I am (re)reading IDW's G1 stuff

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I am (re)reading IDW's G1 stuff

Post by Brendocon » Tue Aug 18, 2015 2:38 pm

A few months (maybe longer, probably longer) I asked for some reading order advice to get caught up on MTMTE, etc, which you all (well, some of you, I don't remember) helpfully assisted with. And I said I'd share my thoughts as I got on.

This thread isn't that.

Well, not yet.

You may recall I threw a bit of a hissy fit at the conclusion of All Hail Megatron (there was swearing, I was tired, I was hungry, I said some things I definitely meant) and swore off everything IDW would ever publish again. A rule I broke for Last Stand of the Wreckers. And Locke & Key. And Parker. But y'know, principles.

And as it's been years since I read the earlier IDW stuff (and as I'm expecting MTMTE to at least touch on some of the pre-AHM plots), I figured I would READ EVERYTHING* FROM THE BEGINNING. This is the story of my ensuing nervous breakdown.

* expect Megatron Origin. That one can really [composite word including 'f*ck'] off.

So yeah. Thoughts and opinion and controversy and burning justice as follows:

Furman’s –ation Saga

Good solid well-plotted fun, much as I remember. Richly layered with lots going on. Probably too much going on. I tried to imagine reading this as a newcomer, unfamiliar with the characters and scenarios and [composite word including 'f*ck'] me there’s a lot to handle there.

Infiltration’s nice and slow-paced, but from there in it’s just backstory and machinations (bdtmsh) and I think a bit too much going on. You’ve got Bludgeon, Shockwave, Soundwave, Scorponok, Dealer, Banzaitron, Galvatron, Jhiaxus and the Reapers – all with their own devious plans and mysterious agendas. And that’s in addition to the main Earth-based plot and the Thunderwing backstory.

Okay, it's a rich, dense well-mapped-out tapestry of universe building, but it feels like it's all being thrown into the mix in too much of a rush, with nothing having any time to really breathe.

Plus there’s the complication of the mini/spotlight structure. Read in publication order as one story is fine, but trying to read it in trades or just reading the minis? Forget that.

All in all, as much as I like this stuff, I can totally understand why Revelation was truncated and a soft reboot deemed necessary. I may not agree with the way said reboot was handled, but I still get why they thought one was needed.

Read in one block as opposed to monthly I am a bit clearer now on how Sixshot was still around post-Revelation. Though not so much on how Jhiaxus got a control chip into Bludgeon, nor how Bludgeon isn't a dribbling mess when we next see him in the AHM Coda stuff. Maybe that'll get cleared up when proper writers come back to the books though.

I’m not going to go into any more depth about this era because I think we all discussed it to death at the time. Though I had forgotten just how shoddy Spotlight Grimlock was in terms of production.

All Hail Megatron

While I made the decision to do all this in publication order, I deliberately broke that rule to finish Furman’s stuff before starting AHM, and it caused me much less stress this time. I still dislike AHM. I don’t hate it as much as I did when it came out, and reading it certainly reminds me why I hated it, but it’s subsided now into... well, more a simmering contempt.

Every issue seems to find a new way of just rubbing me up the wrong way. From the All-Star Superman opening of #1 through to the giant **** it takes on Hunter at the end. Through the pointless MP jet redesigns, the continuity headaches with the Insecticons and Reflector, any use of the word Seeker, the one-dimensional human characters, calling Octane “Tankor” and Thundercracker’s arse-pull face turn, the pointless Scourge namedrop when he later turns up in the Coda issue that completely drops the ball on who can survive longest out of the Dead Universe... it all seems custom engineered to just annoy me.

But as I say, don’t quite hate it. Drift is far less annoying once divorced from the “OMG you’ve never seen a character like this before!” hype that accompanied the issues. It’s at least four issues too long for the plot. Omega Supreme’s appearance would have been far less deus ex machina and a bit more Chekhov’s distress call if it there hadn’t been many issues of dross in between. The dialogue is largely terrible and the whole “let’s not mention any of the ongoing and bring in new fans” being replaced by continuity overload in #7 is still just bewildering. But…

Hrm. Maybe I do still hate it after all.

The Ongoing

Right, now we’re into stuff I’ve not read before.

Obviously the first thing I need to say about the first arc is holy [composite word including 'f*ck'] the art is terrible. The movie aesthetic just needs keeping the hell away from everything, even the movies. Mercifully it seems to have been dropped after For All Mankind, but good god damn what were they thinking with that.

Anyway the story. It’s been a mixed bag so far. There are some great ideas simmering away in there about the nature of war and the inherent contradictions involved in adapting to the long term reality of peace. But it’s just really hamfisted in the execution. Hot Rod self-applying “Rodimus Prime” just because Swindle told him some other robots had said it stinks of half-arsedness. As does the vague “Swindle stole combiner tech” handwave. How? When? What did he steal? Designs? A chip that enables it? Did he steal Wildfly? Why does Spike decide to use Breakdown as a taxi? Do Skywatch not have their own vehicles? There’s just an air of not-really-trying about it.

Some of the dialogue is just shockingly bad, while the “x years later” timejump created a real disconnect for me. There are Decepticons stranded on Earth who I’m sure were part of the group who escaped at the end of AHM. Though it is nice to have acknowledgement that there were other ‘Cons doing stuff elsewhere in the world while All Hail Megatron focussed on NYC as if nowhere else existed (bar for evil EU bureaucrats happy to bomb the US). But yeah, there's some nice ideas in there, but it just feels that Costa doesn't have enough of a handle on the characters and set-up to be able to deploy them comfortably.

The Bumblebee mini is fun enough, though the use of his G1 character model is rather distracting.

Last Stand of the Wreckers is obviously still pure unadulterated love.

The Ironhide mini annoyed the hell out of me with issue 1 but won me around by the end.

Drift’s mini initially felt like a pointless retread of what we were told in his spotlight, but I enjoyed it once it got going. Well, until the last two pages with the “HAI I AM IN JAPAN AND AT PEACE” ending that nobody needed. Comedy gold. In a really depressing manner.

Spotlight Prowl is an odd one. It doesn’t really feel like anything Prowl would actually do, even having been in deep cover (with an Autobot sigil on his bonnet) for however long. Maybe that’s the way they’re taking Prowl’s character, I don’t know. Can’t help but feel I’d have accepted it more if it were, say, Spotlight Streetwise.

Felt International Incident was decent knock-around fluff. Loved the Predacon Republic of China. Book's a lot more fun now it's opened up in terms of scope.

As it stands I’ve done up to #13. Hot Rod has just reclaimed the Matrix from Starscream and been blown into space by what appears to be Animated Megatron, now with light piping. Also Razorclaw is a lion for no reason whatsoever.

I shall report back with more thoughts once I’ve read the next block of stuff. Possibly at the weekend.
Grrr. Argh.

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Re: I am (re)reading IDW's G1 stuff

Post by Computron » Wed Aug 19, 2015 2:47 am

MTMTE is going to be such a breath of fresh air for you.

Kudos for having the strength of will to get through all of the early stuff. I couldn't do it.

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Re: I am (re)reading IDW's G1 stuff

Post by Professor Smooth » Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:58 am

Now that I know that "it gets better" I really need to go back and slog through the Ongoing series.

All Hail Megatron was (with the exception of Megatron Origin, of which we will NEVER SPEAK AGAIN) the worst thing that IDW has done with the Transformers license. But it's better than ANYTHING Dreamwave released (while, itself, being VERY Dreamwave-ish). I like to think of AHM as IDW's "**** you" to DW that just got away from them.
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Re: I am (re)reading IDW's G1 stuff

Post by Brendocon » Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:36 am

Computron wrote:Kudos for having the strength of will to get through all of the early stuff. I couldn't do it.
It is just a case of "getting through it". Doing it in one go helps, as you don't have the month-long gap between issues where you've got time to actually digest and assess what has (or hasn't, usually) just happened. It's a case of "right, that issue down, onto the next... then the next" until the arc's done.

Obviously there's been a fair amount of swearing involved even in this format, but not quite as much. "It's okay, there's a Wreckers issue once I've done this" is much easier to cope with than "oh well, maybe there'll be another issue along in a few weeks that isn't terrible."

Knowing there's a finite end is a massive plus, too. Just becomes a countdown of "don't worry... only [x] issues to go... breathe... it's all gonna be okay..."

Unless you bastards have been stringing me along in an elaborate internet-wide hoax and MTMTME is actually written by Eric Holmes.
Grrr. Argh.

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Re: I am (re)reading IDW's G1 stuff

Post by Metal Vendetta » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:52 am

I've only been through the ongoing two or three times at best. There are ups and downs along the way, but pay attention to anything with the name Roberts on the cover as it WILL become relevant later. In some cases, four years later.
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Re: I am (re)reading IDW's G1 stuff

Post by Professor Smooth » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:37 pm

I'll never be able to say it enough. James Roberts is to Simon Furman what Don Rosa was to Carl Barks

Good times are comin', Brendo..
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Re: I am (re)reading IDW's G1 stuff

Post by Best First » Wed Aug 19, 2015 2:40 pm

Brendocon wrote: Unless you bastards have been stringing me along in an elaborate internet-wide hoax and MTMTME is actually written by Eric Holmes.
****. He knows
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Re: I am (re)reading IDW's G1 stuff

Post by Professor Smooth » Wed Aug 19, 2015 2:46 pm

Best First wrote:
Brendocon wrote: Unless you bastards have been stringing me along in an elaborate internet-wide hoax and MTMTME is actually written by Eric Holmes.
****. He knows
You mean I created and maintained Tumblr all this time for *nothing*?
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Re: I am (re)reading IDW's G1 stuff

Post by Brendocon » Mon Aug 24, 2015 9:13 pm

So I've done Revenge of the Decepticons, Infestation, Heart of Darkness and Space Opera.

Well, er, that's... erm. Yeah.

Again, some nice ideas floating about in there, but bogged down by haphazard execution.

Revenge of the Decepticons is all over the place in pretty much every way I'd try to judge it. Megatron turning himself in probably makes more sense than when Prime did it, but it felt like I'd turned three pages at once. Did the other Decepticons just stand still and watch him walk off? Also it seems that Jazz killed a guy and nobody gives a ****? Megatron's threat to field strip Optimus like a rifle was hilarious and not in a good way.

Infestation was better than I thought it would be. Lovely Rochey art and flashbacks to the previous zombie stuff was good, as was the implication that the zombie overmind was something to do with the Dead Universe (even if that got buried). Any good will undermined whenever anybody used the term Decepticon to refer to Galvatron and his group, though.

Heart of Darkness was... er. Yeah. Nice in theory, but names like Thinkbox and D-Void stop me being able to take it seriously. Also seriously not a fan of the art on show. Like seriously seriously. Ess are ess ell why.

Space Opera was a step in the right direction. Nice to see plot threads starting to tie together, even good to see Wheelie back. Though there's still an undercurrent of sloppiness in the writing. Sunstreaker (and Galvatron) calling Hot Rod "Rodimus" when they've no reason to is a strong example. A smaller one is "Insecticon Bob". While it's cute on the surface, there's no reason for him to have an "Earth" name when Ironhide has no memory of the place and Sunstreaker... well. You know where I'm going with that one. Indicative of the whole "yeah whatever" vibe that seems to run through the ongoing.

The next issue has Mr Roberts' name on the cover, so hopefully things will start to pick up.
Grrr. Argh.

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Re: I am (re)reading IDW's G1 stuff

Post by Metal Vendetta » Tue Aug 25, 2015 9:25 am

Going from Heart of Darkness to Chaos Theory is like going from McDonalds' fried clownmeat to actual food.
I would have waited a ******* eternity for this!!!!
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Re: I am (re)reading IDW's G1 stuff

Post by Brendocon » Tue Aug 25, 2015 4:47 pm

I can't get my head round Heart of Darkness at all.

In theory it's great. Returning to Gorlam Prime, discovering the secrets of the Dead Universe, finding out that the thing that (probably) killed it is awake and gunning for this universe. Catching up with Hardhead and Arcee along the way. All told through the eyes of Galvatron as he amasses an army to protect this reality and save the day. ZOMBIE NEMESIS PRIME. All chronicled in a separate mini that can dovetail into the finale of the ongoing as the Autobots catch wind of his plans and misunderstand... all building up to an Edge of Extinction style smackdown on Cybertron. Written by the guys behind all War of Kings, GotG and the Thanos Imperative.

There's not a part of that doesn't have me punching the air in excitement.

So whyyyyyyyyy is it so... so... I don't even know. Sure, giving art duties to somebody who's seen Galvatron before would have helped. But it's all just so dull and underwhelming and meh. I mean D-Void. D-VOID ffs. I mean haha I get it because it's devoid and the void and just shoot me in the face already. "This is Thinkbox, whose parts were all used in the construction of a ship without anybody knowing. He's an ancient Headmaster despite that making no sense at all. He's going to serve no purpose at all for the rest of this mini."

I get the McDonalds thing, I do. It's meant to be meat, and you can see how it once might have been meat, and there are people who'll definitely accept it as meat. But I saw the billboard outside the building and this isn't what I was led to believe I was getting.

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Re: I am (re)reading IDW's G1 stuff

Post by snarl » Tue Aug 25, 2015 10:28 pm

You raise a good point - I couldn't believe how gash that mini turned out considering who was behind it.

I think it'd make a great project for somebody to take the basic ingredients and to just re - write it so that it's good.
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Re: I am (re)reading IDW's G1 stuff

Post by Professor Smooth » Wed Aug 26, 2015 11:18 am

I see it as very much "If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding". The writers have this great, multi-year, multi-book, epic thing planned out...but in order to get there, they've got to wrap up all the leftovers.
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Re: I am (re)reading IDW's G1 stuff

Post by Brendocon » Wed Aug 26, 2015 3:10 pm

Professor Smooth wrote:I see it as very much "If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding". The writers have this great, multi-year, multi-book, epic thing planned out...but in order to get there, they've got to wrap up all the leftovers.
Smooth in "faulty analogy" shock.

Meat is the main course. It's the whole point. Dessert is just a nice little coda to follow the main meal. If meat's something that you've just got to get through, then whoever's cooked it isn't very good.

Oh right I get you now.

Anyway, Chaos Theory.
I'm not sure if it's excellent or it's just really ******* good but seems excellent because of what's beforehand. Either way huge pair of thumbs up. Not sure what Bumblebee and Prowl were doing there as they'd stayed back on Earth, or where Xaaron came from, but stuff like this I'm willing to overlook because plot and dialogue. The conversation about Megatron's black hole power, Prowl self-consciously breaking character to give an actual opinion, the fact the entire war is down to Impactor sticking up for some random stranger, Pax quoting Megatron paraphrasing Tony Benn. The implication that Optimus was never right for the Matrix and was just Senator Deep Throat's convenient choice for a figurehead. Excellent stuff.

Police Action
Probably the best arc of Costa's story. Smaller cast, tighter focus, better structure. Good that they're actually acknowledging Jazz's actions, though it's disappointing that it's basically treated as "just keep a low profile". Nice to see some loose ends tied up in a relatively sensible manner. And also points for assessing Spike as a selfish arrogant bastard. It's almost a shame that this is the last arc, as it seems Costa is finally getting a handle on what he's doing. Though that may just because he's wrapping it up.

Chaos
Painted artwork is always a tricky thing. In this instance it manages to just be a sequence of images rather than feeling like a flowing narrative. Also it's a bit too murky for me to properly appreciate what's going on. Galvatron's army now appears to exclusively be made of Sweeps, and I was quite confused as to where Hardhead had gotten to. Sadly it seems that it was just a case of half a dozen art errors in Heart of Darkness (yeah, I'm stunned too) which just made it look like he was with them.

Not sure where Silverbolt et al came from - presumably arrived with Xaaron? Megatron's escape was nicely handled and I'd clean forgotten about his personal space bridge, so that was a nice bit of Chekhoving. Chromedome, Swerve et al pretty much appearing out of nowhere felt a bit forced, but presumably MTMTE is going to fill some of that in. Some good dialogue on offer, too. Especially the infodump line.

Good (if a bit predictable) twist about the real nature of the HoD/D-Void. Was kind of hoping that they wouldn't go that route, as "Optimus was right to mistrust him all along! Yay Optimus!" is a lot less interesting than reluctantly shelving enmities to save the day together. Cyclonus's face turn was nicely done. To echo what I said about Police Action, Costa seems a lot more comfortable at this stage. Whether that's because he had Roberts co-plotting or just because he was off so could relax a bit more, I don't know. But, and it's mad I'm saying this, I'm kind of interested to see how he would have gotten on going forward. The space-bound issues always seemed to flow better than the stuff on Earth, and with somebody sharing the ideas I think he could have gotten the hang of this. But hey ho. It's all ifs, buts and maybes.

Pax Cybertronia
Bit of a leftfield coda. Though I suppose it's as good a way as any to draw a line under the ongoing. It's interesting to have a comic iteration of Alpha Trion who I actually kind of like. Flashbacks were kinda nice though could have done without the Megatron Origin one.

QUESTIONS!
- Where's Jimmy Pink been in all this? Is he going to be back in MTMTE?
- Should I have read / do I need to read Autocracy and Monstrocity and stuff like that?
Grrr. Argh.

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Re: I am (re)reading IDW's G1 stuff

Post by Metal Vendetta » Wed Aug 26, 2015 3:59 pm

Brendocon wrote:QUESTIONS!
- Where's Jimmy Pink been in all this? Is he going to be back in MTMTE?
- Should I have read / do I need to read Autocracy and Monstrocity and stuff like that?
ANSWERS!
- Have patience, Pink's story's not done yet.
- If you like. They're all set in the early days of the war and while I don't think anything happens in them that directly affects the present day stuff they're not phenomenally awful either as long as you can stomach the Livio art, which you correctly identified as being "just a sequence of images rather than feeling like a flowing narrative" and "a bit too murky for me to properly appreciate what's going on".
I would have waited a ******* eternity for this!!!!
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