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[personal profile] lunatron
So, I have been thinking about this interview with James Roberts, and two bits really struck me:

"With Cyclonus and Whirl, I wanted characters who were more Decepticon than Autobot, even if Cyclonus is non-affiliated and Whirl, as you say, is an Autobot (although it’s hinted that Optimus recruited him purely to ‘claim’ him before the Decepticons did)."

This bit makes me ask, 'Why not outright Decepticons, then?'

"The Lost Light is crewed by decent- if flawed and wayward- Autobots, and I needed a few wild cards in there."

Decent? Really? He has a funny idea of what 'decent' means...

Anyway, there will be spoilers for MTMTE and probably RiD but also the old Ongoing and Autocracy, but I was talking with some friends about what it might have been like if there actually had been an integrated Decepticon crew from the start of MTMTE...

An integrated Decepticon crew from the start of MTMTE would have made sense and built on IDW's past comics. In Autocracy, we are shown that Hot Rod was a leader of the poor and destitute. He was an insurgent who rebelled, violently, against Zeta Prime. Megatron personally asked Hot Rod to sign on with the Decepticons. Hot Rod ultimately did not sign on with the Decepticons, but he was aggressively courted by them, nonetheless.

Then, in the Ongoing, Hot Rod gathered the disaffected from both the Autobots and the Decepticons, and he brought them together in peace to build a shuttle to leave Earth behind, because Earth was full of humans who rightfully hate them. There, Swindle first named Hot Rod "Rodimus" - long before he touched the Matrix, long before Optimus gave him any official recognition. Things fell apart.

Hot Rod/Rodimus was the first one to support Drift when others were down on Drift for his Decepticon past.

With MTMTE, there was another chance, though. Rodimus could have helmed a fully factionally integrated spaceship, and given his background, he would have made a lot of sense as accepting Decepticons on his crew!

Now, I fully admit that IDW's whole backstory of the war is messed up. IDW made the Decepticons oppressed and gave them good points and then turned the Decepticons into evil tyrants and cannibals. :| It's very poorly thought-out. However, IDW did that, and despite doing that, the Decepticons are ostensibly the "bad guys". The Autobots are ostensibly the "good guys". However, in the name of "character development" and "deep characterization", IDW has lately presented many outright evil Autobots and has then shuffled the Decepticons off into a corner. The Autobots mostly serve as protagonist, villain, and villain protagonist alike. In cases where a Decepticon villain could easily have been used, quite often an Autobot one is used instead. Now, the Decepticons do some things, but the action, both good and bad, is heavily weighted towards the Autobots, not 50/50 or even 60/40. (Also, there is a trend to de-Decepticon the Decepticons before allowing them to do interesting things. See: Starscream in RiD. See: Megatron in Dark Cybertron. I find this trend troubling.)

So, if MTMTE had started with a factionally integrated crew, it would have helped rectify this problem of, "Decepticons don't do enough."

My friends and I thought about which Autobots to swap out and with which Decepticon to swap them.

Whirl -> Vortex
Whirl's definitely been the poster child "evil Autobot" in MTMTE, recently admitting to starting the Autobot/Decepticon war (which we are shown he did back in "Chaos Theory"). IDW is a new continuity and doesn't follow the old bios. Look at how the Ongoing treated Onslaught. However, there is nothing in Whirl's old tech spec to suggest this sort of behavior out of him? Nothing in his bio says, "Likes to torture Sweeps and then falsely claim that they weren't sapient and then set them all on fire." Nothing in his bio says, "Like to abuse his students," or, "Likes to beat up prisoners and start wars." MTMTE Whirl is nothing like his old bio, which is fine. It's a new continuity. However, this means that anyone at all could have been plugged into Whirl's role, and it would have been equally valid. Sandstorm doesn't usually haul off and murder aliens that he has just met on the word of someone in a bar? That's fine, new continuity!

So I am suggesting plugging Vortex into Whirl's role (and in "Chaos Theory", I suppose). Vortex has always kind of been a C-lister. Vortex has been around a lot, but he never gets much time to shine on his own. Vortex's whole personality essentially boils down to being a jerk and sadist, but if you plugged him into Whirl's whole role, it would give Vortex an interesting depth. Could I see Vortex as having been a police interrogator for the corrupt old Senate? Definitely! Would it give Vortex's story some interesting pathos if Vortex had once been a happy clockmaker? Yes! Would Vortex have started a war for lulz? In an instant.

Would it be utterly entrancing to see Vortex have to go to Rung, an Autobot psychiatrist, for therapy, in order to stay a member of the crew? Oh yes. I think that whole plotline becomes more interesting, because Decepticons may well have different definitions of mental health than Autobots do. The potential for cultural conflict is delicious.

Vortex in a violent rivalry with Cyclonus? It would add even more depth to Cyclonus's statements of not being a Decepticon.

Sure, Swindle stays on Cybertron, in RiD. No one ever said all the Combaticons had to stay together. Just imagine that send-off... "It'll be nice, not needing the hide the bodies so often." "I don't know why you hid them."

Now, I suppose that switching Whirl for Vortex would lose the dynamic between Impactor and Whirl, but I think that so much more would be gained.

Plus, seeing a Decepticon do unashamedly evil things but still be portrayed as sympathetic by the narrative would be a big treat.

Brainstorm -> Needlenose
Needlenose is in RiD. That series uses him as a generic thug. Anyone could be slotted into his role and do it. So yanking Needlenose out of RiD and dropping him into MTMTE to replace Brainstorm is no big deal.

Why him?

Because Needlenose is fabulous. His bio doesn't say he's a weapons engineer, but Brainstorm's bio doesn't say that, either: IDW is a new continuity. If Brainstorm could be a weapons engineer, Needlenose could have easily been a weapons engineer, too, as the plot demanded.

Just imagine Needlenose in a passive-aggressive rivalry with Perceptor. It would be a thing of beauty. Needlenose would be a perfect cheerful amoral engineer.

Ratchet refusing new hands from Needlenose would also beg the question of whether or not Ratchet's just being biased against Decepticon work, which would be a fun question to ask.

Chromedome -> Mindwipe
How about having the mnemosurgeon who worked for the New Institute and used to steal people's memories, rifle through the minds of the dead, and rewire people's personalities be named "Mindwipe", huh?

How about having Prowl's ex-boyfriend - ahem - partner be a Decepticon? Think about all the mileage in that! A new dimension would be added if Mindwipe, a Decepticon, threw Prowl off a cliff and was ready to fight him some more, and then the Constructicons, also Decepticons, cheer on Prowl, the Autobot.

How much more interesting would it be to see someone named "Mindwipe" saying that he's going to give up the whole mnemosurgery thing? It would be like giving up his entire identity, the very core of his being!

Which brings me to the role of Rewind. The role of Rewind could be replaced by a heavily retooled Vorath. Instead of being a Headmaster and a scientist, Vorath's a Disposable-caste datastick reporter. Fact is, Rewind's not even really a reporter, originally? Raindance and Grand Slam were more reporters than he was. As I keep saying, IDW is a new continuity, it ignores bios, and it does lots of retooling.

Though it could also be interesting to just keep Rewind as Rewind and state that Mindwipe and Rewind have been apart since the war broke out and they picked different sides, but now that they have the chance, they're going to give it another go.

In that case, giving up mnemosurgery would be a concession on Mindwipe's part to make things work with Rewind again...

Mindwipe looking for Dominus Ambus for his Autobot partner Rewind would also be an interesting depth of devotion?

Plus, there could be some Decepticon/Decepticon platonic friendship in Needlenose and Mindwipe.

Skids -> Kickback
Kickback is supposed to be a  smart, charming, friendly super-spy, but he's never actually written like this, because he's an Insecticon, so writers just have him show up to eat things. It's a shame.

Kickback would show up much as Skids did - as an amnesiac, pursued by creepy robots. Readers would last remember seeing him during the D-Void fiasco, so they'd wonder what Kickback did, between the D-Void fiasco and now, to forget such a huge swath of his life. (Answer: Tried to assassinate Tyrest.)

Kickback would be charming and friendly! He'd be cute with Rung. There would be some hints of a more manipulative side to Kickback but nothing too heavy.

He would have been one of Shockwave's outliers, with Orion during their whole caper.

Then they're thrown into Tyrest's jail, and they meet Kickback's partner: Getaway. The Autobot Getaway. Now that would be dropping the hammer.

Turns out that, yes, Kickback's a Decepticon, but he's been known to do work for Prowl, when their goals align. Prowl's always been a bad Autobot, ever since Spotlight Kup. Getaway is Kickback's partner when he does little favours for Prowl, and hey, taking out Tyrest seemed like a good idea at the time...

Then Kickback and Getaway are antagonistically cute together.

All the cutes.

Kickback's the one without guilt or shame who goes and sees the weird glowy sphere.

Pharma & Ambulon - > Decepticons
Because the crew is factionally integrated, they respond to a rescue beacon at a Decepticon hospital, and they run into Ratchet's finest old student, who happened to sign on with the Decepticons when the war opened: Pharma. The story heavily hints that Ratchet is going to make this Decepticon the new Chief Medical Officer.

First Aid is an Autobot prisoner in the hospital's brig. Ambulon is a nice Decepticon who looks after First Aid and makes sure that he's fed and such. Pharma thinks that Ambulon's a bit soft.

Ambulon and Pharma probably harass Drift about defecting to some extent. Possibly, the DJD comes up, and Pharma doesn't look too happy...

When chaos breaks out, First Aid is released and helps with the medical emergencies. Pharma tries to pin the blame on Ambulon, but it turns out that Pharma did something to offend the DJD, so he created a plague to... try to keep the DJD away, since no one wants to be infected with horrible diseases, and awesome speak-y powers won't kill plague, to try to buy himself time.

After things are resolved, First Aid and Ambulon both join the crew!

Pharma later kills Ambulon for "betraying" him. Pharma and reality aren't on proper speaking terms. :|

But hey, it ends up with First Aid killing Pharma - killing one Decepticon for killing another Decepticon.

Anyway, even though Pharma was violently anti-caste, as a Decepticon (he probably ran a free clinic full-time, before the war, instead of just moonlighting the way Ratchet did), he was still prejudiced against the constructed cold. Just because he has good opinions about one subject does not stop him from having disgustingly bad opinions about another subject. So he worked for Tyrest against the constructed cold.

Also, being a Decepticon explains why Pharma looks so much like Starscream!

So, that was about as much as I came up with. Obviously, there would be many background Decepticons in the crowd shots? The whole thing about attacking the Seacons would be have to be handled very differently. Having Overlord on board the ship would also pan out a little differently, too. Overlord might try to convince some of the Decepticons to go with him and/or to turn on the Autobots crew members - and some of them might; some of them might not.

There could be some interesting interactions between the various Decepticon cast members and Drift, plus Cyclonus saying that he is not a Decepticon would be more along the lines of pointing at a group of people and saying, "I'm not them," rather than a more hypothetical thing.

Also, Tailgate wanting to be a Decepticon would be a much more interesting plotline if there were actual Decepticons there to speak up on their own behalf. It would be extra-juicy if Needlenose explained that he joined the Decepticons - and became a weapons engineer of mass destruction - because Optimus's friends didn't like Needlenose's artwork. Actually, if there was a Mindwipe/Rewind romance and Rewind was called in to show footage of Decepticon war crimes to Tailgate, that could be delightfully awkward on all parts?

"Rewind, is that your - "
"But he's - "
"Yeah. There's a reason why we separated for a long time."

As a friend pointed out, having Decepticons on the Lost Light all along would also help justify Megatron ending up on the Lost Light, too.

Date: 2014-03-31 12:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's all way beyond my knowledge...

Just wanted to say I'm sorry I've been dragging my feet about stopping by 2k5. I've been meaning to, but I've kind of gotten anxious about it.

Date: 2014-04-01 01:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's okay. You have to do what makes you feel comfortable.

Date: 2014-04-01 12:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I like your analysis. Still waiting on parts 10-12 of Dark Cybertron from my comics store, though I did sneak a peak at scans of #10.

I want to know when they are going to pick up Misfire and the rest of the scavengers again. Those guys were fun.

Date: 2014-04-01 01:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you!

I'm noticing that Roberts has a bad habit of putting guns on the wall and then forgetting about them and then coming back to them after he's lost the original momentum of putting the gun on the wall...

The Scavengers are sort of symptomatic of some of the problems, though. It's like they realized, "Oh, this is Transformers, and we don't have enough Decepticons doing anything," so the Scavengers are thrown in for a bit and then lost out of focus.

The Scavengers are also explicitly coded as rejects and otherwise abnormal Decepticons. They aren't typical rank-and-file - because Primus forbid that the typical rank-and-file be portrayed in a narratively sympathetic light.

The Scavengers also do nothing aggressive against any actual Autobots - and befriend the first Autobot they meet, because Primus forbid that sympathetic Decepticons do anything aggressive against the precious, darling Autobots!

Date: 2014-04-01 09:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Y'know, that almost sounds like old-school "Comics Code" writing--the villains must never be sympathetic, crime must never appear to pay, etc, etc, etc. ...except they go and make the supposed "good guys" just as villainous as the bad guys... just a different badge color.

I blame current politics--for the Land of the Free, we've got an awful lot of very unfree crap going on. It's going to get reflected in our fiction.

Date: 2014-04-02 12:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think that they wanted to make the Autobots "deep" - so they went the easy route and made the Autobots evil instead. This is not the same thing as actual depth of characterization. Now, a handful of evil Autobots and a handful of grey Autobots could make things interesting if and only if the other Autobots were portrayed as quite heroic, by contrast. The problem is, IDW coasts on nostalgia, and it doesn't show its "heroes" being genuinely heroic nearly often enough.

Anyway, so I think that they realized that they made their Autobots a huge pack of jerks who don't understand how to handle prisoners, so they... sort of shoved the Decepticons off to the side, because if they showed normal Decepticons being remotely sympathetic, it would make the Autobots look even worse?

This whole problem started with Beast Wars, though Beast Wars wasn't quite so bad about it.

Date: 2014-04-02 01:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Beast Wars? How so? I don't remember any evil or gray Maximals in BW. I remember some very sympathetic Predacons who jumped ship and joined the Maximals, and would occasionally remember that they were a bit Predacon-ish.

Date: 2014-04-02 02:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Rattrap was a pretty huge jerk.

Megatron claimed that the Predacons were oppressed. Wether or not this is true is debatable, but one could easily imagine the Maximals cracking down pretty hard on the Predacons, the way the rest of Europe cracked down hard on Germany after WWI and before WWIII. Megatron was, in the end, willing to erase himself from the timestream just to ensure that his own reality never happened - it was that bad, to him, whatever was going on.

Dinobot expected there to be Maximal torture chambers.

Maximal scientists made Protoform X... there's no real good reason to do that... and then sent a scientific crew to go dump him in a black hole or something.

The Predacons were lower on genuine camaraderie than the G1 Decepticons were. People always point at Waspinator and Terrorsaur, but... they're just not that close, in the show. Fanfic makes them closer. Aside from them? Uh. There was just a lot more of villains not getting along with each other, with no offsetting friendships? I'm not saying they never got along, but they seem to not be as close as often.

Date: 2014-04-08 03:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
slowly catching up with stuff here and there...

omg, I love your brain-thinky-things. These are all such incredible ideas! You should submit scripts to IDW.

Just imagine Needlenose in a passive-aggressive rivalry with Perceptor. It would be a thing of beauty. Needlenose would be a perfect cheerful amoral engineer.

Didn't we do this? ;)

No, seriously, I want to see this so bad. The only thing that would make this better is if Spinister were there, too, and Perceptor got into the whole passive-aggressive rivalry with the two of them over engineering *and* snipering! (okay, so with BOTH of them there, there may be a bit less "passive" and more outright "aggressive" in that rivalry... whoops.)

Date: 2014-04-20 07:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I really miss talking to you. I hope that you are doing okay!

Thank you for your kind words.

I am glad that you approve of Needlenose and Perceptor in a passive-aggressive rivalry!

The IDW portrayal of Spinister is that he is a complete idiot but also a skilled surgeon, because we're not done with the trope of the idiot savant yet. :| I'm not really happy about it, because there are dozens of characters who had weak or no toys bios that Roberts could have used as blank slates, but no, he used Spinister. I understand that IDW is a new continuity and that characters aren't the same, but at the same time... there was no reason why he had to use Spinister there, for that role, at all.

In any case, IDW Spinister isn't a sniper, so Perceptor cannot get into a sniper war with him. :|

But otherwise... threesomes. :v


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