Discussion in 'Transformers Comics Discussion' started by Lightningsonic, Jun 11, 2020.
That's because it was. It's something Roberts has addressed before, IIRC.
While we can debate Tarn back and forth, I don't think there's much to debate here on Overlord, because that is literally his entire character beat. Overlord has a massive complex regarding Megatron, from the killswitches, to the implanted weaknesses, to the fact that he has such an intense desire to take on Megs at the height of his power. He has built up in himself this idea that he and Megatron need to have a glorious battle, and that Megatron should see him as the greatest threat imaginable. It's how he gets beaten every time he comes up; his singular focus on Megatron provides a way to get rid of him. Throwing every single thing they had at him on Garrus-9 barely phased him, but Verity telling him Megatron just left him there and forgot about him completely destroys his will. He manages to get around Chromedome's attempts to keep him under wraps after discovering Megatron is still alive, but his need to fight Megatron means Chromedome was able to implant a trigger phrase into his memories of defeat, once again making Megatron partially his weakness. When he discovers Megatron isn't the warrior he used to be, he even leaves the battle because he can't stomach a Megatron like this; once again, he's "beaten" by his Megatron complex.
Even his final plan gets derailed by it; he could use the Timemaze for any number of things, working with Tarantulas, but he's too wrapped up in needing to fight Megatron at his prime to see anything else. His entire life revolves around fighting Megatron, a fully armed and ready Megatron, to the point it's his greatest weakness. It's the only thing that's driving him, and as soon as it's gone, he's just done.
I guess since you brought it up I'll use at least one direct example - McFeely was/is running a Patreon partially based on his TFWiki recaps of Roberts work and took (reasonably so? I don't know) a *very* vested - and overly angry, trust me, I have the original messages and tweets saved =) - approach to responding to people critiquing parts of the story, particularly in the final stretch of LL. When it didn't work here, he'd take to Twitter to talk about this board being a cesspool or shading specific people being idiots. I discovered that inadvertently in the course of finding out he *had* a Twitter account, and then more of his behavior "made sense" (so to speak) to me. I guess if you take being a recapper as a point of pride - and I'm not saying *that*'s wrong-headed, to be clear - I can see why you'd have so many emotions tied up in the book, but I felt tearing apart people in areas where they might not even be aware of it to be uncool.
Similarly, as I'm sure everyone recalls there were a number of people on both sides of the MTMTE/LL fence (I don't think I need to deliberately name users, it's easy enough to look through old threads if a person *really* wants to relive that time ) that inevitably would drag almost every discussion of the book's merits into a discussion into the fabric of society and accusations of which side you stood on. This was very illuminating to me when it was first playing out, but much like many debates on these boards, got pretty tired (of both sides) by the 12th or 13th issue that it was going down that route. I understand that there are very passionate advocates for people having the right to state their point more than once, and over...and over...and oooooooooover again =), I'm just one of those people who finds it more annoying and socially awkward, regardless of the topic.
Whew, well dragging this back on topic! =) After the Cyclonus death fakeout (which Roberts is on record as being his biggest regret in the book), and as it became clear the solicitations for the issues/covers in the final MTMTE arc weren't matching up with the content (anyone remember the one of Velocity, Minimus, and someone else almost about to be consumed by the DJD guy with saws in his stomach?) I didn't have high expectations for the ending of the arc being satisfying. I was unprepared for *how* divisive that issue would be; I mean this thread is talking about it many, many years later, as am I! Maybe I should follow my own thought process in the previous paragraph. =) I guess to add my 2 cents:
* I had no problems with Glitch being the surprise identity
* I didn't like the fact Roller showed up only to do basically nothing in the series (not even anything devoted to him and Ratchet catching up, no reactions to Optimus being the leader of the Autobots - I mean *the guy missed the war*.)
* I felt the Megatron antimatter surprise was actually pretty genius, but Overlord leaving was pretty BS, particularly since he never factored into the series again
* I loved the Ravage death, but the emotional impact was actually more with a character outside of the book (Soundwave)
* I felt the Skids death was pretty obvious because his story had already played out
* The followup to the arc was brutal since it appeared *no one* on Cybertron even wanted to form a search party to find *any* of them - follow through on plot points brought up was also not always a strong suit of Roberts'
* I felt the Dominus Ambus reveal was really awkward and deserved a bit more page space given the amount devoted to the mystery in the first place. Because Roberts dropped his original angle with Rewind I, we never got to find out how a Cybertronian diplomat ended up as a DJD cover agent in the first place, we never found out if Minimus knew about it or how he felt about it. We also never see *Rewind* dealing with this or even asking once why Dominus would have done something so seemingly out of his character, which again seemed like an obvious thing to be followed up on. Again this could be attributed to the aborted plans for Rewind I, but regardless of that I felt it was a narrative cheat for Rewind II to suddenly not care. Let me tell you, if my significant other *disappeared*, I spent most of my natural life looking for answers to the point of doing illegal activities (equivalent: the snuff films from Swindle), and I later discovered they were basically killed in action as an undercover spy for my country, I'd have a *LOT* of questions I'd want answered, particularly if I was in close contact with one of their relatives *every day*.
As a side note, Roberts originally mentioned in a podcast that one of the characters was going to be torn apart by the DJD on camera in the first issue of the arc, which I actually thought would have raised the stakes *way* more. I can't remember if he himself either decided against it or his editor talked him out of it, but he's also never mentioned which character that was going to be. I'm not sure whether I would have been more or less let down with the arc if that happened. Clearly I still have many thoughts about it, so kudos to him for provoking all of this discussion even now!
lol... at least he's honest about it. I would say it was transparent and ill-advised decision on his part, because ultimately it was an irrelevant distraction. The Nucleon just wasn't pertinent to the DJD storyline. There was no reason to make them "less OP" because he was going to finish them all with a deus ex machina anyway.
Or a few, even ("Oh, didn't we tell you that when a TF gets really, really sad, their spark explodes and gives everyone superpowers?").
Yes, and it's a pretty terrible character beat to keep flogging every single time. Having him jump in and then jump out of this plotline so capriciously smacks of indecisive writing. It makes Overlord seem too fickle, and doesn't add anything interesting or new to his character... it only functions as another distraction and another disappointment in an already rushed and overloaded final act.
His real obsession isn't so much facing Megatron at full strength, but rather being seen and recognized as an equal by Megatron. It's a whole paternal angst relationship, with Megatron as his abusive, indifferent, disapproving daddy-figure.
Arguably, he's not "beaten" by his daddy complex this time - the opposite even, because if he'd stuck around, he probably would have been vaporized by Megatron along with the rest of the DJD.
To be clear, I don't think Roberts is bad... the opposite really. But the refinement of his writing definitely declined. Maybe it was the monthly pace and an inability to stay committed to one course of action over that longer timeframe. Some writers flourish when they go with the flow, while others become... undisciplined. The latter Roberts stuff definitely felt way more uneven to me. And while there are points that we can debate, I doubt there's much of anything nice I can say about anything that happened in the last few issues of MTMTE. To me it's more of a creative trainwreck, sadly.
I had forgotten about "the power of sadness". Sigh. Maybe I had blocked it out. =)
I found Roberts much stronger when Barber was his editor. That to me is when things started going off the rails. I'm sure the ongoing chaos at IDW wasn't helping much (I mean, if the tribalism on *here* about IDW's problems was off the rails, I can't imagine what it was like to be working for them at the time).
Interesting insight. I had noticed he was jumping into the recap thing, and also stumbled on him nerdraging and casting shade around online, but I just thought he was having some kind of fanboy psychotic break. I don't think there's any excuse for it, honestly. He only helped make everything more bitter and divisive.
Geez, I'm sorry.
There definitely was a subtext of social commentary running through the second half of this series, and I think that was recursively magnified by the umbilical relationship between Roberts and the fans... to the point that it turned into acrimony, and was more about the messaging and gratifying those interests (whether positively or negatively), than actually about the quality of the writing. To be clear, the edgelords barking about "activist writing" in Transformers and complaining about queer politics and hand-holding were definitely the lowest gutter sludge in the discourse.
Hey, it's only been 4 years, you young guttersnipe!
Again, interesting observation about the discrepancies between solicits and content. I never really followed that stuff, I don't have a twitter account, and I haven't read any interviews or commentaries with Roberts since that time. I'd be curious to hear what his post-mortem feelings are about it all... maybe worth a look.
I would have been onboard with the Glitch reveal if the Tarn/Glitch threads had been developed a bit more leading into it, so the reveal actually felt... exciting? I also think the heavy-handed misdirection on Roller was kind of a dick move, and as you say, bringing him back to do... well... nothing with him just made it seem extra unearned.
I hated Ravage's death, but really just because I'd always wanted to see Ravage do more as a character, and I wasn't ready to see him thrown on the pyre yet. Honestly, I would have traded pretty much any other character in the series just to keep Ravage in the world.
I agree on all your other points. Again, closing off MTMTE was sort of the end of my interest in IDW, so I didn't follow Roberts after that. I hadn't heard anything about an "original" plan for Rewind. What was it? Got a link?
So many bad ideas flying at you at once, it's hard to remember all of it. We block out trauma.
Once again, if I'd paid more attention to these administrative details, it might have provided some interesting insights. I don't remember when Barber stopped acting as Roberts' editor (if I ever knew), so I wouldn't have noticed if it coincided with a change in the writing.
I'd always attributed much of the shift in his work to the old addage "no plan survives contact with the enemy". As a Transformers fanfic writer, I'd always assumed half the ideas Roberts used to kick off MTMTE had been percolating in his brain for years. The first year felt a lot more crafted and methodical, but I assumed that as he got further into the weeds telling a rolling story, he lost some of the ability to step back and see the whole picture.
I'm sympathetic to that, really... I have to imagine plotting a comic with a large devoted following would be a harrowing, fraught experience on a monthly basis.
Holy cow, I didn't know someone was running a Patreon from MTMtE/LL. Wow. But yes. You are absolutely right that people quickly descended into near anarchy over discussing books about space robots. It was damn near the Hunger Games in how vicious people got fighting one another, and I remember going through lots of posters (and posters being banned) for refusing to play by the rules. No one wants to listen to a different point of view, I guess.
That we are discussing it four years later is awesome. That's good for the franchise, even if the story is somewhat polarizing. For the record, I don't have any problem with Tarn being Glitch, and I think it may have worked if Roberts had shown us some more on screen stuff. Two big examples. The one (emphasis on one panel - think of the size of that in context of the number of panels in 50 issues) where Damus sees Optimus hand Roller a copy of Megatron's writings that appeared on screen was one that could have worked really well, if we'd him reading it. So, I agree there it was a good clue, but seemed half-baked. The other was why Tarn hated Grimlock - because Grimlock had ruined Damus' new face (which having previously lost it obviously was something of an insult to injury). However, that exchange between Tarn and Grimlock (which apparently occurred during Grimlock's incredibly brief, though oft-mentioned but never seen on screen and equally perplexing as to where it fights in the timeline stint with the Decepticons) only occurred in Roberts' notes and never made it into any of the books. That would have been EXTREMELY helpful in making Tarn-is-Glitch make sense.
And you are absolutely spot on about your last two points. That no one cared, at all, is horrifying. And like you said, plot point follow through wasn't Roberts' best suit, and I think he let the whole Rewind/Chromedome relationship overshadow what was a major development point for both characters in Dominus Ambus.
And as other people have pointed out, when Roberts has a strong editor to reign him in, like Barber did, his work is LEGENDARY. Because he is such a good writer it takes an even stronger editor to focus him to tell the story he wants to tell. That was the difference between S1, S2, and LL. S1 is focused and the story does actually move along and each cast member had their own voice. That slowly faltered as the series went on and editors didn't corral Roberts.
I think Roberts had a very clear vision for the first season, and I think as time went on the more clear ideas ran out and/or it turned into more of an ongoing creative process with less time to refine the product. Also Roberts had over a year to prepare for S1, as they had divided up the cast late in the original Costa ongoing (or even as early as AHM). I am fairly certain Roberts once said that his initial core cast of the Lost Light were all in an escape pod together that launched from the Autobot Kima space station (Swerve and Rung I remember specifically, among others). Further, Roberts used LSotW as a launch point for some of the plot points from MTMtE, like Agent 113, which would eventually lead to the DJD. That was a full two years before he started work on MTMtE, and there is two years worth of planning evident in the story telling.
Just want to comment here, I absolutely see that as Overlord being beaten; he's tricked into leaving by Megatron's "oops I'm out of energy and unable to fight back" trap, and when the best plan to deal with Overlord is still "get the fuck away from him", that's still a win. Remember, we see him as a flaming, melting, armorless skeleton in LSotW, and he's still completely fine until Verity hits him with emotional damage. There's every chance that if he'd fallen into the shield bubble trap with the DJD, he'd be the only one leaving.
Not to turn this thread into the SMOG admiration society, but this is a great time for me to tell you that your posts during the MTMTE run were sincerely an absolute *joy* for me to read and I loved interacting with you. You had intelligent on-topic insights, positive and negative, and you clearly put a lot of thought into what you were writing. It was also a demonstration to the forum that people could disagree on approaches without either side taking it as a personal attack. Your departure from reading MTMTE definitely lessened the overall conversation quality - this thread is actually a bit nostalgic for me now as it resembles the excitement of the early issues and the discourse on the later ones.
Oh man, you haven't read it yet. =) I'm excited for you to read it now. I did a transcription of a video AMA postmortem Roberts had on Instagram shortly after LL concluded where he goes over the plan. I'll just say...no I won't say anything, I don't want to spoil it. I'm going to re-read it myself actually!
James Roberts AMA: MTMTE/LL questions answered transcript
Not to derail the topic, but I know I felt myself and several others falling into the role of “Roberts’ Defenders” not because we thought he was an impeccable writer, but from feeling bad faith criticisms (whether implicit or explicit) due to his use of social commentary and queer politics. It was (and sometimes still is) difficult not to feel defensive and to discern legitimate discussions from veiled political attacks. Now that it’s a few years out I think the discourse has settled and become more reasonable.
I mean, possibly. We know Overlord's inner skeleton is basically made of adamantium (or whatever it's called in IDW ) but he still took structural damage in his battle with the Wreckers... and a large part of that was from a handful of nano explosives... so his power levels have always been a bit fluctuating.
I also read Megatron's antimatter power as a basic "kill anything" deus ex machina ability... which wiped out the DJD quite easily (we know Tarn is at least supposed to be Sixer-grade). I sort of doubt Overlord would have survived... but I guess we'll never know.
Holy crap, that was a long read!
Wow, that was definitely not what I expected from Rewind / Rewind II. Obviously, the whole UV allergy thing was definitely a clue that he'd been shadowplayed (almost definitely by Chromedome, and very likely about Dominus), so that part follows. The rest is just... sort of crazy.
After the "death" of Rewind 1.0, I considered he might still be alive, but I was more concerned by the fact that Overlord at that point would have had Chromedome's arm, which he could have used to upgrade himself from a mnemosurgery expert to an actual practitioner. To me, that would have been good way to make someone as terrifying as Overlord even more scary.
Honestly, early on I didn't trust Rewind II at all. I totally thought there were some twists there (which never came).
I hate to say it, but while there's some good stuff in there, the fact that Roberts lists Nautica as his favourite OC is not surprising, but remains disappointing nonetheless.
Meant to reply to you post about Overlord's skeleton. I think it would have held up better than the DJD, but the thing is antimatter is supposed to destroy everything it touches. I don't know that Mjolnir, Overlord's skeleton, Captain America's shield, or Wolverine would have held up any better.
I mean, from a strictly scientific point of view... sure. I'm not sure if we should be applying that to Megatron's antimatter powers though, since they seem to owe way more to comic-book science-fantasy physics than anything else.
That said, ununtrium is a plot device more than anything. It's indestructible until it doesn't need to be - if you go back to the original Overlord fight in Last Stand of the Wreckers, he actually takes some serious damage, so he's not necessarily fully indestructible. Of course, that was before ununtrium was a thing, and it was just to show that Overlord was TOUGH.
However, based on most of the context clues provided throughout the series, Tarn is a super-warrior. He's a recognized POP with Sixer power levels, and used to hang with the Warrior Elite, who were all (I think) super-warriors. He probably has an ununtrium chassis too (or it would make sense that he does).
We also never really got any straight confirmation of how the DJD hunted ex-Sixers so effectively. In their first appearance, it definitely seemed like they had the raw power to pull it off.
Uh, what an apt description.
I can't really agree with either point. This argument I keep hearing people make falls a bit flat for me. Maybe it's wish-fulfillment for readers who always resented the DJD's presence, and perhaps a tiny bit of denial?
I'm not really sure how Tarn's downfall was "pathetic and wimpy" at all. That's a strange idea of what 'being nothing' looks like. The DJD terrorized MTMTE for 2 years - not just as overrated poseurs, but as actual, functional, devastatingly murderous douchebags who were effectively the megabosses of the series. They were basically unstoppable until Megatron used his most secret, most dangerous doomsday power in what could have been a suicide gambit at the very climax of the series. Tarn dies face-to-face with his mentor, and his unmasking (however playful and/or disappointing) is still one of the biggest moments of the series. His death is the symbolic confrontation between Megatron and the embodiment of his renounced legacy of war-crimes. That's some pretty epic shit.
Saying Tarn is "pathetic" because Glitch was a "nobody" seems like an awkward point. Glitch wasn't a nobody. He was a outlier/POP who'd been around since Shadowplay. Why is the character insignicant just because nobody knew who he really was? As Tarn, he was a major force in the series.
I'm not doing this to fluff the DJD or talk about how "cool" Tarn is. This is the actual narrative presented by the series and Roberts' writing.
How could Tarn have died an ignoble, pathetic death? In the middle of the fray, Tailgate could have just walked up and crushed his head like a water-balloon halfway through the final issue... in a small panel in the lower half of the page, before moving on to another event as if nothing notable happened.
Then later everybody could have stood around his ruined, headless body and said "I wonder who he was?" and Megatron could have shrugged "I don't even remember. It doesn't matter. Just another mistake."
Of course, that wouldn't suddenly rewrite Tarn's undeniable significance... but it would have been more denigrative overall to his memory.
Really, the biggest hit to the DJD's dignity happened in their second appearance, when they fought with the Scavengers. If anything was going to undermine how grimdark and OP they were, it was that.
You're right on the ununtruium being a plot device, and how it was/wasn't indestructible. Like the Tesarus had blades coated in the stuff, implying he could cut it similar to how a diamond cuts diamond, but little else will, which made sense until Tarn used a chainsaw to behead Overlord in the alternate Lost Light. I can't imagine they would waste such a valuable metal on a chainsaw, unless (maybe) they were trying to lumberjack the giant trees from Kashyyyk.
And I think it's telling which Phase Sixers and POPs the DJD hunted. We've seen Sixshot in action, and they didn't go near him, which isn't to say the wouldn't have, we just didn't see it. However, Sixshot did appear to be the most stable one of the bunch, and the most likely to buy into a warrior ethos that might have made a fight with him a little more deadly for the DJD than they wanted. I am not sure he wouldn't have been more than they could handle (or that Megatron could have handled either - we never found out if Sixshot had a kill switch). The two they confirmed killed - Heretech and Black Shadow - were great warriors, and upgraded, but we don't know how the DJD brought them down. And going back to building up the DJD, Roberts did mention that Black Shadow had done some crazy overpowered feats and the DJD kind of casually executes him (but then fumbles around with the Scavengers and a drugged Grimlock like monkeys chasing a football, so I don't know). And they never went after Starscream (on Megatron's order), but that slippery fellow might have managed to evade and survive long enough to beat them.
Right? That bugged me too.
From what we were shown, how the DJD hunted people seemed to be pretty arbitrary... they had a list that they were working from, but also would go for targets of opportunity... except not always? If their list was chronological, Sixshot might be pretty far down, since his betrayal way back in Devastation was extremely short-lived and pretty recent compared to all the other guys we've seen them hunting.
Wasn't Sixshot the very first Sixer we learned had a 'kill switch'? Isn't that how Starscream defeated him? Also worth noting that although the fight was never finished, Optimus Prime was holding his own against Sixshot (though that might have been a fight he still couldn't win).
Yeah, Black Shadow's list of accomplishments was pretty insane, and really cemented him in the same league as Sixshot and Overlord. Presumably he had some kind of failsafe/killswitch like many of the others, but the DJD still did a serious number on him.
And yet, yeah... the DJD sure did have a heck of a time with the Scavengers. I don't know what "soundtrack" Roberts had selected for those issues, but in my head it sure sounded like Yakety Sax.
When I mentioned I think Overlord might have been the only one walking out of the Megatron/DJD trap, I meant more in that I figured he'd just immediately kill everyone. The DJD dead via getting in his way, and Megatron because Overlord would possibly just go right on the offensive and Megatron wouldn't be able to pull it off. Either way, I was thinking less "Overlord is literally physically indestructible" and more "Overlord is narratively physically indestructible". Antimatter would probably kill him, but I wouldn't put it past him to manage to be the victor anyway. He's just that kind of crazy durable and casually violent that I think there's every chance he'd win.
On the beheading with a chainsaw thing, I also think there's a good chance the DJD just plain have an ununtrium chainsaw, because that's the kind of sadistic shit it feels like they'd carry. That, or because Overlord was (explicitly) not resisting in that situation, they had enough time to just decapitate him with a reasonably super tough chainsaw through sheer brute force. They came to that LL entirely because they detected Overlord, presumably they'd bring anti-Phase-Sixer equipment with them.
On the Scavengers front, well, that WAS the DJD stumbling into a situation they hadn't planned for, and let's be honest: It's pretty hard to plan for SURPRISE GRIMLOCK even in the best of times.
Yep, I had to check the wiki, but you're right. Sixshot had a failsafe, and that was how Starscream got the better of him... right before Megatron blew a giant hole in 'Screamer. And good point about the DJD not really adhering to their strict list (which seems kind of like their bucket list of doom), as we don't know when Black Shadow sold out the 'cons. For some reason I thought that was late in the war, like post-Surge since we see him talking with Megs and the other Phase Sixers in LSotW, and that he did so as an act of removing some WMDs from the game board and a way to make a quick buck, but I could be wrong. There are a lot of those little details that are somewhat fuzzy and left to the reader to interpret.
And the fight between Sixshot and OP was great. He held his own for the first rounds, but I don't know if he would have won it outright.
Also, the Reapers vs the DJD would have been interesting.
It is hard to surprise Grimlock, in any instance, but in this one he was coming out of a coma. LOL He and Fort Max were the closet things the Autobots had to a Phase Sixer and if there was ever a chance to take a prime target (sorry, bad pun) out, that was it.
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