I’ve been a Transformers fan for over two decades and there’s one conclusion I’ve come to:
    Starscream can’t win.
    No matter how hard he tries, he can’t become the permanent leader of the Decepticons or have any lasting victories in the grand scheme. Starscream is limited by the fact he’s a personality in a toy concept and cannot ever be allowed to truly evolve as a character. The same is true to an extent about Optimus Prime, Megatron, Hot Rod and any other established character.
    No matter where it goes, people remember certain characters in a certain way. Starscream is a traitorous back stabber. He connives and schemes but never truly succeeds. The other Decepticons won’t take him seriously. Megatron always comes back from the dead and gives him his comeuppance (in the case of Galvatron, lethally so). Even when he does enact a scheme, it’s doomed to fail because despite his ambitions, Starscream simply isn’t up to the task of leadership and experiencing true power.
    In traditional storytelling, characters have a problem. Be it with another person, nature or an internal conflict. The story typically follows them as they attempt to address the problem. Most of the time they overcome their problem and are changed by their experience. Occasionally, they fail and must suffer the consequences of that failure. This is not true, however, in mass media storytelling where a character’s story never truly ends, people expect a certain archetype and the reset button can be pressed at any time.
    The above is a major factor in why I did the Balance of Power storyline where Starscream breaks with the Decepticons permanently and has some success as a new third power. Frankly, I got tired of the same-old, same-old and wanted to see something different for a change. I wrote a scheming, dangerous and competent Starscream who has an ultimate fate at the end of his story.
    It would be interesting to see an official medium truly shake up the status quo in a permanent manner. Imagine a comic series where Optimus Prime dies–and stays dead. Or where the Great War winds down permanently in the course of the story and the newly pacifist Transformers must deal with different threats to their existence. The possibilities are endless. (IDW is doing something different with their More Then Meets The Eye and Robots in Disguise comics right now–but watch it be undone later when a new writer comes along or the company wants to try and boost sales again. I’d love something truly permanent in the story).
    To relate this issue to comics (specifically Marvel and DC, but also companies like Image and whoever else has a long running character/concept), I feel like character/concept stagnation is a major contributor to why the field seems to be slowly dying (that, and crappy storytelling, of course). If nothing can ever truly change then nothing really matters. Any story conflict is ultimately rendered irrelevant.
    The companies will not give up a cash cow, of course. That’s bad business. But why must innovation be brought to a near-complete standstill in order to justify profit? In an era where monthly comics are becoming more and more irrelevant in favor of trade paperbacks, why don’t the comic companies just abandon the monthly format all together and tell one-off stories instead?
    As Transformers goes, can’t Hasbro or its creative partners give some of the usual cliches of the concept a break? I’m not saying never use Starscream again, nor Optimus Prime versus Megatron, nor Optimus Prime’s guilt and self-doubt. But why not explore some new characters against the backdrop of the war? Optimus, Starscream, etc. can still be there to have toys (and protect trademarks, etc) but why not have some new guys do something different for a year or two? Stop always giving fans what they’ve come to expect. Try to innovate a little bit. Surprise us sometimes. Either way, we’ll still be there–watching the cartoon, reading the comic and buying the toys.
    We’re good that way...

Til All Are One!


Transmasters Magazine. Issue #13, WINTER 2012

REVIEW: Recent TF toys!
ARTICLE: Transformers Regeneration One.
20 years later, where do we go from here?

ARTICLE: Animated Eggs (by Johan Piest)

REVIEW: Transformers Prime: Darkness Rising DVD
PROFILE: Bacauldra (by Jay Gutzman)
PROFILE: Basalasar
(by Jay Gutzman)
PROFILE: Beeper (by Jay Gutzman)
PROFILE: Belle (by Jay Gutzman)
PROFILE: Bob (by Jay Gutzman)
PROFILE: Borealis Prime (by Jay Gutzman)
REVIEW: Transformers: Rescue Bots
FICTION: Unchained
    Comic Round-up

Unless noted, this issue was produced by Tony "Thunder" Klepack. Contributions for future issues are welcome and encouraged!

(Some stock graphics were designed by Peter Phelps. Thanks to him for his many efforts).

The Transformers are Copyright and Trademark 2012 Hasbro/Takara Tomy. All rights Reserved. The TransMasters are a Non-profit club for and by Transfans.

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