In 2012 IDW went digital with ‘Transformers: Autocracy’, the story of Optimus Prime’s ascent to greatness and leadership of the heroic Autobots. Now the follow-up series is about to be unleashed and once again we travel back in time to a darker, dirtier and altogether more dangerous Cybertron than the one we’re used to… and that’s saying something!
Co-writer Flint Dille and artist Livio Ramondelli give us an insight into ‘Monstrosity’!
“The Decepticons are defeated. Zeta is gone. Optimus Prime is in control, but what you realise is that keeping the peace is sometimes harder than winning the war” – trust Flint Dille to find a cloud in every silver lining! It shouldn’t come as a surprise to any longtime Transformers aficionado; this is the man who killed Optimus Prime just half an hour into the original animated Transformers movie, only to oversee his return as an crazed robotic-zombie for a third season episode!
In fairness, Flint was still involved when Optimus Prime returned again in more triumphant fashion towards the end of the animated series’ run;
“Optimus is a great character, but what people tend to forget is that great characters often have times of incredible adversity, inability, unpopularity – how will Optimus hold up? Monstrosity is about what happens after the war – it can go well or it can go badly. It seems like it should go well…”
Seems like, eh?
Parallels are often drawn between Optimus Prime and other real world heroes, and Flint notes similarities between Monstrosity’s stand-up citizen and another great from history, who himself was in the Oscar spotlight recently.
“I recently watched ‘Lincoln’ and I can only speculate on what would have happened if he’d lived, but reconstruction wasn’t pretty. Monstrosity takes place in a world that needs to be rebuilt; not a hopeless world, but a world kind of teetering on the edge of both renaissance and oblivion, kind of like the real world today.”
Transformers comics have been enjoying their own renaissance period in recent times under IDW’s stewardship and artist Livio Ramondelli has certainly played his part in making the stories look as striking as they have done, with Autocracy in particular having a quite distinctive look – chunky yet detailed action-packed panels, with quasi-painted style colouring particularly effective at setting the tone. Explosive reds and dramatic golds, moody blues, contemplative natural greens and soothing, cleansing whites – would Monstrosity continue along a similar vein?
“Monstrosity picks up shortly after Autocracy, and so the planet will look very similar to how it did in the previous series, featuring the same sort of colour palettes,”
explains Livio. ”
Although the story will definitely take us to some new locations – the characters will go to areas of the planet we’ve never seen before, and so the design of those environments will certainly look strikingly different, they’re going to discover a side of Cybertron that isn’t just cities. Also, there will be a major location in Monstrosity that is neither Cybertron nor Earth, and it definitely has its own colour palette, amongst other monstrous properties!”
From monstrous properties to those more mystical – fans with either good memories or sharp eyes (or indeed, both!) will note the appearance of the Autobot Matrix as part of the cover logos for both Autocracy and now Monstrosity.
The Matrix naturally played a key part in a story about Optimus becoming Prime, so would it feature prominently in this follow up and if so, what would we learn about it?
“The Matrix is definitely a part of Monstrosity,” reveals Livio. “Optimus Prime took something into himself that he doesn’t fully understand and he’ll discover things about it just as the readers will. But we’re careful not to reveal everything about the Matrix, because I think it would diminish the object’s power to learn everything about it.”
“The Matrix is one of the most mysterious objects ever in fiction. It follows its own agenda, it has its own means. We have an idea what the end is – ‘When All Are One.’ Let me put it this way, all are not going to be one at any point in this story, but the story is about leadership, good and evil, that struggles not only against its enemies, but against its friends.”
Flint teases more about those two sides of the leadership coin, the path of righteousness and freedom, and the path of tyranny and destruction;
“You will know more about the Matrix, because you will know more about Optimus, and you will know much more about what made Megatron the leader he would evolve to become.”
Confirmation then of the rumours that Megatron will be a key player in this tale, with some suggestions that Monstrosity will chart the Decepticon leader’s descent into darkness, perhaps along a path similar to the one trodden by Zeta Prime prior to the events of Autocracy – IDW fans will have subsequently seen a different side to ‘Zeta’ in a couple of issues penned by ‘More Than Meets The Eye’ writer James Roberts – he certainly looked a lot more cheerful sort of bot during his cameo in Shadowplay!
“Hah, I enjoyed Zeta’s appearance in MTMTE,” says Livio, happily answering the continuity concerns.
“Certainly, it was always our intention that Zeta wasn’t always the ominous figure that he ended up as in Autocracy. We always figured there was a tragedy to him, and it’s something we may explore down the line. And of course, John Barber’s great work in ‘Robots in Disguise’ shows how a character like Prowl can begin down the road that eventually leads to being ‘a Zeta Prime’.