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

Auntie Slag 2014-12-27 04:40 PM

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Oh yes, and even though I'm two days late Whirl needs to say:

Auntie Slag 2014-12-28 02:46 PM

One quick question, Brainstorm's voyager toy has (as far as I'm aware) only recently become available to buy, yet he looks exactly like Brainstorm's design in MTMTE's early issues onwards, meaning that Milne & Roche saw these designs a couple of years before they became available as a toy for the public.

And this is true of other characters, like Swerve, Trailcutter, Skids & Tailgate. The only exception is Whirl, who is so far distanced from his recently released toy that it makes no sense. Is he the only character not designed with any toy basis?

MTMTE Whirl would look unbelievably awesome as a toy. He may look out of place compared to the others, but so did his Dvorak original.

I also still reckon Skids, Magnus, Tarn and Spinister are linked to the Institute. And re-reading back through the Scavengers story (still such a fantastic set of issues), reinforces that runs away from the DJD. So if Chromedome is intrinsically dodgy, then ALL Rewind certainly is too.

Denyer 2014-12-28 02:48 PM

AFAIK, other way around -- toys based on comic designs.

Auntie Slag 2014-12-28 02:57 PM

Toys based on comic designs is pretty darn impressive. When I bought LSotW a few years ago, in the back was Roche's design for Springer, and you could see how he'd made sure his design worked in both robot and vehicle modes. This is the kind of thing you never saw with a Jeff Anderson made-up-character, who invariably looked like a generic, blocky cartoon Ironhide knockoff.

Yet Roche and Milne, by such standards go to extraordinary lengths. I love that, but surely there's more than a hint of a suggestion somewhere that a suit informed them their designs just may see toy form?

Skids for example, looked a work of (complicated) art in his first appearance on MTMTE, when Chromedome removes the claw and all his weaponry comes out on display (only for Skids to punch the Legislator to death!). Amazingly they managed to recreate him pretty accurately as a toy... the only slightly weird thing being in the Annual where the artist drew his vehichle mode more G1 style than the sleeker sports car-ish thing he now... sports.

So, Artist AND Industrial designer is what I'm getting at. There's a hell of a job!

Death's Head 2014-12-29 12:01 AM

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This is the kind of thing you never saw with a Jeff Anderson made-up-character, who invariably looked like a generic, blocky cartoon Ironhide knockoff.
Perhaps a little unfair, as he did go to the trouble of redesigning Swoop and Divebomb with Cybertronian robot and alt. modes in 'What's in a Name'?

/fanboy

Auntie Slag 2014-12-29 12:58 AM

Nah, that was Will Simpson wasn't it? The story about Swoop & Divebomb from the 1987 annual (the one with Magnus and Galvatron on the cover). Jeff Anderson did the Grudge Match story in the comic (issue 134 & 135 I think, Dalek covered it just the other week in his blog).

I would never slag off Will Simpson; he's up there with Senior for me :)

Death's Head 2014-12-29 02:55 AM

Ah, fair play, I'm probably wrong there! :o

inflatable dalek 2014-12-29 09:09 PM

Death's Head got burnt!

Anderson did design Impactor though, and whilst he's in the lots of boxes tradition, he's probably the perfect example.

I've been a long time replying due to the jolliness of Christmas and an incredibly depressing Saturday night that really sunk me into a slough of despond.

So it's going to take one of my favourite things to cheer me up, arguing with Warcry!

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Originally Posted by Warcry (Post 745319)
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's only rude if Magnus does self identify as a "He", and as said, I really don't think they do in their own language as little of the shock/mild surprise (depending on if you're reading the Arcee Spotlight or Windblade's introduction) over the female Autobots use of pronouns would make any sense. If he'd arrived on Earth and everyone had decided he was Aunty Magnus he'd have likely gone along with it just as much (I mean, especially Magnus out of all them would respect how the local language treats him).

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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...
Oh I fully agree there should be much more imagination/common sense used when treating characters as female (especially when you consider that when franchises do a remake/reboot with gender swaps it's usually to do with the fact the original only had rather clichéd female characters). That's why I liked Roberts (albeit on the hoof and by no means binding) suggestion at the last AA that Cyclonus would have a stern Victorian school ma'am as his avatar.

That works as it not being the "Femine" one who's the lady in that team, in fitting in with the asthetic of the avatars of being a comedically exaggerated representation of their true selves and it fits in with my take on the Cyclonus/Tailgate relationship being more parental than romantic. A three for three win.


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Also the moustache is a big point against, if we're using humanizing features to assign genders to the characters now.
A fine example of the need for plot to trump everything, IIRC Roberts has said he never used to like facial hair on Transformers until he needed some visual way to make the Ambus twins instantly identical despite their different colours schemes (and presumably something that would avoid looking like they'd had a Shockwave done to them, or that Magnus might have a tiny Optimus Prime lookalike in him).


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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.
Oh we complained, but we're still here (and I don't think we ever jumped on IDW Arcee as hard as she was jumped on a year ago, at least never enough to get the author to come out and make a defence of the character). I think newer readers would simply give up on the books, however good the rest of the material was, if they not only contained material they found offensive but if it continued to be the case that the otherwise smart seeming decent writers behind the comics carried on in those veins even after what was wrong even after it had been pointed out to them.

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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.
Of course (though the IDW comics aren't aimed at small boys and do have an increasing female readership), but even taken on its own merits Transformers has always done badly with female characters.

I mean, is there another successful '80's boys toys franchise that ever did that poorly in terms of female representation? Of the Big ones, He-Man and Thundercats both had more and better female regulars right from the off, and perhaps more damningly the other robots cartoon managed female leads written in a sensible way (or as much as Gobots ever did) with little effect on its success.

Equally, G.I. Joe, the closest thing Transformers has to a sister franchise, not only managed a good chunk of female leads, but the comic continued to feature them after the toyline stopped doing girls with Jinx (of course, the comic is horribly racist so what it gives with one hand it takes away with the other).

Even when only compared to its contemporaries, Transformers is an almost total failure in its treatment of female characters.

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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.
My copy of Windblade is hard to get at at the moment, but from my recollection, whilst they don't spell out what happened, the dialogue basically says the Caminens evolved in order to survive in their new environment, the implication being a physical change rather than just a state of mind (which is in keeping with Barber's never chuck anything out mentality, Spotlight Arcee established female Transformers are physically different from the usual ones so all future female Transformers have to be physically different for consistency).

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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.
Oh yes, I mean, take Tailgate. His backstory is a big proper SF concept that could only be done (at least in a pre-existing franchise) in Transformers.

But equally, how it affects him is in entirely relateable human terms. He's lonely, lost, child like and prone to lying a lot in order to be liked so he can make up for lost time. That's a full on person, not an alien. But it's a person with an alien backstory. Brilliant.

Auntie Slag 2014-12-29 09:51 PM

I was in a shop today and saw an old comic with Death's Head II on the cover fighting a bloke called Liger. I can't remember the title of the comic, other than it started with a 'W'. Something like Wasters or Wilders... something with two syllables. Anyone know the one I mean? Is it rare and worth millions?

Sorry to hear about the Slough of despond Dalek. If its anything like the Guildford of innapropriateness or the West Suffolk of broken Commodore Amiga's I totally relate (but lame gag aside, glad you're still able to argue the finer points of femmebot-ness with the Warcry's of the world).

For my money Xaaron was a terrible culprit in the Anderson canon of identikit boy band robots; A small, gold Megatron-a-like, identifiable from a distance by his weird mouth. Actually I'm being nasty, Xaaron and Impactor did have some thought put into them, especially Impactor with his cool Centurion helmet head, that wicket shoulder cannon (I love shoulder cannons, love 'em), and the whole purple and yellow schtick. And he's back in the next issue! Hope Guzzle's still with him.

And you know Springer's got to come back soon. Almost four years he's been out of commission, that's as long as Sunstreaker in the original comics! If anyone's going to want to kick Overlords behind around the shop it's Springer!

Death's Head 2014-12-29 11:58 PM

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Death's Head got burnt!
:D Fully deserved. I blame the Christmas gin...

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For my money Xaaron was a terrible culprit in the Anderson canon of identikit boy band robots; A small, gold Megatron-a-like, identifiable from a distance by his weird mouth. Actually I'm being nasty, Xaaron and Impactor did have some thought put into them, especially Impactor with his cool Centurion helmet head, that wicket shoulder cannon (I love shoulder cannons, love 'em), and the whole purple and yellow schtick. And he's back in the next issue! Hope Guzzle's still with him.
As greater fans than me have pointed out in the past, the great thing about Impactor is he has a diaclone-esque design, right down to the replaceable hand and spare cannon that he carries about, rather threateningly.

I'd love for a third party to do retro diaclone-styled Impactor. Maybe those guys who did Glacial Lord will hear my plea?

As for Xaaron, is he an Anderson design? The wiki states his debut as being in the annual strip "And There Shall Come a Leader" which makes him John Stokes' work (and that story's art borrows heavily from US#1, perhaps explaining why Xaaron is just a gold Megatron with toaster-teeth.) and the dates seem to peg the annual as being published first.

On current form, I am quite prepared to be wrong again.

They've just released a gold Masterpiece Megatron, haven't they? It'd be an expensive kitbash, but fun...

Back on the topic of gender in Transformers, I still like the idea of gender roles being something they assimilate from alien life-forms, along with alternate modes, language and other forms of culture. The Transformers as a kind of cultural vampire species - landing on planets and absorbing everything about them, not just their technology. For the goodies it's a way of forging alliances and understanding cultures; for the baddies a way of 'knowing your enemy'. They don't just transform their bodies - they transform their very minds (something Inflatable Dalek alluded to in his earlier post about the movie TFs).

Hope you're feeling better, by the way mate.

inflatable dalek 2014-12-30 08:57 PM

OOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Slag got burnt back! For a tie, whichever one of you first posts the name of the artist who likely designed Macabre gets to officially be the best one out of the two of you.

Thanks for the kind words peeps, it's just sometimes my single life really hits me in the back of the head. You wouldn't think a man who can look at a picture of Arcee and go "That's sexist" would have trouble finding a relationship, but women don't respond as if I'm a totally right on feminist, they act as if I'm stating the stupidly obvious. And then ask how I got under their bed. What a world.

I do have some more thoughts on why it's more important to cultivate new fans over us old ****ers, but I may save that for the State of the Union 2014 thread I will (hopefully) be starting tomorrow.

Auntie Slag 2014-12-30 09:13 PM

Macabre was a collaborative effort by Billy Conolloy and The Art of Noise, I think.

inflatable dalek 2014-12-30 09:34 PM

Close enough!

Slag is best!

Not a sentence you'll hear in many threads claiming to be pro-feminist.

Auntie Slag 2014-12-30 09:45 PM

I would agree but Death's Head takes the cake. He's a real life writer, graphical whizz, top designer bod aaaand he was TFUK, which means he and Roberts share the same DNA, or something.

And he probably designed Whirl.

Death's Head 2014-12-31 12:08 AM

:) Ah, Happy New Year guys! Sniff. Something in my eye, there.

Mind you, I do hope James' wife doesn't come across that DNA comment. All innocent, I swear!

Actually, going back to what you were saying before, Aunty Slag, about the geniuses that are drawing that our current TF books - I basically had to give up drawing Transformers because of all the bloody straight lines! Absolutely do my head in. It's not just their bodies nowadays, either - look at the hands and the fingers! Long gone are the days when you could get away with drawing some angry-looking chap wearing a set of strategically placed boxes.

Oh, and ID: Any time I'm feeling down about being single I just talk to one of my mates who's in a relationship. Cheers me right up!

(Then I go home alone. Sniff!)

Warcry 2015-01-03 06:29 AM

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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek (Post 745375)
So it's going to take one of my favourite things to cheer me up, arguing with Warcry!

Always glad to help!

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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek (Post 745375)
A fine example of the need for plot to trump everything, IIRC Roberts has said he never used to like facial hair on Transformers until he needed some visual way to make the Ambus twins instantly identical despite their different colours schemes (and presumably something that would avoid looking like they'd had a Shockwave done to them, or that Magnus might have a tiny Optimus Prime lookalike in him).

Well, facial hair on Transformers is pretty stupid, so he's got good taste at least. I mean, as an affectation in a weirdo like Wreck-Gar it has its place, but on characters that we're supposed to take seriously it's a little odd.

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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek (Post 745375)
Oh we complained, but we're still here (and I don't think we ever jumped on IDW Arcee as hard as she was jumped on a year ago, at least never enough to get the author to come out and make a defence of the character).

Furman was definitely getting a lot more benefit of the doubt back in those days, but our reaction thread for Spotlight: Arcee does feature several "this is a terrible idea"-type comments and I'd imagine it was the same elsewhere. Of course, none of us are fellow IDW employees, so it would be pretty hard for us to stir up a hornet's nest like what happened last year.

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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek (Post 745375)
Even when only compared to its contemporaries, Transformers is an almost total failure in its treatment of female characters.

Only if you're restricting yourself to looking at the Transformers themselves. If you're looking at the cast of the comics/cartoon in general, there are quite a few female characters, from Carly and Marissa Fairborne in the cartoon to Jesse and Circuit Breaker in the comics (not to mention a bevy of female guest stars like Cecilia Santiago, Rachel Becker and Joy Meadows). Some of them weren't exactly portrayed in an enlightened way, but there are a lot of female characters even in the old Transformers stories. Not as many as there are males, but I suspect the ratio is a lot closer to its contemporaries once the humans are counted.

What that says to me is that even in the 80s, the writers realized that it was problematic to have an all-male cast even when Hasbro had a strict no-girls policy for the toyline.

Skyquake87 2015-01-07 12:58 AM

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Originally Posted by Auntie Slag (Post 745376)
I was in a shop today and saw an old comic with Death's Head II on the cover fighting a bloke called Liger. I can't remember the title of the comic, other than it started with a 'W'. Something like Wasters or Wilders... something with two syllables. Anyone know the one I mean? Is it rare and worth millions?

That's Warheads*. Like all the Marvel UK titles, its pretty worthless. The issue you describe is likely one of # 5 -7 which featured Death' Head II in the lead up to the launch of his own ongoing series in a terrible load of arse that introduced the Sapphire Lotus. If its not one of them, might be the Mys-Tech Wars crossover issue.

If 2014's Revolutionary War had sold truckloads, it'd be a different story...


I have finally got #36 this week and read it. I liked that this was a little lighter on the plot and had loads of really, really great character moments, but still feeds into the larger story. Whirl with his claws, Roller not feeling 'special' (I still hold out hope that he isn't Tarn). The handshake with Trailbreaker and the lovely telephone conversation with Pax and Megatron. MTMTE is so dense, I do like it when it takes its foot off the pedal and there's a bit of space to just take it all in.

*A group of mercenaries whom were sent through wormholes across time and space to retrieve any technology likely to be of worth to Mys-Tech, a shadowy corporate entity whom would use this to free themselves from their contract with Mephisto. Anything that didn't further this aim was recycled into military and consumer goods. The series focused on Warheads Kether Troop, lead by Colonel Tigon Liger.

Auntie Slag 2015-01-07 05:42 PM

Yeah, Pax & Megatron in that sequence would have fit perfectly into BT's 'Its Good to Talk' advertising from donkey's years ago.

There must still be plenty of opportunity for Roller not to be Tarn, but how do you advance Shadowplay further than what they did to Senator Shockwave? Perhaps by trying to combine personalities?

Blend Roller's psyche in with some dastardly Deception like Killmaster or Heretech. True, Whirl killed Killmaster, but whose to say the Institute hadn't already done a number on KM and left his body in the bed?

Terome 2015-01-07 07:00 PM

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There must still be plenty of opportunity for Roller not to be Tarn, but how do you advance Shadowplay further than what they did to Senator Shockwave? Perhaps by trying to combine personalities?
That's really the thing isn't it - How do you top Shadowplay? Any kind of revelation about Tarn isn't going to be a patch on learning about Shockwave, who had a lot more meat on his bones but not so much that you couldn't do a convincing past-life reveal. If Roberts is as good as he obviously is then he'd know that should avoid such diminishing returns and pitch something out of left-field. I reckon Tarn will the product of time shenannigans but not of the type we saw in this issue.

Now I have talked myself into believing that Tarn might be someone on board the Lost Light.

Auntie Slag 2015-01-07 07:24 PM

Oooh, that last line just fried my tiny mind there!

And the guessing underlines how effortlessly brilliant this comic is. Shocks aplenty with totally memorable sequences & scenes that'll live in my memory long after most other Transformer imagery has gone:

- A one-armed Chromedome lying foetal on the floor.
- Ratchet firing a shot off Overlord's chin.
- That epic picture of Skids facing a horde of Legislators rising from the oil.
- Most scenes involving Whirl (especially when he's angry or smiling).
- Film night.
- The double-page peril of Overlord causing carnage on the Lost Light, being slightly worried to turn the page in case he's killed one of your favourites.
- Misfire with a serious expression saying "Emergency huddle".
- Tarn whispering to Black Shadow, or nearly saying F*** to Fulcrum.
- Whirl standing over Fort Max, whom he's just pierced through the throat.
- Swerve's face blown off (utterly shocking when viewing the preview that stops right there!)
- Overlord grinning evilly at Chromedome before the unlock sequence to the slow cell is revealed. I really felt my heart sink for Chromedome at that moment!
- Megatron & Pax.
- Rung & Megatron.
- Ratchets fondness for Drift concealed as grumpiness.
- The Shockwave reveal (hey, I was shocked!)
- Hoping to god with every panel that Fort Max could hold off Overlord before he fully came to his senses.
- Most of Overlord's lines being just brilliant: "Amazing, you talk only in names".

And so many more!


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