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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andersonh1
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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

Post by andersonh1 »

Ursus mellifera wrote:
Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:32 pm
I genuinely loved unstable, hinge-jawed Arcee when she first showed up. I kind of wish she'd stayed insane.
Proof positive that we all approach these stories and characters from different angles. :D

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Ursus mellifera
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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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andersonh1 wrote:
Fri Jan 22, 2021 3:11 pm
Ursus mellifera wrote:
Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:32 pm
I genuinely loved unstable, hinge-jawed Arcee when she first showed up. I kind of wish she'd stayed insane.
Proof positive that we all approach these stories and characters from different angles. :D
Exactly!!
Check it out, a honey bear! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinkajou

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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andersonh1 wrote:
Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:09 pm
I don't want to get too bogged down in this one issue, but I wonder how much an author can be responsible for anticipating all reactions and tailoring his writing accordingly? So many things get reevaluated as society changes and something a writer looks at one way when he writes it might be seen entirely differently by a segment of the readership down the road. Is that his fault? I'm not sure that the responsibility isn't also on the reader not to read more into things than a writer intended.
This is really getting into more of authorial intent vs. readers response territory. Once an author has written a story for others to read, regardless of what the author may or may not have intended to say, readers will get out of it whatever they will. This isn't the authors "fault" for not anticipating every possible reaction, obviously nobody could possibly anticipate everything. And even a writer can change their own views on a given piece they themselves wrote over time. Regardless of the authors intentions, the readers response is going to be up to their own interpretation, which does not mean they are reading "more into things" and is no less valid. This is just a natural part of art, everyone will have their own interpretation. And when analyzing any given piece, I'd say it is important to consider both the authors intent as well as the readers response.
In any case, I'm not sure it's reasonable to take alien robots and Jhiaxus's mad science and read any real-world implications from that. Others disagree, obviously.
It is common for authors to be trying saying something about the world we live in through fiction, even if it is something like a Transformers comic book. Is that Furman was trying to do here? Probably not. But regardless of his intentions, that doesn't mean his is the only meaning that can be reasonably derived from the story.
IDW Arcee's angry, violent nature always bothered me more than her origins ever did. It always felt like an overcompensated reaction against G1 Arcee's personality, trying to hard not to make the character "stereotypically feminine", and in doing so veering too far into making her hyper violent. Maybe this version of Arcee was just misjudged all around.
I wasn't a big fan of angry, violent Arcee either. But I do like the more warrior driven aspect of the character that was introduced here, something that seems to have carried over to other versions of the character since.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Devastation 1-6
Writer: Simon Furman Art: E. J. Su, Nick Roche

Of the three mini-series telling Furman's main ongoing storyline, I think I enjoy this one the most, because it is all-out, interesting action that brings together a lot of the elements set up in the previous two minis and seeded in various Spotlights. It feels like the payoff that it is. And if it wasn't for the presence of the Autobots on Earth in AHM, one could easily say that the Autobots leaving Earth at the end of the story is what allows the Decepticons to take over the planet. It would be a smooth transition, instead of the choppy one that it is. But more on that when we get to AHM.

In any case, the main story details what happens when Sixshot arrives and openly attacks the Autobots, while the secondary plots are Hunter and Sunstreaker, and Hot Rod and Wheeljack's search for Ironhide. In the background is Galvatron, working towards the Expansion, and in the middle of all this, the Reapers come to Earth to recruit Sixshot and kill everyone on the planet. It's a lot of plot for Furman to juggle, and by the end of the series, some of it has been resolved, but a lot of it will be wrapped up in future issues, which as we know got cut down quite a bit as sales were falling and IDW decided on a change of direction. I don't think it was all Furman's fault, honestly, though some of it was due to reception to the pacing of his stories. IDW started publishing at the tail end of the 80s nostalgia that had brought Transformers back to comics in the first place, and as that died down, so did comic sales. Those early issues sold many times what later issues did, and it wasn't all the quality of the series that caused the steep drop.

There are a lot of enjoyable scenes in this story. Sixshot's attack on the Ark and the cliffhanger as the ship plunges towards a neighborhood is great. Ratchet trying in vain to escape Sixshot, Optimus taking him on and questioning his reputation, and Hunter's encounter with Sunstreaker's head are all good stuff. Hot Rod's mockery of the Headmasters is fun, and his determination to remain on Earth and keep looking for Sunstreaker, disobeying orders to do so, is very much in character.

In the end, the Autobots abandon Earth to head to Garrus 9 to deal with the abducted Monstructor, leaving Earth to the Decepticons, who know full well that humanity is aware of their presence on Earth now. The Reapers are killed, with some behind the scenes help from Galvatron, who takes a disabled Sixshot (meaning he now has Thunderwing, Sixshot and Monstructor), and Hunter and Sunstreaker escape with Hunter having undergone the full Headmaster process. There's a lot left to wrap up and only five Spotlights and the five issue Maximum Dinobots in which to do it.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Spotlight: Grinlock
Writer: Simon Furman Art: Marcelo Matere

This is essentially a zero issue for Maximum Dinobots. It fits right in with that mini-series storyline and sees Skywatch try to reactivate and control Grimlock, still frozen in the same position we saw him in at the end of Spotlight Shockwave and Devastation. Skywatch fails in part because the Machination has been sabotaging their efforts. Grimlock tries to figure out where and when he is, if the other Dinobots are still alive, and what his status among Autobots is. He ends up in a fight with Scorponok, but he's physically no match for him, escaping with his life only because he still has the teleport recall to his spacecraft, which crashed long ago but is still somewhat intact. We'll pick up his story where this issue ends when Maximum Dinobots begins.

You have to know that Simon Furman can't resist a good Grimlock storyline, though Grimlock seems somewhat ineffective in this continuity, being no real match for either Shockwave or Scorponok. I'd like to have seen Grimlock take on some others just to establish him as a physical powerhouse before showing him lose more often than he wins. But like some other choices that Furman made, maybe this was a reaction against past portrayals? It's still a good issue, and the placement in the collected edition is sound.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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It is common for authors to be trying saying something about the world we live in through fiction, even if it is something like a Transformers comic book. Is that Furman was trying to do here? Probably not. But regardless of his intentions, that doesn't mean his is the only meaning that can be reasonably derived from the story.
Furman never liked Arcee. He always thought she was a bad idea, and the "Spotlight" issue is an update of that.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Dominic wrote:
Sat Jan 23, 2021 4:46 pm
Furman never liked Arcee. He always thought she was a bad idea, and the "Spotlight" issue is an update of that.
Yeah, there is that as well.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Spotlight: Wheelie
Writer: Simon Furman, Klaus Scherwinski Art: Klaus Scherwinski

The final story in volume 3 does a great job of making Wheelie a likeable character. A low-ranking Autobot who is nevertheless cheerful and helpful, Wheelie gets sent on a survey mission and his ship crashes. He's forced to try and survive on a planet with hostile life, and even loses his arm at one point and has to reattach it himself. An encounter with another crash survivor explains Wheelie's rhyming vocabulary (which he does not have for most of the story) as an attempt to work with the alien's translator and its syntax requirements. In the end, Wheelie upholds Autobot values and morals by not abandoning his friend to Reflector when he has a chance to escape, but staying behind to save his life.

Wheelie needed some rehabilitation and this issue gives it to him, in my opinion. And he's an idealistic and likeable Autobot in a continuity where such characters are not always common. I had forgotten how good this issue was, so it was enjoyable to rediscover it.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Spotlight: Cyclonus
Writer: Simon Furman Art: E. J. Su

Volume 4 opens up with this story where Cyclonus laments the wasteland that his beloved Cybertron has become, and takes time away from his mission to take out his anger on any Transformers he can find, in this case Hound's crew. Like Galvatron, he's essentially undead and un-killable, but he breaks off the fight and goes to activate one of three "nega-cores", devices meant to expand the Dead Universe into the regular living one. He does not initially intend to activate this one's Guardian, but rather than let the Autobots shut it down, he does so, leaving Thunderwing on guard.

These final four Furman Spotlights are really another mini-series wrapping up the Dead Universe storylines, and I considered treating them as one series for review but decided to look at each one individually. It's nice to see E. J. Su get a few issues of the final storyline since he kicked everything off as artist with Infiltration. It also struck me while reading this just how well the characterization of Cyclonus lines up with what Roberts would later do with him. A number of IDW characters changed depending on who was writing them, most notoriously Galvatron, but Cyclonus seems more consistent than most.

It also seems to me that while the Expansion story works in four issues that it lacks a certain pacing that the earlier three Furman mini-series had. I can't say the story feels rushed, but it does not feel deliberate either. With time running out, all the plot points have to be addressed, so there's no time to stop and look at the scenery along the way. It's get in, detail the plot and get out again.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Spotlight: Hardhead
Writer: Simon Furman Art: Nick Roche

In this sequel to Spotlight: Nightbeat, Nightbeat returns to Gorlam Prime and takes Hardhead with him. It's revealed during the story that Nightbeat was captured and altered back in his Spotlight so that he could assassinate Optimus Prime, though Nightbeat never becomes aware of this. He's worked out that something was done to him because he does not remember visiting the planet, and asks Hardhead to be prepared to kill him if he turns on him, which he does as Jhiaxus takes control of Nightbeat once the two of them reach the silver pool, the portal to the Dead Universe. The controlled Nightbeat shoots Hardhead in the face but it barely fazes him, after which Hardhead returns the favor and does as Nightbeat asked, shooting him. He falls into the pool, and Hardhead is forced to retreat there as a horde of Micromasters move in on him, accompanied by a great internal monologue as he reflects on his life of doing some brutal things during the war and being unafraid to face whatever the future holds, even in the unknown of the pool.

Hardhead is another one of those characters that usually doesn't get much page time, and I like his no-nonsense portrayal here. He's tough inside and out, and a bot of few words who is nevertheless quite aware of who he is and of his place in the world. It's an interesting portrayal. Hardhead frustrates Nova Prime's plans by killing Nightbeat, forcing Nova Prime to take on the job of killing Optimus himself, something he did not want to do. A lot of questions have been answered with these last two Spotlights, which have been a good mix of character study and overarching plotline. Two down, two to go.

Spotlight: Doubledealer
Writer: Simon Furman Art: Dan Khanna

In yet another sequel Spotlight, this time to Spotlight: Hot Rod, the questions surrounding the whereabouts of the Magnificence are answered as Dealer returns in another attempt to procure the mysterious artifact which can answer nearly any question. Dealer is of course Doubledealer, Decepticon agent, who betrayed Hot Rod and his team when they went in to retrieve this item the first time, only Hot Rod went off-plan and escaped via a different route than expected, hiding the Magnificence. The issue portrays Dealer as manipulative and very sure of himself, as well as cautious enough to wait and be sure Hot Rod really has brought him to the right place before attempting to kill him and take the Magnificence. It's Dealer's caution that is his downfall, as Hot Rod has worked out that Dealer had to have betrayed the team, with a question to the Magnificence confirming his suspicions. Hot Rod is faster on the draw than Dealer, shooting him before he can be shot and killing the undercover Decepticon. After this the Magnificence will vanish until, as Sparky mentioned, James Roberts will bring it back during the Lost Light series.

This is a sidetrack from the Expansion storyline that the other two Spotlights covered, but it was a big plot thread that needed to be tied up, so it feels like time well spent. And a few pages cover the progressing events of the Expansion, so it's not as if that story is avoided entirely. The art is fine, though it's the weakest out of the four "Revelations" Spotlight issues, in my opinion. And like Hardhead, Doubledealer is a character who rarely appears in any substantial role, so even as a fairly standard spy/con man type of character, I enjoy seeing him get some focus.

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