John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 6:25am CST

Categories: Comic Book News, People News, Interviews
Posted by: Va'al   Views: 42,434

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Gearing up to our own review of the massive issue #50 of The Transformers from IDW Publishing, take a look at the thoughts of its writer - John Barber - in this interview conducted with Newsarama on the eve of the book's release!

IDW looks to be setting up a major change to the status quo of its Transformers line, as longtime series writer John Barber and artist Andrew Griffith begins the "All Hail Optimus" arc.

But the battle lines are more than just Autobots vs. Decepticons, as different factions emerge against Optimus, Galvatron and Starscream... and that's not even including the humans of Earth, which as you can imagine might have issues with Optimus Prime annexing Earth.

[...]

Barber: At the start of the series, Galvatron is poised to wreak havoc on the Earth with an army of disaffected Decepticons. This isn’t the first time the Earth’s been in this dangerous position—among other things, Earth’s useful to the Transformers because it has this substance called Ore-13 which can be converted to energon, their lifeblood. Optimus has tried battling on Earth to defend it; he’s tried leaving Earth behind to keep it out of the Cybertronian’s war. Neither of those really worked. So now, he’s looking at Earth and seeing the Decepticons striking again, and he’s seeing there are people starving on Earth and people being disenfranchised in many ways.
"Transformers #50" preview
[Pin It] CREDIT: IDW Publishing
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And Optimus’ motto has always been, “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.” It’s pointed out to him that he could act to make the people of Earth more free… and free from this eons-long Cybertronian war, that—while it’s technically over—is still endangering the planet.

So he decides to annex Earth into Cybertron’s council of worlds. Whether Earth wants to come or not; and whether the council wants Earth or not. He’s going to pull Earth into the cosmic community and try to improve life on the planet.

So, yeah—a lot of his friends see this as… not a good move. I think all of his enemies see this as bad. But Optimus has loyal allies, plus followers who view him as a messianic figure for being a Prime, and carrying (what’s left of) the Matrix of Leadership. Optimus has been unwilling to use that good will to his advantage… until now.

[...]

Nrama: Last question -- Transformers #50 looks to be extra-sized. Overall, what should fans expect?

Barber: There’s a 30-page story by me and Andrew, then Casey W. Coller drew a 10-pager that deals with the fallout. Plus some rambling reminisces by me. And some nice special guest covers, by Jonathan Hickman and Mike Choi and our regular gang of Transformers superstars like Andrew Griffith, Casey W. Coller, and Alex Milne.

Credit(s): Newsarama


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Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769272)
Posted by Va'al on February 24th, 2016 @ 11:18am CST
ALL HAIL OPTIMUS
(Spoiler free-ish)



Synopsis
ALL HAIL OPTIMUS—PART 1! Backed by an army of zealous followers, OPTIMUS PRIME declares Earth to be a part of CYBERTRON’S Council of Worlds—and the DECEPTICONS and the people of Earth don’t won’t take it laying down! The story starts here, but the repercussions will last forever.

Image
Windblade, trying


Story

Fifty issues. Think about that. Fifty. That's over half the original Marvel US run. And this is but one part of the wider TF universe running over at IDW. What John Barber, with the other creators, have done, is impressive. And what he brings to the table this month, even after the weirdly disappointing issue last time, is equally impressive, and a testament to the world-building that has taken place up to this point.

Image
Plus, Bob and Buster are here


Overall, I really enjoyed the issue. While we may have seen a lot of Optimus' introspection of recent (and since DOOP, to be honest) the new turn in the story allows for that to be externalised in such a way that it actually affects the wider universe - and perhaps most importantly, the characters who inhabit it. Things are changing, and changing drastically and swiftly, by the looks of it.

Image
Er.. ok.


I will get the 'negative' thoughts about the issue out of the way, too, as it mostly has to do with the latter part of the issue and the overall length - and I'm taking cues from fellow staffer ScottyP here, too: the pacing is something to behold, until we hit the Spike Witwicky bump. Again. We do not like Spike, we are not supposed to, but he's made to be some sort of necessary prick evil for the series and human-Cybertronian relations (not always in the most diplomatic of ways). I like how much I dislike him, but.. I still dislike him, and his arc throws a lot of things off.

Image
Just shut up, will you


That said, the human (more or less, in some cases) factor in the issue is well developed, and coming in as late as it does, plus the afterstory, it helps to show the at least two sides of where the story might go from here. Humans are no longer just that, just as Cybertronians are no longer just aliens - and the ramifications, from a socio-political and narrative perspective, are fascinating.

Art

The art side of things is really interesting, with Andrew Griffith, the first artist, taking on the majority of the book and its weightier, meatier (metal-ier?) substance. I am still really quite impressed at his take on some of character designs, and the collaboration with Josh Burcham, Josh Perez and JP Bove on the colours brings out the sinister side of some of the action taking place, and helps locate the controversial position of Optimus' decision: practically everyone is weary, worn out, and exhausted. You can feel it.

Image
Seriously exhausted


The coda, of sorts, that Casey Coller offers, is a wonderful addition (with the above proviso about pacing, perhaps) for the human side of things, and a refreshing look with Joana Lafuente's colour work - though maybe with some overly heavy inks by Jamie Snell in places, given Coller's really quite fine pencilwork - at the multiple Cybertronian repercussions of the events on Earth.

Image
Political Power Grab!


All that, as well as Sara Pitre-Durocher's brief stint in what has led up to this point, in the Previously section of the book, wonderfully crisp in its recap. As crisp, of course, as the work that the two letterers bring to the exasperation, adrenaline, frustration, anger, and force of the voices in the book - the effort that Tom B. Long and Chris Mowry put into this is not to be underestimated.

Image
Extra image, because Sara Pitre-Durocher


With the landmark status of the book, we were bound to get a slew of covers, from the main Griffith/Thomas Deer annexation, to the Coller/Bove Optimus triumphant variant, via big shots Jonathan Hickman and Mike Choi's interpretations of the AHO concept - plus, of course, a special Comicave variant by Livio Ramondelli, with a twist on a familiar theme (thumbnailed), and another piece of the Alex Milne/Perez mural.


Thoughts
Spoilerish ahead

There are so many very things I have chosen not to talk about in the review, to allow readers to enjoy the experience of one of the most fast-paced, action packed, politically charged, arc-tying, positively tiring, visually enticing pieces of Transformers fiction. As arcs go, the beginning of All Hail Optimus promises very very well, and has managed to bring the conflict and Earth back together in a rather poignant and significant manner. Applause all round for the team, truly.

Image
Optimus Whine is back!


A lot of the things I was thinking about as I read the issue, and as I was writing the review, are pretty much covered in Barber's lovely words at the end of the book. I really do recommend taking some time to look at that afterword - but in case you don't, this part stands out in particular: a comment from Michael Kelly, from Hasbro, as AHO was pitched. 'Make sure these characters are people, and you guys have done it. You wouldn't be able to do a story like this if you hadn't.' Even with all the slips, the stumbled events, the jarring moments in the series, The Transformers have undoubtedly conquered Earth once more - here's to a peaceful coexistence, and productive dialogue with us as readers.

. :BOT: :BOT: :BOT: :BOT: out of :BOT: :BOT: :BOT: :BOT: :BOT:
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769280)
Posted by D-Maximal_Primal on February 24th, 2016 @ 11:46am CST
It really was a good issue and one that had lots of interesting points, some high rises and some good moments.

And how about this: The next issue synopsis says Prime may not be alone in his head. We saw that in this issue when Prime went to the EDC command to get Jazz and the others. He quoted Prowl exactly from the first story arc of season 2 (the whole "no one is there that didn't sign up for this" bit). It looks like the whole reason Prime is doing this and going in this direction is due to a part of Prowl being in his head, and he is affected by it.

Also: Yay Sideswipe lives (somehow, and he always drawn pretty blurry).

And finally: That vision with the Dark Cybertron prophesy being read. That is a bit frightening and interesting
:MAXIMAL:
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769282)
Posted by ctrlFrequency on February 24th, 2016 @ 11:52am CST
You know, I actually felt this was a fairly satisfying issue. I loved the microscope being turned on to the Autobot's and the Decepticon confessions as to what lead them to become Decepticons (course, I feel the same way which is why I throw myself behind the Decepticon banner:-) )
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769287)
Posted by Randomhero on February 24th, 2016 @ 12:06pm CST
This issue was amazing. It was a roller coast ride and I'm very please with it. It's an issue that should leave with unease and it it that for me.

I'm really starting to wonder if Optimus may in fact be The Fallen(Megatronus) reincarnated. Before this issue it felt that Optimus may be The Arisen reincarnated but after Galvatron calls Optimus "old friend" and the way he's smiling and his remark on hearing Prime's speech, it's really making me wonder if he's Megatronus reincarnated if they go that route.

the sentinel prime nod was good. It makes me think two things, the real Sentinal Prime has been alive all along and left Cyberton, conquered another work(like said in the issue) and is returning...OR... starscream is going to fabricate Sentinal Prime's return to turn the Prime worshippers on his side by having someone pretending to be Sentinal(little guy being a headmaster impersonating him)

Also I WAS RIGHT! I called it over a year ago! Earth is a colony world! Or was lol. It proves my long theory that if there's a Titan than there is/was an Ore and if there's an Ore than there is/was a titan!
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769288)
Posted by Va'al on February 24th, 2016 @ 12:08pm CST
ctrlFrequency wrote:You know, I actually felt this was a fairly satisfying issue.


Shock.

Horror.

Awe.

D-Maximus_Primal wrote:And how about this: The next issue synopsis says Prime may not be alone in his head. We saw that in this issue when Prime went to the EDC command to get Jazz and the others. He quoted Prowl exactly from the first story arc of season 2 (the whole "no one is there that didn't sign up for this" bit). It looks like the whole reason Prime is doing this and going in this direction is due to a part of Prowl being in his head, and he is affected by it.


Well...

Image
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769290)
Posted by D-Maximal_Primal on February 24th, 2016 @ 12:11pm CST
Randomhero wrote:
Also I WAS RIGHT! I called it over a year ago! Earth is a colony world! Or was lol. It proves my long theory that if there's a Titan than there is/was an Ore and if there's an Ore than there is/was a titan!

What if.... hang on..... What if the titan on Earth is a titan by the name of Fortess Maximus and that in IDW there are 2 versions of that character! (fits considering headmasters were Nexus' thing and Earth is technically his) :MAXIMAL:
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769297)
Posted by SW's SilverHammer on February 24th, 2016 @ 12:33pm CST
D-Maximus_Primal wrote:
Randomhero wrote:
Also I WAS RIGHT! I called it over a year ago! Earth is a colony world! Or was lol. It proves my long theory that if there's a Titan than there is/was an Ore and if there's an Ore than there is/was a titan!

What if.... hang on..... What if the titan on Earth is a titan by the name of Fortess Maximus and that in IDW there are 2 versions of that character! (fits considering headmasters were Nexus' thing and Earth is technically his) :MAXIMAL:


It's possible if they insert City Former fortress maximus, the IDW continuity will call this one Grand Maximus or brave Maximus. Or the could retcon it so that MTMTE Fortress maximus derived his name from the eponymous titan.
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769298)
Posted by Randomhero on February 24th, 2016 @ 12:35pm CST
SW's SilverHammer wrote:
D-Maximus_Primal wrote:
Randomhero wrote:
Also I WAS RIGHT! I called it over a year ago! Earth is a colony world! Or was lol. It proves my long theory that if there's a Titan than there is/was an Ore and if there's an Ore than there is/was a titan!

What if.... hang on..... What if the titan on Earth is a titan by the name of Fortess Maximus and that in IDW there are 2 versions of that character! (fits considering headmasters were Nexus' thing and Earth is technically his) :MAXIMAL:


It's possible if they insert City Former fortress maximus, the IDW continuity will call this one Grand Maximus or brave Maximus. Or the could retcon it so that MTMTE Fortress maximus derived his name from the eponymous titan.


Or it's just a generic Titan.
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769304)
Posted by ctrlFrequency on February 24th, 2016 @ 12:50pm CST
Va'al wrote:
ctrlFrequency wrote:You know, I actually felt this was a fairly satisfying issue.


Shock.

Horror.

Awe.


*sarcasm detectors on full alert*
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769313)
Posted by Va'al on February 24th, 2016 @ 1:06pm CST
ctrlFrequency wrote:
Va'al wrote:
ctrlFrequency wrote:You know, I actually felt this was a fairly satisfying issue.


Shock.

Horror.

Awe.


*sarcasm detectors on full alert*


Your detectors must be faulty.
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769330)
Posted by D-Maximal_Primal on February 24th, 2016 @ 1:33pm CST
Randomhero wrote:
SW's SilverHammer wrote:
D-Maximus_Primal wrote:
Randomhero wrote:
Also I WAS RIGHT! I called it over a year ago! Earth is a colony world! Or was lol. It proves my long theory that if there's a Titan than there is/was an Ore and if there's an Ore than there is/was a titan!

What if.... hang on..... What if the titan on Earth is a titan by the name of Fortess Maximus and that in IDW there are 2 versions of that character! (fits considering headmasters were Nexus' thing and Earth is technically his) :MAXIMAL:


It's possible if they insert City Former fortress maximus, the IDW continuity will call this one Grand Maximus or brave Maximus. Or the could retcon it so that MTMTE Fortress maximus derived his name from the eponymous titan.


Or it's just a generic Titan.

I'd personally find it better if it were a Fort Max. I really don't see how any of the MTMTE characters could fit into TR nor could I really see all those characters actually becoming headmasters either, and I don't know how Fort Max could be pulled over, given a massive upgrade and all that to become the city fort Max. And a generic titan is a bit easier to write off and I'd prefer one with a name and especially one with a name we know. Plus, considering the name crossovers, it isn't too hard to see that there is an ancient titan and a war-born autobot that share the same name :MAXIMAL:
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769337)
Posted by Randomhero on February 24th, 2016 @ 1:45pm CST
D-Maximus_Primal wrote:
Randomhero wrote:
SW's SilverHammer wrote:
D-Maximus_Primal wrote:
Randomhero wrote:
Also I WAS RIGHT! I called it over a year ago! Earth is a colony world! Or was lol. It proves my long theory that if there's a Titan than there is/was an Ore and if there's an Ore than there is/was a titan!

What if.... hang on..... What if the titan on Earth is a titan by the name of Fortess Maximus and that in IDW there are 2 versions of that character! (fits considering headmasters were Nexus' thing and Earth is technically his) :MAXIMAL:


It's possible if they insert City Former fortress maximus, the IDW continuity will call this one Grand Maximus or brave Maximus. Or the could retcon it so that MTMTE Fortress maximus derived his name from the eponymous titan.


Or it's just a generic Titan.

I'd personally find it better if it were a Fort Max. I really don't see how any of the MTMTE characters could fit into TR nor could I really see all those characters actually becoming headmasters either, and I don't know how Fort Max could be pulled over, given a massive upgrade and all that to become the city fort Max. And a generic titan is a bit easier to write off and I'd prefer one with a name and especially one with a name we know. Plus, considering the name crossovers, it isn't too hard to see that there is an ancient titan and a war-born autobot that share the same name :MAXIMAL:


Look at the Necro-Titan. That was just a generic and now he's someone that remembered. IDW also said MTMTE won't be involved directly with Titans Return but aspects will be explored not unlike how the Ammonites were introduced or the Titans space bridge background was brought up in Remain in Light.

I'm not saying Fort Max won't be involved in Titans Return, his base of operations is a moon with mountains of Titan corpses so there's leg room to make him a Titan but I don't believe that Titan breaking out of the ground on Earth is fort max.

There is that picture by Livio from SDDC of I believe of sentinel with 3 Titans behind him. All three cant be Max, they're generics. My money is the Titan erupting from Earth is just a generic. Hell, it could actually be Metrotitan. The Decepticon repaint of Metroplex. We all were expecting the Necro-Titan to be him but it wasn't.
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769342)
Posted by D-Maximal_Primal on February 24th, 2016 @ 1:59pm CST
Fair point. I'm reasoning with the toyline and the titan being a headmaster since it was Nexus. Now if it is a whole new titan, that would be cool. either way: a titan sitting under the desert for millenium is something not seen coming (well, except by you ;) ) :MAXIMAL:
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769349)
Posted by Randomhero on February 24th, 2016 @ 2:11pm CST
D-Maximus_Primal wrote:Fair point. I'm reasoning with the toyline and the titan being a headmaster since it was Nexus. Now if it is a whole new titan, that would be cool. either way: a titan sitting under the desert for millenium is something not seen coming (well, except by you ;) ) :MAXIMAL:


Well they don't have to include everyone from the line. Hardhead is dead, Scourge is dead, brainstorm, Chromedome, Blaster, highbrow(no confirmed or rumored toy but still) are all on the lost light. By now I think we can conclude that the comic tie in is just for fun.
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769354)
Posted by D-Maximal_Primal on February 24th, 2016 @ 2:24pm CST
Randomhero wrote:
D-Maximus_Primal wrote:Fair point. I'm reasoning with the toyline and the titan being a headmaster since it was Nexus. Now if it is a whole new titan, that would be cool. either way: a titan sitting under the desert for millenium is something not seen coming (well, except by you ;) ) :MAXIMAL:


Well they don't have to include everyone from the line. Hardhead is dead, Scourge is dead, brainstorm, Chromedome, Blaster, highbrow(no confirmed or rumored toy but still) are all on the lost light. By now I think we can conclude that the comic tie in is just for fun.


Oh I'm not saying that it has to follow that comics. I know that it can't at times and that the comics are just for fun. But they have done some stuff to include lots of the toys, such as Starscreams new body and then the Optimus combiner (which made sense story wise anyway and did work considering those characters's histories together). So it wouldn't surprise me to see something like that. :MAXIMAL:
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769363)
Posted by ScottyP on February 24th, 2016 @ 2:57pm CST
Randomhero wrote:Scourge is dead
Be careful with that conclusion! See: TF Redemption
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769366)
Posted by Randomhero on February 24th, 2016 @ 3:12pm CST
ScottyP wrote:
Randomhero wrote:Scourge is dead
Be careful with that conclusion! See: TF Redemption



John barber revealed it in one of the GI joe issue commentaries. He didn't survive the Chaos event. In my opinion not the place to reveal that and it didn't make me happy but yeah...redemption was just sweeps.

Trust me, I want scourge back too and I'm hoping he can be retconned back.
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769376)
Posted by ctrlFrequency on February 24th, 2016 @ 3:58pm CST
Va'al wrote:
ctrlFrequency wrote:
Va'al wrote:
ctrlFrequency wrote:You know, I actually felt this was a fairly satisfying issue.


Shock.

Horror.

Awe.


*sarcasm detectors on full alert*


Your detectors must be faulty.


Hard to tell sometimes with you :-P
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769395)
Posted by Va'al on February 24th, 2016 @ 5:07pm CST
ctrlFrequency wrote:
Va'al wrote:
ctrlFrequency wrote:
Va'al wrote:
ctrlFrequency wrote:You know, I actually felt this was a fairly satisfying issue.


Shock.

Horror.

Awe.


*sarcasm detectors on full alert*


Your detectors must be faulty.


Hard to tell sometimes with you :-P


Sometimes. Yeah.
Re: John Barber on IDW The Transformers #50 (1769396)
Posted by 1984forever on February 24th, 2016 @ 5:14pm CST
From now on I'm going to try really hard not to buy anything from IDW.

Prime fighting with that stupid flag is the lamest thing I have ever seen him do.

Galvatron's Decepticons look more like the X-Men now, complete with Telepath and Teleporter, than an army.

the book continues to fill up with corny IDW characters and fan built bots with no personalities.

Soundwave has been turned into a hippie.

Why even wear a badge now!? The factions are all blurred.

The entire IDW Transformers run is a giant mess.

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