Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 3:43PM CST

Categories: Comic Book News, Reviews, Site Articles
Posted by: Va'al   Views: 36,661

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Love, Life, and Death
(Spoiler free-ish)



Synopsis
GHOST STORIES! Optimus Prime returns to Cybertron—only to be confronted by his rival for the Matrix, Pyra Magna! As Pyra's origin—before she was part of Victorion—is finally revealed, Optimus relives his own past—the first time he met Bumblebee!

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories
Starscream is also in this


Story

How do you take an annual publication, make it not an annual occurrence, and still deliver one of the best stories of the past months (and that's saying a lot, given the competition in all three current ongoings!) - give it to IDW, have John Barber channel his best Continuity editorial essence, and some of Mairghread Scott's devious writing tendencies (and penchant for poetry). Welcome to Ghost Stories.

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories
..lest we forget, yeah..


As is customary with Barber, we have a narrative frame in the form of Starscream eavesdropping on Optimus and Pyra Magna visiting the epilogue of Dark Cybertron, and the singularity left behind by Shockwave's plan. Three leaders, three contenders to power, three ideologies: the soldier, the enforcer, the manipulator - all reluctant at some point, all connected to the power of belief. All no longer as clearly distinct.

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories
Plus, of course, the Leader that Was


The first of the two centres on Bumblebee, and Orion Pax's first interaction with him in the early days - with a fitting crossover with Barber's own Optimus Prime series - some excellently prickish Prowl, some fantastic cameos (you can find them all in our database entry) and returns to the page for old friends and enemies, and some insight into the actual power and skills of the little bug that could (until he couldn't ded).

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories
Do you even quip?


The second, narrated by Pyra, is the origin of the current team of Torchbearers, before Cybertron, before Victorion, before the change of heart towards the Mistress of Flame and her beliefs. And it is a gem of Transformers world building and characterisation, giving us stories fleshing out Pyra's motivations, background on Dust Up and Jumpstream, some touching Rust Dust moments and world shattering implications suddenly made explicit.

Art

Priscilla Tramontano, not a stranger to the TFverse, is the sole artist for the lengthy book, and she does wonders with her own style fitting the two tales - Bumblebee's in particular, with the younger narrative fitting the almost Animated-esque nods - but also the general frame of the Annual. Even in the freshness, the darker, more sombre panels and sequences are not diminished or made grotesque, either, and the emotional tones are sustained throughout.

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories
Point


With three stories running through the book, the creative team made a nice choice of gathering multiple colourists too, one per section - or so we're told, at least, as Thomas Deer, JP Bove, and Josh Perez work so well and in sync with each other and the art that it's actually almost impossible to tell where transitions happen and who did what. I am utterly amazed, but not surprised, at their tripartite skill.

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories
space shots will always get me


On the lettering front, we see the return of another older name on the books, Chris Mowry - who deftly delivers the captions and sounds to the narrative, and some eerily good title fonts too. While Tramontano delivers a gorgeous main cover for the book, the thumbnailed art comes from the variant done by Andrew Griffith and Josh Perez, taking an OP ongoing vibe, and some of Starscream's gun fetish along for the ride.

Thoughts
Spoilerish ahead

Reader, I loved it. I really did. The book does so many things right, and the ones it doesn't are easily overlooked (the placing in timeline (ScottyP suggests between Optimus Prime 6 and 7). It brings us more information on so many characters, gives added relevance to Bumblebee in the wider scheme of things - though currently without obvious repercussions... for now - plays really nicely with continuity issues, and gives us the first openly canonic f/f relationship in the IDWverse, by elaborating a single line all the way from Combiner Hunters!

Transformers News: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories
And some actual horror, too


What really impressed me the most, other than the entirety of the Torchbearers story, was the way in which the visual team of four, no, five people worked together to bring the right setting, tones, nuances, palettes, spectrums to the different threads running through the book - there are some thicker inks than maybe required in some panels, but the colours offset them; there are so many good compositions to choose from, and different layouts tried in the narratives, and there is so much to discover in the ramifications of it all. From here on, everything is going to be quite a ride.

. :GHOST: :GHOST: :GHOST: :GHOST: :GHOST: - out of :GHOST: :GHOST: :GHOST: :GHOST: :GHOST:
Credit(s): IDW
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Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865226)
Posted by Bounti76 on March 8th, 2017 @ 4:56pm CST
Great review. I'm glad the Torchbearers are getting some more characterization. Especially Rust Dust. She always gets missed, somehow.
Question: aren't Lancer and Greenlight the first canonical female couple to appear on panel? There was one other mentioned back in MTMTE, but only one of them appeared in that story.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865232)
Posted by Va'al on March 8th, 2017 @ 5:05pm CST
Bounti76 wrote:Great review. I'm glad the Torchbearers are getting some more characterization. Especially Rust Dust. She always gets missed, somehow.


Thanks! I really enjoyed the book, and yeah, time for the Twins to get some personality now. :D


[quote]Question: aren't Lancer and Greenlight the first canonical female couple to appear on panel? There was one other mentioned back in MTMTE, but only one of them appeared in that story.[/quote]

I kiiiiinda overlook a couple being shown in a handful of panels as really counting for the title. Proxima and Acceleron get first mention, sure. Lancer and Greenlight show up, yes.

But Dust Up and Jumpstream are <3

Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865239)
Posted by Bounti76 on March 8th, 2017 @ 5:19pm CST
Va'al wrote:
Bounti76 wrote:Great review. I'm glad the Torchbearers are getting some more characterization. Especially Rust Dust. She always gets missed, somehow.


Thanks! I really enjoyed the book, and yeah, time for the Twins to get some personality now. :D


[quote]Question: aren't Lancer and Greenlight the first canonical female couple to appear on panel? There was one other mentioned back in MTMTE, but only one of them appeared in that story.


I kiiiiinda overlook a couple being shown in a handful of panels as really counting for the title. Proxima and Acceleron get first mention, sure. Lancer and Greenlight show up, yes.

But Dust Up and Jumpstream are <3

 [/quote]

Well, technically, I guess you're right. Jumpstream and Dustup are actually called out as Conjunx Endurae.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865248)
Posted by D-Maximus_Prime on March 8th, 2017 @ 5:51pm CST
Ok, so we got another glaringly obvious sign of Onyx Prime returning and being a big bad. Cool. Give him a toy so I can have the king of the beasts.

I need to go update my list as Atilla appears to be a colony world that rusted out and crumbled. Wonder who the titan was and whose titan he was?

Bee had an influence on Soundwave long ago? cool.

Pyra Magna feels and has felt recently way too stuck up for my tastes, so I'm glad she and Prime are going through the squabble, even if it isn't fully resolved here. Maybe Prime can get her to back down off her high horse just a tad?

And, my biggest thing: is that last page supposed to imply Bee is still alive within the black hole? Cause that sure seems like what it's saying to me
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865257)
Posted by ScottyP on March 8th, 2017 @ 6:24pm CST
I also loved loved loved loved this Annual. I laughed at Ferak and ordered myself a Takara TG-26. Moving along though -

Va'al wrote:


space shots will always get me

Whole lotta Latin lately, or derivatives of it at least. For this particular one, we've got parvus (small) and oppidum (singular form of oppida, explained here.)

Pax Cybertronia (itself a reference to Pax Romana) gone wrong? :-?
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865265)
Posted by Bounti76 on March 8th, 2017 @ 7:04pm CST
D-Maximus_Prime wrote:Ok, so we got another glaringly obvious sign of Onyx Prime returning and being a big bad. Cool. Give him a toy so I can have the king of the beasts.

I need to go update my list as Atilla appears to be a colony world that rusted out and crumbled. Wonder who the titan was and whose titan he was?

Bee had an influence on Soundwave long ago? cool.

Pyra Magna feels and has felt recently way too stuck up for my tastes, so I'm glad she and Prime are going through the squabble, even if it isn't fully resolved here. Maybe Prime can get her to back down off her high horse just a tad?

And, my biggest thing: is that last page supposed to imply Bee is still alive within the black hole? Cause that sure seems like what it's saying to me


Primus, I hope not. Let him stay dead! Besides that, being collapsed into a singularity/black hole like that doesn't seem like it would have repaired the damage caused by Shockwave blasting a large hole through Bumblebee's chest. He was shown to have died. I hope it's more metaphorical than anything....that through others' memories of him, he still lives.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865288)
Posted by Shot Put on March 8th, 2017 @ 8:54pm CST
Bounti76 wrote:
D-Maximus_Prime wrote:Ok, so we got another glaringly obvious sign of Onyx Prime returning and being a big bad. Cool. Give him a toy so I can have the king of the beasts.

I need to go update my list as Atilla appears to be a colony world that rusted out and crumbled. Wonder who the titan was and whose titan he was?

Bee had an influence on Soundwave long ago? cool.

Pyra Magna feels and has felt recently way too stuck up for my tastes, so I'm glad she and Prime are going through the squabble, even if it isn't fully resolved here. Maybe Prime can get her to back down off her high horse just a tad?

And, my biggest thing: is that last page supposed to imply Bee is still alive within the black hole? Cause that sure seems like what it's saying to me


Primus, I hope not. Let him stay dead! Besides that, being collapsed into a singularity/black hole like that doesn't seem like it would have repaired the damage caused by Shockwave blasting a large hole through Bumblebee's chest. He was shown to have died. I hope it's more metaphorical than anything....that through others' memories of him, he still lives.


I didn't get the sense that it was meant to be metaphorical at all. We had a zoom-in on the singularity to show that Crystal City was still intact, Bumblebee walking through it, and he was in the body he died in--with the wound he got from Shockwave still there--rather than the body Starscream's been seeing him in even though he was talking to him at the same time. I think Barber was pretty clearly spelling out that's actually him, alive and trapped and somehow communicating with Starscream.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865292)
Posted by Randomhero on March 8th, 2017 @ 9:19pm CST
Bounti76 wrote:
D-Maximus_Prime wrote:Ok, so we got another glaringly obvious sign of Onyx Prime returning and being a big bad. Cool. Give him a toy so I can have the king of the beasts.

I need to go update my list as Atilla appears to be a colony world that rusted out and crumbled. Wonder who the titan was and whose titan he was?

Bee had an influence on Soundwave long ago? cool.

Pyra Magna feels and has felt recently way too stuck up for my tastes, so I'm glad she and Prime are going through the squabble, even if it isn't fully resolved here. Maybe Prime can get her to back down off her high horse just a tad?

And, my biggest thing: is that last page supposed to imply Bee is still alive within the black hole? Cause that sure seems like what it's saying to me


Primus, I hope not. Let him stay dead! Besides that, being collapsed into a singularity/black hole like that doesn't seem like it would have repaired the damage caused by Shockwave blasting a large hole through Bumblebee's chest. He was shown to have died. I hope it's more metaphorical than anything....that through others' memories of him, he still lives.



He's alive. He's just trapped in there. How? Who knows. Maybe Shockwave is still alive too and brought him back but I wouldn't be surprised if the black hole reactivated ore-14 since it too is in the city and it resurrected and repaired him since he's missing that giant hole in his chest.


I don't mind Bee coming back. It's been three years this month since he died and he was a well written character. I know a lot of people are tired of Bumblebee because of all the toys, the movies and RID but I don't feel the other media should force people to be turned off by a solid character like IDW bumblebee.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865299)
Posted by D-Maximus_Prime on March 8th, 2017 @ 10:22pm CST
Agree with 2 previous posts^^

Bee is shown in that last panel in his Goldfire body he died in, so I believe that is most certainly him. Ore-14 AKA Resurrection ore would account for him coming back to life, with some of it jarred lose during the collapse. And everything exists trapped in the void, unable to come back out.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865309)
Posted by Va'al on March 9th, 2017 @ 1:48am CST
D-Maximus_Prime wrote:Pyra Magna feels and has felt recently way too stuck up for my tastes, so I'm glad she and Prime are going through the squabble, even if it isn't fully resolved here. Maybe Prime can get her to back down off her high horse just a tad?


Nah. OP's horse is soooooooo much higher.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865314)
Posted by Kurona on March 9th, 2017 @ 3:02am CST
Pyra Magna's been completely justified in her actions. Even though I'm not religious and can't even pretend to relate, I kind of have to imagine that using your belief system and everything you look up to as a tool of control is not something that would sit well.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865333)
Posted by ScottyP on March 9th, 2017 @ 7:53am CST
Kurona wrote:Pyra Magna's been completely justified in her actions. Even though I'm not religious and can't even pretend to relate, I kind of have to imagine that using your belief system and everything you look up to as a tool of control is not something that would sit well.
OP's been made out as quite agnostic over time, so in one sense it could be thought of as a parallel to Autobot Megatron. Pyra's reactions aren't so different from that of much of the Lost Light crew. "Who is this big shot coming in to lead us that knows nothing about who we are?"
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865354)
Posted by Randomhero on March 9th, 2017 @ 10:44am CST
ScottyP wrote:
Kurona wrote:Pyra Magna's been completely justified in her actions. Even though I'm not religious and can't even pretend to relate, I kind of have to imagine that using your belief system and everything you look up to as a tool of control is not something that would sit well.
OP's been made out as quite agnostic over time, so in one sense it could be thought of as a parallel to Autobot Megatron. Pyra's reactions aren't so different from that of much of the Lost Light crew. "Who is this big shot coming in to lead us that knows nothing about who we are?"



He's not agnostic, Optimus is a full blown atheist. He sees the matrix and calls is a piece of technology
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865358)
Posted by Nik Hero on March 9th, 2017 @ 12:26pm CST
Randomhero wrote:
ScottyP wrote:
Kurona wrote:Pyra Magna's been completely justified in her actions. Even though I'm not religious and can't even pretend to relate, I kind of have to imagine that using your belief system and everything you look up to as a tool of control is not something that would sit well.
OP's been made out as quite agnostic over time, so in one sense it could be thought of as a parallel to Autobot Megatron. Pyra's reactions aren't so different from that of much of the Lost Light crew. "Who is this big shot coming in to lead us that knows nothing about who we are?"



He's not agnostic, Optimus is a full blown atheist. He sees the matrix and calls is a piece of technology


And that is why he deserves to be removed as a Prime, and Optimus Primal can take over, as we voted. :-)
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865359)
Posted by Flashwave on March 9th, 2017 @ 12:43pm CST
Randomhero wrote:
ScottyP wrote:
Kurona wrote:Pyra Magna's been completely justified in her actions. Even though I'm not religious and can't even pretend to relate, I kind of have to imagine that using your belief system and everything you look up to as a tool of control is not something that would sit well.
OP's been made out as quite agnostic over time, so in one sense it could be thought of as a parallel to Autobot Megatron. Pyra's reactions aren't so different from that of much of the Lost Light crew. "Who is this big shot coming in to lead us that knows nothing about who we are?"



He's not agnostic, Optimus is a full blown atheist. He sees the matrix and calls is a piece of technology


But its not just Prime, its most of Cybertron. How many times have we seen the Matrix as something to be worshipped? How many Autobots actually Worshipped Prime? Its like, I don't know, showing a Caveman a Bic Lighter. He thinks you are Lord of Fire, but to you this thing you are carrying is just a thing. The Matrix is quite a bit more rare than a Bic, admittedly, but its not been painted as this wholly religious Grail or anything. Not by Prime, not by Nova, not by Zeta
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865364)
Posted by Randomhero on March 9th, 2017 @ 1:37pm CST
Flashwave wrote:
Randomhero wrote:
ScottyP wrote:
Kurona wrote:Pyra Magna's been completely justified in her actions. Even though I'm not religious and can't even pretend to relate, I kind of have to imagine that using your belief system and everything you look up to as a tool of control is not something that would sit well.
OP's been made out as quite agnostic over time, so in one sense it could be thought of as a parallel to Autobot Megatron. Pyra's reactions aren't so different from that of much of the Lost Light crew. "Who is this big shot coming in to lead us that knows nothing about who we are?"



He's not agnostic, Optimus is a full blown atheist. He sees the matrix and calls is a piece of technology


But its not just Prime, its most of Cybertron. How many times have we seen the Matrix as something to be worshipped? How many Autobots actually Worshipped Prime? Its like, I don't know, showing a Caveman a Bic Lighter. He thinks you are Lord of Fire, but to you this thing you are carrying is just a thing. The Matrix is quite a bit more rare than a Bic, admittedly, but its not been painted as this wholly religious Grail or anything. Not by Prime, not by Nova, not by Zeta



I wouldn't say most of Cybertron is full of of atheists, quite the opposite. IDWs universe is filled with many different religious groups just like our own world. Triple M, the place cyclonus grew up in, the group Flywheels was associated with, dai atlas and his knights. There's several religious groups that species has. Just because many don't believe in Optimus Prime doesn't make them atheists. We've seen most Decepticons believe in Primus but they don't believe in Prime. Look at functinists, heavily religious but they don't believe in the primes they believe in only primus and adaptus. Before soundwave joined Optimus he was shown on believe all cybertronians are equal under primus.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865373)
Posted by BumbIebee on March 9th, 2017 @ 2:23pm CST
Just finished reading it, and man... that was amazing! I see good things ahead!
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865399)
Posted by ScottyP on March 9th, 2017 @ 6:08pm CST
After taking some time to reflect on it, I'm gonna say that this might serve as some closure to the Bee death rather than as a portent to his resurrection. Gets the character in the comics a bit for fans of Bumblebee (and maybe some Hasbro appeasement) but helps progress the story forward for some others like Starscream by expanding on the context of his continued influence after death. Guess we'll see when the second arc of Optimus Prime kicks off with #7!
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865403)
Posted by Nik Hero on March 9th, 2017 @ 6:38pm CST
ScottyP wrote:After taking some time to reflect on it, I'm gonna say that this might serve as some closure to the Bee death rather than as a portent to his resurrection. Gets the character in the comics a bit for fans of Bumblebee (and maybe some Hasbro appeasement) but helps progress the story forward for some others like Starscream by expanding on the context of his continued influence after death. Guess we'll see when the second arc of Optimus Prime kicks off with #7!


I don't think Bee's story continues there. It continues in TAAO, I believe.
Re: Review of IDW Transformers Annual 2017: Ghost Stories (1865455)
Posted by Va'al on March 10th, 2017 @ 3:16am CST
Nik Hero wrote:
ScottyP wrote:After taking some time to reflect on it, I'm gonna say that this might serve as some closure to the Bee death rather than as a portent to his resurrection. Gets the character in the comics a bit for fans of Bumblebee (and maybe some Hasbro appeasement) but helps progress the story forward for some others like Starscream by expanding on the context of his continued influence after death. Guess we'll see when the second arc of Optimus Prime kicks off with #7!


I don't think Bee's story continues there. It continues in TAAO, I believe.


I feel like, at this stage, it could happen in both: the flashback story was told by Optimus, and it fits in the narrative of Jetfire/Prowl/OP vs early Decepticon insurrection.

But as you are rightly pointing out, the Starscream stuff is happening in TAAO, so we may get more happening over there too.


Hm. :-?
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