Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Fanholes Episode # 187: The Quest For Image Signatures!

Fanholes Unplugged! In the first half of the show Derek tells Justin about getting Rob Liefeld's autograph at Wizard World Bay Area/Oakland in November 2019. In the second half of the show, Derek tells Mike, Tony and Justin about taking a quick trip to Vancouver, Washington in January of 2020 to the Image Comics "Founders" Signing at I Like Comics.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Mike's Favorite TF Comic Covers! (IDW Edition)

Time for another list for people who like lists!  These are my top TWENTY-FIVE favorite comic covers put out by IDW (thus far).  I've looked at EVERY cover to EVERY TF comic IDW has ever put out, and picked out my top twenty-five favorites.

Two things before I start. One, these won't be in any preferred order, but rather in backwards order of when they were released. I decided there wasn't a whole lot of point in trying to rank them further beyond deciding that these twenty-five were the tops.

And two, and I feel like I shouldn't have to say this, but this list doesn't necessarily reflect my thoughts on the actual CONTENT of the comics. A lousy comic book can still have an awesome cover, and vice-versa. These are my favorite covers based on the image itself and what it makes me think and feel.  So let's go!

25. Transformers (2019) # 15
Art by Josh Burcham, January 2020

Shockwave always makes for iconic Transformers images, and his lone eye with a Decepticon symbol within it as the focal point makes for a simple, yet striking visual concept.

24. Transformers: Lost Light # 25
Art by Nick Roche and Josh Burcham, November 2018

Roche nails the "end of an era" feeling here with Rodimus casting a Lost Light-shaped shadow over numerous significant (and Easter-Egg-y) artifacts from James Roberts' entire run. Also love the gently-falling "We Achieved Something" banner at the top.

23. Transformers: Unicron # 3
Art by Nick Roche and Josh Burcham, August 2018

Another Roche and Burcham winner- you don't often see Metroplex facing an opponent larger than himself, and this image showcases that concept rather dynamically. Starscream and Windblade's reactions in the foreground are also a nice touch that's filled with character.

22. Rom vs. Transformers: Shining Armor # 2
Art by Nick Roche and Josh Burcham, August 2017

Damn, three in a ROW for Roche and Burcham! I love how the gleam of Rom's lasers are carving up the series' cast into their respective factions/races, with the torn-between-two-worlds Stardrive in the above-center.

21. Optimus Prime # 10
Art by Kei Zama and Josh Burcham, August 2017

Just a beautiful, menacing image of Onyx Prime and Liege Maximo, the ever-looming "Big Bads" for a significant chunk of the Optimus Prime book. I was really excited to see Kei Zama bring them to life in the comic proper, and this cover was a nice taster for that.

20. Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye # 52
Art by Brendan Cahill and John-Paul Bove, April 2016

This incentive cover is a badass group shot of the more... morally-dubious members of Team Rodimus and I like this re-occurance of the old Marvel UK cover tradition of a character directly addressing the reader with Megatron here.

19. Transformers: Sins of the Wreckers # 4
Art by Josh Burcham, April 2016

Another incentive cover and one that is a fitting portrayal of this version of the character. Prowl moving the Wreckers around on his own personal chess board is a great visual concept that Burcham executes beautifully.

18. Transformers: Windblade (Vol. 2) # 1
Art by Sara Pitre-Durocher, March 2015

There's many Transformers comic covers showcasing a smaller character contrasted with a larger combiner, but this incentive cover stands out to me for one reason...the frickin' fist bump between Windblade and Superion. I dunno, that's just such a charming and inventive visual that I can't help but adore this cover.

17. Transformers: Robots in Disguise # 32
Art by Casey Coller and Joana Lafuente, August 2014

Part of a theme month of covers showcasing famous scenes in Transformers comic history, I had to keep this image a bit larger so you can see the amazing detail Coller snuck in there to celebrate Marvel US # 75 and everyone's epic battle against Unicron. Almost every major story beat of that incredible issue is given some kind of representation here if you look closely enough; the attacking Autobots and Decepticons, the Ark flying in, the Dark Matrix-possessed Thunderwing, Galvatron, Xaaron/Primus being reduced to a cinder, and of course in the foreground- Scorponok's tragic demise. A lovely tribute to my single favorite issue of Transformers ever.

16. Transformers: Robots in Disguise # 30
Art by Casey Coller and Joana Lafuente, June 2014

Another Coller/Lafuente joint- this cover illustrates what I think really helped further establish IDW Galvatron as his own character separate from Megatron. We always knew he was from an ancient era of Cybertron's history, but John Barber took that very literally and portrayed Galvatron's youth during a sort of Cybertronian "Middle Ages." The tales of "Galvatron the Barbarian" were always a nice diversion in the actual story, and this striking image of him (decked out in his classic G1 toy/Marvel design) was the first time we saw Galvatron in this light.

15. Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye # 30
Art by Nick Roche and Josh Burcham, June 2014

A simple and silly visual representation of how "Season 2" of MTMTE shakes up the previous status quo. Rodimus hands the keys to the Lost Light over to Megatron, and each character's expression tells you all you need to know. It's a gag, but it totally works as a visual concept, even if you have to stop yourself from asking "Would a massive starship like that even HAVE keys??"

14. Transformers Prime: Rage of the Dinobots # 4
Art by Ken Christiansen, Feburary 2013

I love the dynamic posing here, as Grimlock faces off with Ser-Ket on this very kinetic cover. The other four Dinobots also manage to look awesome as mere spectators in the background and shrouded in shadow.

13. Transformers: Regeneration One # 81
Art by Geoff Senior and Josh Burcham, July 2012

Of course, most fans were excited for Regeneration One when it was first launched and no matter how you feel about the completed project, this incentive cover exemplifies that original feeling for me. My favorite Transformers artist of all time, bringing his trademark dynamism and grit to a cover for the first issue, is exactly the kind of thing to get me fired-up for the series. It's a nice touch to keep Galvatron, Shockwave, and Bludgeon almost completely off-screen, with only their trademark weapons being visible and trained on Optimus.

12. Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye # 5
Art by Alex Milne and Josh Perez, May 2012

What is it with Ratchet and disturbing cover images? First Marvel US # 70 and now this terrfying piece of him infected with the Red Rust virus. It certainly got my attention and showcases the horror of the mechanical disease that is the focus of this issue.

11. Transformers (Vol. 1) # 16
Art by Marcelo Matere and Andrew Dalhouse, Feburary 2011

Damn, you almost forget after reading the latter years of IDW comics what a brutal villain Megatron was, but this cover starkly illustrates the utter glee at the slaughter of organic creatures that he once evidenced. Funny, the cover would still work without the smoking human skull on his fingertip, as the plot of the issue focuses on the new-and-improved Megatron goading Optimus and the Autobots into a battle, but it certainly wouldn't be as disturbing.

10. Transformers (Vol. 1) # 12
Art by Casey Coller and John-Paul Bove, October 2010

This Comic-Con exclusive cover is a double-homage to the cover of Uncanny X-Men # 1 and Michael Bell, who voiced all the characters on this cover in the original Transformers cartoon. The X-Men-to-Transformers character-matching works pretty well too, especially Prowl subbing in for Cyclops, who Michael Bell ALSO voiced in "Pryde of the X-Men"! Just a charming concept that works well on multiple levels.

9. Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers # 5
Art by Nick Roche and Josh Burcham, May 2010

Pretty badass image of Impactor and Springer, the past and present leaders of the Wreckers, fighting back-to-back while Overlord looms menacingly in the background. What really sells this image for me, however, is the Autobot tombstones at the bottom, backlit by a blazing inferno. Not only does it make for a stark, foreboding image and remind you of all the casualties so far, there's something else at play when you look closer. The tombstones are dead ringers for the data slug containing the Aequitas information that so many will have died for in this series when all is said and done!

8. Transformers: Maximum Dinobots # 4
Art by Nick Roche and Joana Lafuente, April 2009

It's Repugnus, riding Sludge, towering over one of the Machination's Sunstreaker clones. I mean, there's not much to say here, right? It's obvious why this is an awesome image, despite nothing like this occurring in the actual series.

7. Transformers Spotlight: Hardhead
Art by Nick Roche, July 2008

Another Roche! For the "Revelation" four-part story, Nick produced four covers in a more minimalist style than he usually draws, my favorite of which is this one. Just a perfect representation of this version of the character, as Hardhead advances on the reader with a smoking cannon barrel and giant fists dripping with someone's Energon. If you look closely, you can see the faint image of a giant skull in the background too, further symbolizing the grim task Hardhead must undertake in this issue.

6. Transformers: Devastation # 4
Art by Nick Roche and Josh Burcham, January 2008

ANOTHER Roche! How does he do it?? This image perfectly captures the horrific predicament Hunter O'Nion and Sunstreaker find themselves in during this series. I love how their expressions are identical, as the Headmaster process bonds the two on a mental level.

5. The Transformers: Generations # 12
Art by Nick Roche and Josh Burcham, March 2007

One final entry by the team of Roche and Burcham- this cover for the reprint of Marvel US # 32. The infamous "Carwash of Doom" story is well-known by fans for various reasons, but Roche twists the original camp factor of the concept and somehow swings it around to "badass!" This is the poster to a movie you know you would totally go out and see.

4. Transformers Spotlight: Sixshot
Art by James Raiz, December 2006

This awesome cover is a perfect encapsulation of Sixshot's relationship with the Terrorcons as explored in this issue. The sunlight is reflecting off the dominant Sixshot in the foreground and onto his gang of rowdy fanboys behind him. It makes you wish this actual issue was drawn by James Raiz, but alas... the interior art by Rob Ruffolo can't live up to this cover. I also dig the style of the character title at the bottom there, with the target cross-hairs doubling as the "O" in his name.

3. Transformers Spotlight: Nightbeat
Art by MD Bright and Josh Burcham, October 2006

A fine rendering of Nightbeat by classic Marvel artist MD Bright, who is well-known among Transformers fans for the iconic "All Are Dead" Marvel US # 5 cover. THIS particular cover has a lot of sentimental value to me beyond being a great image of one of my favorite Transformers characters. My friend Zach gifted me with an uncolored version of this cover signed by none other than Simon Furman years and years ago, and it has remained framed and on my wall ever since then. Bright expertly infuses Nightbeat with a bit of character here just by utilizing one of his arm-mounted lamps as a flashlight, giving you the instant impression of a detective/investigator.

2. Transformers: Infiltration # 6
Art by Guido Guidi, July 2006

Just a great concept for a cover image, as we get an almost first-person view of Megatron blowing a big gaping hole in Starscream. There's not a whole lot else to say other than I think it's a badass image, even if Megatron's design doesn't match the one used in the actual comic.

1. Transformers: Stormbringer # 1
Art by Don Figueroa and Josh Burcham, July 2006

One of my favorite Transformers characters, Thunderwing, wreathed in flame and cloaked in shadow... you have no idea how excited I was when I first saw this cover and this series was announced. See, while I was enjoying "Transformers: Infiltration" at the time, every Transformers fan was still smarting from the abrupt end of Dreamwave Productions' Transformers comics and the abandonment of those storylines in the year prior. "Infiltration" was okay, but an incredibly slow burn and everyone was aching for an adrenaline shot. This cover was shown with the announcement of "Transformers: Stormbringer" and it seemed specifically and magically tailored to get ME excited.

I remember some people being initially confused at who this was supposed to be, but NOT ME... I recognized the chest design, shoulder guns, and toothy face of my favorite Decepticon character almost INSTANTLY, even as obscured as his features were.  Not only was Thunderwing going to be the main antagonist of this series, but he was redesigned and modernized by Don Figueroa- THE most popular Transformers artist at the time.

In fact, I'd say that my leftover wounds from Dreamwave's ignominious demise were almost completely sealed after seeing this cover and I jumped on-board IDW whole-heartedly after this point. It's a pretty badass cover beyond what it made me feel too, and even if Thunderwing himself didn't amount to a hell of a lot in the grand scheme of all things IDW, I'll always have a fondness for this image and "Stormbringer" in general.


And that's that! OR IS IT???

0. New Avengers/Transformers # 2
Art by Jason Pearson, August 2007

I don't... I don't know how this cover makes me feel. On one hand, you've got a pretty decent rendering of Prowl, my favorite Transformers character. And on the other hand, you've got one of the most hilarious renderings of Wolverine ever, a character I consider to be one of the most overexposed characters ever and love to see taken down some pegs. So yeah, this is... a really confusing cover for me. New Avengers/Transformers kind of sucks anyway, so let's just say this is bad, yeah? Yeah.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Justice Not Entirely Dissimilar To Lightning # 9: Thunderbolts # 8 and Dazzler # 13

Mike, Justin and Derek discuss the eighth issue of Thunderbolts in part three of a three-part story featuring all 105 Elements of Doom! Then in the second half of the show we review an early appearance of Screaming Mimi a.k.a. Songbird in the pages of The Dazzler!

Download this episode!