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Old 2013-12-31, 03:48 PM   #21
Knightdramon
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Much silliness has occurred in the past few days.

Mostly because frankenstein poll bot had to be shoehorned into IDW's universe and get a comic dedicated to it. And hey, that bot turned out to be a female.

For once, for just this once, I'm siding with Furman. Lots of uncalled atttaks and criticism on his work, even if his way of defending himself comes off a bit weird.

And yes, it would exhume a lot more confidence if the new writer wouldn't come out and say that basically what Furman did sucks. Would it be so hard to say "hey, we've got something new coming up on that" and leave it at that?

Was never a fan of her writing thus far, and the Prime dinobot comics are just a big YAWN from me, but I'm giving her a chance to see what she can cook up.

This is what happens when hasbro realizes something is selling well and wants to tie in toys to it! THOSE BASTARDS
 
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Old 2013-12-31, 04:00 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Knightdramon View Post
Was never a fan of her writing thus far, and the Prime dinobot comics are just a big YAWN from me, but I'm giving her a chance to see what she can cook up.
Interesting, I've not read them myself but I was under the impression that Beast Hunters was pretty much well liked by everyone who had jumped into it, you contrary fellow you

The main thing I'm keen on is the encouragement of new (to that iteration of the franchise) writers on the main G1 books, it helps keep things fresh and gives more of a chance of finding the next James Roberts/weeding out the next Mike Costa whilst more established hands steer the big stuff.

Of course, with a poisoned challis like this (even beyond the gender thing), any writer may be doomed.
 
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Old 2013-12-31, 04:21 PM   #23
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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.
Others have pointed this out, including the man himself, but he's been pointedly sanguine on much more obvious slights. It doesn't look good that this is his breaking point.

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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.
Ah, had that wrong then. I'd assumed the American voice talking about RID was Barber but that must have been Griffith. I have heard Barber's voice before and of course it is nothing like Griffith's.

It's interesting too in how Roberts ends the conversation with a mention of Windblade. I get the impression that he's been in the loop on this for a good while.

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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.
He does talk about the criticism it drew at the time. I can't remember what everybody said about it when it was new but I can imagine it would have fallen more neatly into the 'it's not G1' complaints he's saying it attracts now. The conversation surrounding gender and representation in American comics has developed considerably since then and that is what he seems to be painfully unaware of. I guess it is not in his job description to wander about Tumblr taking in the sights and sounds but there are enough clues on Scott's own blog to point to the context he's missed.

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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
Yeah, I do think that is a misstep and I do agree with Furman about comics being without an audio track. Still, you can't blame the reader for associating Jazz with Jazz when there's nothing in the text to tell them otherwise.

A female-voiced Jazz would be pretty cool, actually. I've been thinking about Jazz a lot this week. That 'Communications' function he has sometimes is a real treasure trove of things to think about when a bunch of aliens go about assimilating a worldwide culture well enough to be able to talk to any inhabitant of that world in way they'd understand. Infiltration had him carrying boxes around as part of his duty. You'd think he'd spend days chatting to Verity & co out of professional interest if nothing else.

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Knightdramon: For once, for just this once, I'm siding with Furman. Lots of uncalled atttaks and criticism on his work, even if his way of defending himself comes off a bit weird.
I'm not sure Scott was attacking him though. There was plenty of grumbling from internet denizens like us but that shouldn't matter.

But at the end of the day I suppose his only real crime is being out of touch and somewhat clueless on a specific matter. No need for a witch-hunt but it is disappointing.

Re: The Beast Hunters comic - I've read most of it and it's decent but unremarkable. The most interesting thing about it is how much it reads like an episode of a television show. The series pacing is equivalent, I estimate, to one and a half-episodes of a TV show so does feel kind of undercooked as a comic.

I'm all for Scott working in the non-Prime universe. She's got a good ear for characters and a no-nonsense approach to plotting that are both sorely needed over there.
 
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Old 2013-12-31, 07:08 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Terome View Post
I guess none of that showed up in Furman's Google Alerts?
IIRC he was the other side of the room and the PA was pretty damn loud.

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Originally Posted by dalek
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
From memory, the character doesn't undergo a change of sex or gender so much as gets forcibly reprogrammed with what an evil lunatic's idea of a female organic might be like.

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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
Could imagine Vivica Fox working well. Jazz has a firmer association with human race than gender -- although that's all it is, an association. The character is a really, really old alien robot that turns into things.

Whirl's a cartoon girl with an eyepatch, FFS.
 

Last edited by Denyer; 2013-12-31 at 09:38 PM. Reason: me type gudder
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Old 2013-12-31, 08:34 PM   #25
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Speaking of the holomatter avatars, Furman was quite happy to give Sunstreaker and Bumblebee female-based ones, so it's clear that in some way he really does believe in his notion of 'genderless' robots. However, as has been said, he seems unaware of how the conversation in comics regarding gender (and representation in general) has moved on and how his views and writing might be perceived, whatever his good intentions.
 
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Old 2013-12-31, 09:33 PM   #26
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Mmm. [more crossposting from FB] Boils down to it's a good idea if, as a middle-aged middle-class white bloke you're writing and don't want assumptions of ignorance, it's a good idea to not write to stereotypes of what an ignorant middle-aged middle-class white bloke would might put together. Not making a token "female" character a psycho hose beast is a start. Although http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/s...-2013060570924 still holds. [/xposting]

Looking back over the Spotlight, rather than relying on half-memory, it wasn't doing badly until the "you don't even know you're doing it" and CNA bits. There's absolutely no reason Arcee would have what's effectively a reality distortion field that prompts other characters, in-universe, to use a particular pronoun.
 
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Old 2014-01-01, 03:21 AM   #27
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I will respond to Terome more carefully when I'm more sober (look out for it in 2015), but the mention of holomatter avatars shows up the perfect example of something that made perfect sense in theory but where the execution fell arse over tit.

Now, I'm not saying the fault here had anything to do with Furman (as I doubt he was dictating what sort of speech bubbles should be used), it's just a fine example of a team not quite in synch failing to execute something properly.

By which I mean... All the Transformers in the early IDW stuff had special Transformer speech bubbles, which as a storytelling device is presumably supposed to suggest they have special Transformer-ey voices that are different from humans.

Except... the Holo avatars had the Transformer speech bubbles when they spoke as well, implying that the Transformer was just using their normal ("Human English speaking", natch) voice through the avatar. Which means that, just going by the visual storytelling, not only were Sunstreaker and Bumblebee using "Female" voices normally, but Verity and Hunter were really slightly dim in not noticing something really odd about the way the ambulance driver spoke.

And that's a great example of unintended consequences as Furman clearly didn't intend for Sunstreaker and Bumblebee's avatars to mean anything at all else he wouldn't have been so firm subsequently about the no girls thing, so any significance the person doing the speech bubbles intended by their use... was retconed by Spotlight Arcee. Likely without the author even realising he'd done it.

Mind you, and I fully credit Spengs for pointing this out when it whizzed over my head at the time, Infiltration also has the really weird storytelling device where Hunter introduces himself to Verity... and then tells her how to pronounce his surname. Despite having just said it to her. So either he deliberately pronounced it wrong (which seems odd for someone who has a bugbear about his surname) or he knows he's in a comic and that the other characters can only read what he's saying rather than hear it.

That last idea sounds wonderfully meta, but it's worryingly more like the writer with two decades experience (at that point) found the whole speech bubble idea slightly confusing.

[Lets not even get into the Autobots and Decepticons having different coloured speech bubbles in the early stuff (though I think the Devil's Due Joe crossovers did that first?), was that a lot of effort to signify nothing, or was someone really trying to suggest that whether or not you were a villain depended on the tone of your voice?]
 
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Old 2014-01-01, 01:24 PM   #28
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Might as well read entrails as read into IDW's ability to keep layout decisions clear...
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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek View Post
Furman clearly didn't intend for Sunstreaker and Bumblebee's avatars to mean anything at all else he wouldn't have been so firm subsequently about the no girls thing,
It's a "no girls" and "no boys" thing -- and the avatars do emphasise something specific... that robots don't have much use for sex or gender, except insofar as looking or sounding a particular way can help to interact with (mostly squishy) aliens that do have them.

Cybertronians translating whatever pronoun(s) they use amongst themselves into the "he" of other languages doesn't stretch to them regarding themselves as being analogous to organics in specific other ways.

Although there's room for some extrapolation there -- it tends not to be male organics that play a significant role in the creation of new squishies (if only because in species with dual sexes the ones that carry/lay young get referenced by term A rather than term B) and Cybertronians have the matrix / spark field background, so most might view female organics as more or differently alien to male organics.
 
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Old 2014-01-02, 04:01 PM   #29
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It's all a bit silly in my opinion.

The arcee spotlight was an interesting enough take on the idea. Not perfect but I never saw it as something offensive. If you wander down the road of robot gender than it kinda makes a mess of Roberts relationships angle for Domey and Rewind. If i was doing it, I would have female, male and animal shapes for the cybertronians as something they have adapted from other cultures but have it as no real indication of gender, merely another part of the robots personality.

If you start mixing gender in then where do the animals fit in? And if they can be anything why stop at 2 genders - give them five!

As I see it, it should really be just shapes as an extension of the characters personality. Male shape, female shape, rat bat shape - just another aspect.
 
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Old 2014-01-02, 08:55 PM   #30
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Furman claims* to have sorted out the bumps with Scott now, who'd have thought actually talking to people would be the solution to problems rather than taking pot shots at them over the internet?

Rather sweetly, Furman is either unable or doesn't know how to disable comments on his blog as he's had to keep asking people not to put new posts now he regards it as all sorted (though considering the tone of the original blog complaining about people being rude is a but much IMHO).

Interesting there's no qualification beyond them having spoken, no "I now understand what she was trying to say" or "She's apologised for any offence caused", makes it sound as if he (if not both of them) is still basically thinking the same but has had enough of all the fuss.









*I'm going to take this at face value rather than being all cyncial and thinking someone at IDW had a word about the chances of future work...
 
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Old 2014-01-03, 04:34 PM   #31
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Furman has always had zero respect for the idea of female robots -- his origin for Arcee in the old UK comics was if anything, even more offensive than the IDW one. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that his writing shows very little respect for women in general. Whether that's down to cutting his teeth as a comic writer in the 80s when the audience was mostly young buys who thought girls had cooties and teenage boys who were eager to objectify them or genuine misogyny on his part, who knows? But while it might not have made waves in the 80s it's certainly got no place in comics in 2014, when a large and growing chunk of the audience are adult women who are understandably put off by that crap.

So I imagine he's more interested in smoothing over troubled waters with IDW than actually apologizing.

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Originally Posted by Red Dave Prime View Post
If you start mixing gender in then where do the animals fit in? And if they can be anything why stop at 2 genders - give them five!

As I see it, it should really be just shapes as an extension of the characters personality. Male shape, female shape, rat bat shape - just another aspect.
See, I've always figured that Transformers only had a concept of gender tangentially, due to the other races that they deal with. If Arcee looks female to humans and they want to call her "she", why not? And if a random group of aliens on some other planet figure that she looks male and, say, Prowl or Jazz look female, again, who really cares? It's indicative of a major biological trait to us but to them, it's just a quirk of alien language -- all Transformers (in fact, all life forms) would be an "it" in their native language, not a he or she.

Actually, if Transformers were to place as much importance on any aspect of their biology as we do on sex/gender, I think it would be their alt modes. Transforming is the most recognizable trait of the race and one that they all share, and (via Beast Wars) we know that a Transformers' alternate mode influences the way they perceive the world around them. So Arcee wouldn't "defined" in Cybertronian terms as a girl, she'd be defined as a car (or motorcycle in modern forms).
 
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Old 2014-01-03, 05:44 PM   #32
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Hey, Furman can too write good women characters! They carry guns sometimes and kick arse! Alright, so they tend to be men with tits but still.

Ladies' Night, Prime's Rib, Spotlight Arcee, Space Pirates, Verity... All very much the work of a middle-aged male trying to write women for boys.

EDIT: The "hey, this girl can handle herself almost as well as a chap in a situation, doesn't this surprise you?" thing is actually a bit of a trope in his writing.
 
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Old 2014-01-03, 07:15 PM   #33
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Hey, Furman can too write good women characters! They carry guns sometimes and kick arse! Alright, so they tend to be men with tits but still.
That's where he's going wrong -- they should be able to control electricity.

Have always felt it's somewhat biased in itself to regard, eg, female characters with interests in grain alcohol, ultra-violence and gaudy t-shirts, etc. as blokes. Because TBH that describes most gigs I've been to. (Also, my FB feed currently includes this with a comment from someone else "Thank **** for that, maybe now people will stop calling me at all hours to ask me to go brand their breakfasts with my red-hot snatch...")

Usually just means someone doesn't like a male writer's female characters.

Not disagreeing that Prime's Rib is a one-note stereotype gag, incidentally...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warcry
if Transformers were to place as much importance on any aspect of their biology as we do on sex/gender, I think it would be their alt modes. Transforming is the most recognizable trait of the race and one that they all share, and (via Beast Wars) we know that a Transformers' alternate mode influences the way they perceive the world around them. So Arcee wouldn't "defined" in Cybertronian terms as a girl, she'd be defined as a car
Yup.
 
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Old 2014-01-03, 09:05 PM   #34
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In one of the early comics a panel had a subnote that said 'loosely translated from Cybertronian'. Since then I've taken the very bland interpretation of robots referring to each other as 'he' simply to be part of that loose translation/simplification,that makes it easier to read for us young humans what buy comics and that.

If Transformers were talking amongst themselves then I'd infer they were talking common Cybertronian, and it was translated for us on the page and using our human naming/sexing quirks. If Buster or whoever was around then they'd switch to English, also observing our naming quirks and whatnot.

So when I read Transformers comics I read them like I was watching alien characters with a babel fish in my ear. If they said "He", that was just the best translation that worked for my brain that was familiar with the two-sex thing.

Also, girl robots wouldn't see the point of fighting. They'd be knitting.
 
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Old 2014-01-03, 09:11 PM   #35
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That last comment was to underline the fact the whole conceit of Transformers is an absolute joke from the outset. It doesn't mean we can't have lots of fun from a flawed concept, which we do!
 
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Old 2014-01-03, 09:41 PM   #36
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Certainly in Spotlight Arcee none of the cast are speaking English (most of them have never been to Earth for a start...), so it "Cybertronian" being translated for our benefit. Which makes all the fuss about the use of pronouns even sillier as they presumably have one particular "Genderless" pronoun to use for themselves...
 
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Old 2014-01-04, 01:36 PM   #37
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I've never been a fan of Arcee. To me, robots are robots and there's no sex issue, so no need for a pink feminine proportioned robot. But I can understand the love issue existing between Transformers no problem (which I think is handled so well by Chromedome/Rewind, Blaster/Scrounge and Blaster/Goldbug, and um... yeah).

... What if Blaster has a natural predilection for yellow Transformers? I'd be fine with that. People have reasons for liking what they like, at least you can make a story out of that. Maybe when he first came on-line he saw a yellow robot being beaten and he's had strong paternal feeling towards yellow robots since?

See that's what I find offensive about Transformers. You spend all this time reading the comics, all these years and you still don't have much idea of who really likes hanging out with who.

Who does Seaspray like to spend his time with? Do they celebrate occasions/rememberances together? Do Hound and Sandstorm have a strong rivalry? Do Autobots and Decepticons chat occasionally? Why don't we see these things? A small contingent of Autobots faced off against Galvatron to get Jazz back in Target: 2006. However, was Bluestreak in the back saying;

"You know what? Stuff Jazz, he's a tosser. I'm going to Disneyland".

Tech specs began to mould personalities of these robots and it more or less stopped there. With occasional standout performances e.g. Blaster in The Smelting Pool saga.

And you know what else I find a far more serious concern than Arcee? Character lobotomies. Blaster went from being a stellar character in those stories, got slightly distilled when he teamed up with Goldbug, and after that his personality was just dropped and he became largely generic. I know the argument for this is the constant release of new toys but this is about logic and consistency. Grimlock going from nails hard Dinobot leader to grunting neanderthal.

Why should someone care if someone lives or dies? Ratchet clearly cared about Prowl in the Mechanic story, which was fine. But I'd like to see Swoop choosing to defend Lightspeed over team member Sludge in a ruck.

I guess this is partly why I like Roberts and the fact he establishes a few legitimate relationships (Cyclonus & Tailgate).

There are so many more pressing issues with Transformers than the need to throw in female robots.
 
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Old 2014-01-04, 04:06 PM   #38
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This is me getting fanciful again but the more I learn about wasps the more I figure that the Decepticons as an organisation would only make sense if gender and reproduction were introduced.

The Decepticons have this weird social darwinist philosophy where they are all expected to struggle and triumph over each other to become the Head Decepticon only this very rarely actually happens. That's quite a lot like how many species of wasps behave - the foundress will be the oldest, the one who does the least work, stays at the hive and who stimulates her subordinates to leave the hive to gather food and defend the young. As she spends the most time at the hive, she can eat any eggs that her subordinates lay and can make sure nobody gets at her own.

Her second-in-command will do almost as little work as her and will constantly be fighting and jostling with her to test her for weakness. If you remove the foundress and put her in a fridge for a week, the second-in-command will start to produce a lot more eggs and act exactly like the foundress. Depending on how long you keep the original foundress in the fridge for, there either be a big fight when you return her to the hive or a meek acquiescence to the old status quo.

Interestingly, the second-in-command does get the occasional egg to hatch under the radar of the foundress. It's a good position to be in!

What I am saying is that I think it would explain a lot if Transformers spontaneously changed gender (or activated their cyber-ovaries) based on social hierarchies and that Megatron was the big mama of the Decepticons and that Starscream and co. were struggling for reproduction rights rather than the satisfaction of giving nebulous marching orders.

I don't know where that would lead the Autobots. Maybe they'd have more distributed reproduction rights or lead a voluntarily monastic lifestyle to avoid innocent youths being involved in the conflict. Or maybe they could act like meerkats and Optimus Prime would murder everybody else's young at birth. Everyone likes meerkats.
 
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Old 2014-01-05, 02:52 AM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Auntie Slag View Post
I've never been a fan of Arcee. To me, robots are robots and there's no sex issue, so no need for a pink feminine proportioned robot. But I can understand the love issue existing between Transformers no problem (which I think is handled so well by Chromedome/Rewind, Blaster/Scrounge and Blaster/Goldbug, and um... yeah).

... What if Blaster has a natural predilection for yellow Transformers? I'd be fine with that. People have reasons for liking what they like, at least you can make a story out of that. Maybe when he first came on-line he saw a yellow robot being beaten and he's had strong paternal feeling towards yellow robots since?

See that's what I find offensive about Transformers. You spend all this time reading the comics, all these years and you still don't have much idea of who really likes hanging out with who.

Who does Seaspray like to spend his time with? Do they celebrate occasions/rememberances together? Do Hound and Sandstorm have a strong rivalry? Do Autobots and Decepticons chat occasionally? Why don't we see these things? A small contingent of Autobots faced off against Galvatron to get Jazz back in Target: 2006. However, was Bluestreak in the back saying;

"You know what? Stuff Jazz, he's a tosser. I'm going to Disneyland".

Tech specs began to mould personalities of these robots and it more or less stopped there. With occasional standout performances e.g. Blaster in The Smelting Pool saga.

And you know what else I find a far more serious concern than Arcee? Character lobotomies. Blaster went from being a stellar character in those stories, got slightly distilled when he teamed up with Goldbug, and after that his personality was just dropped and he became largely generic. I know the argument for this is the constant release of new toys but this is about logic and consistency. Grimlock going from nails hard Dinobot leader to grunting neanderthal.

Why should someone care if someone lives or dies? Ratchet clearly cared about Prowl in the Mechanic story, which was fine. But I'd like to see Swoop choosing to defend Lightspeed over team member Sludge in a ruck.

I guess this is partly why I like Roberts and the fact he establishes a few legitimate relationships (Cyclonus & Tailgate).

There are so many more pressing issues with Transformers than the need to throw in female robots.
As the kids today say, I want to plus-one this so hard.
 
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Old 2014-01-05, 03:01 AM   #40
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To elaborate slightly, we all seem to have realised that when it comes to film and, particularly, television (and comics), we live in character-based times. Back in the bad old days of 2005-2006 Doctor Who fandom this would have been called "soap." Now it's just what drama is.

James is tapping into this so well with MTMTE; we're not just intrigued in the ongoing plots entirely for the plot's sake - no, it's because of what it means for the characters that we've come to love.

Essentially, James is writing Transformers in a similar, character-based vein to what we're seeing all over television drama and this is why his work is digging its claws so deep into people, and even finding fans outside of the traditional places one might usually discover fans of giant transforming robots. It's a fantastic thing, that should be embraced, but I fear there always going to be people that get mortally offended that Ultra Magnus is actually a smaller robot, hiding within the shell of a larger one...
 
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