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has posted the first five pages of Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye
Ongoing #4 with commentary from the creative team of James Roberts
, Alex Milne
, and Josh Burcham
. See their thoughts on the issue below. Don't forget to swing by your local comic book retailer and pick this issue up today!
PAGE 1: We’re seeing for the first time in the IDW continuity First Aid and Delphi. Was this always the plan to bring them both in here and the look of them in this grave situation?
JAMES ROBERTS: Well, First Aid made his first appearance—along with Pharma and Ambulon and Delphi itself—in the short story “Bullets," which I wrote for inclusion in the Last Stand of the Wreckers trade (it’s in the new hardcover edition, too). But you definitely don’t need to have read “Bullets” to enjoy issues 4 and 5 of MTMTE—the first three pages set everything up for readers new and old. But to answer your question, part of the fun of writing MTMTE is getting our heroes—the crew—meet other characters on their travels. When Cybertron was transformed at the end of the Chaos storyline, it brought a lot of Cybertronians back home; but there are still lots of characters out there, waiting for their moment.
ALEX MILNE: A lot of characters still out there? Oh man I can't wait to see what will be coming up in the later issues of MTMTE. I hope fans will like the look that we have given Delphi. I know I talked it over with Josh—I wanted the interior of the complex to have a very Arkham Asylum feel to it. Specifically the medical ward from the game. I really do think that Josh did an excellent job in pulling that feeling off. I guess the whole look of Delphi consists of 2 things. The outside, where we see the planet and the base, is one. This look is cold, but somewhat comfortable. By looking at the base from the outside, you wouldn't get the sense that anything is wrong. Then the interior, which at times looks nightmarish. I wanted it to have that feeling as you went along that you will really be yearning for the outside again.
JOSH BURCHAM: Thanks Alex! Yeah, it was a lot of fun helping create the look of Delphi’s “visual identity." Obviously most of the hard stuff, like designing how the base looks and getting across what type of world it is and the terrain it consists of, was already done by Alex but I had a good time trying to come up with a way of reenforcing all of that with color. Every place, every planet has its own feel and its own color scheme to kind of help push the notion that “hey, this is a different place now." And it’s not just to let you know where you are geographically but there’s an element of getting across a “feeling” to these locations too.
PAGES 2 and 3: More new bots in Ambulon and Pharma and setting the scene for what’s going on inside Delphi. Was the disease influenced at all by the Cosmic Rust we saw in the cartoon and what were Ambulon and Pharma based on?
JAMES ROBERTS: Hmm, it’s hard to answer these questions without giving away too much. Sorry! Let me just say that something very, very bad has happened on Delphi, and Ratchet’s about to walk straight into it! I’ll just say that this story marks a major turning point in the life of the Autobots’ Chief Medical Officer…
ALEX MILNE: I’m not going to give away anything about them either. The only thing I will say is that when you look at Pharma, it's clear that he’s a jet of some sort.
JOSH BURCHAM: Heh, I wish I could extrapolate more on your question but like the others, I’ll leave it to you to find the answers within this and the next issue! Heck, I wish I could comment to some degree on these characters and their color schemes but a lot of that was already kind of laid out for me. Alex and James are very particular about the details when they go to creating their respective parts of the book. I guess for me the main goal of this spread was to keep pushing that green “medical ward” color scheme throughout the panels. (And, boy, Alex sure does design some awesome looking ’bots doesn’t he? Really digging Pharma’s design! Not every day we see a jet medic-bot so it’s a nice treat seeing the Transformers universe expanded, even in little ways like these characters and these kinds of locations!)
PAGE 4: Swerve opens a bar and Ratchet starts realizing his own mortality. I guess it’s really being leading up to this? Just how much of the Lost Light has been designed at this stage?
JAMES ROBERTS: Ratchet’s not been himself since we met him in issue 1. The kindly, young-at-heart doctor of old has changed—he’s less kind, less patient, and in many respects has had enough. Why? Well, that’s what issues 4 and 5 are about. I decided Swerve needed his own bar about five seconds after putting words in his mouth for the first time. But the idea that the Lost Light should have its own social hub was there from the very beginning. There needed to be a place where the crew can congregate, argue, laugh, ingest too much engex, brawl, hide… you get the idea. I think issues 1 through 6 of MTMTE each introduces at least one new location. Alex has outdone himself in terms of designing the interiors. He really makes it feel as if we’re writing a TV show or a film, and these are the set designs. It also makes for fantastic visual continuity.
ALEX MILNE: Hmm, that’s a good question. When I was brought onboard for this project and knew I was going to be working on interiors I started to layout the ship so I would know where things were in relation to each other. I would say that at this point in time 80% of the ship is laid out.
I have a general floor plan I work off of, and I have plotted out section for the bridge, engineering the bar and so on. I have left areas open for things that James might throw my way. I like to think of this as if I was working on star trek or another really cool science fiction show.
JOSH BURCHAM: Yeah, totally! It’s a great deal of fun getting to visit all of these new planets and meeting up with long lost characters. It’s exciting and also challenging, creatively, trying to come up with how all these different places look and feel. Always trying to make them feel familiar and yet alien (and also distinct from each other!) all at the same time is a lot of fun, and seeing how intricately planned out and detailed Alex is on his locations just serves to fuel my own creativity.
And Swerve’s bar. I mean, come on. I can see so many memories coming out of this place in the future. What a fantastic idea!
PAGE 5: Ratchet and Swerve discus this “message” hidden for them to find, getting us to Delphi and they start becoming friends. Has anything in the series so far taken any of you guys by surprise in how the stories and overall arcs are evolving?
JAMES ROBERTS: I’ve got a very firm idea of where the overall story arc is heading. Each of the main characters have their own arcs as well, some of which have yet to begin. In translating these overarching or slow-burning storylines into actual issues, yes, I have been struck by how certain characters gel with each other, and tweaked future stories to exploit that. I’ve been pleased by how many characters seem to work well in pairs: Skids and Swerve, Tailgate and Cyclonus, Ratchet and Drift (I didn’t say “get on” in pairs), Rodimus and Magnus, Chromedome and Rewind, etc. As the voyage continues we see friendships begin and end. As I’ve always said, you live the story through the characters, and the crew of the Lost Light will always be at the heart of this book.
ALEX MILNE: Surprises. Each book is a surprise for me. A wonderful and at times twisted surprise that gives me tingles up my spine when I read it.
For me, each issue that James writes is better then the last, but then when you read them all in one go you see how they all start to tie together to make one great story. It’s a real treat to read and be a part of. I seen a lot of people who have said I don't get why this was said, or this was done. I think we have to have a bit of patience and see how the story unfolds. The stores are so dense and at times and interconnected in ways we don’t see until they happen.
I'm positive the payoff will be worth the wait! Also, Skids is awesome. Just had to put that out there.
JOSH BURCHAM: Ya know what’s funny is that it really doesn’t surprise me at all how much I’m falling in love with all of these characters. James is a fantastic writer! That much was evident when I was working with him on Last Stand of the Wreckers. I know I’m just having a blast getting to know them more and more with each passing issue. There’s a distinct difference between just knowing of a character and really getting to know that character, and James just does such a great job letting us in on how these characters live for 22 pages! And Alex, too! Alex has the big job of putting James’ words to life and he’s just been doing such a great job showing us who and how these characters are! It’s an honor to be working with such a talented team!