Megatron Origins - Autobot Propaganda?

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Megatron Origins - Autobot Propaganda?

Postby Kurona » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:20 am

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An interesting little idea came to me in the last hour concerning the early IDW mini Megatron Origins, and how its meaning changes greatly in hindsight when you read a lot more detail of Megatron's story in MTMTE, Chaos Theory, Lost Light and elsewhere which paint him in a much more sympathetic light.

Since 2011 we've gotten to know the Decepticon Leader very, very well. We've learned the original intent and goal of the Decepticons; we've learned he was originally a peaceful activist, we've learned he opposed a corrupt council and social system (which at the time included the Autobots), we've learned that he turned to violence because of the dreadful, horrific things inflicted upon him. James Roberts as a writer has gone into fascinating detail of Megatron's past and used it to ask of us whether or not this is enough to forgive him and offer redemption. It's an incredible story that I feel I can suggest to even people who aren't fans of Transformers and would snark at the idea of the same franchise that produced the Michael Bay movies could possibly offer anything of substance or cerebral material.

But if you go only by Megatron Origins - which, of course, many people did at the time since it would be quite some time before a significant amount of Megatron's backstory would be shown to us again - you see a guy that might have been downtrodden, but ultimately was a huge asshole that killed people and went above and beyond eye-for-an-eye by doing very monstrous things, including to good people like Fastback and Bumper. He isn't painted in a very sympathetic light.

In addition, Megatron Origins - in my opinion and the opinion of quite a few others - feels very... strange as a character piece. We don't fully get to see or understand Megatron's development and we have huge timeskips and miss out on material or introspection or character study that would be much more important to fully appreciate the backstory of this universe. We get a decent idea of the world, certainly; but Megatron himself? There's so much missing here. Where's the motivation? Where's the change of heart? Where exactly does he justify going from one dead miner at the hands of one dickish security officer to taking over the friggin' planet? We don't get to know Megatron. We don't get to understand him as a person at all - it took more backstory and retcons years later to fill in these extremely important blanks.

So while all these things can be taken as big criticisms of the comic - and believe me, I very much consider them criticisms - in a meta sense, could we consider this to be Autobot Propaganda? Think about it. Huge important sections that would paint the character in a positive and/or sympathetic light are skipped over; we have the most basic skimming of his motivation by showing one dead person; we're show monstrosities like the murder of the senate without real context; and it's a very short amount of time between each major event giving a sense that he very quickly leaped from small-time protesting to declaring war on the planet. The rules of this website very smartly prohibit talking about Politics and hence I'm going to avoid directly referencing any specific person or event, but I don't think it's any secret that there have been biased reports or articles in the past that portray all the negative parts of a person, have a very token and toned-down sympathetic view near the start and skip huge very important significant events and details.

So in the same way, while of course not intentional at the time (though we could possible make interesting contrasts between this idea and the fact that media does portray the Decepticons as evil-for-the-sake-of-evil villains) and I doubt that's the meaning the current creative teams meant to change it to; to me the comic now reads a lot like something the Autobots in-universe would show to new recruits.

Or maybe I'm just **** crazy :P
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Re: Megatron Origins - Autobot Propaganda?

Postby ScottyP » Mon Jun 12, 2017 11:19 am

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That's actually a nice retcon for explaining why some of the details and gaps in time aren't explained until way, way later in the run. Also gives an information creep twist to why a character like Elita One would be there.

Worth noting that at the time this was first published, it was completely in line with the Megs that Furman had established. Cold and laser focused on a ruthless goal of subjugation. Also lol Cy-Kill. One of my favorite moments from early IDW.
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Re: Megatron Origins - Autobot Propaganda?

Postby starfish » Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:43 pm

Found this post via Scotty P's Twitter link - cheers!

Good thread. The way M:O plays out, it's almost as if Megatron was already a sadist, and just used the miners' riot as an excuse to advance his own ends. There's no character change depicted, no U-turn, no sighn of anything 'clicking' in his head, just violence from the get-go.

That said, the Autobots aren't shown in a particularly great light, either - following the orders of a clearly corrupt senate with no question. Megatron may be a two-dimensional villain here, but the Autobots are certainly portrayed in various shades of grey.

Interestingly, there's a line where it's hinted that Senator Ratbat caused the mine riot in the first place, by use of a plant/undercover agent. When he starts to make illegal profits from the sales of the combat videos, you almost get the feeling that he engineered the entire thing as part of some grand plan. He gets his comeuppance in the end, but there's a very strong feeling that Ratbat has masterminded the whole situation, in effect deliberately 'creating' the Megatron that we now know.
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Re: Megatron Origins - Autobot Propaganda?

Postby Tigertrack » Fri Jun 23, 2017 7:22 am

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Based on the way things are now, it does seem to be a pretty viable take. I haven't read M:O recently enough to remember all the details, but overall it does paint Megatron a particular way, and generally Deceptioons as well. As Scotty said, at the time it fit eveybody's expectation of Megatron and cons which was also perpetuated in the War Within. Those pieces of TF history have always been amongst my favorites because I wanted more history to give me more details on motivations of characters and factions.

As we know, things since then are more complicated than we were shown. Based on the place of characters now, we understand a bit more about how both sides were bad in their own ways, that there are shady characters in each faction, and that there are many layers to motivations of a leader who believes in tyranny for peace.

If Furman had been able to continue his ideas, what would have become of what we have now? Perhaps, this is a point in history that needs to be explored, "What if Furman had continued in his direction with Transformers? Where would we be now? Would there be tentative peace with Starscream ruling? Or would Megatron be the ruler? How would Earth be treated now?

I'm rambling now because my thoughts aren't straight enough on that point in time to know all the details. I don't see enough detail to contradict this idea. I do now, want to go back and re-read it with this point of view/possibility in mind now.

Thanks K!
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Re: Megatron Origins - Autobot Propaganda?

Postby fenrir72 » Wed Jun 28, 2017 11:40 pm

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M.O. Truncated.

Change of narrative to a more sympathetic 'con was an editorial decision though in DW, it was already hinting as such (the Great War wasn't just to kill time)

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