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Old 2016-06-10, 03:05 PM   #1
inflatable dalek
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Smile So What Was Going On With Straxus Megatron Then?

As I've approached that point in my blog, I've got into some good back and forth with various people on twitter about the Straxus clone arse pull that brought up some interesting points, and even though it's a well discussed issue I thought it might be interesting to open the can of worms again like the Straxus clone opened his own skull.

So here's what we know for sure:

Fall and Rise was originally published a month before US 56 came out, or at the point where it must have been written alongside at least the plotting of that issue.

Race With the Devil, starting only a week after Fall finishes, dovetails neatly into the American story and shows Furman was still keen to make everything sync up at this stage.

Fall and Rise clearly has elements designed to lead into Megatron's American return: He's back on Cybertron with a base and resources.

But equally it has aspects that seem to fight against things working together. Megatron acquires a calm serenity that's at odds with his "I'm mad me" behaviour in the American comic; he no longer has lots of troops and the idea everyone thinks he's dead becomes even more improbable after he's given a big rabble rousing speech in an arena packed to the rafters with Decepticons.

And all that's before we get to the actual Two Megatrons story which is just insanely contrived in how it tries to undo all the character work Furman put into Megatron at the start of the year.

We know that the ever delayed Classics UK 6 will have Furman's original outline for the post-Time Wars stories (presumably amongst all the other stuff it would have picked up on whatever Megatron sent the Triggercons off to do) and it's apparently quite different. So did he originally have something that would make a smoother fit in mind that go lost because of outside constraints (the format shift or American editorial being fairly firm with their new writer)? Did he just not care about this with the book looking likely to be cancelled and the American job being very much his priority? Was it just a sneaky plan to send people mad thinking about it 30 years later?
 
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Old 2016-06-10, 03:27 PM   #2
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1) god damn it, Dalek, you're going to make me buy Classics UK after I convinced myself the Titan reprints were enough

2) will read the stories and get back to you, but as I said on The Big Conversation, er, Facebook, I'd sooner believe that Furman was just being a little overworked & inconsistent (and gasp! he's never done THAT again) than that there were different dictums for Megs' behavior on different sides of the pond.
 
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Old 2016-06-10, 03:34 PM   #3
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I think you're confused. Galvatron was the other version of Megatron. From the future.
 
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Old 2016-06-10, 03:35 PM   #4
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Obligatory Disclaimer: The big flaw with the UK Classics books is the size of the reproduction on the page. I once made someone very angry for not making this perfectly clear in the interview about the books I did (even though said interview had scans of pages which showed this perfectly well). Titan is best for appreciating the art in its oversized glory, IDW though has the advantage of it (mostly!) being in a sensible order and the insanely thorough behind the scenes stuff.
 
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Old 2016-06-11, 12:59 PM   #5
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It's not just Fall 'n' Rise that plays hell with Furman's US stuff, Time Wars is guilty of this as well (when Megs shows up the US books, everyone is like, OMG we thought you were dead, even though he was a very prominent character in Time Wars.)

My own feeling is that Time Wars and Fall 'n' Rise were written pretty much back-to-back, without any thought of Megatron coming back in the US books. Do we know if Megatron's US comeback was instigated by Furman? I suspect it might have come from the editor - bring back a popular villain to try to claw back sales - rather than Furman himself.

Then, when Furman was forced to bring back Megs in the US books almost immediately, he then wrote Two Megatrons as a desperate attempt to make everything tie up.

I can't believe that all of this was Furman's doing: there must have been someone higher-up the food chain making the calls, which then forced Furman to have his Dallas moment.
 

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Old 2016-06-11, 01:17 PM   #6
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^That. Possible that the forthcoming Action Master toy may have had something to do with it. Although that came out a year later soooo....

I'd never been that fussed for making all the various bits of continuity fit. I like that its a bit of jumble until the end of the UK title's life. Leaving aside 'Two Megatrons' for a minute, its possible that 'Fall And Rise' was the setting up the start of something new, but maybe the ripples from Time Wars cancelled that timeline out and established a whole new bunch of 'possbile' timelines, some of which the rest of the UK featured. One of which could very well be the 'Two Megatrons' thing - something which, on the face of it, makes no sense - if Straxus has the technology to have his body rebuilt...why have it rebuilt to look like Megatron? Its not as if Straxus was playing second fiddle to the memory of Megatron and had establish a formidable empire of his own.
 
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Old 2016-06-13, 11:51 PM   #7
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Two Megatrons is idiotic. Not just the "why build it as Megatron?" (which you could maaaaybe reach for "so he could rule as Megatron if Straxus had been assassinated) but why have his ****ing brain in there? How did it end up with identical scars to those give to the real thing by the Predacons (moments before he disappeared too, so it's not just Straxus keeping up to date) and set into a sewer on some planet he'd never been to. And how much [more] of a mess does it make of Time Wars?

As for the plot screw-up some of it's pretty clear; US Megatron was brought back as a big guest villain (independent of the AM figure; it was best part of two years before anything other AM-related crept into the title in "Still Life"; it's more likely he was revived on the Ark for the AM) whether to launch the new writer or because of reader demand or just to face off against the revived Classic Pretenders rather than some ****jar they'd never met before.

UK Megatron was meant to be Furman cracking open a fresh little canvas for him to do UK stories where Bob was more Earth-centric; dust-ups with Xaaron and the like most likely (I'd have loved to see Furman's face when "Ca$h and Car-nage" landed and Bob randomly started mucking around with the Sparklers).

US Megatron was almost certainly editor-ordained and they probably overrode any even vague references to the UK adventures in favour of a direct link for US readers. I would guess Furman's original plan was simply to have Megatron lose his memory (and there's hundreds of ways this could have been contrived through the UK strips) and lose the direct visual throwback to Gone But Not Forgotten but was overruled or just plain not brave enough to rock the boat when he'd just landed at the big time.

The rest is harder to fathom due to the lack of precise production details and Furman being unable to drop plotmaster bullshit in interviews. I would speculate Rise & Fall was written and maybe even made much earlier than Race with the Devil (which makes little sense without Back from the Dead even if it's very close to a one-way street) but ran anyway - the title was in financial trouble, if the script and/or art had been paid for it'd have ran.

Furman's backed himself into a corner and does all that Thunderwing rubbish while he tries to think of a way out and then just grasps the nettle.

As for things like all the characters who've seen Megatron alive and doing speeches and such, the UK/US material is full of that sort of disconnect, like the way no-one mentions Galvatron's on the loose killing everyone and causing temporal tornados whenever dot colouring's in place, so Xaaron has to spacebridge teams across to deal with him instead of just asking Optimus Prime if he could get round to killing him at some point.

That it all keeps hanging together as well as it does is the real aberration; it's just ironic that the one time the comic really trips over itself is the moment one S. Furman is handed the reins to both. I mean, it's amazing that Bob never just picked Skids back up for a random issue like he did with Ratchet or bring back Megatron himself at some random point in 1987 or switch to the Season 3 cast. Personally I think Furman has occasionally exaggerated the transatlantic barrier to stoke his own ego; while naturally finished issues might be tight I'd be surprised if he didn't get nuggets of information like "I probably won't be using the Dinobots for six months so feel free to put them all in comas".
 
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Old 2016-06-14, 12:31 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
Two Megatrons is idiotic. Not just the "why build it as Megatron?" (which you could maaaaybe reach for "so he could rule as Megatron if Straxus had been assassinated) but why have his ****ing brain in there?
I just assumed that some of Megatron's brain needed to be present so he could pass one of Soundwave's mind scans. If Straxus just transferred his brain into a blank body (which we were told carried a lot of risk in both 'Rock and Roll Out' and 'People Power'), then Soundwave would have found him out straight away.

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Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
The rest is harder to fathom due to the lack of precise production details and Furman being unable to drop plotmaster bullshit in interviews. I would speculate Rise & Fall was written and maybe even made much earlier than Race with the Devil (which makes little sense without Back from the Dead even if it's very close to a one-way street) but ran anyway - the title was in financial trouble, if the script and/or art had been paid for it'd have ran.
Yeah, this. There's evidence to suggest that the b/w stories weren't written in the same order in which they were published, and were occasionally switched around (often at short notice) when the need arose. There's at least one example of the Mighty Marvel Checklist* where the advertised TF strips didn't match the actual contents of the comics. Furthermore, Race With The Devil contains a couple of dates in the dialogue which should have matched the comic cover dates but didn't. It's likely the April Fools Day Earthforce story (Snow Fun) was supposed to have been in the actual April Fools Day issue, but got preempted.

We also had a lot of the US strips shuffled about to make way for old reprints (like Legacy of Unicron, Resurrection, Wanted: Galvatron etc.), and there are specific instances where the UK strips mirrored what was happening in the US strips (Small War/King Con in same issue, also Resurrection Gambit/Two Megatrons). Obviously when King Con was delayed for 12 issues to make way for fill-in re-prints, Small War would have had to be pushed back as well (it was the Micromaster themed issue with a free magnifying glass and spot-the-hidden-symbol competition).

This was around the time that they struggled to even print the calendars on time and in the right order**, so what chance did the strips have??!!

*According to the checklist, Hunting Party was due to be run in UK#228, but was held back until #229.

** The June and May calendars were printed in May and June respectively, and November 89 was an issue late due to a sponsored Fiendish Feet competition which took its place in UK#242
 

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Old 2016-06-14, 04:10 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Ryan F View Post
My own feeling is that Time Wars and Fall 'n' Rise were written pretty much back-to-back, without any thought of Megatron coming back in the US books. Do we know if Megatron's US comeback was instigated by Furman? I suspect it might have come from the editor - bring back a popular villain to try to claw back sales - rather than Furman himself.
Furman has always said bringing Megatron back was very much his idea as a "Stunt" to launch his time on the American book, though from the editor's POV it would presumably have been a pleasing way to drum up some interest in a dying title (you can easily see Megatron's presence on the cover would catch the eye of readers who lapsed because they didn't like the new characters). It is also apparently pretty much the first thing he thought of doing when the job came up.

We know the Furman/Budiansky meeting happened mid to late October (according to the surprisingly good with the behind the scenes details Budiansky it was almost exactly 25 years to the day before his UK appearance back in 2014 if anyone wants to check to find out exactly), at a point when Furman would probably have been still writing Time Wars (not sure of the exact lead in time needed for a story starting in January, it might even have been just before he began it!, some of the odd plot shifts in that may be down to him getting firm confirmation of the new job from American Marvel as he was going along and feeling the need to wrap things up quickly).

In that light it does feel like the increased focus on Megatron and his development in that story when he'd been treated as nothing but a walking McGuffin since Salvage (indeed, that's really all he is in Ancient Relics as well) does feel like the decison to bring Megatron back on the US series had been taken (or at least Furman knew that's what he'd do if it became a firm offer) and this is him starting to manouver the character in the direction needed for the British stories to line up (because he's still an editor as much as a writer even if he is leaving the job on the TF title and he likes to make things run smoothly).

The real question is what was his original plan and why the American take on Megatron even as character let alone continuity was so different.

Quote:
I can't believe that all of this was Furman's doing: there must have been someone higher-up the food chain making the calls, which then forced Furman to have his Dallas moment.
It's certainly possible, and Furman doesn't seem to have had as close a working relationship with Don Daly as he has subsequently with Rob Tokar (understandably from Don's perspective, after years of telling Bob they can't replace him, he finds a new writer handed to him on a plate and the one he knows jumping out of the fire escape).

For the record though, I don't object to the American book ignoring the British stories even with Furman writing both, it's a sensible approach for them and him to take. I'm just more surprised the UK stories didn't paper over the cracks better.


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Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
The rest is harder to fathom due to the lack of precise production details and Furman being unable to drop plotmaster bullshit in interviews. I would speculate Rise & Fall was written and maybe even made much earlier than Race with the Devil (which makes little sense without Back from the Dead even if it's very close to a one-way street) but ran anyway - the title was in financial trouble, if the script and/or art had been paid for it'd have ran.
It may have been written earlier (though realistically I'm not sure it would have been before he began working on the American series) the real question is that with Race With the Devil he knows exactly what is happening in his first American story and is able to tie directly into it. Even with an oblique reference to it in the American story's dialogue showing even that early Daly wouldn't object to general references even as long as the story didn't depend on them.

If by that point he had then chance to have sat down and come up with a proper crossover why focus on the relatively unimportant rescuing of Starscream's body and why not cover the second fall of Megatron creating a little mini-epic where you go from him seeming to regain power to being left a mindless zombie wandering the Dead End who only regains his memories as far as his "First" death?

It could even feature the bloody Triggerbots (it's amazing how Furman and Budiansky seem to keep forgetting they've used them and we wind up with about four intro stories for the guys) and taken up the space used by Survivors (the fate of Skids is interesting, but it could have waited) as well for a four (though it would have become eight) part mini-epic with Fall and Rise as the lead in.

No fix would be perfect of course (I don't think they'd have ever come up with a good explanation for the Gone But Not Forgotten scars being their in the US flashbacks and Euan Peters reluctance to change American dialogue wouldn't have helped), but that was the point to do it more smoothly. Especially as there'd have then been a little gap (of course longer than anyone would have expected thanks to the reprints) before Back From the Dead rather than the ass pulled explation having to happen alongside it, which I don't think helped.


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or switch to the Season 3 cast.
Though the season 3 cast Bob was forced to use does show how a desperate continuity patch could have worked. The first story to feature Rodimus after Headmasters starts running is very careful to include a brief "Yes I was a Targetmaster and he's dead now" (even before present day Hot Rod has appeared IIRC) and Kup's Story is very much about firmly establishing the three reused Autobots as a present day team in the minds of the readers. When it comes to Cyclonus and Scourge, who can't be explained away with a "They were just around in 1988 as well", he jumps through some very elabroate hoops to make it all work. On paper "They get blown back in time and happen to wind up working for Scorponok without ever mentioning their potentially useful future knowledge" is as silly as "It was Straxus all along". But boy does it work so much better. The luxury of being able to work up to it (coupled with Budiansky clearly still hating the characters he didn't create and thus reducing them to very minor roles) probably helped there of course.

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Personally I think Furman has occasionally exaggerated the transatlantic barrier to stoke his own ego; while naturally finished issues might be tight I'd be surprised if he didn't get nuggets of information like "I probably won't be using the Dinobots for six months so feel free to put them all in comas".
I'd agree on that, though no necessarily that it's intentional, just that from his contemporary perspective things back then must feel incredibly primitive and like they were chasing their own tails all the time. Budiansky has added to this perception as well by freely admitting he knew nothing about the UK comic beyond it having to do "Filler" and had never read any of Furman's work or even cared if he was any good when he offered him the job under the table. Because the actual person in the office who had the job of keeping the UK office informed and fielding queries (who would probably have been fairly low on the totem pole) has never been interviewed it's easy to get the feeling from all sides that the two comics had no connection at all.

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Originally Posted by Ryan F View Post
I just assumed that some of Megatron's brain needed to be present so he could pass one of Soundwave's mind scans. If Straxus just transferred his brain into a blank body (which we were told carried a lot of risk in both 'Rock and Roll Out' and 'People Power'), then Soundwave would have found him out straight away.
The problem there is that when everyone thinks the mind transfer in Ressurection has worked, no one has a problem with taking orders from Straxus in Megatron's body and I doubt any objections from the Earth contingent would have mattered when they seem to be treated as an unimportant backwater. Indeed, the Cybertron cons seem oddly (by the standards of Marvel Decepticons) loyal to Straxus, they kept him going as a head when it would have been easy for Ratbat or whoever to just usurp him. On the other hand, Megatron is seen as a dangerous relic. The advantage of the body as a powerhouse to rest your mind in makes sense, for Straxus to actively try and pretend to be him would have been an insane move.



Quote:
Yeah, this. There's evidence to suggest that the b/w stories weren't written in the same order in which they were published, and were occasionally switched around (often at short notice) when the need arose. There's at least one example of the Mighty Marvel Checklist* where the advertised TF strips didn't match the actual contents of the comics. Furthermore, Race With The Devil contains a couple of dates in the dialogue which should have matched the comic cover dates but didn't. It's likely the April Fools Day Earthforce story (Snow Fun) was supposed to have been in the actual April Fools Day issue, but got preempted.
The initial three stories in the new format have to be in the right order though as they were all written and drawn for the 11 page structure before anyone knew of the change (showing it was basically as last second as these things can be. Transformation and the letter's page seem to be the last thing put together on the book and the former only mentions the change two weeks before). I suppose Race and Survivors could have been intended to go the other way round, but there I would have thought going with the Skids story as the first black and white one would have made more sense as featuring more familiar and popular characters might have softened the blow to readers. But either way they wouldn't have been written after the first dedicated six page stories.

In the immediate aftermath though there could have been a lot of shifting around. Though the basic amount of UK material needed would have been the same the late in the day change would have meant them needing it a lot quicker. Furman probably had to knock out the first handful of dedicated B&W stories very quickly and it could easily be the case they had to be printed as they came back in from the artists rather than in an order intended.

Mind, that doesn't quite square with launching the format properly with a dedicated five part story, and it's hard not to see that as the first thing written simply because of the time constraints.

Quote:
We also had a lot of the US strips shuffled about to make way for old reprints (like Legacy of Unicron, Resurrection, Wanted: Galvatron etc.), and there are specific instances where the UK strips mirrored what was happening in the US strips (Small War/King Con in same issue, also Resurrection Gambit/Two Megatrons). Obviously when King Con was delayed for 12 issues to make way for fill-in re-prints, Small War would have had to be pushed back as well (it was the Micromaster themed issue with a free magnifying glass and spot-the-hidden-symbol competition).
It's odd actually, one thing I knew but stupidly forgot to mention in my piece on 213 was that splitting each American issue into 4 wouldn't fill an entire year's worth of issues even if they didn't shrink at one point to when they had to be three parts instead. Peters must have known that, and that some contingency would be needed for those gaps. But all the reprints seem to be a surprise (indeed, its been a while but with at least one IIRC the previous issue promotes the next American story instead!). Which doesn't help.

Quote:
** The June and May calendars were printed in May and June respectively, and November 89 was an issue late due to a sponsored Fiendish Feet competition which took its place in UK#242
The handling of the calendars has just been odd anyway, I think there's been three at the point I've reached and only one hasn't appeared after the month it features was already underway.

EDIT: Oh, and the real curious oddity is the claim from Transformation earlier in the year that issue 215 would be the first post-Time Wars story. I can't see any way of laying out those strips around then in the 11 page format that would make this seem even slightly plausible.
 

Last edited by inflatable dalek; 2016-06-14 at 04:25 PM.
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Old 2016-06-14, 05:10 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Inflatable Dalek
I'd be surprised if he didn't get nuggets of information like "I probably won't be using the Dinobots for six months so feel free to put them all in comas".
So, I'd have to go diving for it, but I believe James confirmed that this very conversation did take place in one of his notes for Classics UK (probably In The National Interest).

Quote:
Furman has always said bringing Megatron back was very much his idea as a "Stunt" to launch his time on the American book
Izzat from a particular interview? Would love to read it.

Straxatron is obviously a band-aid on a continuity mess. The UK strips were already getting short shrift, having been turned into black and white five-page strips, and Furman, never being much of a continuity man anyway, seemed to focus all his big efforts on the US comic and wrote increasingly peripheral material for the UK comic. And that's the road that leads to Earthforce.
 
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Old 2016-06-14, 05:13 PM   #11
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Earthforce is actually the proper continuity and it's everything else that needs to be ignored.
 
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Old 2016-06-14, 05:16 PM   #12
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You know what was inside the portal in Time Wars? Earthforce.
 
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Old 2016-06-14, 05:20 PM   #13
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Izzat from a particular interview? Would love to read it.
I'm sure he's mentioned it in online interviews at some point, but I've mainly heard him say it during live events (though Ryan will be able to confirm it as it came up when we were talking to Furman after his Dreamwave talk at AA last year when he had a question about the brief bit of set up for Furman's first issue in Budiansky's last).


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Earthforce is actually the proper continuity and it's everything else that needs to be ignored.
Well, I don't want to completely ruin my conclusions before I make everyone buy the third book the website gets there, but I can exclusively reveal the one true thing that ever happened in all of Transformers internal continuity was that bit where Prowl thought of Grimlock as a brick.

And nothing else.
 
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Old 2016-06-14, 06:09 PM   #14
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his Dreamwave talk at AA last year
GASP. Must hear.

I would really love to see Simon and Alex Milne do a memoir comic about their time with Dreamwave.
 
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Old 2016-06-15, 04:11 PM   #15
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He's preety much at peace with the whole Dreamwave thing now. Indeed, he's fairly relaxed about never writing Transformers again, he won't turn down work if its offered but he seems fine with things having moved on.
 
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Old 2016-06-15, 04:14 PM   #16
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Any recordings of his Dreamwave talk?
 
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Old 2016-06-15, 04:32 PM   #17
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Not as far as I know I'm afraid.
 
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