Cybertronian Civil War: If An Eye Offends Thee…

Another experiment in page layout, figures and composition.

Another experiment in page layout, figures and composition.

I won’t lie. For the past two weeks, I have been playing a whole bunch of Angry Birds: Transformers. The whole thing is firmly set in the context of Generation One Transformers, which has had me thinking a whole lot about the adversarial alien machines.

The setup for the Transformers (if you didn’t know already) are two factions of sentient alien robots: the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons. Both sides are robots from space that can change into vehicles, mechanical devices and even animal forms. They have waged civil war for eons on their home planet of Cybertron, a war that had started before humans even existed on Earth. Their planet of Cybertron was straight up ruined by all these shenanigans, and they are pretty much out of energy. The Autobots leave their planet on a space ship (the Ark), and the Decepticons follow them in their own vessel. When the Decepticons board the Autobot ship, things get out of hand, and with nobody controlling the ship it crashes onto prehistoric Earth and knocks everyone unconscious.

For millions of years.

Later, in 1984, the dormant volcano the Autobot ship had crashed into becomes active. The eruption re-sets the ship’s computer, which deploys a probe to study the planet, as sentient computers do. The computer learns that the planet is inhabited, and in order to survive first contact the computer both repairs the disabled Transformers and re-configures them with physical forms based on vehicles and machines of human origin. The Transformers are now able to hide by changing into vehicles or devices in case humans turn out to be hostile.

The computer (Teletraan-1) must be pretty altruistic, because it even repairs the Decepticons, who caused the accident in the first place. You know, the radical faction that ruined their planet. Teletraan-1 fixes them up too, which suggests that it’s some sort of Compu-Saint.

Anyway, the whole point of Generation one of the Transformers is that immediately after the miracle of being restored from an accident that even alien super robots would be hard pressed to survive…like, TWO SECONDS later, the Autobots and the Decepticons pick up their war again. It’s hugely quick, and then, for the rest of the series, the two factions duke it out over the Earth, with an eye toward dividing up its energy resources for the long run. Even the “good guys” are huge gun toting robots that will pretty much attack the other faction on sight…which, upon reflection, makes it a pretty odd children’s series.

Apparently, I can pretty much blame Jim Shooter for that odd, militant weirdness. See, Marvel was approached by Hasbro to provide a backstory for the new toy line. Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter and writer Dennis O’Neil created an overall story, and editor Bob Budiansky was brought in to create names and profiles for the characters. So…I’m putting this one in Jim Shooter’s lap, because I can.

Let’s boil this down to simplicity: the Transformers are militant radicals that don’t just carry WMDs…they are WMDs. They steal energy, including but not limited to oil, and have unresolvable political/cultural disputes. Oh…and they all have a super power that allows them to blend in as ordinary cars, planes and so forth, so you won’t notice that they are militant extraplanetary radicals.

Whoa. When you look closely at it, Transformers is pretty messed up. I’ve spent a good amount of time this week leveling up my Autobirds, and let me tell you…they are making things look bad for Alien Americans. Maybe I shouldn’t have leveled them up at all.

As the caption says, I was very much experimenting with figures in motion, style, and composition here. Our hero is flying…which she can do, but does poorly, so she doesn’t usually do so. I have always imagined that she’s kind of clumsy while flying, in addition to getting lost frequently…so I wanted her to look more awkward here that we are used to seeing flying superheroes. She’s wearing the laser vision goggles again…mostly because I drew them yesterday, and she’s flying. it seems that if you know you’re going to be flying, and you have goggles, you wear the goggles.

In Panel One she’s carrying a string of little bombs or thermal detonators of some kind. I imagine that she just swiped a mess of explodey things off of Cable…that looks like the kind of crap he had all over his suit in the 90’s. In Panel Two, she has blown by Soundwave, and thrown the string of explodey things into Starscream’s giant robot face.

Panel Three shows his now vandalized giant robot face. He seems annoyed, and has smoke coming off of him.

Giant robots are hard to draw in context. Giants fighting regular sized people at all are hard to conceive of, in terms of how it would work, because there’s not a good visual reference in the real world. Giant robots add another layer of complexity to that. It’s just really hard to get a sense of scale and perspective.

The protagonist seems to be on a bit of a tear about militant aliens, making generally unsafe situations for everyone. Imagine, you’re going to a car wash, and suddenly the Camaro in front of you turns into a robot and starts duking it out with a jet plane over the super unleaded. See…that’s actually the plot of one of the G1 Marvel Transformers Comics, and is about as unsafe a situation as anyone can imagine. Our hero is have none of those shenanigans today…it makes things look bad for all Alien Americans. Frank Miller hates Alien Americans enough as it is….we don’t need to give him MORE to work with.

Why is Starscream getting worked? To be fair, he IS a bad guy, and probably had it coming. Being even more honest though, I had to work my @#$ off to unlock Starscream in that Kindle Game, and then level him up…and that punk Decepticon is not carrying his weight. Making Decepticons look even worse, Bro.

After yesterday’s heavy, heavy post, this kind of randomness was warranted.

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