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View Full Version : (G1) Credit where credit is due...characters Budiansky handled better than Furman


Birdman75
2015-01-15, 02:27 PM
OK, let me start off by stating that I've not gone mad, and, even as a boy, I recognised the difference in quality between the US and UK-originated stories, especially once Uncle Bob's earlier inspiration had started to run dry (some of his earlier work was quite good, and the thrust of my argument later largely stems from his best work). I also preferred the art of the likes of Geoff Senior to US art, but, that said, I never cared much for Dan Reed, say, so I didn't automatically love anything that came from Marvel UK just because of its origin.

But...while the number is small, I feel that some characters were either dealt with better in the US-originated stories, or, where they were equally well-treated by both, the definitive persona was first fleshed out by Budiansky. Everyone's opinion on such matters is somewhat subjective...I mean, some people prefer cartoon Grimlock...so what I am about to say is not some absolute truth.

Well, first off, I doubt I'll attract much negative criticism when I state that Furman's Blaster was pretty pointless, for the most part. A version of his cartoon self, without even being a 'fun' character in the more serious Marvel continuity, and very much at odds with his determined bad*ss as written by Bob. Still, Furman didn't write him all that often, or hinge a plot around him, so what little we do see doesn't necessarily totally contradict his US persona.

Skids. Well, I could name lots of 1984-1986 characters who Furman didn't really focus on...Budiansky used Huffer more, for example. I choose Skids, however, as he had a lot of focus for a while in the US material, and I doubt I'd have taken notice of the character otherwise, what with his almost non-presence in the cartoon and the scarcity of his toy (I saw a boxed Skids only once, back in the 80s, and that was in the unlikely setting of a small newsagents' shop. I wish I'd asked my parents for it!).

Shockwave. Furman did good stuff with Shockwave, don't get me wrong. He clearly enjoyed writing the character, and wrote him well. But I would argue that he took the excellent work that Bob did in the immediate aftermath of the original mini-series and ran with that, rather than truly put his own stamp on him. Again, comics Shockwave made me regret his toy wasn't available here. Cartoon Shockwave? Not so much...

Arguably the Insecticons, who I don't recall doing a whole lot except extract information over 2-3 panels, have Facsimile Constructs of themselves killed and so on, in the UK-originated material. Not that they did lots in the US stories, either, but at least they used Bombshell's cerebro shells for some important reasons and kind of showcased them at Hoover Dam. (Ironically, given the toys were available in the US but not the UK, the UK material at least used some of the Deluxe Insecticons, which beats being ignored completely)

Note that in most other cases, even if Furman barely used a character introduced by Budiansky, he gave them their best moment: my favourite Jetfire moment, for example, is that issue of Dinobot Hunt where he led a small group of Autobots against Slag, complete with Ironhide's bias against him for having been built as a Decepticon.
Over to you...

Cliffjumper
2015-01-15, 04:02 PM
Good call on Shockwave. Furman's Shockwave was cunning and smart; Budiansky's Shockwave was cunning, smart and ****ing terrifying. The issue early on where Megatron gets ready for his big comeback and Shockwave just knocks the shit out of him? Pow.

Blaster... I dunno. Budiansky did more with him and yes, did more in a "hey, it's Jazz as a tapedeck" thing too. But Blaster's such a massive prick, real Wolverine syndrome. Half of the time he's just being contrary and I for one wouldn't have blamed Goldbug if he left the chippy bastard to get eaten by Scraplets.

There are actually surprisingly few characters (beyond the obvious) that both had much of a crack at... after Prime, Megatron, Shockwave, Soundwave, Grimlock, Starscream, Bumblebee pretty much everyone else got attention from one or the other but rarely both (Ratchet's the only other example that leaps to mind).

I think part of the problem for Furman was that by the time the UK-originated stories began to find their feet a lot of the early characters were already being forced back to being faces in the crowd; Dinobot Hunt was really the last day out for a lot of the guys in it.

Birdman75
2015-01-15, 04:37 PM
I think part of the problem for Furman was that by the time the UK-originated stories began to find their feet a lot of the early characters were already being forced back to being faces in the crowd; Dinobot Hunt was really the last day out for a lot of the guys in it.

I think the onward march of the toyline was a big problem for both Furman and Budiansky, especially from 1987 onwards*, when everything became more gimmicky. Imagine an alternate timeline where both had had a chance to develop the characters from the first three years of the franchise organically in the fiction. Though given that the comic was intended to sell toys, that point is moot.

*Some of the characters from 1987 onwards were developed well and contributed to the fiction: in the comics alone, Fort Max, Scorponok, Bludgeon, Thunderwing, Nightbeat (due to Furman's love for him) and others. Lest it be seen that I am totally biased against characters from the later days of G1, but so, so many are introduced as blank slates and depart the way they came. Though some 1984-86 characters were similarly ignored, though the same onward march of the toyline can't have helped: given both writers would have (rightly) concentrated on the various movers and shakers in terms of the greater plot, they'd hardly find time to flesh out someone like Beachcomber by the time that they've started introducing the Scramble City combiners, the movie characters (in Furman's case), and then the various -masters etc later. And on that topic, didn't the redeco mini-Autobots like Pipes, Hubcap, Tailgate, Swerve and Outback get royally screwed over in the comics? Did any apart from Outback even appear?

Warcry
2015-01-19, 11:27 PM
I'd nominate Bumblebee/Goldbug for your list as well. Though Budiansky's version of the character did leave a lot to be desired at times, he was a fairly likeable and relateable character who grew up a bit over the course of several years. Furman used him a lot but never really managed to make him anything but a generic friendly Autobot.

I think the onward march of the toyline was a big problem for both Furman and Budiansky, especially from 1987 onwards*, when everything became more gimmicky. Imagine an alternate timeline where both had had a chance to develop the characters from the first three years of the franchise organically in the fiction. Though given that the comic was intended to sell toys, that point is moot.
Honestly, I'm not sure things would have turned out all that differently. Budiansky was very particular about picking a few favourites and using everyone else as scene-fillers, and with that style I'm not sure he would have cared to write about Streetwise or Hound or Skydive no matter how much time he had for them. I suspect we simply would have seen more Ratchet, Grimlock, Blaster, Goldbug, Ratbat and Shockwave if he'd had the freedom to devote more time to the first few waves of toys.

And I think we saw that play out with Furman for the most part. With the US title taking care of toy-flogging he wrote the majority of his stories around the characters he enjoyed writing -- Magnus, Galvatron, the Dinobots, the Wreckers, etc. -- only fitting in new product when it suited him. And when the "you need to feature these new toys" pressure really started to build up on him, the toys they wanted advertised were Classics Heroes and Actionmasters...or in other words, the very characters he wanted to use anyway.

Cliffjumper
2015-01-20, 12:00 AM
Yeh, I'd agree with that TBH. On the whole both comic writers actually managed to latch onto a few characters and make them well-rounded as they went along largely in pace with the toyline; I'm not sure how much The Evil Hand Of Hasbro actually screwed either over that much as lots of the new toys were often just backdrops or macguffins behind plots for more nuanced characters - if Hasbro were quite so controlling would Budiansky really have been able to do "Funeral for a Friend" or have Blaster as the Autobot infiltrator in "Club Con" when Punch was on the shelves or Nightbeat could have been used?

Most of Bob's big characters seemed to reach somewhat natural conclusions to their various arcs; he certainly seemed to get bored of Blaster and Grimlock some time before Underbase (there really, really needed to be an issue sorting out the aftermath of the battle on the moon and what exactly happened when Prime returned), same with Sky Lynx, Ratbat and Shockwave had logical downfalls... If it was easy enough to find a way to get these guys back in the comics to tidy things up Hasbro can't have been that draconian.

TBH while it was probably not intended that way I've always found the way Bob left the state of the cast in the US book a trifle off as he basically kills off the majority of the established characters (I seriously doubt Hasbro actually instructed him to kill off the discontinued) and salts the Earth a bit. Hasbro did the book a pretty big favour with the Classic Pretenders and AMs when you think about it.

Furman in turn got to start with a plot focused on Ratchet and Megatron (who was written out before the AM hit shelves), not to mention Galvatron, Scorponok, Kup etc. getting face time later on.

inflatable dalek
2015-01-23, 02:58 PM
Amidst the dross of the King Grimlock storyline (don't get me wrong, it was funny-if silly- the first time, but every single scene of Grimlock back on the Ark bitching in his crown is exactly the same. It's a similar problem to all those identical Shockwave/Prime's Head conversations in the early issues only it feels as it goes on for years) I'm actually really enjoying Wheeljack's role as his ever frustrated second in command. It's a strange choice on the surface (why wouldn't a Dinobot be his right hand man?) but it's rather nice.

I think one thing both Furman and Uncle Bob had in common was not being hugely interested in "Straightforward" heroes and villains. Bob basically increasingly marginalised Optimus and Megatron after the mini before killing them and replacing them with deliberately unconventional choices, whilst Furman upped the angst on Prime (including Rodimus) and generally tried- even if he didn't always succeed- to give the Decepticon leaders more than just straightforward villainy (even Thunderwing acts the way he does in Matrix Quest because of an outside influence).

Cyberstrike nTo
2015-01-29, 09:00 PM
And on that topic, didn't the redeco mini-Autobots like Pipes, Hubcap, Tailgate, Swerve and Outback get royally screwed over in the comics? Did any apart from Outback even appear?

IIRC Outback did appear in around Marvel UK #100. I'm not sure about Hubcap, Pipes, Tailgate, and Swerve.
Although Hubcap was in the one of DW series. Pipes*, Tailgate, and Swerve have been in MTMTE.




*Pipes got turned into Cybertronian pancake by Overlord and is currently dead.

Cliffjumper
2015-01-29, 10:35 PM
IIRC Outback did appear in around Marvel UK #100.

'swhy it's "apart from".

Tailgate's in UK #245 as the lead; Pipes is in a couple of frames of the same. IIRC there's various possibles for both in crowd scenes during the same arc Outback first crops up in but it's a bit nebulous. Oh, and I seem to remember Crayola Nel managed to colour Gears like Swerve in a random crowd scene on the Ark one time.

Cyberstrike nTo
2015-01-30, 12:58 PM
'swhy it's "apart from".

My bad. I was tied and eyes have been giving trouble as of late.