Creator Commentary: Transformers Spotlight: Bumblebee Preview with John Barber
Thursday, March 7th, 2013 3:50PM CSTCategory: Comic Book News
Posted by: El Duque Views: 15,162
PAGE 1: Was it difficult to begin writing this story for him from the point in time where he was over a year ago as opposed to where he is now in his leadership role on Cybertron (in ROBOTS IN DISGUISE)?
JOHN BARBER: It was a different frame of mind for the character. I sort of wanted to write the start of the transition from the way the character was on Earth, when Mike Costa was writing him, to where he was at the start of ROBOTS IN DISGUISE. When we first see him in RID (and actually in the DEATH OF OPTIMUS PRIME that James Roberts and I co-wrote, and Nick Roche drew) he’s already more hardened and embittered by leadership. There was a step we skipped over, where he had to really take on the responsibility, and that’s the story I wanted to tell. Artist David Daza came in and did a terrific job in capturing the humans and the Cybertronians in this one.
PAGE 2: When thinking out this story, why place it in this period of time (during the “Police Action” and “Chaos” storylines) and not into Cybertron’s past, as the first two SPOTLIGHTS (ORION PAX and THUNDERCRACKER) were?
JOHN BARBER: Well, a couple reasons. One, reminding readers Earth exists. Two—there’s something specific about Bumblebee’s Earth-mode in this story that… might come up again in the future. But the basic set-up on the SPOTLIGHTS was: two in the distant past; two on Earth during the post-ALL HAIL MEGATRON/pre-CHAOS era; two more-or-less present-day.
PAGE 3: Having seen Bumblebee as a soldier most of the time and not in a leadership role, did that take some getting used to when you first started writing for the character?
JOHN BARBER: Not really. I was trying to extrapolate what Mike and Zander Cannon (in the BUMBLEBEE limited series) had set up in terms of Bee’s leadership. Throughout the whole IDW run of comics, he’s been a character of contradictions. He’s the nice guy, but he’s been a soldier—a saboteur no less—for millions of years. I mean, he’s been fighting for longer than there have been humans. And he’s a nice guy, he hasn’t let it break him down. But that mantle of leadership—that might do it, I thought.
PAGE 4: What is it about Bumblebee as a character that makes you want to write him? What are his enduring qualities?
JOHN BARBER: Those contradictions. He’s an identifiable character. There are other TRANSFORMERS characters that are more flashy, or whatever. But there’s an essential humanity to Bumblebee, and a real, genuine connection to people—from the original 1984 issue #1 through the movies. The character really connects with people. I know some of the hard-core fans really get sick of him, but the essential reason he shows up so often is that genuine emotional connection people have with him.
So, I was like, “let’s really mess with this guy and put him in a difficult situation.”
PAGE 5: Put yourself in Prowl’s shoes—would you be like him and questioning Bee’s leadership skills, or would you get behind him and help out as best as you can?
JOHN BARBER: I think at this point, Prowl isn’t even considering that Bee might have leadership skills. Prowl’s looking at the big picture, and he can be pretty abrasive, but he’s got a job to do, and he thinks Bumblebee will just be in the way. It’s a real situation—if you get into a position of authority, you can’t just demand respect. It’s like Eric Cartman—“respect my authoritah!” It doesn’t work. Bumblebee has to step up and get respect.
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Posted by Va'al on March 7th, 2013 @ 4:27pm CST
I enjoyed the story for what it was, but I'm not sure about the hint about Bumblebee's Earth mode popping up again.
Posted by _Anshin_ on March 7th, 2013 @ 6:09pm CST
Posted by jgilkinson on March 7th, 2013 @ 10:00pm CST
Posted by _Anshin_ on March 7th, 2013 @ 11:35pm CST
After the All Hail Megatron! arc.
Decepticons leave Earth (most of them). The Autobot matrix is lost and taken by Starscream off world. The Autobots hide on earth to watch over the earthlings and protect them from the Decepticons. A few years pass and Skywatch is formed. Skywatch is human anti-cybertronian task force. Skywatch has quickly figured out how to put Cybertronians into stasis lock and keep them in the alt forms. This results in the capture of a few cons and a few Autobots. Hot Rod takes a task force to rescue the Autobots which results in Iron Hide being killed. Optimus feels responsible and turns himself into Skywatch. Fast forward and the remaining Autobots vote BB as leader (Why is beyond me). Fast Forward again and because of Spike's respect for Optimus and other plot holes, the Autobots and Skywatch partner up. After an international incident, the world finds out the US and Autobots are working together. Due to the events of All Hail Megatron, the world distrusts big robots from outer space (Go figure)
Meanwhile Shockwave and Soundwave have rebuilt Megatron and then cannibalized his old body and sent Megatron's alt mode (Walther P38) made out of his old body back to earth in crates through a space bridge. Megatron influences the owners of such guns to slowly go crazy. During a protest outside of the base where Skywatch and the Autobots are using BB gets a great idea to go out and make a speech. A human under the influence of Megatron wielding the "Megatron" gun fires on BB (YEAH!!!) critically wounding him. After a while Ratchet fixes him up (Damnit) but doesn't have enough parts to properly fix one of his legs. A cane is made and then becomes a common theme for the useless bot.
This is a rough and poorly pieced together time frame. The story for the most part isn't that bad and if you are on Comixology you can pick up the entire thing for 5.00 every time they do a Transformer savings day.
Posted by Va'al on May 16th, 2013 @ 6:10am CDT
With this week's reveal of the official images of Generations Hoist and Thundercracker, it's time to complete the reviews for the Spotlight series, which now seems to have concluded as far as we know. Read the others so far: Orion Pax, Megatron, Thundercracker, Trailcutter and Hoist.
And now, the missing link - Spotlight: Bumblebee!
ESCAPE FROM EARTH! Before Cybertron was reborn—BUMBLEBEE lead the Autobots on Earth. In this untold tale, he must take the reigns of command… and he’s got hundreds of rogue Decepticons standing between him and respect!
Ha! "Standing"! Get it?
Sliding between Spotlight: Megatron and Trailcutter, arguably the best issues to come out of this run, Bumblebee suffers a lot from the comparison. And it takes place during a moment in the IDW continuity that a lot of readers had issues with - Police Action. So I wasn't expecting much.
No, it isn't
Admittedly, the comic patches up another smaller gap in the continuity of the Costa run, and we know, by now, that Barber adores patching things up. The story itself, however, does not add that much to the characters, main or secondary. Prowl, for example, suffers some flips (and not of the table kind).
Sure, 'cause you loved *him*
Even the Metroplex/Metrotitan plot is only casually name-dropped, and there's an ..er.. explanation for those who missed the Megatron and Thundercracker ones. But very rushed, and didn't feel that necessary at all.
Aaand that's it
As I said, this issue is not the most brilliant, and it rehashes the Bumblebee/Hot Rod trope of 'What would Prime do?' for the umpteenth time. Without the very final page, it would have stood as a valid start to the attrition between Prowl and Bumblebee too, but..
Again, the Spotlights are a means for lesser know artists to showcase their talent, and when I saw the preview, I didn't mind the almost ligne claire approach by David Daza. As the story progresses, though, the art loses definition and detail, at times being vague outlines of characters, if that.
Not really sure what I'm looking at here
The colours aren't bad, though, and Zac Atkinson does seem to try adding some recognisable schemes to the blotchier figures, though the result is still not satisfying, or reedeming enough for the artwork to shine. Nothin wrong to say about the lettering, but nothing that really stands out, either.
Point in case: Blue-ltra Magnus
The artwork, including colouring and lettering, is definitely off to an interesting start, and then seems to lose its way with panels progressing. It would have been nice to see another take on the Stunticons, and Earth-modes in general. The lighting, and there's a lot of strange sources, could have improved the general art too, but didn't work that well either.
I almost feel disappointed, as I thought Bumblebee could do with more characterisation. It was interesting to see his Earth mode again, though, and his interactions with Thundercracker, but the whole story felt superfluous. Just some more Barber continuity patching, with little more to show for it.
My thoughts precisely. The shrugging, I mean.
So yeah, not the gem of the bunch, not adding much, not subtracting that much either, except for the Prowl moment at the end. I am really not happy nor convinced about that, especially after all the Robots in Disguise work on him (or even the Police Action one, for that matter!). But I suppose it is just an in-pack comic, shoehorned into the continuity.
Posted by dragons on May 16th, 2013 @ 8:05am CDT
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