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Old 2016-07-28, 04:29 PM   #24
Likes Beast Wars toys. A lot.
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Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Originally Posted by inflatable dalek View Post
Except when he was holding Trailbreaker's forcefield hand after he died in what we were clearly meant to think was a touching moment of grief
Except that the entire...well, whole body of Roberts' writing to date makes a big deal about how Outliers are special and their powers are inherent and unique, and now suddenly Megatron is playing Heavy Metal War and plugging someone else's ability into his body without any real difficulty aside from "how is he powering it?" Which completely cuts the knees out from the whole concept of Outliers. Roberts was trying to make them like the X-Men to answer the "why can't everyone teleport and use forcefields, then?" question, but the whole thing is for naught when it turns out that, hey, any random guy can do that if you give him the gear and the juice! So what was the point?

Originally Posted by inflatable dalek View Post
Mentioned as a rumour about Megatron in the very first solo comic Roberts wrote, and brought up by Ratchet (who was paranoid about it) early in season 2.
Yes, which I mentioned as well -- Megatron is supposed to already be able to do this! But that's not the specific nit I was picking. I'm complaining about him using the antimatter -- which is described everywhere, including this very issue, as a "destroy the whole planet!" type of ability -- as a power source. It's a weapon, not a battery, and unless Shockwave accidentally connected him to the Enterprise's warp core while making his new body he shouldn't be able to magically use it as a power source without major, major body modifications.

Originally Posted by inflatable dalek View Post
The guilt weapon that brought them all to the planet in the first place, the plot device that got them into this mess helping to get them out of it is fairly solid symmetrical writing, and it's actually annoying me that it didn't occur to me to me sooner that would be an option.
The reason it didn't occur to you is that they haven't mentioned it or acknowledged it for the last six months, even while desperately searching the place for weapons to use to defend themselves from the DJD. That's not symmetrical or "clever", it's lazy.

Originally Posted by inflatable dalek View Post
I think it worked for the excellent bait and switch, ultimately (and Tarn told us himself!) his past life really didn't matter. It's also a variation on the heroes of other stories theme that's been a recurring one throughout MTMTE, the one where two characters we don't know got a eulogy post Overlord and two other fellows sorted the Personality Ticks before Nightbeat. This is the villainous variant.
I'm sorry, no, it's not "excellent". Tarn's identity has been built up as a mystery for four years' worth of stories, almost fifty issues. It's quite possibly the biggest mystery in the whole series, and certainly the biggest one left after Roberts bungled the reveal of who sent the message in issue #1. Whether he turns out to be one of the obvious choices (Roller or Dominus) or someone else, it should make sense. Once the reader finds out who he is, it should be an "aha!" moment as all the puzzle pieces snap together.

But here there's no "aha!" because there's no puzzle pieces, because the whole thing is turned into a cruel joke on people like Knightdramon who've spent countless hours speculating on the character's identity. If Tarn had only debuted for this arc that'd be one thing, but this is right up there with the anticlimactic reveal that the Hobgoblin's secret identity is...actually some guy who died months ago in an unrelated one-shot crossover with Wolverine.

I kind of wonder if Tarn was always meant to be Glitch, or if Roberts had originally conceived of him as Roller or Dominus but changed course once the fandom started to figure it out, just to make it a "surprise".

Originally Posted by inflatable dalek View Post
Whilst I agree with you that has been a problem, most recently with Cyclonus when Tailgate went odd, I don't think that applies here does it. Allowing for the fact the Megatron cliffhanger was very obviously meant to make you think "So who's really shooting?" rather than "OGM MEGS IS DEAD!" (and of course, the actual reveal did subvert that expectation of it being someone running to the rescue) I don't think there was a single "HE'S DEAD!...ohhh...wait he's not" moment. Lots of "Are they going to die???!" moments but nothing where you think the axe has actually fallen.
Fair enough. But once the "whatever, Roberts won't kill anyone important" thought is in people's heads, and has been hammered in so thoroughly (the Cyclonus incident you mentioned being especially egregious...absolutely nobody thought he was dead and he hasn't had more than a couple lines since then), it creeps in on everything. In the hands of a different writer this arc would have been super-tense, but since it's Roberts people have been laughing all throughout about how the 20 Autobots are obviously going to win and come out unscathed. It really guts a story of drama when you know that a writer has a history of putting characters in deadly situations and not following through.

And there's nothing wrong with not wanting to kill off your characters. But once the readers know that a writer doesn't want to kill of his characters, he needs to find alternate sources of drama instead of going back to the old "the cast is in deadly danger but not really!" well.

Originally Posted by Patapsco View Post
If you have to go back through a Wiki article and over a dozen back issues to read the current arc and have it make sense, that either requires the reader to have amazing attention to EVERY SINGLE DETAIL or it's bad writing.
Agreed. So often with Roberts' stories people will talk about how plot twist X was hinted at two years ago, or that a throwaway line in issue Y totally foreshadowed what happened in issue Y+15. But that's not how a monthly comic is supposed to work! We read this stuff ages ago, most of us aren't going to remember and if the writing doesn't make it feel natural in the moment, it's going to feel cheap to a lot of readers. And yes, this run will read a lot better in trades. Most of Roberts' issues do. But if the stories are meant to be read in one sitting, bite the bullet and publish them as graphic novels. Don't part them out into bite-sized chunks that don't stand up on their own merits. I know that's an issue with comics in general nowadays rather than just MTMTE, but it's still an issue.

Roberts cut his teeth by writing a novel, and while he's a better writer now his basic style isn't super different now than when he penned Eugenesis. But a novel isn't a comic, and you can't write one while in the mindset of the other. I hate to get all Alan Moore on you, but when it comes to telling a story, the medium you choose is just as important as the words you use and some stories just don't work in a given medium. With Roberts, sometimes it really does feel like he's got a big doorstopper of a prose story in his head that circumstances are forcing him to present in a way that just doesn't do the story any favours at all.

Maybe it's just because I've spent a lot of time reading (really good) comics this year, but seeing what a more experienced hand can do with the medium really throws into stark relief just how many holes Roberts has in his game. Looking at Claremont's X-Men run or, hell, even Furman's 80s UK work, I see writers telling complicated, long-running stories with just as many callbacks and references and hints dropped as Roberts does...but they never, ever leave me feeling lost the way MTMTE has been known to. Even when I drop into random parts of the timeline or only read one part of a bigger crossover, they make sure I know everything I need to understand what's going on in whatever issue I'm reading. And that's something that Roberts, who seems to be increasingly writing with an eye to the big picture rather than the individual issues, has really lost sight of.

A lot of the things that I'm calling out as asspulls would probably work a lot better in a big graphic novel, or a prose book. But when the story is spread out into small bites over half a year, you need to tell it differently in order to make it work.
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