006, and the first few chapters fit that rhythm), so maybe that was part of the plan.

Death's Head
2013-12-02, 12:01 AM
The slight disconnect in Bob and Simon's characterisations/attitudes to characters is why I've always been reluctant to cast Earthforce aside into some alternate dimension; the Grimlock seen in the US book post-Edge of Extinction is clearly modelled on the Grimlock who's grown up leading his own team on Earth. I realise even Furman himself disowns any idea of continuity between the black and white strips and the 'main' US strip, but the attempted links are there and require only a little fudging...

Death's Head
2013-12-02, 12:05 AM
Speaking as someone who disassembled his PM Prime's head for some reason when I was a kid, there's no way the eyes could be lost without taking the whole head apart. The factory must not have installed them to start with. :(

Horrifying possibilities are entering my head!

Cliffjumper
2013-12-02, 05:20 AM
The slight disconnect in Bob and Simon's characterisations/attitudes to characters is why I've always been reluctant to cast Earthforce aside into some alternate dimension; the Grimlock seen in the US book post-Edge of Extinction is clearly modelled on the Grimlock who's grown up leading his own team on Earth. I realise even Furman himself disowns any idea of continuity between the black and white strips and the 'main' US strip, but the attempted links are there and require only a little fudging...

Yeh, that's always been my 'problem' with just writing Earthforce off as a splinter continuity - there is, among the dodgy gag storylines, some of Furman's best character work, especially for the likes of Prowl, Wheeljack, Soundwave and Sunstreaker, so it's nice to think they're the 'real' characters.

That said, these days the way there's a new continuity every year I can see why the idea's more persuasive than it was a decade ago. I'm just not sure where you stop with that approach - do you stick anything that's not a smooth fit (e.g. Enemy Within) off into a pocket universe? Much more fun to try and juggle things around.

Death's Head
2013-12-02, 12:42 PM
I'm one of about probably three people in the world who is hugely fond of Earthforce, dodgy gags and all. Lovely, crisp black-and-white art and, as you say, good use of the 'original' cast.

Shoving stuff off into separate universes seems designed to make a wiki editor's life easier but doesn't really serve the story or the characters therein. I even have an issue with the modern-day division of the Marvel UK/Marvel US continuity, since to my mind the UK story is the 'Marvel continuity' - just the full story, if you will. Dividing them up like that just makes it easier for the UK stories to be dismissed by people who haven't read them as mere 'filler' and ultimately this road leads us to Regeneration One...

Yup. Exactly.

Denyer
2013-12-02, 07:26 PM
Love it, personally, except the last few weaker stories -- it's my era of the UK comic, having been more into MOTU and Thundercats beforehand.

Cliffjumper
2013-12-02, 08:01 PM
I like it, I just sometimes don't think it adds up to all it could have; the characterisation is splendid and there are some really neat ideas thrown in, but it sometimes lacks overall direction; there can be a run of jokey strips then a really good idea crammed into five pages. Of course, that means there's scope for others to fill in the gaps but I do sometimes think that if Furman couldn't hack writing for both getting someone young and hungry on the UK book might have been an idea.

Maybe then he'd have had time to write a plot for the Matrix Quest.

EDIT: Fully agree about the wiki-editing angle. Not sure if it's being a grumpy old bastard but there seemed to be a lot more fan theorising & patch-up work on continuity strife 10-12 years ago. Now if Furman or Hasbro or someone comes out and says "Yeh, X doesn't count, ignore it" people just do it, like they're Star Wars fans or something who think what they're told by the "franchise owners".

inflatable dalek
2013-12-02, 08:37 PM
I mostly love the black and white stuff, even the jokey ones, which only really suffer from the fact they were clearly intended to provide a lighter, fluffier counterpoint to the increasingly dark US strips, but most of them wound up being run alongside reprints and G.I. Bloody Joe meaning they have to carry the full weight of the comic and can't stand the strain.

But then, I do love a bad pun.

I actually think the wiki's approach is mostly sensible in that it's not really the place for speculation on how things fit together, as a reference guide just listing what happens in each story with a minimum of editorialising, leaving the reader to do their own gap filling, is far more sensible and, tbh something the wiki could do with applying a lot more across the board.

I've shared this theory before (which IIRC I first came across on Ratbat's guide) but I've always liked the idea that Earthforce happens at the same time as the first three Matrix Quest chapters, with all the revived Autobots being the result of Wheeljack's super lab and something happeneing between End of the Road V1 and Grimlock, Bumblebee and Jazz all getting assigned to their own quest that killed off most of them again and caused the whole operation to shut down.

It still requires huge buckets of lube (mainly about the time frame Matrix Quest happens over and having to accept another Galvatron knocking about, compared to that ignoring the editorial box saying the returned Dinobots would be explained by the US series is small fry) but pretty much works better for me than any other theory.

Warcry
2013-12-02, 10:05 PM
It still requires huge buckets of lube (mainly about the time frame Matrix Quest happens over and having to accept another Galvatron knocking about, compared to that ignoring the editorial box saying the returned Dinobots would be explained by the US series is small fry) but pretty much works better for me than any other theory.
Actually, I think the main problem would be that the theory requires a third Megatron running around, since the real one was floating in un-space fused to Ratchet and the Straxus Clone's head had been reduced to radioactive dust. Plus the problem with Shockwave being up and about even though everyone thinks he's dead immediately after Matrix Quest. And how are Spinister and Needlenose dead on Earth at the same time as they're with Thunderwing and clearly alive?

On the other hand, you run into the same issues no matter where you try and cram it into the timeline. But I agree that the stories are generally pretty fun, so I generally just ignore the cracks and say that they totally happened but it doesn't matter when. Generally I'd say that they happen around the same time you do because that makes the most sense narratively, the impossibility of certain character appearances aside.

Cliffjumper
2013-12-03, 12:41 AM
TBH I always like to think the Earthforce stories are relatively spaced out. There's quite a bit of too-ing and fro-ing in them and the Autobots have easy space travel at their disposal by then. The New Mayhems could always have killed Catilla, been seconded to Thunderwing for a little while and then escaped to Earth to be scragged by Carnivac. Never really got around to mapping anything solid out, though.

I'm not particularly sold on anything that involves a massive number of characters coming back to life, dying and then showing up to the surprise of all and sundry, however. Strikes me as an incredibly lazy way of doing things. That said, the easier to mesh UK/US stuff has a few unavoidable elephants in the room like the way no-one's bricking it about Galvatron in the American material.

(Galvatron is a massive X-factor as if one 2006 version has easy access to time travel any number of possible Galvatrons could have - if one character can plausibly have a huge number of alternates it's Galvatron - there's already the T2006, post-Time Wars and 'US' versions tearing around minimum)

While it doesn't help much with continuity I always thought it was too much of a coincidence that several of the more prominent Earthforce characters (not guys with AMs, but the likes of Sunstreaker, Skids, Silverbolt and Ironhide) are shown to be resurrected by the Nucleon in the later US issues when they didn't have to be. Sideswipe still gets ****-all game time, though.

Cliffjumper
2013-12-03, 12:51 AM
I actually think the wiki's approach is mostly sensible in that it's not really the place for speculation on how things fit together, as a reference guide just listing what happens in each story with a minimum of editorialising, leaving the reader to do their own gap filling, is far more sensible and, tbh something the wiki could do with applying a lot more across the board.

Rather than being a problem with the Wiki per say (though it is a hypocritical pile of shit ran by an American-centric clique who agree with each other and shout down anyone else) it's more that fans in general either reference it as gospel or just tow the party line now instead of questioning things (e.g. Tramp).

Knightdramon
2013-12-03, 04:28 PM
Read issue 75-the big Unicron attack last night.

Hmmm...I can certainly see why people hold Furman and Wildman to a high regard. Some nice plot points/scenes here and there.

Greatly enjoyed the big fight--Scorponok, Decepticons, Prime, Autobots, even Galvatron joined the fray.

Very much like how Galvatron is handled here--a decepticon superbeing instead of a crazy person.

I like Wildman's art when he's not too lazy to finish his panels [Dreamwave's Dark Ages, regeneration 1], too bad that 20 odd years later his work is worse.

I might buy a thesaurus for Furman at some point...do his non-TF work suffer from the furmanisms as well?

On the Neo Knights... for years before getting into the marvel comics, I read about references to Neo Knights here, Neon Knights there...

THIS is what all that was about? It reads as if Furman knew marvel would cancel G1, so he thought he'd have a pitch ready for a superhero team right away. They are so typical marvel 80-ies-early 90ies that it makes me cringe.

Warcry
2013-12-03, 04:46 PM
Agreed about Wildman's art -- I thought he was the only one who worked on the US book whose art actually looked good (Yomtov's colours, IMO, sucked all the life out of whatever Senior drew). But in retrospect, all of his best work came with Stephen Baskerville on inks. Without him Wildman's work looks unfinished and blah, so it'd be fair to ask which one of them is the actual talent of the pair...

Certainly Wildman's modern art isn't up to his old standards, but how much of that is down to him just not caring about the franchise anymore? It was something he worked on in his youth and he presumably hoped to move on to bigger and better things in the comics industry, so it's easy to understand why he might not give it his all so many decades later (though quite unprofessional if that's the case).

On the Neo Knights... for years before getting into the marvel comics, I read about references to Neo Knights here, Neon Knights there...

THIS is what all that was about? It reads as if Furman knew marvel would cancel G1, so he thought he'd have a pitch ready for a superhero team right away. They are so typical marvel 80-ies-early 90ies that it makes me cringe.
That's because that's exactly what it was -- he and Wildman tried to pitch a Neo-Knights series to Marvel right after Transformers was cancelled, but were turned down. Presumably on the grounds that the Neo-Knights were terrible.

[EDIT]
Rather than being a problem with the Wiki per say (though it is a hypocritical pile of shit ran by an American-centric clique who agree with each other and shout down anyone else) it's more that fans in general either reference it as gospel or just tow the party line now instead of questioning things (e.g. Tramp).
The thing about the wiki that grinds my gears the most isn't this. It's how they try to pretend that modern retcons and ideas are somehow applicable to old stories. In particular, I just stumbled on this gem in the entry for US#69...

According to a retcon made by Fun Publications, Unicron is a single entity who travels across the dimensions, meaning that the Unicron of Galvatron II's timeline and the Unicron of this timeline are the same entity. This means that Unicron lied to Galvatron II and did break his promise.
Random shit made up by the fan club three decades later does not change the meaning of the original text. If the fan club stories want to interpret things this way, that's up to them. But the "multiversal singularity" guff has absolutely no place in a write-up about the original comic, because it is explicitly and demonstrably not true in the Marvel series.

Death's Head
2013-12-03, 07:02 PM
I thought that retcon was brought in by the "Ultimate Guide", itself of dubious worth or canonicity.

I generally love the wiki to bits; in fact, I think it's only their insistence on including the Fan Club stories, which I've never read but seem quite, quite bad, that annoys me. Lingering childish resentment, perhaps, over US fandoms' refusal to acknowledge The Last Days of Optimus Prime and Alignment?

Knightdramon
2013-12-03, 08:06 PM
Finished the run.

So the last 5 issues were basically filler.

Bludgeon and his crew of Z-tiers massacres the entire autobot army, besides the very obvious Prowl, Grimlock, Kup, Blaster and Slag.

Blaster just changes head and character for no reason at all.

Optimus Prime gets revived a second time in the series.

Megatron more or less does nothing for 80 issues.

Fortress Maximus acts like a bitch on his last appearance.

Hot Rod more or less helps kill 2 autobots, with that guardian droid, to bring Prime to his senses. No reprimand, and the guy's the next Prime. This sounds like a plot from pokemon.

Thunderwing actually didn't do nothing. I thought he'd have a much bigger role. No. Show up for 4 issues, get possessed by the matrix, die on the 5th or 6th issue.

And that phrase...that god-damned phrase. "It's over...FINISHED". "Irrevocably". "Inexorably".

For F*CK'S sake. Somebody buy that guy an encyclopedia!

inflatable dalek
2013-12-03, 09:16 PM
Actually, I think the main problem would be that the theory requires a third Megatron running around, since the real one was floating in un-space fused to Ratchet and the Straxus Clone's head had been reduced to radioactive dust. Plus the problem with Shockwave being up and about even though everyone thinks he's dead immediately after Matrix Quest. And how are Spinister and Needlenose dead on Earth at the same time as they're with Thunderwing and clearly alive?

Well obviously the solution to Megatron is SHUT UP.

IIRC the main theory at the time people really did try to make it all fit was Earthforce happened between End of the RoadV2 and G2, but I've never been keen on that for the entirely arbitary reason that I've never been convinced by the idea the Ark would have had to crash in the same place with the same people on it twice in order to work as a lead in for G2.

And I mean, who'd come up with a Marvel timeline that didn't include G2? I'll tell you who, a FOOL.


I'm not particularly sold on anything that involves a massive number of characters coming back to life, dying and then showing up to the surprise of all and sundry, however. Strikes me as an incredibly lazy way of doing things.

I'd say Wheeljack's bodyshop (which, if not for Grimlock dicking about, seems to work brilliantly) lends itself so neatly to that idea it's almost a shame not to go with it though.


Rather than being a problem with the Wiki per say (though it is a hypocritical pile of shit ran by an American-centric clique who agree with each other and shout down anyone else) it's more that fans in general either reference it as gospel or just tow the party line now instead of questioning things (e.g. Tramp).

I wonder if a lot of the reason that people's fire has gone out with trying to Make Things Fit is just down to Furman admitting he was making it up as he went along? It must be hard to want to spend time going all Last Tango In Paris with making things fit if the creators were never that bothered about consistency at the time.



Certainly Wildman's modern art isn't up to his old standards, but how much of that is down to him just not caring about the franchise anymore? It was something he worked on in his youth and he presumably hoped to move on to bigger and better things in the comics industry, so it's easy to understand why he might not give it his all so many decades later (though quite unprofessional if that's the case).

Back at an early Auto Assembly Wildman talked about how his art for the Panini comic was crap because he didn't regard Panini paying well enough to justify putting any effort in (obviously Lee Sullivan and Simon Williams did consider it worth more effort, but then they make-or at least made at the time- their main income from comic work unlike Wildman and couldn't really afford to be shit on purpose).

I'd say IDW have only ever paid him 50% what he thinks he worth.


That's because that's exactly what it was -- he and Wildman tried to pitch a Neo-Knights series to Marvel right after Transformers was cancelled, but were turned down. Presumably on the grounds that the Neo-Knights were terrible.

And speaking of the wiki, that pitch is quoted upon it. Well worth a read for the good laugh it gives.


Blaster just changes head and character for no reason at all.


That's how the British always drew him, don't ask me how the UK ended up with a different character model.

Skyquake87
2013-12-03, 10:36 PM
Agreed about Wildman's art -- I thought he was the only one who worked on the US book whose art actually looked good (Yomtov's colours, IMO, sucked all the life out of whatever Senior drew). But in retrospect, all of his best work came with Stephen Baskerville on inks. Without him Wildman's work looks unfinished and blah, so it'd be fair to ask which one of them is the actual talent of the pair...

Certainly Wildman's modern art isn't up to his old standards, but how much of that is down to him just not caring about the franchise anymore? It was something he worked on in his youth and he presumably hoped to move on to bigger and better things in the comics industry, so it's easy to understand why he might not give it his all so many decades later (though quite unprofessional if that's the case).

Marvel UK recoloured the US stuff once Wildman and Senior are on board on art chores and it makes a huge difference to how much better the strips look. And yeah, Senior's stuff definitely looks much better with a decent colourist.

And yeah, Baskerville works wonders on Wildman's slightly flat art. He also polished up some of Jeff Anderson's work in a similar fashion on the Uk title. Wildman also was probably the most successful out of the core British TF artists at getting work at Marvel US. He went on to draw X-Men Adventures (short-lived tie in to the X-Men cartoon), Nightstalkers (without Baskerville and drawing a lot of grimacing faces, even when the script didn't call for it) and a sustained and solid run on Spider-Man 2099.

It is a shame Wildman's work on ReGen One wasn't up to much and I can understand that his heart might not have been in it.

Might have destroyed the whole 'legendary creative team' selling point, but it might have been an idea to get someone on board who could inject some life and energy that might have fired Furman's imagination. The latter issues of RG1 with a change of artist are finally seeing some impetus and welly in the series.

inflatable dalek
2013-12-06, 09:14 AM
I didn't know the UK recoloured the later US stuff.

As we've mentioned the wiki, I'm not going mad to think this entry on AtoZ is a bit odd?

http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Transformers_AtoZ

It claims the Headmaster ones from Annual Bruce were the first and the series was later refined as it went along... But that Annual would have been out the best part of seven months minimum after the first one in the weekly they've got listed there (#89 is before most of the kids reading would have received the previous Annual... lets call it Annual Clive).

Am I just misreading or has someone had a major brain fart?

Skyquake87
2013-12-06, 09:43 PM
Someone's had a brain fart.

Surely these things stretch back earlier than this anyway, they were called 'Fact Files' or some such. Or is the naming of them as A to Z that's so crucial?

And why is the wiki rude about them looking pretty? And the profiles in general? I like the design and layout. Its much nicer than the rather textbook looking Universe profiles (although I do love these) and better than Dreamwave's design efforts.