Is the IDW Generation 1 continuity too Complex?

Discussion in 'Transformers Comics Discussion' started by sideswipe29, May 18, 2017.

  1. sideswipe29

    sideswipe29 Collect what makes you happy

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    I've been rereading MTMTE for the past few months and it seems that I can't get through a single issue without pulling out my phone to look something up on TFWiki.

    I want to preface that I like how complex the IDW universe is and once I have all of the pieces put together I love how everything fits into place, but when it comes to my general enjoyment of the comics, the experience is kind of ruined if I have to remind myself what the Primal Vanguard is. Not to mention how the entire timeline gets screwy because key details are told out of order.

    One example is the entire arc of Megatron. I've just reread MTMTE 9-10 and it mentions that Megatron was sent to Messatine which happens before the events of Megatron Origins which you're supposed to read prior to MTMTE. It can get confusing very quickly.

    I started reading the comics starting with Infiltration about 2 years ago and admittedly did not pay super close attention to all the details, and also skipped some stories and issues here and there, but there are times when you just want a comic to be a relaxing experience and not worry about the continuity and hidden nuances. In some issues that's possible but so many times while I'm reading I feel like I can't get through a panel because I'm looking up all of these characters and events that I'm supposed to remember.

    Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way and maybe Transformers comics just aren't meant to be an easy read. Even if it sounds contradictory, I wouldn't want the comics to become more simplified. The complex story telling it what makes the comics so good, I guess I just want to know that other people empathize with me and can get burnt out from reading and researching.
     
  2. Spartan Prime

    Spartan Prime is an apathetic douchebag

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    Nope. I think it's fine.

    They HAVE gotten into the habit of trying to world-build both in the past and present, which makes reading in a linear fashion a touch scattered. But we ARE dealing with events that take place over...what? 8 million years? There's a lot to build on.

    Megatron, in particular, though was something that was meant to be addressed back in Megatron Origins IRCC. It was supposed to be a longer miniseries but was cut for scheduling and compressed into four issues instead. Much of what was stated about his history later on was meant to be original put forward then.

    Frankly, I enjoy the more "complex" atmosphere the comics have in IDW. As much as many of us love G1, it doesn't stand the test of time and even being the old school fan I am, I can only go back and watch it in pieces and clips. I love what they built in 1984, but always wished there was more to it. IDW fills that for me, and the complexity is something I wish G1 had more of back then.
     
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  3. UltraMagnus3786

    UltraMagnus3786 That's what it is

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    I think I tend to agree with Spartan Prime in that IDW generally scratches the mature-Transformers-fiction itch. You do have to actively read the more dense comics, and with the current slate of writers building on prior continuity while expanding the universe, it will only get more complicated. Some of the stuff definitely goes over my head, but I don't think I get bogged down researching everything. The writers can't (and likely don't) expect you to remember everything, but they do reward people who pore over this stuff. I like to think I get the same enjoyment, when I flip back a few issues to check something after a revelation, as someone who actively saw something coming.

    Maybe zoom back a few thousand feet and enjoy each issue in the moment without researching? Or check out these threads and the wiki for that issue after reading? I tend to read in the moment uninterrupted then check the boards to see what I might've missed. Part of the fun of it is reading other people's thoughts and fan theories.

    So in sum, I agree with you that the comics are dense, and I can definitely see how someone would get burned out. I think it may be better for you to bifurcate reading and researching.
     
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  4. Agamus

    Agamus Not an Iguana

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    TBH I haven't had that problem at all. I have a good memory (when it comes to useless Transformers facts, at least) and I actually enjoy achronological storytelling when it's done well. Conversely it seems like a lot of your stress is coming from needing to build a chronological timeline of events, which from my point of view might not ultimately be contributing to the narrative the writers are trying to convey in each individual story.

    If you haven't yet read the Marvel G1 comics (both US & UK) I highly recommend you do, they're leaps and bounds ahead of the cartoon.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  5. RNSrobot

    RNSrobot Keeper of the Waspinator Swarm. Blam.

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    No.
     
  6. Windsweeper II

    Windsweeper II Banned

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    I'm affraid this kind of thing is inevitable once you're dealing with any long continuity:
    Things are going to be related to past events you've forgotten about.
    No way around this.
    We just have to be happy we got Tfwiki.
     
  7. Megastar

    Megastar Well-Known Member

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    This ^
     
  8. sideswipe29

    sideswipe29 Collect what makes you happy

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    I really appreciate what you said here. I do think I focus too much on keeping up with the details as I'm reading and the research takes the fun out of it.
    I like the idea of reading an issue straight through and ignoring any questions or details I may have missed.
    The problem for me though is I don't like being confused. I like having the answers so reading an issue of Transformers straight through without researching will take some discipline but I think you're right that I'll ultimately enjoy it more.

    And I will say that the comic community here on TFW is great. I've never visited this part of the site until yesterday when I posted this question. I've looked through some of the threads and it's nice to here people's concerns about Lost Light or hear fan theories. I've never been part of a community like this because I always feared that if I enjoyed something and then read criticisms or complains I would start hating it too. I know it's a bit extreme but I like making books or other media my own experience first. I think with the comics I can have my own experiences and still appreciate what other fans are saying too.

    This is definitely my problem. In addition to my need for answers I also like having a structure and timeline in my head. I think you're right that the more current series don't really depend on readers having a distinct chronology but I personally need it. Maybe I'll slowly start compiling one myself. That sounds like a fun project to me.

    Edit: Seems like TFWiki has already done it for me. IDW timeline - Transformers Wiki

    Ok?

    Would either of you like to share more about your experiences reading IDW? I started this thread to get some other people's perspective. I get that you disagree that IDW is too complex. I get that the general concensus is that the complexity is what makes it so good and I can't disagree with that but what's your reading experience like? Does some stuff go over your head too or can you remember character details from multiple series ago?
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
  9. That Guy

    That Guy Well-Known Member

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    I think the complexity in this day and age is good from a story telling perspective as well as a marketing perspective. When you look up what a reference is on tfWiki you might be intrigued by the events referenced, then it's a simple look online to find the relevant trades that cover the referenced events and that's money for IDW.

    I'd say it's not to complicated, but sometimes it's a bit inconsistent. You really have to fuzz over early Megatron's horrifying details to see him in the light he is today, same with Soundwave, Thundercracker, and Skywarp.
     
  10. Giant Umbrella

    Giant Umbrella New Member

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    I can definitely understand the feeling. I got into Transformers relatively recently when I picked up the comics, so my background knowledge is pretty limited - I spend a lot of time looking stuff up. I find the story pretty complex and the large cast of characters, the timeline and the plot's reliance on callbacks and red herrings add to that.

    However, I can also appreciate the developed world building and characterisations that come as a result of the complexity. I think UltraMagnus3786's suggestions are good ones, and when I can I try to work stuff out from context and hold off on going to the wiki until after I've finished reading, especially after accidentally finding some major spoilers while trying to clear up minor details.

    Unless your knowledge of the comics is encyclopaedic I think it must be pretty normal to have to look things up, and I hope you find a way to make reading the comics less stressful.
     
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  11. sideswipe29

    sideswipe29 Collect what makes you happy

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    You hit the nail on the head @Giant Umbrella. I jumped into the comics later and and read through the older stuff quickly to catch up. Transformers is such a rich universe with tons of characters and plot points that can be lost easily.

    There is something rewarding about reading through an issue and not looking back constantly and enjoying the book for what it is. I'm experiencing that with Lost Light right now. For me it's still a compelling story and so far I haven't had to look back on anything. If I read the older MTMTE issues like I do LL I think it'll be a more fulfilling experience.

    And I like how you put it that it's hard for a reader of these comics to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of everything that's happened. I like knowing that I'm not alone in having to look stuff up. And maybe I should have titled this thread differently, but I wanted to get some confirmation that other people look stuff up and that I wasn't just doing it wrong or not paying close enough attention.
     
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  12. Giant Umbrella

    Giant Umbrella New Member

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    No, I definitely need to look stuff up sometimes, and generally my memory is pretty good for this sort of thing! Like you I was playing catch up with the older comics, so I was reading pretty quickly. More recently I re-read MTMTE and I found it a lot easier to keep things straight in my head, so enjoyed it even more.
     
  13. Straight Edge

    Straight Edge A Legend In My Own Central Processor

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    The thing is, except for Megatron Origins and the "Prime" Triloy (Autocracy, Monstrosity and Primacy), the rest of the flashbacks are just that - Flashbacks. They tell stories that are relevant to the current plot, and flesh out ideas in the context of those "present day" plots.

    The two above are totally out of context and out of chronology. That's why I prefer to place them right before the MTMTE/RID launch in the reading order. Everything pre- MTMTE/RID is "The War". Then you kind of flash back to the beginning of the war for a big chunk. Read them right before they're semi-relevant, rather than all the way at the beginning of the run.

    Or just ignore them outright, as they're really more a hinderance to the continuity than a help.
     
  14. LordGigaIce

    LordGigaIce A Chair!

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    The complexities of the continuity add to its charm. World building is beautiful when done right, and IDW's done it right. Real history isn't neat and easy to sort through. Why should the in-universe history here be any different. Any time something comes up that makes me think or requires me to check TFWiki? Well that's the sign of a well-constructed and immersive fictional world.
     
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  15. Heliblade

    Heliblade Autobot Vigilante of Kaon

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    IDW Transformers is the right kind of complex. It has a detailed history that is easy enough to follow that I can continue to care.

    Compare to DC and Marvel, who have been around for decades, have insanely complex histories for their events and characters and rely too much on status quo for me to care. In contrast, IDW Transformers has only been around for about a decade, has a set timeline and is not afraid to change.
     
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  16. shamanking282

    shamanking282 Well-Known Member

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    This is the problem I have with the old IDW Collection hardcovers. I honestly think that, with 1 exception, the optimal reading order for the IDW-verse is in publishing order. But when the phase 1 collection hardcovers were being mapped out, they decided to go full chronological. But we've had more stories that take place in the past now, which throws it all off.
     
  17. Windsweeper II

    Windsweeper II Banned

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    I'd say it is affraid to change, but in comparison to Marvel it's goddamn adventurous.
     
  18. Bumblebee2000

    Bumblebee2000 Well-Known Member

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    I've mostly coped, having only read Spotlight Shockwave, Nightbeat and Hot Rod prior to getting into it fully with Costa's Chaos. RID Season 2 relied on All Hail Megatron early on with Marissa, but not so much that the fact that I only got round to it later hurt my experience. Still haven't read Megatron Origin and even Primacy worked alright (on its own if not with the wider continuity) even though I'd only read Autocracy and not Monstrosity. Personally reminds me of the original trilogy and prequels of Star Wars. Ignoring how well the latter is actually done, while the latter are there to fill in the details, the original trilogy would refer to things to give you enough of the picture to understand the present. Just to use ANH, there was a Senate that is now gone, Death Star plans were stolen, there is an Emperor and the Jedi were a thing wiped out after fighting in a Clone War, now seen as legend.

    Megatron used to be a miner, Ratbat was a senator, there was a 4 million year war, there is a thing called the Dead Universe that Nightbeat and Kup got stuck in. These ideas are reintroduced where felt relevant and you can choose to watch the prequels despite questionable quality (hi Spike).

    The only thing I'd say wouldn't work is Lost Light without MTMTE. Even Prime is new start-ish. You just have to accept that this world was lived in before you arrived.

    But that's just me and with my weariness of dipping my toes into DC because of continuity I'm probably a hypocrite.
     
  19. Nocturne

    Nocturne Professional Ginger

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    As some who went into MTMTE with no prior knowledge of IDW, I'd say IDW is surprisingly accessible.

    I wasn't a complete Transformers newbie as I was a big fan of BW and TFP, but even then I felt MTMTE did a good job with its world building and characters. They only time will went "wut?" was, sadly, the initial Overlord reveal. Because I hadn't read LSotW yet I'd missed out on that OMG moment.
     
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  20. TeleportingBob901

    TeleportingBob901 Well-Known Member

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    To be fair I'm still pretty new to the IDW Transformers' Universe. My only IDW comic for a long time was a physical TPB for a Spotlight series with Shockwave, Nightbeat, Sixshot, and Hot Rod. So seeing all these other past series to play catch up with is a pain in of itself because I just prefer having a physical copy around. And those are hard to find both in comic shops and online for me, and I can be a bit of a cheapskate depending on the price. But I do love the complexity of their universe and the characters that inhabit it. Although, I was interested in reading the All Hail Megatron series and I thought it was really good so far. I read some of it online, but I just wanted a physical copy so I can actually have it with me.