I think one thing that makes a lot of characters in Transformers fiction work as well as they do is hyperbole.
Take Beast Wars Rattrap. How often does he say "We're all gonna die?"
Or take ROTF Jetfire's crankiness.
And before anyone says it doesn't work in comics, I point to Death's Head, who's not a Transformer per se but has a pretty distinct personality, yes?
Give characters some unique speech mannerisms, catchphrases, frequent idioms that create a personality. Sometimes it's just the little nuances that make readers actually care about hi-then-die characters beyond "I got that toy".
Swindle and Jolt/"Deadend" in Alliance were a step in the right direction, actually. They exchanged some banter before they met their untimely demise. It just needed more work. Some more hyperbole, make their dialogue less "technical", less verbose and less expository and mix in some more personality.
Here's a quick attempt to spice up the dialogue on page 18 in Alliance #3:
"So when do we get to blow up stuff already, Swindle?"
"Patience, Dead End. Why do I always get to work with amateurs?"
"Tough words coming from a malfunction like you!"
"Malfunction? Do you even know what that word means, you stupid practice drone?"
"Hey, nobody calls me a praxis drone! Come on, I kill you right here on the spot, Dwindle!"
"Save it until after the mission is done. If you survive, that is. Now let's get started already."
In your version, both characters seemed to have the same level of intellect and level of language. I tried to increase your characterizations by making "Dead End" even more trigger-happy and dim-witted with the misquote (which is kinda ripped off from Rumble in the 1986 animated movie) while making Swindle more of an arrogant snob. However, I noticed that this deviates from the toy bio where Swindle is the dumb and trigger-happy guy. Not sure how to reconcile that personality with the basic content of the dialogue in your version, unless I swap around personalities.
You see the difference in tone, though? The basic information delivered is the same, but the characters have more of an edge to them that makes them stick out more. The dialogue doesn't just deliver the important information on a silver platter, but incorporates it more into a fleshed out version of the characters' attitudes.
In your version, Swindle and "Dead End" keep referring to the "mission", apparently in an attempt to drive home the point that they are about to start a pre-planned mission. This information is already hinted with Fracture's voiceover lead-in to the scene, and pointing out the existence of a mission once is more than sufficient.
Skimming through issue 4, I notice a lot more instances where the dialogue puts a lot of emphasis on DELIVERING IMPORTANT INFORMATION IN A PAINFULLY STRAIGHTFORWARD FASHION. The dialogue needs to come across more natural, less "written" and more "spoken". I know the problem very well because I've been reading comic books translated into German for many years, and some translators, while having good linguistic skills, just fail at writing natural dialogue. When you can't tell the difference between Ben Grimm and Thor's dialogue, you know something is wrong.
Issue 4, page 4 onwards. There's a lot of "appears", "I think", "if Barricade's intel is correct" and such. That disrupts the flow of the dialogue by making the characters overly analytic. Works maybe for Ratchet, but not so much for Ironhide or Swindle.
How about this:
"I've got some kind of energy reading, but there's nothing suspicious here. Maybe they're..." SMASH!
"So much for your energy readings, Ratchet. Team two in pursuit. Team one, heading your way!"
"Copy that, team two. Signatures are marked, closing in now. Big Buddha's in the lead."
"Whoa, that went fast! Swindle here, we're being chased! Still no sign of... PRIME!"
"Dead End is down! Confirm contact with Prime. This ain't good, this ain't..."
"You can run, but you cannot hide..."
"Prime, you're all right?"
"I'm fine, Ironhide. Not so sure about this one, though. Ratchet?"
"Confirm. This one's out."
"One down, one to go. Where's Lennox?"
"Still with Bumblebee. Going after them."
"One hostile down! We need a clean-up crew ASAP!"
Actually, I think Epps' military dialogue is mostly okay. The biggest problem I see is with Ironhide, who should be more grumpy and less verbose. Shorten sentences more, reduce the amount of subjects, full names (just "Prime") and explicit explanations of even the most minute details. Speeds up the scene a little more, and makes the characters talk less like, well, comic book characters.
One trick I'm using is to try to actually speak the dialogue with the characters' on-screen voices in mind (well, except for Swindle and "Dead End"). If it sounds off, the dialogue needs work.
I'm sure others here may be able to come up with even better substitute dialogue than my 2:00 AM attempt.
Edited by Nevermore, 14 November 2009 - 08:10 PM.