Discussion in 'Transformers Comics Discussion' started by AtomicGarden, Jul 8, 2021.
Good point, lol.
But my opinion comes with an added perk of being able to smile upon the Deadverse grave.
It was so great it couldn't even sustain itself.
That's so IDW, lol
Sustained itself for over ten years, which makes it the longest lasting TF narrative--in any media--outside of G1 Japanese continuity in history. Longer than G1, Marvel, BW, Animated, Dreamwave, Marvel UK, UT, TFPrime, Aligned, KISS, Binaltech, Rescue Bots, Cyberverse...heck, even longer than the movieverse since BB is a reboot.
So yeah, sustained itself quite well.
Until it derailed itself so much it was barely afloat with sales. With multiple soft reboots and shifts of focus. Also, sustaining is existing and it doesn't exist anymore, so... Not so well in the end.
I really need to quit coming into threads from New Posts...
Phase 2. Megatron becoming good. The war ending. Bleh.
Pretty much, yeah.
Chris Ryall’s stuff in retrospect isn’t so badlywritten or mind numbingly boring as Costa, but it came after Furman’s carefully crafted universe and destroyed everything he and the Spotlight writers did, so it hurt more despite being short.
Costa was an enterprise in mediocrity and dare I say, stupidity? Not his, the characters. Hot Rod declaring himself Prime and then trusting Swindle of all people... Spike working with the same Decepticons he hates and frequently murders? Jazz killing a terrorist brandishing a tiny Megatron gun who just shot Bee is used for finger-wagging when he is a million years old robot warrior who killed plenty people and human cops shoot such terrorists every week. Starscream getting leadership and not doing anything with it. Megatron surrenders for mind games. The stupid Deceptigod...
Then the comic split. And did the worst thing IDW could have done - they got rid of the war, the very thing that defines cybertronians...
This sadly plunged Barber’s RID into boring melodrama with characters’ personalities rewritten to suit his whims. He also went on his retcon crusade in trying what should never been attempted, tying together 3 previous writer’s stories that never followed continuity. This culminates in my most hated TF IDW moment, taking the Dreamwave “Shockwave did it!” joke and making it true for ALL history, all to prove a stupid point. But we had other nonsense inbetween like Dark Cybertron, female transformers thrown in without explanation (like or hate what Furman did, it WAS an explanation, not a shrug), tons of colonies and characters added who matter little but tag along and bloat up the cast. Also poor Starscream, he got to be leader but without any of the power that makes the position mean anything. Then things got more confusing when IDW decided to revive comics nobody but Linkara remembers, like Micronauts and Rom, and tie GI Joe, MASK and Action Man and Visionaries to the story, making the already bloated cast even harder to follow. When Unicron came it was a blessing to see this nonsense end.
On Roberts’ end things started off better, with it being a smaller side story, a mostly episodic adventure with a smaller cast. The flashbacks gave us nice insights into pre-war Cybertron and the focus was mostly of brand new characters not used by previous writers.
Things started to fall apart later as it became clear Roberts had an agenda to push - that religion and tradition is stupid and fake, built on non existing or mundane grounds, and all authority figures are corrupt. His OCs also became too prominent and powerful, and soon the whole thing felt like a glorified fanfic. I got tired of every villain being some Autobot gone insane often for no reason (Pharma, Tyrest, Getaway, Froid), and it became apparent he could only write characters as quirky oddballs or psychopathic maniacs. This meant barely any good Decepticon characters, as the DJD were psychos and Misfire and co were just the same type of character as the main cast, again.
This culminated in the nonsense of Robot Hitler, aka Megatron realizing he was wrong for the past few million vorns and adding “sorry, my bad, disregard all this” to his Mein Kampf. And as punishment... being named co-captain. And oddly nobody but Whirl and later Getaway tried to kill the despot right away and everyone was buddy-buddy with the person whose orders cost everyone the lives of loved ones...
Yeah sorry, that was jumping the shark then shooting it out of a fusion cannon.
It only got worse later on, as Roberts went “Primus is just a guy! The knights all died pointlessly! See kids God is not real, take this dad for making me attend Sunday school all these years!”... And yeah just ended in a boring way.
I have decided to only keep Furman’s run and some Spotlights, plus Roche’s Wreckers miniseries from IDW’s run (as well as Beast Wars Gathering/Ascending). I got like 7 TPBs of MTMTE I want to get rid off, oddly, seems nobody in Hungary wants them... Guess I am not the only disillusioned one.
I remember finding some Transmasters UK comic called Kingdom of the Blind in the Geocities dark age of the internet, some edgy grimdark continuation of the G2 comics... was that also Roberts? And I read some dumb text fanfic too where the Beast Machines cast realized they were never on the real cybertron and when they return, evil G2 Cybertronian Empire Star Saber brutally kills them all...
If Roberts writing that the Transformers' in-universe equivalent of god is just some normal guy qualifies as an anti-religious agenda, would you say that Simon Furman writing that all Transformers were created by their god and every aspect of them was made by design is a pro-religious agenda? Of course you wouldn't. Roberts didn't have an agenda, he was creating what we in the industry call a "message" or a "philosophy". Rung's reveal wasn't an anti-religion agenda or anything, it was an interesting twist that raised questions about how much of the Transformers' mythology is true and what having deities really means for a species of robots. If you interpreted it as cynical, that's fine, but it's probably not what Roberts intended.
I remember doing this in Luigi's Mansion.
God is fake, he's just some guy!
Star Saber wants to holocaust the atheists!
Any time Swerve expresses a religious belief Ratchet comes flying out of nowhere to shit on it!
There's a definite trend...
Toward wild interpretations of IDW comics? Yes, there is a definite trend of that.
There have been real historical figures that wanted to kill everyone who was an atheist, heretic or pagan.
There are real people who are religious and real people who are atheists that like each other but have arguments a lot.
(Are you sure you don't mean Drift? I don't recall Swerve being super religious.)
I'm also fairly sure there's a major religion that's totally based on the idea that a god lived for a time in the body of a mortal being. Can't seem to recall the name of it though...
The religious aspect could, frankly, be quite simply one of those cultural differences without any actual intent to offend. The UK is a considerably less religious country than the USA, and also one which is a lot less... overt about religion? I'm attempting to phrase this neutrally, whilst being conscious that my own instinct is certainly not neutral, so I apologise for any unintentional offence there- but, essentially, the cliché about "British Reserve" also applies to religion. If a public figure in the USA cites religious faith as the grounds for an action, it tends to gain approval by the majority; if they do so in the UK, it tends to garner both derision and a certain sense that it's rather tacky to draw attention to it.
We're skating on slightly thin ice here toward an area where it's overly easy to be unnecessarily offensive, so both be delicate about how we discuss this if we do, and also not be too quick to take undue offence without consideration, lest we end up going straight through the ice and having to be rescued by Circuit Breaker ("Christmas Breaker").
Essentially what I'm getting at is that, in UK media, it's pretty much the norm to assume an atheist- or at minimum agnostic world view as the default, certainly in any futuristic and sci-fi directed work, with religion seen as, at best, quaint but well-meaning, or at worst obstructive and a plot point leading up to witch-burnings, human sacrifices, and a general farrago of "Space Travellers are forbidden by the Great and Holy Zog the Ineffable! These strangers say they have come from the skies!! Sacrilege, take them immediately to the Everlasting Pit of Noel's House Party and cast them therein to face the Wrath of Mr. Blobby!!!"
It's neither exhaustive nor ubiquitous, but it certainly is the more usual position. If a fictional character is introduced, we'd tend to assume no religious faith unless told otherwise.
In US media, for all sorts of reasons, probably going back historically to a significant chunk of the founders of the US being people who left Europe in order to pursue their own religious convictions, that appears (from a UK perspective, so this is unapologetically the view from the outside) this seems to be very much not the case. Which in a long story cut short means that a great many of the thematic beats of "More than Meets the Eye" : 'Gods' aren't real; the stories of them are just myths and legends distorted from history over time, religion is used by a lot of people to be extremely crappy to other people, strong religious faith is a kind of naivety that a character can perhaps prove to be strong despite, rather than because of (Ratchet coming to see Drift as a good egg whose spirituality is just a harmless eccentricity rather than a negative trait, for instance) aren't necessarily meant in the slightest to be subversive or offensive, because they're just fairly 'normal' fictional tropes.
From the UK perspective, "Star Saber" seems lazy, but not actually offensive- because presenting a character with that degree of fanaticism about religion as a) mentally unbalanced and b) almost certainly just using it as a crutch for sadism and megalomania is only perceived as wrong because it's incredibly overused- and thus entirely in keeping with Roberts' general ethos of MTMTE, of applying a range of sitcom/comedy drama/TV sci-fi tropes to Transformers and running with them. Rung, meanwhile, with the revelation that he's not actually a god at all, is the kind of thing that would more or less be met with "...Well. Obviously."
So I do wonder if that's a factor here, and whether a certain amount of the offence felt is down to the effect of a writer with markedly UK sensibilities applying those wholesale to a franchise with formerly more US-centric ones.
Of course, the immediate elephant in the room is that Simon Furman, not conspicuously American, is the one who inserted the whole idea of a deity into Transformers in the first place, but for one thing, that was in a rather different era, one where a slightly different zeitgeist existed, and into the bargain, it's more about the sensibilities being written toward, than the actual nationality of the writer.
This could all be a steaming pile of rubbish, of course, but it's just one possible speculation.
Personally i've always found comparing megatron with hitler to be an inaccurate and frankly lazy comparison. Unlike germany, the villains on cybertron weren't scapegoats. The autobots and previous regime were straight up guilty of everything they were accused and more. Where as the jews and romani were scapegoats to blame for various social and economic issues.
Megatron was a legitimate freedom fighter and trauma victim who become corrupted personally rather quickly and whose movement was worse than the very real and guilty individuals and regime/society that they overthrew.
he's more like oliver cromwell taken to the nth degree than hitler. Holding him as unredeemable kinda requires holding the entire race as such and justifying the position of the galactic council.
If he's irredeemable then he's also justified in all of the genocide, just not in ruling or creating a decepticon empire. His real guilt came the second his goals went beyond destruction to self aggrandizement. Not the opinion i have but what i see as the natural extension of the logic used by arguments that he must stay a villain and can't be empathized with.
that said so much of autobot megatron was horribly handled. From all of dark cybertron to how he never interacted with soundwave or prime after converting which would have been where any real pay off and justification for the whole arc would have come from. Loved all that happened within mtmte, but the really screwed up by never drawing him into the reflections and changes happening into the main plot after the whole djd arc wrapped up.
US media can be pretty damn harsh towards religion, too; Bart Sells His Soul and Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame spring to mind. And since they deal with the established creeds their jabs can often be quite pointed yet fairly nuanced, all the while stopping short of outright insulting the actually-faithful. Judge Frollo comes across as a legit warning (and Quadimodo a positive alternative), while Star Saber is just cartoonish.
Whether it's different culture norms, an agenda, or something else, MTMTE had a habit of bringing up religious themes just to take it down, which got pretty annoying.
There's the nub of the problem, in fact. "Autobot Megatron" isn't a bad idea- in fact, it's a really good idea, much better than the parallel "Might-as-well-be-Decepticon Prime" idea that the other book was exploring as part of its tacky embrace of the trendy "Hey kids, colonialism's so uncool, dudes, we've all got to say so even if it's totally irrelevent" craze, which was just a stupid idea from the beginning, further tainted with pointless GrimDark "Got to tarnish all the heroes" dreck .... but "Autobot Megatron" is a good story, appallingly badly told. The only parts of it that work at all well are Megatron's conversations with Ravage- and whilst I'd actually say that the one scene- you all know the one- between Megatron and Ravage when they first discuss his change of allegiance and how genuine or otherwise it is, actually manages to be one of the seminal great scenes of the IDW oeuvre ... it isn't worth it for the incoherent, sloppily paced, tawdry and bathetically inept mis-structured mess that's made of telling the rest of the story.
Are moments like Rodimus gently teasing Megatron "Go on, you know you want to say it..." and Megatron commanding "Autobots, transform and roll out!" devoid of charm? No, they're not. They're quite funny, and would even be a little touching... ten, twenty, a hundred years (in fiction) after his change of allegiance.
Is it a really nicely handled cathartic moment when, in the final issues, Megatron, rather than running from peril, orders "Crankcase, turn us around"- gets a wonderfully 86-movie resonant "As you command, Megatron", which Rodimus subsequently calls out in an actually very funny way- and then Megatron makes his badass declaration that they're going to save the universe? Yes, it is, and would have worked really well, if we were on the same page with Megatron's redemption as the characters are at that point.
As it is though, we're subject to something that simply doesn't make sense.
We're asked to treat Megatron's turn back to the light side as genuinely felt and honest, to- at first, sympathise a little for his grief at a life wasted on the wrong course, whilst at the same time chafing and thinking "Yes, that's all very well, but what about the millions of lives you ruined and ended while you were working through your anger issues, Megs..?"- and then a little later to witness and feel empathy for his guilt and horror when the true death toll and its import is brought home to him, before warming to him and coming to respect him as he proves himself and honestly does work to make good, but be left with the unanswered question of a) whether forgiveness for such crimes is even possible, b) whether punishment would even be meaningful anyway - and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with any of these story beats.
However... the pacing and speed of this story arc, and the balance of tone and content, are handled as if whoever was regulating the speed control was doing so on a faulty dial-up modem from at least six light years away, whilst simultaneously downloading windows updates.
Characters spend issue after issue telling us that they don't forgive or trust Megatron ... whilst the dialogue and art shows them cheerfully trading witty banter with Megatron, and by and large treating "Hey, remember that time you led an army that tore down our civilisation, burned our cities, and murdered most of our friends... and then said "Sorry, just kidding, lolz" as the equivalent of "Hey, remember that time you got rat arsed and photocopied your arse at the office Christmas party?" Again, that's a stage they should eventually get to- after they'd accepted his redemption, not before.
Roberts' apparent desire to maintain a degree of suspense over whether the change of heart was genuine seems to scorch the story too- we're kept in a constant state of ambiguity about whether Megatron's apparent contrition is at all genuine until the scene on Necroworld where he's confronted with the flowers, meaning that rather than a gradual progression we're hit with a sudden lurch from "Hang on, does he really mean it at all...?" to "Yes, he means it, and he's just realised what it would really mean, and the degree of atonement it would require."
This could have worked. What might have worked far better here could potentially have been for it to have initially been a deception, for Megatron to have really been up to some devious scheme... but, at the same time, enjoying working with his new crew... right up to the point where he saw the flowers of Necroworld, and was shocked into making the change genuine- but that's not what we got.
Finally, and worst of all- the most crucial beat of the arc- Megatron's actual atonement, the tragic final irony that he spends centuries selflessly fighting to save a world... and is then executed anyway because the people who put him on trial neither know, or even remotely care, about the people he saved- the one thing that could have salvaged the story arc, is shot in the testicles two ways at once.
First, the people Megatron saves, the people of Functionalist Cybertron, are so blatantly hand-crafted for him to save, with all the injustices he railed against polished up to perfection, and all the little grey areas and problems that first time around caused him to do it wrong conveniently removed from the picture, that it feels for one, extremely artificial and convenient, and for another, any sense that Megatron has improved and learned and grown, and this time is going to do it right is heavily undermined by the way that the tyranny he opposes feels almost custom-made for him to oppose it the right way, rather than the wrong one- all he has to do is to remember to say 'empathy' rather than 'tyranny' and 'flowers' rather than 'murderdeath' at the right places in his speeches.
Getting right back on your bike after you've tumbled off it is admirable. It's less so if, right after you've tumbled off the bike of political revolution and rolled around in the stinging nettles of "being an omnicidal psychopath", you get right back on... a nice pink tricycle with little stabilisers that's been carefully put on a path helpfully paved with soft rubber and with little signs put up in large friendly letters saying "brake now to avoid genocide" and so on.
Second, and even more stupidly... Megatron's atonement takes place offscreen. That's the... most critical part of the arc, and the only way we have to know that Megatron did come good in the end, and did stick to his new ideals and prove a hero... is because he tells us so.
I think people need to remember Godwin's Law more.
The Autobots and the previous regime were not subject to genocide; they were not an ethnic group in any way, shape or form.
Where Megatron became genocidal was in his dealings with organic species.
Most of the things we call genocide are attempts to kill off an entire ethnic group of one's own species. The Nazis also killed people they considered genetically unsuitable due to disability status, sexual orientation, gender nonconformity, &c, and those things are not necessarily genetic, but were believed to be heritable at that time. So while the Nazis were practising genocide against the Jews and the Romani, much of their murder was motivated by eugenics as well. They were concerned with their own species, they thought they had the right to determine how people should look and function and believe. That sounds a lot more like the Functionist Council to me than the Decepticons--killing or enslaving and working to death one's own species in order to 'cleanse' it of what they considered undesirable.
Megatron killed organics because he was scared as hell of them. However, while his killing and his actions were completely unjustified, his fear, in the context of the IDW universe, is actually kind of rational. The organic species of the Galactic Council, and worse, the Black Block Consortium, actually are out to get all mechanical life forms in that universe.
Megatron was wrong (and murderous) in thinking that means every organic species, even those who aren't yet aware of other life forms, would automatically decide to wipe out mechanoid life, and also being a little short-sighted in not considering that his behaviour might inspire more of the same. But he was not wrong in thinking that this was a thing that could happen, because he saw it. Unlike the blood libel, or the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the complete sterilisation of mechanoid societies, such as Nickel's homeworld Prion, was a real thing that happened fairly often in that universe, and it wasn't the first such event. This is why I have so much of a problem with Prowl inviting the Galactic Council to try him; they're the inspiration for all his worst choices. While he made those choices, the Galactic Council influenced those choices just as much as the mnemosurgeon who undoubtedly damaged his brain, or Terminus who kept telling him that pacifism would never work, or every person who ever beat him until Prowl finally beat him one time too many.
So while it is absolutely wrong for Megatron to have wiped out whole sapient species, I think his motivations don't earn him that Godwin ticket. He was not trying to create a master species. He was trying to prevent the rise of one.
He really believed that he was safeguarding Cybertronians at that point in time, and while he was very wrong, the Galactic Council and the Black Block Consortium really did in fact do terrible things. He didn't do it because he thought their leaders were sacrificing babies to a demonic god at secret ceremonies. He did it because there were actual genocides that preceded his own. Organics taught Megatron to do this kind of thing and then were angry because he was better at it than they were, and in reality, they were all wrong, and all their hands were thoroughly covered in innocent blood--not just his.
Probably around Death of Optimus Prime, but for me, it'd be around "Season 2" of MTMTE. It was around the time that Roberts' writing became more self-congratulatory and smug, but also a point where he really started breaking his own rules, something that would become especially apparent when LL rolled around. Ratchet lists the limitations of holomatter technology in his confrontation with Pharma when he uses his avatar to distract him long enough to get the jump on him, but apparently Swerve can make a 1:1 to-scale replica of Earth using his holomatter projector with no physical repercussions. Tarn is listed as having a transformation addiction early on, this specifically being the reason Pharma was killing the patients on Delphi, but... actually, this one never comes up in any of his appearances. The Nudge Gun is supposed to have two charges-- one to implant thoughts into the minds of its target, the other as a means of erasing the memories of the one that fired it in the event of an emergency. Come LL, the Nudge Gun can be fired repeatedly to erase all the memories. And of course the whole mass shifting thing being taken to its extreme, which completely breaks the lore if you stop and think about it. Now this one actually does have a drawback-- you get too huge, you're gonna die. But remember, these are characters who have been fighting in a war for four million years. You mean to tell me that at no point did a single soldier on either side, horrifically outnumbered and outgunned with no hope of escape, went "screw it" and turned city-sized in one last-ditch effort to take their opposition down with them? Seeing Giant Rung punching the moon in the Functionist universe completely broke the lore for me.
Oh, and time travel became a thing... just so Brainstorm could stalk some dude he had a crush on back in the day. Not even his boyfriend, which would still be a little creepy but at least would make a fair bit of sense, especially if he was dead. This dude, as far as I could tell, had no idea Brainstorm existed back when he was around.
I'd like to point out that Swerve walking around in his holoavatar for weeks and then creating that Earth replica was one of the things that almost killed him, the other being that rust infection.
Sadly, people have shot presidents and musicians in order to get the attention of celebrity crushes who literally don't know they exist, so that one's truth in television.
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