Transformers at SDCC '08
IDW's Transformers Panel, Comics, Mini Gallery, and a Surprise
IDW's Transformers panel at SDCC '08 was titled, "All Hail Transformers," which was a great name for the panel that goes off the current All Hail Megatron comic series. The room for that panel was smaller than I expected. Shouldn't anything doing with the Transformers have one of the larger convention rooms? It should, but didn't, so I'm sure there were plenty of fans that didn't make it in. The panelists included editor Denton Tipton, IDW Editor-in-chief Chris Ryall, writers Shane McCarthy, Chris Mowry and Marty Isenberg, and artists Alex Milne, Marcleo Matere, and Casey Coller. The large number of panelists discussed the upcoming Transformers comics for the next year and had some surprises for the audience. However, there was also a Unicron-sized surprise in store for that I doubt anyone expected.
Apparently Shane McCarthy is the "most hated man in Transformers lore." I'm not exactly sure why, but it has something to do with All Hail Megatron. Maybe if I spend some time searching the Transformers message boards I'll find out, but that will be for another time. All Hail Megatron Issue #1 was the first IDW Transformers book to sell-out, which is a huge deal. The series is a grittier look at the Transformers' war on Earth and shows more human casualties than any previous Transformers book. Issue #2 could also sell out because they announced that Ravage will make his return. Okay, maybe it will sell out because it's a more hardcore and violent series. Issue #3 will have the return of Frenzy. They made it a special point to tell the audience that Frenzy will be blue because that's what color Hasbro said he should be. Well, Hasbro, you win this round. It was also noted that issue #3 of All Hail Megatron is going to depress readers. Does that mean a character will die or just more humans than usual? Something big is going to happen because McCarthy stated that Ironhide will have a "good man-cry."
One of the biggest revels of the panel was of a brand new character for the Transformers universe. The new Generation 1 Transformer's name is Drift, and if you can already guess form the name, he transforms into a Tokyo drift racer. According to McCarthy he is "very Japanesey," but then many of the Transformers are very Japanese so he should fit right in. Two slides were shown of Drift, one of him in his robot mode, the other of him in car mode. He is a white car with red curvy trim. Issue #5 of All Hail Megatron will mark the character's debut. Not only will Drift appear in the comics, but he will also be the first IDW created character to become a Hasbro toy. Because of that I would expect his figure might be hard to find.
Next, the cover for a new Transformers Spotlight, Sideswipe: Revelation, was shown and will be something the fans have been waiting for. Later in the panel a Blurr Spotlight was revealed. They pointed out that this is not the annoying Blurr from the animated movie, but Blurr in a time before the Great War. "Blurr is basically a prick." The next Spotlight, revealed even later into the panel was more of a joke. At least it started off as one on the Transformers message boards. Spotlight: Cosmos got a mixed reaction form the audience. Cosmos would feature something prehistoric, but not Dinobots. The slide was a cover but the release date was labeled as "2009?" Cosmos might be out in 2009. Or not.
Fans of the Transformers Animated cartoon will get an original comic mini-series with Transformers Animated: Arrival. The 5-issue series will take place before and during season 1. The IDW guys made a special recognition of the fan in the Animated-style Starscream costume. I'm not a fan of some of the Animated stuff, but that Starscream costume was damn good. It was the first character from Animated the panelists had seen and they were very impressed with it. Each issue of Arrival will contain two stories with issue #1 being a recap of the animated series' premier form different points of view. Oilslick, a character that was supposed to be only a toy, will also have a place in this series.
The Reign of Starscream series came up next. The Reign of Starscream takes place after the first movie, with Starscream going back to Cybertron to take it over. Apparently Soundwave was supposed to be in the series, but had to be removed because of the second movie. Well, I guess you can pretty much consider that confirmation that Soundwave will be in the second movie, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. They did not drop any hints on what his appearance would be, but don't expect a measly little tape player.
As for a prequel comic for the second movie? Count on it. Transformers: Destiny will take place after the Reign of Starscream and before the events of TF:RotF. The next comic slide brought massive cheers from the audience. Transformers: Maximum Dinobots. Yep, all Dinobots, all the time. Maximum Dinobots will be out in November of this year. Simon Furman will be writing more Transformers lore with the new book Transformers: The Thirteen. Thirteen will give readers a look at the thirteen original Transformers and will be out in 2009.
Next a slide came up which was one of the coolest Transformers comic covers I've seen. This alternate cover for All Hail Megatron #1 is an homage to the infamous cover of Batman: The Killing Joke. Instead of the Joker, Megatron is saying "Smile" and taking a picture with Perceptor. This is seriously one of the most bad-ass covers ever. You can get this only at ApocalypseComics.com.
It was about halfway through the hour that the panel shifted to IDW's G.I. Joe plans. If you weren't aware, IDW will now be doing G.I. Joe comics and when the focus of the panel switched to G.I. Joe, some people were noticeably disappointed. I can understand as the panel was titled "All Hail Transformers." A few fans left, but as an equal fan of both properties I was excited to hear about IDW's plans for beginning their run on G.I. Joe. And hey, didn't those fans that left ever read the Transformers / G.I. Joe crossovers? What if something was announced for that? Nothing was but still, it could have been. But that wasn't the big surprise.
There was a certain guest in the audience. The moderator asked him to come up and who was it? Larry freaking Hama. Larry Hama crashed the Transformers panel! Okay, he didn't really crash it, but I like to think that he did. Along with him, artist Robert Atkins and Editor Andy Schmidt sat at the from table ready to discuss G.I. Joe. And yes, even after Larry Hama revealed himself a few more people left. Come on you guys, it's Larry Hama! Hama will be writing the nee G.I. Joe series.
IDW's Joe comic will be a re-launch of G.I. Joe, meaning that the long story that began in Marvel's Joe comics and continued in DDP's is really over. That's kind of too bad, because I would have liked to see if Cobra Commander would have been able to do anything else after the events of the World War III storyline. The comic is named G.I. Joe: A New Beginning and Hama said that with this series he would be able to do things he wasn't able to in the original comic. He also won't have to tie in the latest action figure or vehicle into the series, so the story will flow much better and not have random characters or vehicles show up. Issue #0 of G.I. Joe will be out in October with the regular series starting in January 2009. Issue #1 will have a sweet retailer incentive Ben Templesmith wrap-a-round cover. Like IDW's multiple Transformers comics, there will also be prequel G.I. Joe comic for the movie.
Only a few Joe questions were fielded, with the first being about how Cobra Commander will be in the new series. Would he be goofy like in the cartoon or more like in the Marvel or DDP series? Larry Hama said it himself, "Cobra Commander is a total bad-ass," and will be a counter to Destro, who has at least some code of honor. Cobra Commander has none. The next question was the Joe panelist's favorite character. Atkins was more of a fan of the vehicles than the characters (good man), Schmidt always liked Stalker because he doesn't have a specific specialty and just seems like he could "kick anyone's ass." As for Hama, he always liked writing Snake Eyes because he was easy. The next two questions were ninja-related; if ninjas would be featured in the series and whether Storm Shadow would be on the Joe or Cobra side. The series will be about all the characters and they didn't say what side Storm Shadow would be on.
There were some Transformers questions that got asked very quickly because the panel's time was up. So far there are not any other IDW Transformers characters that will be made into toys. The new season of the animated series should start in the spring. Also, someone thought that Grimlock should be the dumb version, not the smarter version in the comics.
Down at Hasbro's massive booth were all the current Transformers Universe Classics, the Transformers: Animated figures, and some new upcoming Transformers I hadn't heard about yet. The Titanium series is returning with the Toys 'R' Us exclusive Prowl and Grimlock, both in their War Within comic forms. Target is getting it's own War Within two-pack of Springer and Ratbat. Ratbat was one of the stand out characters in the War Within series and I never thought I would ever see a figure of him. That's going to be a must-buy. The Transformers 25th Anniversary is coming up next year and to celebrate, Hasbro will let you spend more money on Optimus Prime once again. A special 25th Anniversary Optimus Prime that comes with a DVD, comic book, and a little Aubotbot symbol plays speech and transforming sounds.
A mini gallery is below with a sweet Movie Optimus costume and Larry Hama himself.
- Shawn - 08/01/08