Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Mary Jane…? (The Rebirth)

This gag would have worked so much better
if it was with the Return of Optimus Prime.
Well… shit.

So, when I was planning this project, I obviously needed to find some works that came out during the time period I allotted for myself (October-November, 1987). One such example was this post on the last episodes of the Transformers. These works would have to fit in with the themes and ideas I wanted to explore so that there could be something to actually talk about related to the actual comic (or flail about doing some weird and [hopefully] interesting things involving creative fiction). So for the thematic connection, I was hoping to tie it in with themes of resurrection and thematically contrast how Optimus Prime came back from the dead and what it meant with the source text.

One problem: turns out “The Rebirth” isn’t the episode where Optimus comes back from the dead. That, apparently, came out in February of 1987. “The Rebirth” is the one with the sodding Headmasters. Now, obviously, what I should do is cut this entry entirely like I did with Gödel and move on to the next one. Except, I can’t do that because there isn’t a connective tissue between Joseph Campbell’s death and the next entry such that they would transition into each other well.

And to top it all off, the episodes are terrible. The acting is stilted, the animation is crap, and the script is all over the place. One moment that jumps out is in the first part, wherein the Autobots land on a world at war between robots and organics (I don’t remember what they’re called, I don’t care) where robots are the masters of the world and people as opposed to how it should be (remember: all stories about robots stem from a tale about a slave revolt). (Except not, because the robots are controlled by an evil counsel because why have thematic implications when you can have evil aliens.) As such, the presence of the Autobots is met with distrust and the token humans as species traitors. The natives are able to easily defeat the Autobots, saying they will never be reactivated.

And then the Decepticons come and attack. Now, one would assume given what they know, that the natives would assume these new robots are reinforcements out to finish the extermination of these rebels. However one of the token humans claims the Decepticons are their enemy. A sensible person should see this as a flimsy ruse at best by a person desperate to not be put against the wall with the rest of the quislings. Instead, the leader of the rebels (for some reason) trusts the human and frees the Autobots. This sequence takes place over the course of five minutes.

And that’s not even getting into the whole “romantic subplot between a robot and a minor” thing the episode has going for it. So I guess this is my way of admitting that I’m in a bit of a bind with no way out, because I am an idiot who doesn’t know when things come out and who has no idea how I’m going to approach this beyond “This is shit and I don’t like it.” I have no history with the Transformers (they, along with Power Rangers, were the show that was always on whenever something I liked was on. Like, maybe I caught a clip of them, maybe), I have no thematic lens to look at it that connects to the themes of the blog. At best, I have a contrast between this series’ failed attempts at being a new series for the Transformers (the ending even has a “you haven’t seen the last of us” with Galvetron having a new Starscream [which is a terrible idea because there was nothing wrong with Starscream]) that instead marked the end of the original run with the successful end Kraven’s Last Hunt provides while also acting as a new beginning for Spider-Man as we know him. But honestly, I don’t think that concept has enough legs to get us through the length of a typical entry.

In short, this is probably something that should be cut, but can’t due to the structure. I’m tempted to just say “fuck it, let’s just write the post I wanted to write and give nary a damn for the timescale of this project” and talk about how the return of Optimus Prime, though framed as heroic, is the cause of a literal hate plague that nearly kills everyone in the entire universe. I would probably make a cruel joke about how Optimus is a dark savior, bringing death and destruction in his wake. Then, I’d go in depth on how this also fucks over Rodimus Prime, as it effectively steals his status as main character and throws it back to Optimus Prime (maybe make a reference to Dragon Ball Z). Then, having actually sat through The Rebirth, note how nothing actually comes of this, as the series became a story about a splinter group of symbiotic cyborgs resisting against slavery. Afterwards, I’d go back to the subject of Optimus Prime’s resurrection and note a lack of interiority in the matter before making a contrast of the typical mystical approach most resurrection stories take to this one’s more scientific explanation (this isn’t the first time Optimus has died). Somehow get into why this makes this resurrection less appealing. I’d probably find a way to whinge about never having read the IDW comics, aside from a few scans here and there before moving on to lamenting my lack of nostalgia for the franchise before finally transitioning into the next entry by talking about that next generation of Autobots that got screwed over by the past over taking them. Then, again since I’ve already seen what they would have done next, cringe in horror at Headmasters and lament the need for Transformers to be put down. Or something along those lines, I don’t know. Point is, I feel guilty doing the bare bones version of that entry that never was. It’s not that good, but then I suppose that’s fitting for The Rebirth: A view of what could have been and a gratitude that it wasn’t.

(Next Time: Empathy and the Sacred Feminine)

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[Photo: Robocop Directed by Paul Verhoeven Script by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner]

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