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Old 2016-07-28, 08:09 PM   #35
inflatable dalek
Duke of Kidderminster
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Kidderminster UK

Originally Posted by Warcry View Post
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?
Megatron must be an outlier/1% as well though surely? And a powerful one considering his variety of gimmicks like black hole and space bridge powers. I think Magnus or Tailgate post power boost would have been able to use the forcefield as well (and if you want to be grizzly, it's the hand that has the special ability, Megatron's presumably just powering it).

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.
You mean like the major modifications the issue specifically mentions he underwent under Shockwave that made the entire thing possible?

I'd certainly agree that--in exactly the same was it's an issue the couple of times he tried to do it in Marvel--it's not an especially realistic use of anti-matter though and as always I wish it was just something made up rather than an attempt to use real science oddly.

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.
A major part of the set up in the first part of the story becomes a major part of the resolution in the end... I'm really not sure what the issue is there. Should they have brought it up every issue just to make sure? It should have been perfectly possible to work it out in advance, I guess just like the characters I was just focusing too much on the other stuff beforehand.

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.
And plenty of people who were playing the game guessed the twist would be it that Tarn would just be Tarn and his past identity didn't matter (really, once he firmly wasn't Dominus that pretty much had to be the case if you weren't going with Roller, I'm just glad my Sentinel Prime paranoia turned out to be wrong), it's certainly played fair on that score. It was never the resolution I was worried about, just how it would stop being an anti-climax.

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".
I wouldn't be surprised if when Tarn was created it was never meant to be much of a thing, but it certainly all seems to have been in place by Elegant Chaos (showing Glitch has started to repair the damage done to him, beginning with more normal hands. And who is the other guy in the panel where Optimus is telling Roller he should read Megatron?).

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.
But that's backtracking on the complaint you were making, which was that things hadn't been set up at all. Now it's not set up recently or promonently enough. Which considering that includes the aforementioned distress inducing call that was promonently set up front and centre within this story that seems somewhat unfair.

And I didn't need the wiki for most of it (clarifying issue numbers mainly), I had no trouble going "Oh yeah, Megatron was alone with Trailbreaker's body!" or "Ahhh, the black hole thing!", or even remembering the basics of who Glitch was (The other new guy from Prime's cell right? Best go have a flick through the trades..."). Not everything for sure, but enough to get the sense of the whole thing very carefully playing off all sorts of details.

And as I said, this is unhelpful to new readers to be sure, that would be a fair complaint. But it is intended to be the payoff to four years worth of stories, heavily relying on that past shouldn't be that surprising.

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.
I actually think Roberts is more of a frustrated TV writer than a book one and it does sometimes show, what this actually reminds me of (and it's a show I've made an analogy to two months in a row!) is the season 5 final of Buffy, where it turns out various otherwise unimportant things they've collected throughout the season turn out to be very helpful in defeating the God they've got as the Big Bad that year. I'm now imagining you sitting there going "That thunder god's hammer hasn't been mentioned in ten episodes! And they don't even properly explain where it came from beyond "Hey, remember this Plot Device? Let's use it!" Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedon!".

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.
Though Furman and Claremont were both working in an era where there were no (or very few) reprints and you couldn't write a comic on the assumption that everyone has read it or can go back and check anything. Hence lots of very awkward but understandable "As you well know" dialogue.

Or to go with the TV analogy again, before DVD took off shows with big massive story arcs that depended on viewers really paying attention were reletively rare, especially on American TV where the "Show it in any order" post-cancellation syndication market. The ability to collect shows in boxsets--and now to stream them on dedicated binge watching networks like Netflix--changed that. Being reasonably sure a large part of your audience has been following from the start even if they only just started watching/reading changes the stories you can tell.

Now, I don't profess to be an expert on modern comics, I read a reasonable amount but as I have little interest in the Big Crossovers I tend to avoid them. So I can't comment on how they handle things, but I'd be amazed if they still do it the Furman way and don't place a lot more trust in the readers to have kept up (though obviously there's a difference between how an issue of Batman references something that happened in an issue of Superman that isn't guaranteed to have been read by the same people even in a crossover than there is in Batman referencing something that happened in his own book four months ago).

Because I was interested in how many people seemed to think there had been no set up for these things and because I thought my post had a good attempt at addressing some of the issues I actually shared it on twitter, and Roberts actually left some thoughts of his own on it 9as, to be fair, did people who agreed with some of the things Warcry said), I thought I'd share here as well for some from the horses mouth stuff (though anyone who feels that most of this being planned out rather than being desperately improvised at the last second would make it a poorer story will be disappointed/vindicated):
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