Transformers Review Issue 40: Pretender to the Throne!

The long awaited return of Optimus Prime is in this story. As well as the Pretenders. So much goes on and every page is turned to try and figure what is going to happen with Optimus Prime and if his return is peppermint. But before we get into the review and my thoughts on this issue lets check out the this cover art.

Transformers-40-Youseph-Cover

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The cover background is Yellow. My least favorite color. It’s only saving quality is that they really tried to make the background look high tech. Which they pull of with some nice line art. We have three Pretenders gracing the cover. Two of them I believe to be Decepticons and the humanish looking one I believe to be an Autobot. On a monitor in the background we see the face image of Optimus Prime. “AT LAST – THE RETURN OF OPTIMUS TIME!” is written next to his image in bright red. All in all it’s a lack luster cover for the return of the heroic Autobot leader.

Transformers-40-Cover

We return to Ethan Zachary who we have not seen in some time. He has been working with the copy of Optimus Prime’s mind, he had saved to floppy disk in an earlier issue, inside of a video game simulation. Optimus Prime appears to be sentient and is able to hold conversations with Ethan Zachary, but he is not able to comprehend himself more than a computer game character.

Transformers-40-Game-Over

Zachary continues to try and convince Optimus Prime that he is more than a computer gaming program. He resorts to calling Buster Witwicky, only to reach his father. Sparkplug is angry over recent events regarding his children and hangs up on Zachary.

Transformers-40-Sparkplug

Good news for Zachary is that Spike Witwicky bugged his fathers hotel and heard the conversation. On board the Steelhaven, it is decided that Goldbug will travel to Earth to investigate the clams that Optimus Prime may still be alive. Goldbug arrives at Alternate Reality, Inc., home of Zachary’s computer gaming company.

Transformers-40-Goldbug

After Zachary and Goldbug meet, the two come up with the plan that allowing Optimus Prime to undertake a mission might help him evolve into more than a just a gaming program that he thinks he is. Optimus Prime is sent on a mission, through a computer network, to a genetics lab that has been taken over by Decepticons. While there, Optimus Prime discovers that that the Decepticon Headmaster leader Scorponok, has created Pretenders. He copies the all the data he can find from the experiment and returns back to Zachary and Goldbug. unfortunately, the Deceptions be come aware of the Autobot intrusion.

Transformers-40-data

The newly acquired data is transmitted to the Autobot spacecraft high above in Earth’s orbit. The data is used to create Autobot versions of Pretenders. The Decepticon Pretenders locate Zachary’s software company and attack. Optimus Prime, still a computer program, organizes the Autobot Pretenders’ defense of Zachary’s company. The Decepticons retreat and Optimus Prime still thinks he is nothing more than a computer program.

Transformers-40-battle

My Thoughts On This Issue

I was eager to read this issue to learn how Optimus Prime would return. Thought he has come back, he is not officially back in a physical form. I enjoy this issue and how they navigated the computers, networking and all the associated vocabulary that goes along with it.

The stars of this issue where supposed to be the Pretenders. But I feel that their story was over shadowed by the presence of Optimus Prime. It also didn’t help that the last few issues have been kind of a repeat as far as introducing new characters. The Decepticons create a new kind of Transformers, the Autobots get their hands on the tech and build their counter parts. Or, the Autobots create some new Transformers, the Decepticons get their hands on the tech and build their own. It’s a formula that works when you are forced to introduce characters to sell toys. But started feeling like a broken record a long time ago.

Hopefully in the next issue we can have a solid story where we see Optimus Prime get his own body and return as Autobot leader.

Transmission Letters This Issue

Transformers-40-TransmissionsDear Marvel,
I just bought and read issue #33 and #34 of the TRANSFORMERS and I’m confused! At the end of issue #32 you wrote that the next issue would be about Blaster’s fate and the battle between Bruticus and Defensor, but in issue #33 there was nothing like that. Also, how can Optimus Prime be alive again in issue #34? In issue #32, he was still dead and floating around in space somewhere, and Grimlock was Autobot leader.
It’s not like I don’t want Prime back, but at least you could tell the readers how he got back! When you made Grimlock leader, I was frustrated and mad. He’s a terrible leader! if Op’s not around I think Jetfire would make the best Autobot Leader.
Confused and Mad
Marquett, MI

If you look carefully at the first page of issue #33, at the top, in the intro to the story, you’ll see that the events of issue #33 took place before Optimus Prime’s death. You could say that this British story acts as a falshback from your regular storyline. Hope this alleviates your confusion and madness…

Dear Don and Daryl,
Please Answer these questions:
1) What is a No-Prize, what is the prize, and how do you earn it?
2) What is a Shingo and what do you hafta do to earn it?
Eric Wu
(no address given)

A No-Prize is exactly that: NO Prize. It was originally given to readers who found a major mistake in a Marvel book and provided a solid, rational explanation which proved that the mistake was actually not a mistake at all. In other words, an excuse that makes us look good! Since the mistake must be a major, and the explanation logical, we don’t give out very many.
A Shingo, on the other hand, is not a thing, but a who. Shingo wrote us a letter many issues ago, and we are still waiting with bated breath for his next. Bating your breath for almost two years can be very painful, by the way. We don’t think you can earn a Shingo, and anyway, where would you put him?

Dear Transmissions,
I think I have a No-Prize coming. in issue #21 of the TRANSFORMERS, Jetfire dropped ol’ Danny Finkelberg about ^,000 ft. up and then caught him at about a hight of 10ft. Of course there’s a considerable amount of distance between those two points and ‘Finky’ must have gained a lot of speed in the time he fell. Now, the mistake: Since Finky was falling at a tremendous rate of speed, how could he fall into supposedly metal hands without breaking every bone in his body? The explaination? Easy; Wheeljack considered the possibility of the Autobots handling humans often, so he designed a special material which feels soft no matter how hard it is hit. Prime made sure every Autobot had hands coated with this material, so humans would be safe when touched or held by and Autobot.
I hope I have met the qualifications of a No-Prize, which are: to point out a mistake and then provide an explanation that “saves your dignity.”
Make Mine Marvel!
Pete Frank
Erie, PA

To be frank, Pete (or is that Pete Frank?), you haven’t won a No-Prize. It was a good try, But how could the Autobots fight the Decepticons if their hands were always soft? Talk about not packing much of a punch! We3 can’t have the ‘Cons smashing up the ‘Bots! You are thinking along the right lines – it’s all in the hands!

Dear Marvel,
The TRANSFORMERS are really neat! I’ve just finished reading #34 (good, of course), and in glancing through the letters I saw an attempt for a no-Prize. He was trying to explain the whole Bumblbee/Goldbug thing; “Right now in 1987, Bumblebee has become Goldbug. How could he be Bumblee again in 2005 (as seen in the movie)? Well, I have a simple explanation. These are Transformer Comic books, that was the Transformer movie. Who says the comic book has to do everything the movie does.
Abe Smith
Portland, OR

You have a point there, Abe. Also consider that the Transformer movie doesn’t take place for another eighteen years. Eighteen years ago, we’d barely put a man on the moon. Nixon was President, Marvel was only eight years old, and no one had ever heard of Transformers. Wait a bit and see if things don’t change as much in another eighteen!

Hey, Guys,
That’s enough! Not only have you not responded to the eight letters I’ve sent, but I can’t take it anymore! You people think having Grimlock (Captain Caveman) as Autobot leader is funny, but a whole bunch of other Autobots (and ‘Con) fans and I don’t. He is a big, primitive dweeb, and a lousy leader. Go ahead and tell him I said so. Maybe if he were to fire on a human, the other Autobots would realize what a jerk he is and impeach him. I would rather see Optimus Prime (Whom you brutally killed off! What happened to Zachary, anyway?) as head of the Autobots or Blaster, if you won’t bring Prime back.
O.K., you’ve printed a few letters from girls, but not very many. Also, how come you never answered any of my letters? I included my return address right on the letter and not just on the envelope. I really want a letter or even a postcard!
One other thing… How do the Transformers get away without having license plates?
Dawn Reeder
Baldwin, MO

We’re really sorry, Dawn, but we just can’t answer all the thousands and thousands of letters the Transformers receive. We’d spend all our time answering letters instead of making your favorite comic book. We do read every letter and we answer what we can in Transmissions. Most of the questions in these letters have been asked by many different people, so even if your letter doesn’t get printed, you may see the answer to one of your questions anyway.
As for the license plates, would you give a Decepticons a traffic ticket? Didn’t think so!

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Author: Youseph

Cohost of the TransMissions Podcast. Writer, Blogger, Musician.

1 thought on “Transformers Review Issue 40: Pretender to the Throne!”

  1. After nearly one-and-a-half years dead (a lifetime in kids years!) – Optimus Prime returns. Again, I don’t know how the writers could ever live down a demise like that (getting blown up in a video game), so reviving him kind of painted the writers into a corner. It was a big enough story to stand as a single-themed issue, but as you said, the drive to get a new toy line out trumped storyline and resulted in a gaggle of uninteresting characters. Points for keeping kids waiting at the very end (Prime’s back, but wait, he really isn’t). And bonus points to show how the Autobot presence actually royally screwed at least one member of the Witwicky family (Sparkplug) – showing there comes a cost hanging around these guys, no matter how heroic they are. But overall, it can’t overcome the corny storyline of the Pretenders. Overall grade: C+

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