Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings

Manic Ramblings & Delirious Ranting
re: Dreamwave's More Than Meets The Eye #1
5/02/03

Hooray for character things! Hooray!

Once I had this in my hands, I ended up far more excited about it than I thought I'd be. And overall, the book lived up to its promise. Just the initial flipping-through revealed page after page after page of characters familiar and otherwise. It was like getting a revised and updated edition of the long-outdated Transformers Universe book... and with vastly superior art to boot.

My overall impression: it's about 85% ROCK'N'ROLL, DUDE!! and 15% DAMMIT THEY MESSED UP CARNIVAC. But hey, that's just me.

The cover.... eh. Not my cup of tea for some reason.

Thoughts on the entries, in order:

God, Pat Lee just loves his toy-based Aerialbots. But to me they're freaky and a bit out of place, not to mention rather incongruous after almost 17 years of having almost nothing but the animation models used in the fiction. Skydive still looks pretty cool... he just doesn't look like what I'm used to thinking of as Skydive. Silverbolt looks kinda horrid. He's got that bizarrely heavy outline that showed up in a lot of the first G1 retread comics, his pose is odd, his mouth is just an inscribed circle on his face, and his face isn't quite pointing the same way as his helmet. I do kinda like Slingshot's art, toy based or not... probably 'cause the head still matches the animation model, and actually looks better than the bald dome that the animators gave him (although he loses the effect of a hot shot pilot without the goggles.)

Why does Superion have an extra cockpit on his Slingshot arm?

Airwave's weakness rules. So does Cindersaur's.

Alpha Trion entry. Cool, though mostly for its mere existance rather than giving us some deep new insights into the character.

I love Arcee's entry, narrated with colorful verve by Kup.

I love Banzai-Tron's artwork -- are the toy's colors really that wonderful? The set of hues, playing off the gray background, are just delightful. I approve of the Bludgeon connection.

The writers take a different approach to Battletrap's technology. In TFU, there was no mental split; each of his vehicles had an identical personality -- a case of 1 + 1 = 1; Battle Trap was characterized as "cheerful and well-liked" by his fellow 'cons. It's a shame to see that bit wiped out, given the often psychopathic portrayals of the later G1 'cons. (Do I think their approach to life and everything is healthy? No. Do I think they need to be socially and mentally stable enough to at least co-habitate with their fellow warriors? Yes.)

Toy-based Beachcomber art... has never looked so good. Kudos for giving him the mouth that he's always had in the media. I'm pretty indifferent to most other body changes, but altering a bot's face is a crime, I tell ya. I like how it looks like the "mask" from the toy has been cut away to reveal his mouth and 'nose', though I could do without all the wrinklies around his mouth.

BIG DADDY! WHOO!!!!.... has a relatively tame entry, alas. While it gives him an appropriately cut-up personality, it's kinda lacking for the sense of style and hipness and Fonze-like coolness that I was hoping for.

You had to be a Big Shot, didja. As I expected but hoped against nonetheless, they made Big Shot the leader of the Battle Patrol. All these years I been sayin' it's Sidetrack. Well, shoot. Fortunately, the spec leaves open the seeming possiblity that the others really kinda pull his strings without him realizing it. Art on this entry by Transfandom's very own Jackpot, woo! Check out that strut.

Blackjack's writeup is excellent. So is Blaster's. And Blaze Master's, in a kind of scarey psycho way.

Bludgeon! Now see, this is what they coulda done with Carnivac. They basically used his characterization from the comics to flesh out the tech spec, since, hey, where else did he get any personality? His robot mode looks pretty good, given what they had to work with, but the pose isn't particularly exciting. Love the shell, even wth the tank turret attached. Too bad they didn't include the (non-existant as far as the toy goes) sword.

Another great write-up for Blurr, making him into a real character instead of just a gimmick -- something that the cartoon and comics hardly ever tried for.

Bomb-Burst. Ho-ly CRAP. THIS, my friends, is what the Pretenders were *supposed* to be all about. A slick, sweet little futuristic jet mode, a cool robot mode, and a shell that will leave your twitching corpse in a ditch by the side of the road. This is one of my favorite pages in the entire book. Real good write-up, too. My only complaint is that Bomb-Burst's robot mode really has no relationship to his shell; he's just a rather ordinary looking Cybertronian. What did he do before he got the vampire-like shell? Anyway, this is not a complaint against DW, since they did exactly as they should have on this one, but rather against the dudes who thought BB into existance 15 years ago.

Strange shading on Brainstorm. What happened to him?

Brawn looks deformed. ARG. Another of Pat Lee's "I had him as a kid!" versions, I'd wager.

And then Bugly came along, and Bomb-Burst could no longer claim to kick ALL the ass, 'cause Bugly's kickin' at least half of it.

Yay, Camshaft! Nice to see an "ordinary guy doing his job" type of personality -- something sorely lacking from TFs in general.

Carnivac. Well, I can't really fault them for adhering to the tech spec... it's just bothersome, since what the spec outlines is not a character but a gimmick, and the *character* of Carnivac (as portrayed in the later UK comics stories, the only place he did anything of note) had nothing to do with that gimmick. His latent sense of honor is glossed over ("this once noble warrior"), and his formidable skills as a warrior, tracker and stalker are not present at all (this guy took on Bludgeon and a half dozen other baddies and very nearly came out on top, folks. He's *good*.) The art's pretty good, though being toy based it again has little to do with the often random way Carny was drawn in the UK stories. I fault the UK for that, though, and the model that DW draws is far more interesting.

And so the big question is, which treatment will Thunderwing get: the tech spec (like Carnivac), or the comics (like Bludgeon)?

Catilla: a serendipitous placement. Catilla defected from the Decepticons along with Carnivac in the UK stories; now here he is along side him in MTMTE. And his entry cements their ties by having them be former investigative partners. See, the stuff about Carnivac's *past* is far more interesting than his present....

They got Chase's color, head, and name correct. That's unusual, y'know.

And they made a Firecon look GOOD! Awesome.

Hee hee, Cloudburst is Lord of the Dance or something.

The Combaticon entries ROCK. I love how the toy-based art still manages to capture the characters perfectly (in no small part due to the fact that the animation models for their heads matched the toys, natch.) Swindle looks terrific, a feat I thought impossible for his deformed, clunky toy. I love the new twist on Brawl's personality that changes him from being a dumb berzerker to a frighteningly competent berzerker. And they nudged Vortex a lot closer to having a personality. Bruticus looks good, though Blast Off's connection appears to be a bit tenuous. You can take SOME liberties with the toys, y'know...

Overall: a sweet, sweet ride, well worth my 5 bucks. Can't wait for the rest.

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