The news is out, the next Transformers Spotlight (the first in what is effectively vol 3) is to feature… Blaster. Now already there’s been speculation (on various website forums) as to exactly which Blaster this will be. The rock ‘n’ roll fixated, amped-up version from the cartoon series or the harder edged but compassionate warrior from Bob Budiansky’s Marvel Comics run. The answer is neither, or maybe an amalgam of the two with a new twist, however you want to look at it. The whole point with these character Spotlights (and the IDW TF-verse in general) is that you don’t ever get quite what you were expecting. If it’s been done before, the rule of thumb is, don’t do it again (or don’t do it the same way). So in Spotlight Blaster we meet not one but two new versions of Blaster, a before and after. Before/after what, you might ask. Well, let’s just say there’s an element of murder/mystery (without the murder per se) about this particular Spotlight, as a killer (and perhaps even a traitor) stalks the Autobot Command Hub, out finish something they started a while ago. But what about Blaster himself? Well, he’s certainly loud and bombastic, and his ‘voice’ is pretty much what defines him and his role in the larger scheme of things. But, as the story opens, circumstances have left him a shellshocked shadow of his former self, initiating an exploration of who, once you strip away the larger-than-life bluff and bluster, the real Blaster is. Expect a host of cool cameos, a link to one of the other existing Spotlights and a dramatic new direction for the focal character that will (eventually) affect the ‘ongoing.’ For those of you who felt Galvatron and Optimus Prime maybe weren’t self-contained enough for the Spotlight format, hopefully Blaster will fulfil all the criteria. Transformers Spotlight Blaster ships in January 08, and you can check out some advance art (cover and interior pages) in this thread on the IDW forums.
Next week (lots of advance stuff this week, as I’m travelling next) sees the release of issue #1 of (Transformers) Beast Wars The Ascending. If you’ve read The Gathering (and if not, why not?), then the cast of Razorbeast, Magmatron, Grimlock, Ravage and so on will be familiar to you, and need no introduction. But just in case you haven’t, here’s what’s what (so far). Predacon general Magmatron travels back to Earth’s past (circa 10,000 B.C.) to snag himself an army in the shape of the discarded protoforms left strewn around the prehistoric past in stasis pods by Optimus Primal and the crew of the Axalon (in the Beast Wars TV series). With me so far? Good. His intention is to reformat the occupants of said stasis pods as Predacons and return to the future to take Cybertron by force. But among his chronally displaced crew is Razorbeast, a Maximal deep cover agent, who throws an epic spanner in the works by diluting the reactivation signal. The net result is an almost equal mix of Maximals and Predacons, who then begin their own series of timelost Beast Wars. Ultimately, Razorbeast triumphs and condemns Magmatron to a temporal limbo (by sabotaging his in-progress Transwarp jump… stay with me here). The Predacons, now under the loose command of former Decepticon Ravage, are put to flight. So that’s where we are. What happens next (in The Ascending)? Well, for a start, Ravage has not abandoned his fervent wish to return to Cybertron (and the future), and to do so he has to interface directly with the other in-progress Beast Wars (Optimus Primal, Megatron et al from the TV show). Cue a major assault on the Maximal base, his ultimate goal the appropriation of the chronal phase armbands (from the The Gathering). Meanwhile, Magmatron (in temporal limbo) has seen the future of Cybertron, and, well, there isn’t one. Unable to directly affect the coming Armageddon and the rise of an ancient evil, he turns to his once and former enemy Razorbeast! And that… is all I’m going to tell you here. Beast Wars The Ascending #1 is on stores next week (Oct 3 in the US, the 4th in the UK). Click on the thumbnail below for a preview of issue #1’s cover and keep an eye on the IDW website for news of all upcoming Transformers releases.
Over on ebay right now, artist Andrew Wildman (the other half of Wildfur, the concept development company he and I own) is having a clearout, strewing signed Transformers comics about like confetti. So if you fancy nabbing one, head to his listings here. Then, just to double their (sentimental?) value, come see me at either Sub Con Dublin, FP London or Collectormania Manchester and I’ll add my scrawl. Surely too good an offer to resist. Me, I’m after that Eagle Transporter kit!
Since Death’s Head bagged his first bounty back in 1986 (or thereabouts), there have been one or two attempts to gather all the stories featuring everyone’s favourite ‘Freelance Peacekeeping Agent’ together between two (or more) covers. The first was a trade paperback published by Marvel UK themselves, called The Life and Times of Death’s Head, which turned out to be a severely abridged version of his run in comics. Then there was The Incomplete Death’s Head, a 12-issue reprint series with new bridging sequences featuring Death’s Head II (puttup!), which purported to be anything but incomplete. But it was. But now, thanks to Panini UK, Death’s Head is finally complete (albeit in two volumes). The second volume of Death’s Head (collecting DH issues #8-10, She-Hulk #24, Marvel Comics Presents #76, Fantastic Four #338, What If? #54 and the entirety of The Body in Question GN, not to mention the second of two one-page strips featuring DH) goes on sale next week, and side-by-side with volume one (still available!), completes the saga of Death’s Head (so far). Bag a copy now! And just to whet your appetite, here’s an exclusive look at Simon Williams’ spanking new back cover art for the collection. Just click on the thumbnail and enjoy!
Not, as you might think, a football (soccer) team in a league composed of Transformers generations (Cyberteron City, RiD Rovers et al), but a unified Beast Wars universe, one that amalgamates the US Beast Wars TV series/toy line with its Japanese counterparts (BW II and BW Neo) and, for good measure, the convention/store exclusive toy characters. That was what we (myself and bwtf.com’s Ben Yee) set out to do when (over a year ago now) we began to craft a four-issue sourcebook/profile series for Transformers Beast Wars, the first issue of which is available next week. No easy task, as there are elements of the Japanese shows that just aren’t easily compatible with the US series. What we did first was compose a timeline, a fairly loose ‘what came when’ that included the likes of BWII, Neo, the Pax Cybertronia, the ‘Great Upgrade’ and so forth. Some slight revisionary tinkering here and there was necessary, of course, but we finally had the framework into which everything (and everybody) could be slotted. Next, we set about detailing the planetary hierarchy, the ‘who does what’ on Cybertron in the BW era. Some of the characters like Lio Convoy, Big Convoy and Magmatron had already been assigned roles/positions in the first IDW Beast Wars series, The Gathering, but we needed to flesh those entities and bodies out. Who, for example, sat on the (Bi-partate) Committee for State Affairs (mentioned in The Gathering)? What was the full roll call for The Pack (of which Razorbeast was a member)? Where did the TriPredacus Council and the Magnaboss trio fit into all this? And so on. Should alliances or roles already established in BWII and Neo be honored or scrapped? Lots of problem solving needed to be done before we so much as started on the character profiles themselves. Then, it was down mostly to Ben to come up a definitive list of BW characters, taking in everything from Botcon exclusives to McDonalds Happy Meal exclusives. Where characters hadn’t reached their Fox Kids Transmetal form (in the TV show) he extrapolated. We then carved up the character list and set to work. Ben probably wrote 75 per cent of the entries (compared to my somewhat cherry-picked 25 per cent), with me acting as overall editor/guardian of the ‘house style.’ It was exhaustive work, and (when it came to the repaints, effectively two identical characters issued with a different colour scheme and name in Japan) demanding, making the pairs as different as possible in terms of their profiles and powers. Where one existed, we used extant tech specs as a guideline, in other cases we started from scratch. Some characters we retooled almost entirely to fit the new, unified TV show/IDW universe. Over the course of the four issues, no less than 162 characters are profiled, and (in issue #4) there’s an extensive glossary. Entries vary from one to two to three pages, depending on number of alt. forms or variations. Main characters, such as Optimus Primal and Megatron get the full three-page treatment, even including early (unused in the TV show) forms such as bat Primal and croc Megatron. It took a good chunk of time to write all four issues, and longer still for IDW editorial to commission the illustrations and compile the books. But here we are at last. Beast Wars Sourcebook #1 hits the stores on Oct 3rd (US) and Oct 4th (UK). For more information on this and all IDW’s Transformers titles, check out their website here.
Actually, that’s a lie, but it got your attention, right? There are, however, robots (giant and otherwise) aplenty in issue #6 of Titan’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic/mag, which goes on sale this week (Sept 27th). The all-new lead story, part of the ‘Fast Forward’ incarnation of TMNT, is ‘Rise of the Robots,’ and it’s written by me and drawn by Diego Jourdan. So, if you want to see what’s up with future Manhattan’s robotic population and why they’re revolting (so to speak), check out your local (UK) newsagent come Thursday. For a taster, check out the strip pages below by clicking on the thumbnails.
Out this week, among other things hopefully, is issue #3 of Terminator 2 – Infinity. The third (of five) issues sees John Connor and Uncle Bob well and truly in the thick of things, trying to both spread the word of hope to humanity’s scattered remnants and kick back against Skynet in a big and meaningful way. The action moves from L.A. to Albuquerque, as the post-holocaust survivors hole up in an abadoned radio station, where they intend to broadcast to the country at large. But, of course, things don’t go to plan, and then there’s that whole Uncle Bob is a Terminator thing to explain to the people into whose trust he’s been taken! It’s going to be a toss up who kills John first… the machines or mankind! The book ships this Wednesday (26th) in the US and the next day in the UK. Don’t miss it. Interior art, as usual, is by Nigel Raynor, and you can check out his post-apocalyptic cover by clicking on the thumbnail below.
Yep, I’m back on the road this week, heading for Dublin this time and the Sub-Con comic convention. The convention will be staged at Dublin’s Central Hotel on Exchequer Street, on Saturday September 29th. I’ll be there, naturally, as will the likes of Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), Pia Guerra (Y The Last Man) and Bryan Talbot (Alice in Sunderland). As well as signing and meeting/greeting throughout the day (and no doubt in the bar afterwards) I’ll be doing a dedicated panel/Q&A from 1PM-2PM, in which I’ll be discussing Transformers, Terminator, Cougar and anything else that comes up. No doubt stuff I shouldn’t be telling anyone yet, like who’s next up for the TF Spotlight treatment, will just slip out (as it does). Also, I’ll be joined by the one and only Nick Roche, artist on such Transformers Spotlights as Kup, Shockwave and Hot Rod and the upcoming artist on IDW’s Doctor Who! So, if you burning questions that just have to be answered, or just stuff that you want signed, do try and get along on Saturday. Also, I’ll have signed original scripts (for TF-UK #1 and Marvel US #80) available for purchase on the day. For more information on Sub-Con go here. And there’s more convention/appearance stuff to come! I’ll be signing at Forbidden Planet London on October 25th (PM) and heading to Manchester in November for Collectormania Manchester at the Central Hall (formerly G-Mex). It never ends!!
Okay, as most of you now know, Devastation #1 didn’t hit comic book stores last week. After various contradictory reports on when it will actually ship, the latest (direct from IDW) news is that it will ship on the 26th/27th (US/UK), so this coming Wednesday/Thursday, along with Beast Wars The Ascending #1 and Beast Wars Sourcebook #1. I’ll trailer both the latter books fully tomorrow, but for now go check out this IDW forum thread with all the latest on sale date updates.
Finally it begins! After what seems like an abyss of time since the end of Escalation (though there were compensations, ongoing story-wise, to be found in Transformers Spotlight: Galvatron and Transformers Spotlight: Optimus Prime), Devastation begins this week (issue #1 hits on the 19th in the US and here on the 20th). Was it worth the wait? You bet! Though Escalation certainly upped the ante (and the pace), in Devastation things go ballistic, and the so-called secret war goes decidedly public. The cause: the arrival on Earth of the Decepticons’ living weapon, Sixshot, not someone who cares about the niceties of covert infiltration, etc. Things get bad this issue and then get much, much worse as the series progresses. And, apart from Sixshot, we get much more on the Machination, we learn the ultimate fate/destiny of Hunter and Sunstreaker and we meet the (IDW) Headmasters! Phew! Plus, a whole lot of other subplots (Skywatch, Reapers, Dead Universe, Dinobots and Soundwave) are pulled along and developed. Expect stuff to wrap up and other stuff to roll on, and expect nothing to be the way you found it by the time issue #6 hits. Check out EJ’s cover for issue #1 below (click on the thumbnail) and go see what other TF goodies IDW have in store for you here.