IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

The IDW Comics universe has had such a different take on G1, one that's now significantly represented by the Generations toys, so they share a forum. A modern take on a Real Cybertronian Hero. Currently starring Generations toys, IDW "The Transformers" comics, MTMTE, TF vs GI Joe, and Windblade.
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Ursus mellifera
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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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andersonh1 wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 1:18 pm
Maybe Roberts was trying to show the DJD as punch-clock villains, I don't know. Maybe they're meant to just be fairly ordinary people beneath the over the top personas, but I just found this issue to be in poor taste, tonally bizarre, and guilty of killing the effectiveness of the DJD as villains. I think trying to get inside the heads of the DJD was a mistake, and painting them the way this issue does was also a mistake. Huge misfire of an issue here.
In order for a character to be "larger than life" there needs to be something unfathomable about them; some incomprehensible aspect. You can't bring forth insane terror with just the mundane.
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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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arber seems to have the idea here that Optimus really takes what he sees as any betrayal of the peace by an Autobot far more personally than he does when a Decepticon does it. At least that's how I read it. But telling Slag (I refuse to call him Slug) to his face that he and the other Dinobots should have been killed if they can't let the past go is both stupid and harsh, and not at all what I would expect from Optimus Prime, who I would expect to try and win them over, change their attitudes and approaches rather than simply wish them dead.
Even of that is the case, Prime never threatened to kill Prowl, or even seemed to give it real thought. Prowl undermined the Autobots as an organization. The Dinobots never did that.

(By the way, imagine Cullen saying "You should have been killed when the war ended you revolting mechabominations.")

I agree about Sandstorm, I think given what he'd been through, his attempt to deal out justice for war crimes makes sense. I whould have spoiled the name of the killer if I'd realized not everyone had read it. I might do a bit more of that going forward.
After 2-3 years, spoilers are largely irrelevant. (In this case, it has been close to a decade.)

So do the DJD. Maybe it's meant to be funny, but it honestly falls flat for me. I realize all of these characters have always been grotesque, over the top parodies of ultra violent comics cliches, but the terror in which the other characters hold them has sustained them as something of a threat up until now. Suddenly they're jokes in the space of half an issue, afraid of being written up and dreading work evaluations? Seriously?
Not being able to leave something alone without making it a joke is a common problem in modern fiction. For whatever reason, modern writers are unable to hold a consistent tone, or gracefully shift between tones.

I think trying to get inside the heads of the DJD was a mistake, and painting them the way this issue does was also a mistake. Huge misfire of an issue here.
It was done badly here. But, "through the villain's eyes" can be done well.

Kieron Gillen's "Uber" had multiple sequences that did this well. Dennis Hopeless managed this in a WWE comic with architect-era Seth Rollins. There have been video games ("Maverick Hunter X") that have done this well.

But, Roberts relies too much on feelsies and floofadoof writing.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Dominic wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 2:06 pm
(By the way, imagine Cullen saying "You should have been killed when the war ended you revolting mechabominations.")
Exactly. I just can't quite picture that. Even for IDW's more morally gray Optimus Prime, that goes too far.

And I agree that a villain POV issue can and has been done well. There probably could have been a way to gives us a "DJD: behind the scenes" issue and have it work, but issue 39 wasn't it.

MTMTE #40 - "Chief Medical Officer Ratchet in: "Our Steps Will Always Rhyme""
James Roberts, Brendan Cahill

Since the last issue started the DJD on the road to attacking Megatron, in a way anything that takes place between that and the actual event (which I expect to be in issue 50 since it's the "big anniversary" issue) that doesn't address that threat is going to feel like filler, to a degree. That doesn't mean it can't be good filler, and I would say that this issue consists partially of character fluff, perfectly enjoyable, and partially of needed follow up to "Elegant Chaos" as Brainstorm sits before a board of inquiry and explains his actions. His explatnation for why he joined the Decepticons is essentially that he needed materials to build his time machine, and the Decepticons had them, and that he basically pretended to be a double agent while he got what he needed. I'm fine with that as an explanation. He's not really a believer in their cause. Megatron did say in an earlier issue that he's not really the type that Decepticons usually approached.

Most of the issue is just the Lost Light characters being themselves, though Ratchet's plot strand has him discovering that Ten, the Legislator robot that Swerve keeps around, is more sentient than anyone had realized. In the end, Ratchet leaves the ship, after a proper goodbye (the opening of the issue shows several failed attempts at saying goodbye including dropping Hunter O'Nion off at his sister's house with Bombshell watching) to go and find Drift and bring him back. So it's an A plot/B plot type of issue, and both are reasonably engaging, with the material featuring Brainstorm the more compelling material to me.

Drift - Empire of Stone #1–4
Shane McCarthy, Guido Guidi, Stephen Baskerville

Finishing off volume 8 is the Drift mini-series "Empire of Stone", written by Drift's creator Shane McCarthy. It is essentially a spin on the old "Decepticons try to obtain a superweapon" plotline. Drift has become a non-aligned "peacekeeper" who targets Decepticons who have been taking over various planets since their war effort ended. The plot is servicable and perfectly fine, if neither good enough to merit praise or bad enough to spend time taking apart. It's an adventure for Drift and Ratchet and gives us a few good character moments for them and the guest characters. The main novelty for this series for me is that Gigatron (RID Megatron) and Hellbat (from Victory) are the main Decepticon villains, and I enjoyed seeing both imported into IDW continuity. This really has been a series that adapts characters from many different Transformers lines into the story. They don't always get treated well (Star Saber for instance), but here both Gigatron and Hellbat seem like acceptable variants on their usual characterization.

In the end, Ratchet talks Drift into returning to the Lost Light, so presumably they'll return to the pages of MTMTE sooner or later. I'm not sure we needed four issues to fill us in on what Drift had been doing since he left the Lost Light, but I have no real problems with the mini-series. I remember following our discussion about this book at the time it was out, but I missed the first issue and decided to wait for the collected version, but here I am reading it for the first time, years later.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Transformers: the IDW Collection Phase 2 book 9

Combiner Wars

Transformers 39, Windblade #1, Transformers 40, Windblade 2, Transformers 41, Windblade 3, Transformers 42

Despite the fact that some of the actions that characters take in this story don't quite make sense, I have to admit that I like it quite a bit. Scoop returns to Cybertron and delivers the Enigma of Combination to Starscream. Starscream is concerned that Devastator is the only functioning combiner (apart from Monstructor) and wants one of his own as a counter. Add in first contact with Windblade's homeworld of Caminus thanks to the space bridge on Metroplex functioning at last, with Starscream scheming to control the missing colonies by offering them aid and resources and protection, and the story becomes one of escalation as we get Superion and Menasor back, Defensor is created, Devastator gets involved and Prowl is removed as a component (which I hated to see, I have enjoyed the ongoing plotlines with Prowl and the Constructicons), and we get for a brief time a combiner formed from Optimus Prime, Prowl, Ironhide, Mirage and Sunstreaker, which is used to great effect as they all share a mind and a discussion.

On the one hand, the Enigma is a convenient plot device that circumvents the years-long "creating a combiner is difficult" storylines, but on the other hand I always like these combining teams and it's great to see them incorporated into the series. The lost colonies of Cybertron look like they could fuel some interesting storylines, and it looks like we're getting some ideas adapted from Transformers Cybertron such as the speed planet, the beast planet (Tigatron and Airrazor appear), and there's Obsidian with Elita-1, so we get more than just Combiners fighting. We get an expansion of the setting and storytelling.

The epilogue issue cuts back and forth between Earth, where Arcee meets with Galvatron, and Cybertron where Optimus Prime beats Prowl to within an inch of his life, a catharsis that's been a long time coming. I do wonder just how much having shared minds will affect Prowl and Optimus (and the others as well) going forward. Will Prowl have more of a conscience and will Prime become more ruthless? It will be interesting to see.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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MTMTE 41-42
"The Sensuous Frame", "The Frail Gaze" by James Roberts, Alex Milne

Thunderclash is close to death, and the crew of the Lost LIght go to a "pre-wake" where they have a dance party. Say what? And Thunderclash's ship has been invaded by "personality ticks", mind parasites that feed on "charisma" and paralyze the victim as they do so. Too much charisma kills them, so when Rodimus and Megatron walk into the room where Nightbeat and some others are under attack, the ticks all die. Yeah....

Okay, I can't say I was all that impressed by these two issues. Yes, there are some amusing jokes and the ticks are a decent and interesting threat, but the way they're defeated is absurd. Some of the scenes in the book feel like filler, as if there wasn't quite enough plot to fill two issues. And it looks like the next issue isn't going to be much of an improvement.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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MTMTE 43
"The One Where They Go to Earth" by James Roberts, Alex Milne

First off, the four issues of MTMTE in this volume should have gone before "Combiner Wars" because First Aid is getting ready to leave the Lost Light and take Mirage back to Cybertron, which we saw him doing about halfway through that story, so chronologically this happens earlier than the events of CW.

That aside, this is a filler issue that exists to get to the end where i'ts revealed that Swerve was injured by Agent 113, who fired a "message bullet" at Swerve. 113 was a mole in the DJD, and the bullet was his way of getting a report back to the Autobots. The issue itself reveals that Swerve has been lying injured and dying in his quarters for some time, and the Swerve seen in his bar is a holomatter projection, as is the planet Earth now following the Lost Light. There's an attempt at explaining how one Autobot can create such a massive projection, but that's done quickly so the majority of the issue can be spent on sitcom antics with the various Transformers sending their holomatter avatars to the fake Earth to find Swerve so he can tell them where he's injured and save his life. Skids is the 9th Doctor, apparently, and Tailgate is a talking infant.

Some of the story is amusing, but very little of it is all that interesting or relevant to the overall series. Once again it feels more like we're marking time until the inevitable DJD confronttation, and that's fine, half the enjoyment comes from the journey to the destination, not just the destination itself. But this issue and the last few feel like Roberts came up with the high concept ("holographic Earth", "personality ticks") and built the issue around that. This series meanders, and sometimes the meandering is more entertaining than it is at other times. I can't say I particularly hated this issue or that I particularly enjoyed it. It's about as middle of the road for this series as it gets.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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MTMTE 44
"The Not Knowing" by James Roberts, Hayato Sakamoto

Not a ton to say about this one. The Lost Light crew find the Nekrobot, which turns out to be not supernatural at all, but a Transformer who uses the technology on his planet to record the final fate of every single Transformer. It's an interesting idea, though it seems like an impossible task, given how many died in the war and how many that there is no possible way of determining from any sort of records where and how they died. Rewind finds information on Dominus Ambus, who he's been looking for the whole series.

The most impactful image of the book is the monument to Megatron surrounded by an endless field of blue flowers, each one representing a number of lives lost. Some Transformers have just a few flowers around their monument, some have more, Megatron has countless numbers. We did get the actual figures during his war crimes trial, and the guy has more blood on his hands than anyone in history, but as they say, a number is just a number. Sometimes they're too big to comprehend. This visualizes his impact in a different way.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Windblade #4-5
Mairghread Scott, Corin Howell

Wow, the art has gone from beautifully drawn by Sarah Stone to cartoony and painful to look at by Corin Howell. This feels like art that belongs in a gag strip, not a book intended to be serious drama. I don't like it at all. Yes, we got a few pages of it in the last issue of Windblade, and I did not like it there, but now it's the entire book. The story, first contact with Velocitron, is not bad, and Blurr is indeed the perfect character to help make contact with the speed-obessed inhabitants of Velocitron, but the art is painful to sit through. And maybe it the art, maybe it's just the concept, but these two issues feel very kiddified, as if they decided to write down to a younger demographic for a storyline. These problems are probably to blame for the early end of this series as much as anything else. Nice to see Knock Out (from Transformers Prime) though.

Transformers #43
by John Barber and Andrew Smith - "South of Heaven" - this book crawls through less than interesting plotlines as we get to visit the Decepticon commune out near Jupiter, and Cosmos comes to something of an understanding with Soundwave. If nothing else, the discussion about how Blackrock's operating system uses Cybertronian code continues the mystery of who Blackrock actually is, and since I quit reading the book before that question was answered, I am curious to see what the answer to that question is. Doubtless he's linked to the Enigma of Combination somehow.

And that's it for volume 9. Three more to go, and I'm caught up. I knew when I bought them that these hardcover collections would be a mixed bag, and they have been, but there's enough good material that I'm glad to have them.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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I loved Stone's art. Never seemed right for "Transformers" (particularly G1) though. I always wanted see her on a Doctor Strange, Superman or Green Lantern series.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Dominic wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 4:46 pm
I always wanted see her on a Doctor Strange, Superman or Green Lantern series.
That would rock.
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