Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

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Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by inflatable dalek » Sun Nov 15, 2020 8:18 am

Yes, just when you thought I was done, Transformation is evolving into an new ongoing blog project, this time looking at the first 13 years of IDW, from Verity Carlo to Unicron.

It'll be starting on Christmas Day 2020, but for now, here's a little tease of Revisitation:

https://thesolarpool.weebly.com/blog/re ... oming-soon

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by Clay » Mon Nov 16, 2020 11:57 am

Are you tackling just the main continuity, or all the odds and ends like Hearts of Steel as well?

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by inflatable dalek » Mon Nov 16, 2020 1:07 pm

Hearts of Steel is main continuity (insanely and only revealed to be so many years later), so that'll be in there.

But yeah, the core thing will be the main stuff.

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by Clay » Wed Nov 18, 2020 11:00 pm

I was totally unaware that Hearts of Steel was incorporated after the fact.

I remember it mainly from doing an essay on period adaptations in a humanities class in college, but that was ages ago. Only point I remember was being confounded as to why they chose to use Mark Twain instead of Nikola Tesla or Thomas Edison. It'd be interesting to go back over it and re-evaluate it, as now I think Twain was the better fit all along.

If you put up links to the issues in collected trades that I can order as you go, I'm happy to follow along. Only parts of IDW I've read are the aforementioned HOS, the Beast Wars omnibus, and Last Stand of the Wreckers.

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by inflatable dalek » Fri Nov 20, 2020 5:11 pm

There's certainly going to be a few surprises along the way.

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by inflatable dalek » Sat Dec 19, 2020 10:24 pm

In advance of talking about issue 0 of Infiltration, the introduction to the new project is now up:

https://thesolarpool.weebly.com/revisitation.html

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by Clay » Mon Dec 21, 2020 7:05 pm

So I'm looking on amazon and trying to figure out where to start. I'm guessing this is where I should be?

Apparently it's sixteen volumes divided into two series of 1-8, with only the second half noting that it's phase two of two in the listings. Am I correct?

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by inflatable dalek » Tue Dec 22, 2020 9:40 pm

That's the starting point for sure.

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by inflatable dalek » Fri Dec 25, 2020 11:19 am


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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by Clay » Sat Dec 26, 2020 1:45 am

Okay, I bought the digital version of the collection. After some trouble getting the kindle program to zoom in so that I can read the silly thing, I've gone through issue 0 and beyond a bit (the collection doesn't overtly indicate where one issue ends and the next begins - I had to go back to notice the Chapter One marker).

Pretty sure Verity was trying to give a fake name after already starting to say her real name; I don't think it's an error. Also, why does the bus leave her in the middle of the desert?

I did pick up on the discrepancy between Hunter's written name versus its pronunciation and thought, "WTF?" It's like Mrs. Krabapple's name on the Simpsons. The joke works when spoken, but not in print. Also, he looks like Shaggy driving the Mystery Machine.

I liked that Ratchet screws up the syntax of the line from Terminator. It's the verbal equivalent to the flicker in his hologram. Their disguises are good, but not perfect.

Now, with the literal and superficial stuff out of the way, I can say I liked the opening page's setting quite a bit. It's wildly more apparent in a locked-down, pandemic-ridden world, but the bus station is a nice metaphor for the start of a continuity. It introduces a rough set of expectations of a journey or story (boarding, travel, and destination with someone else in the driver's seat) without nailing down specifics, and I even took Verity's line "LA or thereabouts" as a rough prediction of where she (and the reader) is planning to go. It's the start of a journey that can be impacted by a million different variables and per-mutate in any number of ways that aren't clear in the present, but will be traced back to this point as time goes on, much like the virus. And I liked that as soon as she's on the bus, she's off and hitchhiking. Following the metaphor, it's the story itself basically saying, "nope! we're doing something different this time." Whether or not anything pans out in that way going forward, I don't know, but it's a rich metaphor to start with.

Also, I vaguely know that the continuity explodes into robot-fighty stuff in more or less short order, but the early clandestine stuff fascinates me more. It reminds of a Lovecraft story called "The Whisperer in Darkness", and this line specifically:
The things come from another planet [...] They come here to get metals from mines that go deep under the hills, and I think I know where they come from. They will not hurt us if we let them alone, but no one can say what will happen if we get too curious about them. Of course a good army of men could wipe out their mining colony. That is what they are afraid of. But if that happened, more would come from outside—any number of them. They could easily conquer the earth, but have not tried so far because they have not needed to. They would rather leave things as they are to save bother.
That idea, to infiltrate rather than to conquer simply because it's simply less effort, seems like a good fit for the transformers concept, although I don't think it's ever been explored in depth beyond the jumping off point (in this comic, and the 2007 movie for example).

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by inflatable dalek » Sat Dec 26, 2020 6:09 am

Yeah, I think Furman just forget she'd given a fake name by the time he wrote issue one.

Good thoughts mate.

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by Clay » Sun Dec 27, 2020 1:19 am

inflatable dalek wrote:
Sat Dec 26, 2020 6:09 am
Yeah, I think Furman just forget she'd given a fake name by the time he wrote issue one.
That's unfortunate. After I posted, it occurred to me that Verity giving a false name plays into the themes of deception and identity, which should be central to any transformers adaptation, but usually isn't.

Or, maybe it will be with this. As I say, I've only read a handful of titles from IDW, so I don't have the foresight you do. Should be a fun back-and-forth discussion, though!

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by zigzagger » Sun Dec 27, 2020 5:33 am

Oooooh, the timing; I've been tempted to revisit the "Phase 1" stuff. It's been a few years or so for sure--hasn't been nearly as long for the Roberts et al era stuff, though. Might hang around for this.

In hindsight, I still to this day believe Furman had some nifty ideas. The execution and pacing of those ideas is another matter, but I don't want to spoil too much for the "newbies". Without getting too salty, let's just say it's a good thing we're all revisiting this in collected form now. ;)

In any case, nothing I'd call ground-breaking (I recall the comparison to the Marvel Ultimate Universe was bandied about a lot back in the day), but it felt like a nice breakaway from the usual--again, at the time.

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by Clay » Mon Jan 04, 2021 4:28 am

Saw the new post, so I went ahead and read issue 2 1. Broadly agree that the first half is better than the second, but the cringey parts in the second half gave me thoughts. Yes, Verity is in the right and Hunter is an entitled douche, but his douchey-ness and Ratchet's immediate default to him as "the human I'll talk to" strike me as a metaphor for transformers media generally.

Hunter strikes me as the kind of minutia-oriented, can't-see-the-forest-for-the-trees type that would be furiously arguing a point no one cares about on a fan wiki somewhere, and Ratchet's dialogue with him reminds me of how entertainment media will cave in to pressure from these sorts of gits because they're loud, not right. I mean, Verity's relationship with Ratchet is exactly as founded and historical as Hunter's, which is to say that neither of them had interacted with alien prior to two hour ago (or however long). Yet Hunter, the self-declared expert/sleuth/fanboy/conspiracy devotee/whatever, is given the of priority of attention and interaction despite the fact that he really only knows slightly more about Autobots and Decepticons than Verity, which is to say nothing at all beyond the general premise that alien robots exist.

It's a bit of a meta-reading, but it simultaneously pokes at overbearing fans and the capitulation towards them by the media. If Verity is the "new" fan/reader, Ratchet is basically shoving them to the wayside in favor of the self-aggrandizing "true believer" that already knows more than just the basic gist of things, despite the fact that this could very easily go in a direction where none of Hunter's conspiracy theories (or, outside of the text, this entire continuity) even apply. If it had been that, Ratchet would've/could've busted Hunter down and said something like, "no, you know as much as your friend, who knows nothing," and then bounced along to new and fertile storytelling ground.

Which, according to Dalek's post, is exactly what doesn't happen, at least not for a long time (until MTMTE? When the war is over and Megatron's an autobot I think? I dunno, I haven't read any of them).

All that said, I did like that the issue, in an effort to course-correct from the preview, does so by going to a garage for a tune up, even if I liked the slow-burn more. Also I genuinely liked the opening page/manifesto on Hunter's laptop talking about previous continuities under the lampshade as old sightings and incidents. I like that kind of wink and nod much more than one of the actual transformers agreeing with a weeb and saying, "new fans women, right?"

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by andersonh1 » Fri Jan 08, 2021 3:41 pm

Very thorough review. You've inspired me to go back and re-read these issues.

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by inflatable dalek » Fri Jan 08, 2021 4:48 pm

Thanks Andersonh1.

And good thoughts as ever Clay.

The main Revisitation page link has changed slightly to be spelt right, but I've edited the above post so it's correct.

I also talk about the plan on the new Podcast Maximus here:

[url]https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-y4kis-f7080e[/ur]

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by Clay » Sun Jan 10, 2021 11:00 pm

Have read the next issue and your post. Still percolating.

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by Clay » Sun Jan 17, 2021 9:54 am

Okay, a few thoughts on issue two:

I like the thematics of the chase moving from the city to the desert. All of the different possible iterations of the story fall away as our human cast get drawn into the present conflict. All the other distractions getting left behind, as it were.

I have no idea why they had to stop to let Verity get some air. Surely they can do that while still moving? Do Ratchet's windows not roll down? I guess it was to shoehorn in the visual metaphor when Jimmy goes to talk to Verity. As he speaks in totally genuine teenage dialogue, he mentions they're both freaks living on the edge while trying to balance on the edge of a ditch. Then, a truck that looks exactly like Motormaster (whether it is or isn't doesn't really matter) barrels by and knocks him off balance.

It's a nice little visual metaphor for how their lives are going to be changed, but I'm not sure it's worth having them get out of their super-fast alien vehicle in the middle of a chase for. If Thundercracker didn't come back immediately thereafter, it would have been fine because it would have been after the chase had concluded. [/scratches head]

Also, if their vehicle mode weapons are incorporated into the their bodies, why are their robot weapons still hand-held? And yeah, the giant decepticon symbol outside the base is daffy.

So, yeah... the over-arching and bird's eye view of the story moving away from potential paths and toward something more transformers-focused by changing the setting from the city to the desert is my neat comment for the issue.

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by andersonh1 » Tue Jan 19, 2021 9:34 pm

I still love E. J. Su's vehicles. They look actual cars in some panels, particularly Runamuck and Runabout. Mosts artists can't pull that off, but he does.

Nice to find someone who I agree with about Prowl. I'm not sure why segments of the fandom love the manipulative version of Prowl we get later on (who fully deserves being beaten badly by Optimus Prime during Combiner Wars, Prowl really had it coming), but I never have. He's far more reasonable here, even if we're supposed to be on Ratchet's side.

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Re: Revisitation: The IDW Original Continuity Retrospective.

Post by Clay » Sun Jan 24, 2021 3:20 pm

Okay, issue #3.

Was a bit disappointed that the human cast suddenly turned into cartoon characters by offering to help their giant alien robot friend unprompted. I don't really fault the comic for that - it is a transformers story where exactly that sort of thing is supposed to happen - but until that moment it had been set up to have a little more distance and mistrust between the humans and robots. Oh well.

Bee's hologram being a girl raises all sorts of questions about how gender would square with beings that aren't sexed, but from Dalek's commentary this is left behind immediately and never explored until... More than Meets the Eye? Is that the James Roberts one?

I do like the matter-of-fact kind of efficiency shown by Blitzwing and Skywarp blowing up targets. I assume that they'll succumb to villain decay shortly, but their sterility and precision make an interesting contrast to Runabout and Runamok's hot-headedness and mistakes.

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