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-   -   Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #36 (http://tfarchive.com/community/showthread.php?t=53777)

zigzagger 2014-12-18 06:11 AM

Some quick thoughts:

"Fun" just about describes my feelings for this issue. Not as thought-provoking (or shocking) as the previous chapter, just fun.

Not much in the way of explaining how all this time jumping/tracking business works; we just cut right to the chase. See, it was "magic" after all. I have to be right once in a while, you know

I thought it funny that, in typical Team Rodimus fashion, right after establishing "the golden rules" and making the time jump, they break said rules in short order. Still, made for some pretty amusing (i.e. clumsy) backpedaling moments.

Convenient, that mind-wiping handshake of Chromedome's... :|

Speaking of which; probably thinking too much on it, but Chromedome shook Glitch's hand. Wonder if that'll cause issues later on.

Aside from how adorable their casual chat on the phone was, Megatron does pose an interesting question to an uninformed Orion Pax; how better off would Cybertronian society actually be if it were Optimus Prime and the Autobots that had challenged the Senate and the Functionalists. It is a tempting thought, isn't it?

Oh, "season 2".... even when it's not all about Megatron, it's, well, still somehow all about Megatron ;)

That's not a complaint, really it isn't... just an observation, s'all.


Quote:

Originally Posted by inflatable dalek (Post 745193)
Fantastic double bluff on Trailbreaker there.

Guess Roberts wants to emphasize to everyone that there is no hope. I appreciated it myself.

Had no idea Rodimus was so torn up over Trailbreaker's death. Willing to muck up time and everything for him. Awfully sweet him.

Knightdramon 2014-12-18 07:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Red Dave Prime (Post 745201)
4. Speaking of Pax, He thrusts the story about the LL crew being linked to Sentinal far too easy - given that he only knows Whirl as a criminal and Thumbler / domey as possibly a member of the institute and recognises the autobot symbol as a sign of oppression.

Minor correction here----at this point, Pax and his crew have left and are outlaws operating under Zeta against Sentinel.

Given how Whirl told Pax he wants to see the Senate come crumbling down in Shadowplay, and Chromedome only started working at the institute when Zeta took over and "humanized" it [issue 14], those two are just fine. Whirl's "day out" was a tad flimsy though.

On Megatron's front, he hadn't gone all bad yet. This is pre-Megatron Origin [if only just], so at best he's just stopped distributing his manifesto [see issue 34] and is just a disgruntled worker. Pax is essentially an outlaw at this point until Zeta takes over.

Warcry 2014-12-18 06:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Knightdramon (Post 745194)
That being said, it was a nice and full issue. I ain't sure why Tailgate is "allowed" back in time when more able bots could go back---everybody on the team serves a purpose except for him.

They mentioned early on that they would need to have a compatible spark-type to Brainstorm's in order to take part in the time travel, so it's possible that there isn't anyone else. Though considering half of the main cast qualify, I find it hard to believe that "compatibility" is that rare.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Knightdramon (Post 745194)
Brainstorm's been set up for something else---I don't think he's out to kill Pax. Especially in the time periods he ends up at, Pax is already too famous and strong, not to mention surrounded by his own X-Men. It's like going after Whirl when he's in the Wreckers.

I wonder now if he's actually doing anything or if it's just a red herring, he's just gone on a crazy jaunt through time to prove that he can like the mad scientist that he is, and Rodimus and co. are the ones who inadvertently cause the new timeline.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Red Dave Prime (Post 745201)
Not loving this as much as some of you. Its good... but not really engaging. Quite forget-able to be honest, much as the past bots feel.

Agreed. It's fun but not really substantial. As part of the story arc it's perfectly fine, but as a standalone issue it's a little bit underwhelming considering what it's following up.

That said, I always enjoy our visits with the actually-heroic millions-of-years-ago-Orion, so I won't complain too much.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Red Dave Prime (Post 745201)
4. Speaking of Pax, He thrusts the story about the LL crew being linked to Sentinal far too easy - given that he only knows Whirl as a criminal and Thumbler / domey as possibly a member of the institute and recognises the autobot symbol as a sign of oppression.

I got the impression that he might have put together what was going on on his own, and that's why he was suspiciously trusting of them. The fact that Chromedome and Whirl both did a very poor job of their excuse-making was probably enough to at least make him suspicious. Megatron probably didn't help either.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Red Dave Prime (Post 745201)
Look, its not a bad issue and there are some really nice ideas going on here - Rodimus saving himself (once I read Nyon, that was an instant link)

...I missed that entirely. Good catch!

Quote:

Originally Posted by zigzagger (Post 745202)
I thought it funny that, in typical Team Rodimus fashion, right after establishing "the golden rules" and making the time jump, they break said rules in short order. Still, made for some pretty amusing (i.e. clumsy) backpedaling moments.

I got a good laugh out of that too.

"For god's sake don't kill anyone!"

Two minutes later: "Blow up that orbital platform!"

Quote:

Originally Posted by zigzagger (Post 745202)
Speaking of which; probably thinking too much on it, but Chromedome shook Glitch's hand. Wonder if that'll cause issues later on.

Glitch's powers were touch-triggered and immediate, weren't they? If they were going to cause a problem I think they'd have done so right away, so Trailbreaker and the rest wouldn't have been memory-wiped. It seems like they all were, so I guess nothing happened?

Maybe Glitch has been able to figure out how to better control his powers since we last saw him?

Knightdramon 2014-12-18 07:02 PM

Thinking about this all day long. Two things spring to mind.

Re--Roller is Tarn. There's some clever foreshadowing on his abilities here, if this is true.

Roller drinks that spiked C32 stuff...and Rung says it can cause your spark to explode. Tarn's "modulate the timbre of your voice" ability has only happened once, on screen, causing Black Shadow to explode, and he was touching his face. Tarn was playing music at the time and saying how "they say you can use your voice to.." "they say..."

Considering Roller's unease at not having any powers, what if Tarn puts on a show with the music and stuff but what he's actually doing is directly injecting the victim with C32, causing their spark to explode?

Yes, I'm a genius.

Secondly, Perceptor said that Brainstorm used his spark as a means of travelling back, "locking" the machine to his type. But we have at least 3 spark types [Chromedone, Rewind and Whirl share one, Cyclonus and Tailgate another, Rodimus and Rung are unknown]. What if this compatibility stems from the fact that its 2 sparktypes within Brainstorm? His own, and the green spark he harvested. Or, go wild, for 3...he's a headmaster. And his evil head is the 3rd sparktype.

Do remember that he was saying he was forged back in Remain in Light, yet suffered the effects of the killswitch. What if he was actually forged, but his headmaster was not, hence suffering from that? Or vice versa?

I'm a genius yet again.

inflatable dalek 2014-12-18 09:14 PM

In terms of who was chosen, beyond having the right spark type (and presumably compatible doesn't automatically mean the same as Brainstorm's, as no one knows he stole a spare spark if it were down to that Perceptor would have commented on it), they seem to have gone for people they were unlikely to run into in the past.

So, Rodimus (likely not born yet), Whirl (prison), Chromedome (at a super secret secret institute where he likely doesn't get out much), Cyclonus (dead universe) and Tailgate (buried underground) definitely won't be creating a Universe destroying paradox, or at least awkward explanations, by banging into themselves. Presumably the others are the same.

zigzagger 2014-12-19 04:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Warcry (Post 745208)

Two minutes later: "Blow up that orbital platform!"

Yeah, and they do that based on speculation. :lol:


Other thoughts:

You know, at this stage in the story, its difficult to gauge exactly what Rodimus and co. accomplished during their first time jump. For now it doesn't seem like much since they completely missed Brainstorm.

One "critique" I suppoooose I could make (and honestly it's something I wasn't too bothered by), is that this jaunt to the past didn't advance the story much. Felt more like an excuse to see what Pax and the Outliers were up to after Shadowplay... which, uhh, I really can't call that a complaint. I enjoyed the ride.

I figure either -- through their interference -- history was always meant to play out this way, or that their visit may have made things worse. They weren't exactly being careful, so what I'm hoping is that Rodimus and company's actions during the first time jump have repercussions, that there was a reason for the story to take us to this point in Cybertronian history.

But again, not a huge complaint. I love these "historic" tales.

inflatable dalek 2014-12-19 04:02 PM

One thing I really liked about the phone conversation was how it worked either way- whether Megatron is genuinely reformed, still evil or somewhere in the middle there's a subtext to be found in his words that plays into it.

That's smart writing yo.

Though now I think of it, where's Ravage? I thought he'd agreed to stay on the ship, but I can't see him wandering too far off from the one person aboard who wouldn't want to kill him.

zigzagger 2014-12-19 09:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by inflatable dalek (Post 745221)
One thing I really liked about the phone conversation was how it worked either way- whether Megatron is genuinely reformed, still evil or somewhere in the middle there's a subtext to be found in his words that plays into it.

Totally. I liked the ambiguity of that moment and, as you say, lends itself to future interpretation. And it's one of those instances that I'm glad Roberts can't play anything straight. At one moment it's almost heartbreaking, until Megatron makes that comment to Pax about taking on the Senate.

Like, should I be touched or suspicious? Awesome stuff there.

Also totally worth mentioning is Milne's work on that scene, with Megatron's shifting expressions. It's art working to enhance the story. It's subtle, but I dig little details like that. Milne continues to grow.

inflatable dalek 2014-12-19 09:23 PM

Oh, and I may have broken Roberts by pointing out to him on Twitter that Transmat comes from Doctor Who.

I am too interested in what different franchises call their transporters so no one thinks of Star Trek.

Terome 2014-12-20 05:16 PM

Hey! I am back from the desert. There are no comics in the desert. Actually no, there was a Calvin & Hobbes book. It was, of course, excellent.

MTMTE 36: Still great. I'm sold on the predestination theory surrounding Nyon and Tarn and whatnot. I agree with all the praise of the phone call, I thought it was handled wonderfully and goes well with the old saw of any compelling story - all the conflict could have been avoided if everyone involved had sat down for a nice chat. Seeing Megatron laugh is a first too, I believe.

I really dig Roberts' Orion Pax - this utterly unflappable superhero cop who latches onto these shady mentors and doesn't quite seem to grasp the scale of the problem before him. You can see why people are so loyal to him, even now when he's a shell of his former self. There's the interesting implication that the Matrix was a real wrong step in his personal development.

Speaking of which, there's a lot we still don't know about Skids and his whole deal.

Quote:

Though now I think of it, where's Ravage? I thought he'd agreed to stay on the ship, but I can't see him wandering too far off from the one person aboard who wouldn't want to kill him.
Of all the people who I want to get focus who aren't, I can forgive Ravage for not being centre stage, or visible at all, because hiding is what he's good at.

What will become of Rewind keeping the alternate timeline to himself?

And here's something - we've got a good body of evidence that Trailbreaker's hands are a big part of his forcefield ability. We've also got reason to believe that nobody else can do the forcefield thing. Megatron was looking very meaningfully at Trailbreaker's hands when Rodimus found him in the morgue. I thought he was mourning but maybe he's hatching a plan?

If Megatron was secretly evil though, I do think he would do everything in his power to seize upon this time travel opportunity. That's not the sort of thing that supervillians pass on.

Quote:

One "critique" I suppoooose I could make (and honestly it's something I wasn't too bothered by), is that this jaunt to the past didn't advance the story much. Felt more like an excuse to see what Pax and the Outliers were up to after Shadowplay... which, uhh, I really can't call that a complaint. I enjoyed the ride.
Agreed on both points! I'm not so keen on plot as a rule but this one felt very luxurious in letting the characters talk to each other. I'm also getting an inkling now of what that pre-season teaser campaign that put Trailbreaker as 'The Catalyst' was getting at...

Auntie Slag 2014-12-25 04:16 PM

Rodimus' slapstick banter with Megatron was nicely dampened by his concern for Trailbreaker/Cutter. Now I'm interested in why Rodimus should be so concerned! Trailbreaker was the one character who didn't initially earn a Rodimus star, and he'd never shown any particular favouritism or familiarity toward him previously.

The patterns of damage to Roller's face nicely match up with Tarn's buggered left-eye, though it could still be a red herring. I really liked a comment on Transfans about how much Roller's head shape resembles the Autobot insignia (and what that means for a guy who has potentially turned from face to heel).

Since readers speculation over whether Roller is Tarn (and this has been going on since Shadowplay two years ago), it'd be really cool if all the characters in the book are perfectly aware of who Tarn is, from Rodimus to Cosmos to Prowl; they all know who Tarn is and that doesn't make any difference, but its one in the eye for Pax ever since he had to take on the mantle of Prime. Its only the readers who question it.

Either that or... Chromedome has always known! Chromedome is such a little tinker, I can't help thinking he's almost singlehandedly responsible for all the troubles that have befallen the Lost Light crew.

And the Pax/Megatron phone call across time was phenomenal!

[Edit] Just going back to something from a few issues ago where Megatron and co. found Rewind hiding in Magnus' body cavity; no-one gets away from the DJD. Rewind says he ran away, but I find it very hard to believe this little guy could escape from hardened killers. Tarn must've allowed it.

Unicron 2014-12-25 08:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Auntie Slag (Post 745286)
Since readers speculation over whether Roller is Tarn (and this has been going on since Shadowplay two years ago), it'd be really cool if all the characters in the book are perfectly aware of who Tarn is, from Rodimus to Cosmos to Prowl; they all know who Tarn is and that doesn't make any difference, but its one in the eye for Pax ever since he had to take on the mantle of Prime. Its only the readers who question it.

Basically a re-hash of the Senator Shockwave reveal then. Everyone in story already knew who the Senator was, the bit at the end of Shadowplay that finally named him was for our benefit

Auntie Slag 2014-12-25 11:27 PM

You’re right, it wouldn’t make much sense to repeat things. Perhaps the most meaningful thing is if it makes an impact to the other characters. If Tarn were Roller, it would only have a psychological gut punch to Pax or Ratchet, and the latter is off with Drift in his short story. Maybe if Chromedome is involved in Tarn’s origins, or he and Brainstorm (and possibly Highbrow, I’m always waiting for Highbrow to have more of a part in the story, probably because of his starring role in the UK ‘Worlds Apart’ story from the UK Marvel G1 comics).

On another note, Whirl was carrying around a very interesting gun from Brainstorms stash!

I feel like I'm starting to lose a lot of the plot points and clues from previous issues. The things that many people are remembering are starting to get all jumbled for me, and this probably manifests in making pointless comments like wondering why Highbrow isn't around more. This issue they reveal that Glitch's real name is Damus, I don't know if there's any relevance for that yet, and then Rung is part of the away team, but I don't know if his spark type was ever mentioned?

I've tended not to re-read everything from Remain in Light onwards as much as the earlier issues. Maybe because in these stories I don't see as much of certain characters or scenes as I'd like e.g. Megatron & Rung, Roller and time spent on those I'm not fussed about, like Riptide.

Unicron 2014-12-26 02:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Auntie Slag (Post 745288)
You’re right, it wouldn’t make much sense to repeat things. Perhaps the most meaningful thing is if it makes an impact to the other characters. If Tarn were Roller, it would only have a psychological gut punch to Pax or Ratchet, and the latter is off with Drift in his short story. Maybe if Chromedome is involved in Tarn’s origins, or he and Brainstorm (and possibly Highbrow, I’m always waiting for Highbrow to have more of a part in the story, probably because of his starring role in the UK ‘Worlds Apart’ story from the UK Marvel G1 comics).

I'm sure it would make a pretty good impact on the 'away team', learning they're (at least partly) responsible for the creation of a very twisted and fanatical murderer.

Quote:

On another note, Whirl was carrying around a very interesting gun from Brainstorms stash!
Can I just note how deeply stupid it is for Whirl, or anyone, to have brought some of Brainstorm's weaponry back in time with them? I mean, if you were responsible for creating some... unusual and powerful weaponry and you were plotting a betrayal, one would expect you'd have some manner of countermeasures. An off switch, some kind of shielding from their effect, what have you. Hell, booby trap them so they incapacitate the user if they attempt to shoot Brainy.

Quote:

I feel like I'm starting to lose a lot of the plot points and clues from previous issues. The things that many people are remembering are starting to get all jumbled for me, and this probably manifests in making pointless comments like wondering why Highbrow isn't around more. This issue they reveal that Glitch's real name is Damus, I don't know if there's any relevance for that yet, and then Rung is part of the away team, but I don't know if his spark type was ever mentioned?
I think Highbrow is a good one to wonder about. Pretty sure he's on the bridge a lot, and he was referenced as being at the New Institute with Chromedome and Brainstorm, and there's the whole Malware Brigade thing. I'm hoping he gets a little more spotlight soon because of that.

Glitch's name being Damus has no meaning yet, and it may never. I'm thinking the name reveal was just so fans don't wildly speculate he's someone known to us. That or so we know who it is if the away team runs into him further in the past.
Rung, we don't know anything about his spark type, beyond him being a probable point-one-percenter. But it has to be noted that the people who can make the time jump are those with a compatible type, not the same. Could also be that Rung is the only one who can activate the case and the others are his passengers. Odds are it'll be cleared up later.

Auntie Slag 2014-12-26 01:15 PM

One particularly brilliant thing was Whirl calling Rodimus 'Rodders'. Ever since Transformers began I've wondered why they don't shorten long characters names, only Prime ever got such familiarity.

There was one panel in G2 where Grimlock wore a bandana and had 'Big Grim' painted on his shoulder, and maybe somebody once referred to Shockwave as 'Shockers', but that's about it.

Now we have Nut Job, Meggy, Megs, Pax, Domey and so on. 'Rodders' was pure icing on the cake, and so perfectly timed in this, effectively the Christmas issue.

Here in the UK we have a famous and repeated-to-death sitcom called 'Only Fools & Horses' (dragged out at this time of year especially). One of its main characters is also nicknamed 'Rodders'. It was great that Whirl was the one to say it, for someone with no face he has the best expressions, movements and quips. Clinking his claws together with glee, saying "Lets be ambiguous about this", was just cracking!

The only thing missing was him wearing a Santa hat. If only we'd have had a single page panel of him outside of the story itself, at the back with Santa hat and Shoomer in claw.

I do still wonder if Cyclonus is going to follow through and murder him. I know they came to a truce during Remain in Light, and that Cyclonus is honourable, but Whirl does love rubbing people up the wrong way. If he is destined to die, I hope its in such a tragic and sad, possibly heroic way. Saving a muppet like Swerve, perhaps... but I know that's just too sentimental for something like MTMTE. Maybe they'll jump to a point in time where he is forced to let Killmaster live, and face him later on, rather than creeping up on KM asleep in bed (which again, was a priceless bit of Whirliness)!

[Edit] A thought brought about by a thread on Estriol (spark type) over at Transfans made me wonder about the possibility of Whirl being a femmebot. We've only ever seen him post Empurata, as far as we're aware there's never been any gender theme on Cybertron apart from Spotlight: Arcee where Jhiaxus messed with Arcee's CNA. But Whirl has a somewhat cloudy backstory, most interesting of which was that he was strong enough to reject his function and strike out as a watchmaker, which must have totally flipped out the Functionists. Not that I have anywhere to go with that at the moment, but that must be a transformation of monumental proportions for the planet, and Whirl did it. Also, his avatar is the eyepatch girl with twin AK-47's which may suggest something (or may not).

In that one panel where he's telling his watchmaker backstory to bring Rung out of his unconscious state, we see a silhouette of Whirl against smoking ruins caused by The Heavies, and there is a smiling robot featured. Its never been explained who that smiling robot was, I didn't think it was Whirl at the time, more a Senate member who wanted his business put down. Still, we were not allowed to see Whirl's face at that time.

Ah, but this may be pointless if Whirls spark type was clarified a few issues ago. Oh well. I got carried away by the symmetry of his "Let's be ambiguous about this" comment!

inflatable dalek 2014-12-26 01:51 PM

Well, the holo avatars are meant to represent how the characters see themselves in human terms (hence Tailgate being a baby), and Whirl has a female avatar.

Roberts also said in a tweet a week or so ago he's all in favour of readers deciding which of the rest of the cast they're going to view as "female" regardless of the (technically incorrect anyway for everyone except Nautica) actual pronouns used in the text.

Warcry 2014-12-26 05:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Auntie Slag (Post 745297)
Now we have Nut Job, Meggy, Megs, Pax, Domey and so on. 'Rodders' was pure icing on the cake, and so perfectly timed in this, effectively the Christmas issue.

It's actually not a new thing -- you'll find a bit of this if you go back to the original cartoon. The one in particular that stands out to me is Rodimus Prime and Springer, who would occasionally lob a friendly "Rod" or "Spring-o" to one another.

But I agree that it's nice to see, because it's a sign of friendship and affection between the characters and that's something that we so rarely see in TF fiction. I can't remember the last time that a writer made it seem like their characters actually cared about one another in a positive way. The focus always seems to be on who they hate, an not who they like or love.

Quote:

Originally Posted by inflatable dalek (Post 745298)
Well, the holo avatars are meant to represent how the characters see themselves in human terms (hence Tailgate being a baby), and Whirl has a female avatar.

So does Ultra Magnus, though. And nobody wants to argue that he's a girl.

Quote:

Originally Posted by inflatable dalek (Post 745298)
Roberts also said in a tweet a week or so ago he's all in favour of readers deciding which of the rest of the cast they're going to view as "female" regardless of the (technically incorrect anyway for everyone except Nautica) actual pronouns used in the text.

Maybe I'm just super-cynical, but I thought that was pretty textbook pandering to the Tumblr crowd who've inexplicably latched onto a book about giant robots and tried to characterize it as a standard-bearer for their curious ideas about gender. I'd be really surprised to find out he's put much thought into the idea, beyond "they're giving me money, so I shouldn't tell them they're crazy".

(Also "estriol" sparks apparently aren't a thing now, that bit got edited out in the TPB on account of it being incredibly silly.)

Personally I don't put any stock into whatever gender the Transformers identify as. They don't have a biological sex, and their society has always been mono-gendered (with the mainstream TFs being all 'male' and the Camiens being all 'female'), so they don't have any concept of traditional gender roles. If Whirl decides to identify as female it means nothing, because the concepts of male and female have no meaning to the Transformers as a species. It would be an affectation, nothing more.

(Personally I think he uses a female avatar because Arcee is the only female he'd ever met at the time he chose it, he respects the fact that she's even more of a bloodthirsty psycho than he is, and he thinks it's a way to underscore how much of a nonconformist loose cannon he is.)

Now, if he suddenly decides that he's a car at heart and wants to change what he transforms into, then you'd have a good allegory for human gender -- alt-mode has been clearly portrayed as a major source of a Transformer's identity, like gender and race in human society. But that seems to be a pretty rare event. Of the top of my head, the only character in the IDW stuff who's undergone a full-scale overhaul of his alt-mode (as opposed to fairly cosmetic changes, like Starscream going from one type of plane to another) is Megatron, who has gone from mining vehicle to tank to gun to jet. I'd like to know whether there's a deeper meaning to that, or if it's just a way of saying "screw you, Functionists!"

inflatable dalek 2014-12-26 11:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Warcry (Post 745309)
It's actually not a new thing -- you'll find a bit of this if you go back to the original cartoon. The one in particular that stands out to me is Rodimus Prime and Springer, who would occasionally lob a friendly "Rod" or "Spring-o" to one another.

It's an underused idea that goes all the way back to Budiansky as well, IIRC the original profiles for the Autobots had affectionate nick names for most of them ("Cool hand lube" and so on). Which likely never made it into the comics as with such a large cast right from the off getting kids to keep track of which toy was which would be hard enough without throwing pet names in for them as well.


Quote:

So does Ultra Magnus, though. And nobody wants to argue that he's a girl.
Well, there's no actual reason people couldn't refer to Magnus as "She", but his holo avatar wouldn't be enough to inspire them to do so as he had other reasons for projecting that image.

I've no idea what as I've a complete blind spot when it comes to anyone not being glad to see the back of Verity but they were there.

Come to think of it, a good reason for him staying male is that he's Dominus' "Twin". With Rewind and Chromedome being a perfectly realised analogy for a homosexual relationship that actually works I don't anyone will attempt to make either one of them a female in their minds (well, except for out and out homophobes looking for a way to ease the pain), and that will extend to all of their previous partners and those partners' duplicates as well.


Quote:

Maybe I'm just super-cynical, but I thought that was pretty textbook pandering to the Tumblr crowd who've inexplicably latched onto a book about giant robots and tried to characterize it as a standard-bearer for their curious ideas about gender. I'd be really surprised to find out he's put much thought into the idea, beyond "they're giving me money, so I shouldn't tell them they're crazy".
I'm too much of an old fuddy duddy for Tumblr (I've only recently thrown myself fully into twitter, much to the delight of my Facebook friends who get to read everything copied over automatically) so I can't speak for the overall character of those on there- though as it and Instagram seem to have picked up the "Look at the weirdos!" jibes twitter used to get before it became really mainstream I suspect it's not as bad as all that- and they might even have a point.

It could be argued that us long standing fans have simply become numbed to how sexist Transformers has generally been overall. Not a new complaint, to cross promote for a moment, as I mention on my site this week as a kid I thought my Mother was a lone mad woman for hating the franchise for sexism until Prime's Rib came along and made me realise Furman must have been ear-bashed by a lot of similar mothers at dinner parties (of course, I used to think that story was ultimately on the side of the feminists and Prime/Hasbro's inability to get their point was the butt of the joke. The faf earlier this year helped dissuade me of that).

New readers coming in, wherever they be from, not used to such a thing are more likely to take offence at dodginess in otherwise very good comics. "Hey, we love this... but what the **** is this bit all about? The one girl is the result of a forced sex change that left her a mad psychopath? Everyone's supposed to be genderless but they're still calling each other "He"? WTF?".

It's understandable that Roberts, Barber and Scott, having been tasked with introducing more girls from above anyway, would actually approach it with care, be prepared to listen to feedback (and the feedback from those who care is going to be more helpful on that score than the folks like you and I who are in the "Who's bothered if they're male or female?" camp) and even correct mistakes they make along the way like the edit to the MTMTE trade.

Of course, just ignoring/properly retconing the massive loadstone that is Spotlight Arcee would have been the best move, but Barber isn't made the the retcon way. Them trying to make sure the female presence isn't deeply stupid and offensive on every level as a hold over from that is, to my mind, a good thing.


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(with the mainstream TFs being all 'male' and the Camiens being all 'female')
That can't be right surely? The Cybertron based Transformers aren't male at all, it's just basically how the comic chooses to identify them (in fiction you can rationalise it as a translation conversion because their own neutral pronoun doesn't convey well), the Camiens on the other hand are supposed to be Actually female. Which means there must be some Actual males amongst them otherwise they wouldn't need ladies.

Of course, male Camiens are unlikely to ever appear (even beyond the obvious difficult robot reproduction questions raised by them having boys and girls that is a road I don't think anyone except old Tramp would want to go down) because how on Earth would you portray them that would make them obviously different to the technically genderless but basically always written as a bunch of blokes Cybertronians?

Which is the nub of the whole issue of the idea of them being genderless (which, perhaps oddly as Furman was always more the champion of it, is something I think was first flat out stated by Uncle Bob in that planet of the women story) comes from.

They're supposed to be genderless but writers anthopomorphise them as men. That is, to an extent where Mike Costa's criticism of the franchise was valid, these aren't portrayed as aliens (or at least they only are are very rarely, you have the odd example like Man of Iron- produced by people who thought Transformers was crap and who wanted to do something as unlike it as possible- where they come across as genuinely alien), they're humans in funny suits.

Of course, where Costa went wrong is that, whilst it's perfectly fine to dislike Transformers for it's complete failure as "Proper" science fiction exploring the idea of alien life, that's a conceit that people who enjoy it are happy to make and which especially needs to be made by those writing it or their work is going to be awful.

That's also why the IDW version of Arcee was doomed from the start, there was no convincing way to portray her as an aberration different from the other's when Furman's writing of the characters has never given the impression that they're not gendered except when he's putting the boot into the idea of female ones. Those scenes just die on their arse incredibly badly.

The most sensible approach should have always been "Hey, we know alien robots shouldn't really be this humanised but let's accept it with a wink because we need relatable characters, and there's no reason there shouldn't be characters who are "She" as well as "He" amidst that conceit". Which is basically the approach the more recent cartoons have taken with no issues whatsoever.

Still, from that poor foundations the fact IDW have managed to make the new female toys work as characters is impressive, Windblade could have so easily wound up a complete train wreck so it being good fun (that actually managed to defeat the IDW trend by having it's sag in the middle rather than the end as well. Reads well in trade too) even if not The Greatest Transformers Story Ever Told was something of a miracle.

Oddly I think the first Bay film conveyed the idea of them being very different from humans better than any other media has in decades. Their own language sounds completely strange and different and there's always the feeling that the personalties everyone adopts is as much a disguise to fit in on Earth as their alt modes. Hey, them having got all their knowledge of us from the internet even explains who they're all acting like men, they're bound to have a very strange idea of gender relations after that.


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(Personally I think he uses a female avatar because Arcee is the only female he'd ever met at the time he chose it, he respects the fact that she's even more of a bloodthirsty psycho than he is, and he thinks it's a way to underscore how much of a nonconformist loose cannon he is.)
That works too!

Denyer 2014-12-27 01:37 AM

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in the "Who's bothered if they're male or female?" camp
More being very bothered about trying to apply mammal biology to alien robots and shit writing in general, personally. Makes sense for mimics to mimic things, and that's a rich vein of storytelling that isn't tapped much outside of "X loves Earth" type bios.

Warcry 2014-12-27 04:02 AM

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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek (Post 745313)
It's an underused idea that goes all the way back to Budiansky as well, IIRC the original profiles for the Autobots had affectionate nick names for most of them ("Cool hand lube" and so on). Which likely never made it into the comics as with such a large cast right from the off getting kids to keep track of which toy was which would be hard enough without throwing pet names in for them as well.

Good point -- I'd forgotten that Budiansky had ideas like that. I think what killed them (even more than the difficulty of working stuff like that into a story with such a large cast) was simple marketing. If the characters had multiple names and nicknames, it would be that much harder for parents to know which toys to buy for their little ones.

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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek (Post 745313)
Well, there's no actual reason people couldn't refer to Magnus as "She", but his holo avatar wouldn't be enough to inspire them to do so as he had other reasons for projecting that image.

Well, no more reason than there would be to stop you from calling Windblade or Nautica "he". But it would be equally rude in either case, because if they wanted to be referred to by the other pronoun they would be. Looking for excuses to say that the characters are the opposite gender of what they're identifying as doesn't really seem like a productive way to address the gender identity issues that the people asking these questions are supposedly championing, which is why I find myself rolling my eyes at it.

It comes off as stereotyping to me -- if character X does something girly then they have to be a girl/gay/trans/whatever because everyone knows that all the people like that are! Which is ridiculous of course, and even sort of offensive when you get right down to it. But then these questions generally come from the same people that think Tailgate has to be a girl because he's got skinny legs, so...

Alas, whenever I think we might have moved past the point where a guy can't show any traditionally female interests or traits without being called a sissy or a faggot, the internet shows me that those ideas are still alive and well even in subcultures that you'd think would know better.

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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek (Post 745313)
Come to think of it, a good reason for him staying male is that he's Dominus' "Twin".

Also the moustache is a big point against, if we're using humanizing features to assign genders to the characters now.

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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek (Post 745313)
I'm too much of an old fuddy duddy for Tumblr (I've only recently thrown myself fully into twitter, much to the delight of my Facebook friends who get to read everything copied over automatically) so I can't speak for the overall character of those on there- though as it and Instagram seem to have picked up the "Look at the weirdos!" jibes twitter used to get before it became really mainstream I suspect it's not as bad as all that- and they might even have a point.

I've never heard people taking shots like that at Instagram, but certain corners of Tumblr (certainly not all of it, or even most, but a sizable minority) have become a left-wing version of 4chan, an echo chamber of extreme opinions and intolerance. That's usually what people are referring to when they use the site as an example of "those weirdos".

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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek (Post 745313)
It could be argued that us long standing fans have simply become numbed to how sexist Transformers has generally been overall.

I don't think that would be fair, though. The fandom has vocally disapproved of things like Furman's IDW backstory for Arcee or the generally terrible treatment of women in the Bay movies, while responding positively to the better-handled (though admittedly still flawed) female presence in stuff like Beast Wars, Beast Machines or Prime.

I don't think the scarcity of important female characters is necessarily sexist in a franchise that's aimed primarily at the "girls have cooties!" demographic, any more than the scarcity of important male characters in fiction aimed at little girls would be. And in general, I think people who expect the franchise to address stuff like this more often are expecting too much. 95% or more of Transformers fiction is kids' stuff, dumb popcorn movies and toy shilling. That's not the platform for a serious discourse on gender issues.

The 5% of the franchise that is mature enough to deal with this sort of thing...well, it's MTMTE, and it already is. But it still needs to tell a story and can't exactly devote all its page space to social allegories.

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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek (Post 745313)
That can't be right surely? The Cybertron based Transformers aren't male at all, it's just basically how the comic chooses to identify them (in fiction you can rationalise it as a translation conversion because their own neutral pronoun doesn't convey well), the Camiens on the other hand are supposed to be Actually female. Which means there must be some Actual males amongst them otherwise they wouldn't need ladies.

I've never seen anything that implied that Caminus had males, or that their gender was somehow biological. I suppose it's possible, but the impression I got was that it was a world of nothing but self-described girls.

The way I took it was that the Camien females are only female because they say they are. Because they want to be, not because some intrinsic fact of their biology says they are (at least now that the silly "Nautica is 'spark type: girl'" thing is retconned). If they do have males, they're male for the exact same reason. And by that same logic, everyone from Cybertron (bar Arcee) calls themselves "he". For whatever reason, they're choosing to define themselves as masculine by using masculine pronouns. So sure, they can all be dudes. Why not?

It doesn't really make any sense for them to decide to be one gender or another when by all rights it shouldn't mean anything to them, but since when does any foreign culture ever make sense?

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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek (Post 745313)
Of course, where Costa went wrong is that, whilst it's perfectly fine to dislike Transformers for it's complete failure as "Proper" science fiction exploring the idea of alien life, that's a conceit that people who enjoy it are happy to make and which especially needs to be made by those writing it or their work is going to be awful.

I think James Roberts has done a good job of proving wrong Costa's "it's impossible to understand them!" complaints. I mean, MTMTE does explore the idea of Transformers as alien life be de-anthropomorphising them, and the fandom loves the book for that. It doesn't completely dehumanize them, but it how they're different from us is just as important in Roberts' writing so far as how they're similar.

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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek (Post 745313)
Still, from that poor foundations the fact IDW have managed to make the new female toys work as characters is impressive, Windblade could have so easily wound up a complete train wreck so it being good fun (that actually managed to defeat the IDW trend by having it's sag in the middle rather than the end as well. Reads well in trade too) even if not The Greatest Transformers Story Ever Told was something of a miracle.

I agree that Windblade did a good job of rescuing the idea of female TFs in the IDWverse, and it did so in the best way possible -- by ignoring the need for an explanation altogether. Instead of jumping through hoops to explain why a robot would call herself "she" the writers just shrugged the question off and focused on making her a likeable, interesting character so that we would have something to focus on other than the silly gender issue. I was definitely on the "don't do it!" side when they announced they were going to bring in more female characters after seeing the mess Furman had made of it, and Mairghread Scott did a great job of turning my opinion right around. :)


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