IDW Publishing highlighted their upcoming G.I. Joe and Transformers storylines during their panel at WonderCon, with IDW senior editor Andy Schmidt, writer Mike Costa and artists Brendan Cahill and Livio Ramondelli in attendance.
Schmidt kicked off the panel by disappointing the lone Dungeons and Dragons fan in the room by pointing out that it was in fact the IDW G.I. Joe and Transformers panel. Assuring them that there were D&D announcements coming “just not here.” Schmidt was then disappointed in return by the lack of a “YO JOE” battle cry from the panel attendees, lamenting the loss to Marvel of Christos Gage and his enthusiastic “COBRA-LALALALA” cry.
That out of the way, Schmidt revealed some artwork for an upcoming issue of Larry Hama’s “G.I. Joe: Real American Hero” that featured a single issue of work from the original series’ “fan favorite Ron Wagner.” Schmidt asked the audience if they were familiar with the fact that Hama’s “G.I. Joe: RAH” was a continuation of his iconic Marvel run. When the audience responded in the positive he quipped, “Good, then I won’t have to explain it.”
The next slide, featuring the “Cobra Civil War” logo, was met with applause. From there it was on to talking about the death of Cobra Commander which is to be reprinted in an upcoming “100-Page Cobra Commander Tribute Special” to be released on the same week as “G.I. Joe” #0. The special will feature reprinted work that goes all the way back to Marvel era material and “some cool other stories.” “G.I. Joe” #0 will also feature an increased page count and special content broken into three 10 page stories that will lead directly into “Cobra Civil War.”
Schmidt took a brief aside to explain to the Transformer fans in attendance that Cobra Commander had been murdered by Chuckles. “Yeah, Chuckles — thats his name.” This was met with a humorous, “Wait! What?” from an audience member to which Schmidt responded, “Yeah, it happened. It’s bad news for Cobra. But you know, they’re a healthy organization with a good human resources package.” There will be several “Cobra candidates vying for the top spot of Cobra Commander,” all of which would be featured on covers of the upcoming G.I. Joe books. Whilst listing the candidates, Schmidt said, “Technically, Destro and Serpentor were not candidates” but were still “ones to watch and are very important.”
Switching gears from Cobra to G.I. Joe and then back to Cobra again, Schmidt let the fans know that the G.I. Joe books would also carry the Cobra Civil War logo and that Chuck Dixon would be getting a new ongoing artist in Javier Saltares. Mike Costa and Antonio Fuso will continue to work on “Cobra,” with Costa stepping up and handling the writing chores alone and Fuso continuing to supply interiors.
Before moving on to Transformers, the conversation shifted briefly to the thought process behind giving Snake Eyes getting his own solo book. “Trust me,” Schmidt said, “I’ve seen the sales numbers.”
From this point on, it was all about the Robots in Disguise as Schmidt boasted about how IDW “for quite some time” has been planting seeds for what will be “Transformers: Chaos.” For almost one hundred issues, the creators have been planning the event and will use it to simplify some areas of the continuity and complicate others. A brief glimpse of artwork bearing the tagline ” The Battle for Cybertron…Ends.” was met with applause when it was revealed that Brendan Cahill, who was part of the panel, had drawn it.
Schmidt pointed to “Transformers” #21, written by Costa and featuring art by Cahill, as the jumping off point for the “Transformers: Chaos” event which will unfold in 2 distinct storylines. One features the Autobots as they prepare to make the trip to Cybertron, with the other being rooted firmly on Earth. They both lead into a story that will run through issue 22 and 23 of the ongoing titled “Chaos Theory.” The storyline is written by James Roberts, who previously work on “Last Stand of the Wreckers,” and drawn by Alex Milne. The storyline deals with Optimus Prime and Megatron’s very first meeting on Cybertron.
The “Chaos” event will kick into high gear with “Transformers” #24, featuring artwork by Livio Ramondelli and co-plotted by Costa and Roberts. From there, the storylines will alternate from issue to issue. Schmidt mentioned each issue will bear an obvious visual globe of either the Earth or Cybertron to differentiate the alternating storylines.
Because Schmidt is, in his own words, “in the business of making things as complex as possible,” IDW will be shifting “Transformers” to a bi-weekly schedule for the duration of this storyline, from #21 to #31 culminating in a special issue be drawn by Casey Coller, whose last Transformers work can be seen on the Ironhide mini.
Switching to live action variety of Transformers, it was jokingly pointed out that there a third movie coming out that people “may have heard about.” The comic tie-in will be written by John Barber, who had previously worked within the movie mythos with “Transformers: Sector 7.” The first issues have already hit the stands and the rest will be appear between now and the release of the movie.
After a brief Q&A dealing mainly with differentiating the various G.I. Joe and Transformers continuities, the panel wrapped with this piece of advise for writers: “Today’s continuity mistakes are tomorrow’s plot twist.”