July 31, 2012

With the release of Transformers: Regeneration One #82 now imminent (it hits stores on Wednesday August 1st), it seemed the right moment to delve into the thought processes behind the writing of it, in another of my post-creative script (w)rap muses. As usual, there will be spoiler-ish bits, so beware, but my aim is always to tease rather than reveal too much. If you’d rather go into it cold, do not read on, otherwise…

Here’s what I love doing most, a kind of split issue — where two big storylines are unfolding simultaneously. Lots of action, heaps of those loose ends starting to thread together, and a whole bunch of dead (or dead-ish) Decepticons. Clearly, the Wreckers have survived the orbital missile attack that ended #81. Don’t think anyone expected otherwise. And okay, there was something of an elapsed time conceit between the final two panels of that issue, but showing them running for the escape pods would clearly have dented the drama somewhat. Anyway, strand number one is Kup and the Wreckers on Earth, in not the best of shape, against a wholly deranged Megatron and his zombie-con army. The whole idea of zombie Transformers was something I explored way back in the UK story City of Fear, and this is certainly a kind of oblique nod to that story, but also it’s yet another kind of loose end from the stories that preceded my run on the US book that I felt needed attention. Did Prime have all the Autobots left deactivated after Starscream’s Underbase rampage put in stasis and just leave the Decepticon dead lying around on Earth? It seemed unlikely, so I started to wonder if there was a whole other cryo-unit on the Ark we hadn’t seen, and if so… Well, all will be revealed… eventually. As bad as it’s already got for the Wreckers, there are several more wringers for them to go through. And even then, not all of them will make it out alive!

Story strand two was Grimlock, alluded to briefly in #81, who’s gone rogue in an effort to find a cure for the Nucleon in his system that has rendered him unable to transform (and maybe affected others in other ways??). All the way over in #86, we’ll see the real spur for the start of this quest, but for the moment his burning need to find a way to purge the Nucleon (or even get a whole new body) has brought him to Nebulos, a planet that loomed large on my list of things that needed closure. What happened, I wondered, to the original heads of those who became Headmasters? When their Nebulan Avatars died (in the Unicron battle), did they die as well? What were relations like between post-civil war Cybertron and Nebulos (things were decidedly frosty and unwelcoming back in #42)? All these things roll into what will become the second of our four major story arcs, but it all starts here. Oh, and Ultra Magnus’s icy cool/control finally snaps! And a bunch of other stuff too, like… what became of Ratchet? Though if you’ve seen the preview of the issue, you’ll have a pretty good idea.


July 17, 2012

Transformers web resource and news site, The Allspark, has just published a quick Transformers: Regeneration One Q&A. You can view the questions (and answers) here.

ON THE ROAD 2012 (6)

July 17, 2012

This coming weekend, I’m off to Germany for C.O.N.S., a Euro Transformers event with special guests Andrew Wildman, Klaus Scherwinski… and myself of course. The convention is over one day (Sunday July 22nd) and also features rock act Rampage — live on stage — who’ll no doubt be performing their Transformers inspired anthem ‘Letz Go transform’. I had a blast at last year’s C.O.N.S. (a very buzzy & friendly event with dealers, panels, cosplay, raffles and more). In fact, for this year’s event, I’ve written an exclusive voice play (to be performed by guests, organizers and attendees alike) to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Transformers: Armada. It’s called “Tall Story” and it’s a bona fide C.O.N.S. exclusive. I’ll be bringing along my usual pile of signed original scripts, comics and more — so come along and join in if you can. For more details of the event itself, check out the C.O.N.S. website here.


July 11, 2012

The official Transformers facebook page has a nifty creator commentary on the first 5 pages of Regeneration One #81. You can check it out here.

RG1 #81 — IS HERE!

July 11, 2012

To celebrate the release of Transformers: Regeneration One #81 (the continuation/conclusion of the Transformers comic series that started it all), the creative team — myself, Andrew Wildman, Stephen Baskerville and John-Paul Bove — have all pulled a little teaser treat from our file of upcoming RG1 issues. From me, here’s a chunk of upcoming dialog from a future issue of RG1 (not telling you which), and when you’re done with that follow the links to other (visual) Easter eggs from Andrew, Stephen and J-P.






July 9, 2012

The countdown to the release of Transformers: Regeneration One #81 this Wednesday (July 11th) continues with the return of an old blog standard — the script (w)rap (pre-release digressions on the thought processes behind the comic script). Beware, though I take pains not to give away anything critical, there are always light spoilers.

So — while Regeneration One #80.5 has already come and gone — this felt to me like the big one, on which a lot was depending. Finally, after 21 years, the issue number count has rolled on from where we left off at issue #80 to #81. It really needed to grab and keep gripping. The FCBD #80.5 was a bridge, a scene-setter and a recap rolled into one, but now the story proper kicks in with a vengeance, and I wanted to waste no time getting the big guns back into the fray. No way was I going to start this issue with anything less than action, action, action, so we’re straight into a battle that may or may not be more than meets the eye. The story arc is called Loose Ends, and I wanted to get some of those ‘loose ends’ front and center. But how to do that? Galvatron was last seen disappearing under the Yukon ice, Bludgeon was sent packing after his defeat on Klo, Megatron (Shockwave and Starscream) was last seen aboard the Ark, which Ratchet crippled and sent plummeting down to Earth in a crash-dive. Scorponok died back in #75. Nevertheless, as we begin issue #81, Kup is seen battling multiple old foes. Just check out the amazing splash page art by Andrew Wildman. Boy, does he draw Bludgeon well. Then I wanted to waste no time in getting the Wreckers into action (making their US [original] series debut), and catching up with/continuing the violent unrest propagated by Soundwave’s ‘neo’ Decepticons in #80.5 (which led to the destruction of The Last Autobot). By the way, you’ll notice a singularly UK-centric member among this iteration of the Wreckers. So many things are being folded into this new/reinvigorated continuity. By the way, don’t worry if you didn’t catch #80.5, reading it is useful but not essential, as the scene on Cybertron is re-set by what unfolds at a weapons decommissioning plant (how topical). When I was planning out Regeneration One, I always knew where and what #81 had to end on. The cover is, of course, a bit of a giveaway. But I still fully expect jaws to drop at the sheer audacity of what Kup and the Wreckers find on Earth. I want no one to be in any doubt that this book is going to rip the ground out from under your feet and spin you around on a regular basis. You can rely on nothing any more. Literally, to paraphrase the opening of Stingray, “anything can happen in the next 22 pages”. And will. It gets ugly, fast, and we’re only just getting warmed up. And in among this, several Easter egg-ish nods and winks, a big bit of bubbling menace that’ll come slowly to the boil over the next ten or so issues and some characters making their debut you maybe thought would never appear in a G1 comic. Have I whetted your appetite? Good — only two days to go…



July 6, 2012

Only a matter of days now until Transformers: Regeneration One #81 hits comic book stores and download outlets (on Wednesday, July 11th), and my pre-release teaser-fest continues with…

Regeneration One #80.5 — DECONSTRUCTED, pt 4: the final part of my behind-the-scenes look at what went into making the Free Comic Day bridging issue. Spoilers ahoy, so beware:

Page 12: In one review of #80.5, I saw this whole end sequence described as being like the pre-credits segment of a Bond movie, and I kind of like that. That’s definitely the vibe. And there’s a satellite, which immediately makes you think of Diamonds are Forever or Die Another Day. Up till now, it’s been a lot of (necessary) re-establishment of characters and settings, laying the groundwork for Regeneration One #81, but here/now things start to kick into gear — and these next three pages of action seem a better fit as the first three pages of Regeneration One proper. This is where it begins. The action plays out at the Kalis-Baird Beaming Transmitter, another location I culled from an old UK story, City of Fear. No huge significance to this, except that the whole idea of zombie Transformers was on my mind, for reasons that will become apparent in #82. Overall, I just liked the idea of re-using actual (already established) locations, rather than creating new ones. A couple of ‘red shirts’ quickly get wasted and Soundwave’s crew are in. I took a great deal of pleasure in bringing back the Firecons as part of his squad. They’d only appeared in the UK series before and I kind of liked them.

Page 13: Whatever Soundwave was going to do now, I wanted it to play to his strengths as a character. It’s unexpected. Cunning. A low value target that’s likely to have had only a skeleton security crew. And his plan involves communication, or rather supplying false communication to an unthinking bit of space hardware. And the fact that Cybetron even has asteroid-smasher satellites plays into the nature of the planet’s original rough ride through space (which led to the creation of the Ark), a scene we see played out on the second of the flashback spreads. See, most things are there for a reason. So Soundwave realigns the satellite and it prepares to fire. But on what? Or who?

Pages 14-15: Our final flashback spread brings us right up to date, and is probably the most important of all, as it establishes — the corrupted Creation Matrix (yes, I know I call it the Matrix of Leadership, but leadership is a very important concept in RG1, so didn’t feel too bad adopting this alternative description), Thunderwing’s brief ownership of said corrupted Matrix, Unicron, Prime’s death, the idea that Galvatron is Megatron’s future self, the Last Autobot (there he is again, just in case you’d forgotten his appearance on page 4) and the defeat of Bludgeon on Klo. All, in their own ways, loose ends, which is coincidentally what the first story arc is called.

Page 16: Then… being very careful not to cover J-P’s extra-bright ‘star’ with a Zero Space caption — Krakadoom! My favourite sound effect from the old days (say it out loud, in its three syllables). Possibly with the exception of Ba-Throom! There goes the Last Autobot. Problem solved. Everyone has to now sit up and take notice, surely. Even Prime. And playing with the whole End and Beginning thing (as on page 1), we have the beginning of the end. Which this most definitely is!

Look out for my Regeneration One #81 – Script (W)rap, soon…


July 5, 2012

Continuing… nay, escalating the pre-release fervour surrounding Transformers: Regeneration One is the news that the RG1 team, or at least a good part of it, will be at The London Film & Comic Convention at London’s Olympia this coming weekend. Myself, artist Andrew Wildman and colourist John-Paul Bove will be on hand to spill yet more beans about the imminent unveiling of the official continuation of/conclusion to the original (Marvel) Transformers series — the one that started it all! As well as Saturday and Sunday panel sessions, I’ll be stationed in the comics creators section all weekend, and I’m bringing with me a very special and highly limited exclusive, one that will only be available at LFCC 2012.I have 15 script and comic packs (signed of course) for Transformers: Regeneration One #80.5 up for grabs, as well as a whole box of other signed comics and original [facsimile] scripts, including some loose #80.5s. For more information on the where, what and how of LFCC 2012, check out their website here.


July 5, 2012

Just six days now until Transformers: Regeneration One #81 hits comic book stores and download outlets (Wednesday, July 11th, to be exact), and my pre-release teaser-fest continues with…

Regeneration One #80.5 — DECONSTRUCTED, pt 3: a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at what went into making the Free Comic Day bridging issue. Spoilers ahoy, so beware:

Page 8, panels 1-2: Nova Point. A distinct doff of the hat to the first ‘continuation/expansion’ of the Marvel G1 saga that appeared in a 1992 UK Annual as ‘Another Time and Place’, an illustrated text story. In that story, Nova Point is described as being ‘hewn from a mountain of metal’, and I kind of took that description and turned it into ‘a towering, almost monastic retreat perched on a mountain of melted and reformed metal slag overlooking the city.’ As if it’s been made of old bits of war-torn Cybertron, the future and the past again, twisted into one. Pretty much just a throwaway line, but Kup’s flippant mention of a ‘tactical upgrade’ opens a door to some character refinements, should we wish to implement any. And here he is — Ultra Magnus, making his US continuity debut. He was a regular feature of the UK stories, and I’m now not sure why I never crossed him over into the US comic. I kind of took that UK incarnation (‘Cybertron’s greatest warrior’ – a description that actually gets a dialog nod in #81) and the more recent IDW ‘galactic lawgiver’ model and mushed them into one. I thought would be interesting to see what a character like Ultra Magnus becomes in peacetime. Frustrated, mostly, but we’ll get to that in a few issues time.

Page 8, panels 3-5: Again, lots of scene to set in this issue, and of paramount importance to me was establishing Optimus Prime’s current state of mind. So already Kup and Ultra Magnus’s dialog has alluded to Prime having rather cut himself off, in almost self-imposed exile, and Hot Rod reemphasises it a moment later. There’s a lot to come in terms of development for Hot Rod. We all know that in the animated movie he becomes the next Prime. And I wanted to feed off that and have Optimus Prime (who — in his own mind, at least — is more in the twilight phase of his time at the top) actively involved in kind of nurturing (or mentoring) his successor. But again, things aren’t necessarily going to play out according to TFTM or any other established storyline. It really is going to be tough ‘being the chosen one’. Hot Rod, though, is quite a pivotal character in RG1 (arguably the most pivotal), but his path is going to be rougher and more convoluted than any previous counterpart version. We finally get to Optimus, who’s standing, well, much as he is at the opening of ‘Another Time and Place’, staring out at Iacon from a raised observation platform. From here, it all goes in a very different direction from that Annual story, but it deserves acknowledgment.

Page 9, panels 1-4: And right from the get-go we understand that Optimus is not in a good place. In modern parlance, he has issues. Terse, brusque — it’s not the Prime we know and love. But I wondered what it would feel like to be dead, and then wrenched back into the land of the living, without so much as a by your leave. Would you be happy or kind of resentful? Something as traumatic as that must leaves deep, deep mental scars, and this reluctance to listen to the likes of Kup is what will drive the entirety of RG1’s first arc, and end in catastrophe. Oh, and death. #85 isn’t pretty. You have been warned. From Magnus’s speech we get the idea that there have been ‘incidents’ already. Clearly Soundwave and Co. haven’t been idle. And now Kup wants to send in the Wreckers. Yes, the Wreckers! Another UK mainstay (collectively) making the crossover into the US continuity. The intervening 21 years have kind of melded Kup with the Wreckers in my mind, so while he’s probably not ‘a Wrecker’ as such, he is very closely linked to the group. We’ll meet them all in #81. And one of the members (or is that two?) has a distinctly UK flavour.

Page 9, panels 5-7: As mentioned, Optimus’s reluctance to risk any kind of re-opening of hostilities (a kind of head in the sand attitude for sure) is going to have consequences. Even as quickly as the end of this issue. The Megatron’s ‘glorious second coming’ line kind of reiterates what I was talking about earlier, and how Soundwave is just holding the fort until his return. Probably using it to keep the faith. And Prime finally name-checks Soundwave’s mob as neo-Decepticons. As if the original Decepticons have just kind of conveniently vanished. It says a lot about Prime’s attitude and the attitude of the Autobots as a whole, if the whole concept of Decepticons can just be erased. Made into a footnote in Cybertron’s history. As if.

Pages 10-11: Our third flashback spread. And a chance to reprise two of my favourite scenes from the early stages of the US comic: Shockwave’s victory and the Autobots hanging from the rafters like sides of meat, and the Dinobots (and Ratchet) taking on Megatron (and winning by default). Or is that foot fault? Then I press fast forward, condensing some 40 issues into three panels, hitting the main note I wanted which was the evolution of the conflict and the Transformers themselves. Very important evolution is to the whole RG1 vibe. Among those ‘evolutions’ is one group who’ll make a big impact on RG1, especially in the second arc, ‘Natural Selection.’ And we wrap this spread with Starscream decimating the ranks of the Autobots and Decepticons alike (from #50). We know what happened to the Autobots who bit the dust in the Underbase storyline, they got pumped full of Nucleon and revived. But what about the Decepticons??

The final 5 pages soon, keep watching…


July 3, 2012

Only just over a week now until Transformers: Regeneration One #81 hits comic book stores and download outlets (Wednesday, July 11th, to be exact), and my pre-release teaser-fest continues with…

Regeneration One #80.5 — DECONSTRUCTED, pt 2: a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at what went into making the Free Comic Day bridging issue. Spoilers ahoy, so beware:

Page 4, panels 1-2: I realised right away I had a problem. Namely: the Last Autobot. This mythic and evidently supremely powerful being (who practically resurrected an entire Autobot detachment that’d been ambushed/decimated on Klo by Bludgeon’s forces) had arisen in issue #79, whereupon he’d dragged Optimus Prime back from the dead and helped send Bludgeon packing. Clearly, any rebellious shenanigans by Soundwave’s neo-Decepticons (or other looming threat) would, frankly, be crushed pretty quickly in the face of such an omniscient entity. Unless… Anyway, in a scene-setting/status quo establishing way, we look back in on Cybertron “21 years after reoccupation.” Which pretty much links up to the last lines of #80, when Prime explains that (rather than tearing itself apart), Cybertron (doused in Matrix energy in #75) is recreating itself, and now “we can go home.” And hey, there’s the Last Autobot, watching over Hub Capital Iacon… in a vaguely Big Brother/1984-ish way? But it looks like everyone’s happy, right?

Page 4, panels 3-4: I mean, there’s a nice new statue with two robotic characters holding aloft a combined insignia (half Autobot/half Decepticon), and everything looks totally un-war-torn, which how we’re used to seeing Cybertron. And indeed, as we hit street level, it all seems remarkably everyday for a planet that’s been through X-million years of civil war. By the way, apart from the communi-cube the foreground character is using (a nod to UK story Target: 2006, which introduced this means of communication), the character on the right being told to hurry up by the taxi-bot was supposed to be Wheelie. But that fine script detail never made it through to colourist John-Paul Bove (my bad), so he’s not in Wheelie colours. That was just me indulging myself by casting Wheelie (who I’m known to have been less than keen on as a character) as some kind of glorified bellboy (that’s a hotel on the far right, Andrew’s Cybertronian sigils kind of spell it out). And yeah, there’s a ‘Furmanism’ thrown in there for good measure. Couldn’t resist putting a little self-deprecating humour in there.

Page 4, panel 5: Okay, scene so far so established. Only, of course, all aren’t one. And anyway, what does that really mean? Can it be as simple as everyone just rubs along well with each other, or is there a much greater, more cosmic meaning? Certainly, Soundwave and his neo-Decepticons have another take on the current state of play. Remember, this issue is titled ‘Counterpoint’, and here’s another way of looking at things. Poor old Polyhex. Guess they didn’t get around to fixing it up yet. I mean, there’s graffiti and everything! Anyone recognise the Unicron acolytes’ headgear from #74 as one tag? By the way, the Fort Scyk name is culled from my own text story from a Transformers UK annual (‘The Magnificent Six’), and re-used here to denote any far-flung/isolated Decepticon outpost.

Page 5, panels 1-2: So here’s Soundwave, addressing his troops. A raggle-taggle bunch if ever there was one (I had to scrape around a bit to find characters that either weren’t dead or were allied to some other Decepticon offshoot). That Soundwave starts off (on the previous page) by recycling Megatron’s motto from the tech specs is no coincidence. It suggests that Soundwave is only keeping the flame burning until Megatron returns, underlining his loyalty and commitment to Megatron’s own interpretation of the gospel according to Primus. Who’s to say he’s not been right all along? And it’s the Autobots who put a spanner in the works. The preconception is that it was Autobots who were the norm, and Decepticons the aberration. But what if it was the other way around? “Painful in the short term perhaps, but ultimately more lives would be spared.” Counterpoint. Right, then comes my first big melding of ideas. The Covenant of Primus — a Beast Wars concept folded into a continuation of the Marvel G1 continuity. Nooooo! I knew going in that not everyone would like this, but its existence (or absence) is both useful and ultimately important to what’s to come. Trust me on this. What’s important right here and right now is, it’s missing, and has been for some time. That’s also important.

Page 5, panels 3-4: Though we’re very much in the Marvel US continuity here, this Soundwave is modelled far more on his UK incarnation. In the likes of Dinobot Hunt and Second Generation, he’s the ‘con with a plan, loyal but more focused on the bigger picture, not bogged down in personal agendas or power plays. Behind Soundwave (now blue – yay — I never liked purple Soundwave, never understood why the comic coloured him that way) we see the Micromaster Battle Squad. Who seem to have grown a bit! Of course, they should have been much smaller, but getting any sense of menace into them at that size was nigh on impossible. I wanted them to be like Soundwave’s personal bodyguards, watching his back, and so we took a scale liberty here. If they’d appeared in the comic previously, I wouldn’t have tampered, but since they’re effectively new characters I figured it wouldn’t hurt. We will meet other Micromaster teams in the course of RG1 that will be in their correct proportions. The final shot of clenched fists punching the air mirrors a shot in #81, which itself mirrors a shot from a certain UK story. Lots of subtle, or not-so-subtle, visual nods here.

Pages 6-7: Another flashback spread. Again, this is grounding stuff: the nuts and bolts that move the war from Cybertron to Earth. Nothing much to flag up here, but it is kind of cool seeing Andrew visually reprise stuff originally drawn by other artists. I particularly like how the battle in the scrapyard from issue #2 looked drawn by Andrew. I always loved that panel, Prime’s dialog (“the only thing you understand is… violence!” CLUNK!) – I kind of did my reverse riff on it in #80, when Prime’s lecturing Bludgeon about “peace and harmony” while beating the living cr*p out of him. And yeah, in the scene where the Decepticons board the Ark, Frenzy (or is it Rumble?) is way too big. I missed it completely when the art came in. Sorry ‘bout that. Look, there was bound to be something while we were working out the kinks.

More soon, keep watching…