Dynamic Forces: David, every comics company seems to have its own big event on the horizon. Tell us what “Revolution” is … and what it is not, please.
David Hedgecock (editor): “Revolution” is the natural evolution of storytelling within some of IDW’s most popular titles. The chance for creators to tell stories in a brand new, shared universe featuring some of the most well-recognized and beloved characters from the past 30 years of comic book history. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity! The chance for fans of all our separate titles to continue to enjoy them while having reasons to try out something new and relevant!
What it is NOT is a reboot. We’ve made a very conscious effort to make sure that all the stories that have already been told still count. The Transformers you meet in Revolution are the same Transformers that we are publishing on a monthly basis right now. The comics that fans have bought and read of Rom and G.I. Joe and all our other Hasbro books are still “canon”.
DF: Paramount Pictures has announced plans for an interconnected Hasbro Cinematic Universe. Was that the motivation IDW Publishing needed to put its longtime Transformers and G.I. Joe licensed franchises with Hasbro-centric titles like Action Man, M.A.S.K., Rom and Micronauts into one cohesive universe?
David Hedgecock: The ideas were mutually exclusive of one another for the most part, but our ability to create this comic book universe was definitely given Hasbro’s blessing in part because of the plans they were beginning along the same lines.
DF: Cullen and John, the event book Revolution kicks off in September as a bi-weekly five-issue series written by you. What can each of you tell me about the book itself and what might we see unfold as the series progresses?
Cullen Bunn: With this series, you’re getting exactly what we’ve billed it as: an epic crossover between G.I. Joe, Transformers, Rom, Micronauts, Action Man and M.A.S.K. All the characters you love! All the villains you love to hate! Yes, these are all toy-based properties, and the comic could very well be a recreation of my own mixed-up childhood, but I think we’ve developed a pretty great setup for this crossover, an exciting way to bring all of these characters together and establish a sprawling shared universe to be further explored in the days to come!
John Barber: Exactly. The world as we start off is facing a reality where Optimus Prime and his team of Autobots have publicly declared the Earth to be under their protection. And the Earth doesn’t necessarily want his protection—Cybertronians have been rampaging around before, and things go pretty wrong for Earth. Cities get destroyed; people die. So G.I. Joe comes in to handle things—there’s an immediate danger posed by this fuel source called Ore-13, and it looks like Optimus is responsible for that danger. And when G.I. Joe comes in, that causes Rom to get involved in both sides, and it draws in the Micronauts and Action Man and before you know it, M.A.S.K. is there, and they’ve got ties to the history of this universe… you’ll see a lot of characters and a far-reaching danger with real implications for all these series in the future.
And all of this is drawn by superstar-in-the-making Fico Ossio, who’s able to take these ideas and blow them up into this amazing dream of seeing these characters together in a huge, crazy story. Fico’s a huge part of the storytelling team here—he’s able to scale things where we have these giant characters who are still characters and have personalities and emotions AND when they’re up there next to the G.I. Joe members they’re giant mechanical creatures that are terrifying to humans AND when those characters are next to the Micronauts, the humans are the giants, and THEY’RE terrifying. It’s a crazy balancing act—it’s tricky enough with the writing to not lose the idea that these are all living beings with hopes and fears and emotions. But the way Fico is able to draw it… it’s amazing how he pulls this off.
DF: Guys, I know IDW has a lot of Hasbro characters. What protagonist(s) will be the main focus of the event book, Revolution, itself? Will a reader need to read any other titles to keep up with the saga, or is it pretty much self-contained.
Cullen Bunn: We want to show as many corners of the Hasbro universe as possible. With so many characters in play, though, we have to give you a few point-of-view characters. Optimus Prime, Kup, Windblade, Arcee, Rom, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Baron Karza, the Micronauts, the Dire Wraiths, many of the M.A.S.K. characters, Action Man -- these are just a few of the characters who get a little more page time. While it would certainly be helpful to read some of the pre-existing material, I don't think it's necessary. We try to set up the world and the characters as much as possible. In fact, this series acts as an introduction to M.A.S.K. I think most readers know the basics of Transformers and G.I. Joe, and that's all you really need. Everything else is pretty well explained.
John Barber: Scarlett is really one big focus, I think. She has her world turned on its head in issue #1 in a way she’s not expecting, and it really comes down to her to figure out what the G.I. Joe team is going to be—and that decision forces the rest of the groups into certain parameters… But given the set-up—the Transformers, especially Optimus, Soundwave and Windblade (who you’ll notice aren’t all Autobots!) play a huge role in the beginning, and as Rom, the Micronauts, M.A.S.K., and Action Man arrive, they each reshape the story around them. There’s a lot of characters, but we’re working hard to keep it clear, and to make sure it’s a great intro to this world for both new readers and readers who might be long-time readers on any one of these comics.
DF: David, there will obviously be tie-in issues with this event. Can you tell us what they are?
David Hedgecock: We have purposefully kept this event a bit smaller than what some of the other big companies do with these things. We have eight comic books over three months that will help flesh out specific storylines that the main book won’t have time to delve into. In September, we have M.A.S.K.: Revolution #1 and Micronauts: Revolution #1. In October, we have G.I. Joe: Revolution #1, Transformers: Till All Are One: Revolution #1, Action Man: Revolution #1, and Transformers: Revolution #1. Finally, in November, we wrap the tie-ins up with Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye: Revolution #1.
It’s important to note that many of our titles such as Transformers and Micronauts will take a break from their ongoing stories in the months where they have a tie-in. We don’t want fans to feel overwhelmed by the event or get fatigued from having to buy 30 different titles to get a complete story. In total, including the main event book, it’s 13 comic books over three months. We hope fans sample them all!
DF: Is there going to be a permanent cohesiveness between the Hasbro titles in this “universe” once the “Revolution” event is over?
David Hedgecock: Yes! You are going to see team-ups and crossovers! You will see Transformers joining the G.I. Joe team! Snake Eyes partnering up with Optimus Prime? SURE! Villains from M.A.S.K. appearing in Micronauts? Of course! The potential for new stories is limitless and we are chomping at the bit to get to all of it!
DF: Cullen and John, what aspects of Revolution are each of you looking forward to the most?
Cullen Bunn: There are several of the match-ups and encounters that I’m really excited about, but I can't really go into much detail about them without spoiling things. I think the idea of bringing these properties all into a shared world is the most exciting part of the project.
John Barber: For me, having set Transformers on Earth after being away for a couple of years, I’m really excited about the idea that this Earth can have a deeper, more interesting history, and that Optimus Prime and Arcee and Victorion and Cosmos and everybody can interact with characters with as much conceptual weight to them. Like, no matter how much I, or artist Andrew Griffith, invest in non-Transformers characters in a Transformers comic, it’s still “Transformers and friends.” But when it’s Transformers and Rom and M.A.S.K. and G.I. Joe and Action Man and Micronauts—they all have real import behind them.
DF: Outside of IDW’s Revolution, what projects present or near-future might each of you care to tell us about?
Cullen Bunn: Speaking as the writer of Micronauts, I’m excited that coming out of this event, the Micronauts will be adventuring around Earth, a world that is much, much too big for them! There are also several stories spinning out of this crossover that I'm pretty excited to see play out.
John Barber: Well, the Transformers comic with me and Andrew (and friends!) will be ending with Revolution and what comes out of it is going to be really exciting. The story—and I have this big crazy game plan that’s been going on for a while—is still there, but there are other pieces that can bump into it and make it more meaningful and grander. So I’m really, really excited about where we go next!