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View Full Version : 12 times Escalation was flipping abysmal


Cliffjumper
2015-12-29, 06:05 PM
How about when Verity was the worst human character ever?
http://s10.postimg.org/5hazrhvjp/01_08.jpg (http://postimg.org/image/5hazrhvjp/)

Or when Prime asked Ironhide to recap the first issue for no reason other than to bring the minus three thousand new readers up to speed?
http://s10.postimg.org/og0jy612t/02_05.jpg (http://postimg.org/image/og0jy612t/)

Or when Jazz and Wheeljack revealed themselves to the Machination and got bitch-slapped in five seconds straight?
http://s10.postimg.org/x28ewi2gl/02_17.jpg (http://postimg.org/image/x28ewi2gl/)

Or when Furman was too scared to use Chechnya?
http://s10.postimg.org/9mlwdetbp/03_04.jpg (http://postimg.org/image/9mlwdetbp/)

Or when the super-subtle Infiltration Protocols involved three giant robots standing around chatting?
http://s10.postimg.org/uolvrqynp/03_05.jpg (http://postimg.org/image/uolvrqynp/)

Or when the only way to blow up an oil pipeline was for Megatron to change his alternate mode into a gun and get someone to fire him at it?
http://s10.postimg.org/zbrxtim0l/03_15.jpg (http://postimg.org/image/zbrxtim0l/)

Or when two Autobots again sit around in car mode so the kids can play Scooby Doo?
http://s10.postimg.org/pjp9nvb3p/04_07.jpg (http://postimg.org/image/pjp9nvb3p/)

Or when Furman just started adding new plot threads at random?
http://s10.postimg.org/bal1s2779/05_04.jpg (http://postimg.org/image/bal1s2779/)

Or when Prime biffed Megatron straight up in the air like something out of Asterix the Gaul? Good Liefield tribute act in the background, EJ!
http://s10.postimg.org/fg0jrpud1/05_09.jpg (http://postimg.org/image/fg0jrpud1/)

Or when every building anyone walked out of blew up?
http://s10.postimg.org/6iftud1x1/06_16.jpg (http://postimg.org/image/6iftud1x1/)

Or when no-one really bothered explaining why Megatron suddenly ran out of puff?
http://s10.postimg.org/s64s4t2b9/06_19.jpg (http://postimg.org/image/s64s4t2b9/)

Or when the Machination kept Hunter alive so he could break out later and **** up their plans?
http://s10.postimg.org/ac9a3ij91/06_23.jpg (http://postimg.org/image/ac9a3ij91/)

Brendocon 2.0
2015-12-29, 06:13 PM
To be fair, the Scorponok/Machination plot wasn't added into Escalation at random, as it had already been seeded in Spotlight Ultra Magnus.*,**

* which came out between #2 and #3, so if that scene was before #3 then I'm massively wrong but I don't think it is so please don't go all Buzzfeed on my arse.

** Really so much of IDW's Furmanverse would have been so much simpler if it had just been structured as an ongoing rather than two concurrent titles that people didn't realise were the same story until it was too late. It's a shame that the most sensible reading order (ie publication) is the one thing it's not been collected in.

Cliffjumper
2015-12-29, 06:31 PM
You Won't BELIEVE How Often Brend Shows Cliffjumper Up!



Though I think 'seeded' is perhaps a bit generous; IIRC, Scorponok's in it and is last seen jumping through a magic door away from Nebulos, with nothing really to say he was on his way to Earth or indeed desperately needed to be pulled into the plot right that minute. Nightbeat turning up is seeded because Prime specifically phoned him up at the end of Spotlight: Nightbeat Or Hyperdrive.

Brendocon 2.0
2015-12-29, 06:37 PM
I take the fact that the Machination's headquarters is an exact duplicate of Scorponok's front company on Nebulos to be a hint.

But yeah, they could have gotten away with not dropping "shadowy mystery head" into the plot quite so early on. I think they underestimated how much attention people would be paying so didn't expect us to all realise immediately that "oh it's Scorponok". I mean there's no way the big reveal in Devastation would have played out like it did if they'd credited us with having figured it out.

Massive sidebar: Can you imagine trying to follow all this shit as a new reader who doesn't already know who these characters are and what their general motivations tend to be? ****ing hell. Here's Scorponok, here's Bludgeon, here's Soundwave, here's Sixshot, here's the Reapers (no we don't know either), here's Starscream again, here's Galvatron, here's Jhiaxus, here's a bullet in the ****ing brain. And that's just the bad guys.

Cliffjumper
2015-12-29, 07:01 PM
Yeh, "new" plot threads was perhaps the wrong choice... It's more that the last issue or two is just a pile-up of Spotlight tie-ins and it's a bit much. If nothing else it builds up the false impression that Devastation's going to be a big super-villain smack down. Scorponok, Shockwave and the Dinobots certainly would have been done better being held in reserve for much later in the Earth arc... Just pulling in Sixshot and having Soundwave & the tapes as a rogue factor would have been enough.

That said, my read-through has only just got up to the end of Escalation and this was pretty much the point I started treating the whole continuity like the Big Looker books, so I could be surprised by something I've forgotten. I'm sure Devastation will pull this off.

Brendocon 2.0
2015-12-29, 07:05 PM
I remember when #1 of Devastation came out, the big ****ing "OMG" cliffhanger, the salivation at the promise of the story to come. ****ing hell did that ever limp meekly across a completely different finish line.

Cliffjumper
2015-12-29, 07:08 PM
My main memory was that the only thing that got Devastated was one of Jazz' arms.

I come from the disco school of music, yeh? If you're going to call a song 'Let's Dance', you gotta make damn sure people dance to it.

Oh, and didn't Sixshot hilariously kill the Battlechargers? Almost forgot about that, which is ironic as it was pretty clear Furman forgot about them before the end of Infiltration.

Brendocon 2.0
2015-12-29, 07:10 PM
I think the Battlechargers maybe died too, but I'm not too sure because I don't remember them actually doing anything after the early set pieces of Infiltration. The fact I re-read all this earlier in the year and have already forgotten isn't a good sign.

[EDIT] Cross-post/Edit lolz.

Cliffjumper
2015-12-29, 07:19 PM
Sorry. Erm, I mean, whatchoo talkin' about, idiot?


My current re-read is going worse than I remembered it being... the bad stuff comes in a Hell of a lot quicker than I thought; Stormbringer and a couple of the Spotlights (which now I think about it might be the ones not written by Furman) are the only bits that have been the good sort of enjoyable, rather than the fun that comes from picking absolute shit apart.

Red Dave Prime
2015-12-29, 07:23 PM
Ah poor escalation. Terrible in some ways but still not the worst of Furmans IDW stuff or the IDW in general. I've always felt that I liked some of his concepts and overall ideas, but Furman just executed so much so badly.

I really liked the implication that the Decepticon army is small (in so far as stretched over a galaxy) but lethal so they have to get a planets population to wage war (by deception no less) on themselves before moping up the pieces is a great idea and at the time with genuine world fears of terrorist infiltration it could be used as a fantastic mirror of how a country or government deals with an enemy within. Sadly, pretty much all of that is lost by the end of infiltration. You can mock the 'cons standing around out in the open in escalation but compared to the hidden deceptiocn base being a giant purple symbol etched into a mountain...

Also, if you're going to nitpick the prime/ megs fight (which I think mostly holds up really well) than I think "Megatron breathes fire" is far worse than the super shoryuken Prime hits.

Minor defence - Megatrons powering down is explained as the corruption of the super energon from ore-13. I think its even a plot point to get him to over extend his power levels.

Also the battle chargers get taken out by fan-favourites The Reapers. God, they looked awesome from the moment they showed up in Spotlight Sixshot.

And bad as it all is, it trumps AHM, Costa-verse and even parts of Barbers stuff in my view.

Cliffjumper
2015-12-29, 07:32 PM
I loved the idea of the Infiltration Protocols - it's a really good hard sci-fi idea, and easily the best thing about Infiltration itself. But the way it's rendered here is silly; the idea that revealing an (apparently unique and traceable via satellite) unique energy signal is the only way to wreck a man made oil pipe and that the Decepticons would just hover around it in robot mode while doing so seems to go against the low-key grain. Dare I say that the first Bay film's early sections, with Decepticons that seemingly spend most of their time operating alone, communicating via coded radio and in alt modes wherever possible made a better fist of the idea?

Blitzwing cloaked and taking potshots from tank mode to stir up the Lithatvian forces? Sure. Blitzwing standing around in robot mode while Megatron chats to his FC? Nah.

Personally felt the "Ore-15 is Red Bull" thing was more implied than actually explained; yeh, Prime's words to Jazz, Wheeljack and Hardhead imply it but IIRC that frame is the only one explicictly dealing with it.

The whole arc is just such a desperate, needy attempt to get literally everyone on-side.

Skyquake87
2015-12-29, 07:43 PM
I think the problem with the Inflitration protocols is that it would make for a fantastic TV show - slippery alien robots acting to distablize local governments to provoke a war and then reveal themselves at the end - and a brilliant sci-fi comic book, but its a hard sell to the vast majority of TF fans who just want Sunbow Transformers punching each other. I liked the 'tease' of Infiltration and its a shame its not followed through on because its felt the readership hasn't the paitence.

And the Reapers. I'd happily forgotten about them. They were dreadful and fell prey to the problems I found in the Marvel stuff when other aliens were shown - they just looked like some weird b-movie standby - if they weren't funny cute looking animal creatures. Pfft.

Patapsco
2015-12-29, 07:49 PM
I think I thought it at the time, though I didn't say it because I was a lurker not a poster, and I think the general consensus at the time was Furman desperately needed an editor or someone to tell him to rein his meandering in. Lord knows what would have happened if AHM hadn't come along, we could be seeing Sixshot vs The Reapers Part 29 by now

Brendocon 2.0
2015-12-29, 07:54 PM
Yeah, Furman did his best work on the old Marvel UK stuff because he had an editor standing over him saying "yeah this is all good and well mate, but we need all these pieces back where they were in two issues time because we've got one of Bob's stories to print".

And again on the Marvel US stuff because he had the looming threat of cancellation a few times, forcing him to wrap things up three times.

You only need to look at Earthforce to see the knots he tied himself in once given the freedom to lay everything out himself.

Patapsco
2015-12-29, 07:56 PM
I do remember a lot of the discussions being based around two things: The pace of his writing and the fact that it was all set-up and no pay-off. Devastation in particular seemed to get trashed (rightfully so) for setting up a massive massive pay off that never, ever came

Cliffjumper
2015-12-29, 07:59 PM
EDIT: Reply to Skyquake

I think it'd have worked for a film too, certainly for the first one - which makes it a bit of a shame that a similar method was used for a plain old relic quest. A film'd work because you basically have a captive audience for the run time who have no real choice but to stick it out; the '07 film has that sort of confidence, keeping the robot stuff short and sharp for about the first half or maybe more because it knows that the last couple of acts will cover it and send everyone home happy.

As a monthly comic book from a small publisher who needed the title to make money it was a bad call; I think Brend sort-of hits on an acceptable alternative a few posts up - run two concurrent series, one with big robot fights and one with more cerebral sci-fi concepts (say, an ongoing and a Spotlight-style series) - doing that from a continuity POV would be tricky but my instinct would say start Big Title with the war on Earth advanced and use the secondary book as basically a flashback/prequel title.

Cliffjumper
2015-12-29, 08:09 PM
I do remember a lot of the discussions being based around two things: The pace of his writing and the fact that it was all set-up and no pay-off. Devastation in particular seemed to get trashed (rightfully so) for setting up a massive massive pay off that never, ever came

Bluntly I think Furman's often had trouble with conclusions even going waaay back to stuff like Target 2006, it's just that the factors Brend mentioned stopped him getting too far away.

I'd agree that the whole IDW thing wasn't entirely his fault for that reason - as said, there should have been someone saying "Where are you going with this? Do you really need to throw that in now? Why not resolve this before adding three more things?". Which did make it a bit unfair when IDW suddenly turned around and effectively shitcanned the continuity having made presumably no real attempt to try and focus the titles beforehand. You'd certainly hope that a few other heads rolled when they got Bob Budiansky to type up Furman's P45.

IIRC the justification for IDW putting everything out as mini-series was something to do with retailers not being interested in an ongoing because of the fall-out from DW (which apparently changed after readership fell by 60% or whatever...), but it would have been a great excuse to reign Furman in - six-issue trade-friendly arcs with a contained beginning, middle and end, maybe with the odd loose end dangling. But really for both the regular minis and the Spotlights we ended up with the worst of both worlds, largely through simple poor organisation.

Brendocon 2.0
2015-12-29, 08:18 PM
The comics industry has changed a lot in the last decade or so, with ongoings in general starting to become an endangered species. The switch to a more "seasonal" model is starting to carry more steam, as a new #1 always sees a huge sales boost even if it is effectively just issue #22 of the same story. Nothing screams "you don't need to have read five years worth of comics" like a big number one.

So I can sort of see why IDW would have been reluctant to market it as an ongoing, taking the mini approach instead (hell, Locke & Key was done as a sequence of minis and that's one of the best books of this century), but the fact is is just didn't work for the story they were telling, especially in conjunction with the one shots as companions.

There's a reason that All Hail Megatron initially presented itself as a completely fresh start, before folding the previous plot in along the way. Okay so it made a complete hash of it, but the basic strategy was sound. Something that was never really the case with anything other than Stormbringer.

Cliffjumper
2015-12-29, 08:32 PM
Yeh, I get the idea behind six-issue arcs or series on several levels - IDW at the time had no idea what legs the book would have (DW's sales were spiralling to disaster even without all the other shit going on), trade sales are a big part of modern comics, etc. It's just that if you're going to do it that way you should probably make sure the writer understands. The shame of it all is that it isn't actually beyond Furman to write a decent story to that sort of length or discipline; he and/or IDW really, really bottled it.

Brendocon 2.0
2015-12-29, 08:38 PM
PS read Locke & Key.

And Parker. The more of you who buy Parker the more likely I'll get a second Martini Edition. So you should all do that.

inflatable dalek
2015-12-29, 08:55 PM
Yeah, Furman did his best work on the old Marvel UK stuff because he had an editor standing over him saying "yeah this is all good and well mate, but we need all these pieces back where they were in two issues time because we've got one of Bob's stories to print".

Though for the bulk of the British stories the editor was one S. Furman Esq. (Richard Starkings--as the Marvel US mandated separate editor of the strip itself rather than the overall comic--freely admits his role was just a patsy and would basically boil down to him telling Furman "These Transformers sure are Transformery. Well done. Your round").

It was interesting to see Cliffy tear this apart on his new blog thing yesterday as even as recently as the last time I read it (when the hardbacks came out...what three years ago?) I still thought it was very much the best of the ...tions and felt like everything clicking into place neatly before Everything Went Wrong.

At the same time though, it's really hard to argue against anything Cliffy says here (at least based on those three year old memories). Though I do like the art myself (which I think is one of the issues he has on the blog piece rather than the above), never had an issue with E.J.

Never had a problem with using a made up Russian state either, it's not as if that's not uncommon in the spy fiction (even the serious spy fiction) Furman so often pays homage too.

Brendocon 2.0
2015-12-29, 09:04 PM
Though for the bulk of the British stories the editor was one S. Furman Esq.

Pffft. Which is more likely? That you, who've recently read the material and have been blogging about it, are correct? Or that my random fact arse-pull is right?

Yeah. That's what I thought.

But seriously, even if the person saying "wrap it up, the pieces need to be back here" was himself, the point still stands. He had to have the main thrust of the arc wrapped up and the ending dovetailed into the next US issue within a certain number of chapters. Something that just wasn't the case later on.

inflatable dalek
2015-12-29, 09:09 PM
Pffft. Which is more likely? That you, who've recently read the material and have been blogging about it, are correct? Or that my random fact arse-pull is right?

Yeah. That's what I thought.

But seriously, even if the person saying "wrap it up, the pieces need to be back here" was himself, the point still stands. He had to have the main thrust of the arc wrapped up and the ending dovetailed into the next US issue within a certain number of chapters. Something that just wasn't the case later on.


Oh sure, it's just a shame he's lost that skill for self regulation.

Cliffjumper
2015-12-29, 09:12 PM
I found the art just... flat. There's no emotion on any of the robot faces and most of the movement is either comically over the top with crazy motion lines or statues. Very good transformations, oddly.

FWIW my memory was that Escalation was largely good and that Devastation was things really fell apart, but then I'm not entirely sure I'd read it since publication so it might just be knowing that what might have been interesting hints at the time were actually harbingers of shittiness.

Overall I think if you hack out the Machination and the Spotlight references you could edit a decent semi-self contained six issue arc. The characters, plot, scripting and dialogue would probably need another pass but the core is there. Then Furman would have the second arc to just throw shit into and at least we'd have one decent trade.

Brendocon 2.0
2015-12-29, 09:18 PM
Seriously though, buy Parker. First one's even in paperback now:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Parker-Hunter-Richard-Starks/dp/1613773994/

Denyer
2015-12-29, 09:41 PM
I found the art just... flat. There's no emotion on any of the robot faces and most of the movement is either comically over the top with crazy motion lines or statues. Very good transformations, oddly.

It's technical drawing at its best, but a bit too heavy on the motion lines and it would've helped if someone else had been doing faces (less washed colours would also have helped... especially on the second two Earth arcs.)

Cliffjumper
2015-12-29, 09:53 PM
Mmmm, beautiful character designs and the human art's pretty good - and, like I say, so are the transformations and anything involving car chases (which there are kind-of a lot of, almost as many as there are explosions, which is odd when you think about it). It was a bit of a surprise come Escalation, I think because Infiltration's plot requires so little robot movement - even the fighting's mainly in alt modes and a lot of the signature robot mode parts involve them standing still (e.g. Megatron weathering Starscream's assault, the Autobots in their base).

Warcry
2015-12-29, 10:07 PM
It's been ages since I read any of Furman's IDW stuff, but in retrospect I really don't understand what the point of Infiltration was. It's not the sort of story that's suited to Furman's writing talents, frankly, and it seemed like he was doing his best to undermine it more or less from the first spotlight. I thought it was a pretty good starting arc with a lot of potential to be explored in the infiltration protocols, the Decepticons' galaxy-wide campaign of secret warmongering and the idea that they'd been manipulating events on Earth behind the scenes for quite a while. But none of those ideas got any followup at all.

It's a shame, because as Skyquake and Cliffjumper have touched on, the basic idea of Infiltration would have made for a solid series or even movie. And I do think that the first movie actually made a better stab at it than Furman himself does here. Actually infiltrating things, for one, rather than hanging out in their secret Decepticon symbol mountain base for most of the story.

It's enough to make me wonder if the idea was Furman's at all, or if it was dictated to him by IDW higher-ups who wanted to rebrand the franchise as serious sci-fi with a slow-burn cerebral story that centered on a small cast of familiar faces (but still employ the old hand from the 80s as a sop to the fandom) and that's why he pushed away from it as soon as he could. But IDW themselves seemed to lose faith in the idea in record time, since the marketing for Stormbringer explicitly cast it as the anti-Infiltration, "nothing but robots on Cybertron", or somesuch.

I think the idea that Furman needed some firm creative constraints is spot on. After Infiltration, with Stormbringer and the increasing number of spotlights, it just seemed like so many ideas were getting tossed into the mix that it seemed like he was a kid who couldn't help but bring out all of his toys to play with at once. If he'd had someone telling him "No, take another twenty issues to wrap up the Decepticon invasion of Earth, then focus on your Dead Universe space opera", I think the final product would have been much better and the man might actually still have a job writing TF books today.

Cliffjumper
2015-12-29, 10:30 PM
The amount of damage IDW have done to their title over the years has been quite amazing, really. Not even really talking "this writer sucked, this character sucked" stuff, but on an editorial level.


Starting with Infiltration, whoever the driving force was. Commercial suicide.
As said, marketing Stormbringer as a competitor to Infiltration.
Again regardless of whoever's choice it was, swinging away from Infiltration with Escalation, which showed that after less than a year they'd lost track of what they were meant to be doing.
Letting the Spotlights go from foreshadowing the main book when it suited to full-on bleeding, and then issuing space-wasting entries like Mirage and Wheelie when things needed to be tied up.
Letting Furman do whatever for three years then effectively binning all the work done at that point.
Getting halfway through the semi-reboot of AHM and then randomly deciding to start bringing in older stuff - another case of bottling their convictions after pissing people off.
The obnoxious over-promotion of Drift which meant everyone hated him before he even turned up and did not a lot wrong.
Repackaging Revelations as Spotlights; imagine you had Sideswipe in 1984 and the name catches your eye and you pick that comic off the shelf... They'd be wiping your brains off the wall.
The fanboy opportunity of TF:TM with all the cool stuff they could have bunged in before just churning out a more boring version of a film we all have on DVD twice anyway.
The constant misunderstanding of the Movieverse - i.e. making every book crammed with G1 knock-off characters doing G1 knock-off stuff. Which wouldn't have been such a problem if they didn't decide to keep jumping back into line with Paramount every two years.

Warcry
2015-12-29, 11:20 PM
There's also the terrible idea that was letting writers and editors do so much PR essentially unfiltered. Allowing creative staff to go on your company's message boards (or fansites) and argue with the fans who are posting about how much their work product sucked...probably not a great way to endear the writers to the fans, or vice versa. I mean, didn't Shane McCarthy sign up here to tell us that we were all dumb for believing the published sales numbers for AHM? Or was that an elaborate troll that I've since forgotten?

Either way, people like Tipton, Schmidt and Costa all made comments that inflamed the fandom, and so did McCarthy's bigging up of Drift before AHM. I'd imagine they didn't mean to be antagonistic, but creative types aren't always good at filtering their thoughts and IDW's higher-ups really should have done a better job of making sure their employees weren't inadvertently flipping off their paying customers.

Patapsco
2015-12-29, 11:41 PM
With regards to AHM, I think the first look we got at Drift was the semi-kneeling down, sword slung over shoulder pose where I remember asking where the hell one of his knees went. Then I wondered why the hell Kup was smoking a cigar, which I'm pretty sure was because McCarthy wanted him to be Hannibal from the A-Team

inflatable dalek
2015-12-30, 10:45 AM
Of course, a lot of the general problems we're pointing out with how things went aren't just hindsight, many of these are points we made at the time. Loudly and often. It's not unlike Age of Extinction and how insane it is that Every Single Person who has seen it can spot it's too long and even generally agree onwhich bits aren't needed but no one making the film seemed to notice.

I mean, who thought the Revelation Spotlight thing would be a good idea (though in fairness, IIRC the Cyclonus one read well enough by itself to allay my fears and then progressive deterioration sucker punched me)? Or at least with those characters. Sideswipe's rivalry with Sunstreaker could have easily gone into the draw marked "Well that's a shame, but we accept the circumstances" rather than forcing one of four key finale issues into being distanced from the actual plot so as to focus on it.

On the general editorial side, I do think that's where John Barber has excelled. His only real flaw in that role is a determination not to let any old and forgotten continuity idea go no matter how bad (an explanation for Spotlight Mirage that many years later?!!?), but overall I think he's made the right choices, kept the ship sailing better than many would through the Hasbro mandated issues and clearly has his head screwed on more tightly than any other IDW editor we've had.

Warcry
2015-12-30, 04:15 PM
With regards to AHM, I think the first look we got at Drift was the semi-kneeling down, sword slung over shoulder pose where I remember asking where the hell one of his knees went. Then I wondered why the hell Kup was smoking a cigar, which I'm pretty sure was because McCarthy wanted him to be Hannibal from the A-Team
Didn't they throw out a lot of "Drift is super important and unique, and the story would never work without him" guff too, only for him to not actually do anything relevant at all for the whole length of the series beyond slicing Insecticons while looking cool?

I actually think AHM would have worked way better if they'd just said "screw it, this is a total reboot" and not tried to connect it to the Furmanverse at all. McCarthy is far from my favourite TF writer but the series was way better than the reception it got would indicate, as the bulk of the criticism was knee-jerk "this isn't Furman, boo!" or "he's ignoring all these insignificant plot points that Furman never went anywhere with, boo!", neither of which seem nearly as pressing as they did at the time. As a movie style, turn-your-brain-off-and-enjoy-the-ride sort of story it's actually not bad, and as a standalone the only real sin would be that it's super decompressed.

Though the fact that it was followed up immediately by Mike Costa probably makes it a lot easier to be forgiving of AHM's flaws.

I mean, who thought the Revelation Spotlight thing would be a good idea (though in fairness, IIRC the Cyclonus one read well enough by itself to allay my fears and then progressive deterioration sucker punched me)? Or at least with those characters. Sideswipe's rivalry with Sunstreaker could have easily gone into the draw marked "Well that's a shame, but we accept the circumstances" rather than forcing one of four key finale issues into being distanced from the actual plot so as to focus on it.
I actually think that the first three issues managed to make it work within the format. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that Spotlight: Hardhead is one of the two or three best spotlight issues, full stop. But it all fell apart with the last issue because the first three barely advanced the plot at all, so Sideswipe's issue had to do quintuple duty, telling a truncated version of his character arc at the same time as it crammed in four issues worth of story.

The fact that it ended with "yeah, piss on Sunstreaker then" after Furman making such a big deal of their "rivalry" was good for a laugh at least, though. Especially since future issues by other writers made them out to be complete bros immediately afterwards.

On the general editorial side, I do think that's where John Barber has excelled. His only real flaw in that role is a determination not to let any old and forgotten continuity idea go no matter how bad (an explanation for Spotlight Mirage that many years later?!!?), but overall I think he's made the right choices, kept the ship sailing better than many would through the Hasbro mandated issues and clearly has his head screwed on more tightly than any other IDW editor we've had.
Yeah, say what I might about his writing and my lack of taste for it, but he's done a great job of shepherding the books. Not only has he stickhandled Hasbro's increasing toy-shilling demands with grace, he's also done a good job of making sure that the three different books all have a unique feel so that the line can appeal to the widest audience possible.

Patapsco
2015-12-30, 04:37 PM
The first six issues of AHM from what I remember were as slow as hell and went nowhere and pretty much ignored Furman's stuff. It was only from issues 7 and 12 that that changed and even then it was only with regards to Hunter and the Insecticons. The Coda issues tried to tie it back into Furman stuff but even then it wasn't really done with any sort of conviction.

Cyberstrike nTo
2015-12-30, 05:17 PM
Yeh, I get the idea behind six-issue arcs or series on several levels - IDW at the time had no idea what legs the book would have (DW's sales were spiralling to disaster even without all the other shit going on), trade sales are a big part of modern comics, etc. It's just that if you're going to do it that way you should probably make sure the writer understands. The shame of it all is that it isn't actually beyond Furman to write a decent story to that sort of length or discipline; he and/or IDW really, really bottled it.

I'm not sure Furman can write constant six issues arcs all that well. He can write them but generally not very well in the US market. He can write one-shots or 25+ issues epics very well but the constant mini-series followed by a mini-series by another mini-series with a few one-shots isn't his style. He needed a monthly ongoing series, not a continuing mini-series.

There are only two writers that can write in that format John Byrne and Jay Faber both of whom did it like this: series 1 introduce an A plot and a subplot, the A plot gets resolved by the end of the series 1. The subplot then becomes the A plot of series 2, with a new subplot for series 2. Then rinse and repeat.

Red Dave Prime
2015-12-31, 02:52 AM
Kinda feel bad with all this furman bashing. I know, I know. There are many faults in the -tion series and it got worse as it ran along but I have to be honest and admit that I enjoyed a lot of it at the time and still on re-read, it's got some moments. So in defence of a guy who maybe just misjudged his target market, here are some of the highs (imo)

The initial feel of Infiltration - loved that we didn't see a lot of robot love. I LIKED the slow build! Sure, getting Kids as your main cast was a mistake (surely an adult reporter would be a better reader identifier given the general age of the G1 fan?) but the first few issues had a nice tense build. And silly decepticon base aside, I loved the battle with screamer and megs.

The infiltration protocol and the facsimiles - I've spoken about how I liked the initial concept of how the cons would destabilize a planet. I also have to mention that the clone idea was another nice string to this bow. Pity it was never followed up in a meaningful way (hello blackrock ;) )

The overall robot art of EJ - Didn't have a problem with his humans, although some of his backgrounds felt a bit bland but I was all over his robots and vehicles. The basic colour palette was lovely as well. The Prime v Megs of Escalation was the series highpoint in terms of action for me.

Stormbringer - Still reads well but it was the first two issues that really grabbed, especially as it wasn't clear what Thunderclash would truly turn out to be. The reveal was a little disappointing but Primes showdown all guns blazing was great (and for those keeping notes, this is were the Autobots learn how to deal with opponents high on ore-13 in relation to Megs in escalation)

Universe Building - Ok, to be fair Furman sprawled too far, too quickly. But given that the Dreamwave stuff seemed to be randomly being assembled issue to issue, Furmans stuff felt like there was an overall plan in palce to bring it all together. As said, he could have left the Dead Universe stuff until he resolved some of the other bits but I still liked all the stuff he was seeding. Sad it didn't all blossom.

Devastation Issues 1 and 4 - I may have the second one wrong but while Devastation overall is a mess (oh god, the reapers) the first issues was a superb start and really hinted at something epic. Also, I really liked the nick roche drawn issue with Sixshot chasing Ratchet. It was silly but it was good fun and by that point, we knew devastation wasn't going to live up to its name anyway.

Scorponok - Forget the surprise, the fun of this guy was he was a mad scientist with a mad plan. I'm giving Furman the benefit of doubt when I say that I think the idea with his plan is that it is meant to be stupid. Also Kudos for the hobbling of Hot Rod scene. We get a lot of TF damage porn nowadays but it felt that little bit fresher in Maximum Dinobots

Spotlight Shockwave - the first spotlight was probably the best. A nice take on the old tale, some nice dialogue and future plotting and the art from Roche is steller.

Spotlight Cyclonus - A close second, this almost papered over the cracks. The script is fast (a major change from the snail pace that furman had fallen into) and the art sings.

Nightbeats death - It's rare for a TF death to really generate a feeling but I think Furman pulled it off well here. Nightbeat knows the moment is coming and is gone before he is actually killed and yet I felt sad to see him dead. Shame he was brought back.

Finally - Ramjet. C'mon, that was a good twist on Starscream.

So there - some highlights to go with the lowlights. Furman rightly gets mocked but unlike Costa I think there was some more than good stuff here. Who knows, with a better editor he may have pulled it all off.

Patapsco
2015-12-31, 07:53 AM
I liked what Furman was trying to do, which was to reposition Transformers as something very different to the original G1 run. The idea of the infiltration protocol was actually exceptionally well done, I liked Su's art, Stormbringer is knockabout fun but... it rapidly spun out of control and quality went down. I've got no probs with Infiltration's slow burn, but Escalation and Devastation could easily be cut down to four issues to focus the story away from the dead universe, but hindsight is 20/20 etc

Red Dave Prime
2015-12-31, 09:30 AM
I knw there were loads of faults before it finished but I always remember reading the Doubledealer spotlight and one of the last panels had him re-introduce Bludgeon as an agent of Jhiaxus and just thinking "shit, one issue to go and he's still adding unnessecary subplots!" The concept that an editor was needed to keep his plans in line ever felt more clear.

Also: the f***ing magnificence.

Patapsco
2015-12-31, 09:37 AM
Spotlight Doubledealer is absolutely atrocious. I mean, Furman's run gets a lot of crap thrown at it, and that should be exhibit A for the prosecution

Cliffjumper
2015-12-31, 11:21 AM
Just sort of hit a tipping point reading Spotlight: Optimus. Ignoring the quality of whatever, you've just had Escalation with all its' many, many set-up points and what's the first thing that happens afterwards? Prime flies off in space to find out about Nova Prime and how Simon thinks combiners should be done.

Furman's actual writing across the era isn't too bad when humans aren't involved, and most of his ideas are outright brilliant; it's his timing and utter lack of awareness of how the comics will actually read that's the problem. In retrospect he'd have served better as a consultant/bible writer more in the mould of a TV series showrunner.

At the same time a lot of his bad habits at least in terms of narrative structure were quite blatantly on show in his DW work - Energon was eventually a lot like Escalation in terms of having so many plot threads it was just impossible to get any forward movement going.
The ironic thing is that he didn't really do it with Marvel - he left loose ends dangling all over the place for sure, but there wasn't this need to touch base with them every single time. It's like he was more patient then, which is a bit ironic.

Red Dave Prime
2015-12-31, 12:16 PM
Maybe its a monthly (or even bring only a six part series) vs a weekly set up but I seem to remember a complaint we all had was the need to seemingly dip into every plot every issue, regardless of whether it made sense. Then when stuff needed to happen there was no space so ironhide got rescued off panel.

The idea that he should have been an overall writer would make a lot more sense because I think he had some good ideas and looked from a distance there's a clear set up of many different threads there for other writers to work off

Brendocon 2.0
2016-01-03, 09:58 PM
Massive sidebar: Can you imagine trying to follow all this shit as a new reader who doesn't already know who these characters are and what their general motivations tend to be? ****ing hell. Here's Scorponok, here's Bludgeon, here's Soundwave, here's Sixshot, here's the Reapers (no we don't know either), here's Starscream again, here's Galvatron, here's Jhiaxus, here's a bullet in the ****ing brain. And that's just the bad guys.

Oh yeah, plus Double Dealer and Banzai-Tron.