It may seem like archenemies Megatron and Optimus Prime have been fighting forever, but their battle actually started much more recently than that -- if you count a few millennia ago as recent, that is. Co-writers Flint Dille & Chris Metzen, and artist Livio Ramondelli have been exploring this swath of time for its unmined stories about the dueling Transformers leaders, an epic trilogy which concludes this week with "Transformers: Primacy" #4. "Primacy" follows on the heels of IDW Publishing's "Monstrosity" and "Autocracy," a pair of miniseries which recounted the story of Megatron and Optimus Prime's dual -- and often dueling -- rise to prominence on Cybertron.
Speaking with CBR News, Dille, a veteran of the original "Transformers" animated series, explained what it feels like to close out his robot-fueled trilogy, which began as a simple 48-page digital one-shot, how his animation background affected the way in which the story unfolded and where he hopes to take the Robots in Disguise next. Dille also gave us some hints about what to expect from "Ingress," an ambitious, genre-bending mobile game he's helping to develop at Google.
CBR News: Flint, you're finally capping off the trilogy you started with co-writer Chris Metzen in "Autocracy" and "Monstrosity." What's going down IN the final chapter, "Transformers Primacy?"
Flint Dille: "Transformers Primacy" is the third installment in the "Autocracy" Trilogy. In book one, Orion Pax (to become Optimus Prime) and Megatron forge a dangerous alliance to stop the tyrant Zeta Prime. Of course, the victory conditions for one war always set the stage for the next war. In "Monstrosity," Orion Pax becomes Optimus Prime, and Megatron goes on what amounts to a hero's journey on Junkion with a mysterious mentor named Pentius. "Monstrosity" forges what we now know as Optimus Prime and Megatron. They assemble their forces and what results is the battle for "Primacy." One shall rule.
You called "Monstrosity" the "Empire Strikes Back" of the "Autocracy" trilogy. Is "Primacy" your "Return of the Jedi," then?
Well, it's the third part of a trilogy, so it's also "Return of the King." It is both an epic battle (as big as we could make it) and a very personal encounter between Optimus and Megatron in which the ending recapitulates "Autocracy" and sets the stage for the war that will continue for a million years.
"Primacy" is skipping the digital-first phase "Monstrosity" and "Autocracy" debuted through. Did switching from 6-page stories to 22-page stories force you to change your writing style?
My primal training as a writer was in animation. We thought of stories as three acts (with a commercial literally between the acts) and cliffhangers and threads that stitch them together. I still think of stories that way. A lot of that comes into "Primacy." It might be why people feel a sense of "G-1" in the book, even though it is a completely different continuity.
Megatron's finally back in "Primacy" -- is he the same evil tyrant we know or has his exile humbled him at all?
Interestingly, Megatron's issue is that he has his own demon that needs to be exorcised. Of course, doing that may unveil the real demon that is him. Have to read it to see.
Does Prime finally mature into the Prime we know in "Primacy?"
That would be telling. Let us say that Prime has a pronounced character arc in the trilogy.
The Decipticons now have the titanic Trypticon on their side. How strongly does this tip the scales in their favor?
Trypticon is something truly dangerous. The interesting thing is that he might be as dangerous to Megatron as to Optimus. It all depends on how Megatron plays it.
What does it feel like to finally be finishing your "Transformers" epic? Did you get to tell the entire story you wanted to?
Well, given that we thought we were doing a 48-page all digital comic as a one-shot (that was the first idea), I'd say I did about 10-times (well maybe 8-times) what I thought I was going to do!
It's been great. Chris [Metzen] and I had a long conversation after this, and the thing that was interesting is that the "Autocracy" trilogy was an ongoing thread through whole different eras of our lives. It was a transitional project for us.
I'm not sure about Livio [Ramondelli]. He was the same Knight of Cybertron, from beginning to end. Great to work with. Extraordinarily talented. But yeah, if some future PhD candidate wanted to do literary psychic archeology from this piece, it's fascinating how the trilogy paralleled real life events for Chris and I.
What part of Transformers lore would you like to explore next?
I have some unfinished business with Marissa Fairborne, Flint and Lady Jaye, for obvious reasons. I'd also like to return to some of the other planets we visited. I love Transformers fighting monsters, Transformers fighting giants -- that kind of stuff.Â
You also work on some pretty cool projects outside of comics. Can you tell us a bit about the genre-bending Google mobile game "Ingress?"
Well, its pretty much out now that I am creative lead on Google's "Ingress" game. It's a geo-mobile alternate reality game -- meaning it is played on GPS all over the world. We have millions of players now, and it is all set against an ongoing story that started with a think tank gone horribly bad. Or horribly good, depending on how you look at it. We use every medium known to man. We have videos, books, social media, real world object and, yes, comics. A mysterious fellow named Tycho is working on the new comic. Many don't believe he exists. I'm not sure, but somebody is doing some great looking pages.
Of course, some people don't believe that Ingress is a game at all. Don't believe them.
"Transformers: Primacy" #4 is on sale now.