Interview: IDW’s REVOLUTION Creative Team-John Barber & Fico Ossio!

In Comic Books, IDW, Interviews by Beyond The Geek1 Comment

IDW’s epic Hasbro toy crossover Revolution is one of the biggest comic events for the year. It’s Yuuugee!

GI Joe, Transformers, M.A.S.K.: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand, Rom, Micronauts, and Action Man sharing the same multiverse for the first time ever. The ten-year old me just had a stroke over the possibilities. This geek was lucky enough to talk to two of the esteemed gents behind the gargantuan event (13 principal issues, 1 prequel, and 17 issues leading up to the prequel). Writer/Editor IDW MVP John Barber (Transformers, Action Man to name a few) and artist Fico Ossio (Skylanders) will be handling the main Revolution mini-series (see checklist below for more details). This is my first look at Fico’s work and so far I’ve been really impressed. Barber, to many Transformers fans, has an honorary place on Cybertron for his contributions to the franchise.

Before we jump into the interview I have to say, the prequel issue is spanking good and it’s free! Yes, free!. Download it here.

(Oh, my questions are in Red, John Barber is Blue and Fico is Green. Enjoy!)

How much of the Revolution plot line was based of childhood memories of playtime adventures with these toys?

John Barber: Well, we decided to make everybody the correct scale, you know, so the G.I. Joe guys aren’t 5 feet taller than the M.A.S.K. guys, but other than that… I don’t know. Metroplex was a big Transformers toy who joined in my G.I. Joe adventures because the Joes could fit inside and have a big robot. I always wished all these toys could work together. This is like having every toy ever and they’re all perfect and to scale and your friends have another set of toys that’s just as cool and your backyard is Disneyland, or something.

Plus they don’t rust when you throw them in the pool.

In the prequel, Optimus Prime is kinda of a villain-tough for me to take-are we going to see the lines blur a bit with other “heroes”?

It depends on the point of view. I’m in the middle of writing the Optimus Prime series now, and Kei Zama’s hard at work drawing it, and I definitely don’t think he’s done anything villainous. It comes down to where the characters are coming from. The G.I. Joe team—Joe Colton, Scarlett, everybody—they’ve never dealt with Optimus or any of the Cybertronians. There are other humans who have, but they’ve been sort of pushed aside maybe for being too familiar with the big metal folks.

Optimus has annexed Earth into Cybertron’s Council of Worlds—whether Earth wants to be part of it or not. But from his side, he’s sort of throwing the baby bird out of the nest. He thinks it’ll fly and become what it should be. It’s just that—well, the people of Earth might not want to get thrown out of anything.

Did any of the players in Revolution present difficulties fitting into the canon? Seems the Micronauts would-or is that just me?

Physically, the Micronauts fit the easiest. They’re tiny!

We’ve known this was the direction we were going since before issue 1 of Micronauts came out… Cullen Bunn—who co-writes Revolution and writes Micronauts, with Max Dunbar drawing it—wrote an outline for the first story arc that—once we started talking about doing Revolution—totally fit in with the story, and set up a big chunk of it. So, really, the Transformers and Micronauts ongoings formed the spine of the story (which is why Cullen and I wrote it!) with Rom coming in very early and making a big impact on both groups.

What I mean is, the next arc of Transformers was going to be the human reaction to Optimus Prime’s actions, and the next arc of Micronauts was going to be them coming to Earth, so we sort of put them together with what was happening in Rom and that got things going. The story clearly presented a great way to reintroduce the G.I. Joe team, and THAT flowed pretty smoothly into M.A.S.K.

I think anything that didn’t fit, or that would be too hard to wedge in there without breaking anything, we just didn’t do. We saved it for later.

Rumor is that Rom will appear in the new Transformers film–is this a tie in?


Fico Ossio: Mmm no… but that poster does look suspicious… those things look like dire wraiths.

What’s yours guys favorite Hasbro toy?

That’s pretty tough! My G-1 Prowl, probably, as broken up and piece-missing as he is. That was my first Transformer my Grandma bought me. But… man, so many great G.I. Joe toys, too. Nostalgia, plus cool current toys, makes this a hard one.

This an impossible question… I had a lot of G.I. Joe toys…I lost Snake Eyes once and had my  parents buy me a new one, I was heart-broken… I still remember when that happened! 

The sky striker was a huge Christmas gift too… and I had a lot of the M.A.S.K. toys. My grandmother lived in Germany and she sent me ¨the Raven¨, which was impossible to get back home, so that was like a super special toy for me.

I was crazy for the Transformers cartoon, I remember watching that show every morning right after Mazinger Z… but didn´t have any toys though.

I mean… you´re asking when we where kids right? Cause otherwise I´ve got a whole list right now. And I´m saving money to buy a huge ¨Optimus¨ I saw at SDCC this year .

This event is cool-how much fun is it to write and draw?

It’s very fun to write. Cullen and I can just list a million characters and let Fico deal with it. You read the spread on number four yet? Is that why you stopped speaking to me, Fico?

But it’s really collaborative—me, Cullen, Fico, Sebastian Cheng on colors, David Hedgecock editing—we all get on emails and bounce ideas back and forth. Fico’s instrumental in the basic telling of the story—I mean, every artist is, but this is a really collaborative process, where he’s just going off a plot and Cullen and I are finishing the dialog later, so it’s got a little of the early Marvel comics feel. Fico just runs with it, PLUS he has to draw everybody… he’s got the tough job.

Tom Long’s lettering, but we don’t talk to him. He just gets mad at the number of characters to keep track of. (Tom’s a good friend, I’m just kidding, there).

This is the most fun I´ve ever had in my career. It´s also the greatest challenge I´ve had as well… but it also makes it great too… I love challenges and John and Cullen are giving me an Epic script to work on,  so… I must keep up! I just finished issue 3, so have to check that new script… thanks for the heads up John! I´m still gonna freak out haha.

Seriously, the whole team is amazing. It´s a great collaborative process, everyone brings their ideas and John and Cullen have given me a lot of room to work on it which is a huge creative boost. Seba is doing a fantastic work on the colors, he´s an amazing artist and I can rest easy drawing this pages knowing he´s gonna make all the characters pop out of the panels. ( He´s having a hard time too…the amount of color refs he got is insane!)  And David is keeping us all on point which is no small task for such huge event! It gets crazy.

Can give us a preview of what readers can expect?

Tensions are rising on Earth—the Cybertronian presence is getting to be a big danger—and when Ore-13, a form of Energon, starts exploding all over the world, G.I. Joe gets called in to put a stop to it. But before they can get things sorted out, Rom gets in the way, and that’s when things start snowballing. Somebody doesn’t make it out of issue 1, and that has huge repercussions across the whole series (and beyond).

We’ll see friendships formed; alliances strained. We’ll see 2-mile-tall Transformers up against 4-inch-tall Micronauts and things might not go as you expect.

Without losing the legacy of these characters, without throwing out what’s come before, we’re seeing the start of a new universe with a lot of storytelling possibilities.

For me, I’m excited to get to have Optimus and the characters I’ve been writing for years have to deal with some really unexpected new players. There’s so much more that winds up in the sandbox during this story—so many potential storylines we can draw from. It’s going to be an exciting time.

ZERO ¨quiet¨ pages… well. Maybe there are two…panels. Lots of action, epic size battles and lots and lots of characters haha. Seriously I think is super interesting to have all this characters clash in one single universe. It´s great to see visually how a TF looks standing next to a G.I. Joe or a Micronaut! If you ever thought Optimus was huge…well. Wait till you see him in Revolution. Or the Joes never looked more bad ass than going toe to toe against this huge mechanical aliens! And same with Micronauts, you get a real sense of their size now. That´s certainly the most interesting part visually to have them coexist in a world where all this different characters have to look ¨cool¨ not just each franchise on their singular comic line. And I think that brings an evolution to all of this characters.

Plus that spread on issue 4 is insane XD ! 


Thanks Guys! 

Here is the Revolution Checklist!


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