This is it. The beginning of the end. The pieces are all now in play and Transformers: Regeneration One #91 kicks off the climactic confrontation(s) that will, like dominos falling, culminate with the shocking, searing uber-battle that is issue #100. In the meantime, #91 goes on sale this week, Wednesday May 15th (officially anyway… it was released to digital buyers a week early… or on time… and we knuckle-dragging print ‘n’ paper folk are behind a week… I don’t know. Anyway…), and as usual I present my delve into the darker recesses of the brain that produced it (ie. mine) with the pure and simple aim to tantalise and torment. BUT, should you prefer to read #91 with wide, agog, clear-of-potential-spoilers eyes, then abort now. Okay, so the first chunk of “Destiny”, our third RG1 arc, kicks off a certain amount of aftermath from the shocking events of Scorponok’s dark reign, as you’d expect, and a certain amount of rumbles of the gathering storm that will rock Cybertron and the Cybertronians to their very core (and yes, I mean that quite literally). Just about everyone is now either on Cybertron or en route to Cybertron, with a wide and complex set of festering motives. There’s Bludgeon and his nomadic group of Decepticons, armed with a WarWorld and a whole heap of Matrix-powered clone war machines, coming back to even several raw and burning scores, and Galvatron (displaced from an alternate future), determined to have what he most desires, and was denied in his own timeline — total domination of Cybertron (and in his way a certain ‘Cybertron’s Greatest Warrior’). And meanwhile, Hot Rod (acting C-in-C on Cybertron in Optimus Prime’s absence) has concerns more close to home on his mind, and a restless populace about to let him know exactly what they feel about his current scheme to reunify them with their distant (and feral) ancestors. It’s an incendiary situation about to combust in spectacular fashion, especially as one key player (so far not on the board) ramps up his involvement. Phew… and if you think you know where all this is going, think again. We’re about to toss in a huge and entirely unexpected curve-ball mid-arc, which will throw a bunch more stuff into the cauldron that is RG1 (and shatter a fair few pairs of trousers in the process). News of that soon! In the meantime, RG1 #91 hits stores in a mere two days, and you can view the official IDW preview here. Trust me, we are at the top of a really big rollercoaster, and the plunge downhill starts now…
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2013
GREGG BERGER AND FLINT DILLE TO APPEAR AT TFEXPO 2013 IN WICHITA, KANSAS!
Following last year’s success, TFExpo returns to Holiday Inn at Kellogg & Rock Road in Wichita on August 3rd, 2013 with two brand new guests!
Fans will no doubt remember Gregg Berger’s iconic performance as Grimlock not only in the G1 Transformers cartoon, but also last year’s immensely popular video game “Transformers: The Fall of Cybertron”! Gregg also contributed several other voices to Transformers, including Skyfire, Outback, and Long Haul. With a career spanning more than four decades, Gregg has lent his talents to many other programs as well, including G.I.Joe, Garfield and Friends, Duckman, and many, many more! Gregg will be making appearances and signing autographs throughout the day.
As a story editor and writer for both Transformers and G.I.Joe, Flint Dille was instrumental in crafting the stories of the characters we’ve loved for most of our lives. A writer and designer of video games and interactive novels, Flint recently returned to the world of the Transformers as co-writer of IDW’s digital comic “Autocracy”, as well as its current sequel, “Monstrosity”! Flint will be hosting a Writers Workshop at TFExpo 2013, as well as speaking and making appearances throughout the day.
This year, TFExpo is pleased to announce its very first EXCLUSIVE TOY UPGRADE SET! When a shuttle emerges from the far reaches of the galaxy, a new hero is born! NEBULA STARSHIP is ready to take the fight into the depths of space! This toy upgrade set includes a new head and wings to attach to your existing toy. This set will be given to everyone pre-registering with the TFEXPO ALLIANCE at the Ultra and Premium Levels. (PLEASE NOTE: The TFExpo Exclusive Toy Upgrade Set is an aftermarket accessory, intended to enhance the enjoyment of your toy. It is neither created nor endorsed by Hasbro, Inc. or Takara Tomy.)
Visitors to TFExpo 2013 will enjoy not only our guests and toy upgrade set, they’ll be able to shop in our Dealer’s Room, and enjoy presentations in our Panel Room throughout the day! Other daytime events will be announced as we draw closer to the show.
Following up last year’s dinner party, TFExpo is pleased to host the 2013 Dinner and Script Reading Event! Choose from plated entrées including Prime Rib, Chicken, and Vegetarian options. Dinner entertainment will include an exclusive script reading by our Guest of Honor, Gregg Berger! Live music will follow. And each guest will take home SURPRISE souvenirs! Stay tuned to www.tf-expo.com for further announcements about this event. Seating is limited and you WON’T want to miss out!
REGISTRATION IS OPEN NOW—JOIN THE TFEXPO ALLIANCE TODAY! Visit www.tf-expo.com to register, and keep checking back for updates as we get closer to the show! Also don’t forget to “Like” TFExpo on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!
How do these two stories tie in to the existing IDW "Transformers" continuity?
"Spotlight: Bumblebee" thematically ties in with what's happening in "Robots in Disguise" right now. "RID" is about Bumblebee's fall; "Spotlight: Bumblebee" goes back to his rise. It's very much a part of the ongoing comic book continuity of the "Transformers" comics we publish. You don't have to have read any of the other comics, but if you have, you'll see where it fits in to the ongoing tapestry.
"Fall of Cybertron" is part of the continuity of the video games and the "Prime" television show and the novels. The comic actually also leads in to our comic book series "Transformers Prime: Rage of the Dinobots," which bridges the gap between the game and the TV show.
You've also got a lot of cool stuff happening in your "Transformers" ongoing series, "Robots in Disguise," with a massive storyline reaching its payoff this spring. What's been going on in that title and what can fans expect in the next few months as Megatron plots his revenge?
Since issue #1 of "RID," we've been trying to establish a new status quo -- a difficult-to-maintain, tense, post-war peace. The idea has been, from the characters' points of view, to move past war -- to try to live together in some sort of harmony.
As you might guess, Megatron doesn't want that. He wants the old status quo -- he wants war, and he wants to win that war. It's a battle not of Autobot versus Decepticon, but of old versus new.
His plan, though, is big and brutal. The action gets bigger and bigger and just when you think it's as nightmarish as it can be -- it gets worse.
Q: We’re at the end of the TRANSFORMERS PRIME: RAGE OF THE DINOBOTS mini-series. How have you found the whole comic writing experience? Is there anything you’ve learned that you could use while writing an episode of TRANSFORMERS PRIME?
MAIRGHREAD SCOTT: It’s a different muscle, comics and TV, but it was a thrill to get stronger in another way. In comics, however much you streamline (a fight sequence, a dialog exchange), you can always streamline more and that’s a great habit for any medium. I will definitely cut with a deeper knife when I write TV.
Q: Would you say that you and Mike have achieved all of the goals that you set out for yourself in the telling of the mini-series?
MAIRGHREAD SCOTT: Never. There is always more to explore. We barely touched on the background of a lot of the Dinobots. We’ve only just set up the idea of living in this really cool world. What we did do was introduce some fantastic bad guys, hint at a whole new era of Cybertronian history, tell the fans who we think the Dinobots are, and tell a good story. That’s why I’m so happy about this new series, BEAST HUNTERS. With a longer series I think we can really show off the best aspects of this new world. Of course, that only happen is fans buy it, so make sure to pre-order, Dino-lovers!
Q: You’ve talked previously about the characters you liked writing for. Were there any that surprised you while the scripts were being written? Or did each one do what you thought they should do?
MAIRGHREAD SCOTT: I never knew how much I’d fall in love with Slug. It makes me feel curmudgeonly, but I love that he’s so grumpy because I almost never get to write someone like that. Even Ratchet is more of a team player than Slug. It was also a relief to write Sludge, who doesn’t have a ton of baggage. As much as I love the other Dinobots, Sludge is a breath of fresh air sometimes.
Q: Have you and Mike been keeping the other writers on PRIME fully aware of the events in the comic so they know the Dinobots continuity for when they appear on the series?
MAIRGHREAD SCOTT: Luckily, I work side by side with Duane and the other writers every day, so we are able to keep each other up to date. They know exactly where we are and where we’re going. But it’s very important for us to avoid PRIME chasing after us or us chasing after them. For now the Dinobots are all ours to play with and that’s just fine with me.
Q: What was the big highlight for you in the series? Is there any one scene(s) that stand head and shoulder above the rest for you?
MAIRGHREAD SCOTT: SPOILER ALERT FOR ISSUE 4! I love when Shockwave takes off Grimlock’s face. I really wanted it to have that Hannibal Lector feel and it came out perfectly.
Q: Have you had much of a chance to see how the fans have reacted to the mini-series and gauge their feedback?
MAIRGHREAD SCOTT: Yes. Actually, I'll take this moment to give a shout-out to the guys and gals at Moonbase 2. They did a great interview with us and it was a treat to talk with such big TF fans. Often, there’s this fine line of wanting to interact with the fans and giving them the space to work things out among themselves. If a fan tweets me (and you’re welcome to at @MairghreadScott), I’m always happy to respond, but I know I’d hate to post a critique on a board if I knew I was going to have to face down the author and get into a point-by-point debate every time I did so. Anyway it’s a long way of saying I stalk the boards but don't comment.
Q: If you weren’t a writer right now, do you know what career path you would have taken instead?
MAIRGHREAD SCOTT: Something a lot less fun. I can be anything by writing about them. Until Mad Scientists and Robotic Dinosaurs get their 401(k)s in order, I’ll stick to writing, thank you very much.
Q: Can we expect any more for you and Mike again on PRIME comics, if there should be any in the future?
MAIRGHREAD SCOTT: Actually, they just announced our new TRANSFORMERS PRIME: BEAST HUNTERS book! Order code from Diamond is MAR130375 so buy a bunch! Same great Dinos, now with more beasts and a new, super-accessible format that we’re very excited about. Keep your ears to the ground, TF Fans…
Q: Hi Michael! How is going there at Hasbro?
MICHAEL KELLY: Hello! Things are really busy here at Hasbro: lots of interesting things going on in our publishing department!
Q: The Transformers brand has been going from strength to strength these last few years. How much are you enjoying the comics that IDW are making?
MICHAEL KELLY: I think they are brilliant, and only getting better. The current series written by John Barber and James Roberts, Robots In Disguise and More Than Meets The Eye, are really breaking new ground. And not just in the dramatic aspects of the return to Cybertron and the political maneuvering, but also in the humor. I don’t recall laughing out loud as often as I do now when reviewing manuscripts. Both writers have really unlocked the inherent “humanity” of these characters, and I find it extremely entertaining. And that’s just the writing. Artists Andrew Griffith and Alex Milne complete the storytelling with their work, each providing the perfect characterizations, mood, and environment for their respective books. This team delivers.
Q: When you started out in your position as Director of Global Publishing, are any plans you made where you thought they would be now or have they been exceeded?
MICHAEL KELLY: Ha! Well, if you’ll allow me to paraphrase an old military saying, no plan survives contact with a bunch of creative people. What was important to me when I started managing Hasbro’s publishing business was to ensure that we were maximizing the talents of the creative people our publishers bring to the table. I made it clear to IDW from the start that I wanted them to push the envelope, to shove me out of my comfort zone. If you start with a plan that takes you from point A to point B, and stick to it no matter what, you may never realize that a side trip to C is really worthwhile. Mind you, that doesn’t mean I haven’t had to reel them back in from time to time: the integrity of the brand is always first and foremost. But you can’t stifle creativity from the outset; sometimes you have to let the story take you where it wants to go.
Q: You oversee the comics that IDW make for Transformers. Are you constantly surprised by what the material you are reading?
MICHAEL KELLY: Well, “surprised” probably isn’t the right word exactly, because I’m involved in development from the concept right through to production, so I always know where we are going. I would say that I’m constantly impressed by the ability of our creative teams: the editors, the writers, inkers, and colorists, who manage to tell new and compelling stories month in and month out. After 30 years of TRANSFORMERS stories, there’s always a risk of repetition. But these talented people keep finding new and unique situations for our characters to confront, and that makes for seriously engaging reading.
Q: Is there any IDW book that has been made that you feel stands head and shoulders above all of the others?
MICHAEL KELLY: I added our comics business to my overall publishing responsibilities about one third of the way into the All Hail Megatron run, so that series will always have a place on my list. Honestly, though, it isn’t an easy question to answer, because there’s such diversity in what IDW has done, and so much of it is interesting and entertaining for various reasons. But certainly Last Stand of the Wreckers looms large, and I enjoyed the digital project Autocracy for its unique view of Optimus before his ascension to Prime as well as its remarkable artwork by Livio Ramondelli. And I can’t say enough about how much I’m enjoying the current run of Robots In Disguise and More Than Meets The Eye. Those are both just plain fun.
Q: Have there been many instances where you’ve had to veto a story that IDW wanted to make?
MICHAEL KELLY: In all honesty, no. First of all, IDW has been a fantastic steward for our brands. I can rely on John Barber (and Andy Schmidt before him) and all the guys on the team to present stories that are meaningful and faithful to the tenants of our characters, and to always have imaginative and innovative ideas. So much fun working with everyone at IDW.
Second, I don’t view it as my job to respond to an idea with a simple “yes” or “no.” Instead, if there is something that doesn’t quite fit, or maybe takes the story in a direction that may not work over the long run, I look at it as the starting point of collaboration with IDW and the creators. We develop what works, and we discard what doesn’t. In the end, I like to think we come up with a better result that drives the story forward. I’d be disappointed in myself if I just rejected something outright.
Q: Any favourite character arcs that have leapt out for you from the last 7 years worth of IDW stories?
MICHAEL KELLY: One of the challenges about writing for TRANSFORMERS, in my opinion, is that it can be easy to slip into simple character types. The nature of the underlying story lends itself to black & white comparisons, good vs. evil, honorable vs. deceitful, etc. What I enjoy most is when creators give genuine depth to the characters. Nothing is all good or all evil; everything has elements of both. So my favorite character arcs have always been the ones that show that inner conflict. I love what IDW and the creators have done with Thundercracker’s reflection and self-doubt, Bumblebee’s reluctant leadership, and even the inner struggles of both Optimus and Megatron. These are 3-dimensional characters, and I’m really pleased that the creative team embraces that, because the characters are at their most compelling when they are relatable.
Q: Are there any other Hasbro brands that IDW do comics of that really stand out for you?
MICHAEL KELLY: The first project that I managed from the very beginning was the re-launch of G.I. JOE back in 2008. That series, and in particular the COBRA books, have my fingerprints all over them. I’m immensely proud of what we did together on those books.
And just wait until you see the new My Little Pony comics. Sheer awesome.
I can’t comment on the Dungeons & Dragons and MAGIC The Gathering comics IDW produces, because the creative process for those is managed by my colleagues at Wizards of the Coast. But I hear great things, which doesn’t surprise me given the people involved.
Q: In overseeing all of the comic’s material that you do, what is greatest challenge is making sure everything is right for the different brands?
MICHAEL KELLY: The real challenge comes in keeping the various continuities within each brand straight. At any given time, I’m reviewing as many as 4 different TRANSFORMERS continuities and 3 separate G.I. JOE continuities. So it takes a lot of attention to detail to ensure that I’m not carrying one storyline over into another. It isn’t hard to fall into the trap of “hey, didn’t that guy die in issue 7?” Keeping all of that in line takes a lot of real estate in my brain. But so far I haven’t had the problem of wondering why Pinkie Pie isn’t planning Bumblebee’s birthday party. Though come to think of it, that would be an epic party.
Q: Where do you see things with the Transformers brand a few years down the road?
MICHAEL KELLY: There are so many stories still to tell in this franchise; I mean it when I say we are just getting started. We’ve got a great thing going on in IDW’s interpretation of our Generations line, and of course we’ve got a ways to go before Regeneration One wraps up. I expect a lot of twists and turns there. And remember, we’ve only scratched the surface of the PRIME continuity, which has a lot of rich storytelling still waiting to be discovered. We’ll start to see a lot more from that storyline in 2013 and onward.
Q: Michael, thanks for taking the time to do this Q&A. The last thing I wanted to ask was, out of all the Hasbro properties, which one would you personally like to bring into comics, which currently aren’t being published?
MICHAEL KELLY: Well, I’d be tipping my hand if I gave a direct answer to that question. Let’s just say that we’ve got a lot of things in the works right now, at various stages of development. Keep an eye out; you never know when we’ll be announcing the next big thing from Hasbro publishing.
Transformers: Robots in Disguise #11 Andrew Griffith Interview
As the Transformers: Robots in Disguise comic book series from IDW Publishing and Hasbro approaches the end of its first year, we thought we’d sit down with the series artist, Andrew Griffith, for his thoughts on the first nine issues of the series (the first five of which have been collected in a paperback) as well as the future of the series! Back issues (and last week’s giant-sized annual) are available at comic book stores everywhere, and digitally at http://read.idwpublishing.com/ —or download it on Comixology on your mobile device!
Q: Hi, Andrew. As we’re approaching the end of Robots in Disguise’s first year—how has it has been for you?
ANDREW GRIFFITH: Oh, it's been fantastic. I’m enjoying working on this book as much now as when I first began. I mean, nothing can beat the initial thrill of getting a call to take on the art chores for an ongoing Transformers series, but the fun and challenge of it has not dwindled a bit. I even recently tweeted the fact that it's been a year and a half since I got that call and I'm still as excited to be on the book now as I was then.
Q: You and writer John Barber have been working very closely on the look and feel on this book. Has it changed much from where you started out to where you are now?
ANDREW GRIFFITH: John Barber the writer? For a second, I was afraid you were asking me about the John Barber responsible for the development of rail gun technology. No really, look it up. Same name.
Parenthetical humor aside, John’s a dream to work with. We’ve been working together since July of 2010 when we started the Dark of the Moon movie prequel series Foundation, and I feel like it didn’t take us long at all to meld with each other’s storytelling ideas. I really notice as I read his scripts that he’s writing them specifically for me—he’s gotten to know what he has to detail out for me, and what he can let me take hold of and run with.
That man is writing so many different things now, as well as editing a few more, that I don’t know how he manages to keep each book straight—but working closely with him for so long I haven’t seen any less commitment or intensity from him on the part of RID. It’s kind of amazing. He just chugs right along. As far as the look and feel, I think it’s stayed pretty consistent over the issues. We’re really been trying to do some world building, with Iacon changing constantly as more ships arrive, ships are converted into buildings, and civilization takes hold. Meanwhile, this relatively settled section is surrounded by an entire planet that's been reborn and essentially unexplored. We've been working to establish a mix of strange structures naturally forming, ruined husks of ancient Cybertronian structures, and bizarre alien landscapes. Hopefully that comes across in the books.
Q: What characters have you been finding more of a challenge to draw, and do any of them come as a surprise to you? I bet there are some you can do with your eyes closed.
ANDREW GRIFFITH: I don’t know what it is, but for some reason whenever I draw a Sweep's decapitated head in RID (specifically in issue 5) it never looks right to me. Something about the boxiness of the helmet, I think.
Q: You did a different design for Starscream before going for the War for Cybertron designs. How many of the characters did you re-design that weren’t used?
ANDREW GRIFFITH: Well, truth to be told, not too many. I knew the series was going to feature Bumblebee, so my thought was to nail down (no pun intended) Bee’s look, and then base the aesthetic of the rest of the characters off of his appearance. I ended up doing about three Bumblebee designs that were never good enough that I’d want show them to anybody, and then I did some of characters like Prowl and Starscream. The Starscream one is the one you’re talking about, but looking back I don’t think the Prowl one would have worked well at all for his role in the series and I don’t know that I’d ever want to show him off. Just not a very good design in retrospect.
Q: Any stand out issues for you during this first year that surprised you?
ANDREW GRIFFITH: You know, I really enjoyed #4. When I first read that issue, I was instantly eager to draw it. On one level it read as a fairly straightforward action issue, but underneath there were a to of things going on, some of which has yet to be revealed to the reader. But I think eventually people will be able to look back at that issue and see it in a different light and say “ooooohhhhhhh.”
Q: Would you say that you’ve changed much as an artist during the year as you’ve done more and more issues?
ANDREW GRIFFITH: Well, I hope so. I always want to be improving as an artist. I definitely feel like I can confidently turn out a competent page at a faster rate than I could have at the beginning. And there are certain things I wish I would have drawn differently in the first few issues, like Bumblebee and Prowl’s heads. I don’t know what it is about Bee, if I’m not careful I just end up making his head wider and wider and wider.
Q: You went to San Diego Comic Con this year, met the fans, signed many things and talked giant robots. How’d you find it? Was it a fun experience?
ANDREW GRIFFITH: Well, I’ve gone to a number of conventions this year, and from all the fans I’ve talked to, they are all really excited about what is going on in Transfomers comics, so it's been really encouraging. That’s a very rewarding thing to hear, that what you're pouring your heart and soul and time into is being appreciated. The highlight of SDCC for me is always getting to see the people there that I never get to see otherwise, and getting to meet and talk with [legendary G.I. Joe writer] Larry Hama and [legendary Transformers writer] Flint Dille for example. But the best part was probably finally meeting John Barber and [editor] Carlos Guzman, who I’d been working closely with for two years by that point but had never met in person.
Q: From the characters you’ve designed for the series, which one of them would you like to see turned into a toy? If you were given the choice.
ANDREW GRIFFITH: I’m pretty happy with what I’ve come up with for the Constructicons, they retain enough of their G1 appearance while still looking like Cybertronian in nature. It’d be pretty awesome for me to see a Generations-line Devastator combiner based on them, similar to the combining Fall of Cybertron Bruticus toy that’s out.
Q: As we’re wrapping up the first year, there’s still to more issues to go until we hit #12. is there anything little snippets you can say without giving to much away?
ANDREW GRIFFITH: Well, I can’t say too much without IDW snipers placed across the street filling me with tranquilizers and shipping me off to Siberia, but I can promise that issues 11 to 15 are ones not to be missed. By the end of that arc, you'll have a lot of questions answered, some long unseen characters make an appearance, and some resolution to the first year’s over-arching story. Basically, it’s good stuff. I just hope I can draw it as well as it’s written.
Q: Heading into year 2, you’ve probably been talking with John Barber about the future. Anything you can say about what the fans could possibly expect?
ANDREW GRIFFITH: Yeah, we had a chance at SDCC to sit down and bounce ideas off of each other. A bit early to see if he uses any of mine. [Laughs] In all seriousness, one of the great things about John is how he’s so open to collaboration between us, and if he likes an idea I have, he’s not too proud to use it in the story. If it seems like I’m avoiding spoilers as far as where the story is going, I am. It’s hard to discuss it without giving too much away. But I will say that John and I are both excited about where things are headed.
Tying in with the video game TRANSFORMERS PRIME: FALL OF CYBERTRON, comes the IDW comic book TRANSFORMERS PRIME: RAGE OF THE DINOBOTS. Hitting shelves in November and taking place in the 'Prime' Universe, Transformers readers can get to meet everyone's favourite robotic T-Rex, Grimlock for the first time, in this incarnation of the Transformers. In RAGE OF THE DINOBOTS, the Grimlock and co are forced to battle Shockwave with the very fate of Cybertron hanging in the balance. Written by Mike Johnson (Star Trek) and Mairghread Scott, the writer of the TRANSFORMERS: PRIME animated series. Artist Agustin Padilla (Dungeons & Dragons) provides pencils while Ken Christiansen provides covers. I spoke to IDW Senior Editor John Barber about the book and the Transformers legacy on the screen and in comics.
JOHN BARBER (JB): Well, the Prime Universe is the timeline where theTransformers: Prime TV series from Hasbro Studiostakes place, along with the FALL OF CYBERTRON video games from Activision and the novels that Random House publishes, like Exiles and Exodus by Alex Irvine. So if you’re familiar with any of those, you’re already familiar with the characters. The team at Hasbro takes special care to ensure there is continuity between a wide variety of storytelling platforms for the brand.
PAGE 1: Spike Witwicky marks his return, now as Circuit Smasher! What inspired this radical new take on an old favorite character?
SIMON FURMAN: Having Spike back served a twofold purpose. On the one hand, the current status of/fate of Fortress Maximus was on my RG1 “to do” list. It was something else left kind of dangling at the end of #80. I did and do like the basic concept of a character who, to save their life, has to surrender a part of their humanity, and Spike (already being a Headmaster) was partway on that course already. Once I knew the fate of Earth and roughly the state of play there, using him just fitted. It’s that “everything old is new again” tag that I keep applying to RG1. Take the familiar and twist it, reinvent it. I want to keep surprising people with this book, and if doing that also ties a few plot points together, all the better.
PAGE 2: Rack ’N’ Ruin are taken out by Spike, as he displays his power. Clearly what Megatron did to Earth has had a profound affect on him and how he now views all Transformers.
SIMON FURMAN: Yes, and just how much is going to become evident when we hit our third story arc. Spike’s a complex character. He’s human, and blames the Autobots for almost all the bad things that have happened to planet Earth in the intervening 21 years (between #80 and #81). But he was, for a while, half Nebulan/Cybertronian too. He’s literally been inside the heads of the Transformers. But his separation from Fort Max (as well as almost killing him) has left him full of misdirected anger, anger that will spill out in #91-95 in terrifying ways, blurring his place among the “good guys” of RG1. But those kind of characters have always been my favourite. You never know which way or how far they’re going to go, and subsequently if there’s any way back for them once they’ve stepped over that line.
PAGE 3: Topspin and Spike talk about where Spike was when he was last seen in Marvel US issues. Did you always know this was where Spike was going to be when you last wrote him?
SIMON FURMAN: Honestly, no. I think it’s the gulf of time and the fact that we’re heading for an honest-to-gosh conclusion that allowed me to go so dark, both with the state of play on Earth and just how off the deep end Spike is going to go. But some of the seeds of Spike’s state of mind were sown back in #79. To use a kind of drug analogy, Spike was trying to kick the Fort Max habit and get back to his own life. But in many ways he was now Fort Max, so that kind of enforced distance was bound to have some fallout, a kind of enhanced separation anxiety. It’s like the thing you need most, you’re denying yourself, and it’s bound to splinter your psyche. So, even though Fort Max is gone (rather than just shelved), the effect is going to be the same. But even more pronounced. Even once Spike understands what is missing, what he needs, it’s impossible to get.
PAGE 4: Spike and the Wreckers stand down after their initial confrontation. Considering both of their desperate situations, you’d think it couldn’t get any worse of them. Right?
SIMON FURMAN: Oh, it’s going to get a lot worse. For both. Even when the dust settles on #85 and that storyline, the Earth angle is far from finished. And the Wreckers are going to be reeling for a long time.
PAGE 5: Optimus Prime is sharing his seemingly infinite wisdom with Hot Rod. Do you see Prime as someone who, even with all his experiences, still learning new things about the world around him?
SIMON FURMAN: My take on Optimus Prime is that while he’s a Prime, he’s not THE Prime. And that’s what he’s been gradually starting to understand. I always feel that Optimus never really wanted the role, but grew into it. Grew into this amazing, inspirational leader. But it was never natural. He had to walk the shoe leather in before it fitted. And maybe for all his incredible wisdom and courage he’s still just a link in chain from their creator, Primus, to… ???. A chain (mentioned in #65) that got broken when the Matrix was lost/corrupted/destroyed. Is it a coincidence that Hot Rod kind of looks like Primus? I tend not to believe in coincidences.
PAGE 1- Following on from the last issue, we see what happened to Swoop when Grimlock sent him on a mission to find the source of the Decepticons energon supply. Why choose Swoop here and not another Dinobot?
JOHN BARBER: It made sense based on the set-up in the Fall of Cybertron game. (And presumably Swoop is kinda an ironic name at this point, given that he’s a tank). I wanted to switch things up here from the Grimlock focus of #1—still keeping Grimlock narrating, but giving Swoop here a moment to shine, briefly. I mean, we know things don’t go well for him, but I wanted to show that the Dinobot—well, at this point the Lightning Strike Coalition—are tough ’bots. They might get taken down, but not easily.
PAGE 2- Swoop continues to close in on the source of the energon. The mood here is very dark and moody. And lonesome. Was this a conscious choice to amplify just how harsh things could get for Swoop?
JOHN BARBER: Well, I wanted to give Dheeraj Verma a chance to tell the story. I wanted a relatively silent infiltration scene; something I don’t always do in the TRANSFORMERS: ROBOTS IN DISGUISE ongoing. There’s definitely supposed to be a feel of dread, of danger. I think Dheeraj did a great job in communicating that!
PAGE 3- Swoop investigates further as he hears two characters talking. Compared to the other Dinobots and their personalities, how did you go about writing Swoop for this mini-series?
JOHN BARBER: Well, at this point Swoop—and his teammates—are super-competent soldiers. They’re battle-hardened, but there’s something—I think—a little off-kilter with them when they’re actually full-on Dinobots. Here, Swoop’s a soldier engaging in an infiltration mission. He’s on the job, so his personality gets put away. As we’ll get a hint at later, he’s got a little sense of humor. But, basically, this is the job. This is the mission.
PAGE 4- Shockwave and Starscream talking about “secrets”. Having written for both of these characters in Robots in Disguise, what changes did you have to make for them for Fall of Cybertron? Presumably their relationship here is very different.
JOHN BARBER: Yeah, definitely. I mean, there’s a very specific set of circumstances going on in RID that sets these two guys up, and here, they’re both ostensibly serving Megatron. But there are certain fundamental qualities that cross all timelines… Shockwave’s logic; Starscream’s scheming. I definitely try to not think about the RID versions of the characters, while I’m writing these guys though. I really try to look at them as different characters with similar traits—but I’m sure there’s a bit of unintentional bleed-through.
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