Posts Tagged ‘Transformers’

Recently I interviewed author Erik Burnham, who wrote the Transformers Ghostbusters comic book crossover, which I’ve previously reviewed here.

How did the crossover originate? I know there was a special toy made recently of the Ecto-1 that was a Transformer. Did it start with that?/Who proposed the crossover? 

It was pretty much that simple. Both Ghostbusters and Transformers celebrated their 35th anniversary in 2019, so a couple years before that, they decided to do the toy. Since IDW had both comic licenses, it felt like a fun thing to do. My Ghostbusters editor asked me to come up with a story, I saw the  design of the toy (even before he had a name!) And we built it out from there.  

The main character Eco-tron was a very interesting new Autobot. How did you come to develop him as a character?

He was trickier, since unlike every other character in the book he’s brand new and didn’t already have a voice in peoples’ heads. I had an idea of the type of character he would be and started to write him that way; kind of particular and nerdy. Dan Schoening said his dialog sounded to him like David Hyde Pierce, and when Dan said that, it came together for me. The voice started to have more of a particular rhythm, and that voice in my head informed the character and how he’d interact. 

Without spoiling anything, the opening scene of the crossover makes a pretty major and immediate shift in the status quo of Transformers. How did that idea come about? Was their resistance from Hasbro on this, or anything else in the story? 

There was no resistance. There are two ways to do these kinds of crossovers of characters from “different worlds.” I’ll use Marvel and DC as an example. In Green Lantern/Silver Surfer, the characters came from two different universes. The was a story element that allowed one character to bridge over to the other. In Spider-Man/Batman, meanwhile, for the purposes of the story, they had ALWAYS existed in the same world and knew of each other. Spider-Man made a joke about Superman, and so on. Either one would have worked, and given past Ghostbusters crossovers, people were expecting it to be a multidimensional story. I decided to turn that on its head by putting (a version) of the Transformers we know and love into the Ghostbusters’ universe and running from there. 

Speaking of status quo, there seemed to be an adjustment to the timeline of the Transformers franchise. Was there any special reason for this? 

Partly that was me misremembering — we did catch it! — but then decided, since we were changing the history of Cybertron a bit, we might as well change a few more things. 

The art style for the Transformers was straight from the G1 cartoons. The Ghostbusters characters however, were drawn in the style for the more recent comics. Is there any reason you are aware of that the art style from the 80’s cartoon could not be used? 

The Real Ghostbusters (the 1980s cartoon) is a distinct and different entity. The comic book designs (because of likeness rights of the actors) are the “movie” versions. The ones folks saw in 1984, and whose anniversary it is, just filtered through Dan’s comic book design. (He can draw the likenesses of the actors perfectly, but that adds more time to the schedule if, say, someone didn’t like how their eye looked in one panel. It would have to be redrawn until approved, and that easts up time.) 

RGB showed up in 1986 or so. They’re similar but slightly different in characterization (as made sense for an animated adaptation.) So that’s why Blonde Egon and his colorful crew weren’t there. 

One of the villains was a pretty deep cut into Transformers lore. How did that particular character come to be included?

Actually, Hasbro suggested we might throw him in, for fun. We made some changes to make him a little more Ghostbustery (while also using the version TF fans were familiar with.) They let me get away with so much, I took the input happily. 

There’s a blink if you miss it Quintessons  easter egg in the story. Care to elaborate on that? 

The short version is: Dan Schoening loves easter eggs. Things that are fun for him to draw and can be discovered over multiple reads. I’ve asked him on occasion to draw things in – so has our ace colorist Luis Antonio Delgado – but about 80% of those background gags are Dan. He basically thought it would be a hoot to throw in. (Sometimes it’s just that simple!) 

The story ends with another new status quo for the Transformers. Were there any talks/were there any plans for a sequel? 

We talked some possible ideas for it, high concept type stuff. There’s a starting point if they decide they want to do it. 

Transformers Ghostbusters: Ghosts of Cybertron is currently available from IDW comics.

1986’s Transformers the Movie killed off much of the original cast of the popular television cartoon, including fan favorite Decepticon Starscream. The movie, taking place in the then future year of 2005, also set the stage for season three of the Transformers cartoon series in the fall of 86. The ninth episode of season three featured Starscream returning as a ghost, a ghost who would reappear in subsequent episodes. This is possibly the first time robot ghosts have appeared in fiction, and provides a premise for a 2020 crossover with another popular 80’s franchise, the Ghostbusters.

Transformers Ghostbusters: Ghosts of Cybertron establishes a brand new reality for the Transformers. Opening in Cybertron’s past, the Autobots have fled Cybertron, but, in a deviation with traditional Transformers lore, the Decipticons did not follow. Remaining on Cybertron, the Decpticons encounter a robot form of the Traveller, complete with two robotic hounds. The Traveller is a herald of Gozer, the villain from the first Ghostbusters film. After a sequence reminiscent of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man scene of the first Ghostbusters, Cybertron is legitimately destroyed and the Decipticons are dead.

The main character of this crossover is a new Autobot created just for this story. Ectronymous Diamatron is an Autobot scientist, who objects to his fellow Autobots calling him Eck for short. A thousand years later (Not four million years later as in the original cartoon), the Autobots are still travelling the universe via their spaceship the Ark. Ectronymous finds a Cybertonian signal on planet Earth, and is soon sent by Optimus Prime to investigate. 

Coming to Earth, specifically New York City,  he encounters the Ghostbusters, whose car has been totaled while trapping a ghost. The Autobot scientist uses his transformation abilities to turn himself into the Ghostbusters car, and soon becomes known as Eco-tron. Optimus Prime soon joins him, and after getting graphittied by 80’s cartoon punks he gets a new white paint job to match Ecto-trons look. Both get Autobot sized proton packs from their new allies, who all encounter the ghost of Starscream. The Decepticon has teamed up with a villain who is a deep cut into the original 80’s Transformers Cartoon

The art style reflects the original Transformers A.K.A. Generation One cartoon, but the Ghostbusters are drawn in the style of the more current comics. I’m curious why they weren’t drawn in the style of their own 80’s cartoon, perhaps there was some rights issue.

Ghostbusters mythos isn’t as deep as TF but there are a few callbacks to Ghostbusters 2. The painting of Vigo appears, and the mood slime actually plays a small part of the story. Fan favorite slimer briefly appears as well. A few Autobots talk about not being afraid of ghosts, and when encountering Megatron, Prime’s hand turns to the yellow axe to match Megatron’s ball and chain, which is something they did early in the old cartoon. The Quintessons appear in statue form during the opening sequence. Another amusing easter egg is Winston making a joke about G.I. Joe.

The crossover ends with a new status quo, with Optimus Prime actually hoping to reform the ways of the Decepticons, and Eco-tron hoping to find other spirits of dead Cybertonians. With a new status quo, new reality, and a new Autobot character, the Transformers Ghostbusters crossover works surprisingly well, and I would look forward to more stories in this 80’s crossover reality.

If you enjoyed this crossover review, click here for an interview with Erik Burnham.

Star Trek vs the Transformers is a 2019 graphic novel pitting the two titular science fiction franchises against each other. In this story, during the Star Trek timeline, the Transformers came to Earth, but then left during World War Three (World War Three is an official event in the Star Trek timeline). The Autobots left via Fortress Maximus, with the Decipticons on their tale, traveling via Trypticon. Similar to the first episode of the Generation One cartoon, they crash land on a planet and lay dormant for a very long time.

This crossover opens with the classic Star Trek crew of Kirk, Spock, Scotty etc, going to the planet Cygnus Seven, close to the Klingon border, where a distress call has been sent out from a Dilithium mine. Immediately the crew encounter the Decepticons, and later a small band of Autobots. 

The really cool thing about this comic is that it is drawn in the style of Star Trek, The Animated Series. So it looks like a meeting between the Star Trek cartoon of the 1970’s and the Transformers cartoon of the 80’s. Two characters that were original to the Star Trek cartoon, Arex, and the female catlike M’Ress, appear in the story. Arex is only shown in a few scenes on the Enterprise, but M’Ress is featured heavily, both fighting and interacting with the Transformers.

Naturally the Klingon’s show up, and side with the Decepticons. After the usual brief misunderstanding the Enterprise crew team up with the Autobots for a mega-showdown on the Klingon home planet of Kronos. Of course the Enterprise gets turned into a giant robot called Fortress Tiberius (Kirk’s middle name) and heavy action ensues. 

This story is heavy on the Star Trek references, the Eugenics Wars are mentioned, and there are a few “I’m a Dr. not a …” gags. There’s not as many references to Transformers lore, though Spock does use the “More than meets the eye” phrase.

The story ends in a way that leaves the door open to more follow up stories. I would be curious to see how Star Trek characters would react to the planet Cybertron, or how Next Generation characters like Data take to the Transformers, not to mention the Borg and Unicron.

In the meantime, Star Trek vs the Transformers was a fun quick read with a plot that figured out how the two popular sci-fi franchises would meet. 

The Transformers are back. The latest installment in Michael Bay’s take on Transformers continues to be an improvement over the 2007 film which started the series. This time around, the Transformers are being hunted by the government and many of them have been captured and torn apart so the government can learn to build their own Transformers to defend Earth. The remaining Autobots have been in hiding since the events of the last film in the series, Dark of the Moon, to avoid being captured. Mark Wahlberg plays an inventor who purchases an old truck that turns out to be a damaged Optimus Prime.

From there, the story starts to pick up pace and the fun begins. I will not give away anything to spoil the movie, but I will say that the end of the film could have easily had the words “To Be Continued” as the film ends in a way that lets the viewer know that the story is far from over as a major part of the story is not resolved by the end.

Among the improvements in this film, I can actually tell the robots apart easier than I could in past films. Mark Wahlberg’s character is a concerned father who has learned from his mistakes when he was younger and this is a refreshing change from Sam Witwicky’s potty talk. There is also a huge Chinese influence with this film as some scenes were filmed in mainland China and in Hong Kong.  One major letdown would be the the first ever known use of the F word in a Transformers film. I do not remember hearing that before in Transformers. I think Wheelie almost said it in the last film, but it appears in this film. I am not sold on using that word in a film based on a child’s toy, but how it was used was pretty funny because if you are a foreigner living in China, you will understand.