Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

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Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby Va'al » Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:34 am

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Well, 'happy' might not be the best word. But hear me out.


The IDW Transformers and Hasbro universe, their comics continuity, has been running for the past 13 years, and was announced - for lack of a better term - to reach its conclusion by the time the Unicron mini-series came to its own end, taking Lost Light and Optimus Prime with it (alongside Rom, Micronauts, GI Joe, MASK, and all the various casts and stories within).

As of this week, and after an initial showing at the San Diego Comic Con 2018 IDW panel, we have finally seen the final covers for the last issues of each of the three series - but most importantly for Lost Light and Optimus Prime.

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Let's go a little into the background first, though: in October 2005, Simon Furman and EJ Su brought to the stage Infiltration #0, the revelation that Cybertronians had been on Earth for a while, Verity Carlo and Hunter O'Nion, and a new Marvel Ultimates-influenced 'Generation One' continuity - its Phase One - began.

A year later, in September 2006, Nick Roche and Simon Furman went back a little further in Spotlight: Shockwave, an issue that will become more and more relevant to everything happening in this universe up to its very end.

Some of those stories were cut short in 2008 (and concluded in Maximum Dinobots - until we came back to it all in Lost Light), as Shane McCarthy's All Hail Megatron saw the triumph of the Decepticons on Earth and the creation and arrival of Drift, some initial but vocal fan complaints (not all was bad!), which only got louder for the most part with what followed from 2009 to 2011, and Mike Costa's ongoing series. Then Optimus Prime was killed, again, and Orion Pax returned - the comics split in two parallel series: More Than Meets the Eye, and Robots in Disguise. Phase Two begins.

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Part of the Phase Two stories, alongside the ongoings, were the Wreckers' Saga (now collected in one volume), the Autocracy trilogy (which we re-covered here), and the first proper crossover event in Dark Cybertron - which brought with it a much wider universe, and the arrival of Windblade (among others).

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Since then, the ongoing series saw a third companion, in Windblade, and eventually Till All Are One. Dawn of the Autobots led into Days of Deception, then its second crossover Combiner Wars up to Titans Return, and opening the universe even further and wider in Revolution, Reconstruction and the final big event, First Strike, which ushered in the end of the Hasbro Universe through the unfortunate Transformers vs Visionaries miniseries, and the resulting summoning of Unicron.

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So here we are, at the brink of it all. The universe is about to end, and I just told you I'm happy for it. Let me explain why, exactly:

  • Continuity - This is the bane of comics everywhere, I have said so before and I will keep on saying so until we stop considering 'canon' as something monolithic and impervious to change and modification. Continuity can be a useful tool, but taken to its extreme it's just silly, harmless, and a source of headaches - and unnecessary gatekeeping for readers who do not want to or cannot keep track of everything that happened ten years prior to the book they're reading right now. An entirely new, actually fresh start will clear everything before it - and a new continuity can be established, free from the self-imposed shackles that prevent potential fans to fully enjoy the books coming out. Hopefully, something looser, that will allow for further development as it continues.

  • IDW Publishing - The IDW staff have proven themselves extremely capable of creating good Transformers fiction (other fiction too, but this is the focus here of course). Sure, there have been pitfalls along the way, mostly down to the strained relationship between licensor and licensee, and how that affected the creators in their storytelling. But they have never entirely destroyed the Transformers story that was being told. With John Barber as EIC, I have the confidence that this will continue, strongly, into whatever new venture we will see the comics embark.

  • Timing - I said something very similar in a piece about the Transformers Bumblebee Movie, but it's worth repeating at this point: the entire Hasbro universe, outside of the fiction, is being reshaped. The live action movies have shifted tone and possible storytelling, with Paramount looking to start afresh; the comics are all being ended together, with stories having been developed for a long time already, by admission of the writers themselves (and TAAO and Wreckers also had their excellent farewells), and reaching a almost entirely organic conclusion; a new toyline, with some heavy fiction behind it, is being launched in Fall 2018; it's been 13 years. That's a new fan's entire life, and one now ripe for the seeding of a new story.

  • New talent - A lot of the creators, with the exclusion of editor John Barber, have already stated that they are not currently planning on returning to the books. Be it artists, or writers, or colourists, or anyone else involved in the creation of the books, we currently have no idea of who will be involved, and this opens doors to infinite potential: to name but a couple of fan favourites, Sarah Stone came into the books from fan-art work; Alex Milne had a similar trajectory from deviantArt, though with previous engagements at Dreamwave; Kei Zama was extremely popular on Tumblr before doing covers and eventually interiors; most current professional creators have been fans of the franchise since they started doing art or writing of any kind; we've seen several fan creators spotlighted in comics covers across the series and the years, and the prospect of entirely new talent is tantalisingly exciting. I am ready for all of it.

  • Comics precedent - This is a two-sided point, actually.

    Firstly, comics history has a well proven track record of having limited series among its most influential of all time: I'm thinking of The Sandman, Lucifer, The Wicked and The Divine (end forthcoming), even Saga will end at some point (once the current hiatus is over). The same can be said for book series, and even big and small screen ones - in spite of the recent wave of rebooting and forced continuation - I mean, Marvel Transformers itself is famously a 4 issue mini-series that lasted for 80 numbers. Having an ending is good. It does not cancel out a story, it allows it to sit and mature with time and with every revisitation.

    Secondly, the precedent set by the current IDW universe. The entirety of the creative teams involved have been working nothing short of miracles in establishing a seriously impressive layer of fertile ground for more stories to spring forth (not in the Botanica sense from ReGeneration One - sorry Simon). In an interview with the Twincast Podcast, Nick Roche spoke about 'a groove that was for everyone reading – and if that’s not for me, that’s fine' - starting with the inclusivity, diversity, and representation that the writers so far have established for the Transformers world, and carrying that into the next stories as a starting point. The precedent, the existing reality that made it into non-specialist media coverage, as well as triumphed within comics circles, is there, and it is a thing of wonder.

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As I was working on the later stages of this comment, a similar piece from David Heslop was brought to my attention, and I wholeheartedly recommend heading over to read that too, as one phrase in particular jumped out at me: 'by giving us an ending, we get to experience the totality of this saga’s existence'.

Experiences can indeed be bittersweet, and provoke untold levels of emotion - be that good or bad - but we have all been witnesses to something unprecedented in a licensed comic property that started out way back when to sell toys and flesh out their packaging bios. Non-Anglophone readers are slowly gaining access to those stories too, with translations of MTMTE spearheading localised publishing pushes, and Japan receiving the full story from AHM onwards as we speak; the rest will hopefully follow too, even if much after the end of this particular era of stories.

And for that, for all of these thirteen (even just the number!) years, for all of these stories, yes - I am happy to see them come to an end. With an ending that the creators have meant and carefully planned. And an ending that I still hope will open to something bigger still in the years to come.


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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby ZeroWolf » Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:52 am

Motto: "My past no longer binds my future..."
Weapon: Battle Blades
Great article Va'al with a lot to think about. I spouse what I'm most curious about is the fate of some of the concepts introduced, such as conjunx endura and the relationships that played out. It also took us to a phase rarely seen in TF fiction (at least rarely seen when it first happened) that of post-war and of the conflict that arose when the neutrals returned.
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby Sparkimus Prime » Sun Jul 29, 2018 8:31 am

All the best to the writers and especially the animators of those stories. That being said, I'm optimistic that the politics and gender dysphoria will be removed like the cancers they are for the new comics. This is after all supposed to be children's toys and stories. Till all are one.
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby ZeroWolf » Sun Jul 29, 2018 8:39 am

Motto: "My past no longer binds my future..."
Weapon: Battle Blades
Children's toys? Yes but the comics are geared for older fans, teenagers at least. Thus more mature storytelling is encouraged.
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby Sparkimus Prime » Sun Jul 29, 2018 8:52 am

ZeroWolf wrote:Children's toys? Yes but the comics are geared for older fans, teenagers at least. Thus more mature storytelling is encouraged.


IDW comics were included in a lot of the recent Generations toys. You can't really separate the two. My point was the comics are meant for all audiences.
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby Skritz » Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:02 am

The worst of IDW Transformers has certainly been, in spite of everything else, the issue of continuity and the multiple titles and multiple writers. The sheer density of retcon, rewrites and continuity shifting so endemic to comics has simply made it an impossible to follow mess. The addition of the rest of the Hasbro properties has only made this worse. This simply is not the same creature that was Furman's original idea to reboot the franchise back in the early 2000 but rather turned into the pet abomination of fanboys canonizing their own silly ideas or, as people sometimes call it, inmates running the asylum. :roll:

IDW Transformers is a mess. I'm glad it is getting put out of it's misery.
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby Va'al » Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:06 am

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Sparkimus Prime wrote:
ZeroWolf wrote:Children's toys? Yes but the comics are geared for older fans, teenagers at least. Thus more mature storytelling is encouraged.


IDW comics were included in a lot of the recent Generations toys. You can't really separate the two. My point was the comics are meant for all audiences.


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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby Tommy T. » Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:08 am

Yeah I 100% agree, idw transformers is a complete mess. Stories jumping around , politics, robots in love with each other holding hands and hugging. Good riddance.
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby Va'al » Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:08 am

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Skritz wrote:The worst of IDW Transformers has certainly been, in spite of everything else, the issue of continuity and the multiple titles and multiple writers. The sheer density of retcon, rewrites and continuity shifting so endemic to comics has simply made it an impossible to follow mess. The addition of the rest of the Hasbro properties has only made this worse. This simply is not the same creature that was Furman's original idea to reboot the franchise back in the early 2000 but rather turned into the pet abomination of fanboys canonizing their own silly ideas or, as people sometimes call it, inmates running the asylum. :roll:

IDW Transformers is a mess. I'm glad it is getting put out of it's misery.


I don't think it's in a dire state, at all, and I think the work done to the stories that started with Furman - especially after Costa did whatever happened in those years - has been pretty good, if convoluted and unwelcoming to anyone who wasn't a devoted reader.

In that last respect, I mostly agree with you, as I pointed out above.
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby ZeroWolf » Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:10 am

Motto: "My past no longer binds my future..."
Weapon: Battle Blades
Yet that also stopped not long after it started with only the thrilling 30 and combiner wars deluxes doing it (only American editions at that). So I don't think kids will be reading them now...not that they would have then as it really wasn't wise plonking people right in the middle of an arc, or with the case of combiner wars, splitting the story up in waves that a collector may not even see them all at retail.

All that aside though, I don't think kids are that bother by tf comics, so we shouldn't force the comics to be all ages when it can tackle darker themes and more complex issues.
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby Va'al » Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:13 am

Motto: "Till All Are Pun!"
ZeroWolf wrote:Yet that also stopped not long after it started with only the thrilling 30 and combiner wars deluxes doing it (only American editions at that). So I don't think kids will be reading them now...not that they would have then as it really wasn't wise plonking people right in the middle of an arc, or with the case of combiner wars, splitting the story up in waves that a collector may not even see them all at retail.

All that aside though, I don't think kids are that bother by tf comics, so we shouldn't force the comics to be all ages when it can tackle darker themes and more complex issues.


Thing is though, children's media already tackles all of those 'more complex' issues.

Look at anything Disney and Pixar have put out in past 10 years. Or Laika. Or any YA book. If people are willing to complain about 'simple' toys taking kids for dumb when they're not, then we should also stop taking kids for dumb when providing them with potentially challenging media!
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby Sparkimus Prime » Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:17 am

Va'al wrote:
Sparkimus Prime wrote:
ZeroWolf wrote:Children's toys? Yes but the comics are geared for older fans, teenagers at least. Thus more mature storytelling is encouraged.


IDW comics were included in a lot of the recent Generations toys. You can't really separate the two. My point was the comics are meant for all audiences.


Image


If that was meant to be a joke, maybe take your job a little more seriously. If that was meant to be serious, I feel bad for you.
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby ZeroWolf » Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:18 am

Motto: "My past no longer binds my future..."
Weapon: Battle Blades
Va'al wrote:
ZeroWolf wrote:Yet that also stopped not long after it started with only the thrilling 30 and combiner wars deluxes doing it (only American editions at that). So I don't think kids will be reading them now...not that they would have then as it really wasn't wise plonking people right in the middle of an arc, or with the case of combiner wars, splitting the story up in waves that a collector may not even see them all at retail.

All that aside though, I don't think kids are that bother by tf comics, so we shouldn't force the comics to be all ages when it can tackle darker themes and more complex issues.


Thing is though, children's media already tackles all of those 'more complex' issues.

Look at anything Disney and Pixar have put out in past 10 years. Or Laika. Or any YA book. If people are willing to complain about 'simple' toys taking kids for dumb when they're not, then we should also stop taking kids for dumb when providing them with potentially challenging media!

Point taken, though I'm always weary because as soon as certain people get wind of developments like that in kids media, then suddenly it's "think of the children!" I've had arguments like this in my own circles so i just err on the side of caution.

I know it's not great :-(
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby Va'al » Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:22 am

Motto: "Till All Are Pun!"
Sparkimus Prime wrote:
Va'al wrote:
Sparkimus Prime wrote:
ZeroWolf wrote:Children's toys? Yes but the comics are geared for older fans, teenagers at least. Thus more mature storytelling is encouraged.


IDW comics were included in a lot of the recent Generations toys. You can't really separate the two. My point was the comics are meant for all audiences.


Image


If that was meant to be a joke, maybe take your job a little more seriously. If that was meant to be serious, I feel bad for you.


I am totally serious when talking about toy robots and their fictional boyfriends in space.
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby Moonshot » Sun Jul 29, 2018 10:05 am

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IDW Transformers universe has been my favorite so far. Thats coming from someone who was 6 in 1984 and started as a kid with Transformers from the very beginning. I also love Sunbow G1, Marvel, Marvel UK, Beast Wars, Animated etc. But IDW is something more and adult me plus the kid inside can relate and be highly entertained. Although I do agree some of the more annoying SJW stuff and politics needs to be toned down. I could just do without it in my Transformers comics, its already everywhere else. As it has been, its not that bad, I just dont want even more. This IDW Transformers ride has been awesome since the start and I also cant wait for it to end. Closure on a story is important, plus I am imagining all the cool story, world, characters that will come out of it into the new IDW continuity.
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby TulioDude » Sun Jul 29, 2018 10:29 am

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Sparkimus Prime wrote:
ZeroWolf wrote:Children's toys? Yes but the comics are geared for older fans, teenagers at least. Thus more mature storytelling is encouraged.


IDW comics were included in a lot of the recent Generations toys. You can't really separate the two. My point was the comics are meant for all audiences.


Still worth remembering that up untill the Dark Cybertron arc,most of the stories and designs were based on variations of the G1 version,with no toyline to accompany it.
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby Skritz » Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:06 am

The thing is, to me, IDW Transformers was on a downward slope before even politics reared their ugly head simple because of the aforementioned issue of continuity and fanboys running the asylum. It's not to say fan-pandering is inherently bad but with a 13-years old continuity it run the risk of becoming (and did become) an inapproachable mess of self-referential continuity and fan-pandering. A story need to be able to be relatively self contained with a beginning/middle/end and comics with their ongoing nature and often drastic changes in writers are terrible at wrapping stories up compared to cartoons. By the very nature of the medium, it's function and desire you WANT to keep things running whereas a TV show usually knows it only has a few seasons.

I'm glad it's ending with a bang but I still abide by my point that it's dragged on for way too long.
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby ZeroWolf » Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:38 am

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Weapon: Battle Blades
Skritz wrote:The thing is, to me, IDW Transformers was on a downward slope before even politics reared their ugly head simple because of the aforementioned issue of continuity and fanboys running the asylum. It's not to say fan-pandering is inherently bad but with a 13-years old continuity it run the risk of becoming (and did become) an inapproachable mess of self-referential continuity and fan-pandering. A story need to be able to be relatively self contained with a beginning/middle/end and comics with their ongoing nature and often drastic changes in writers are terrible at wrapping stories up compared to cartoons. By the very nature of the medium, it's function and desire you WANT to keep things running whereas a TV show usually knows it only has a few seasons.

I'm glad it's ending with a bang but I still abide by my point that it's dragged on for way too long.

Try telling that to the big two comic makers ;-)

Also thirteen years is quite ironic don't you think considering the franchise :lol:
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby Skritz » Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:41 am

ZeroWolf wrote:
Skritz wrote:The thing is, to me, IDW Transformers was on a downward slope before even politics reared their ugly head simple because of the aforementioned issue of continuity and fanboys running the asylum. It's not to say fan-pandering is inherently bad but with a 13-years old continuity it run the risk of becoming (and did become) an inapproachable mess of self-referential continuity and fan-pandering. A story need to be able to be relatively self contained with a beginning/middle/end and comics with their ongoing nature and often drastic changes in writers are terrible at wrapping stories up compared to cartoons. By the very nature of the medium, it's function and desire you WANT to keep things running whereas a TV show usually knows it only has a few seasons.

I'm glad it's ending with a bang but I still abide by my point that it's dragged on for way too long.

Try telling that to the big two comic makers ;-)

Also thirteen years is quite ironic don't you think considering the franchise :lol:


Yes and the DC/Marvel are both struggling and anyone familiar with comic history will know how much of a continuity headache it can be. The number of times they've rebooted a classic character can be staggering.
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby dragons » Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:39 pm

For people complaining about IDW Transformers stories jumping they never read any marvel comic series X-Men, xfactor, Spider-Man , deadpool, avengers books I named off inter twine with other comic series such as wolverine black panther punisher still don’t know what I’m talking about xmen onslaught series, Phoenix saga resurrection , Spider-Man death or rebirth , death of superman, superman returns, Batman Gotham City earthquake series, , and many others plus over constant use of time travel and clones in marvel comics,.

Welcome to world of comic books transformers people that’s normal for me I’m use to it where stories get mixed up in other series I will miss idw series having megatron as autobot, starscream ruler of cybertron, new transformers series better not have death Optimus prime again every transformer comic series prime dies gets reborn again,.

I like look of IDW Transformers until artists starting drawing transformers based on toys of combiner wars and power primes then it went away idw series Glad comedy will be gone autobot shoots himself, another autobot juggling, autobot doing impression of hudini being chained up from ceiling upside trying to escape, if I want comedy in transformers I will watch beast wars, rid, armada, energon, cybertron, transformers animated with annoying Siri ,
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby ZeroWolf » Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:07 pm

Motto: "My past no longer binds my future..."
Weapon: Battle Blades
Doesn't that kind of point to comedy being a fundamental strand in the franchises dna? You also forgot Prime (it had comedic elements just as all tf shows have had)

Also you may not have liked more than meets the eye but there was robots in disguise as well ;-)
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby Aimless Misfire » Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:13 pm

Comics :SICK: I just like the pretty pictures.
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby Flashwave » Sun Jul 29, 2018 2:12 pm

Motto: "Our society's downfall will not be this war. The war IS our society. That which will get us will be the little things. Some humanoid race, some tossed cannon, the little things that no one looks out for. THAT is for what we must be vigilant."
Weapon: Twin Shoulder-Mounted Rocket Launchers
Have to agree with pretty much everything Va’al has said. And they are in a great place to end it. The War is over, Cybertron is populating again, Any of us could come up with dozens of story threads out there, but the main sweep of the story has been resolved, and enything else would be B Story material pulled to the fore. And a New War, if not executed properly, would just turn into rehash anyway. So if you have to “start over”, why not start completely over?

And Unicron, my god ending with Unicron is a stroke of genius. How many Comic Bok characters started out as all powerful entities who have been trotted out so many times they have lost their luster, only to have to be one-upped by a new VIllian. You don’t get to top IDW Unicron, he either wins or he loses, and thats it, game over, fade to black, roll credits. And its such a conflicting ending. On the one hand, this is Unicron, and if the world is going to end, it should be him. But you don’t want your favorite heroes to lose, either. But if they stop Unicron, what ends the story?

I am excited for new, for starting over and seeing where the new writing takes us. Look forward to a simpler narrative, if only for a while, but its gonna be hard to not compare New IDW to old IDW.
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby Skritz » Sun Jul 29, 2018 2:53 pm

And because I'm a masochist who love to put himself into trouble:

There's a major difference in quality between clearly political works which remain nonetheless loved and enjoyable and the modern trite often churned out by hacks who also happen to be completely awful people. This seem to be quite the trend in comics that, when you don't really have any particular talent at storytelling, you resort to boring non-stories which consistent of some mix of talking mouthpieces spouting entire walls of text in speech balloons, shitty unsubtle and even stupid political allegory or just flat out demonizing a huge strawman. Something Marvel has been pretty **** bad at. See: She-Thor and the oh-so-memed to death [Unsolicited Opinions on Israel???] moment.

Robocop is a heavily political movie with a ton of social critique of it's era but had has held up because it is MORE than just Paul Verhoeven ranting about his views on certain things. It has a lot of unique artistic touches, excellent action scenes, touching moments, likeable and unlikable-in-a-good-way character and even some mild, possibly accidental symbolism (Robocop is cyborg American police Jesus?). What people have been increasingly objecting to is the vitriolic, in-your-face writing often seen in comics these days. Perhaps if the writers understood subtlety and nuance it would not be as noticeable and perhaps there would be more to like in those comics than just people making fun of extremely cringeworthy dialogue. What I'm trying to say is you can make the argument of "Everything is political, man" but then that doesn't mean it's written well or in any way that is smart.

So in other words: don't be boring. Don't be a bad writer.
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Re: Why I'm Happy the IDW Transformers Universe is Ending

Postby Burn » Sun Jul 29, 2018 2:59 pm

Motto: "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings to randomly click things in the Admin Panel to see what it breaks."
DC/Marvel like to do their "reboots" and call them "jumping on points", great way to attract new readers.

IDW Transformers never had that. Oh people can say they've ended one title to start another, BUT ... those new books will often refer back to some stupidly annoying plot point from 5+ years ago and that is the one thing that shitted me off the most about these books. Casual readers aren't going to remember some incredibly minor plot point from years ago.

Plus all the political and SJW nonsense.

That being said, I could overlook the majority of that and enjoy the majority of the books, but I'm glad it's ending because you have a beginning and you have an ending, thirteen years has been an incredible run and there'd be few comic book series out there that can claim they did that.

But as for them starting again ... eh, how many times can we rehash the same old war? They're really going to have to step their game up.
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