Tarn, is that it ?

Discussion in 'Transformers Comics Discussion' started by Lightningsonic, Jun 11, 2020.

  1. Bass X0

    Bass X0 Captain Commando

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    No. Cyberverse is a reboot. IDW is just modern G1. Its as G1 as Dreamwave, Sunbow and Marvel are. Doesn't matter who uses the G1 characters or when, they are still all the G1 characters.
     
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  2. Haywired

    Haywired Hakunamatatacon

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    IDW is about as much G1 as is Cyberverse.

    They're both reboots using G1 inspired designs. Deep denial isn't changing it.
     
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  3. Bass X0

    Bass X0 Captain Commando

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    You're right about deep denial not changing anything but you are the one in deep denial.

    Not I.
     
  4. raindance773

    raindance773 Well-Known Member

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    The problem is that Tarn wasn't just a chump. He was a powerhouse who was filled with zeal. He wasn't built up to just be a chump. He is supposed to be a legitimate threat and the Autobots obviously thought he was as he was the Commandant of Grindcore and the general consensus among the Autobots was that if you saw the DJD on the battlefield the first and best option to survive was to run away as quickly as possible. Also, Megatron expressly said he made Tarn to hurt Optimus. Further, not only was he an Outlier, he was a Point One Percenter on par with the Phase Sixers - Prowl said as much. Just being a Point One Percenter puts Tarn in the same tier as Megatron, Optimus Prime, Grimlock, Scorponok, Sixshot, Overlord, Black Shadow, and Shockwave. Tarn wasn't just some punk. And, it wasn't like his crew was a bunch of punks either. They are all heavy hitting dudes (with the exception of new Vos and Koan, and Dominus Ambus, but he was a little dude inside a much larger dude) who were physically imposing.

    And dropping a bunch of hints about Tarn's identity and having them all point to Roller to the point where the reader makes the connection before the official reveal isn't a bad thing. A poster here named @SMOG once pointed out that just because an answer is obvious doesn't make it a bad answer if pulled off well, and is far better than the "gotcha" reveal of throwing out Damus as a twist. It doesn't have to be a twist if it makes the story stronger.

    I have those exact same feeling about Roberts, and I remember feeling obligated to finish LL. Which is sad considering how much I enjoyed the world building of S1.
     
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  5. Haywired

    Haywired Hakunamatatacon

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    Autobot Megatron is soooooo '80 G1.

    IDW Spike is soooo Marvel or Sunbow G1.

    The Guiding Hand is sooo Marvel or Sunbow G1.

    D-Void is soo G1.

    The beginning at the Infiltration is sooo Marvel or Sunbow G1.

    Their Unicron is sooo Marvel or Sunbow G1.

    Their Star Saber is soo Japanese G1.

    Cybertron colonies are sooo Marvel or Sunbow G1. Especially the ones from the Unicron Trilogy.

    100% G1 because they were putting some 'member? 'member!? moments inside. *snorts*


    Yes, you've got yourself a black belt and a major degree in blind denial.


    It's never been anything else but a modern reboot and Cyberverse is right there on the same level of how much G1 it is.
     
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  6. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    WHAT IS G1?
    IDW 1.0 was G1 in the sense that, right from the very beginning, G1 was always made up of splinter continuities. Marvel was not Sunbow, which was not (quite) Marvel UK, which was not exactly the fiction presented through the Tech Specs, or some of the other more obscure texts.

    IDW 1.0 worked from that same G1 palette. It was intended as a G1 continuity (reboot if you wish) and it functioned as one.

    The question might be asked of how distinct a continuity and its characters need to be before it's classified as something other than G1... such as an Armada or a Prime, or Animated. Still, such epistemological questions aside, I think the spirit of the thing is usually completely clear.

    Is Cyberverse a G1 continuity? That's a good question. I haven't been following it, but it seems like maybe it is? In other words, I agree with Haywired, and also disagree (as usual). I think the G1 label is more encompassing, rather than more exclusive.

    MEGATRON's ANTIMATTER POWER
    Like a lot of other things Roberts has done, I kind of appreciate how he calls back to classic elements of the fiction and the bios. Megatron's antimatter power was teased as far back as Roberts' first IDW stories (the Chaos Theory 2-parter). However, from a more objective reader's perspective, working from the actual story material as presented... it's clumsy writing. His deus ex machina superpower still seems like it comes mostly out of nowhere.

    Really, I think the plotting toward the end of MTMTE is a mess anyway. You can pluck out any element and argue that it makes sense on a conceptual-thematic level, or a stylistic one... especially as regards subverting expectations ("it's supposed to be disappointing, blah blah...") but it's still a heaving, jumbled mess of half-explored ideas, handwaved solutions, unearned sentiment, and supercilious anticlimaxes.

    THE WRITING
    Historically, I've been both one of Roberts' biggest fans and harshest critics (just call me "Tarn" I guess). I think he gives a great deal of thought and intellectual consideration to his writing, and he can set elements up like nobody's business. He's one of the best idea-men this property has ever had. But when it comes to delivering the goods... not so much.

    In fairness, I think this is inevitable in serial storytelling. Ideas mutate over time, the author's interest and focus shifts, and the material changes in conversation with the discourse of the fandom. This makes it dynamic and exciting... but sometimes also dissatisfying, because many of those serial storytelling ideas that made dynamite hooks early on end up being discarded or followed up in a half-assed way.

    As an aside, I've been running a regular RPG campaign with the same group of players for almost 4 years, and it's very easy to see parallels, albeit on a different scale. How ideas are juggled, how sometimes the balls drop... and audience expectations, and how things land differently than you planned them to a year before. So I can relate a little bit to what it's like to be in that process. It's a much smaller audience with lower stakes... but then, I'm also not getting paid to do it. :) 

    All of that said, my assessment hasn't changed. I think that MTMTE came to a messy, and mostly dissatisfying conclusion. Sometimes the good ideas, the mechanical events, and the thematic justifications aren't enough. An author has to actually finesse it a bit. Commit to a proper follow-through. Pacing matters. Tone matters. Execution matters. Throwing stuff at the wall doesn't quite do it.

    TARN...
    I do think that's still kind of a cop-out. I think a story where Tarn is excoriated and humiliated, where the falseness of his carefully constructed persona collides with reality and forces him to confront his inherent ideological vapidity and insignificance - that could be a great story. It should have been a great story.

    But that still wasn't this story.

    Likewise, the Roller option may have been somewhat of a cliche... but sometimes cliches exist because they speak to the appeal of high drama. That also could have been a great story. And, case in point, it was the story that Roberts was trying to convince us that he was telling. Whether he always planned to pull the rug out, or he decided to once he got disenchanted with the first idea, the lesson should be that mixed messages are dangerous, and that when you send people after a red herring, the real reveal should be a satisfying substitution.

    Glitch was not that. I think that twist definitely could have been sold in a way that felt more palpable and meaningful. I think that Glitch already stood out a bit for not standing out. He was always around, and astute readers were thinking "what's the deal with that guy, anyway?" But I think we still needed a bit more content to make connecting those dots feel worthwhile.

    Also, I think some of the awkwardness was just because it was one of the many sub-climaxes of an overloaded and uneven finale. It needed a bit more focus, and Roberts' focus generally became increasingly idiosyncratic as MTMTE rolled along.

    Agreed. The DJD could have been the mostly-unseen bogeymen that cast a shadow over the series... or they could have been explored more deeply. Instead it's bizarre how much it feels like the DJD were ALWAYS around and connected with everything... but still managed to feel poorly-drawn and flat. There were so many hints and story-handles that got attached to Tarn over the run - things that could have made him more interesting, like the transformation addiction, weaponized conversation, his personal history, his ideological dichotomy between his inner idealist, and the fearsome tactics he's required to employ... but so little of it coalesced into anything.

    Again... while maybe I have more sympathy for how Roberts' storylines got away from him (reinforcement from sycophantic fans notwithstanding), I can't really disagree with the above.

    For me, the series became tedious near the end because it turned into a litany of lost promise... failing to deliver on a lot of the long-running points that were initially so fresh and exciting. And I could see the disappointment on the horizon, but I had to see it through. I didn't pick up Lost Light afterward. I still haven't. I just didn't have the heart to bother (especially without Milne... it was just too much of a step down).

    Yeah, too bad it was never developed in any interesting or worthwhile way, and we never learned anything about how his power works. And now we never will. And it just becomes one more 'thing' about that character that seems irrelevant now.

    Never mind the implication his "weaponized conversation" ended up being a permutation of Glitch's power to cause system failures in non-sentient machinery... I guess. Supposedly. Or something. :redface2: 

    zmog
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2020
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  7. raindance773

    raindance773 Well-Known Member

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    I have missed your posts on the comics. Thanks for chiming in!
     
  8. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    Thanks for the encouragement! :lol 

    Since I'm not reading the comics now, I guess I have less to write about... but it was nice while it lasted. Even if he didn't deliver on everything, Roberts did change the game, I think. Full marks for that.

    zmog
     
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  9. Kaosu Reido

    Kaosu Reido Well-Known Member

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    Again: This is literally the point. You are completely missing the point that, in the end, Tarn was an imposing, powerful, threatening empty shell with nothing on the inside anymore. Literally the only thing Tarn did was try to follow the Decepticon edicts to the letter. He was their version of Ultra Magnus, but Magnus turned out to have someone inside him who was able to change and adapt. Tarn's response to "the war is over" was to scream, have tantrums, try to kill himself, and then lash out at everything that offended him. The war ended, and Tarn could not adapt or transform. In the end he died like a bitch because, again, THAT WAS WHAT HE WAS. You're completely ignoring everything else about Tarn beyond the fact that he looked cool on the page and gave good speeches. He built himself and his crew up like he cared about them, was willing to tell Deathsaurus to fuck off when told to kill them, and then Kaon got sad over his pet's death and Tarn just fucking murdered him. That was Tarn. He thought, and tricked you into thinking, that he was some sort of unstoppable grim reaper for the Decepticon cause, but in the end he got his team and himself killed on a vendetta against Megatron because his feelings were hurt.
    "And the reader assuming Tarn has to be Roller because everyone has to be someone famous instead of just a background character that all the hints point to is totally Roberts' fault because WHY WASN'T ULTRA MAGNUS DION IT JUST MAKES SENSE"

    Yeah, Roberts hinted Tarn could be Roller. Then he wasn't, and it turned out it was someone else, who WASN'T Roller, but fit the mold too.

    Hey, remember that time it was super clear that Orion Pax' Senator friend was Ultra Magnus, was colored just like Ultra Magnus, was Pax' close friend just like Ultra Magnus, and then OH FUCK IT'S SHOCKWAVE? The only real difference here is that Shockwave was ALSO someone famous, who we wouldn't think would be Pax' friend, but then he was. That's how red herrings work. If you're mad Tarn wasn't a famous Transformer, that doesn't matter, because that wasn't the story. His story literally hinged on how Tarn was a nobody. Again, the entire point of the end of Tarn is that inside, he is nothing. He has destroyed himself, he has destroyed his crew, he has nothing left, inside or out.

    Until he became Tarn, he was a nobody. After he became Tarn, he was still nobody, but in a scary mask. In the end, he died as he was. Nothing.
     
  10. simpatico

    simpatico Intern for Straxus

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    I'm gonna echo the points on Tarn's lame ending being the natural endpoint for his character, but the antimatter powers could've been better foreshadowed.
     
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  11. Kaosu Reido

    Kaosu Reido Well-Known Member

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    I can't defend that one, yeah. Nearing the end of MTMTE, it's pretty clear Roberts' plans have been knocked off track by the upcoming relaunch, and the reshuffling of a bunch of elements behind the scenes. It seemed like he had to bring a bunch of things to a head all at once, as opposed to the much slower burn he'd been working on. Megatron's black hole thing had some build up, but there were far too many balls in the air at that point in time for it to feel anything but forced.
     
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  12. Dire 51

    Dire 51 Line Stepper.

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    Personal Opinion: Tarn and the DJD are an amazing concept and must be seen again in TF fiction.

    Not so. He was a potent deterrent to defectors, traitors, and usurpers, thus strengthening the deceptions position. It wasn't tarns fault megatron went soft.

    Also, not so. Tarn's loyalty was to the deception cause. His edict was to hunt down, then torture and kill traitors. Megatron happens to put himself at the top of the list.

    Seeking Megatron out became Tarns duty.
     
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  13. Rojixus

    Rojixus WE. ARE NOT. THE DECEPTICONS!!

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    As far as I'm concerned, Tarn's death was fitting because he and the rest of the DJD (save Nickel) were worthless characters from beginning to end. My only regret is that Megatron didn't also die fighting them.
     
  14. raindance773

    raindance773 Well-Known Member

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    Two literary interpretations can both be equally valid; neither of us is more correct than the other. We aren't going to agree, but that's okay. Rather than argue, I just think agreeing to disagree is the best course of action.
     
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  15. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    I disagree, and I think you are misrepresenting the criticism of this story's outcome.

    Not everyone was looking for a dramatic battle royale between Tarn and Megatron. I didn't need Tarn to be "awesome". But I did want him to be developed in such a way as to tell an interesting story... so that the reveal of his true identity felt meaningful in and of itself, rather than just being presented as piece of smarmy narrative legerdemain.

    Hammering "that was the point!" doesn't really address the question of whether Tarn's story was told effectively. Simply deciding "he was a loser so he had to die like one" is an oversimplification. Why is that a worthwhile story? Why is it interesting?

    I would argue that it doesn't really take into account his narrative function or his character's actual history. It brushes aside the blunt and somewhat directionless handling of the DJD throughout MTMTE, thoroughly exploiting their value as the series' bogeymen, but rarely seeming like Roberts really knew what to do with them.

    I would agree that everything felt mashed together at the end of MTMTE, and that the overall storytelling suffered, and maybe that's not entirely Roberts' fault given the timeline he had to work under... but I think there were still some very questionable choices made.

    zmog
     
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  16. Astrowing19

    Astrowing19 Well-Known Member

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    I keep reading people saying, "The point of Tarn's story was...", as if we know what James Roberts's intention was. Because when a group like the DJD is built up as the most fearsome group of Deceptions in existence - a group that killed everyone on the alternate Lost Light with little effort - only for them to go down quickly, it doesn't seem possible to tell if the author always intended them to seem pathetic, or if he dropped the ball at the last minute.

    I will agree, though, that the DJD members were poorly developed, hence why Nickel is my favorite member by a long shot.
     
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  17. AutobotAvalanche

    AutobotAvalanche Number One in Boogieland Moderator

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    The DJD were a waste of page space from beginning to end, and Roberts could never even muster the effort to make them an interesting waste of space, even when they died. Honestly I find the "that's the point" argument completely ridiculous, it's clear from the first time they show up that you're supposed to be invested in them, or at least in Tarn. Their deaths are not satisfying in any way, it was just a writer getting himself stuck with what to do with his OCs do not steal.

    Even worse that their deaths hardly contribute anything to them at all, unlike Skids or Ravage which add to their character arcs and are suitably sad. The DJD die to be another faux stepping stone on Megatron's path to "redemption" as if that could ever happen and as if Roberts won't beat us to death with that idea without him killing the DJD. What happened to them had all the narrative sense and impact as "Tarn died on the way back to his home planet".
     
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  18. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    I think there was some genre subversion inherent in the DJD... I do believe that Roberts wanted to undermine their posture by making them ultimately a gang of maladjusted thugs with a good PR campaign. However, I think his progress on communicating that was uneven, and the messaging ends up being mixed. It's hard to serve as a compelling exploration of the perils of ideology, the living ghosts of Megatron's past crimes... AND as a punchline for a series-long joke.

    In a space opera with bad robots vs good robots, introducing villains with the sheer capacity for depravity and atrocity as the DJD sort of makes their pretentions and exaggeration irrelevant. It doesn't matter if Tarn is a petty hypocrite, or was a faceless (literally) nobody. In terms of their actual power levels and impact on the universe, they are 100% a clear and present threat. They are straight-up Decepticon comic-book villains, and we want to feel somehow validated by seeing them brought low.

    The problem is that Roberts was always a bit inconsistent in how he handled them. He made them terrifying, then he made them half-incompetent (like when they encountered the Scavengers), and then tried to make them terrifying again, then tried to make them funny, then tried to make them cute, then terrifying again...

    In all of that, we never really got a clear grasp on who they were and why we should be interested in them, beyond some delightfully excessive character designs by Milne. The ongoing false flag operation vis-a-vis Roller ended up just feeling more unsporting and capricious rather than worthwhile. Ultimately the true reveal was less rewarding or interesting than the red herring... which is always a risk with playing with your audience's expectations. You have to be confident that your ace in the hole is better than the carrot you've been dangling (to mix my metaphors).

    But Megatron snuffing them all out? I'm fine with that. I didn't need drawn-out goodbyes for each of them.

    Honestly, I was much more excited to see the Overlord vs Tarn fight anyway... and for that matter, a Megs vs Overlord rematch. But Roberts dodged all that in a stumbling, wishy-washy way as well. :( 

    zmog
     
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  19. raindance773

    raindance773 Well-Known Member

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    The Tarn reveal didn't pay off, but I can see where Roberts was going. I think he might have originally thought to make it Roller and then bailed on that at some point.

    And there are many implied fights that Tarn and the DJD had that would have be interesting to see - Heretech and Black Shadow (we saw the end of that one) for example. I would have like to see Overlord fight Tarn, or even a Sixshot vs Tarn or Sixshot vs Overlord fight. A rematch between Megs and Overlord would have been interesting too. And a totally unexplored facet of all of this is how Megs recruited all these heavy hitters (the Warriors Elite, Shockwave, Scorponok, Tarn, and even Grimlock) but had his own failsafe plan to kill them all. I can't imagine Tarn didn't rebuild Tarn with some type of kill switch.
     
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  20. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    I think that in that last arc of MTMTE, Overlord's appearance really upped the ante. For the most part, Roberts handled Overlord rather well, and made him a genuinely chilling, formidable, and volatile adversary. Such that, when he suddenly appears on the battlefield in MTMTE, it really did elicit an "OHFKKK!" response from me. Unfortunately, despite the constant fluffing they got, the DJD never quite had the same impact.

    However, that turned out to be a damp squib. There was no fight. The whole tension drained away immediately, and Tarn and Overlord just ended up... standing around and occasionally bickering through a long, tedious, inexplicably contrived siege-impasse scenario, while the Autobots within have group hugs. And then when we finally got to the crescendo of the storyline, Overlord is just kind of says "Whatever, I'm bored. Seeya" and flies away.

    And we're left wondering WTF was even the point of that, beyond some cheap sensationalism? Again, the whole series finale just felt like a hot, sad mess. A lot of bluster, cheap sentimentality and no dramatic substance.

    As for a Tarn failsafe... hard to know. We were never clear on his power level, though he was generally equated with Overlord and other Decepticon phase sixers and "super warriors."

    And then there was the Nucleon... which felt like a lot of backpedalling on the DJD power levels more than anything else.

    zmog
     
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