In November, we get an ongoing Transformers comic series written by Mike Costa. I felt it was prudent to take this opportunity to look back at where we've been.
The AHM Coda went for four issues and to be perfectly honest, I felt like the whole thing was largely a waste of time. We had:
- #13: Optimus Prime/Starscream
- #14: Sunstreaker/Galvatron
- #15: Kup/Perceptor
- #16: Spike/Bumblebee
Of all of these stories, I think I liked Optimus Prime's the best. Even still, it was filler. Starscream, Galvatron, Spike and Bumblebee's stories seem to exist to set-up future stories (which the ongoing could've done anyway). Sunstreaker, Kup and Perceptor's stories could have--and should have--been explained in the main AHM story. Not doing so was just lazy writing on someone's part (or lazy editing. Either way, someone dropped the ball. There was more then enough time in the twelve issue series to fit these plot points in there, even if they only got a few lines addressing them). Done as a coda, it helped fill a four month gap before the next iteration of things.
I get a feeling that IDW doesn't entirely know what to do with Transformers. Unlike G.I.JOE, which seemed to have a plan from the get-go (if you're a fan and haven't checked it out, you really should). Despite numerous fan comments about getting an ongoing series, IDW insisted on sticking with it's tried and true mini-series approach to start with. Infiltration/Escalation/Devastation/Revelations was a decent storyline and continuity although it's clear that Simon Furman is best at an ongoing not mini-series. All of those comics ran into each other and didn't really feel like minis anyway. The spotlight comics, by contrast, were much better from the get-go (for the most part--ignoring turkeys like Mirage or Metroplex).
Transformers Evolutions was a great comic concept but Dixon's story could've been a bit better and to-date we've seen no follow-up series which makes me suspect it didn't sell as well as IDW expected. Maximum Dinobots was Furman's last multi-issue arc to-date and his most on the ball one. Sadly, nothing came of it ultimately (that is, it didn't really change anything).
On the other hand, we have Shane McCarthy's All Hail Megatron series. It seems like IDW seized upon his story as an attempt at a mini-reboot. Suddenly, all the carefully updated forms from their previous series were gone (and even now there's been no explanation for why in the actual story). Also, Furman's three humans were pushed aside and Hunter O'Nion was killed off entirely. AHM had some good points--like good attempts at characterization of the Transformers characters but this came at the expense of making the story far longer then it needed to be. The story could easily have been told in six to nine issues--it didn't need to be padded out to twelve.
With the announcement that Costa is doing the ongoing series, I can only assume that my supposition that Furman was cast out is correct (or perhaps he's simply too busy--but that's never stopped him before). Whether they did it harshly or diplomatically, it's clear he's gone in favor of new talent. My only experience with Mike Costa to-date is his G.I.JOE: Cobra mini-series and it's been very good. Edgy, character developing and worth waiting for the next issue. Which is good because my interest in TF media is at an all-time low--there's no cartoon and the previous comics haven't excited me like the old Marvel series used to. Granted, I'm older but the newer comics have not lived up to their history either.
I'm going to give Mike Costa's Transformers an issue or two--and that's it. If my attention is waning, then I'll drop back to picking up the odd TPB of the series. I've wasted enough money on IDW's mostly mediocre efforts so far. I do hope the new series ignores the Quintessons, Unicron and anything too fan-ficky for it's own good (not using Spike and Sparkplug would've been another good decision. As it is, their inclusion now feels like bowing to fan pressure). I want good characters, good plot and some actual change to come of the story. Mostly, I want to be entertained--like any good story should do.