2012: For us Transformers fans, it's been an unprecedented year of goodness in the realm of Comics.
We've had the brainpan-blowing goodness of More Than Meets the Eye. We've had the slow-burn film noire of Robots in Disguise. We've had Regeneration-One for the old-school fans, which has been anything but lame. We've had the Spotlights coming back. (Orion Pax =
! Thundercracker =
) Even if you've had no more exposure to the comic book world than seeing some of the blinking astounding
covers that the artists have been posting here on DA, you'll know it has been just stellar stuff. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm profoundly grateful to be a Transformers comic fan right at this moment, when I am deluged by a flood of hitherto unseen riches. We've had some very good things in the past. But never has there been a time of such high and consistent quality. HUZZAH!!
I first discovered comic books when I was in college. A roommate of mine had a couple issues of The Tick ("Really; we are a hedge. Now move along.") ...and one magical issue of The Maxx. Primus, I fell into that thing harder and further than I'd have thought possible. I still stew about it sometimes -- that one issue gave my ever-ready Imagination so much fodder! There was this huge, Humphrey Bogart/Hulk character, who lived as if in a dream in the real world, but kept flashing back to some primeval place where he was beholden to this goddess-type... who also seemed to be appearing in the real world... Two things about that comic got me. First was the (to my youthful, virgin self) graphic, unflinching violence. (Blood-dripping letters from a girl beaten in an alley: "He... did things to me...
It was srs bsns: some evil incarnate Otherworldly Evil was attacking girls, and there was this creature in a brown trenchcoat who could not speak and who Had NO WORKING HANDS, trying to figure out what was going on between crippling flashbacks...... Needless to say, as there was Big Powerful Dude With Major Weakness and Soft Spot For Girls, I fell in love with The Maxx, and remain so to this day. (He's on my list.) You can even see my first (and only) drawings influenced by all that: [link]
in a series of attempts I made back in the day. Sometimes I wonder about buying those comics and finding out what all was happening. But what if it's not as powerful as I remember? I don't want to wreck it.
After that, I was hooked on the idea of comic books as a storytelling medium. But I had no idea how to get into them. Comic shops are intimidating places, like a secret club to which I did not have the password. I did not know what I might or might not like. I had no fandom to pursue. So I did not even know what to ask for. But I wanted -- wanted in the desperate, Starscreamy sense -- to be able to find comics I could read and love and fall headlong into like I'd once fallen into that one issue of the Maxx.
The years went by. Then 2007 happened, and the movie that started it all. (Yes, I do owe Michael Bay that much.)
<-- Here ya go, Mikey -- the scariest thing I have ever seen in TF-dom, bar none. It even scares Alex, so he says.
The first comic book I ever, ever bought was Megatron: Origin in trade paperback. I dare you to look at those pages without drooling. But more important than even the art, was a story point that has become perhaps a point of friction in the fandom, but which Changed Everything for me, Forever. I'm talking about this page:
Megs: Origin was not perhaps the best-written book ever. But it still was far more than just a shoot-em-up bang-bang, or even a "crackin' good" adventure tale. It was a character piece, and it was definitely something I could fall into. for YEARS afterwards, as I go to know TF's better, I'd find little easter-egg guys hidden in the background, and go, "No way! That's so-and-so!" To my still-vivid joy, I had finally found a group of comics I could ask for, buy, read, fall into, and love.
Since that time, I have scrimped and saved and angsted till I've gotten a whole shelf-full of TF comics. I got old Dreamwave stuff -- some darn good slag. I got everything IDW came out with, the good and bad. I even got some of the old Marvel stuff, despite the fact that the art drives me nuts, because there were some slaggin' good stories in there, too. I read and re-read and re-read these books, till the stories are part of my DNA. There are things in these books that I LOVE, and that I will always love.
But nothing -- I repeat, NOTHING -- has been even half as good as MTMTE is right this second.
I worship James-the-Ultimate-God Roberts for his worldbuilding, his flawed and oh-so-loveable characters, and his willingness to push stories farther into the dark (or light) than anyone ever has before now. These comics only get better as they go along, because Every Single Blinking Thing ties together so that a re-read is a zillion time more rewarding than even the first mind-melting time through was. James has pushed me into buying these books in single issues, as they come out, rather than wait a few months for the trade paperback, because they are actually crafted to be better in small monthly bites. (Plus, I just cannot blinking wait that long to read 'em. And I consider myself a practiced person at waiting for things.)
But with Issue #12 of MTMTE...
James has once again written something that pushes past longstanding frontiers: He has written that TF's form semi-permanent, semi-spousal relationships. In other words, James has made (it could be argued) all that pronstalker slashfic legitimate. And I'm still reeling.
He did not write sticky; which is good, because I truly would have thrown a fit about that to his face. What he's established is all good and reasonable and completely without porn. What he has done, if I am honest with myself, is give me the kind of story I've always wanted to read, but assumed no "real author" would ever write: what Chromie and I affectionately call "People Talking in Rooms and Sorting Out Their Crap." For the first time that I know of, a male (in my mind, male = "real" -- a very sad commentary on my outlook) author has given us an entire issue of story based solely on how much certain characters care about each other, and why. But alas, just like when the IDW peeps decided to bring the War to an end, I find I am unable to accept the gift of something I have wanted for so long.
I really don't have "Slash Goggles." If I see something that looks awkward, I chortle a bit, but I never, ever take it seriously. So when people speculated about the exact relationship between a couple of MTMTE characters, I ignored them. I am so used to pushing all that sort of thing into "Crazy fangirl land" that I actually had no idea why one of them suddenly threw a fit in a recent issue. I never considered it might have been jealousy. I've just programmed myself not to think that way.
But that self-programming makes me more than a little schizophrenic. Because, of course, I totally want
TF's to be able to form close, fairly intimate bonds. I just don't hold with all this kissing and humanlike stuff that simply Does Not Farm in a world of robotic, asexual beings. I'd actually (ironically) been recently telling myself to write my TF's the way James Roberts would, because he's good at writing close friendships!
Primus, he does such a good job handling the subject in this issue! It's messy and imperfect and up-tangled, just like real-life relationships so often are. It's not the simple, easy bonds we often see in fanfiction. Once again, James Roberts writes robots to be as real (and as loveable) as pals in the actual living world.
No fear-- there's not a single shadow of teh pronz in MTMTE. I'm just fighting against my own entrenched insecurity about other people's pronfic -- I'm terrified that this will start a new fountain of it, and that it can hurt me or the fandom somehow. Need to get rid of that idea -- it's bogus, isn't it?
This issue, more than any other, has me wanting to go back and read MTMTE from the beginning, because everything will look so different now.
Those panels with Cyclonus and the vials hit me harder in the Feels than anything in recent memory has. I'm still not over it.
Has anyone else read MTMTE #12? What did you think of this shift?