TRANSFORMERS SPOTLIGHT: THUNDERCRACKER - The newest comic book from IDW Publishing and Hasbro—takes us back into the early days of the war for Cybertron! Writer John Barber (Transformers: Robots in Disguise) teams with artist Chee (Transformers: Bumblebee) as Thundercracker searches the cosmos for Metroplex and Bumblebee leads a tiny group of heroes to stop him! On sale at comic book stores everywhere, and is available for downloadvia the Comixology app on your mobile device!
PAGE 1- Thundercracker is with a group of Decepticons who appear to be looking for Metroplex. What was your motivation to tie this story into recent events involving Metroplex from TRANSFORMERS: AUTOCRACY and the MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE and ROBOTS IN DISGUISE Annuals?
JOHN BARBER: Well, as much as this story is a nice, self-contained war-era Thundercracker story, it also plays into the bigger picture of what’s happening in the ongoing ROBOTS IN DISGUISE and MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE stories. It was important to writer James Roberts (who’s writing three of the other SPOTLIGHT comics) and I—and Nick Roche, when he wrote SPOTLIGHT: MEGATRON—that these stories have an impact on the continuing Transformers comics—and to each other.
This story in particular continues a thread that James started in the SPOTLIGHT: ORION PAX comic last month–that Thundercracker and a few other Decepticons on Metroplex’s tail. Except now they’ve had it confirmed that Metroplex is real. You don’t have to have read that other SPOTLIGHT—I mean, you should, it’s a good comic—but you don’t have to read it. There are just some threads that will weave in and out of all of the spotlights. This page, in particular, was also an opportunity to sort of line up some of the things we’d learned about Metroplex and the other Titans, from various comics. Clarify everything, to some degree, and make sure everybody sees how it coheres.
Also, it was cool to get to see Chee draw these guys crawling around, looking for stuff. Chee and I worked together on an issue of TRANSFORMERS: SECTOR SEVEN a few years ago, and it was great to work with him again. He’s a master of clear storytelling, and I love the visual quality he brings to the ’bots. They’re not shiny and smooth—they’re kinda scraped-up and lived-in.
PAGE 2- Thundercracker and the Decepticons continue their search for Metroplex. How’d you find the challenge of writing Thundercracker, a Decepticon who necessarily doesn’t want to be one?
JOHN BARBER: I think that reluctance is a defining characteristic of him, yet we know he goes on to remain a loyal Decepticon for millions of years after the end of this issue. What I wanted to show here was a key moment of decision for him—when the doubts start creeping in about the Decepticon methods, if not the ultimate goals. He tries to tell himself the mission is more important than his own morality, but I think it’s eating at him a little. It’ll eat at him more as the story goes on.
We see him looking at Autobots and Decepticons as individuals throughout the story—like, he bristles a little at his commanding officer, and during the story he gains a grudging respect for at least one Autobot. I think that’s the key to him—he sees the two sides as made up of individuals, some good and some bad, and over the centuries that wears away his allegiance to a symbol or a movement.
PAGE 3- Back story on Metroplex and the Metrotitans, along with a link to SPOTLIGHT: ORION PAX. How much trading/give or take did you have to do with James Roberts (SPOTLIGHT: ORION PAX writer) to tie your story’s together and potentially have then read as a single narrative?
JOHN BARBER: That was the plan from the beginning. He used a couple characters in ORION PAX that I thought would be good to use here, picking up on their lives after some time had passed. And there were a couple characters that had shown up here, that wound up in Orion Pax. It was a pretty natural collaboration. We were each building forward and back from ideas we each had.
PAGE 4- More backstory on Metroplex and what happened to him after AUTOCRACY. With all of this new information we are getting on the Titans, is there still plenty more to tell with these giant race of Cybertronians?
JOHN BARBER: Yeah—definitely more to come with the Titans. As you may guess, something big is on the horizon with them… They’re huge and dangerous and mysterious and lots of people seem interested in them. So, yeah, there’s definitely more to tell, and more to be revealed about what’s happened in the past.
PAGE 5- Thundercracker heads back to his home base. We haven’t seen him appear in either of the ongoing comic book series, since the “Chaos” storyline in 2011. Any chance he could reappear, and will his choices in this issue have lasting consequences?
JOHN BARBER: Thundercracker didn’t return to Cybertron with most of the other Cybertronians—and this is something we’ll see a little of in SPOTLIGHT: BUMBLEBEE in March. So what he’s been doing, how he’s been keeping busy… all of that hasn’t been revealed yet. I say “yet,” so, yeah, I think his story is far from over.
I will hint that there’s a character in SPOTLIGHT: THUNDERCRACKER who isn’t Thundercracker (or an obvious pick like Bumblebee or Metroplex or Bludgeon) who’s going to play a pretty big role in the Transformers comics in the next year or so…