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has posted the creator commentary for IDW's The Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye Annual 2012. Write James Roberts gives us his insights into the first five pages. The commentary is mirrored below for those without facebook access.
PAGE 1: Rodimus and company are kicking some steel here in an unknown location. It’s quite a selection of different characters you’ve got there with all their different personalities.
JAMES ROBERTS: Thus far, most self-contained issues of More Than Meets the Eye have had a standing start, in that I’ve built the story up slowly. With the Annual, in this respect and in many others, I wanted to do something different: I wanted a big, bold action sequence from the get-go. I remember watching the opening sequence to last year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, when the Doctor is racing through an exploding spaceship, and I thought “let’s have some of that."
So we open with Rodimus doing something he’s rarely had a chance to do since we set off on the quest, and fight. I figured that when Brainstorm unveiled his insane plan to save Ultra Magnus, Rodimus would be first to volunteer. Not because he’s the leader, but because he’s always on the look out for new experiences to stave off the boredom. Whirl would be there because he gets to shoot things. I put Skids there because I wanted to play up their different approaches to fighting; Skids isn’t your typical action hero. There’s a certain finesse to what he does. And First Aid is there because, well, it’s sort of a medical operation, isn’t it. Medical and military. In fact, I almost had someone refer to it as Operation: Operation. I think we can all see why I didn’t.
PAGE 2: We learn that the battle is taking place inside the mouth of Ultra Magnus with the Nanocons. What more can you say about these creatures? And, that’s a heck of a location to be fighting a battle!
Yeah, it’s a blatant homage to Fantastic Voyage (or Innerspace for all you ’80s kids), albeit one with a Transformers twist. What I liked about the setting (apart from the weirdness; I want more weirdness in MTMTE) was that the reader would not be able to tell, at first glance, that Rodimus and Co. were inside another Transformers character. Given their mechanical physiology, the inside of a TF (big or small) looks like the inside of, say, a space station. The original draft delayed the big reveal—Ratchet’s looming head—until later, but every page matters and we had to press on with the story.
The Nanocons were first referenced in “Zero Point," the prose story from the hardback edition of Last Stand of the Wreckers (Roadbuster thought they may have infiltrated the medibay containing Springer). I just liked the idea of a team of Decepticons so small that they were only visible to the naked eye in their combined form.
PAGE 3: Inevitably, Brainstorm is involved with getting the group inside Ultra Magnus in the first place. Is there no limit to this ’bot’s genius? He can do practically anything.
JAMES ROBERTS: He’s a very useful character to have around in that he fulfils the role of mad scientist, weapons engineer and wild card. He’s yet to have his time in the spotlight, but it will come.
You’ll notice that he’s not carrying his briefcase in this scene—or, indeed, in the entire annual. That’s because it’s in his workshop (where we last saw it in issue 7). It’s back on his wrist in future issues.
PAGE 4: A moment MTMTE readers thought they would never see. Ultra Magnus actually smiles. Was this a moment that was always going to happen?
I only became certain that I wanted the whole nanocon sequence in the Annual when I found a way to work in Magnus’ well-established reluctance/inability to smile, thus making the solution to the Autobots’ predicament character-driven.
Magnus is one of my favorite Lost Light characters to write because on a ship of (bright, well-meaning, largely likeable) fools, he’s the one guy who’s absolutely serious. But of course his very seriousness takes him to extremes, to the point where it becomes a profound character flaw. He’s the ultimate straight guy, making the other characters look even more off-beam when they’re around him.
I think he’s a tragic character: an Autobot with a tremendously deep sense of right and wrong who, as the Duly Appointed Enforcer of the Tyrest Accord, was once feared and respected—and now he’s ended up on a ship where any minute miniaturized ex-Wreckers are going to be running around in your mouth.
PAGE 5: Very clearly, that one smile has ruined Magnus’s day. I’m guessing he’ll never be allowed to forget that he did it.
JAMES ROBERTS: On a ship with only 200 or so people on board, news travels fast— especially when the topic of conversation involves one of the Big Three: Magnus, Rodimus or Drift.
The opening scene is to an extent played for laughs, but as always there’s more going on than first appears. As I say, Magnus is a tragic character; the rest of the Annual explores just what that smile—that moment of weakness—means for him.