Wow. I think my ancient HP could have done better. Seriously, I wonder why Titan managed to get decent scans (more or less) from old comics, but something from a fairly recent comic has turned out...kinda crappy.
Two weeks after Hachette dispatched 5 and 6 (and a week after the subscribers not having multiple problems had gotten theirs) I still haven't gotten mine.
Sadly, because it's not fair on the people who man the phones who are just doing their job (albeit badly so far), I discovered today the best way of getting anywhere with with them on issues like this is to be a complete and utter dick.
This was after two attempts to get through to the correct number (not the one they tell you to ring on the your subscription page on the website) which wasted ten minutes of my life as they just hung up after leaving me on hold.
So I called the number on the website instead. And this is roughly what followed (and yes, there is some twattishness on my part here):
Hachette Man 1: Oh, I'm sorry, this is the wrong number for the Transformers Partwork, you'll need to call...
Me: No. This is the number on the website, You are going to help me with this.
HM1: This number being on there is a mistake I'm afraid, I could have them call you back?
Me: It's a mistake that's been on there for months, if you were aware of it, you should have fixed it by now. And the last time you said you were going to get someone to call me back they never did. You will sort this issue out now or I will have to insist on cancelling my subscription. Is there a manager there I can speak to?
HM1: They won't be able to help you either...
Me: I don't care, I would like to complain about the appalling customer service to a manager.
HM1: I'll transfer you directly to someone who will be able to deal with your problem.
Me: Oh, you can actually do that from this number can you? Great.
Hachette Man 2: (After I briefly explained the situation) Well, issues 5 and 6 were dispatched on the 24th of February, but you need to allow 14 working days for delivery so you need to wait until the 16th before we will do anything.
Me: Not good enough, the majority of subscribers got theirs last week and this is part of a ridiculous number of problems I have had with this service. Read me the address you sent it to.
*They read out the wrong address*
That is not the right address! I have on at least three prior occasions attempted to get you to correct that mistake (which wasn't mine incidentally, the original confirmation email from last year shows I gave you the right one). Without the flat number or flat block on it Royal Mail have to take a guess at where on a street with two flat blocks with over 60 flats each in they should deliver it to. That's why it's gone missing. It's a miracle this didn't happen with the previous mis-labbled packages.
HM2: Well we still can't do anything until the 16th.
Me: You will do something now or not only will I cancel my subscription immediately, I will also use my position as a podcaster and blogger to share these experiences with your key audience.
HM2: Replacements order placed, it'll be sent recorded delivery to the right address. It'll take about a week, should definitely be with you by the 20th.
Me: It had better be. I do hope I don't need to call again. Goodbye.
I mean, really I was a complete areshole there, but it got the job done. I would recommend to anyone else having to call them to go "I will cancel my subscription now" and "I will blog about this" (or anything like that, a friend on Facebook told me he only got anywhere with BT when he said he edited a magazine, without mentioning it was a magazine that did nothing but adverts for tractors, but they went instantly from beligerant to rimming him over the phone) any time they run into difficulty. They had no way of knowing if I was really a blogger (nor of the, let's be honest, meagre reach I have as one) so it's a tactic anyone can use.
Just a shame they're not interested in helping customers who aren't threatening to cancel or give them bad PR.
Well, the replacement 5 and 6 arrived yesterday. With the name of the flat block on them now, but still no flat number. As the post woman told my mother, it's only because I had other mail that day giving her a clue it got delivered.
They also didn't include the free gift.
Then today, the original 5 and 6 turned up. In a box very battered after three weeks floating around a post office sorting room as they tried to work out what to do with it.
Still, at least I now have the free gift! Though it's a bit bashed around the edges. I know a lot of people have been apathetic towards this ("What is a tin plate anyway? Why that cover?"), but it tickles my sense of the absurd so it actually appeals to me.
So, read through 5 and 6 weeks after everyone else:
War Within, stood up better and for longer than I expected. The flashforwards were where it used to go off the rails for me as they felt needlessly limiting to future stories. Dreamwave not having a future makes that moot now, and they're a harmless enough diversion. Though nothing in them really seems as dangerous for Megatron to know as Prime seems to think. Megatron's convinient amnesia is still a balls suckingly bad way to end the series though.
It's also of course hugely influential, not just for making Cybertronian redesigns a much bigger thing than they'd ever been in the cartoon/Marvel, but for bringing the State Games idea out of its origin in a relatively obscure (though great!) Annual story and ensuing it got taken up by pretty much every subsequent continuity to bother giving a backstory to the Decepticons.
Though in terms of how others have run with it, what really stands out is how straightforward Furman's reasons for the start of the war are. Megatron literally wants to turn Cybertron into a War World. And that is it. Even Eric Holmes (in a story originally intended for Dreamwave!) found meatier material to play with than that.
That's not a complaint as such, as with one of the few redeeming features of ReGeneration One it's occasionally nice to have a straightforward "I'm Mad Me" Megatron, but the core idea Furman reintroduces here has been built up on a lot more by other authors since.
Escalation is for me still the best of Furman's IDW run. Every problem I could have with it are the results of subsequent stories dropping the ball badly rather than anything directly wrong with it. It rattles along, has lots of nice character moments (Furman's character work for IDW only tends to get talked about when he had a different take on them, the fact that for a lot of guys he sensibly just took his Marvel take on them and streamlined it a bit tends to get overlooked despite being very successful) and a genuine growing sense of tension and drama.
All of which would be quickly pissed down the drain (the fairly redundant to a series with a lot of plots in the air silly looking Reapers showing up being a bad omen of things to come), but as a story itself it's impossible to have any complaints. Great stuff.
Spotlight Sixshot is still pretty awful and confused (a guy who we're told can destroy entire planets by himself is impressed by a group of six that can do the same?), though the Terrorcons as fanboys with a try-to-hard-name is fantastic and it's such a shame subsequent authors ignored this.
Spotlight Magnus is workmanlike, but generally good fun and actually unintentionally sets up Magnus falling into step with Megatron so quickly on MTMTE as he was already a neutral soldier who liaised with Decepticon authorities anyway.
I decided in the end to cancel - this series just isn't for me, I think. I have 80% of this stuff already, and War Within didn't exactly sell the Dreamwave era to me. The behind-the-scenes stuff is mostly puff pieces, the reproduction isn't great (it's Skids, not Skips, dammit!!!), stories are out of order, and the decision to go with dotty colouring for the b/w stuff is baffling.
I'd been trying for a while to invent reasons to keep subscribing, but it the end it seems I'm obviously not fanboi enough to slog through this set. Hope you continue to enjoy it, people!
Transform And Roll-Out
The Unofficial And Unauthorised Guide To The Transformers (1984-92)
Coming 2017 from Telos Publishing
I can't blame you Ryan F, though I'm still liking the idea of the series enough to carry on.
Oh, the idea of it is great, and I do so love a nice partwork (I also subscribe to the Hachette Doctor Who making-of series and the Doctor Who figurine collection), but for the price of it, and considering most of the stories are double, triple or quadruple dips for me, it's not really the necessity I thought it'd be.
I felt like I was subscribing for all the wrong reasons, y'know... I was getting it, not because I liked it or needed it, but simply because it existed, and that's no good reason for buying anything, if you know what I mean.
Transform And Roll-Out
The Unofficial And Unauthorised Guide To The Transformers (1984-92)
Coming 2017 from Telos Publishing
Wanted : Galvatron & Hearts Of Steel turned up today. I don't know if its the smaller format, but the whole volcano arc felt very loooong.
Hearts of Steel. I was quite enjoying it until it just ...kind of ends with the bad guys falling off a cliff. Reading the interview with Ryall, I'm kind of glad there were no other 'evolutions' series, as I have the feeling we'd just get endless variants on the Transformers wake up in different historical eras as nauseum. I'd be interested to see what oddness Ted McKeever came up with before Ryall decided he wasn't suitable. I'd have been up something imaginative and different.
Well I've definitely gotten what I've paid for with this free mug.
Blurry one-colour printing, dents and dings around the outside and about half a dozen massive lumps in the bottom inside it. Something tells me the finish wasn't quite dry when, hey check me out pretending I know anything about the practicalities of mug making. Seriously though, it's not good.
Looks like everyone had problems with the cup (if they had any sense, they'd have put Kup on it) except me.
Mine turned up... with the postwoman now having put up enough with this shit to know straight away which building and flat it needed to go to even though the address was still wrong.
I'd recommend folk check their addresses on the "My Subscription" page of the website, apparently a lot of folk have had theirs change in the last week or so to remove details (mine lost most of my name alongside the other issues).
I would, except through the magic of wizardry at Hachette, my subscription number isn't recognised when I try and do online stuff. Because why would that be useful? So I gave up with that shizzle. I got the piece of metal with my last lot, so I'll be looking forward to a wonky mug with my next delivery
After finding the story a real drag when I did it at a weekly rate for the blog, I was wondering if hitting it all in one go again would help it read better.
Not really, it just hit how repetitive the whole thing is (run up and down that volcano guys, it's good exercise). Nice first issue, good Death's Head (though objectively he gets a lot of focus in that first two parter compared to what he actually contributes) and some very nice Geoff Senior art--though the first Galvatron/Magnus fight looks very washed out in my copy, though less like a general printing fault and more the ink in the printer was starting to run out--but a very bloated arc. Even if Furman writing an extended love letter to A View to a Kill is actually very funny in and of itself (though the empty headed blond geologist didn't have to be carried over so closely!).
King of the Hill is actually probably my favourite thing in the book. It's silly as hell, but Trypticon is brilliant and most of the jokes actually hit home for once. It's only knowing how badly Grimlock's storyline goes afterwards that really counts against it, and that's not really the fault of that issue.
Mechanical Difficulties gives cancer to kittens though.
In terms of presentation... sigh. I really wish that Furman hadn't made a thing of presenting the Marvel series in proper order. Whatever spacing excuses were used for things like Cold Comfort and Joy, there is literally no reason King of the Hill couldn't have been put in its proper place before Wanted... when they're both in the same book. Boo.
Also it's a shame that as well as not reprinting it, none of the background material is going to mention G2 (and come to that, the Joe crossover doesn't warrant a line despite replacing that being a key part of the Volcao story's purpose)even when it obviously should. Yes, there was Another Time and Place and then ReGeneration One and there was not another popular Marvel continuation inbetween the two at any point: [a href="https://twitter.com/InflatableDalek/status/851486414986289152"][twitter url="https://twitter.com/InflatableDalek/status/851486414986289152"]
It also makes Another Time and Place sound like a placeholder for fans until Reg came along and was joyfully embraced by all of them as well.
Oh, and I guess that's confirmation only the "Key" Annual stories will be reprinted.