Transformers Review Issue 26: Funeral for a Friend!

Back from the G.I. Joe Crossover story line we can settle into the Transformers for several issues until the HeadMaster comics kick in. We have the death of Optimus Prime, and a new villain to be concerned about. But first, lets check out this cover.

Transformers-Issue-26-Youseph

After the Transformers logo the cover reads, “INTRODUCING: THE MECHANIC!” followed at the bottom of the page by “NO JOB TOO BIG OR TO SMALL…” Our new villain, The Mechanic, stands in the center of our cover in front of a pile of Autobot bodies. I can easily make out Ratchet and Blaster among the defeated. Lets crack this book open to see if all is as hopeless as the cover implies.

Transformers-issue-26-cover

We start off with Ratchet unable to fix Optimus Prime. The Autobots prepare a funeral for their fallen leader some distance from the Ark. Ratchet, feeling he has failed his comrades, chooses to stay behind and try and repair other fallen Autobots that still have a chance. He chooses to explore a local junkyard for spare parts.

Transformers-issue-26-Junkyard

While at the Junkyard in Ambulance mode, Ratchet is stolen by the leader of a car thieving ring calling himself “The Mechanic”. Ratchet finds himself forced to help the Mechanic. If not, he would lose his cover. Ratchet ends up being followed by the police and ends up using his weaponry on the authorities to help him escape. The Mechanic observes the power of this Autobot weaponry and steals it for himself. While attempting to retrieve his weapons, the Mechanic uses the Cryogenic sprayer on Ratchet, freezing him solid in place.

Transformers-issue-26-frozen

When Ratchet eventually thaws out, he heads back to the Ark only to be followed by the Mechanic. The Mechanic hopes to discover more advanced weaponry he can use. Ratchet, unknowingly leads the human right into the ark allowing the Mechanic to steal a remote-controlled power booster rod.

Transformers-issue-26-stay-here

Using these weapons, the Mechanic injures Ratchet and activates the Ark’s defense systems so the other Autobots returning from Optimus Prime’s funeral are prevented from helping. Ratchet is finally able to frighten the Mechanic away by somewhat repairing Prowl.

Transformers-issue-26-police-dust

The comic ends with the Mechanic escaping with the advanced weaponry.

My Thoughts On This Issue

Writing my thoughts on this issue has been rather difficult to do this week. In issue 26 we have the Autobots dealing with the death of Optimus Prime. The hole first potion of the comic book depicts Ratchet trying to revive Optimus Prime in every way possible with his limited resources. But all his efforts are for not. Optimus Prime is gone. No chance of return. The decision is made to send their fallen leader into space in a traditional Cybertronian funeral.

Whats wrong with this issue? Every single thing and yet nothing at all. It’s a good story. Granted, it is sad at parts, but it is a good story. The problem, I think, with this issue is that Marvel Comics, and Hasbro, had no real understanding just how popular Transformers and Optimus Prime really was to children at the time. Fans were upset not only over the death of this fallen leader but they where upset that the whole issue was not dedicated to honoring their favorite hero of all time. This is one instance where following a formula for writing a comic just does not work. To many feelings from to many fans were involved.

You have to keep in mind too that the Transformers animated movie was released earlier in the year and fans where also dealing with the death of Optimus Prime on the big screen as well. In reading the letters from the Transmissions sections of this comic, you can get a sense that fans turned to the comics hoping that their hero would still be alive. In some cases they are begging to have him brought back to life in the comics.

I think everyone who is reading this knows that Optimus Prime does eventually get resurrected, but can you imagine being a kid and reading this for the first time? Talk about a depressing book. Its enough to almost keep one from wanting to read the next issue.

Transmission Letters This Issue

Dear don, Bob and don,
I just read TRANSROMERS #22 and thought it was FANTASTIC! the art team of Don Perlin and Akin + Garvey is as great as ever. Those guys did a great job drawing all of those cool, new Transformers.
That brings me to my next point. I thought the story by Bob Budiansky was incredible! He kept the excitement at a fever pitch thought out the adventure. Boy, he really makes those Decepticons nasty! That was a great idea that Megatron had to have Bombshell plant a bug in Optimus Prime. The Decepticons now have access to the Creation Matrix as well as knowledge of all future Autobot actions. That’s a frightening thought!
I’m really glad that you guys introduced a lot of new Transformers. It was great seeing the Stunticons in your comic. you even turned them into Menasor to fight Superion! I loved it! Oh well, thanks for listening to my comments. I really love your book and I will read it forever!
I’m really glad that you guys introduced a lot of new Transformers. It was great seeing the Stunticons in your comic. You even turned them into Menasor to fight Superion! I loved it! Oh well, thanks for listening to my comments. I really love your book and will read it forever!
Hidalgo Nagashima
Riverdale, NY

Dear Gentlemen (and Janice!),
It seems that Circuit Breaker is slowly learning more and more about the Transformers. I wonder if Circuit Breaker will ever come to her senses. I hope so, because she’s becoming one real pain in the diode!
Now, on to other matters. That business of Bombshell putting a cerebro-shell inside Optimus Prime was pretty slick. You now have a means of introducing new Deceopticons right along with the Autobots. Sooner or later, though I suspect that the Autobots will realize what’s going on. When that happens, I think Bombshell will be sorry he ever messed with Optimus.
Don Lewis
Fortuna, CA

Hey, great call, Don. Optimus did find out about Bombshell’s little “present,” and, as you suspected, he wasn’t too thrilled with it! As for the ever-popular Miss Circuit Breaker, read on…

Dear Marvel,
I wish that Circuit Breaker would finally learn the truth about the Autobots before she destroys every Transformers on earth. I think she could be a very powerful ally to the Autobots. As a matter of fact, I don’t think those Decepti’bums would have a chance! For now, thought, she is definitely trouble. After all, if she hadn’t interfered in the fight between Superion and Mensasor in TRANSFORMERS #22, the outcome would most certainly have been different . . . I just hope that Superion isn’t really hurt badly. He’s my favorite Autobot.
Anyway, thanks to Bob Budiansky for another very entertaining story. I hope you guys keep up the great work. Well, until Buster body slams Shockwave, make mine Marvel.
Ted Hannon III
Portal, OR

You don’t have to worry about Superion, Ted. That big guy can take a lot of punishment. Still, you’re right about Circuit Breaker. She would be much more helpful fighting with the Autobots than she is blowing them apart.

Dear Marvel guys,
I recently started reading TRANSFORMERS with issue #21. After I bought #22, I was compelled to buy every back issue available. Boy, am I glad i did. I’ve been reading Marvel Comics since the late ’60s and I find TRANSFORMERS to be one of the most enjoyuable comics that I have ever read.
I have one complaint, thought. Why don’t you get rid of that bum, Donny Finkelburge? To me, he has no reason at all to be in your otherwise fantastic comic, Please take my advice. It will make everyone happier…
Jeff Herman
Mt. Ephraim, NJ

Gee, erm um, sorry you feel so strongly, Jeff. C’mon, youmust like something about good old Donny… anything… at all? Oh well, we tried…

Dear Bob,
I just read #22, It was spectacular! I really like the fact that Barnett sympathizes with the Autobots. I think he could be a valuable asset for them.
I’d also like to say that I really enjoyed your comic adaptation of TRANSFORMERS THE MOVIE. It was stupendous. I really mean that.
Chris Garza
APO miami, FL

Thank you for your kind words, Chris. And speaking of TRANSFORMERS THE MOVIE, we’ve received quite a lot of rave mail on that very subject. so, in order to accomodate all of you letter writers out there, we’ll devote the rest of this letter col to TRANSFORMERS THE MOVIE!

Dear Marvel,
I recently saw TRANSFORMERS THE MOVIE and absolutely loved it. All of the regular and new chracters were great. Galvatron is now definitely my favorite character. He is so powerful he makes Megatron look like a cap gun! I even liked the sound track to it! You guys really did a great job.
After seeing the movie, I felt the need to have it in my possession. I remembered reading in your letter column that there would be a Marvel Comics adaptation of the movie, so i looked for it. Well, I found it. Starting with the great cover, the art was consistently great throughout the comic. Everything was just as I remembered it in the film. the writing by Ralph Macchio was just as exciting in the comic as in the movie.
Suffice it to say that I was very impressed. I am now anxiously awaiting the other two issues in the series. I have no doubts that they will be just as stupendous as the first one. You have made on TRANSFORMERS fan very happy, guys. Keep up the great work.
Craig Andrews
Shreverport, LA

Wow, we’re glad you liked the book, Craig. We’re really proud of the work ourselves. One thing surprises us, thought. you didn’t comment on the tragic death of Optimus Prime. It seems everyone else did…

Dear Transformers Guys,
Whoa! Optimus, the big guy, DEAD? Unlikely, I think. Come on, he’s only out of action for a while, right? But hey, what if he really is dead? Look guys, if Optimus Prime is dead, I think I’ll cry (sniff, sniff). How can you do this? I mean, we all know he IS the best. He is (or was) a kind robot, a great leader, and a great warrior. He better get fixed, or I will be very angry, Why don’t you just avoid a lot of unnecessary trouble and fix the guy, OK? Good!
Paul Formichelli
Melville, NY

Dear Transmissions,
I have just read TRANSFORMERS THE MOVIE, and I very much want to congratulate you for doing a very superb job on this movie. The plot was great, I lovee every minute of it. But there is something I need to have answered. I was very saddened to see Ironhide’s death along with the other Autobots on the ship, as well as Optimus Prime’s death. What I want to know is will Optimus and the other Autobots ever be brought back to life by the Creation Matrix, or by something else? they survived ten millions years, so couldn’t they live another million? O hate to see Optimus go, he is my favorite Autobot. Please don’t get me wrong about this, but we both know that no Autobot, not even Rodimus Prime could ever be as wise and as strong as the great Optimus Prime. I would very much like to see a sequel to these movie (even if it does kill you) because only you guys can do it the best. Buy the way, keep up the good work on the TRANSFORMERS comic books, the artwork is great.
Ulysses Stockdale
Heiskell, TN

Dear Marvel,
I have something to say. TRANSFORMERS THE MOVIE was excellent, so was your adaptation of it. I loved every action packed second of it. I just loved it! But there’s one short question I’d like to ask. Will there be a part II? I mean, Galvatron’s not dead. And Cybertron is still not under the rule of the Decepticons. And, just before Unicron, the killer planet, was destroyed by the Creation Matrix, his head came off. Was that some kind of escape or is he gone for good? All these questions were left unaswered at the end of the movie. Now, I know how long and hard it was to get a movie together, especially that movie. A great movie like TRANSFORMERS deserves a sequel. Please make one!
Lawrence Kinnebrew
Cincinnati, OH

Hey, you have a point there, Lawrence. there really are a lot of unanswered questions  We’ll see what we can do about a sequel, OK? Meanwhile, let’s hear what everyone thinks about that idea. How about it everyone, should there be another movie made? Let’s hear what you have to say!

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3 thoughts on “Transformers Review Issue 26: Funeral for a Friend!

  1. Casey

    I think the biggest problem have with most of these issues is the human element. I just want robot on robot action. That’s why the current series are so great. Also, I remember when I was a boy and we rented the transformers movie from blockbuster and I had to go to bed right after optimus died. I cried for an hour before falling asleep. I understand why they killed him off now, but it was hard for a little kid. Great review.

    Reply
  2. Spikewitwicky (@Spikewitwicky)

    What a schizophrenic issue.

    I was in 7th grade when this comic and movie came out. Of course, I didn’t see the movie in theaters since I thought it was “kid’s stuff” – so I ended up reading the comic adaptation of the movie to find out that Prime did indeed die. While the movie pretty much left Prime on his deathbed, the comic at least did some closure – showing the grieving Autobots, and giving Prime a moving tribute by shooting his body into space. The eulogy, written by Bob Budiansky, was first-rate. It still doesn’t make up for the horrible way they sent Prime to his maker. Hank got to tell of his executioner in Breaking Bad. Dinobot met a hero’s death in Beast Wars. And Prime… lost in a video game.

    Anyway –
    Issue #24 put a nugget of hope in a reader with the plausibility that Prime’s memory MAY have been stored onto a floppy disc. But that was implausible as hell. When I first read it, I just thought Ethan Zachary saved the ‘game’ on the disc (still an impossible task back in ’86) – like someone would have taped a program on a VHS tape. Then, moving to issue 26, you see it’s too late. Prime’s lifeless body is shot out into space, where it presumably was to be sent into the sun. A harsh read for the kids, definitely a mature read, but a moving, and apt farewell for an Autobot that kids just assumed would be around for the rest of their childhood.

    And that was just the side story.

    Unfortunately – Budiansky (possibly pressured by Hasbro or higher-ups) had to include a boring, and pointless “main” story where a new human villain is introduced. It was almost like a spit in the face of Prime’s memory. You read Budiansky’s dialog with Ratchet’s grief and Perceptor’s eulogy, and even the exposition where he writes about all of Ratchet’s work for one patient – you knew that was the storyline he wanted to write. The Mechanic storyline is rife with generic “bad guy” cliches. And if you were like me, they were sections I totally skipped over to get to the part where Omega Supreme gently places Prime in the bearer, and then to see Prime shot into space.

    As you said, the entire issue could have dealt with the Autobot’s grief (and even flash to the Decepticon base to see their reaction – do they attack the Autobots when they are at their weakest, or does Prime’s death merit some sort of honorable “cease fire” between the two factions?).

    This issue represented both the best and worst parts of the comic book series. At the height, the creators were able to take their time and give Prime a meaningful sendoff (and pretty much set the stage that – no – Prime would NOT be returning). At its worst, a cynical storyline was tacked on, maybe in fear that a full issue dealing with grief was too heavy for kids, or worse – there was an issue that lacked action and explosions.

    Either way, the comic certainly felt that Prime would not be coming back, which was only enhanced by the fact that it would take almost two years of issues (died in issue 24, came back in issue 40) before Prime would make his return.

    Reply
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