Robots in Disguise #20 Discussion

Discussion in 'Transformers Comics Discussion' started by Tim Formas, Aug 6, 2013.

  1. TFan2013

    TFan2013 Energon Seeker

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    I'd ask what the issue is, but you explained it in a later post. I guess the best thing to say is that unless something is a scientific law, then it's not absurd to test it.

    And? I forget what it was called but don't you remember reading about that big device in Europe where people were afraid that once scientists turned it on a blackhole could appear and kill everyone? By pouring money in from many different countries such a device was capable of being built to test and record physics. It's possible!
     
  2. Acteon

    Acteon Overworked

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    Meh, I'm with Smog mostly - I pick up the book because it's Transformers and I don't read a lot of other comics these days.

    I've found the plot up until now to be wildly uneven, with a group of central characters where nobody shines, the dialogue is, for my tastes, bloody awful and completely humourless. Even worse, these are the A-listers, the bots that Barber held back from Roberts because he wanted to use them, and he's just completely wasted the roster up until now. (Bluestreak might finally have had some characterization, damn you Barber!)

    If MTME didn't show it up every month, then I'd be more forgiving. RiD has shone on rare occasions - anything Wheeljack-centric tends to improve an issue and the Shockwave flashback story was fantastic. It's these rare glimmers that keep me buying. I usually purchase digitally and pick up the trades, but I haven't picked up a single trade for RiD.
     
  3. SMOG

    SMOG Vocabchampion ArgueTitan

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    I'm sorry, but that has nothing... NOTHING... to do with one's degree of tolerance for crude writing. Well, except to make the rather outré observation that sci-fi and fantasy fans often have lower standards in general, compared to "grown-up" literature.

    Did you feel that? I felt a great disturbance in the internet, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in anger and SMOG was suddenly silenced... :p 

    But no, my point is rather that bad writing has pretty much NOTHING to do with one's suspension of disbelief as related to science-fiction or fantasy tropes. If anything, this is related to genre conventions, and the way that we accept certain superficialities to be inherent in them ("The plot sucked, but it's an action movie, so what did you expect?").

    I'm willing to look at how genre informs a simplified or more broadly populist writing style, but I think a line needs to be drawn between that issue, and the issue of plausible suspension of disbelief as applied to the "science" aspects of fantasy worlds.

    Except that what you're doing in that instance, is making a case defending the continued mediocrity of mainstream comics. I don't really think that's constructive.

    We may argue about what we each think is (subjectively) good or bad, but in principal, I think there are some problems with the philosophy you're flirting with there. Yes... obviously comics are written differently than books, or television or movies. In fact, different kinds of comics are written differently from each other as well. But I do not think that I'm judging RID by the wrong metrics. I am judging it as a comic... and even, as a Transformers comic... and I'm finding it comes up wanting.

    I hear you on this. I can sympathize with things that are made with great enthusiasm and love for the material, but if they're still bad... well, they can still be hard to fully enjoy. For me, Barber hovers on this line.. and lately he's fallen over the line for me.

    Yeah, it's always a tough call... do I jump ship, or hang on, in hopes that something cool is just around the corner? You can get burned either way, which is why I'd like to cancel my RID order at a spot where I can easily jump back on again when the trade version comes out (if warranted).

    Time to bust out the Unobtanium!

    Yeah, that's totally my feelings, and my possible strategy from here on...

    *sniff, sniff*

    *twitch, twitch*

    nnnnnnnneeeeeerrrrrRRRRRRDSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    [​IMG]


    zmog
     
  4. WilyMech

    WilyMech Well-Known Member

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    I am going see it how panes out with Dark Cybertron.

    A good writer is hard to find but good editor is even harder.
     
  5. fryguy81

    fryguy81 Rungover

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    and in there lies the distinction sir. I don't find it to be bad writing, at all. My criteria for a comic is simple: Did I enjoy reading it and did it provide entertainment. This book does that. I don't have issue overall with the dialogue, structure, or plot of this book.


    I just don't. The very things you point out as the stuff you find at fault with in this book are the very same things that make this book enjoyable and fun. I find Starscream to be the best he's ever been written since his turn in Infiltration.

    You can say that it's clumsy, clueless, and childlike but I simply don't agree.

    It's too soon to judge this Starscream now. THis entire issue dealt with a character that is not trusted by anyone and became a leader because he was the only option that was saying what the people wanted to hear.

    He ousted those that would oppose him and had them banished. That's childish? That's a smart political move.

    In this issue, the main focus was on him trying to shore up his newly acquired status and power and finding it a hard task.

    is there no appreciation for the fact that the only people Starscream can confide in honestly are those that are no longer able to respond or cannot truly hear him in the first place. THat's a sad statement about this character if there ever was one.


    His choice of going along with the lie Rattrap told and having Scoop arrested is in itself an interesting twist that fits with the politically minded Starscream and his reasoning was sound. Starscream took a page from Megatron and aligned himself with those that he could understand and, in understand them, knows how to control.

    This was a pivotal issue. It has finished up this trio of books that have been setting the stage for Dark Cybertron. It has touched base with the main characters, reminded everyone of where everyone is at and what they are doing leading into the crossover. These issues are important because they bring the reader up to speed and remind them of things that may have not been touched on in awhile (like Pax and Co.). These "breather" issues always take a beating in reviews because they don't tie into what has come before, they stand alone, but they are pivotal. They are needed and it's good comic book writing to have them.

    This book did more than just touch base and set the stage for the coming big event. It was an issue that also fleshed out Starscream and did it well. It Did It Well.

    It wasn't mediocre, it wasn't wanting, it was well written, paced, and set up some interesting options in the future (once DC runs its course).
     
  6. Yggdrasil

    Yggdrasil Banned

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    We sure are Mr. Literature professor ;) 
     
  7. Acteon

    Acteon Overworked

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    Well that's your opinion of course, but I really, really can't agree with it. Don't get me wrong, I'd really love to, but I just can't. I'm glad it ticked all your boxes, but to me it read like a 90's comic. It had no subtlety. The dialogue was awful.

    It can't be too soon to judge Starscream either, he's been a major player in this book for over a year. He should be playing the game like a boss, but he just isn't. Marvel Starscream would have locked this all down way before now.

    Barber is trying to write political drama on a level with House of Cards, but he doesn't have the subtle wit for it. Some issues have stood out as I posted above, but its way short of where it should be.

    (Sorry to butt in on the discussion BTW)
     
  8. fryguy81

    fryguy81 Rungover

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    No need to apologize. discussions are open to everyone. I concede that I am clearly in the minority when it comes to my appreciation for this book and the portrayal of it's characters.

    My "judge too soon" comment wasn't on Starscream's character as a whole but on his running of Iacon which only began in this issue.

    I can't judge based on G1 Marvel Starscream. I'm only now onto volume 2 of the classic marvel trade.
     
  9. Anguirus

    Anguirus Well-Known Member

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    Marvel Starscream WAS cartoon Starscream, then he was dead for half the book, then he had one brilliant turn in the Underbase saga that still was ultimately self-destructive, then he was a coward who latched onto one powerful Decepticon after another. Meh.
     
  10. WilyMech

    WilyMech Well-Known Member

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    The reason why I like Starscream in this book is because he is devious, cunning, and so evil politician bastard ever run across. Starscream is tough char to write I guess because he is not overly powerful and he is schemer also back stabber. It is matter of a balancing act. In Prime I hated Starscream because he is weak and beaten comparing to G1, IDW, and Marvel it is like totally different char. Starscream is seriously flawed character sometimes the flaw overwealms the character in how he written. Barbar's Starscream is balanced with all the character quirks and flaw but the story rough around the edges.
     
  11. SMOG

    SMOG Vocabchampion ArgueTitan

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    Okay, arguably "enjoying reading it" and "providing entertainment" are the same thing. However, I wouldn't want this to seem to appear as if I have some kind of complex evaluation matrix that informs my decision of whether I "enjoy" something or not. Rather, it's the opposite. I either enjoy something, or do not, and then I question what parts of it contributed to this, and why.

    I can't deny he's getting more of a spotlight than he's gotten in a long, long time (or ever). Conceptually, I like the idea of where his arc is supposed to be taking him in the series, but in practice, I don't feel like he's getting there or being written very well along the way.

    It seems like a dirty word to say it, but Starscream in All Hail Megatron was actually pretty good too... once you got past the first few issues, at least.

    :lol  Are you kidding??

    Okay, so maybe I'll judge him after he's the centerpoint of this series for THREE whole years? How long does it take to judge a character? A year and a half isn't enough? Six months maybe? I think you can judge a character's handling in ONE issue. If this issue were the only issue I'd read, my evaluation would be the same. Maybe worse.

    You can say all of that, but if the actual portrayal of the character is weak, if the circumstances are clumsy or simplistically written, then laying out the synopsis like that doesn't mean a thing. It's the old "show, don't tell" maxim. Barber has trouble with that, which is one reason he's ALWAYS relying on monologues to hold his stories together (this issue is no different).

    Oh, it sounds deep when you try to say it that way. But schemers and egotists are always in this situation. Starscream is both, and we already know it. This says NOTHING new about his character at all. Monologuing to deaf ears is literary masturbation, and it's all we've gotten in this series, month after month. If you want to make something compelling and interesting, you take a tightly-wound schemer or megalomaniac, and place him in a confessional position with someone who CAN listen to him. Then there are actually some stakes involved!

    Again... scheming bad guy enlists the aid of transparently skeevy informant and frames his political rival in the most flamboyant way possible? That's "interesting"? Not exactly what I'd call a Machiavellian shell game. :p 

    I've said it before... the problem with Barber attempting to write a "political" plotline with lots of plotting and mystery is that, deep down, I don't think he really cares about that stuff. His brain doesn't seem to work that way, and his stories always seem to shy away from any of the actually interesting complexities that his setting could provide, in favour of really dull, obvious superficialities. He put himself in this box... set himself up to write a storyline that he doesn't have the particular chops for.

    This really isn't any different than how this series has been structured from the beginning. I'm not about to hand out an award for a writer who splits his action between 3 major theatres, and then checks in with each one before bringing them together. That's not good writing... that's frickin' BASICS. And "breather" issues? Really? This whole series has been breathers and teases, and dissatisfying reveals. This issue isn't weak because it's "setting the stage"... it's because it's written to a 10-year-old's level of sophistication.

    Are you trying to hypnotize me? :lol 

    Heh, not even close.

    Bah, science!

    People I agree with are always welcome. :D 

    Sadly, Marvel Starscream was a victim of a monthly release schedule, and an overloaded cast of characters. After 4 issues, his rival-schemer role had already been occluded by Shockwave, and then he got stomped by Omega Supreme to make way for new toys, and spent the next year in cold storage.

    I like some of the stuff from the Marvel run (especially the later and UK stuff) but I have to acknowledge that a lot of characters fell through the cracks almost completely. On one level, that's why the original bios will always be the first, best and most important Transformers "fiction", because it boils down the platonic essence of every character, and provides the launch pad for all stories to come... both realized, and unrealized. :) 

    zmog
     
  12. Kakashi

    Kakashi Well-Known Member

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    In my opinion, this issue represents perfectly who IDW Screamer has become. He's a bot who's trying to change and leave the past behind, but he has a crippling lack of charisma, so the game he chooses to play forces him back to his old tricks. And he is such a freaking attention whore, tearing down Scoop for doing good deeds that he should've been doing (or at least organizing) because he can't stand the limelight not to be on him.


    His character is such a wreck. And that's who he is. You can see this plainly as he tries to justify himself to Metalhawk's corpse. And in his own mind he IS completely justified.

    I just can't believe he saved Wheeljack only to draw him into this little game. And calling him friend? Talk about a kiss of death...
     
  13. SMOG

    SMOG Vocabchampion ArgueTitan

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    I think that this is an interesting spin to put on this Starscream... though really, Starscream has spent way more time in various fictions being a failure, so I honestly feel like we need to see him be competent for a while just to remind us who he's supposed to be. If the guy was genuinely smart and charismatic and pulling strings right and left, and still failing utterly, or full of uncertainty, or screwing himself over... that could actually generate some real pathos. This cartoon melodrama... not so much.

    I think that a more adroit writer could have pushed this angle more fruitfully. As always, god is in the details.

    zmog
     
  14. fryguy81

    fryguy81 Rungover

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    This, this right here is why I'm done discussing this. This is about the third time you have said this exact same thing. There are ways to critique a work without insulting it and I take it as an insult to myself as well.

    Because the implication is that if it's written for a 10 year old's sophistication and I enjoy it then I'm an idiot. Sorry it's not Joyce Carol Oates or Yates.

    But I am an educated man and I enjoy it. I find it to be everything you do not. I find that it walks that line of being something that kids will enjoy and still maintain a sophisticated enough plot and characters to entice and entertain an adult.

    And in the end, a comic that is well written is supposed to do that: Be something for everyone.
     
  15. SMOG

    SMOG Vocabchampion ArgueTitan

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    I'm sorry if you're taking it that way... I'm not saying it to insult you in any way; I'm saying it because it's true. This dialog and interaction in this series is very close to what I see in Transformers: Prime. I don't diss people for enjoying things for kids... I've certainly enjoyed things that fall into that category (Avatar:The Last Airbender being a good example), but I don't try to hide or deny or embellish that fact with trumped up praise. I am critical even of things I love, and also I sometimes suspend my critical faculties in my enjoyment of things... but I do so with some degree of awareness.

    You've said you enjoy it many times here. That's fine. I haven't taken issue with that, nor would I. We like what we like, and relative quality is no more a determinant than a host of other factors. What I have done is disagree with your defense of the series on other more specific or rational grounds. I'm sorry that you're taking that personally, but you shouldn't.

    Cheer up, chum. You know I'm just a curmudgeon by nature... we may not agree, but you have to be at least as patient with my criticism of this series as I would be of your praise. Which is to say, I don't mind disagreeing with you or debating it... but don't get bent out of shape about it. I mean, if you were John Barber, I'd understand if you were a bit insulted... but you're not, right? ;) 

    There is a whole range of sensation and affect that contributes to the charm of a story (film, comic, TV, whatever)... sometimes that simplicity or universality is a boon (My Neighbor Totoro, for example). However, I think that spiritually, I must disagree with your point that a "well written comic" is "something for everyone". I think that's an artificial metric, that can often be more of a compromise than a benefit.

    By trying to appeal to "everyone", you can end up diluted, and missing your mark. In fact, trying consciously to write for a "child demographic" can also lead you to underestimate that audience. Transformers comics are a small market, but I think that trying to play simultaneously to adult and child sensibilities would be a mistake.

    Not that I think Barber is doing that on purpose... which is all the more sad.

    zmog
     
  16. khopson

    khopson Well-Known Member

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    I hear ya, Fryguy. Given how complex MTMTE can be (which I love btw), I enjoy that RID is a little more toned down. If RID was like MTMTE, I think my head would explode. Being a writer myself (can't shut my brain off most of the time), some evenings I just want to relax and not have to think too much after a mentally exhausting day. As a result, RID offers a nice balance IMO. Complex characters and story lines can be great, but simplicity can be just as effective to the right reader. As a writer, you can NEVER please everyone. That's why you're taught not to write for others but, instead, to write for yourself. You obviously have to have a target audience in mind, but you write for the love of the craft and hope that some readers will see this in your writing.
     
  17. fryguy81

    fryguy81 Rungover

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    Ugh, I hate when I get embroiled in something and I cross that line between passion and emotional to the point where I lose the detachment that one needs when they debate or discuss. It's a rarity that that happens to me but it does happen. I always end up regretting it everytime.

    But again on your points, the main thing is point of view. The very things that you use as your argument on why you dislike this book are the very same reasons I like it. It makes it very hard to discuss fully, because what can I use to point out why?


    you write too? Anything I can read (looking to put some fan fiction up on here eventually).

    I agree with you on MTMTE being a reason why I like the direction and tone of RID. I need a Transformers book that is a different spice to that one.
     
  18. SMOG

    SMOG Vocabchampion ArgueTitan

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    It happens. I've been there too. :) 

    I think it seems that way, but it may be something different. In most of your comments, the way you approach your estimation of the series is by describing the action, the progress of events, what 'happens'... while it may seem like we're addressing the same points, I think my critiques are more aimed at the tone and the execution. It's a distinction that I often see in storytelling... content and style. Both are important, but different people have different priorities.

    It's like Shakespeare... when a fight scene pops up, the stage directions are generally "they fight". For the plot of the play, it's only important that the fight happens, and that there is a set outcome. For the experience of the audience, that fight should excite and enthrall them, and make them love or hate the characters.

    For you, it seems as though at the end of the story, you can say "Starscream gets ahead by crooked dealings, despite interference. All progresses as it should." I get to the end of the story thinking "I wasn't caught up in the personal interactions of the characters, so I remain unconvinced and dissatisfied with the events".

    Maybe that's an oversimplification, but that feels like the difference in approach here.

    While for me, it's the exact opposite. When I read RID, I'm only more acutely aware of the relative lack of excitement and stimulation I experience compared to MTMTE. It always leaves me cold. :( 

    zmog
     
  19. ss4steve

    ss4steve Rogue Phase Sixer

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    You know I sat down and I watched 4 hours of old G1 Transformers season 1 and 2 yesterday just for kicks.
    I enjoyed it greatly due to the nostalgia and childhood memories those episodes produce.

    Having said that, while I simply adore the series, it also has its place. Much of it is poorly designed, poorly written, terribly executed, and edited on a level lacking of professionalism.
    I think RID characterizes a lot of things that I like in a comics about giant alien robots from my childhood.

    However, it IS written at a juvenile level devoid of real imaginative content.....

    ....so what if it is Fryguy? You can still enjoy it for the exact reasons Smog does not.
     
  20. khopson

    khopson Well-Known Member

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    I've been working with a Canadian publishing company since 2010. I've published several stories/books with them (recently contracted two new manuscripts). I typically write in the sci-fi, dark fiction/horror, and crime fiction genres. I'd love to do some fanfiction stuff, but I've yet to experiment with that.