Revenge against God for the crime of Being.
Yeah, which I know I've complained about before on the topic of IDW's ... everything, but I think it's unavoidable here.I mean that falls into a different ball of wax, which is TF timescales.
Thaaaaaank youuuuu.I normally feel like I'm the only one bothered by this, and it just makes the history of the world so flat.I don't mean to pick on IDW1 because there was a lot I still adore about it, but eh... it's ripe in this case. We establish that the war is the standard six million years. Nova Prime's era is ten million years ago.
That's... not too drastic, comparatively. Hell, Rewind was there when Nova launched his expedition, and recorded the speech!
Yet they also wanted it that Nova's ascension took place in the realm of myth and legend. The time scale is whacked and makes no sense and every justification I've heard is frankly a bandaid trying to justify a plot hole that could have been avoided with maybe a bit more forward planning?
They want Nova to be Charlemagne. Instead, if you look at the scale of time involved, he's Jimmy Carter.
I mean Arcee is the brother-turned-sister of Galvatron, who dates to the era of the Thirteen! That's like if we had one of Moses' pals just still hanging around and it wasn't a big deal.
Like, some simplification is necessary no matter what, a fictional alien planet can't have a history as complex and diverse as the entire real world and even when there's allegory from real-life events, it has to be simplified. But you don't have to connect up every outline and fill every gap, you can always leave space for things to be more complex than you've shown. IDW1 gouged in those outlines and made sure there was no more complexity than exactly what showed up on the page. And you're right, even G1 didn't do that, contradictions aside, it let some things fit together naturally without explaining everything.
It's bizarre really. I honestly think the original reason for the initial time jump was to emphasize the Superman origin of it all, isolate the Transformers on Earth from Cybertron without blowing it up outright. Animated reduced it to 50 years, and then it was just to give Dr. Sumdac time to make an evil robot hand chair. I guess if the (G1) ships crashed today we'd know about it, but then it didn't take long for the Transformers to be on the news either way once they woke up. Once they needed Cybertron as a plot device again in G1, it was mostly abandoned and had as much history as it needed to have for any given episode plot, but that introduced the idea that six million years had to be a time in which Cybertron could have existed with little change while the big guys were away, and everything works backward from there.I mean that falls into a different ball of wax, which is TF timescales. Funnily enough G1 did it best because it told a fairly straightforward no-nonsense story and if you wanted to you could just pretend that that the Autobot and Decepticon leaders getting knocked offline for six million years was sort of curveball that disrupted everything.
And Decepticons seem to be a faction maintained by the Autobots' own xenophobia, because a would-be defector can't really just stop being a Decepticon.To your main point, there are ways to address this. Animated did a very interesting thing I'm a fan of, making them two large societies in conflict with each other. And maybe one side is more "the good guys" than the other but these are two large societies, there's going to be variance among them and maybe our group of heroes isn't necessarily representative of ALL the Autobots?
Honestly? If someone from Hasbro came to me and said "LordGigaIce, we want you to write the next Transformers series" that's probably the approach I take? It leaves room for some complexities while keeping things more or less "Autobots good Decepticons evil" for the marketing and toys.
I agree that if Autobots and Decepticons are societies, making the heroes a small group not necessarily representative of all Autobots is a really good choice. That means there can still be political complexity, and in Animated, even our heroes aren't perfect and are learning to be better, which is a dynamic element lacking in other TF fiction. There's a possibility of real changes happening over historical periods of time, and the status quo doesn't necessarily extend indefinitely into the future and past.
Animated doesn't work as well the other way, though, in that if the Decepticons are a society or people group, they're definitely all evil. Some Decepticons are Autobot defectors, but that implies the rest aren't, so were they just built evil? The Almanacs seem to assume as much, that there's just been a society of evil people and one of not-evil people since time (literally, in this blessed case) immemorial.
There's way more justification for a "people group" that's entirely evil in Transformers than like, D&D race alignments or something, since they're presumably built and programmed that way, and it doesn't correspond as neatly to racialized differences in humans. I still don't like it, though; it wouldn't take a lot of time for such a world to mix and mush and end up in one faction or a dozen, none of which would directly correspond to the groups you started with. The never-ending war between exactly two factions just doesn't make sense over many generations.
I don't think I'd read that backstory from the Animated cartoon alone though. The Decepticons in the present are few in number but individually superCybertronian in power, and they have unique tech and built in weapons and think like supervillains. The Autobots have a regimented, military-like society and culture, but with rare exceptions (the Jet twins and the Omega guys) they're not built for war, and they seem to have had time to unfortunately codify some of the trauma they experienced in the war into their society, which might account for the general militarism.
It kinda feels like the Decepticons could have been a relatively small faction that got together a few centuries ago, more numerous than but otherwise similar to Megatron's group of Predacons in Beast Wars, that just got some McGuffins and invented some weapons and tried to take over the world, and while they eventually lost, they caused so much damage that it shaped the remaining Autobot society around the conflict. Hell, maybe the Decepticons' apparent physical differences are just new protoform molds they invented, and the original Decepticons all swapped bodies back when they could still get them to integrate all that new tech. Maybe Megatron was a short king who turned into a drill back in the day (he did not) and guys like Swindle just defected too late.
If it were me pitching a show or comic, that's the version of the Animated setup I'd consider.
I haven't read IDW2, but I had heard someone hint that there was a ghost of something like this in that story. Is that the case, or did I misunderstand? Either way, it's definitely a better approach than what IDW1 tried to do. Hell, it's really almost just a politically aware version of the G1 cartoon backstory. Er, the one where Megatron started the Decepticons, not the one where he was built by the Constructicons he would later convert to his faction, then much later still, build from scratch on Earth.Make Cybertron a planet on the back end of a Golden Age. The cracks are starting to show and here comes Megatron as an unrepentant fascist willing to not only exploit some social tension to get what he wants, but actively engages in accelerationism to speed things up.
The Autobots can be the government or just another political factions more in line with the good stuff like freedom, co-existence, democracy, rights for all sentient beings etc... but maybe, say, Sentinel Prime is your typical centrist/moderate, the type of guy who just doesn't take the rising, bubbling fascism seriously until it's too late. Orion is your more proactive Autobot who knows very much what Megatron is (you could even do the 'they were once friends' thing to show Orion really knows what's up) but whose words fall on deaf ears.
Then the fascist uprising happens, Autobots are caught off guard because leadership was asleep at the wheel. Orion becomes Optimus Prime and now has to lead the Autobots as a resistance force against an ascendent Decepticon empire that's not just going to enact a police state on Cybteron, it's going to launch a war against the universe because they think it's their right to scour it for resources and slave labour.
I feel like IDW1 got a little into the sauce of what Dreamwave had done, and decided the backstory would be more fun if it was counterintuitive, and just like, failed to deliver past that idea.
Either way, the only thing I don't like about your idea is the time scale issues I know any modern TF series would create with it.
It is damn funny that this thread started with someone wanting to sea-lion about TF gender and that's the one thing we can always point to that Transformers definitely transposes 1:1 into how Cybetronians work. (Which also means there's a complete shared language and nothing to explain or invent, which makes it easier, though not necessarily more enlightening, for Transformers to do stories about gender than about politics.)But it's weird because we have to humanize them to a degree because otherwise we, the paying human audience, won't relate to them. It's one reason (among many) I roll my eyes at people who lose their minds at gender being brought up in Transformers. "THEY'RE ROBOTS THEY DON'T HAVE GENDER" no shut up, they've been coded as male and female since the start because it's easier to get us to relate to them that way, it's part of the brand, stop it.