Monday, 24 March 2014

You're gonna wanna take notes on everything I do because you're about to see life happen at the speed of business

So that 30-year Transformers story finally finished.
To cut a long story short, in 1984 Marvel published a four-issue series based on a new line of toys to gauge reaction from the comic-buying public and it proved successful enough to continue beyond the original four issues, breaking the mold of licenced comics by surviving far beyond the usual couple of years expected of a successful tie-in series and only seeing a final issue in 1991 thanks to Marvel downsizing its licencing commitments to concentrate on making comics about Spider-clones, though this didn't stop them doing a follow-up series years later based on a different line of toys referred to as Transformers G2, but not even Transformers fans mention that series, so I imagine it's a bit like the TF version of that He-Man sequel no-one likes to talk about.  The licence was still lucrative for those that choose to make new TF comics - divergent from the Marvel continuity, naturally - and the comics rights eventually found their way to IDW, who produced their own comics series based on the various toy lines of the property before beginning a new series set immediately after the end of the original Marvel material, despite there being a 21-year gap between issue Marvel's #80 and IDW's #81.  Dubbed Transformers: ReGeneration One, it ended this month with #100, and it's far better than it has any right to be, despite some minor issues with plotting and unclear visuals that had me checking out a Transformers wiki to clarify what I'd missed.
After a series of previously-unseen armadas attack Cybertron one after another (including an armada made out of planets that no-one had seen up until it appeared in orbit), the series ends on a metatextual note, with the Marvel Transformers series excised from the multiverse of existing and possible Transformers continuities so that this really can be the end of the story - no alternate realities or timelines as potential loopholes, this is the actual end and the toys are put away in a box when the story begun in #1 of a 100-issue limited series way back in 1984 is finally over, even if only because negotiating the reprint rights is a bit of a nightmare.  In the story, the urge to make war is purged from the robot species, turning villains into peacemakers and, paradoxically, causing their final extinction not in battle but in a drawn-out process of eons as they get older and come to natural ends, their species no longer capable - or perhaps unwilling - to propagate itself beyond their existing numbers.  There's a nod to the fact that nothing ever ends, of course, with the molten and desolate surface of the Transformers homeworld turned into an incubator for another race of beings, but it's a hollow conceit, as this really is the end as far as we - the readers - are concerned.
What it reminded me most of was one of the better Doctor Who episodes, in that it goes for emotional resonance rather than a script that makes 100 percent sense in science-y terms, and I think that's for the best, as though I was never really a big TF fan in my youth, I did find the (UK) comics were good despite being about toys I was never into, and along with Eagle and 2000ad they were pretty much regular reading even if I often didn't know half of what was going on thanks to never having read the original series or the earliest UK issues - remember when you were allowed to walk into a comic series halfway and pick stuff up and accept that things had happened before you got there and yet still enjoy it?  This here is an ending to what went before, and nothing it does in technical terms could ever be as valid or significant in an objective evaluation as the fact that it is the curtain call on a story which holds nostalgic clout with many thousands of people, myself included, and what it needs to do, it does.
In that spirit, I don't have any considered opinions of the ending worthy of note beyond that I enjoyed it, and my review should probably just be "Wow.  Yeah... 30 years.  Man, that's another bit of my childhood dead and buried."

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go and listen to a Stan Bush song.

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