A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1

Transformers News: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019 9:11PM CST

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With the IDW Transformers reboot coming in hot, I wanted to take a look back at one of the big highlights of the previous continuity. James Roberts added a lot to the Transformers mythos, and it was due to very meticulous planning. His scripts were layered with detail and with wanting to connect what you were reading to a larger lore and history. While it was not crucial to read everything to understand, he made sure that fans would be rewarded with extra details and continuity nods.

Many have not seen James Robert's scripts so this two part article will serve as a look into how meticulous he was in planning just two pages of his 8 year run. These two pages depict the battle of Hell's Point (from More Than Meets the Eye Issue 16) and each part will look at one page.

While I will let James Robert's script fill you in on the info as he did with the artist Agustin Padilla, I will say that this depicts one of the battles where Ultra Magnus dies. In the IDW comics, it turns out Ultra Magnus was just a name/armour that went from bot to bot to inspire other soldiers. Below you will see the very layered script followed by the artist's rendition of these words. What is fascinating here is that the artist only had 1 panel to convey all this, a splash page. Enjoy!


TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE Issue 16: Remain In Light (Prologue) By James Roberts

Notes :
• This is after the battle. Everyone on board must be beaten in several
degrees
• Could the location caps be in mixed case?

PAGE 1

1 / Splash page.

Cybertron A thousand years ago.
We're seeing a Decepticon / Autobot epic battle - hand-to-hand combat - happening on the hull of a huge Decepticon warship that has SUPERFICIAL similarities to the Imperial Star Destroyer-BUT NOT TOO MUCH:

Transformers News: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1

This ship is in the Cybertronian airspace, not in orbit, and it's a clear and bright day.
We are close enough to see individual characters (at least in the foreground) fighting on the surface: choose between KUP, CLIFFJUMPER, SANDSTORM, GRIMLOCK, WARPATH, WHEELJACK, TRACKS, RUMBLER and OUTBACK. You can also put generics out there too.

IMPACTOR has to be definitely visible; is facing a handful of Cons (we have established in previous stories that it was during this battle that he killed a thousand Cons).

On the Decepticon side, a band of Phase Sixers is in the loop: SIXSHOT, OVERLORD, BLACK SHADOW, KILLMASTER (see Spotlight: Trailcutter for the only visual reference) and the new character HERETECH. The six should be moving towards ULTRA MAGNUS, but they make their real appearance up close in the next panel.
Other Cons: whoever you want except Megatron (he's there, but we do not want to see him yet).

The main fight is that of Magnus. He's in his classic G1 robot mode (not the modern version of MTMTE); He even has the classic white weapon. Magnus is near the edge of the ship (closest to us) shooting at the nearby air Decepticons.
Speaking of which, we need many flyers everywhere: SWOOP, the AERIALBOTS, JETFIRE etc. fight against STARSCREAM, THUNDERCRACKER etc.

NB: It is very important that we see, very clearly, the name of this powerful ship. The huge capital letters are clearly emblazoned on the side, near the vanishing point: HELL'S POINT.

TITLE: The Gloaming

LOCATION CAP: The Battle for Hell's Point
LOCATION CAP: 3rd Cycle 1102


Transformers News: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1
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Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2013640)
Posted by Randomhero on March 5th, 2019 @ 9:48pm CST
This reminded me of those memes about JK Rowling just randomly releasing info about Harry Potter that really isn’t important and no one asked.

Not to be mean, i really don’t but after reading this i said “yeah, i read that issue. I know. This honestly didnt divulge anything that people didnt see and didnt know”

Again i apologize if that’s coming off bad but I’m also left going “...okay?” This issue came out almost 6 years ago.
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2013643)
Posted by Russimus Prime on March 5th, 2019 @ 10:20pm CST
Always interested in “behind the scenes” tid bits or “making of” views into the creative process.

Yes, it was six years ago, but people watch and create “making of” features on movies that are decades old all the time. Literary buffs will often time delve into and dissect what went into writing something hundreds of years ago. Might not be of interest to everyone, many just want what’s on the printed page, but I’m pretty much always down for a little bit of info on how we got from thought to panel.

For example, here we see the breakdown of what Roberts said HAD to be there verses what he’d like to see. Comic books are a collaborative effort, I liked seeing that playout. What is dictated by the writer vs. artistic freedom of the illustrator.

Does it offer a ton of insight into previously unknown character motivations or drastic changes to the final product to the finished product? Nope. But that’s not the point. It is more about showing getting that written word to the visual media.
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2013644)
Posted by ScottyP on March 5th, 2019 @ 10:22pm CST
Randomhero wrote:This reminded me of those memes about JK Rowling just randomly releasing info about Harry Potter that really isn’t important and no one asked.

Not to be mean, i really don’t but after reading this i said “yeah, i read that issue. I know. This honestly didnt divulge anything that people didnt see and didnt know”

Again i apologize if that’s coming off bad but I’m also left going “...okay?” This issue came out almost 6 years ago.
But this is just WilliamJames posting some content on a slow news day, and with convention season coming up it might make some folks attending want to check out a script or two. This isn't new information, I think this issue's script has been sold on and off for years now.

Put another way, ease up :)
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2013677)
Posted by william-james88 on March 6th, 2019 @ 7:52am CST
Russimus Prime wrote:For example, here we see the breakdown of what Roberts said HAD to be there verses what he’d like to see. Comic books are a collaborative effort, I liked seeing that playout. What is dictated by the writer vs. artistic freedom of the illustrator.


yeah that's what this is all about, it's what I found fascinating and what I wanted to share. Like how Impactor had to be there and how Magnus had to look.

I have read a few comics scripts in the past but I had never encountered this amount of detail before. Part two, the next page which I will news later, is even more crazy with its panel breakdown.
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2013687)
Posted by Psychout on March 6th, 2019 @ 8:43am CST
This gives a fantastic insight into how these grand set pieces are scripted and developed. As a writer and lead staff member on the HMW Campaign tournaments we run here this is great to see, thanks for sharing!
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2013754)
Posted by Easy Tiger on March 6th, 2019 @ 6:54pm CST
I appreciate this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but this is absolutely my kind of thing.

I loved seeing this stuff when they used to put it at the back of the TPBs.
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2013811)
Posted by william-james88 on March 7th, 2019 @ 8:39am CST
With the IDW Transformers reboot coming in hot, I wanted to take a look back at one of the big highlights of the previous continuity, James Roberts' More Than Meets the Eye. Like him or not, James Roberts added a lot to the Transformers mythos, and it was due to very meticulous planning. His scripts were layered with detail and with wanting to connect what you were reading to a larger lore and history. While it was not crucial to read everything to understand, he made sure that fans would be rewarded with extra details and continuity nods.

Many have not seen James Robert's scripts so this two part article will serve as a look into how meticulous he was in planning just two pages of his 8 year run. These two pages depict the battle of Hell's Point (from More Than Meets the Eye Issue 16), a fight where someone who used to wear the Ultra Magnus mantle dies at the hands of Megatron, trying out his gun mode for the first time canonically. This is the second part, and thus page 2. You can read part 1 here. Below you will find the extremely detailed script, where every single panel and row is laid out followed by the finished product. The bold numbers are for panels while the italic numbers are for speech bubbles.


TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE Issue 16: Remain In Light (Prologue) By James Roberts

PAGE 2

Row 1

1 / Larger panel.

Ultra Magnus (with his back to the readers) is confronted / semirodeoed by the supergroup Phase Sixer, aka the Warrior Elite: Sixshot, Overlord, Black Shadow, Killmaster and Heretech.
This is Heretech's first appearance - it looks a bit like a fatter Alpha Trion. Built on his head and forming the front of his skull is half of the box of the Matrix of the TF movie. Not literally the box, but that kind of design. The guy is a serious fanatic. He transforms into a digging machine (tunnel boring machine).
NB: Heretech has a weapon in his right hand, hidden behind his back. We do not see it in this panel (or on Page 1).
Magnus is standing here, with his back to the readers, with his hands on his hips, with a carefree air.

1 HERETECH: Ultra Magnus! A question.
2 MAGNUS: Take your time, Heretech. I'm not going
anywhere
3 HERETECH: Hell's Point is just a moment away from
generating its first internal wormhole, Optimus Prime is stuck in the ground, being roughed up by the Tremorcons, and you're face to face against the Warriors Elite.
4 HERETECH: So my question is ...

Row 2

2 / We pass Magnus - and he's smiling. A pimp smile, Roger Moore style of James Bond. Not at all its normal appearance.
5 HERETECH (O / P): ... what the hell have you got to smile
about?
6 MAGNUS: You're welcome , really. Except ...
7 MAGNUS:...I'm blocking the causal energy vent directly above the wormhole generator. If you shoot me or do anything to get me off this precise point, you will create a power drain.
8 MAGNUS: If that happens, there is an 80% chance
that Megatron's extra-experimental war cruise will explode - and he is not around to let you take that risk.
3 / Heretech reveals what he has behind him: MEGATRON in his new (but classic appearance of G1) gun mode (we established in Chaos Theory that this battle was a test for his gun mode). Heretech is aiming with Megatron at Magnus, who is halfway to raising his hands.
9 MEGATRON: Isn't he?

ROW 3

4 / Heretech / Megatron shoots Magnus in the stomach. A shocking, violent, horrible shot: it must look like a deadly shot.
10 SOUND FX: FRA-KOOM!
11 MAGNUS: ARGH!
5 / Small. In silhouette we see an unconscious Magnus (with a huge hole in his torso) falling over the edge of the cruiser. Without dialogue
6 / Small. A close-up of Magnus' right hand beginning to close in a fist. A few subtle lines of movement around the fingers.


Image
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2013832)
Posted by ThunderThruster on March 7th, 2019 @ 10:34am CST
william-james88 wrote:While I will let James Robert's script fill you in on the info as he did with the artists, Agustin Padilla, I will say that this depicts one of the battles where Ultra Magnus dies. In the IDW comics, it turns out Ultra Magnus was became just a name/armour that went from bot to bot to inspire other soldiers. Below you will see the very layered script followed by the artist's rendition of these words. What is fascinating here is that the artist only had 1 panel to convey all this, a splash page.

Devils in the detail.
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2013991)
Posted by AllNewSuperRobot on March 8th, 2019 @ 3:49pm CST
James Roberts added a lot to the Transformers mythos, and it was due to very meticulous planning. His scripts were layered with detail and with wanting to connect what you were reading to a larger lore and history.


Which to me, reads as piggy-backing his retcons onto someone else's work. As much as no one likes it or wants to acknowledge it, "Introducing Megatron's Gun Mode" in IDWverse happened in Transformers/Avengers. In which, Megatron expressly acknowledges it as a "new form". As someone who has read comics for a long time, I really detest retcons, especially those that purport established information as their own ideas.
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2014007)
Posted by william-james88 on March 8th, 2019 @ 6:16pm CST
AllNewSuperRobot wrote:
James Roberts added a lot to the Transformers mythos, and it was due to very meticulous planning. His scripts were layered with detail and with wanting to connect what you were reading to a larger lore and history.


Which to me, reads as piggy-backing his retcons onto someone else's work. As much as no one likes it or wants to acknowledge it, "Introducing Megatron's Gun Mode" in IDWverse happened in Transformers/Avengers. In which, Megatron expressly acknowledges it as a "new form". As someone who has read comics for a long time, I really detest retcons, especially those that purport established information as their own ideas.

Isnt the first time we see his gun mode in Transformers Escalation?

Image
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2014117)
Posted by AllNewSuperRobot on March 10th, 2019 @ 12:46am CST
Canonically, Escalation happens after Transformers/Avengers. I've always thought that is the worst part of T/A, is that they made it part of the timeline via Megatron's altmode and Ramjet's betrayal (which led to his Spotlight... and demise).
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2014140)
Posted by william-james88 on March 10th, 2019 @ 10:40am CDT
AllNewSuperRobot wrote:Canonically, Escalation happens after Transformers/Avengers.

So then that was a retcon too and the entire argument is moot.
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2014141)
Posted by AllNewSuperRobot on March 10th, 2019 @ 10:46am CDT
william-james88 wrote:
AllNewSuperRobot wrote:Canonically, Escalation happens after Transformers/Avengers.

So then that was a retcon too and the entire argument is moot.



The Wiki wrote:The best place to locate this series in the IDW Generation 1 continuity is during the latter part of Escalation #1, after Megatron is last seen in his Cybertronian tank form (he is in gun form in this series). Megatron had gathered his troops together at that point to secure his leadership and oversee the reestablishment infiltration protocol. Ironhide and Sunstreaker were off driving Hunter O'Nion, Verity Carlo, and Jimmy Pink home at that part of the story which would account for their absence in this series. Spotlight: Ramjet, which takes place after this series, begins during Escalation #2.
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2014147)
Posted by william-james88 on March 10th, 2019 @ 1:30pm CDT
AllNewSuperRobot wrote:
william-james88 wrote:
AllNewSuperRobot wrote:Canonically, Escalation happens after Transformers/Avengers.

So then that was a retcon too and the entire argument is moot.



The Wiki wrote:The best place to locate this series in the IDW Generation 1 continuity is during the latter part of Escalation #1, after Megatron is last seen in his Cybertronian tank form (he is in gun form in this series). Megatron had gathered his troops together at that point to secure his leadership and oversee the reestablishment infiltration protocol. Ironhide and Sunstreaker were off driving Hunter O'Nion, Verity Carlo, and Jimmy Pink home at that part of the story which would account for their absence in this series. Spotlight: Ramjet, which takes place after this series, begins during Escalation #2.


I know, that is a retcon. What are you trying to say?
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2014148)
Posted by AllNewSuperRobot on March 10th, 2019 @ 1:36pm CDT
How is it a retcon, when it didn't relay any new information? The timing in which both were written and released is within the same window of 2006/7. So neither is a retcon, but two separate mini-series written in tandem.
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2014150)
Posted by william-james88 on March 10th, 2019 @ 1:40pm CDT
AllNewSuperRobot wrote:How is it a retcon, when it didn't relay any new information? The timing in which both were written and released is within the same window of 2006/7. So neither is a retcon, but two separate mini-series written in tandem.

Avngers xover came out after. If it claimed the gun mode to be new then its a retcon that Megs had this mode before Russia.
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2014151)
Posted by AllNewSuperRobot on March 10th, 2019 @ 1:43pm CDT
william-james88 wrote:
AllNewSuperRobot wrote:How is it a retcon, when it didn't relay any new information? The timing in which both were written and released is within the same window of 2006/7. So neither is a retcon, but two separate mini-series written in tandem.

Avngers xover came out after. If it claimed the gun mode to be new then its a retcon that Megs had this mode before Russia.



I can check back through my HC Book 2 but I don't think he transformed in New Avengers/Transformers. He got his new Bot Mode and that was all the Autobots saw.
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2014152)
Posted by william-james88 on March 10th, 2019 @ 1:50pm CDT
AllNewSuperRobot wrote:
william-james88 wrote:
AllNewSuperRobot wrote:How is it a retcon, when it didn't relay any new information? The timing in which both were written and released is within the same window of 2006/7. So neither is a retcon, but two separate mini-series written in tandem.

Avngers xover came out after. If it claimed the gun mode to be new then its a retcon that Megs had this mode before Russia.



I can check back through my HC Book 2 but I don't think he transformed in New Avengers/Transformers. He got his new Bot Mode and that was all the Autobots saw.

I dont remember either, but regardless its still splitting hairs. Comic retcons happen all the time, i dont see how Roberts is a lessar writer for doing it too. Especially not when we get good results from it. I feel the comics changed entirely post DOOP and see it as a new era anyways.
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2014153)
Posted by AllNewSuperRobot on March 10th, 2019 @ 1:56pm CDT
Comic Retcons happen with comics that are 20 - 80+ years old for that very reason: the time passed. Retcons were always completely unnecessary within IDWverse because, in the end, it was only 12 years old. You can't say this thing you've just done is new, when anyone can go back a mere 20-30 issues (even easier with digital distribution) to see when it was actually new.

As an aside, the G1 design was so inferior to the -Ations one, it wasn't even funny.
Re: A look into James Roberts Scripting The Battle of Hell's Point Part 1 (2014717)
Posted by Optimutt on March 14th, 2019 @ 11:24pm CDT
I love this. I am such a sucker for the "behind the scenes" of art - movies, comics, all of it.

This method of scripting is so detached from the "Marvel Style" where the writer puts some key points on a page and passes it off to the artist to bring things to life in their own fashion. After the artist has done their pretty puctures and story-telling, it then goes back to the writer, who puts the dialogue in.

But not Roberts. This is a conductor knowing how each note falls, swells, and complements to create the symphony that will rock their audience.

I was talking to William-James88 about this tonight, but this kind of attention to detail is what gave us the ridiculous coincidence of Authobots sporting Overlord's color scheme (Boss, Dogfight, Turbine, and Doubletap, among others ). I mean, he knew, probably, going into this book that he would want Overlord and Fort Max to butt heads again. Knowing how this would play out - seeing how the coincidence of the Autobots' coloring would spark Fort Max's rage... this is just bonkers. THAT is an issue I'd love to see a script for.

Not that I'm complaining in any case. I love the allusion to the Star Destroyer in this, the "uncharacteristically un-Ultra Magnus smile" that is mentioned in this, the reveal of Megatron at the end. So freaking cool. I may not be as in love with this artist's style as I am with Milne's style (who was the regular on the book at this time period), but damn, kudos to him for bringing Roberts' vision to life!

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