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

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Spotlight: Sideswipe
Writer: Simon Furman Art: Nick Roche

Sideswipe has been itching to get to Earth for a while now, and he finally makes it. Despite having his name on the cover, this issue is equally or more about wrapping up the Dead Universe plotlines as Nova Prime makes his move with his plan to bleed the Dead Universe over into the living one and rewrite reality, but he's stopped both by Optimus Prime and by Galvatron, who betrays Nova Prime and shoots him in the back. The whole issue is painted by E. J. Su and looks outstanding.

Maximum Dinobots aside, this is the culimination of all of Furman's storylines he had set up for IDW. Where he would have gone from here is something I've wondered about. Probably something very much like All Hail Megatron, given some of the ads in the single issues at the time, wtih the Decepticons taking over an Earth abandoned by Autobots as they head out to deal with other threats. Scorponok's storyline would probably have been bigger than it was as well. I find Furman's ideas hold up pretty well, and the Dead Universe is the better for having most of it left to the reader's imagination. Not for the last time, Optimus Prime confronts a predecessor gone bad and overcomes him, and Sideswipe seems to have worked out his issues. Some of what could no doubt have been epic battle scenes end up as single panels as Autobots fight Monstructor and Sixshot. And Arcee gets her revenge as she gets to kill Jhiaxus over and over again.

I'll have some thoughts on Furman's time as writer as a whole when I get to the end of Maximum Dinobots.

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andersonh1
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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Maximum Dinobots 1-5
Writer: Simon Furman Art: Nick Roche

Furman's final series for IDW picks up right where Grimlock's Spotlight left off. The series has to wrap up Hot Rod's search for Sunstreaker; reunite Grimlock with the Dinobots and resolve any fallout from Grimlock's decision to essentially take them all down together with Shockwave; catch up with Shockwave and Soundwave; detail Scorponok's plans; and finally show the results of Hunter and Sunstreaker's search for his real head. That is a lot to juggle in five issues, but Furman is up to the task, with Grimlock vs. Scorponok as the main storyline, and the others as sideplots that tie into the main plot as circumstances warrant. Most of the book is drawn by Nick Roche, with James Raiz (who I remember from Dreamwave's Armada series early on) filling in some pages. The final panels of the story feature Hunter, Jimmy and Verity reunited, so for the time being, all is well with the human cast, though as we know that will not be the case for long.

44 issues and Furman is finished with his IDW work, apart from (I think) one of the AHM coda stories, at least until Regeneration One and Transformers 84. This was his shot to establish a new G1 Transformers universe from the ground up and to modernize it, and in my opinion he did a solid job, whatever story the sales may have told to the contrary. As I noted earlier, I think part of the falling sales were attributable to the diminishing 80s nostalgia wave meaning that sales on his early issues were artificially high. But there's no denying that complaints about the pacing early on hurt sales and IDW's attempt to course correct were not entirely successful, leading to a change in writers and direction.

Furman was good at keeping multiple storylines running at once and at feeding out information a bit at a time. By building the story around a "series of mini-series" containing the primary storyline and by adding information and introducing members of Transformers massive cast of characters via side issue Spotlights, Furman was able to keep the main story focused and moving forward. Having read it all in a week or so via the collected editions, the story holds together well, though the rapid pace of information delivery in the final four Spotlights is very apparent compared to the more deliberate pacing of the -ations. It's easy to see where all the pieces fit, and though there are a few dropped plot threads (the Magnificence, possibly the palmtop computer since Nightbeat was still examining it in it's last appearance, Senator Alexander Holt's purpose in the plot), he got almost everything into those final issues.

A lot of Furman's concepts witll be revisited by future writers, which helps connect future storylines with the foundation laid down here. We haven't seen the last of Garrus-9, Nova Prime or the Dead Universe, and the failure to remove Hunter's Headmaster implants will come back to bite everyone. Sunstreaker has been traumatized by all that he's been through, and that too will not be without consequences. And Shockwave's Regenesis project will be important going forward.

I've enjoyed revisiting all of this. I remembered most of it fairly well, so it clearly made a favorable impression back in the day. I'd say on to AHM, but the collected edition has a mini-series and some Spotlights to round it out, and then volume 5 is nothing but All Hail Megatron, while volume 6 starts the Costa-written series.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Drift 1-4
Writer: Shane McCarthy Art: Alex Milne

Down and out Transformer Drift gets caught up in the Decepticon movement, acquires the name Deadlock, and becomes a typical "full of attitude" Decepticon killer. He pushes his commander Turmoil too far and has to run for his life, encountering a Transformer named Wing and a group who left Cybertron long ago under the leadership of Dai Atlas. Along the way he ultimately repents of his Decepticon beliefs and his life takes a different path. He's not an Autobot by the end of the series, though it won't be long before he joins them.

It's a good story, and Drift/Deadlock's turn towards repentance is far more credible than Megatron's will be down the road. Indeed, I enjoy reading a good redemption story. My main issue is that it's about an original character rather than a pre-existing one. My preference, given the massive amount of untapped potential in all the rarely used G1 characters is to explore one of them rather than create someone new, as McCarthy does here. That aside, there's nothing particularly wrong with Drift, I like him fine as a character. The idea that a group of Cybertronians left the planet to get away from the war and established their own society is an idea that will be revisited down the road with the various lost colonies like Caminus. This is an enjoyable mini-series, and it's good to see Lockdown and Dai Atlas brought into IDW continuity.

Spotlight: Drift
Writer: Shane McCarthy Art: Casey Coller

Drift, on an alien planet, attempts to sneak on board a Decepticon ship and free some Autobot prisoners, at the same time that the Wreckers, led by a rebuilt Kup, do the same. The ship happens to be captained by Drift's old commander, Turmoil. That's a lot of coincidence, but it's worth it in my view since the story needs to keep moving and not get bogged down in "how did all these people end up in the same place at the same time?", and because we get some good character interaction out of the deal. I like this issue quite a bit more than the Drift mini-series for those reasons. The reading order puts this issue in its chronologically correct place before AHM where Drift is already part of Kup's crew.

This issue offers one of the earliest views of how the rest of the galaxy views Transformers, and it's not good. They're a "plague", always spreading death and destruction. Quite a bit happens here: Drift joins the Autobots as Kup says he deserves a second chance. Perceptor is badly injured, which will lead to a major change down the road. It's confirmed that Perceptor helped repair and upgrade Kup, last seen on life support in his own Spotlight issue. And we get Turmoil, the self-aware Decepticon who rightly points out that the Autobots are almost where the Decepticons were at the beginning of the war, morally speaking, and the Decepticons are far worse. Some of this will tie into Sideswipe's rant after Sunstreaker's apparent death near the end of AHM, about how the Autobots have morally lost their way, which we also see when Megatron taunts Optimus Prime about having "grown a conscience".

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Spotlight: Metroplex
Writer: Andy Schmidt Art: Marcelo Matere

This is a very simple story: Sixshot chases the Throttlebots, who of course despite staying one step ahead and getting a few shots in, are no match for him. But they're fighting near Metroplex, who first crushes Sixshot with his fist and then stomps on him, which let's face it is just great, seeing the phase six bot that everyone's afraid of stepped on like a bug. And then Metroplex leaves, because he's guarding something and cannot afford to be found. The end of the issue hints that Sixshot is still alive, but do we ever see him again in this continuity? Not that I can recall. Metroplex might have killed him for all we know. Good art, good action story, I like it.

Spotlight: Jazz

Writer: Josh Van Reyk and Shaun Knowler Art: E. J. Su

Set during the Autobots' exile on Cybertron early in AHM, Tracks tells a story from earlier in the war about the time that he was badly hurt and blinded by damage, and this unknown to him Autobot gets him safely away from the Predacons. My daughter likes to joke that she's "afraid" of Jazz because of this issue, in which Jazz takes on and defeats four of the five Predacons, surviving long enough for help to come and rescue him and Tracks. Given that Jazz gets a prominent role in the early issues of AHM, this story fits in and helps explain how good he is and just what his skills are, and why he's in charge given the situation that the Autobots are facing.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Transformers: the IDW Collection book 5

Volume 5 treats AHM as three volumes, rather than one 16 issue series, and it's divided up just as the trade paperbacks were (using the same cover art).

All Hail Megatron Vol. 1
The Transformers: All Hail Megatron #1-6

A year after the events depicted in Furman's run, the Autobots are trapped on Cybertron with a critically injured Optimus Prime, and the Decepticons carry out an open, all-out assault on first New York City and then various other locations around the world as they conquer the planet with no one able to stop them. The character choices and many of the designs mark this story as a shift away from Furman's reinvention towards a more familiar G1 cast of characters, even if some changes are made. It was not a reboot, but it was an attempt to invoke familiarity with past iterations of Transformers in the hope of boosting sales, and it seems to have worked.

I never read this series in monthly issues. I had quit reading for a while and came back to these comics about the time the first Coda issue came out, so I've only ever read AHM in collected form. There were lots of complaints about the glacial pacing online as it came out monthly, but in collected form it reads well. The Decepticon conquest of Earth is systematic and unstoppable, the Autobots have some interesting internal conflicts and the addition of Kup and his crew to the mix is welcome and offers an opportunity to explain how all the characters came to be where they are as the story opens. The humans have a hard time surviving, let alone countering the Decepticon assault. It's a big story with major consequences for all involved, and it's interesting to see the Decepticons win and then wonder what to do with their victory.

There's plenty of character interaction to enjoy in this first half, both between Autobots and between Decepticons, and it's often the character moments that are the most interesting part of the plot.

All Hail Megatron Vol. 2
The Transformers: All Hail Megatron #7-12

This half of the story ties back into Furman's run in a major way as it's revealed that Sunstreaker was the traitor who ensured that the Autobots walked into a trap by working with Starscream, because he hated humanity for what the Machination had done to him. But it's Hunter's Headmaster technology that allows Bombshell to hack into the Autobot security and effect a major shutdown across the galaxy, leaving Hunter apparently brain-dead, to the point that Sideswipe gives him a mercy killing at the end of the story. That's a pretty harsh way for one of Furman's three human protagonists to go, but it fits right in with one of the themes of the story, that the Autobots' willingness to go with "acceptable losses" and not keep up with the humans they had befriended comes back to bite them in a massive way. Sideswipe thinks maybe they all deserve to die, and apparently time being injured has given Optimus plenty of time to think about what's been wrong with his approach.

The fit between Furman and McCarthy's writing is not seamless, as many have pointed out. But it worked well enough for me to squint a bit and ignore the problems in favor of what works well. I honestly have more problem with what's coming, with Decepticons who fall apart and start to cannibalize each other under Costa's writing than I do with trying to make Furman and McCarthy's stories fit together. They win a massive victory here, and yet three years later they lose the war? It doesn't seem to mesh, but I'll see how it works as I re-read the story. On the other hand, one could argue that it's yet another indication of how the Autobots and Decepticons are too much alike in this continuity, that hitting rock-bottom has much the same effect on them in the absence of a charismatic leader.

On another note, is this story the only time we actually see Devastator formed by all six Constructicons, at least while all six are alive? I think it may be. After Scrapper is killed, they do form Devastator again but the one leg doesn't work right, if I remember right. And after that, down the road, Prowl is forced into being part of Devastator and we get the Constructicons as a Prowl fan club, which is actually a fun running gag.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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Dude. Are you just sitting around reading TF comics all day? Because... I kind of envy that.
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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Ursus mellifera wrote:
Tue Jan 26, 2021 9:42 am
Dude. Are you just sitting around reading TF comics all day? Because... I kind of envy that.
No, not all day. That might be fun. :mrgreen: My end of day routine most days is to sit down for 45 minutes and just enjoy some quiet reading time before I go to sleep, and I've always been a fast reader anyway, so it doesn't take long to go through these books. If I was writing up in depth, issue by issue reviews this would take a lot longer and not be as much fun, because I read much faster than I write.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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andersonh1 wrote:
Tue Jan 26, 2021 7:23 am
The end of the issue hints that Sixshot is still alive, but do we ever see him again in this continuity? Not that I can recall.
He appears again in the Optimus Prime series, issue #13.
andersonh1 wrote:
Tue Jan 26, 2021 8:46 am
On another note, is this story the only time we actually see Devastator formed by all six Constructicons, at least while all six are alive? I think it may be. After Scrapper is killed, they do form Devastator again but the one leg doesn't work right, if I remember right. And after that, down the road, Prowl is forced into being part of Devastator and we get the Constructicons as a Prowl fan club, which is actually a fun running gag.
Yup. This is the only time we see Devastator with the original six Constructicons alive. After Prowl, eventually Scoop becomes a replacement for Scrapper.

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Re: IDW Transformers Comics - retro reviews

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andersonh1 wrote:
Tue Jan 26, 2021 10:40 am
Ursus mellifera wrote:
Tue Jan 26, 2021 9:42 am
Dude. Are you just sitting around reading TF comics all day? Because... I kind of envy that.
No, not all day. That might be fun. :mrgreen: My end of day routine most days is to sit down for 45 minutes and just enjoy some quiet reading time before I go to sleep, and I've always been a fast reader anyway, so it doesn't take long to go through these books. If I was writing up in depth, issue by issue reviews this would take a lot longer and not be as much fun, because I read much faster than I write.
You're... you're NOT writing up in depth reviews?! You have, like, a paragraph on each issue! I'm frightened and confused. :shock:
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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There's some guy on TFW who went through issue by issue, with 4-6 paragraphs an issue. I'm going by story arc (or single issues for the Spotlights), with just a couple of paragraphs for each, I'm making it easy on myself. :)

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