Discussion in 'Transformers Comics Discussion' started by Lumpy, Mar 9, 2006.
enjoying it so far..
like the mystery and suspense
Got it this afternoon and i say it is really awesome, those Gundam leg thing don't bother me at all, i think it cool. Can't wait for issue #4
Guys, guys, guys. Allow me to present a more-or-less unbiased account of Dreamwave. Keep in mind I did not know a single thing about Pat Lee's mis-management, Dreamwave going under, etc. I found all the issues of Dreamwave comics at the store, bought them, and one day I asked the owner, "This is GREAT! When are more issues coming out?" the answer was, "Never." Although I am NOW very aware of what was happening behind the scenes (and I think Pat Lee is essentially a bastard for how he strung along those writers), when I was READING the stories, I was under the assumption that DW's series would survive into the triple-digit issues. I honestly thought it was that good.
So I have had an unbiased account of Dreamwave's Transformers series. I wasn't tained by hate for Pat Lee (although now I am), I wasn't influenced in knowing this series was being mis-managed, etc.
Here's my point of view. Dreamwave's stuff was fantastic. The art was the consistently best art I had ever seen in an ongoing series. Sure, there's Alex Ross and Tim Sale out there, and sure some DW issues looked bad, but on AVERAGE, it blew my mind how amazing the Transformers comic book looked. I knew I could pick up any 1 issue and be pleased by the art. And the coloring? WOW!
Now onto DW's storylines. Fantastic. The last thing I remember reading was a plotline about the Insecticons, and it was...tolerable. Not so great, but still above-average. Truth be told, I disliked that plotline compared to the others because it had too much damn human involvement. In my point of view, the point of Transformers is to have Transformers. YOu know. Robots that turn into stuff. They fight. It's a war. We're not talking about "The Watchmen" here. This is a very simple formula, and DW mostly got it right. I appreciated the fact that Spike was seldom used, I tolerated Marissa Fairborne's presence, and I could see that DW understood that the Transformers were the stars.
Optimus Prime was the star. Megatron was the star. Starscream was the star. etc. When Optimus and Megs vanished at their respective story points, I appreciated the chance to let Bumblebee and Prowl become the stars. It was ABOUT the Transformers. DW's story reminded me of Beast Wars, but with the G1 cast and in comic book form. Someone said that DW's story was like meeting a long lost friend, and it was absolutely EVERYTHING I wanted in a Transformers comic. I had also never read the old Marvel series (DW is literally the first time I have read a Transformers comic book), and I vastly preferred DW's art.
Dreamwave understood that the book was about Transformers, and although Transformers was about robots, these were very HUMAN robots. The Transformers had emotions. They could get angry. They were quite human. It was NOT a comic about humans, with the Transformers making extended cameos. The current "Infiltration" series feels like I'm watching "Finding Nemo" from the point of view of the humans.
DW's story was done so well that I think IDW was pretty much doomed to fail, unless they could do it different and better. Different? Check. Better? They fail at even the BASICS of Transformers lore (you can hardly say that issues 0-3 are about Transforming robots waging war with each other, and you can hardly say that the robots are the stars of the book). They fail at BASIC comic book form, too. The pacing is slow, the price is a bit steep, and the writing is...actually pretty good. If it was, say, a Gobots comic or an original series involving IDW's own original brand of transforming robots, I have no doubt that I would be loving IDW's Transformers.
As is, IDW's series just fails to interest me. I'll just read it at the comic store if I get really bored.
And since I teach a Batman class, allow me to make an analogy. Batman: TAS in the 90s got it right. Reading IDW's series after reading DW's series is like watching a few episodes of "The Batman" right after watching "Mask of the Phantasm."
When I have more to say about specifics about IDW's story and art (and I DO), I'll post it later. And when I said "unbiased" towards DW, what I meant was I didn't have any knowledge on what was happening behind the scenes.
I dont think anybody is judging the DW stuff on the merits of Twat Lee and his Git Brigade. If anything, I'm judging it on the fact that it bled sales out the butt every single month. Personally I like it a whole bunch and was very sad to see it go.
I'm still loving the story. The notion of Transformers actually using their alt modes to hide is nothing short of what I've always wanted in a TF book, and hope to see continue for some time. Furman is telling it very well.
The art? The art I still think is pretty damned poor I'm afraid. I'm still baffled by the people who complain about Pat Lee's storytelling skills and then praise Su's, when they're just as bad - what the heck is happening on the first few pages of issue #2? It's a real muddle, and I'm still not sure if Rumamuck gets shot in the face or is farting (and Rumamuck's hand on the cover of issue #2 is enormous - the perspective is all wrong. The composition of these covers is also terrible).
The overly warm colouring doesn't help either.
There was plenty to like about DW. There's plenty to like about IDW. There's also plenty to dislike about both of them.
Beast Wars is awesome though. Really feels like compressing it to four issues might have been a mistake though. I'm struggling to see any decent resolution fitting in here.
Yeah, Beast Wars is awesome. I've only read issue #1, but I always like seeing Don Figueroa's art.
Likewise. Anyone who cares to read a couple of years of discussion before the bankruptcy filing happened will know how much I disliked the rehash and pacing (and art until DW got Don and Guido in.) There wasn't anything fun about building up to TF:TM2, in my opinion. I enjoy a series being about war, but not random fight scenes or cheap character resurrections.
Do I think nasty things about Pat Lee, burrowing weevils, acid and duct tape? Certainly. It's a separate issue to the storyline, such as it was, completely failing to grab me -- because new ideas weren't there. Because to accept the better story in Dark Ages meant accepting Volume 1, Volume 2, Micromasters, etc. in the same continuity. Rather like when reading The Authority it's a very good idea to stop before volume two.
Maybe that's where I'm going wrong... maybe I should be judging Transformers comics as "Transformers, a kid property" rather than against other decent comics.
It's hard when recommending Marvel TF stories to give someone the basic overview needed for the bit of good material whilst avoiding as much as possible of the rubbish or mediocrity involved en route. But at least there are some high points to end up at.
I'd honestly love to know what Dreamwave's plan for after Unicron was, if they had one.
Funny, after reading Teen Titans, Ultimates, Infinite Crisis, Amazing Spider-Man, Astonishing X-Men; I then read my monthly Transformers comic and hope it stacks up, and it has yet to. I'm willing to bet if I was ONLY looking for a kid's vehicle to sells toys I'd have less complaints about this series. I've never bought into that Transformers shouldn't be compared to Spider-Man because it doesn't hold up. Again, hate to beat the dead horse, the last two issues of the Dreamwave series were amazing; I re-read them so many times.
I really don't think it mattered that early on, the Unicron stuff could have come at anytime. I was more looking forward to seeing what was up with Scourge being around and not Galvatron. Or what was going on with the Golden Disks, did Megatron really liberate the Transformers? Where do the quints fit in? Etc. I love Uni, but didn't care less about when he was gonna show up, I was in for the long run.
I've said it before, a few times, I want to like the IDW book, I truly do. I completely argee with Phazer about the 'bots using their alt. modes to fit in, that's such a basic but fantastic use of them. It's obvious, but yet rarely used. But when I read my favorite characters like Ironhide and Racket and Starscream, instead of getting the little rush of blood that I get when I see new stuff from my favorite property, I roll my eyes and sigh, or I'm just really, really frickin bored. Although, I msut say, I've decided to hold out until the end of this first arc, and hope picks up.
I'm stacking against different titles -- the only cape book I've followed recently is Ultimates, and with the second volume that's begun to turn into a standard Marvel offering. Spider-Man's really a case in point: variations on a theme since 1963. I'd much rather grab MiracleMan or Planetary, in which action shots come second to ideas and the story's a starting point for thinking about those. For passive entertainment there's always TV.
Going back to the earlier generalisation, I'd guess those currently enjoying a range of superhero titles will probably have enjoyed Dreamwave more than storytelling and characters from IDW. And there's nothing wrong with that -- it just seems that what bores the shit out of me you enjoy, and vice versa.
At the risk of Stormbringer turning out to be something I don't appreciate in quite the same way, I hope it's more appealing to ex-Dreamwave fans and that there's something for everyone.
So does anyone know what James McDonough is up to these days? (He also known as "Brad Mick," right?)
I'd suggest you try some of the cape books I mentioned, especialy astonishing, action shots are not the selling point. Crisp writing and witty dialogue are. Also, I don't just compare it to the capes, I compare it to the Walking Dead and the 'Angel-Verse' books (which I pick up from IDW). I think comics are more than a passive form of entertainment; even such woren out books like Uncanny X-Men still havea few stories with characters I've grown to care for. I care for my Ironhide still, just not in the IDW stuff.
Also it's not so much as I was a fan of the DW stuff that's keeping from liking this, it's the general plot and pacing are boring, and these humans annoy me. I was a fan almost every Transformer line til now, every series had something that kept me buying, this is the first that hasn't. But I'm definatly going to give it another chance blah blah blah.
Stormbringer looks pretty good though.
Took the words right out of my mouth. I like the CONCEPT of the Transformers using their alt modes to hide in plain sight. What I don't like is that we've read 4 issues, and the only Decepticon we've seen in robot mode is Starscream, for one panel.
And I feel like I should defend my original statement about The Watchmen. In no way did I mean to put down Transformers or call them kiddie fare. (In fact, I did not use the words "kiddie fare," and I consider DW's series intended for us in our mid-20s who watched the cartoon in the 80s).
What I meant was that Transformers uses a very simple formula, and comics like The Watchmen use a very complicated plot that's difficult to put into a synopsis. If someone were to remake (God forbid) Watchmen, there are a LOT of elements that simply MUST be done right, or hell will be raised.
With Transformers, the elements are much easier to get right. Galactic war of an alien race called Transformers. They turn from robot to alternate mode. They fight. It is cool. It is in this regard that I feel IDW's story fails. I liked it in "Robots in Diguise" (the series) that the 'bots used their car modes to hide in plain sight (I even got a kick out of that blue car guy having a crush on that red car), but this hide-in-plain-sight plotline didn't impede on the "Robots turn into cars and wage war" plotline.
And as much as I hated Koji, I'd prefer Koji any day to the horror that is the kids in Armada or Infiltration.
Runamuck and Runabout were seen in robot mode, and for more than one panel too.
Oops. That is correct. Forgot about that.
However, my point still stands. There is WAY too little "transformer" action in this Transformers series. The alleged stars of the series are reduced to extended cameos.
Ideally, any author should be able to do dialogue -- keeping formula fiction fresh, though, is hard. The main problem I have with Marvel/DC titles is that characters adhere to a status quo with resets. That's generally less the case with Wildstorm, although there've very few quality titles to go with the approach. Ellis remains the best thing they have going for them, IMO.
It's certainly possible to pull out fresh stories for X-Men et al... Net Dead Yet, random issues of Excalibur where they head down the pub, Morrison's JLA is good fun. I just find it a bit worrying when ten-year summaries of characters such as Gambit actually interest me more than the stories making up that history. I still check in occasionally, but new characters (Generation X before it hit the AoA wall, for instance) tend to hold the appeal.
That (and Y The Last Man, and V for Vendetta when I read it about ten years after 1984) are others I can't really get excited about -- apocalypse / fascist over-state fiction has a projected curve with relatively few surprises. Nothing that could happen is going to smack of originality, so it becomes all about the presentation. Eventually, you've seen enough takes on presentation that those also become predictable.
Mmm, that's possibly another difference in our trajectories -- I haven't been interested by a Transformers fiction series since G2, though I'm giving the BW mini a shot.
Starscream's cropped up several times. Blitzwing's been glimpsed, and Runabout and Runamuck have a confrontation with Ratchet. The stock response to this would be "well, clearly the story must really not be up to much if I didn't even notice", but I think some people have essentially made up their minds and are automatically reaching to support that early reaction.
I do that with DW to a certain extent -- Dark Ages reads quite well as a trade, minus the non-ending, but reading it issue by issue there wasn't anything happening that wouldn't have been relegated to background events in another comic. There were stacks of complaints at the time along the lines of "what actually just happened? should people really be expected to know a ten-year-old story in order to understand a copy of it?" but for long-term readers the dialogue and atmosphere helped divert attention from the Fallen appearing out of nowhere and just as quickly being swatted.
I reckon it could be got down to about a hundred words. And pressing on with the blasphemy, whilst Watchmen is beautifully, even obsessively constructed and a great story, I think it was capable of far more impact in the decade it originated. Ditto for Sandman, a fantastic coming-of-age story that's basically about traps and suicide.
Wars generally involve as much power struggle, politics and espionage as they do skirmishes and battles. Even in Transformers, the number of deaths has tended to be low -- the wipeout events were the Underbase, Unicron, the Swarm, etc. Previous "wars" on Earth with Transformers were playground bullying, for the most part. G2 was about territory and the original Decepticon ideology ("we deserve this because we are superior") but also doing things with the spoils. It'll be interesting to see what forms of empire or presence Transformer factions in the rest of the universe will have in Stormbringer.
On Earth, the conflict tends to take the form of a cold war and arms race -- otherwise there wouldn't be a planet left for very long. With only a few Decepticons on a planet, they can't afford to be engaging in open warfare (again, how that's going to fall for Escalation will be very interesting to follow.) Infiltration's a foundation stone and a frame to provide perspective. It clicks for me because it involves less suspension of disbelief than giant robots rampaging over the countryside unnoticed by the general populance, camera-phones, tabloids, governments and militaries.
Well, I finally got down the the comic shop to get my copy, along with Beast Wars #2. Very good issue.
- I enjoy the art. The redesigned legs don't look so awkward when they've been colored.
- I like the detail under the armor, all the little grey tech bits we glimpse, such as those on Sunstreaker early on. The redesigned bots aren't bad either.
- For everyone who has been complaining about no Transformers in a TF book (despite the fact that it's never been the case) there ought to be plenty to satisfy here. The entire issue is full of Autobots and some Decepticons as well.
- The way that Ratchet is developing a relationship with Verity, Hunter and Jimmy is a key to this storyline I believe. The Autobots already care about life and justice on a grand scale, but Ratchet's developing friendship (?) with our three human characters makes it personal for him, and possibly for more Autobots as the series goes on.
- For all the complaints of a slow buildup, there's been a lot going on, and the pacing is very good. We just still know very little about just what the Decepticons are doing on Earth.
The bottom line for me is that this series is not my idea of a perfect Transformers comic. That was Dreamwave's ongoing, which was exactly what I wanted. But IDW has a good take of their own, and I am enjoying it tremendously. It doesn't deserve all the panning it gets.
Some other thoughts on the series as a whole:
- I wonder if the reason so many on these boards have issues with the pace is that we already know the characters and situations, and we just want to see them get to it. There's a lack of patience to watch the plot unfold. While understandable, it's also unfortunate.
Some people have already made up their minds not to like the series.
- With some of the glimpses of the larger situation we've gotten this issue, I begin to wonder if the situation on Cybertron in this continuity isn't civil war, but nation states just like Earth, and perhaps we might have the equivalent of the cold war. The Decepticons are the USSR, the Autobots are the US, and the planets the infiltrate for study or exploitation are the smaller countries caught in the middle.
I imagine we'll learn more in this summer's series.
*humps shanes leg vigorously*
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