Transformers, GI Joe, Action Man, Rom, Micronauts, MASK – Charting The Hasbroverse At San Diego Comic-Con With IDW

lostlight1Peter Svensson writes,

The IDW/Hasbro Panel started with John Barber, formerly the editor of many of the Hasbro comics at IDW would be leaving that position as of Friday (today when you are reading this), so that he can be a full-time freelance writer. He has been writing a bunch already, such as Transformers, Action Man, Back to the Future, and under his breath he mentioned an Ultimate Spider-Man online comic, because one of these things is not like the others.

He then introduced the rest of the panelists! Sarah Gaydos, who will now take his responsibilities on top of her existing ones to rule like a goddess over all Hasbro titles. She's also fond of cats.

The artist of the Revolution miniseries, Fico Ossio, was not present. But perhaps he is just very good at hiding.

Chris Ryall is the Editor-in-Chief, and co-writer of ROM, which was his dream book for years.

Sitting next to him is ROM co-writer Christos Gage, who many people know for his work on Daredevil Season One for Netflix.

Mairghread Scott is the writer of Transformers: Till All Are One, Toil and Trouble at Boom, and Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel Now!

Brandon Easton is the writer of M.A.SK, the Andre the Giant graphic novel, and worked on Marvel's Agent Carter.

Aubrey Sittonson, best known for his wrestling podcasts and writing, is the new writer for GI Joe and is writing Street Fighter X GI Joe as well. He has a glorious mane of hair.

Michael Kelly the actor from House of Cards… wait nope, that's another guy. This one is the Senior Director of Global Publishing at Hasbro. He's also pretty cool.

Barber then recapped the idea of Revolution, a miniseries that is creating a shared universe of the Hasbro characters:

"That's everyone."

"For now." responded Ryall, in an almost sinister manner.

The story of Revolution stems from the concept of Ore-13, something introduced in the earliest Hasbro/IDW-verse comics in Infiltration #0 from 2007. Once the Ore-13 starts destabilizing, all eyes on Earth land on the transformers, GI Joe comes in, finding out what role Rom is playing in all of these. The Micronauts make their way into our universe (literally!) and the genesis of the M.A.S.K team occurs.

There's a ton of covers by folks like Tradd Moore, Ken Christiansen, Art Baltazar, John Byrne. Cullen Bunn was supposed to be at this panel to talk about the story, but he wasn't there so Barber (who co-plotted it with him), sort of vamped.

What we thought was a two page spread was displayed on screen for us to see. Then we were told it was just one panel from a five panel page, as drawn by Fico Ossio.

Barber assured everyone that this is not erasing the previous history, that this draws from the existing IDW canon to date. GI Joe fans will be glad to know that Chuckles still happened in this universe.

Chris Ryall had originally planned to have the Rom title subtly plan seeds for a shared universe. But then Revolution made that moot. Ryall elaborated that there was effort placed into making the universe have reasons, how and why these characters co-exist. The Revolution story has 30 plus lead characters but doesn't feel crowded or forced, explained Ryall.

The Rom Revolution one-shot introduces a new character.

"He's a possible new recurring villain. If he survives." stated Ryall.

"Rom is in it, making it doubly awesome!" said Gage.

Brandon Easton then spoke about M.A.S.K, and how to make it work for the 21st century. His inspiration: the massively popular Fast and Furious franchise. The team will be a crucial part of the crossover.

Micronauts Revolution was next on the slide show, teasing possible ties between the Micronauts and other IDW-verse characters. (We need a better name for that!) It will explore a deeper history to Microspace, but without Cullen Bunn on the panel to elaborate, nothing more was said.

GI Joe Revolution was next.

"I'm stoked. That's it." said writer Aubrey Sitterson.

I don't know the guy from Adam. I'm not a wrestling guy. But man, is his enthusiasm contagious. Every word he uttered was full of absolute joy to be working on GI Joe. The man read every single IDW GI Joe comic to prepare himself for this job.

He spoke about honoring the past, the GI Joe comics that the fans loved, which were concerned with Cobra as a global terrorist threat, and the Joes as a real world paramilitary elite. That hasn't changed. But now the Joes find themselves in a bigger, broader, weirder world with "giant robots, tiny micronauts, and Rom in between." When the world dramatically shifts, and the GI Joe team find themselves dealing with strange sci-fi threats, they have to adjust. The artist on the book, Giannis Milonogiannispreviously worked on Prophet with Brandon Graham. He's influenced by manga, bringing a kineticism to his work.

"Buy GI Joe! It's the best!" cried the Sitterson.

Next up: Revolution: Transformers: Till All Are One

Scott spoke about how the Revolution one-shot is just coming out of another big Transformers event which has left its impact on the main cast, and they will be crossing over with the Micronauts in this issue. It's meant as a jumping on point for Transformers fans to learn about Micronauts and vice versa. The events in this issue will play a large role in the greater Till All Are One story.

Revolution: Transformers is the last issue of Transformers by the team of John Barber and Andrew Griffith. It has everything that Griffith has ever wanted to draw, assuming he's wanted to draw interiors of the White House, which is attacked in this issue.

Revolution: Action Man, also written by Barber, features a break-in at GI Joe Headquarters, set during events in the Transformers and GI Joe storylines, where Action Man goes on a mission involving both.

Revolution: Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye has a ridiculous cover that has to be seen to be believed. James Roberts, Nick Roche and Alex Milne will tell the story of a group of Decepticon losers coming to Earth on the worst possible week they could have.

Hasbro liaison Michael Kelly then spoke about the entire idea of doing a shared universe, and how he's been working on the IDW comics for 8 years, and thus he didn't want to negate any of that storytelling. He does pay attention to the fan reactions, and to their worries about a total reboot or losing favorite creators like James Roberts. "What has happened has happened. We're not walking away from that. We put a lot of work into building this universe, and we're excited about where we're going. You're not losing anything, just getting so much more." He continued to explain that this was a technology based universe, that the heroes here are people that you could aspire to be. You can grow up to join GI Joe. He also used the announcement of the theatrical shared universe as proof that Hasbro is committed to seeing this succeed. "This is the landscape going forward, not a five issue gimmick."

Micronauts continues with Cullen Bunn writing, with the Micronauts leaving their home of Microspace, a dying universe, to our universe where they are just four inches tall. We see it from their perspective, a world with huge monsters making noises and stomping around. A challenge even for them with their incredible technology.

Rom is an alien cyborg come to earth, to protect us from Dire Wraiths. They can assume the guide of humans, such as people in positions of power. Rom can detect them, but to outside eyes it looks like he's just an alien robot murdering humans. The book fills the dark, creepy paranoid corner of the universe. While it is science fiction, there are horror undertones.

The first non-Rom spaceknight will be introduced in issue #5. A snake-like alien in armor.

Ryall pointed out that when he announced Rom, fans complained that without a shared universe, the character wasn't interesting. Then when they announced a shared universe, fans complained about it making him less important. "We've learned to ignore everyone. We're not listening." he joked.

We hope.

Transformers: Till All Are One continues, with art by Sara-Pitre Durocher. After crossing over with Micronauts, they then deal with Titans. (The VERY large Transformers.) The next arc is a huge, massive fight, so the goal is to have Windblade in the worst possible mindset to deal with it. "Out of the frying pan, into the fire." The cover of #5 is not symbolic. Metroplex is going to rise. "Hold on to your butts." said Scott.

There will be lasers in the GI Joe Ongoing, much to Sitterson's delight. The sci-fi elements returning to GI Joe makes it more like the cartoon he and many fans grew up with. While the book will still be aimed at a slightly older audience, Sitterson wants to restore the optimism, the aspirational elements to those characters. This isn't a book where the heroes are the same as the villains. The character designs are being redone by Giannis to be more than folks in army fatigues, a new approach that honors what came before but fits better for the new direction of the series.

There will be a Transformer on the team. It was something that Sitterson wanted to do, and it turned out that editorial wanted it to happen as well. There was negotiation over which one he got, but he liked it.

M.A.S.K. is going to have Tommy Lee Edwards doing the cover and some back matter to boot. This is a book about people on the run, going to exotic locales. Like that last Mission Impossible film with Tom Cruise jumping off buildings or something. The artwork is fluid and kinetic. The book will be pretty crossover light for the first year, focusing on the Mask and Venom teams and exploring the psychological motivations of everyone on the team, and why they are on the teams that they are.

M.A.S.K. has a purpose, a reason to exist that makes more sense in the wake of the Cybertronian threat. While the book will be focusing on establishing its characters, it still takes place and is strongly tied to the new universe status quo.

Next, new titles got announced! Optimus Prime by John Barber and artist Kei Zama, dealing with the fallout of Prime's decision to induct Earth into the greater galactic order, and that many believe Prime to be divine, something he doesn't believe in but is willing to exploit.

Transformers: Lost Light by James Roberts and Jack Lawrence, which is effectively the third season of the quest, with the second season being when Megatron joined the cast.

Sarah Gaydos in addition to all of these titles now falling under her purview, is also taking over Jem. Gaydos explained that she's not a writer, her approach to editing is to hire great people and then get out of their way. And while she misses working with John Barber in the office, she'll be working with him as a writer.

Q&A Time!

Q: Does the size changing power of the Transformers relate with the Micronauts?

A: "It's not going to not get touched on." was the response given. (I think that's probably a yes?)

Q: Will the Transformer joining the GI Joe team be a Headmaster?

Sitterson answered "It could be anyone! It could be your favorite!"

The next fan admitted that while his inner child loves the shared universe and having all of his toys play together, adult him is worried about how this will impact the serious, actions have consequences feel that IDW's Transformers comics have had so far.

John Barber answered that the good part is that the Transformers, being gigantic shape changing aliens that are older than human civilization are the craziest part of this universe. The fact that everyone the Transformers have been interacting with have been on their scale so far was brought up, and how making it that they can't easily communicate or deal with outsiders is a problem. This is part of the third major story that he's been doing with Transformers, the first being Politics on Cybertron, the second being Politics on Earth, the third being the clash between the two. Introducing Rom and the Micronauts and M.A.S.K. helps emphasize that.

No confirmation as to Inhumanoids and Robotics showing up in this shared universe. Michael Kelly pointed out that they have enough to start with.

Snake Eyes is still dead in the Larry Hama continuity, Real American Hero, but he is alive, active and important in the IDW Hasbro Shared Universe, which uses the IDW continuity with Chuckles, etc.

John Barber said that the best way to encourage Hasbro to make Revolution-themed toys is to ambush them at their offices. He's no longer an editor, so he can say crazy things like that and get away with it. Seriously though, they've been doing comic-inspired toys for a while now, so be patient.

Onyx, the "totally not Rom" comic by Chris Ryall and Gabriel Rodriguez may still return

I asked a question about Jem and the Holograms, and whether it also takes place in this shared universe. Michael Kelly confirmed that they do live in the same world, at least if he has his way. Several panelists spoke about upcoming Jem cameos and Easter eggs. We're not going to see Jem versus Soundwave, but perhaps Scarlet may wear a Misfits t-shirt to the gym. Or Jem CDs may become popular on Cybertron.


Peter S. Svensson continues to write for Bleeding Cool. He will be competing in the Pro/Fan Comics Trivia Match on Sunday. Please cheer him on. Next month, he'll be organizing the official Power Morphicon, the Power Rangers convention in Pasadena, CA. He's pretty geeky that way.


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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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