Over the weekend, I pulled Volume 1 of the TPB from my shelf and began re-reading it, again, for perhaps the 6th to 7th time, if not more.
Saturday brunch with E - Lobster Brioche with curly fries and MTMTE volume 1. Does-not-get-any-better. Thank you James Roberts.
Here, I will discuss my thoughts on prior and present IDW Transformers titles. Except for life-action-movie related titles, I have read them all. It is my belief that having read them all, I'm in a (relatively suitable) position to compare them. I will make an effort to be objective, but tastes and all are pretty subjective matters so I may not succeed in being objective.
A full collection of all IDW's Transformers titles in TPB form (I do not have TPBs that reprints either Dreamwave's or Marvel / Marvel UK's materials however)
So here we go, after the jump, my thoughts on the other IDW Transformers series'... [spoiler alert]
I'll go through things 'chronologically' (as per timeline set out in TF Wiki), but note that the below is not in order of publication.
Megatron Origin (4 issues)
I'm a big fan of this series and really enjoyed the writing of Eric Holmes and the 'early' art of Alex Milne. I have already said lots about it (see below) and about the abundance of 'easter eggs', so I will not say more here.
Chapter 01: The Mini Series
Chapter 02: Issue #02 easter eggs
Chapter 03: Issue #03 easter eggs
Chapter 04: Issue #04 easter eggs (part 1)
Chapter 05: Issue #04 easter eggs (part 2)
Chapter 06: Quotes from Megatron Origin
My recommendation - go read it!
To be honest, I was really excited when I read the forward for this - co-written by Flint Dillie! And he wanted to do some things that he didn't get to do when working on the vintage TF series. Wow. This is as 'big a deal' as Bob 'the godfather of Transformers' Budiansky writing more about TFs, I thought.
I did not enjoy most of this, partially due to the uninteresting plot and script and partly due to Ramondelli's art (which I don't like). When I got near the end, I downright appalled - the writers went and re-harshed Transformers: The Movie (1986). Seriously?!?
My recommendation - okay to read once, but not worth a second sitting.
The "a-tion" arcs: (1) Infiltration - 7 issues; (2) Stormbringer - 4 issues; (3) Escalation - 6 issues; (4) Devastation - 6 issues; and (5) Revelation - 4 issues
- these 5 are the 'Furman' arcs, as I like to refer to them.
Infiltration was actually the first TF series that IDW published after DW's bankruptcy and IDW getting the licence. Understandably, IDW wanted to start things slow and steady and not go with the 'all flash and no bang' DW formula that was really getting tiresome back then.
Many did not like the "a-tion" arcs due to the 'slow pace', too many humans and EJ Su's art. I however, differ. I liked how Furman built up the pace in Infiltration, then took us to Cybertron for Stormbringer and back to Earth for the remainder of the storyline.
Illustrated and painted by EJ Su
Things I really liked about these stories:
- Nightbeat being all detective
- Sixshot and the whole Phase-Sixer concept
- Thunderwing, Bludgeon and the Pretender shell being poly-dermal armour concept
- the fight in Brasnya
- EJ Su's art. Su's art is sublime. There is so much work in there and the robots and parts all look like they can really transform. Back in the day, I rate him even higher than Figueroa himself.
My recommendation - Go read it! Stormbringer, Escalation and Devastation are the stand out arcs from this.
Maximum Dinobots (5 issues)
'All boys love dinosaurs' is what they say eh?
So, what is better than a mini-series that features the Dinobots (or erm... Dynobots), and, illustrated by (at the time) rising star artist Nick Roche? This is a good read, interesting concepts and a good story.
I'm not such a fan of the Dinobot designs, but I guess there must be limitations from Hasbro / IDW about what Furman and Roche could have done. Also, really enjoyed when the Monsterbots showed up!
My recommendation - yes, do read this.
Drift (4 issue mini-series)
First this guy gets a Spotlight and then now a mini-series?
This one is okay, I guess. It resolves a number of plot-point from previous arcs and also gives an insight into Drift's origin.
It's not terrible, but then I wouldn't say there is any 'wow' factor neither. It's competently written and competently draw and there's nothing wrong with that. It just was not exciting for me is all.
My recommendation - okay to read, I guess.
All Hail Megatron (16 issues)
Note - the below do not apply to the Roche and Furman short stories at the tail end of AHM.
'The war is over, the Decepticons have won' - yeah, the premise is attention grabbing and shocking, but sadly, that is all.
The stories just starts as per the above premise and does little by way of explanation. There are inconsistencies and plot-holes that one can drive truck through. There are hardly even misguided attempts to try and explain things. And if things were 'explained', they didn't really make much sense.
The only thing I remember from 16 (wasteful) issues of this arc is the conversation Skywarp has with Bombshell where the former was insulting the latter. I have not bothered to go back and re-read this series at all.
I would say that this arc sucks rotten eggs, but then, that notoriety is firmly reserved for Costa's run on Transformers (ongoing), which I will touch on later.
My recommendation - Best to avoid, not worth your time.
Last Stand of the Wreckers (5 issues)
This series draw and written by Nick Roche, with assists from James Roberts, and was at the time, the very best Transformers series from IDW, so far.
Given, it was about a bunch of characters I did not even care about (The Wreckers), but Roche / Roberts got so much mileage out of every single panel of every page - in 5 issues, the use of characters, the dialogue, the concepts, the art and everything else just came together in a grand tapestry of brilliant story-telling that all 16 issues of All Hail Megatron can only aspire to.
There are too many things I like about this series to list in one blog-post, honestly.
So I'm just going to say, that Overlord is in there, in there a lot!
My recommendation - Must read. Not to be missed.
The Transformers (ongoing, 32 issues) - in TPB form, this is "For All Mankind"; "International Incident"; "Revenge of the Decepticons"; "Chaos Theory"; "Police Action"; and "Chaos" - collectively, I refer to these as the 'Mike Costa arc'.
The best thing about TF ongoing are issues #22 and #23, which were written by James Roberts and drawn by Alex Milne - it follows that my comments below do not apply to issues #22 and #23 in any way, shape or form.
The second best thing about TF ongoing is that it is no longer ongoing.
Mike Costa shouldn't write Transformers. Period. During interviews, he openly admitted that he does not really know about Transformers and is not familiar about the lore, but yet he attempted to write about them, without much research or thought as it appears.
The plotlines were dismally non-existent. The dialogue is either strained, uninteresting, cliched or is downright dumb. At the time, some readers went so far as to say that Costa is destroying their childhood. I don't 100% share that view, but its not too far from the truth either. When this was ongoing, there were many frustrated fans and many (that I know of) left TF comics forever.
The hours I spend reading Costa's stuff are hours of my life I am never getting back.
There is almost nothing memorable about this arc, save that when I read #22 in the TPB, I thought 'WOW, Costa is getting better! There may be some hope for this series yet'. Yeah, and then later I discovered that #22 and #23 were not actually written by Costa.
It is a slight against reason that this pile of mediocrity could have gone on for close to 3 years.
Transformers (ongoing) by Costa takes the Razzy award for being the worst Transformers series from IDW, so far. All Hail Megatron comes in a close second.
My recommendation - Avoid at all costs. Those are hours of your life you are never getting back if you chose to read it.
Bumblebee mini-series (4 issues)
This is quite a good read. Touching, down-to-earth story. But I'm really not a fan of the art and for that alone, I hesitate to recommend this. That and because in recent years, since the 2007 live-action movie, we have been getting way too much Bumblebee.
My recommendation - Ok to read. Don't really matter if missed.
Ironhide mini-series (4 issues)
Yet another series written by the constantly disappointing Costa - he must be friends with someone, why would IDW like him write close to 40+ issues (in total) of mediocre crass? That's close to 3.5 years of crap, enough to cause a healthy person indigestion.
Anyway, this series, with an A-list character no less, took all of 4 issues to get precisely nowhere.
Admittedly there were a couple of good ideas, which was not built upon and just wasted. The plot attempted to be complex, but turned out to be confusing as heck.
It took me more than 5 sittings to finally finish this - each time I picked it up, I just could not hold the interest to go more than 6-7 pages. I won't be re-reading this anytime soon, which is a shame, because Coller's beautiful art is wasted on this series.
My recommendation - Better to avoid, but reading 4 issues won't waste too much of your life, so read if you have a spare 45 mins.
Infestation (a crossover event, only 2 issues on Transformers)
I don't remember too much, but there was a female helicopter Transformer. Kind of like a Whirl and Black Shadow cross(former), who was a vampire from another dimension. If vampires and zombies are your thing, this is a fast enough read.
My recommendation - Vampires and Zombies, why not? Go read.
Heart of Darkness (4 issues)
I don't remember much about this series, except that it was Galvatron trying to be a good guy, and trying to save the universe. Ah, I can't remember. I just picked up the TPB to flick through again and nothing rings a bell - ie: there isn't too much that is memorable.
The art for this series is terrible. Terrible with a capital "T". I will say no more.
My recommendation - I don't know. Did not leave an impression on me. Probably not worth reading.
Robots in Disguise, aka RiD (currently ongoing)
This is one of 2 'spilt' titles that Transformers (ongoing) became. The other 'spilt' title is MTMTE.
RiD is written by John Barber and takes place on Cybertron. To be honest, when volume 1 of the TPB came out for RiD and MTMTE, I thought RiD showed a lot of promise, and that it was in fact more interesting (not necessarily better) than MTMTE - after all, the events in RiD took place on Cybertron and Barber appeared to have a lot of the A-list cast.
Oh what stories about Cybertron Barber could have weaved. The high point was the RiD Annual, after which it all went downhill. It just devolved into your typical good vs bad guy bash down for a good 6-7 issues.
And it got stupid - one of the main plot points, set up from very early on in the series, was a mind-controlled Prowl, who did lots and lots of questionable things, bad things, evil things. And was later absolved of them because it turns out he was mind-controlled by Bombshell. Fair enough if this was a Sunday morning cartoon. But reading this in a comic series that purported to be complex and is aspiring to 'as good as' MTMTE, this single plot point flaw just brings the whole RiD series crumbling down like a house of cards.
It's like saying a good guy did a whole lot of bad things and at the end of the story, he wakes up and found that he'd dreamt it all. It's like cheating. It's childish. It's inane. For this alone (and the good 6-7 issues of senseless smackdown - Prowl transforming into the head of Devastator?!?), RiD has fallen many rungs down the ladder for me.
Another thing that was heartbreakingly disappointing about RiD is how Barber didn't actually use the A-list cast he had to much effect at all. He didn't make good use of such characters as Soundwave, Shockwave, Skywarp, Ratbat, the Constructicons, Megatron, Omega Supreme, Sky Lynx, Ironhide, and more... oh, and he denied Bluestreak to Roberts, but didn't even bother using Bluestreak much!!!
Bluestreak appeared in a couple of panels and got blasted in the face. Since I'm such a Bluestreak fan, Barber, you're on my sh*t list, I'm sorry.
My recommendation - A good read from the start up to RiD Annual, after which, it's probably better to skip. Somehow, I think a lot of people will be 'forced' to read it all anyway if they want to follow Dark Cybertron.
More Than Meets the Eye, aka MTMTE (currently ongoing)
Which brings us to the other 'spilt' title, MTMTE.
What more can I say? This is simply the best Transformers comic series, ever. And by ever, I include all the vintage TF comics as well. Yes, this is better. It is superior in its writing, its art, its inks, its colours - in short, its a better everything.
From a premise that I thought was sure to fall flat on its face, that of a crew of B-list and below Transformers on a spaceship looking for mythical beings, James Roberts has never failed to surprise and delight with each and every panel of each and every issue. Such is his ingenuity that he even manages to weave stories about Cybertron and about the cast that is in RiD, through flashbacks! What a genius!
From Sparkeaters to Legislators, to Red Rust, to Delphi, to the DJD, to point-one-percenters, to thought warfare, to Luna-1, to Cyberutopia and more, there is never a boring moment with MTMTE.
This is in a class of its own and I hope IDW keeps James Roberts AND Alex Milne as long as humanly possible on this series. I promise I will love it and buy every issue that these 2 guys churn out.
This was yesterday after dinner...