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Old 2013-12-29, 11:18 AM   #1
Terome
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Default New IDW mini-series: Windblade

So a new comic was announced over Christmas about the winning Frankenstein of a fan poll for a new Classics toy.

http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-...d-more-178984/

This caused some discussion because the toy's character is female:

http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-...-comic-178990/

The writer of the upcoming comic is Mairghread Scott, who has been penning the Prime and Rescue Bots shows for a while now along with that Beast Hunters comic, has issued a formal Q & A and the discussion continues:
http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-...ngoing-178995/

Most of the discussion centres around the old gender-in-Transformers issue. I don't know anyone who is keen to defend the Arcee Spotlight on any grounds and it looks like a torturous and probably unnecessary Barberesque explanation is in the pipeline. It is very much of the zeitgeist as the treatment of female characters in comics is white hot at present. Scott seems to be sensitive to the many touchpoints of the problem.

So maybe we could discuss that. That will almost certainly be better than reading what the average TFW2005 poster has to say.
 
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Old 2013-12-29, 01:55 PM   #2
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Windblade? Thats an awful name. Up there with Windbreaker and Windrazor. Its just too ...windy.

As for female Transformers, I'm all for it. I have absolutely no problems with it. The problem is, we're engrained to think that Transformers are purely robots and should be beyond gender. Yet they all have bodies and characteristics perhaps more closely associated with males, which - whether we like it or not - means there is already an issue of gender implied in Transformers.

Since Beast Wars, (and possibly Generation 2, if you squint) we've been sold the concept of Transformers being a kind of highly evolved technorganic species in which its perfectly sensible to have gender. I think there's only MTMTE thats actually tackled the sorts of relationships Transformers might have on any deep and meaningful level. And thats just resulted in morons mooing about 'Gay Robots'.


Its the way females are portrayed in Transformers that's the clincher. they are pretty much the worst excesses of fiction aimed at boys. Blackarachnia was a femme-fetale, with Arcee and Airazor being forgetable 'good girl' tropes. The Japanese, of course had Arcee cast as little more than a secretary. Prime Arcee has been a triumph, but she's a rare exception. And its probably best not to delve into the awful mess Furman made with Spotlight Arcee. If there was a point where I thought he'd gone totally off the boil, it was with this one issue. Instead of some intelligent writing about gender amongst a bunch of robots, we get 'she's a mad scientist's experiment'. Boo to that.

More widely in comics, females have had something of a rough ride. There might be strong role models out there, but for the longest time, they've been parading around nearly naked. This sort of thing reached its nadir in the 1990s with Image Comics and their jutting boobs and bums. Its been a long road back from that and there are signs that Comicbook writers are getting better at handling women (er,so to speak) with the likes of Kelly Sue DeCommick and Becky Cloonan and Brian Wood writing women convincingly.


I really want John Barber to step the f**k away from Arcee. There's no way on God's Earth he'll make this better.
 
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Old 2013-12-29, 02:24 PM   #3
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Hah, IDW are ****ing terrible.
 
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Old 2013-12-29, 02:25 PM   #4
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Brian Wood is pretty notorious for his handling of women, apparently

I've no problem with the idea of female Transformers; I've always liked the idea of the Transformers as a kind of vampire race - they don't just come to your planet and turn into your cars, planes and animals - they also absorb parts of your culture and society. No reason gender shouldn't be a part of that.

Sadly, with Windblade they seem to have made Starscream's Japanese girlfriend.
 
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Old 2013-12-29, 03:07 PM   #5
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There are two ways I think about this. In-universe, the set-up of Transformers reproducing asexually via their planet farting out sparks once in a blue moon is an idea I am fond of. Arcee being an attempt to 'introduce gender to our species' is a dumb idea that reflects Furman's very dim understanding of how living things work (see also: gene key). Barber seems to have tried to tidy it up a bit by introducing the concept of Nova Prime mucking about with repopulation schemes and Matrix codes and such but there's only so much you can do.

Though really I think Furman had the right approach back in Infiltration where characters like Sunstreaker and Bumblebee had female holo-avatars, presumably that they'd chosen themselves, and this was not in any way remarkable. Only Roberts seems to have remembered this and extended it to say that Whirl and Ultra Magnus also choose to represent themselves as female humans.

Then there's the out-of-universe angle. Barber has had a few problems landed on his desk and I presume from little I know of his character that he quite enjoys solving problems. His first problem is that Hasbro want him to include Starscream's Japanese girlfriend in the comics he edits. His second is that, with the welcome inclusion of more female readers of his comics, the historical approach to gender by those comics and the franchise is in need of revision. The same fanbase that is so enthusiastic about MTMTE is the same that will put him on the wrong side of history if he doesn't listen to them. The third is that the arguments about the inclusion and representation of transgender characters have become more convincing and harder to ignore since Arcee was introduced in the IDW run. The fourth is that he has a compulsion to massage continuity rather than outright change it.

So while I am more interested in the in-universe biology rather than the realities of the market, I understand the need for changes and I do think it is time, culturally, to put that particular house in order. It's a shame that it is this perfect storm that has forced hands as there were at least three perfectly low-effort get-outs set up previously: Transformers pick a gender according to their tastes when associating with organics; a population of NAILS emulated a sexually dimorphic species for a long time; Transformers are natural mimics and change their bodies all the time.

(On that note, I'd like to have Cybertronian modes that weren't the least bit humanoid and for the fashion of tetrapod forms and even specifics like vocal communication to only come in after encountering Earth. But I realise I am a big weirdo in this sense).

Alternatively:
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Hah, IDW are ****ing terrible.

 
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Old 2013-12-29, 06:05 PM   #6
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(On that note, I'd like to have Cybertronian modes that weren't the least bit humanoid and for the fashion of tetrapod forms and even specifics like vocal communication to only come in after encountering Earth. But I realise I am a big weirdo in this sense)
You'd love Martin McVay's "Back to Basic" fanfics, which take the notion of "naturally occurring gears, pulleys and levers" at face value (while still not contradicting the whole Primus business) and shows prehistoric Cybertronians evolving through a variety of strange forms in an ever-changing Cybertronian landscape in no way fit for humanoid, human-esque life. As a writer he was never that enamoured of the idea of 'sparks', preferring instead the Budiansky angle of brain-modules, downloads, and easy cloning, and he really gets to have fun playing with that.

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Hah, IDW are ****ing terrible.
One step forwards (MTMTE; James Roberts in general), two steps backwards (DC, this sort of poorly-realised merchandising).
 
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Old 2013-12-29, 08:36 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
Hah, IDW are ****ing terrible.
The fans are to blame surely if they're the ones who came up with this character?

Of course, as with the Doctor Who Blue Peter stuff this sort of thing can be fun, but Who didn't do a four episode arc entirely focused on the Absorbalof...

With Hasbro obviously having extended more and more influence over the comics over the last two years I wonder how long it'll be before they just cut out the middle man and take the production of them in house as they have with the cartoons?

Still, Scott's work on Beast Hunters seemed to be well received, and someone who's worked on the more kid friendly stuff stands a good chance on not going into the mad transgender bitch stuff.
 
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Old 2013-12-29, 11:42 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
Hah, IDW are ****ing terrible.
Not sure if thats really fair. Compared to what else, dreamwave? The marvel stuff. IDW aren't doing that bad a job of the comics at the moment. They have their big head slap moments but to call the output ****ing terrible shits on some pretty decent stuff over the last 2 years.

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I've no problem with the idea of female Transformers; I've always liked the idea of the Transformers as a kind of vampire race - they don't just come to your planet and turn into your cars, planes and animals - they also absorb parts of your culture and society. No reason gender shouldn't be a part of that.
Yeah, I like that idea too. It works well with them trying to disguise themselves as part of a planets infrastructure.
 
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Old 2013-12-30, 01:17 AM   #9
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Plus, Beast Wars had 'animal instincts' as a core part of each beast mode, as seen in 'Call of the Wild' which is not so dissimilar an idea.
 
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Old 2013-12-30, 04:11 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Death's Head View Post
You'd love Martin McVay's "Back to Basic" fanfics, which take the notion of "naturally occurring gears, pulleys and levers" at face value (while still not contradicting the whole Primus business) and shows prehistoric Cybertronians evolving through a variety of strange forms in an ever-changing Cybertronian landscape in no way fit for humanoid, human-esque life. As a writer he was never that enamoured of the idea of 'sparks', preferring instead the Budiansky angle of brain-modules, downloads, and easy cloning, and he really gets to have fun playing with that.
I vaguely remember that. I must have read it long ago, liked it, then morphed it from a story into an idea I thought I might like. Brains!


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Dalek: The fans are to blame surely if they're the ones who came up with this character?

Of course, as with the Doctor Who Blue Peter stuff this sort of thing can be fun, but Who didn't do a four episode arc entirely focused on the Absorbalof...
I remember that poll and it wasn't ever the option of something nearly as fun or creative as the Absorbalof coming out of it. It was a series of radio buttons where you'd vote for things like an alt-mode, a single adjective for a personality and, I presume, a gender. 'Female warrior swordmaster jet' is probably about as interesting as it could stretch.

I was thinking this morning about Rattrap in Robots In Disguise and how his presence was explained in an odd way. He's supposed to have an alt-mode of an alien rat-monster rather than a rat, which is no fun for the artists who have to draw him I am sure. I'm left if that was a good idea or unnecessarily complicated. There are lots of ways you could have had him on Earth, even for an extended period. That would make more sense in some regards at it would give an opportunity to work in a grudge against Bumblebee or Prowl and to have some knowledge of Starscream. If he'd been an off-the-books spy or saboteur keeping tabs on the Decepticon Infiltration team or possibly keeping tabs on the likes of Ratchet for Prowl then he's a little bit more established from the get-go rather than a guy who shows up out of nowhere.

What I am getting at is that however this Windblade comic turns out, we can probably rely on the solutions to any discrepencies being a bit like Rattrap - they come out of nowhere with no relationship to anything else. In a way that is very traditional for Transformers. In another it is a shame as a year ago it looked as if all that fussing and fiddling was behind it.
 
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Old 2013-12-30, 07:36 PM   #11
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Furman has released a statement in response to Scott's statement, using the statement of a TFW2005 poster:

http://simonfurman.wordpress.com/201...rghread-scott/

Somebody get that man away from the computer.
 
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Old 2013-12-30, 07:58 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Red Dave Prime View Post
Not sure if thats really fair. Compared to what else, dreamwave? The marvel stuff.
Why does it have to be compared to anything in particular? Objectively they have made many many more bad comics than good. What Marvel and Dreamwave can claim in relation to this is neither here nor there.

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IDW aren't doing that bad a job of the comics at the moment. They have their big head slap moments but to call the output ****ing terrible shits on some pretty decent stuff over the last 2 years.
I'm guessing there's been a lot of decent stuff that doesn't involve the MTMTE process of taking an obscure character, making them zany comic relief and waiting for the jizz explosion. Which is odd, as I thought RiD was meant to be awful.

Last Stand of the Wreckers is genuinely great. Some of the Spotlights that weren't just bleed-over from the Furman forevergoing were servicable, if no more groundbreaking than some of Budiansky or Earthforce's better moments. AHM had genuine promise to at least bring Transformers comics back towards action-adventure after years of sub-space opera only to get ankled by IDW's flip-flopping and their pathetic need to keep Transformers' moronic fandom onside. Everything else has been a waste of paper.
 
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Old 2013-12-30, 08:17 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Terome View Post
Furman has released a statement in response to Scott's statement, using the statement of a TFW2005 poster:

http://simonfurman.wordpress.com/201...rghread-scott/

Somebody get that man away from the computer.
Yeah, fair enough him being niffed and wanting right of reply (though to be clear here, I don't think anyone is claiming intentional misogyny or transphobia on his part, it's just a poor story badly told with unfortunate implications as a result) but some of what he's saying there is a bit odd.

I mean, he hates retcons does he? Retcons like the computer program the Creation Matrix being the same thing as the physical bauble The Autobot Matrix of Leadership? Where Optimus Prime got his wound at the start of Arielbots Over America from? That his original body was shot randomly into space rather than fired into the sun?

And that's just off the top of my head and from when he was retconning before there was even a word for it. Not to mention him recently retconning out of existence all the UK and G2 stuff with Regeneration One.

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Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
I'm guessing there's been a lot of decent stuff that doesn't involve the MTMTE process of taking an obscure character, making them zany comic relief and waiting for the jizz explosion. Which is odd, as I thought RiD was meant to be awful.
I thought that, as much as you were at pains to remind us all there was nothing in it that hadn't been done in stories outside of Transformers fiction, you mostly enjoyed what you read of MTMTE?
 
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Old 2013-12-30, 09:41 PM   #14
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It's readable but it's not particularly good. It's HollyOaks with robots.
 
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Old 2013-12-30, 11:17 PM   #15
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Only time to skim, so not sure who the original author was...

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Jazz has been voice by actors from three different races over the years. If, in the next video game, Jazz was voiced by a woman, would you feel the character had been changed at all? If so, you do not perceive Transformers to be asexual. If not, you are a rare, rare bird indeed.
I'd call the alternative batshit insanity. Millions-of-years-old alien robots with a cultural identity predicated on adaptation, and it somehow wouldn't make sense that they pick and choose to mimic whatever culture they're amongst or find interesting?

"Dawn of the Autobots"? Aftermath of Dark Cybertron? Set on Cybertron with Starscream as a major character? Red flags, but if it's a Spotlight/one-shot might pick it up because I'm apparently a glutton for punishment with those. And it's not Barber.

Counting the months until MTMTE hopefully gets back to normal.
 
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Old 2013-12-31, 12:18 AM   #16
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Oh joy, fan created character gets to show up in comics, and they seem to be going the opposite route of Drift this time. Trying to make the character consequential and important instead of basically just there.

And given the basics of the character, couldn't they have just had her show up in MTMTE and explain her away as a member of the Circle of Light who decided to join up?
 
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Old 2013-12-31, 10:19 AM   #17
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And given the basics of the character, couldn't they have just had her show up in MTMTE and explain her away as a member of the Circle of Light who decided to join up?
That would make far, far too much sense.
 
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Old 2013-12-31, 02:41 PM   #18
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Though a former Decepticon (as she'd have to be to have joined the Circle) with a big sword would basically be Drift wouldn't she? They're at least trying not to cover exactly the same ground as their last parachuted in character even if the odds are against them.

On Furman's hatred of retcons... The irony itself is Spotlight: Arcee itself was a retcon of all those fembots hanging about on pre-war Cybertron in Megatron: Origin. So if anything, this new story, as a ret-con of a ret-con goes all the way round infinity to being just a con.

And, without wanting to stick the boot in too much... Does anyone else find the putting of the word "Professional" in inverted commas in Furman's spiel far more dickish than anything Scott said about him? If slagging off your colleagues stops you being professional then Furman's comments over the years about Dan Reed, Will Simpson and The Bloke Who Drew The Human Factor would disqualify him as well.

It doesn't help that he seems to be on the verge of going "I'm not sexist... I've a friend who's a woman. And because I respect women so much I've quoted her wholesale without asking first".
 

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Old 2013-12-31, 03:10 PM   #19
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I thought the Circle people were mostly unaligned? Though all I know about the Drift series comes from your summaries and those golden tablets inscribed with the words that came from a hat. Fair play though - she is very Drifty as it is. There's no need to compound that.

The retcon stuff is all the more embarrassing as Scott has said specifically that they aren't going to do that. I think Barber would rather eat his own fingers than allow an out-and-out 'nuh-uh' to go by.

And yeah, using the inverted commas was a terrible way to start. You don't have to go far to find some things that Scott has written. And, as you say, that Auto Assembly podcast you mentioned elsewhere has Roche, Roberts and Barber being very forthright about the problematic nature of Spotlight: Arcee, their unwillingness to defend it and the interesting challenge of pretending it doesn't exist altogether. I guess none of that showed up in Furman's Google Alerts?

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It doesn't help that he seems to be on the verge of going "I'm not sexist... I've a friend who's a woman".
If jenbot1980 turns out to be Furman's mum then it all may approach meltdown.

I'm trying to think of a way to boil this down to an inspirational poster. Perhaps a kitten hanging from a tree with the words, 'If a bizarre and unloved piece of work you did five years ago becomes emblematic to a culture you don't undersand for the need of a minor shift in tone for a narrow band of fiction, for god's sake don't argue the toss.'
 
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Old 2013-12-31, 03:45 PM   #20
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The retcon stuff is all the more embarrassing as Scott has said specifically that they aren't going to do that. I think Barber would rather eat his own fingers than allow an out-and-out 'nuh-uh' to go by.
Yeah, and whatever side you sit on it, the decision to bring in a new female character wasn't IDW's but forced on them by Hasbro via the fans. Short of having Jhiaxus bring out his big Vagina Excavator (and the panel of that... thing pumped into Arcee's groin was probably the most misjudged thing about the whole comic) once again some sort of work round was going to be needed. Considering Furman's 30 year history with licensed properties you'd think that, even if he didn't like the change, he'd at least be more pragmatic as to why it's being done now.

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And yeah, using the inverted commas was a terrible way to start. You don't have to go far to find some things that Scott has written. And, as you say, that Auto Assembly podcast you mentioned elsewhere has Roche, Roberts and Barber
Though to clarify, Barber isn't there (though the podcast isn't completely clear as the introductions have been cut off), the guests on the panel were Roberts, Roche, Milne (and apologies for one mistake I've made, it's Nick who says "He only drew it!" rather than Alex himself) and Griffith.

Having relistened to it today (and for anyone who hasn't it is worth hearing because both the lady asking the question and Nick Roche- who does most of the talking- in response are more clear headed and sensible on the subject that most people on the internet have been this week) I was surprised how awkward the atmosphere seemed at that point, I don't remember it getting quite that stilted in the room on the day so without the visual mannerisms something may have gotten lost. On audio only it seems as if everyone else goes Very Very Quiet whilst Roche and Roberts vamp desperately (though still intelligently as said).


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I guess none of that showed up in Furman's Google Alerts?
Going by his post he seems to have been completely unaware that the treatment of Arcee was a controversial issue that was widely (though yes, not Universally) disliked as through that and the comments he seems constantly surprised. I don't proclaim to have my finger on the pulse of fandom by any means but I was under the impression most people thought the character and her treatment were terrible.

I mean, I made the point (albeit poorly and briefly) in my review at the time, and if I noticed the unpleasant undertone with my thick head I can't see it being the case everyone else has only just realised.

Lets not forget: Spotlight Arcee is a Transformers comic where a character undergoes an enforced on-panel (complete with big plug in her crotch) sex change against her will and as a result the one and only Transformer who goes by "She" (though the issue never explained that weird bit where all the Autobots have to have it pointed out to them they call her "She" despite not knowing she's a woman...) in all of IDW's fiction to date is a demented psychopath as a result. How can that be read as anything other than fairly horrible in its implications?

I mean, if nothing else, is robot-genital mutilation something we really want from Transformers comics?

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I'm trying to think of a way to boil this down to an inspirational poster. Perhaps a kitten hanging from a tree with the words, 'If a bizarre and unloved piece of work you did five years ago becomes emblematic to a culture you don't undersand for the need of a minor shift in tone for a narrow band of fiction, for god's sake don't argue the toss.'
Yep yep and yep. I get he's annoyed and angry, and considering he's had to put up with IDW having a go at him to sell their current stories in the past (the whole "That Mosaic thing was never canon despite what Furman told you" thing which was basically Schmidt calling him a liar) I can more than sympathise with taking an extreme reaction.

But by responding in haste he's only succeeding in making himself look worse. Scott herself seems to have backed away from the whole thing now (or at least has better things to do than argue with people on the internet over New Year's), hopefully Furman will do the same and can regain some dignity.

I think that pretty much puts the nail in the coffin of any post-contracutal obligation Regeneration One stuff work for Furman at IDW in the future then doesn't it?

Oh, and to be completely fair, I don't think Scott's Jazz analogy works as IDW and Marvel are the main (only?) places where the Transformers are definitely genderless. The rest of the franchise is, at best, nebulous on the subject (the films and Prime have never, to the best of my knowledge, come down on where their ladies come from), whilst some others make having them gendered work (the Beast era, despite big boobies and Strika being the only one not to wind up a girlfriend) and some... are just odd. Like the original cartoon where they all have girlfriends and some of them want to bone humans and mermaids but their origins as manufactured goods should really make them definitely genderless. You'd think the cartoon was written by people who had no clue.

So recasting Jazz with a female actress would be more of a problem as he's never firmly been genderless in any of his on screen appearances. Mind, recasting him in a whole new continuity- no big deal at all. After all, of the two Doctor Watson's on screen at the moment it's the one who isn't Tim From The Office that doesn't completely get on my tits.
 
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