A lot of the confusion over time travel may be rooted in the inconsistent way Marvel US have treated it over the years. The idea that travel back in time just creates an alternate timelime and it's impossible to alter your own had been established at least as early as Marvel Two-in-One #50 in 1979 when the Thing's attempt to cure himself at an early stage of his mutated development just explained the point. I don't know if that particular story was reprinted in Marvel UK's title "Big Ben" that starred the Thing in the early 1980s.
The problem with this theory was that it contradicted numerous other stories where time travel had actually changed the past - an earlier Fantastic Four/Marvel Two-in-One tale had seen a device sent back in time to the 1940s and alter the outcome of the Second World War until the Fantastic Four travelled back (the Watcher warned them just before the timelines fully realigned) and undid the damage, as well as influencing actual comic history in the process. Over the years the rules on time travel and alternate realities alter heavily depending on the writers and plot aims - so for example the 1995 X-Men story "Age of Apocalypse" saw the timelines radically altered by interference in the past whereas the same year's Avengers story "the Crossing" saw a younger Tony Stark lifted from ten years in the past and brought to the present day to replace the corrupt older one with no rewriting of history at all. In general IME the idea that history *can* be changed tends to predominate at Marvel.
However I've got the feeling that Galvatron has actually been tricked into succumbing to a theory rather than an actual rule - and there's a strong indication much later that Scourge doesn't know a great deal about time travel theory at all. There's a key line of dialogue next week that implies his trip to 1986 was actually part of the history of his own time.
I always found the ending a bit if a let-down, myself. Galvatron flees back to 2006 because he thinks he's witnessing an alternate reality in which Starscream dies 20 years to early.
But hold on - isn't his entire plan based on creating an alternate reality in which there's a giant space gun buries under Autobot City?
So on the one had he's actively trying to alter history, but on the other hand he retreats back to his own time because he's, erm, altered history! How does that make any sense?
I don't think he's using "alternate reality" with the same meaning as you. Rather he was assuming a single timeline and his changes to the past would impact on his own time. Crudely he's assuming the "Back to the Future" rules apply (and the explanation/diagram in the second film is really really misleading on this) whereby changes in the past ripple through to the present and can even change the record of the future such as negating the time traveller. However because the destruction of "Starscream" has not negated him, he's concluded that instead the "Marvel Two-in-One #50" rules apply and nothing he does in *this* 1986 will have any impact on his own 2006.
I think the alternate reality thing is the one Furman was going for. In a few weeks time (can't remember the exact issue number), a reader asks Grim Grams why Galvatron doesn't already have foreknowledge of this adventure, having already lived through these events once, when he was Megatron.
Grimlock (surely having compared notes with Furman) replies that our Megatron is not necessarily the same one that becomes Galvatron, and that the Movie is just one possible future of many.
Though Furman isn't Grimlock between roughly the end of Target: 2006 and when he takes over as full editor around the early 100's, so whichever assistant editor has replaced him may not be as well informed (plus, knowing Prime and Megatron were about to killed and with no 100% certaintly either would ever come back, Grimlock could have been trying to stave off the "How can prime die in 1987 and 2006?" letters).
I've always taken Galvatron's actions as him assuming a pre-destination paradox, with everything already having happened in his original history (so if he'd gone and looked under Autobot City in 2006 before his departure the gun would already have been there even though he hadn't gone back in time to build it). Even at the end he doesn't outright kill Ultra Magnus because he's determined nothing actually be changed. The death of "Starscream" works against that, hence him leaving.
I've gone crosseyed.
As to how much the Transformers do and don't know about how time travel works and how much of their thinking is based on pure guess work is never entirely clear. If we take Flashback at face value (and don't go into Earthforce continuity or whether it would have happened in the original history or not) they could have had some form of time travel for more than 15 years before this story leaving a lot of room for experimentation.
Mind, the following Galvatron stories are fairly consistent. Time Travel does alter the past (so 2007 Ultra Magnus has no idea Rodimus Prime needs to go back in time to help 1987 Ultra Magnus) with disastrous results as the divergence gets worse and worse. Target: 2006 is just playing by a slightly different set of rules.
I dunno, you guys are probably right and I'm just nitpicking. But there's still one thing that bugs me:
Galvatron and chums appear to be extremely well-briefed about the year 1985. They arrive at the exact point in time when the Autobot and Decepticon forces are decimated, thus minimising potential resistance (pre-space bridge, pre-special teams).
Given this knowledge about past events, surely their first clue that they are changing history is not the "death" of Starscream but instead the presence of Ultra Magnus on Earth.
I think Cyclonus even remarks on it in one of the earlier parts, when he says something along the lines of "hey, you're not supposed to be here!"
Obviously their arrival caused the chain of events which resulted in Magnus travelling to Earth.
So why do they freak out at the Starscream thing, when their first clue that this isn't all a circular predestination-type scenario is actually the arrival of Ultra Magnus, which never happenned in "their" version of 1986?
In addition to the Ultra Magnus thing, Galvatron is kneeling by Starwarp's remains...and the paint is coming off on his hands....surely that would have been a bit of a giveaway too...?
I think the rather limp ending (save for the excellent Volcano stuff next week) is why I find 'Target' less impressive than I should.
It just seems a bit pointless by the end and like we've all wasted our time because none of it mattered! Again, its my personal bias, but I am just not keen on stories like this that 'take place' during something seen in another medium. It instantly flags up that this all going to be on a hiding to nothing anyway. That's why I like forthcoming futureverse stories so much more - they use the Movie as springboard and move on from it , rather than being constrained by it.
i am also going to chime in that the ending is limp and fizzels out
it already been established that galvatron has a hair trigger temper he can barley keep under control so it rinsg rather hollow that he jumps to such a huge leap of logic as "i killed starscream in 86 and yet im still here so it must be an alternatie universe "
it just doesnt ring true with his portrayal up till now
and even if it did and even if he did come to the vauge random notion that he is in an alternate timeline now what would that matter ?
its already established that nobody here in the past could stand in his way and he could just stay in the past ( as he does later on ) creating a new future timeline with a predestination paradox
but he doesnt and just assumes something on very shonky logic and the whole story just fizzles out especially after part 8
it just doesnt make any sense
and then that huge bloody gun nothing is explained about that
nor how it works or how its supposed to be hidden or how galvatron expects the autobots to build autobot city right over its
its likely furman just thought it was a cool idea to mention ian throwaway line and then never thought about it again never even considering to explain it
but its another loose end ina story thats starting to unravel
the whole thing just doesnt hold up if you look at it closley
the stories in its wake fallen angel wanted galvatron dead or alive etc are much better then target 2006
and top cap it off the epilouge also fizzels out not exactly the greatest ending imaginable
In terms of Magnus, that's easy enough for Galvatron to rationalise as it being a visit the Decepticons never knew about (indeed, due to the vanishing and reappearing nature of Laserbeak and the Constructicons I'm not sure any of the present day 'cons ever found out he was there).
If Galvatron didn't notice the red paint straight away it presumably would have been left behind when he returned to the future due to it being extra mass (which raises the question, if a human who used this method of time travel put some weight on during their visit would something really horrible happen to them as they went back?).
@Snowkatt: I disagree about Galvatron having a hairline trigger, even right at the end he's not killed Ultra Magnus and there's only one real moment with Jazz before that where he snaps at all in the story. It's only the loss of his machine that really pushes him over the final edge.
[Don't worry though folks, there's lots of stories to come where everyone but me likes the ending, I'm just contrary like that.]
One of my issues with Target: 2006 is the way Furman turns Jetfire into the whipping boy. I know its only to serve the story & make Magnus & Galvatron look good, but it's done at the expense of Mr. Most Technologically Advanced 1985, ultra scientist supersonic jet mega-impressive robotech Transformer dude.
Being reduced to repeated pistol-whippings via dunderheaded planning doesn't befit his character at all.
In the IDW comics he has a fitting mystique and rank (Stormbringer and War Within) that's in keeping with Budiansky's techspec. But that statement suggests I hold tech specs as the ultimate canon, and any deviation would be something I should complain about.
But my complaint is that Target: 2006 reduces an interesting character to just another grunt taking the reigns because he's seventh in line after the Dyson. That's the shame, he could've done stuff.
Loads of other characters have been shafted like this, Mirage, Blaster, Ironhide. Jetfire seems more poignant because his character, his toy and that were held up as something rather special.
Stuart Webb. Who knows everything about nothing and not a lot about that.
Action Force/G.I. Joe