WWLA: Simon Furman Talks "Transformers Spotlight: Galvatron"

When "Transformers: The Movie" hit movie theatres in the late eighties, it was notable for two main reasons: being a box office disaster and ridding the world of their favorite Transformers. Yes, that film was the one to prove that cartoons could make kids cry over a robot named Optimus Prime being turned into a lifeless corpse. The film also introduced the new leader of the menacing Decepticons, a robot known as Galvatron who an upgraded version of the former leader Megatron and potentially even more deadly. While IDW Publishing's successful re-launch of the "Transformers" comic book series has featured many characters from different eras, Galvatron has been absent from the proceedings (though his presence has been hinted at) and fans have wondered when he'd make his debut. The answer will come this July in "Transformers Spotlight: Galvatron," a one-shot continuing IDW's line of successful Transformers solo character stories and written by Simon Furman. CBR News spoke with Furman about the one shot and this new version of Galvatron.

"Everything's interconnected in the new IDW-verse we're building here and Galvatron's no exception," Furman told CBR News. "But first things first, this is not the future version of Megatron we're dealing with here. In fact, Galvatron kind of pre-dates Megatron (and the civil war, so he's not technically a Decepticon... yet). The Galvatron 'saga' essentially (though not chronologically) begins in 'TF Spotlight Nightbeat,' features as a cameo in 'Escalation #5,' opens up into TF Spotlight Galvatron (which itself is further expanded on in the following Spotlight), creates major ripples in 'Transformers Devastation' and finally explodes in 'Transformers Revelation.' So who/what is Galvatron? This is our second brush with something we're calling The Dead Universe and it all revolves around the fate of the first Ark spacecraft and its crew. Can't say much more... Yet."

As mentioned earlier, Galvatron is one of the major players in the Transformers universe and it's reasonable to expect writing the character could be intimidating. While this isn't the first time Furman has scripted Galvatron - most notably in his UK "Transformers" work - it is an all-new character in many ways. "Galvatron's been particularly challenging, because here (for the perhaps the first time in the IDW-verse) we're completely re-imagining a character, taking him away from his classic G1 roots," explained the scribe. "The trick here was to do it in such a way that the IDW Galvatron still exhibits recognizable traits of the original (even though he's no longer Megatron in a new body). I tried to find the core of the character, and focused on the idea that he is totally and utterly convinced in his own grand destiny and is very much one of a kind (and therefore balks at any kind of command structure/order). Galvatron is answerable to someone (not Unicron), and it bugs him in a big way."

While Galvatron may not be Megatron, Furman admitted that the two do share some similarities. "Well, because we've moved away somewhat from the direct link between the characters, it's more in the way they just won't be told - by anyone! They know best, they call the shots. And when someone tries to put them in their place, watch out!"

In "Transformers: The Movie," when Galvatron ascended to the role of lead villain he was confronted with a new leader of the Autobots: Rodimus Prime. Don't expect more of the same, said Furman. "We don't really have a counterpart this time around. IDW's Galvatron's going to bounce off several main characters in the coming months, including Megatron (!), but one thing I do aim to do (and I'm willing to share right now) is to pit him against Ultra Magnus. I haven't had a big dust up between that pair since 'Target: 2006,' and it's overdue (IMHO)."

The "Transformers Spotlight" issues have seen Furman add quite a lot of depth to some villainous characters, taking murderous villains such as Six-Shot and making them convincing protagonists while they perform acts of evil. "What I don't want to do is portray anyone (this time around) as stereotypical anything," said Furman of his philosophy when approaching these villains. "My preference has always been for conflicted heroes and shades of grey villains. Motivation is key. Find out what the character tick and show why they do what they do (and to what end). The days of mindless world conquest are long gone. If it doesn't make sense and serve the larger story I just won't do it. But that doesn't mean IDW Galvatron is anything but utterly badass. He's taking names!"

Those "Spotlight" issues were also tied thematically, exploring the responsibility felt by the various lead characters, even the villains. Asked if there will be a similar thread in this latest spotlight issue, Furman explained, "Actually, Galvatron is different, in that he's responsible only for himself. That's kind of both his strength-- and his weakness. It makes for a character who does the exact opposite of what's expected of him. Because he can."

Despite the nuances and complex stories within the pages of Furman's "Transformers" tales, many still view the Transformers universe as kid oriented and a bit silly. Furman admitted he's aware of that perception and replied, "I hope with what we're doing in the IDW-verse we're winning a few people around. I've never written Transformers as a kids thing, but this time out I'm striving to make it just really good comics. Forget for a moment they're giant robots and I think most punters will see that what's unfolding here is this really cohesive and multi-levelled saga, that combines great sci-fi sweeps with focused, character-driven arcs. All I'd ask of people is to just check their preconceptions and check out what we're doing. Transformers has grown up."

Joining Furman on "Galvatron" is artist Guido Guidi, also no stranger to the Transformers universe, and the scribe is quite happy with his artistic partner. "Chris (Ryall) and I realized that Guido hadn't actually done any of the core IDW-verse stuff and we really wanted him in the mix. Guido's a great artist, everything about his robots and art in general is just so 'substantial,' and the stuff I've seen so far on Galvatron is mindblowingly ('trouser-shatteringly') good. Guido did a wonderful redesign on the character, lacing in a few elements from a rendition Alex Milne did for one of the alternate covers. The end result is just gobsmacking."

Don't expect that this one-shot will mark the end of Galvatron's appearances for the next while, as Furman has big plans for the villain and has mapped out his place in the Transformers universe. While Galvatron's appearance usually coincides with that of the evil destroyer of worlds known as Unicron, Furman revealed, "I've said it before and I'll say it again. No Unicron. Not on my watch. Mind you, there is always off-chance a certain dark god might just crop up in the upcoming 'Beast Wars: The Ascending.' I'll say no more for now."

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