July 20th, 2012
This review was fuckin’ tough to write. I mean that. I don’t mean just the usual typing and re-typing a section as you try to nuance a gag or make a point, although that was certainly part of it. No, what it entailed was something of a personal whirlwind akin to the opening of Apocalypse Now, but with less booze and more crying. Sometimes I would pause to reflect on how the fuck I got myself into this state over something so simple, because, really, the actual review was a breeze to write. It was what followed that was the problem.
When Simon Furman and Andrew Wildman announced their desire to resume the story of the Marvel Transformers comic, I have to confess I was curious, but I wasn’t burning to have it with never-ending desire. It did seem odd. Bin Generation 2? That odd beast of a comic with 75% more violent death and one of the most intriguing additions to Furman’s version of the mythology? Also, I’d not long finished catching up with Furman’s IDW run. A decidedly mixed bag that almost dips a toe into becoming brutally sublime when the cancellation kicks in and the steadily increasing pace that marked each limited series suddenly sees the last two issues ramp up into a fucking furious pace. Plot points not so much nailed as roadkilled. A tenuous reminder of the energies of past. Maybe he had the old ways in him, but I for one wasn’t sure.
It finally appeared last week, and much to my chagrin I didn’t click to the weird Geoff Senior cover, and I dutifully picked it up with the Guido Guidi retro knockoff version instead. It came out of a time vortex, but with modern colours, much like an old TV show with a HD upgrade and the effects re-tuned because the originals fell down that back of a studio skip. I was agog. Seriously thrown. If you’d bled off the modern day colouring, replacing it with the (can’t realistically call it ‘classic’, can I?) Yomtov palette and shoved this in at the back of my copy of The End of the Road, I wouldn’t have known the fucking difference.
I was torn asunder.
THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I WANT/IS THIS NECESSARILY A GOOD THING?
If you are looking for a recommendation, then look no farther! Dig out yer coveted yet crumbling issues, or your shiny preserved trade paperback, paw to the end of All Fall Down and ask yourself was that enough for you? Was it? Are you prepared to let it all go? This isn’t a trick! This isn’t like Russell T Davies doing Dr Who (that’s James Roberts writing More Than Meets The Eye)! This isn’t like Simon Furman writing any other Transformer comic. This is Simon Furman writing THE Transformers comic, again!
All you need do is look into your heart and ask if you need it. You might not. Nostalgia’s not what it used to be. But that’s where it stops being simple for me.
As I said, I’ve been going mental for two days now trying to write this piece. I made my intentions clear back at the beginning. If this thing made to actual shelves and there were to be coverage of it on Mindless Ones, then it had to involve me, if not solely be me, covering it (lolz – ed). The intermittent resident of the Mindless Chair of Transformer Studies. The Action Master – a non Transforming entity tied to the nostalgia of an older toy line. I told Illogical Volume to register my intent for approval.
I spent the time inbetween fretting a bit. What if the comic was shit? Could I realistically slag Furman off in public? What if I just didn’t have anything to say? I probably worried more about writing this than I did about the actual comic itself. Then, when it arrived, I had the shock of actually really liking it. The shock of it’s arrival into the special place in a boy’s soul where he loves him some Transformers. Because suddenly I was faced with one of those horrible moment where I was gazing into that place and IT WAS GAZING BACK AT ME!
It can’t have escaped notice that, by and large, I only turn up here to talk about Transformers. Part of the reason for that is that I don’t buy a lot of comics in single issue any more. My interest in the Marvel and DC monthly grind gradually tailed off sometime after the end of Seven Soldiers, and never really recovered. Occasionally I dipped in and out of bits and bobs, but never with any great enthusiasm. These days what little I do read from the big two comes courtesy of Illogical Volume. It’s a combination of factors. Lack of interest in their universes after various game-changing crossovers, and the primacy of creators I don’t really care for. Plus a growing distaste for the practices of sweatshop comics.
I’d be bullshitting if I over-empahsised that latter point – after all, I’m here to talk about a book that only exists to push a product, and it’d take a major concussion for me to believe that everyone who ever stumped up media content for Hasbro gets remembered as anything other than a one-time employee, if at all. I doubt the various former Marvel bods who named, characterised and mythologised their toy robots gets cash recompense for doing so. I don’t think Denny O’Neil gets a cash bung now and again for naming Optimus Prime. Nor Bob Budiansky for writing the profiles that the characters live by. Give Simon Furman a cut for every time his Primus/Unicron origin is referenced on the packaging? No fucking chance. Full-time Mindless Andrew Whicky observed recently on his continuing to buy DC Comics: “I continue doing so simply because you can’t fight *every* battle, and if I only engaged economically with companies that I approved of morally I’d be homeless, jobless, naked and dead of starvation”.
Hey, if you believe the rumours, Rob Newman still can’t pass up a KitKat.
So, yeah, everyone compromises. Or, if you’re me, you engage in a complex series of mental gymnastics to convince yourself that everyone compromises and that some slips are worse than others. So, yeah, a comic based on a toyline isn’t that bad because everyone going in knows it’s a product they can’t own, right? Another justification is that, well, surely I’m helping to keep Simon Furman and the rest of the creative team in a job, and that’s not a bad thing, right? Fuck it, it’s not pretty, but I guess it will do.
So, beyond that issue, we (and by we, I mean, of course, me) are forced to ask some questions:
How much did I take to superhero comics to fill the void that the lack of the Transformer comic left?
How much is my distaste for modern comics the, what I will generously call, ‘maturation’ of the mainstream that’s buried the super-clubhouse aspect under militaristic regimentation and the charmless gore that’s supplanted the heroic feat?
What the hell is it about this product that I have never fully escaped in the course of nearly thirty years?
Is it really healthy to own more toy robots as an adult than you did as a ten year old?
There was a point in my youth where I was transitioning to adolescence and had the odd notion that one reached certain milestones in life where they suddenly underwent a personal evolution. It was like I was convinced that the accumulated experiences of my teenage years would kick in and suddenly, on or around one of the supposed important birthdays a shift would occur. Apparently I thought I was a RPG character in a video game. “When I became a man, I set aside childish things”. I have never really known what to do or how to react to the fact that this has just never occurred.
This one comic fucking broke me.
Maybe I’m due a new upgrade in time for Christmas.
Does anyone want to come over and see my MP3 player Soundwave?