WC14: IDW Shares Plans for "Transformers," "G.I. Joe" and More

A near-capacity crowd came to hear the latest on "Transformers," "G.I. Joe," "My Little Pony" and other Hasbro properties at the IDW Publishing panel at WonderCon Anaheim 2014.

Writer/editor John Barber led a panel with editor Carlos Guzman (the G.I. Joe line), Maighread Scott (story editor for "Transformers: Prime" and writer of "Transformers: Windblade"), Tony Fleecs (artist on "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic") and Flint Dille (longtime animation writer who wrote 1986's "Transformers: The Movie," and has written "Transformers: Autocracy" and "Transformers: Monstrosity") .

Barber led off with a series of slides, showing the three current "Transformers" series -- "Robots In Disguise" by Barber and artist Andrew Griffith, "More Than Meets The Eye" by James Roberts and artist Alex Milne, and "Transformers: Windblade" by Scott and artist Sarah Stone.

"Robots in Disguise" will have Optimus Prime returning to Earth with a crew of Autobots including Jazz, Sideswipe, Sky Lynx and Cosmos to face the threat of Devastator . "The complex political machinations are shifting to our own world," Barber said, "and Optimus Prime will not be greeted as a returning hero."

In "More Than Meets The Eye," Megatron -- who joined the Autobots at the end of the "Dark Cybertron" crossover -- will take command of the ship The Lost Light (and its predominantly Autobot crew) in their quest to find the legendary Knights of Cybertron. Barber likened it to when "Worf came into Deep Space 9," and a panel was shown where Megatron was getting psychoanalysis from Rung.

Scott described "Windblade" as a "great starting point for new readers," and described the lead character's conflict with Starscream, the titular leader of the Cybertronian race. "It's a very uncomfortable power-sharing relationship. We try to do a very fun, expressive book," Scott said.

Windblade came out of Hasbro's "Fan-Built Bot" program, where fans could vote on the character's vehicle mode, color scheme, faction, personality and signature weapon. Scott reportedly called Barber and said, "Dibs on her if she comes into the comics."

New announcements came next, as the third installment in Dille's IDW work was revealed. "Transformers: Primacy" by Dille, Chris Metzen and Liivio Ramondelli follows "Autocracy" and "Monstrosity" as creating something "sort of like the Transformers' 'Lord of the Rings'" Dille said. The story is focused on the most epic battle of destruction from the Cybertronian civil war (which likely means Simanzi).

"You see everybody turn into the characters you know and love," Barber said. Mille mentioned his favorite was Starscream, and both the scheming Decepticon and a "Quintesson ... maybe" would be seen in the series.

Later in the panel, Barber said that there's not going to be a prequel comic for the new "Transformers" movie, despite doing ones for the previous motion pictures.

Next they showed slides for "Transformers vs. G.I. Joe," which is written by Barber with pencils, inks and colors by "G0dland" artist Tom Scioli. Barber said, "This is probably the craziest book I've ever worked on."

Guzman said, "From the get go, this gets really, really nuts. We just let Tom go nuts."

"I can't believe they're letting us do this," Barber said. "It's coming from a real pure place. The storytelling is crazy innovative, pure sci-fi, army cosmic clash between Earth and alien invaders. The Free Comic Book Day story on May 3, the Joes are engaging in a final showdown with Cobra and that's right when Starscream shows up pursuing Bumblebee, that's when things get out of hand. It's so much fun. I've been a fan of Joes and Transformers since I was able to read."

Guzman said, "There were two or three points in each script where I read what's on the page and I say, 'I have no idea how anyone can draw this,' and I see that Tom Scioli has it all figured out."

"If I haven't written something that I don't think could be drawn, I've failed," Barber said.

In August 2014, the classic "G.I. Joe" #21 is being remastered. "We're going to reshoot the original art, get better versions, recolor it, put it in a deluxe hardcover," Guzman said.

IDW's G.I. Joe continuity will return in September 2014, but there's "no announcement today," Barber said. He promised an announcement soon for "Dungeons and Dragons" work in October 2014.

In the smash hit "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic," a new story arc called "Reflections" by Katie Cook and Andy Price showcases the Pony's finding out that Princess Celestia has a secret about an alternate dimension where good ponies are bad and bad ponies are good.

After that there will be issues featuring Fluttershy and Zecora, where animals start talking with words

"It's like 'Duck Tales' -- horses can talk, zebras can talk, I dunno about deer ..." Fleecs said. Following that, Rainbow Dash and Trixie have stories coming.

Finally they discussed "Littlest Pet Shop" based on the television show and toy line. It's being drawn by Nico Pena with colors by Victoria Robado. "Zany adventures that the show gets into," Barber said, "if you like ponies you might wanna check this out, too."

A fan asked about how Megatron became an Autobot and who will lead the Decepticons. "September of 2011 James Roberts, myself and Phil Jimenez flew out to Hasbro for a secret trip and big story meeting. We started to break down what would become 'Dark Cybertron,' throwing out ideas. We kind of couldn't believe we were getting away with what we were doing. It might have been Marc Weber who suggested making Megatron as an Autobot. That kind of a scene of Bumblebee teaming up with Megatron, the genesis was in that room with us talking to the Hasbro guys. That's been in the works for a little over two years now."

As for who will lead the purple-badged mechanoids, Barber said, it was a "complicated question that has a simple answer. The Decepticons have lost the war, it's about winning the peace. A lot of Decepticons are gonna think their leader sold them out. Decepticons look at Autobots as the bad guys, becoming more militant, more rudderless, some becoming hopeless. Galvatron has gathered together some of the people who feel particularly betrayed and is forming a new Decepticon group. The objectives are not the same. It's going to be interesting to see that unfold. It's basically Soundwave and Galvatron leading this group. Soundwave was about freedom, fighting against a corrupt leadership, and he turned a blind eye when that turned into universal tyranny. Soundwave's vision is much more pure, and Galvatron is nuts."

Another fan asked about Soundwave's best form (from tape recorder on out), and Barber said that he "viewed cassettes as wildlife captured, somewhere underneath Cybertron," but Mille keeps calling him a boom box. Scott prefers Soundwave's drone form from "Transformers: Prime," because he was an "infiltrator, silence made him more pure."

Barber said, "He's been really all over the place, even from movie 2 to 3. I focused in on him being able to communicate and hear, he's almost a mutant, he can hear so much stuff that it becomes difficult to filter out what he should and shouldn't be hearing, which is where his viewpoint of everybody being equal, no matter what form they take. He genuinely believes in the core of the Decepticon cause; he's the loyalist, he truly believes in what the Decepticons are about. He thinks he's doing the right thing."

A fan asked about a possible "Transformers/My Little Pony" crossover, and Fleecs said he'd pushed for it, showing a DJ battle image he'd drawn with Soundwave and some ponies, but "Transformers are 10 times harder to draw."

Barber was asked if there were any plans to publish the book "Towards Peace," allegedly written by Megatron near the beginning of the Cybertronian civil war. "I'm sure James has it written," Barber said, "the gospel according to Megatron. We never thought of publishing Megatron's book."

A fan asked for more Snow Job, and Guzman said, "I was really hoping for the Snow Job question," which led Fleecs to say he wanted in. "I knew we established him really well as a character," Guzman continued, "we wanted to bring him in, he was involved in a more recent storyline. With Larry it's hard to tell which characters he's going to focus on. Larry rotates them so often. He always has something new."

Scott was asked how she developed Windblade, who had so little development as a character. "Jet, sword, talks to Metroplex. That's it. We tried to work from the outside in, and people generally express traits about themselves. We saw her formal makeup, wondered what kind of life choice that is. She's extremely dedicated to her job. We tried to give her a certain amount of grace, a viewpoint that would be welcoming to new readers. I wanted Windblade to fall in love with Cybertron and decide it was something worth fighting for, so the reader could fall in love with Cybertron and decide it was something worth fighting for."

Scott also wanted "to give her someplace to grow. We decided that she's not super awesome at everything."

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