IDW rolls out a new Transformers comic series for 2019

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IDW Publishing recently announced a Transformers series coming in March 2019! This time deep into the past, exploring the very moment when a glorious, peaceful Cybertron begins its downward spiral into chaos.

Available twice monthly, IDW’s Transformers comic will be written by Brian Ruckley, author of the Godless World fantasy trilogy, and illustrated by Angel Hernandez (Star Trek: Discovery – Succession) and Ron Joseph (Micronauts: Wrath of Karza).

In this new Transformers comic, IDW will explore Cybertron in ways never seen by audiences before – delving into an idyllic society, peaceful for thousands of years, as it faces the most momentous event in its history: the mysterious end of a single life. Through the eyes of young Bumblebee and his friends, fans will witness conspiracies forming, harmony giving way to conflict, and the very fabric of Cybertronian civilization tearing itself apart.

“Bringing Transformers fans this story is a real privilege,” says Brian Ruckley. “But just as important, it’s an amazing opportunity for new readers to discover and explore one of the biggest universes – and one of the best casts of characters – that science fiction has to offer, and to get in right at the start of a truly epic saga.”

Ron Joseph says, “In my youth, I devoured everything Transformers – toys, comics, the cartoon, the movie – with a Unicron-like hunger. ‘Robots in Disguise’ dominated my every waking moment. To join IDW’s creative team for the launch of a Transformers comic is staggering, and easily one of the greatest moments of my life.”

“We are eager to begin this new chapter in Transformers storytelling,” says Michael Kelly, Hasbro’s Vice President of Global Publishing. “We are excited to begin a tale that will be accessible and appealing to readers unfamiliar with Transformers lore, while still providing the depth and drama that our long-time fans expect. It’s a big responsibility, but we’ve got the right team and the right characters to do it.”

The debut issue of this new Transformers comic will be available with multiple cover variants, by artists Gabriel Rodriguez, Angel Hernandez, Casey W. Coller, and Freddie E. Williams II. Issue #2, also available in March, will feature covers by Nelson Daniel, Ron Joseph, and Jeffrey Veregge.

For information on how to secure copies of IDW’s new biweekly Transformers series, please contact your local comic shop or visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com to find a store near you.

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New comics preview: The New Lieutenants of Metal #1

Image Comics publishers recently revealed preview pages to their upcoming launch issue of a new series by longtime comics writer Joe Casey and fan-favorite artist Ulises Farinas, titled The New Lieutenants of Metal.

The new series carries something different to the comic shelves, as proposed by its recent given details:

“Meet the New Lieutenants of Metal, a precision strike force ready to face any threat, and the most kick-ass, head-banging heroes ever assembled! Their names are legend: The Mighty Krieg, Vandenborg Riot, Manowarrior, Steppenwulf. Beset on all sides by a roster of vicious foes, the New Lieutenants of Metal are guaranteed to deliver you unto greater comic book glory.”

The New Lieutenants of Metal #1 arrives in stores on Wednesday, July 4th.

Preview here:

 

Captain’s Note: I am a huge fan of Ulises Farinas artwork from his recent work on Motro, and various short stories. I am looking super forward to this.

Comic Reading Review: Optimus Prime #8

Optimus Prime #8

  • Writer: John Barber Artist: Casey Coller
  • Published by: IDW Comics Publish Date: June 14, 2017
  • Notes: Spinoff series from the Transformers IDW series

Synopsis:

“Jazz confronts his past—and the Autobot’s future—in front of millions of television viewers. But will he make the people of Earth understand Optimus Prime’s mission… or turn against it?”

Personal Thoughts (minor spoilers):

As an old school Transformers fan, I have a nostalgic gravitation towards the classical representations. Such robots then appeared more human, with a believable feel to their strange existence; at least by appearance and weird Earth acquired lingo. The later incarnations either appeared less serious, too digital looking, or just ugly in a world full of explosions and over-melodramatics.

Still, my favorite Transformers of the first generation is Jazz; the good Autobot jive-talking streetwise robot capable of transforming into a Porsche. I saw this cover of my old childhood friend with his classical look and dived in. I have not read earlier issues or this new Optimus Prime series, or the acclaimed recent Transformers series of the recent years.

So here in this story, contains several separate but connected ongoing dramas relating to recent events within the IDW Transformers universe. Jazz is foremost, who is granted a television interview arranged with humans. Then we have a flashback to the days of Cybertron past, where Optimus Prime (Orion Pax back then) and Jetfire (an eventual turncoat in the bitter war between Autobots and Decepticons). Then some sequences to the current days with other Transformers exchanging thoughts and emotions.

Such is an interesting issue, not relying on action or trash talking; something I have come to associate the franchise with. The issue is mostly focused on the more humanlike aspects of the Transformers, with their philosophies on various social topics and personal relationships. Much of that comes back to the Jazz side story, where he talks about his musical upbringing and his appreciation for Earth music. He brings the story to a more recent incident, where he apparently killed a police officer while defending a young African-American youth. His difficulties in dealing with the American media frustrate him, and the complete story here is lost (at least to this reader just jumping in).

Such is too bad, as wanted more on Jazz’s perspective of Earth culture and social problems, being adjusted well to the urban culture (transforming into a Porsche helps). Still, I would love to have an entire series of just Jazz, delving more into the human experience as a refugee alien robot war veteran.

Meanwhile, the other stories had an interesting aspect to them, further than I would expect robots based on toys originally marketed to children. There is so much with these panels I found interesting, as far as the contrast in the past and present history of warring robots from a faraway planet go. Still, there are details I find amusing, like this bar seen.

I love how all the wings, engines, boosters, and other machine parts of them are just everyday attire. There is a fascination to the weirdness, especially going back to the classic look, appearing somewhat natural in everyday living. Also interesting, are the social positions statuses being scientists and police officers lost in Cybertronian history, indicating more of its “normal” non-war times. Then, we fast forward to a future, where the humans whose difficult interactions with Jazz, may bring about the negative kind of change in his Earthen views.

I am a little curious in reading more of this series, especially if this good writing and solid art style carry on. The coloring is fantastic as well, mixing the vibrancy well of the colorful robots with the cold, metal Cybertron world, and green, organic planet Earth. My only complaint is the lack of the Autobot leader Optimus Prime in this particular issue, who barely has any impact or presence in the overall issue.

Overall, a great issue with a good jumping-on point for those classic Transformers fans, or those wanting more drama in their fighting robot interactions. I may look into the recent trade paperbacks, though I am not sure of which. I welcome any suggestions.

 

After ‘Robots and Donuts’ comes ‘Robot Existentialism,’ a new art book by Eric Joyner.

Eric Joyner, the author of the art book Robots and Donuts will release his follow-up book; Robot Existentialism, a new work published by Dark Horse Comics, early next year.

In Robotic Existentialism: The Art of Eric Joyner, vintage toys are paired with pastries to create fascinatingly bizarre paintings. Such will feature the San Francisco-based artist’s newest and most impressive pieces—including The Horseshoe Bend, Daybreak, Movers and Shakers, and more. Much like the subjects of his paintings, Joyner’s artistic style is subtly nostalgic yet imaginatively unique. By juxtaposing familiar items with everyday foods, he creates whimsical masterpieces that have the power to both comfort and inspire.

Joyner’s work has appeared on the popular sitcom The Big Bang Theory, on the cover of Ben Folds Five’s album The Sound of the Life of the Mind, and has been featured at the Corey Helford Gallery for his most recent solo show, “Sweet Dominion,” in 2016. His new book, Robotic Existentialism: offers a collection that “entices the reader to stop, ponder the meaning of life, and perhaps savor a donut or two.”

The hardbound art collection hits bookstores February 21, 2018, and is now available for preorder on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Over The Moon brings back sci-fi cerebral adventure in The FALL, PART 2: UNBOUND

“Is Artificial Intelligence a Threat to Humanity? Can it be Bound? What Binds You?”

Such are the questions from the Over The Moon game developers in their new title, The Fall Part 2: Unbound, a sequel to its 2014 action platformer adventure game. The Fall Part 2: Unbound is planned for release in 2017 for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac and Linux, and Nintendo Switch.

The latest trailer from the Canada-based game developers:

 

In The Fall Part 2: Unbound, players take on the role of A.R.I.D, an abandoned and broken AI who struggles to survive a collapse in her operating parameters. ARID must re-establish her boundaries by attempting to build her own rules before a dark, mysterious, and invasive process snuffs her out for good.

More info, from a recent release…

“Over The Moon draws inspiration from contemporary issues,” says John Warner, The Fall’s director: “There’s a growing debate about the looming threat of artificial intelligence. Can we build an AI that serves us? One that we can control? Or at the very least, one that is psychologically healthy and isn’t a threat to us? For that matter, what is ‘health’? Can it be defined for the sake of building an AI, and do humans even have a good definition for that? How do you know that you’re healthy?”

“The key, of course, is to keep the game exciting and fun, allowing gameplay to carry much of the story-telling. ARID will invade other robots in a desperate attempt to get their help, and will be forced to work within their personal quirks and operating parameters, creating an opportunity for a truly unique set of challenges. Furthermore, as ARID begins understanding her hosts on a deeper level, she will be able to take perceptual mechanics from one robot into another. Players will solve puzzles by perceiving the environment from different perspectives and comparing the information they find in creative ways… served up with a helping of The Fall’s signature dark humour.”

“Having a robust way of perceiving the world is a pretty good starting point to talk about psychological health” says Warner, “And by making gameplay around these mechanics, we can explore a lot of fun ideas without being overly cerebral or choking the game with philosophical dialogue.”

“But that’s just the start, according to the team at Over The Moon. The Fall Part 2: Unbound aims to put players in perspectives that they’ve never experienced in a video game before. With a host of unusual characters, it explores themes of artificial intelligence, the value of personal boundaries and respecting others. Its gameplay and its story are specifically designed to make players reflect on these ideas, through the lens of a familiar Metroidvania meets Point and Click Adventure framework. The Fall Part 2: Unbound is made for players who have been waiting for the conceptual underpinning of games to catch up with their technological artistry.”

For more on The Fall Part 2: Unbound, visit www.overthemoongames.com.

MAGNUS, returns fresh in a new series by Kyle Higgins, coming in June

Dynamite Entertainment will back Magnus, as a bold new series with a fresh take on the classic Magnus: Robot Fighter comic series.

On board, is writer Kyle Higgins (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and artist Jorge Fornés (Amazing X-Men).  

The concept and story follow:

“The all-new Magnus takes the famous Philip K. Dick question and turns it on its side: Do humans dream of owning electric sheep? Artificial intelligences, rather than becoming our overlords, have settled into an uneasy symbiosis with humanity – they work for us as our colleagues and servants, earning vacation-time they spend in a boundless digital universe running on human-maintained server farms. But not all A.I.s are cool with the deal. Enter Magnus, a human psychologist tasked with navigating both worlds in order to bring recalcitrant AIs back into productive society.”

Magnus the Robot Fighter originally began in 1963 through Gold Key Publishers until 1977. Magnus was a skilled fighter in the year 4000 battling rogue robots. Valiant Comics picked up and continued the story in 1991 for almost a decade. Dark Horse Comics briefly had rebooted Magnus, with a short mini-series. Dynamite aquired the rights in 2013, and relaunched the series in 2014 for 12 issues. Now, Magnus is back with an entirely different new approach to the classic series.

“Our take on Magnus is quite different from what’s come before,” said Writer Kyle Higgins. “In a Black Mirror sort of way, we’ll be looking at our world plus thirty years, the way artificial intelligence technology could progress, and the host of problems that might develop… including a ‘Cloud World’ that A.I. systems create for themselves, to live and exist together, free from humans and the physical (robotic) forms that were built for them. As we’ll learn early on, it’s rare for humans to be able to upload themselves to the Cloud World and not lose their minds, and that’s where Dr. Kerri Magnus comes in. Not only can she walk between both worlds, but Dr. Magnus has an affinity for artificial intelligence: she makes a living as a psychologist, specializing in artificial intelligence patients.”

Magnus #1 will also include a bonus Turok back-up story by Chuck Wendig (Hyperion) and Álvaro Sarraseca (Witchblade), a continuation of the serial in the Magnus sister title, The Sovereigns.

The debut issue is also set to arrive with four cover variants. Featured cover artists are Giuseppe Camuncoli (The Amazing Spider-Man), interior artist Jorge Fornés, Aaron Conley (Rocket Raccoon & Groot), and Daniel Warren Johnson (Man-Thing).

Cover art preview:

 

Also available in limited amounts as retailer incentives are “Black & White” and “Virgin Art” editions. Contact your comic store retailer for more information.

Magnus will release in June 2017 by Dynamite Entertainment to comic book retailers and many popular digital comics apps.

New graphic novel comic preview – RE*PRO*DUCT by Austin Wilson and Logan Faerber

ReProDuct

RE*PRO*DUCT

  • Writer: Austin Wilson
  • Artist: Logan Faerber
  • Published by: Magnetic Press
  • Publication Date: Mid-August, 2016 Pages: 96
  • ISBN: 78-1942367024, Price: $19.99
  • Notes: Softcover with French flaps and die-cut cover. Added short stories drawn by Seth T. Hahne and Sabrina Scott.

Synopsis:

In the future, robots have been legally granted the right to life. Their intelligence is not artificial, and it may not be the best approximation of a personality. But they reflect all the intricacies of a human mind and personality, only from within a manufactured shell, developing and learning as the rest of us do. They mirror us in all the ways we would want, but also in those ways we would wish to exclude…  A tale of teen-angst and romance, through the eyes of a growing ‘bot. . “

Preview Pages (click on each for full-size image, slideshow options):

Special thanks to Magnetic Press for providing access to preview pages. You may follow them for more info and other great books on Twitter @MagneticPress,  Facebook via facebook.com/magneticpress, and their official site at http://www.magnetic-press.com.

– Orion T

Short Star Wars Fan Film: Rebel Scum

Rebel Scum

  • Director, Writer: Timothy Van Nguyen
  • Production Company; Blood Brother Cinema
  • Publish Date: January 9, 2016 – Time: 9.07
  • Notes: For more info, visit bloodbrothercinema.com

Synopsis :

“A Rebellion pilot is hounded by death from the merciless Empire and a frozen grave, after being abandoned during the retreat of the Rebel Alliance from Hoth. Rebel Scum pays homage to the original Star Wars trilogy; nearly all visual effects were created without the use of CGI, using time honored methods such a stop-motion animation. Shot on location in -30°C (-22°F) at Columbia Icefield in Alberta Canada.”

Personal Thoughts:

This is fantastic work, especially with the cinematography.

The stop motion on the Imperial Probe Droid is a great throwback to the early Empire Strikes Back special effects use. Its mechanical movements, ominous floating, and the sound effects are well-played. The AT-ATs were also well done in detail and motion, but not as awesome creepy as the Probe Droid.

The story itself is a cool little tale, well done for one using no words. A favorite thing about the latest Star Wars movie (The Force Awakens), was the little insight of a soldier’s POV in the intergalactic conflicts. After the Clone Wars, they must have personal struggles as well, and must ponder just how high in duty they take their cause to live and fight.

In Rebel Scum, we a nice example of a Rebel fighter. He is also a family man, with extra motivation to survive in the Hoth wilderness. The Imperial soldier is a perfect contrast, clean-cut and cold as the icy planet itself. Her darkened eyes and deathly skin gives off a hateful vibe, perhaps thinking the Rebel fighters as ungrateful troublemakers. To suddenly miss and be shot by one, is a humiliation to her.

The conclusion leaves much open. Will the Rebel soldier as an Imperial sabotage from within, steal some secrets, and return to his family? Can the Imperial soldier now trapped in the Rebel fatigues survive the Probe Droid and “join” the Rebellion? While the answers are best left to the viewer, I would much welcome an extension to the story by the filmmakers here.

Overall, Rebel Scum is a now a personal favorite among the Star Wars fan films out there. I am also turned to other works by Blood Brother Cinema, which now have my interest on bloodbrothercinema.com.

 

– Orion T

Short Animated Science Fiction Film – NO-A

NO-A

  • Director: Liam Murphy
  • Time: 5:32
  • Notes: For more info, visit noafilm.org.

Synopsis :

“Award winning graduation film NO-A completed at the Savannah College of Art and Design by a core team of 8 students.

The world is a desolate, unforgiving place in this action sci-fi with a surprising amount of heart. We follow NO-A (Noah), as he attempts to rescue Aixa, the young woman that created him. In his desperate attempt to save her, he must face an unknown enemy force and fight to keep them both alive. NO-A is the passion project of several visual effects artists from around the world.”

Personal Thoughts:

A fantastic short of science fiction, worth the thousands of minutes of work put into just over five.

The story is brilliant in its pacing and presentation, as it leaves a little guesswork by the viewer on the robot’s initial motivations. We get pieces of a larger story, to which we can easily speculate. The intrigue leads to the robot in rescuing its creator, captured and put into some deep sleep for unknown reasons.

What we do know is that this machine is full of heart and love for his master, and little for the soldiers against him. The robot’s characteristics and motions are poetic almost, with determination to the end. The action sequences are exciting but not overdone, as emotional aspects throughout are good and balances. We also see beautiful cinematography, with moments to take in the details and depth of the surroundings.

The content brings me to a favorite trope of science fiction, artificial life. We have much artificial sentience in our robot fiction, yet still not enough exploring the idea. I find often in robot stories, that robots are either good or bad. The idea can be dangerous now, as warned by Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Bill Gates. Yet, with stories like Wall-E, Short Circuit, Chappie, Terminator 2, A.I; we have robots who choose upon a greater good for peace and friendship. However in storytelling, such choices are up to the creators who present them. Results can result in thought-provoking discussion on what it means to be really human, or at least achieve such.

The art and filmmaking of NO-A is superb with sharp attention to details, environments, and motion. The robot’s design is beautiful, as we see the moving parts and working lights of NO-A, with sensible movement and a feeling of weight in every step. Everything to him and around seems practically and necessary in design for a believable story. The musical score and sound effects are a great fit, further enthralling the viewer.

Do I want more from the short time? No, as I think the story is great in its simplicity. The rest of the world is probably uninteresting and boring. However, I would like to see more animated work from director Liam Murphy and his staff. It’s their kind of heartfelt storytelling brought to the top-notch visual effects and sequences, that I would like to see more in modern cinema science fiction.

– Orion T

Short Animated Film: Wire Cutters

Wire Cutters

  • Director: Jack Anderson
  • Musical Score: Cody Bursch
  • Time: 8:42
  • Published: Aug 31 2015 (on Youtube), August 27, 2015 (Youtube)
  • Notes: For more, visit jackanders.com.

Synopsis : “A chance encounter proves fateful for 2 robots mining on a desolate planet.

Personal Thoughts:

I love this humorous robot tale, for what it means to be human..or at least have human-like characteristics.

That is the beauty of this short, more so than the fantastic animation at play. I felt taken in by the initially simple, content purpose of this little robot. I felt, as I do for many simple humans leading their boring little lives. Also, we as viewers can reflect on what we leave behind and pass on to our machines; our creativity, innovation, and motivation. There is self-sustainment and preservation. Much thought went into collecting those rocks.

But eventually, we meet the bigger machine. A partnership is formed, leading to a friendship. But all does not go well, as we find an error in the little bot’s programming. There is a bit of greed and violent tendency, enough for the cooperation to fail and lead to the doom of both. It’s not so much depressing, but some thoughts on what we as humans can do to damage our own generational programming of self-preservation and purpose.

The animation tells this story beautifully. There is simplicity in this otherworldly environment devoid of humans, perhaps long gone. We understand the technology involved, atmospheric conditions, and importance of the rocks given value through purpose. The excellent cinematography takes advantage of that well, with matched pacing and editing. The short time tells as much of a good story as necessary, without overwhelming the viewer. And, the looney tuned style end is a perfect curtain call, as we can smile and take in this cautionary tale.

With that in mind, I would love to see more from the storyteller (Jack Anderson) and his team. I will keep a look out, and report back.

– Orion T