During the first week of July the Transformers will be rolling out into not one, but two new territories. On July 6th the Robots in Disguise invade the silver screen with the release of the live action "Transformers" film. The day before that the Autobots and Decepticons hit the Marvel Universe with the release of "New Avengers/Transformers" a four issue mini-series from IDW and Marvel Comics by writer Stuart Moore and artist Tyler Kirkham and featuring covers by a host of all star artists like Jimmy Cheung. CBR News spoke with Editor Bill Rosemann, IDW Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall, and writer Stuart Moore about the mini-series.
It was Chris Ryall who got the ball rolling on "New Avengers/Transformers." "It'd been about a year that we'd been doing new Transformers comics, and since our universe was now pretty firmly established behind the great work that Simon Furman had done, it seemed like a good time to reach out to our friends at Marvel and see if they were, you know, itchin' for a fight, or a team-up," Ryall told CBR News. "Or a misunderstanding-that-leads-to-a-quick-dust-up that-ultimately-becomes a-team-up-against-a-much-greater-threat. Luckily, they were, and with their premiere team yet (no offense to the Fantastic Four or the GLX . . .).
"We wanted to match the Transformers up with a team that had characters whose personalities and powers all made for an interesting group dynamic when paired with the Robots in Disguise," Ryall continued. "The chance to have the TFs crossover with folks like Spider-Man, Wolverine and Captain America, among others, was a lure that I couldn't possibly resist. The chance to work with Bill Rosemann on the project just made it that much sweeter."
Marvel thought the idea of the Transformers encountering their signature heroes and villains was a great one. "Since Marvel had such a long history with these characters (the comic books, the bios for the figures, etc.), we felt very comfortable with the idea," Rosemann told CBR News. "Also the Transformers are pop culture icons – an entire generation grew up with Optimus Prime and Megatron waging war. Plus, when we read IDW's new minis ('Infiltration' and 'Escalation'), we really liked the tone they had established. Almost an 'Ultimate' take on the Robots in Disguise. IDW is flavoring their new stories with a strong widescreen sci-fi feel, which matches nicely with the New Avengers. Superheroes + giant robots -- what's cooler than that? So after we started discussing story options, we quickly saw how heroes such as Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Wolverine matched up with the Autobots and Decepticons!"
Some readers might be wondering why the Transformers will be encountering the New Avengers first and not another Marvel team like say The Fantastic Four or the X-Men. "The characters in this New Avengers team (we're setting this story between the events of 'Breakout' and 'Sentry,' the 1st two new story arcs) has it all: an all-star line-up, an espionage undercurrent, and a great human perspective," said Rosemann. "I mean, you can just imagine what Spider-Man is going to say when he first sees a vehicle transform into a giant robot! So the two groups of characters fit together quite well--but who's to say we couldn't see additional Marvel/Transformer adventures? Could the Human Torch's flame melt a Decepticon? What would happen if Colossus and an Autobot collided?"
It was Rosemann who recruited Stuart Moore to pen the epic encounter of the Marvel Heroes and the Robots in Disguise. "I've written various shorter pieces for Marvel recently," Stuart Moore told CBR News. "When Bill Rosemann went over there, he and I talked about doing something, and when 'New Avengers/Transformers' came up, he thought of me--I think largely because of my experience writing science fiction comics, like 'Para' and 'Earthlight.' Chris Ryall at IDW agreed and we worked the story out together. It was a really good process."
Saying yes to "New Avengers/Transformers" was a no-brainer for Moore. "I love both groups; I wrote a 'New Avengers' holiday special for the military last year, and I was itching to do more with them," Moore said. "But aside from that, I've never written a real widescreen comic, with teams of heroes fighting giant, overwhelming menaces in huge, breathtaking panels. I'm really enjoying that."
As Rosemann mentioned earlier, it will be the pre-"Civil War" line-up of New Avengers that are featured in "New Avengers/Transformers" and the tale takes place between the first two "New Avengers" story arcs. In "Transformers" continuity it takes place between the "Infiltration" and "Escalation" mini-series. "Those books set up a squadron of Autobots who are stationed on planet Earth; we'll be using a sub-group of them," Moore explained. "Optimus Prime has just arrived to lead the team."
Inter-company cross-over stories in comics usually employ one of two options for their characters to meet; either some sort of reality warping event happens or the characters are said to exist in a shared universe. "We're using the 'shared universe' option," Moore said. "The basic idea is that, as in the 'Transformers' comics, the Autobots and Decepticons have been operating in secret for years, and their paths have just never crossed with the Avengers. To the Avengers, they're a group of invading extraterrestrial robots -- and it takes a little while for the Avengers to sort out the good robots from the bad."
In "New Avengers/Transformers," the Autobots and New Avengers may share a similar goal, but that doesn't necessarily mean they automatically see eye-to-eye. "The Avengers want to protect the planet Earth and their own teammates," Moore stated. "The Autobots are also here to protect the planet, but individual humans are expendable to them. So both groups are soldiers in their own ways, but their priorities are somewhat different.
"The Decepticons are following the same basic strategy as in 'Infiltration'/ 'Escalation': Incite war on Earth and strip the planet of the element Energon, which all Transformers use as fuel, while the humans are distracted fighting amongst themselves," Moore continued. "But in our story, Earth is different than any other world they've encountered because it's protected by super humans. That forces a change in the Decepticons' tactics."
"New Avengers/Transformers" takes place on Earth mostly in the fictional Marvel Universe nations of Latveria and Symkaria. "The story begins with Latveria and Symkaria on the brink of a disastrous war," Moore said. "S.H.I.E.L.D. sends Captain America and an Avengers 'stealth team' into Latverian territory, where they find a strange--object. Things get complicated from there -- we've got a lot of twists and turns planned."
With the story set in Latveria, readers can safely assume the country's dictator Doctor Doom plays a role. "As the story opens, Doom has mysteriously cut off all communications with the world," Moore explained. "But he always has a plan."
In addition to Doom, readers can expect to see lots of familiar faces, both good and evil, human and Cybertronian. "Cap has to call in a few auxiliary Avengers for help," Moore said. "And as the planning went on, I kept adding Decepticons -- because they've got two groups of heroes to fight!"
The fighting in "New Avengers/Transformers" will be gritty, take-no-prisoners style action. "It's hard-hitting, military-themed action-adventure," Moore explained "The new 'Transformers' comics are very much in that mold, and so is 'New Avengers'. The two actually fit together very naturally."
Moore knows "New Avengers/ Transformers" is a book that brings together two different fan bases, which might not be up on all the continuity involved with both books, so he prepared his story accordingly. "I try to make everything I write new reader friendly," he said. "This book has a lot of characters, so things move pretty fast. But honestly, if you have a vague idea who Spider-Man and Wolverine are, you should be ready to go."
Penning "New Avengers/ Transformers" has been loads of fun for Moore. "This is the biggest superhero project I've ever written and I'm having an absolute blast with it," he said. "Only one problem: I keep playing the closing theme to the 1986 'Transformers' movie for inspiration, and now it's stuck in my head. Can any of your readers suggest a cure?"
If fans like "New Avengers/Transformers," IDW and Marvel would definitely consider a sequel or the possibility of having the Robots in Disguise encounter another group of Marvel's costumed defenders. Ryall, Rosemann, Moore and everyone involved feel there's a strong possibility of fans loving this first series because everyone involved with it gave it their all. "We've all made a strong effort to put together a story that not only wows fans of either--or both-- universes, but also fits directly into the continuity established by both books," Ryall said. "And fans of widescreen comic book action will definitely be in for a treat with this miniseries."