G.I. Joe, the Transformers, and more clashed in last year's Revolution event series from IDW Publishing, and how the Hasbro franchises - plus M.A.S.K, the Micronauts, and ROM - are at it once again in First Strike.
What's going on? Joe Colton, the original - and first - G.I. Joe has orchestrated a plot to eject the Transformers from Earth and is spearheading a plot to invade Cybertron and commit genocide on the entire Transformers race. Cobra, Rom's Dire Wraiths, and M.A.S.K.'s Venom are working with him, but Scarlett - the new commander of G.I. Joe - is out to stop him.
With the first issue released just last week and #2 coming August 23, Newsarama spoke with series co-writer Mairghread Scott about her and David Rodriguez's big event and its impact across the entire Hasbro line at IDW.
Newsarama: So after Revolution last year we now have First Strike. Where does First Strike pick up exactly?
Mairghread Scott: Earth is now officially a colony of Cybertron, no one on Earth or Cybertron is very happy about this but after Revolution it is kind of the best scenario to keep the peace between the two worlds. When First Strike begins, a ceremony is being held on Cybertron to officially welcome Earth’s delegate to the Council of Worlds (the United Nations for Cybertron and all its colonies) and make a public display of this newfound peace. Of course, this presents a perfect opportunity for a newly revitalized Cobra to attack Cybertron and declare war on the Transformers.
Nrama: Since Skywarp joined G.I. Joe last year, how has the Joes’ and Transformers' relationship evolved since then?
Scott: I don’t think anyone is overjoyed when a bunch of 30-foot tall walking war machines make themselves at home on your planet, but if one of those war machines asked to join your side that kinda makes things better. Everyone is taking some time to adjust but the Joes are pretty practical people and recognize an asset when they meet one. And, let’s be honest, Skywarp is not the strangest person to ever be part of G.I. Joe. By the time First Strike starts, Skywarp is pretty well integrated into the team even if he is a little sassy about it.
Nrama: Scarlett really comes into her own as leader here. Can you tell us a little more about her role in this event?
Scott: Well, the Joes very recently learned that their founder and Scarlett’s mentor Joe Colton has been masquerading as Baron Ironblood. He’s convinced only he can stop the influx of alien visitors to Earth and has recruited some nefarious allies to help him. When Scarlett witnesses the attack on Cybertron, she realizes that no one there will be equipped to handle Joe Colton and that only she can really understand him well enough to counter him. She’ll have to assemble not only the Joes but a strike force that includes Transformers and members of M.A.S.K. to find a way to Cybertron and stop Colton before it’s too late.
Nrama: Was there a character you feel is underutilized that you plan on giving a push for in First Strike?
Scott: It’s not about ‘underutilized’ for me; it’s about shining a spotlight on some of the great work being done on these series that I want to share with a wider audience. M.A.S.K., G.I. Joe, Micronauts… these are great books! I hope people who enjoy First Strike will get a taste of each of them and be inspired to go back and read what’s come out.
That said, one of my first jobs I had was on the cartoon, G.I. Joe: Renegades, so I’ve always wanted to write the Joes -- Roadblock and Scarlett especially. Thinking up interesting dynamics for how Storm Shadow or Shazraella from Micronauts take on Transformers is also cool. Soundwave plays a pretty big role in this event. And I finally got to have Optimus Prime and Elita One interact… let’s just say they do not see things eye-to-eye.
Nrama: Max Dunbar is on artistic duties for the series. What do you think it is that he brings most to the table?
Scott: Max and our colorist, Anders Zarate, are amazing. No matter what we throw at them they make it look even cooler than we imagined and we’ve gotten pretty creative. The coolest but also most challenging stuff is how the characters scale to each other. The Joes spend a lot of time talking to, and riding in, people four to five times their size. That’s not easy to draw. We also have panel descriptions like “a swarm of ninjas take down a huge ‘Bot” and if there’s one word that makes artists cringe, it’s got to be ‘swarm’. (Although I think a group of ninjas should properly be called a ‘stealth’ of ninjas, but that’s just me.).
Suffice it to say, Max and Anders are just killing it. Each issue gets more exciting than the previous one and it always a joy finding new pages in my inbox. I can’t wait for you to see the next issue.
Nrama: Where do M.A.S.K. and ROM come into play for First Strike?
Scott: The villains are utilizing M.A.S.K. technology to help themselves infiltrate Cybertron, so Scarlett will be recruiting some members of M.A.S.K. to her team. Storm Shadow has also enhanced the Red Shadow Ninjas with Dire Wraith biology, which without giving too much away causes some interesting complications once the Solstar Order from ROM’s book detects a Dire Wraith infestation on Cybertron.
Nrama: We now have Venom being an off-shoot of Cobra. How are the big bads in this getting along? Do you see them staying together for long?
Scott: The big bads in this are equal parts deadly and hilarious in First Strike. They all have their reasons for being there and are committed to the mission but this doesn’t mean they like each other. (Hint: they really, really don’t.) We tried to portray the tension between them in a very real way, which made for some great comedy moments we weren’t even expecting. Our villains are essentially terrible people in high-stress jobs who hate their co-workers. It’s not really a question of if their alliance will fail, but when.
Nrama: What big moments can fans expect? Will they be on par from the events of Revolution?
Scott: Well the Earth’s greatest soldier just recruited the Universe’s most dangerous terrorists to infiltrate Cybertron and commit genocide against the entire Cybertronian race. Scarlett has to lead a team of M.A.S.K., Transformers, and G.I. Joe to a foreign world, navigate a political minefield to convince the Council of Worlds she is not their enemy, and then still try to find a way to defeat the man who taught her everything she knows and perhaps try to find some way to save him from himself, all while fighting giant robots, alien-infused ninjas, and the best tech Venom can devise. It’s going to get real bad real fast and it’ll take the heroes of several worlds working together to save the day.
Nrama: If you could join a faction of either side, who would you be with and why?
See this is tough because part of me wants to be fighting alongside Scarlett, Roadblock, Matt Trakker, and Lady Jaye, but the other part of me wants to get drinks with Shazraella and Storm Shadow and just throw shade at everyone in the bar. Maybe I can be that villain that reforms half-way through when things stop being fun.