Category Archives: Comics

Transformers Review Issue 54: King Con!

With the failed mission of the last issue, 54 brings us back to Earth with new action figures that Hasbro wants kids to buy, the Micromaster Transformers.  What are the Decepticons up to this time and what are the low number of Autobots going to do to stop them? We’re going to find out, but first lets check out this issue’s cover.

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I have two impressions of this cover. The first one is positive the second, not so much. At first you see Iguanus climbing the Empire State Building with a human in his claws much like the original King Kong movie. To make sure you didn’t miss that reference the words “King Con!’ are written in dark purple. Overhead you can see a lighting storm covering the city. Its a cover with a lot of energy, that I find to be pretty accurate to the story we are about to review inside.

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My second impression starts to settle on me the longer I look at the cover. Why don’t Transformers look like Transformers anymore? Why do they have to look like monsters or micro-machines? I miss the core group of Transformers fighting on earth trying to survive. That original idea still has plenty of room for stories to be played out. But nope, the writers have gone with a giant lizard looking robots or perhaps it was mandated by Hasbro. Lets see where this story takes us.

Issue 54 has a gritty start. Three  hunters head into a New Jersey swamp in the middle of the night to dispatch a mysterious creature that has been reported within the community. The hunters expected they would run into a bear or some other such animal. What they end up running into is a Decepticon Pretender known as Iguanus who actually blows the hunters away with his hurricane air blaster. The three men tear out of there as fast as they can.

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Days pass when Optimus Prime and Hi-Q pull into a gas station to receive backup. The Autobots of earth put in a request to Cybertron to send help. Through the of Trans-Dimensional Warp technology reinforcements arrive in the way of Micromasters. After Hi-Q expresses his concerns over their size, Optimus Prime gives the Micromasters their first mission.

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Optimus Prime tells the Micromasters about the creature sightings that have been reported on the news in New Jersey as well as some odd weather phenomena occurring around Manhattan and New Jersey swamplands. The fear Prime has is that these two things could be the result of Decepticon meddling and thus the Micromasters are off to investigate.

At this point in issue 54 we are introduced to Cecilia Santiago, a reporter, who has interviewed the New Jersey hunters and has now started to enter the swamp lands in hopes of finding and exposing this mysterious monster.

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Next, we are brought into the new Decepticon underground base in New Jersey. Scroponok is planning the ‘cons next plan for gathering energy with the Pretenders. A massive energy conversion device has been built within their base as well as a Stormmaker Station in the nearby swamps which is responsible for the current weather problems. Scorponok wants to collect the electrical power created by the storm he has caused.

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Skullgrin is on guard duty near the Stormmaker while Finback and Submarauder lay cable underwater from the Decepticon base to Manhattan so that the power absorbed from the storm can be brought back to their base. Iguanus has to place their electrostator device at a place to act as a lighting rod to gather all the electrical power of the storm and have it channeled through the ground to the conductor cables. To keep Iguanus from becoming electrocuted, Bugly and Bomb-Burts are in charge of retrieving him before that happens. Before they all depart on their missions, Skullgrin gets teased by Iguanus for being a human lover.

We cut back to the swamp where Cecilia is overhearing the Decepticons’ plans near the Stormmaker station. She tries to exit the area, but ends up  making some noises and as a result is captured by Iguanus. As the Decepticon Pretender readies her termination, Skullgrin tries to talk Iguanus to hand over the women to him. A fight between the two soon breaks just as Mudslinger appears. He and the other Off Road Patrol team take on the two Decepticons which allows Cecilia to run off to find safety. Race Car Patrol gets a radio communication from Powertrain to intercept the human in case she has any useful information.

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Cecilia is picked up by Roadhandler. She quickly realizes that the person in the driver’s seat is a manniquin. Roadhandler starts to speak to her and convinces her that he is a good guy. Feeling a bit more at ease, Cecilia, tells Roadhandler what she over hears about the Decepticon threat to New York City.

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Continuing on with his plan to place the electrostator atop the Empire State Building, Iguanus leave the swamp and heads for the city. The electrostator will allow the the energy from a lighting strike to be sent down through the building and out through some conduit cables which Finback and Submarauder placed by the river. Success of this plan will give the Decepticons a huge amount of power, but it will also lay waste to half the city.

The off Road Patrol at the swap are able to delay Skullgrin just long enough for Mudslinger to destory the Stormmaker. But there efforts are to late as the storm by this point has grown too strong and can’t be stopped

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The Race Car Patrol race into the city with Cecilia and make their way to the top of the Empire State building where Iguanus grabs the women with his tail and holders captive high above the city streets in a King Kong like fashion. She is eventually dropped and falls into Roadhandler’s arms while at the same time he enables the electrostator on top of the sky scraper. Next, Roadhandler uses his projectile fist and is able to knock lose the electrostator from the building. Iguanus leaps out after it and misses. The lightnight strikes down from above and all that electrical energy is channeled through Iguanus’ body frying him. Our Micromasters decide to make New York their new home for the time being.

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My Thoughts On This Issue

I swear, I start each issue forgetting that Prime is a Powermaster and I’m disappointed every time I see his red eyes and over accented body. It’s like he is walking around in some over powered exo-suit.

I’ve had some time to really think about this issue. It’s thick and wordy. Which isn’t always a bad thing, but I don’t think it works for this issue. Now, when I sit back and think about the story and simplify it in my head it’s not all that bad. It’s execution just didn’t work and that, in part, has a lot to do with all the Transformers introduced in this issue. The drive to sell toys hurt the story I think.

Had the story just been told without all the introductions and forcing everyone to show off a personality, I think it would have played read a lot better.

I noticed that the gas station in this issue was called ‘Peoples Gas’ and not, G.B. Blackrock gas. It stuck out to me a lot when I saw that. Perhaps it’s because this issue takes place on the East coast?

No Transmission Letters This Issue

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TransMissions: Christine L. Leddon

I’ve posted a couple of interviews now with people who’ve written into Marvel Comics’ The Transformers back in the 80s. Of all the Transmissions letters I’ve read the one from issue 31 ‘Car Wash of Doom’, by Christine L. Leddon was the most real for me.

Ever since I read Christine’s letter, I’ve hopped I would have the opportunity to interview her. Just read her heart wrenching e-mail and you’ll see why I’ve been hoping for this interview.

Photo of Christine taken about the time she wrote her original letter to Marvel.

Photo of Christine taken about the time she wrote her original letter to Marvel.

Dear Sirs,
This letter has been long in coming. the events in questions happened almost a year about but I think this story should be of great interest to you.
In November of 1985, a friend of mine was taken seriously ill. In less than 2 weeks, she became comatose due to a disease known as Thrombonic Thrombocytopenic Purphura, or TTP, This disease has no reliable cure. The chances for her survival were 50-50. The real key to her survival was her sustained will to live.
By December, thought, we were ready to give up hope. I needed help, and found it in a program that is on TV here in Kansas: the TRANSFORMERS. Surrounded by machines of all types in her hospital room, my friend learned that machines can do good things for people. as a result, she lost her fear of the machines in the hospital. From that moment on, her illness became a symbolic battle between the Autobots and Decepticons. I watched every show and told her the story when I visited. Later, I discovered the Marvel comic book version and I noticed that the bright colors and beautiful pictures attracted her attention. Her life-giving machine was now Optimus Prime, and he was an ally to her. This kept her mind active an encouraged her not to give up.
Well, it worked! On New Year Day, 1986, Jane spoke for the first time in months. From then on, her recovery was very swift. Her illness is now in remission and she is leading a normal life. She still watches TRANSFORMERS, and we will both be forever in your debt for actually saving someone’s life. Thank you very much!
Christine L. Leddon
Witchita, KS

It’s taken a lot of effort to contact Christine. I had recently given up on ever getting a hold of her until a few weeks ago when she responded to one of my early messages. It took a little time but below is the results of that interview.

Youseph: How did you discover the Transformers?

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Christine Today

Christine: As a child growing up in Southern California I enjoyed watching Japanese science fiction TV shows and cartoons with my friends (I was a fan of “Kimba the White Lion” long before Disney’s “Lion King” ever aired and I thought “Johhny Sokko” and “Gigantor” were the best.) For me, “Transformers” was just another iteration of the kinds of shows I watched (and enjoyed) growing up.  It was a bit of the spirit of California transplanted here to Kansas…

Youseph: Where did you get your Transformers comics from?

Christine: At that time, there were two comic book shops in Wichita I frequented:  Agents of Comics and Prairie Dog Comics.  Of the two, only Prairie Dog Comics is still in business.

Youseph: What compelled you to write to them? (you kind of answer this question in your original letter but if you want to add details to it, I encourage you to do so.)

Christine: As for the details of the situation, I think the letter pretty much speaks for itself.  As for the philosophy behind the letter, let me just say that I have long been a believer that children develop many of their “qualities” (both positive and negative) as adults from the kind of literature, art, TV and social interaction they are exposed to (the old “Nature” vs’ “Nurture” argument).   As I saw it then (and as I do now) Transformers communicated the values of perseverance, loyalty, honor, friendship and courage in a uniquely powerful and creative way. 

If the truth be told, the incident in the magazine wasn’t the first (or only) time I used Optimus & Company to help someone overcome an illness; it was simply the only time I wrote the magazine about it.  (Hint:  If you ever meet Peter Cullen, ask him about the cross-stitch picture a fan once sent him….)

Youseph: Was your original letter edited by Marvel in anyway?

Christine: Not much editing was done that I recall, but I have been unable to locate the original letter to verify exactly how much.  ( I know I have the letter somewhere, but I have 30+ years of accumulated “stuff” to get through to find it).

Youseph: Can you tell us how your friend is doing? Are you still in contact with her? Is she still a fan?

Christine: Unfortunately, the disease process that my friend endured was a brutal one, and changed her personality in unexpected ways.  Shortly after she recovered she and her husband divorced and she moved out of state.  I’m afraid we’ve long since lost touch.

Youseph: What was it like to see your letter printed in the back of the comic?

Christine: It was a bit of a shock, actually; I really didn’t think they’d print it.  It was a nice, sweet “human interest” story, but really not the kind of thing you would expect fans to want to read.  The response to it, however, was amazing.   Even HASBRO replied to it and sent both my friend and I a nice letter and gift (I still have my toys safely stored away in their boxes). 

Youseph: Who are you today and are you still a Transformers fan?

Christine: Am I still a fan?  Yes, I will always have a place in my heart for Optimus, Bumblebee, Blaster, Hot Rod, Ultra Magnus (and even Megatron).  As I deal with my own disease now (I have developed Rheumatoid Arthritis) I often reach for the “Transformers – The Movie” soundtrack when exercising, and frequently listen to Stan Bush’s “The Touch” when needing a bit of encouragement or determination.   At home, there’s a cross-stitch of Optimus in my office, and at work his figure sits on my cadenza to remind me to (as Optimus once told Buster Witwicky in the cartoon): “hold on to your dreams, the future is built on dreams….” 

I want to sincerely thank Christine for her time. It was a real pleasure to get the chance to correspond.

Mail Art: A Guide For Making Comic Book Envelopes

Lets start off with a list of items you will need to create these envelopes.

  1. Comic book(s)
  2. Internet Access
  3. Envelope (3-5/8″ X 6-1/2″)
  4. Sharpie
  5. Scissors
  6. Glue Stick
  7. Labels (I use ‘Avery’ labels. 1″ X 3″. I got a pack of 72 for $1.12.)
  8. Double Sided Scotch Tape

Step 1. Comics!

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Get yourself a comic book or two. You can find them in grocery stores with an average cover price of $3.99 or you can go to your local comic book store. Comic book stores often have a fifty cent bin or a dollar bin of comics books. You can find comics with great art work for cheap at these places! You could also find inexpensive, oversized art books at a used book store. I have found that these are also great for creating envelopes.

Step 2. Internet Access!

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Check online comic book price checkers to make sure the book you have isn’t some rare or valuable book! Trust me. You don’t want to be known as the person who cut up a piece of irreplaceable history. So, once you get home with your comics, especially those you might have gotten from the dollar bin of your local comic book store, check their value. Don’t destroy rare or valuable comics!  Chances of this happening are slim to none, but as a comic book fan myself it would be remiss of me not to suggest this. I’ve used online free services like Comic Book Realm or Comics Price Guide to help me determine if a book was valuable.

Step 3. Envelope!

Box of Envelopes

Get a box of envelopes with the measurements of 3-5/8″ X 6-1/2″. These are the square or rectangle shaped envelopes which I find work a lot better than the triangle envelopes when lining up the image on the comic book you want to be the focal point of your envelope.

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Once you have one of these envelopes you want to gently pull it apart at the seams so you can lay it out flat. This will be your envelope template

TIP: You can cut out the center of the flattened out envelope so you can see where your image is going to be on your new envelope. You can also use your flattened envelop template to create a stronger template out of cardboard if you would like.

Step 4. Remove Staples!

comic-staples

Once you have picked out the image on the comic book you want to be on the front of your handmade envelope you’ll want to remove the staples from the comic book and and just pull out the one page that you want to use for the envelope. I have always been able to use my finger nail to remove the staples, but you can carefully use tweezers or even a butter knife if you like.

Step 4. Sharpie!

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Trace around your template on top of the comic book page you want to be the focal point of your envelope using your pen. I would suggest using a sharpie or a marker here to make it easier to cut.

Step 5. Scissors!

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Grab your scissors and cut around your outline.

Step 6. Folding!

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Using your envelop template as a guide, fold all sides of your envelope. First the sides, than the bottom and finally the top flap. Once all the sides have bin folded over the ruler, remove the ruler and finish the fold my pressing down on it with your finger so it is flat.

Step 7. Glue Stick!

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Uncap your glue stick and apply the paste to the left and right folds. Next, lay the bottom fold across the left and right fold tabs so that it sticks. Do not glue the top flap. Your letter needs that open so it can be inserted into your envelope!

At this point I like to put the envelope under a book for several minutes to help the glue stick better.

Step 8. Labels or Stencils!

Lables

There are two ways I’ve found to address these envelopes. The easy way is to get yourself a pack of Avery labels sized, 1″ X 3″. Take two labels. On one label write down the recipients address and then apply it to the front of the envelope doing your best to not cover up important parts of the image. One the second envelope write your address. This will be applied on the back flap of the envelope.

Examples

Recently however, I’ve been using a combination of stencils, Black Sharpie Ultra fine point pens and white gel pens. (Here is a Link to the Stencils I use.) I like this method of addressing my envelopes because it does not cover up as much of the image as a label would. I still uses a label on the back of the envelope for the return address.

Step 9. Double Sided Scotch Tape!

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Once you have written your letter and put in the envelope you can apply double sided scotch tape to the flap so that you can seal the letter closed. I like to use three small strips across the flap.

Don’t forget to stamp the envelope before you put it in a mail box!

Below are several envelopes I have created.

ADDITIONAL TIPS & TRICKS!

  • Use your ruler and a pen to draw out faint guide lines on your labels for writing your address. That along with writing slowly will allow you to write a very legible address on your labels. Once the ink is dry you’ll be able erase your guide lines without smudging the writing.
  • The envelope side used in this guide is perfect for correspondence size paper, or A5 sized paper. I prefer to use paper without guide lines. My personal favorite paper to use is Tomoe River Paper.
  • Here is a great guide on how to write a letter.

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  • Sometimes you want to create envelopes of different sizes or all kinds of reasons. If that is your goal I want to suggest that you pick up the, Kuretake Handmade Envelope Template – Japanese Version. This template makes nice small envelopes for gifts as well as letter sized envelopes for mailing larger A5 paper. For me this template arrived quickly and packaged well to survive a rough trip through the mail. It’s a pretty great  solution if you want to create different sizes of envelopes.

Transformers Review Issue 53: Recipe for Disaster!

With issue 53 we find out if the Autobot Pretenders are eaten up by the Mecannaibals. It should be interesting. But we can’t find out what happens before we check out the cover art.

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I want to flip out over this cover because it was drawn up by JIM LEE! This is some of his early work and the cover is so nice and detailed. It’s only one of two covers Jim Lee did for Transformers that I’m currently aware of. We have a rendering of a heavily armored, large, bikini wearing, Amazonian like women holding the head of Cloudburst’s up by some wires. The sword she is holding in her other hand is implying she shopped his head off.  Jim really draws humans well, and at a time where it seemed other artists where upset that they had to draw robots, he does a fantastic job of not only giving the Transformers hard lines but giving him expression and life. The Amazonian says “Next!” while she looks directly at the reader.

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We pick up with this issue right where we left off. Cloudburst and Landmine are about to be eating by the Mecannibals. They start by pulling the Autobots out of their shells with an electromagnet. Once removed the Autobots use radio control to have their shells fight for them. Before things get to out of hand Cloudburst suggest that the Mecannibals not to eat them just yet because they have a way to make their meal taste much better with proper seasonings. Something the Autobots will have to go out and get. In order to insure their return the Mecannibals hold on to Berko. Turing this time, the Autobots also learn that the chips they were trying to by from the Mecannibals are from the robots that have been eaten.

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So, The Autobots embark to Femax, A whole world led by brave, Amazonian like women warriors. On this planet the men are treated as feeble and weak. The leader on Femax is known as ‘First One’ and starts off by challenging Clouburst to a series of physical tests designed to prove that he is true fighter.

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Passing all the trails and tests, Cloudburst, proves to the ‘First One’ that he is a warrior with the skills of a warrior. He also, unknowingly proved to the ‘First One’ that he would make a great mate. This does make this uncomfortable for Cloudburst who ends up revealing himself as a Transformer. The ‘First One’ feels lied to and responds by cutting off Cloudbursts head. Landmine ends up having to reason with the ‘First One’. Reasoning is something Landmine has been struggling with throughout the the issue. But, the ‘First One’ Listens and eventually agrees to give the Autobots the crystals they are after for seasoning so that they can save their friend and restore Cloudburst’s head.

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As the Autobots attempt to leave the planet Femax, they are stopped by Darkwing and Dreadwind, but Sky Lynx shows up and makes short work of the Decepticons. He then informs the Pretenders that they have been working with binary bonded Decepticons. Information they start to think would be of interest to the Mecannibals.

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Returning to the Mecannibals’ ship, the Autobots change their deal with them. They are no longer going to fix a meal for the Mecannibals with the seasoning crystals they acquired. Rather they will ask that the robots that the Mecannibals have eaten be restored using the parts they recycled through their digestive systems. Failing to agree to the Autobots terms will result in Sky Lynx being let loose on Hi-Test and Throttle. THe Mecannibals agree because they find these two to be to useful to them. As the Autobots leave the ship they tell the Mecannibals that Hi-Test and Throttle are robots and have a nice day.

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The issue closes out with the Autobot Pretenders heading back to the ark with out their microchips. Hi-Test and Throttle and the Powermasters are chased after by the Mecannibals.

My Thoughts On This Issue

Man oh man this cover. I have a dream of one day owning a Jim Lee signed version of one of his two Transformers covers. I know this cover is some of his earlier work, but it really does look good. It’s not my favorite Transformers cover. But he is one of my favorite artists in the comic book world.

The cover does a good job of hitting at the story inside, but it is a huge disconnect from the first part of this story in the last issue. I can imagine kids buying this comic wanting to know what happens next thinking, “WTF?” when seeing this cover.

The first page of 53, I thought did a great job of telling people who didn’t read the last issue what was going on. I rather liked it and think it’s my favorite part of this issue. Something about how it was written and how they didn’t feel the need to do a huge flashback scene like they tend to do.

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I found myself confused by who’s side Berko is really on at the start of the story. The way Hi-Test and Throttle implied that Berko helped them by having the Autobots reveal themselves to him was very miss leading by the time I got to the end of the story. Thought, that might be a good thing because that little mystery of who’s side is Berko really on, kept me reading excitedly till the end to find out.

One last thing I want to touch on is Gender. It seems like Gender has been a hot button in the Transformers world recently. Which is to bad because event thought I’m not a fan of IDW Publishing’s current on going Transformers series, I can see gender arguments affecting story telling in a possible negative way. I think comic book readers really want a good story first and for most. With that said, I discovered on page 18 of this issue, Cloudburst explains to First One, “Where I come from there are no men, no women… no mates!” It’s the first time I have noticed that the issue was brought up and addressed. Though, I do recall questions about gender being asked in the TransMissions letter section by fans.

So, issue 53 is read and absorbed. What did everyone think? What where your takeaways from this issue? Let me know, I want to hear from you.

Transmission Letters This Issue

Transformers-53-TransMissionsDear Trans-Missions:
In response to Jeffrey Bryce’s letter in TRANSFORMERS #43:
The Transformers do not need to breathe like humans do. But they often still need oxygen to burn the fuels that they consume. Energon, the Transformers’ basic fule, does not need oxygen since it is already a pure energy form and doesn’t need to burn to release energy.
A Transformer can also operate using Earth’s carbon=based petroleum fuels if the necessary internal adjustments are made. Nearly all of the Transformers here on Earth have been adapted to accept both Energon and Earth fuels. But when a robot is functioning on a petro-fuel, he must have atmospheric oxygen readily available. Obviously, this would inhibit any robots operation in space or underwater; therefore, he must be using Energon to function in either of these environments.
I hope that I have answered at least some of Jeffrey’s questions concerning the technical aspects of the Transformers.
Perceptor
The Ark

We have it on good authority that this letter was not sent by Perceptor, but ism in fact, a forgery. However, the explanation of the Transformers’ oxygen needs sounds legit, so we printed it anyway.

Editors and Writers of Transformers,
Female Transformers? How absurd! I always had the idea that they were “Its,” not sexual beings.
Emmett E. Brandon
Dickinson, TX

Good point. Many readers have asked us to introduced “female” Transformers. How can we? Transformers have no gender! Since the Transformers do not reproduce sexually, they have no need to be male or female. Most have characteristics and personalities that are commonly associated with males. So they are referred to as “He’s.” On a rare occasion, one might come across as female and is referred to as a “she.” Arce fits into this latter category, but referring to themselves as “He’s” and “she’s” is a convention the Transformers probably picked up from hanging around Earthlings too long.

Dear Transmissions,
1. Where is Rodimus Prime?
2. Now that Optimus Prime is alive, will Rodimus Prime take his place?
3. Where is Galvatron?
4. Will there be another Transformers movie?
5. Will there be a new TRANSFORMERS UNIVERSE?
Steve Vazarez
Mastir, NY

1. He doesn’t get created until the year 2005. Only 16 years to go.
2. Wait till 2005
3. See answer #1
4. No plans at the moment.
5. See answer #4
You questions raise another question, Steve: Why is there so much confusion concerning when things happen in the TRANSFORMERS? Hmm… that’s a good one, but we think we can explain: TRANSFORMERS, the comic, began in 1984 and takes place in the present. TRANSFORMERS, the movie, as well as many subsequent TRANSFORMERS TV shows, takes place in the year 2005 and beyond. Many of the characters and events that you and many other readers associate with the Transformers haven’t happened, yet!
Now let’s return to 1989…

Dear Transmissions:
I think i’ve just had an idea that could solve your TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE problem.
Everyone who has read the comic series and or seen the movie has probably noticed that Optimus Prime was, when the story (will have) happened, not the Optimus Prime who has recently reborn in your regular series! That Op is a Powermaster. The movie Op was the original. There is also the problem of Megatron’s being alive, and Bumblee’s transformation into Goldbug. The last issue you addressed once. I believe, and you said that a lot could happen between now and then.
I think expecting us to believe that they will all just revert to their older, less powerful forms is silly. If Megatron was re-formed, you would be restricted to no improvements or revisions or changes upon Megatron, and no transformers to Galvatron because, being that two reversions were hard to believe, three would be impossible!
Let me momentarily digress, all Marvelites are familiar with the concept of parallel and semi-parallel universes, am i correct? That is, we all accept that, at least, in the realm of comics, there is an infinity of universes-al-most-like-our-own, and each one differs from our own by, perhaps, one decision or one action.
Well, I think it was silly of you not to tell us that THE TRANSFORMERS MOVIE limited series occurred in another universe that the one about which you normally write! You saw the movie and thought it would be a wonderful story to adapt. but silly you forgot to tell us that your comic series does not necessarily have the fat. See all the confusion you’ve caused? Naught, naughty!
So now you may rest easy, knowing that your readers now understand what you’ve been up to.
Lissa Shock
Vienna WV

Parallel Transformers universes? Interesting theory, Lissa, but a good theory needs to be proven-although until the year 2005comes around we can’t know for sure, can we?

Ladies and Gentlemen:
Hail Galvatron! HAIL GALVATRON! HAIL GALVATRON!
Brian K. Reynolds

Please! Can’t you wait 16 years for this sort of outburst?

Dear Transmissions,
I was disappointed after reading issue #43, the primary reason being the adaptation of the TV episode “The Big Broadcast of 2006.” I buy the comic because it has different stories and they are much better than most of the TV shows. Keep the comic in the present and out of the future to avoid creating conflicts in the stories.
Karl Raguse
Farmington Hills, MI

Dear Guys,
How could you!?! you actually took a story from the Transformers cartoon show and used it for the comic book!
David Noguerole

We thought adopting a television script into comic book form would be an interesting change of pace, but Karl, David and many other letter-writers apparently disagree. All right, people, we hear ya! And we agree with you, Karl: the present is the place to be!

Dear Ralph an Don,
The TV episode “The Big Broadcast of 2006 A.D.” is the greatest issue of the TRANSFORMERS books history!

On the other hand, maybe adapting television scripts isn’t such a bad idea after all!
Let’s end on a controversial note:

Dear Transmissions,
Will Double Dealer, Quickswitch or Sixshot be appearing in future issues?
Duffy McDonald
Ontario, NY

Dear Transmissions,
You are introducing too many new characters at the same time. It seems to me there’s a new character introduced every issue!
Tuan Giang Lieu
Van Nuys, CA

Dear Marvel,
Bring back Rumble, Frenzy and Megatron!
Justin Powell

And so, the eternal battle continues to rage – should we introduce new Transformers, bring back old ones, or…here’s another possibility…

Dear Transmissions,
We have created several new Transformer characters of a completely different nature, and we would like to know how to proceed in submitting them.
David and Jeremy Jacobs
Birmingham, AL

David and Jeremy, please – give us a break! As you can see from Duffy, Tuan and Justin’s letters, we don’t get enough of the existing Transformers into the book as it is! As much as we’d like to, we just can’t squeeze in any more! But we appreciate the offer.

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TransMissions: Steve De Anda

This is so exciting for me. Every time I publish a Marvel Transformers comic book review, I check the original issue to see if there was a reader letter section, what the Transformers comic called ‘TransMissions’. If I find this in the back of one of the comics I’m reviewing, I will type up the letters and include them in my review. The coolest part about doing this for me is when someone who wrote one of these letters contacts me. it’s happened once before with Jeb Hoge and now it’s just happened again with Steve De Anda.

Jose Delbo and Steve De Anda holding an issue of Marvel's Transformers #42. Photo taken on July 4th, 2014

José Delbo and Steve De Anda holding an issue of Marvel’s Transformers #42. Photo taken on July 4th, 2014

Steve’s original letter to Marvel reads:

1988 Photograph of Steve De Anda

1988 Photograph of Steve De Anda

Dear Misguided Autobot Lovers,
I just gotta write this: In TRANSFORMERS issue #37, you made the Predacons look like a bunch of mis-wired clods. It just ain’t fair. Stop making the awesome Deceitpcons look like a meeting of Wimps Anonymous. Sure, They’re not exactly the friendliest guys in the world, and Ratbat may be a jerk, but please, show a little sympathy.
Another thing – are the Throttlebots gone forever? Their bodies don’t look so good. I spent most of my allowance collecting them and then you go and do this. Now I’ve got to find a car crusher that will smash such tiny cars!
Overall, you people are doing a wonderful job. I wanna see Octane meet up with Ratbat. That should show the Ratster how to conserve fuel! Keep up the great work, Oh yeah, I loved the HEADMASTERS!
Steve De Anda
El Paso, TX

And the response he got back all those years ago:

Sympathy? You want sympathy for a giant robot who’s… unh… looking over my shoulder menacingly as I type this? Why, sure, Steve, no problem! Oh, and Ratbat has the address of that car crusher you wanted…

Well Steve recently contacted me through my website and I was able to to ask him some additional questions over e-mail. I hope you all enjoy his answers just as much as I did.

Youseph: How did you discover the Transformers?

Steve: I think it was at a mall in my hometown of El Paso, Texas back in ’84. I was ten and my sister was nine and I remember being in a department store and getting Sunstreaker while she got Mirage. I wasn’t aware of the comic or cartoon. All we had were those two toys. I remember opening Sunstreaker that day and just being completely blown away. It was from a neighbor kid that I found out later on there was a comic but that was after the miniseries came out.

Youseph: Where did you get your Transformers comics from?

TF 3 packSteve: At first it was the comic racks of grocery stores and gas stations. I didn’t start with the comics until issue 5 but I remember buying 1-3 in a comic 3 pack at a now defunct store chain called Winn’s sometime in ’85. Winn’s was my source of Transformers back issues because of those comic packs. They were just flimsy plastic bags with a red banner on top and a graphic of Spider-Man with a blurb announcing you got 3 comics for $1.99 or whatever the price was. They were all second printings. It bothered me when I was a kid that all I had were second printings of those first three issues as they didn’t seem as authentic as first printings and owning them made me feel like a bandwagon hopper. I was missing #4 for the longest time because I had to wait for a second printing of it to show up in the three packs. I didn’t know comic shops existed until sometime around 1986 or else I’d have gotten 4 much sooner.

Marvel Transformers 3 park 3Primarily I’d buy them when my mom would take us to get groceries. I’d always hit the comic rack in the magazine section and that’s how it was for me from issue 6 to around the mid forties. I also occasionally used a mail order service called Westfield Comics and got them delivered to me each month. I hung on until #76 when I gave up on the comic because I just got tired of the whole Unicron schtick. I remember paging through #76 in the grocery store and it being the first Transformers book after all those years that I left on the racks. I guess I just outgrew it. At the time I was heavy into the more teenager oriented Spider-Man comics.

It wasn’t until 1993 that I finally tracked down a first printing of TF #1 for the astronomical price of $5 at a shop called 1,000,000 Comix in Laramie, Wyoming. I knocked out the last five for $10-$15 each at a comic shop in Los Angeles around 2004 that I found after going to Botcon that year.

Youseph: You found my website because I republished a letter you wrote to Marvel about the Transformers comic. What compelled you to write to them?

Steve: I remember being 14 in ’88 and not sophisticated enough to appreciate the writing talents of Bob Budiansky or his style of telling off the wall stories. So at the time I felt like that issue where the Predacons got defeated by the Throttlebots was grounds for getting the guy fired. Not only was it the lame Throttlebots, but their brains were stuck in little radio controlled cars. And you have the Predacons who are supposed to be big bad Dinobot busting hunter badasses but end up unable to catch the tiniest of prey. I guess I just about had it with Budiansky. Looking back it’s a pretty funny story about mismatched opponents but it had me nerd raging at the time. I understand now it was just the kind of off kilter story he liked to tell and I never should have expected dark and gritty robot murder war epics filled with teenage angst like I wanted. I guess I should have realized I outgrew the stories but instead I felt like I was constantly getting trolled by Budiansky the whole time.

Youseph: What was it like to see your letter printed in the back of the comic?

Steve: I posted on your blog about how hyped I was about the new Powermaster Prime figure and how I wanted it more than anything in life at the time. I was so amazed and excited that my letter would be printed in the issue where he comes back. It was like the best Christmas present ever for a Transformers comic/PMOP fan. Then I read it and I remember being annoyed upon finding that the letter got edited and was a bit different from what I originally wrote. I felt slighted by that, like my serious criticism was made to look childish. I can’t remember specifics except that the term ‘Wimps Anonymous’ wasn’t mine. But I see now that the edits made the letter more interesting to read. I went to Iacon One in 2006 and met Budiansky there and got to sit down and talk to the guy for a little. We talked about the letters column and he said if I brought him the issue he could probably remember answering it. He said he answered most all of the letters in Trans Missions personally. Unfortunately I didn’t have 42 with me so he couldn’t go into specifics about mine.

Youseph: Who are you today and are you still a Transformers fan?

Steve: I live in southern Florida now. I am the dad of a seven year old Pokemon obsessed video game maniac and he thinks Transformers are for old people, which is kind of funny. I know they still make Transformers comics but don’t read them anymore nor do I go to Botcon and I only buy the occasional bootleg of a Masterpiece here and there. Since many of the old comic artists come down here for conventions I’ve gotten to meet them and have them sign my childhood comics. Despite my kid self thinking that 2nd printings were for losers, when I finally had the chance to meet Bob Budiansky or Bill Sienkiewicz it was my original beat up old 2nd printing of #1 that I had them sign.

I want to thank Steve De Anda for taking the time to let me interview him. Through our trading of e-mails back and forth, I’ve learned that Steve has his own impressive Podcast. It’s one that I’ve really enjoyed listening to and am currently going through all the back episodes. Check it out if you have a minute. He focuses on Robots from the 70s and 80s. It’s really quite impressive. I really don’t think you will be disappointed.

Transformers Review Issue 52: Guess Who the Mecannibals Are Having for Dinner?

With issue 52 we return to space! I recall seeing this issue when I first discovered Transformers comics. I remember seeing the cover and just thinking, whoa. A whole expanded world of the Transformers exists. I have to find out what happens! But before we get into the story lets check out the cover art that captured my imagination so many years ago.

Transformers-52-Cover-Youseph

Go Into Battle With Optimus Prime and Bumblee with this T-Shirt from 80sTees.com

This cover just pops! The white background helps the menacing looking Mecannibals jump off the page with their long legs, long sharp teeth, and large eyes. On the cover is also Landmine who is clearly fighting the Mecannibals for his very life on top of a spider web made of metal. I know this is going to sound like nostalgic love but I can still remember the feeling I had when I first saw this issue for the first time so many years ago. A whole world of Transformers I never knew existed and I could not wait to get inside it. If you can look at a crisp copy of this issue I doubt you would regret it.

Transformers-52-Cover

Our story kicks off from the point just after the Underbase story line. Several Autobots are depicted as damaged from the aftermath. Optimus Prime sends out Landmine and Cloudburst, both Pretenders, on a mission to secure several microchips to be used in repairing the damaged Autobots. The Pretenders are sent to Grand Central Space Station where they will try to procure the microchips off the black market. Optimus Prime warns the two Autobots that robots are not welcome on the space station. This is confirmed when the Pretenders enter a local bar on board the space station and a robot, who goes by Chromite, is forced to leave through the space station’s airlock.

Transformers-52-commander-optimus

Shortly after arriving the Autobot Pretenders find a couple of ship dealers. The two don’t realize that the dealers are in fact Nebulan Powermasters, Hi-Test and Throttle. The Autobots are also warned by another familiar face to the reader, Berko. Berko wants the two Pretenders that the chip dealers they are working with are not to be trusted. They also learn that a fellow Autobot, Sky Lynx was at the space station but has since gone missing.

Transformers-52-Little-guys

As the deal for microchips progress with the Nebulans, Landmine demands to be taken to their supplier directly to complete their transaction. Soon, the Pretenders find themselves up close and personal with Mecannibals. These spidery like robots are robot eaters. Because the Pretenders look like humans they find themselves safe from the Mecannibals appetite. The two parties agree to do business over Dinner. Dinner turns out to be Sky Lynx!

Transformers-52-skylinx

Landmine’s internal robot forum was staying outside at the beginning of the meeting, but then takes action and frees Sky Lynx. In the confusions, Landmine’s inner robot recombined with his otter shell, unnoticed by the Mecannibals. Afterword, the microchips transaction is completed.

Transformers-52-combine

With the mission complete the Pretenders head back to the space station only to reveal themselves to Berko which is observed by both Hi-Test and Throttle. Those two notify the local Bartender so that when the Pretenders go to the bar to settle up Berko’s tab they are quickly overpowered by the robot hating patrons and sent into space through the air lock.

Transformers-52-bar-brawl

The two are picked up by Dreadwing and taken to the Mecannibals’ ship. The spider like robots now know that the Pretenders are robots and are eager to have them for their next meal!

transformers-52-dinner

My Thoughts On This Issue

Sometimes, I think I might be reading through these issues to quickly. Keep in mind these issues came out monthly and I’m going through them at a rate of almost one a week. One issue we’re in space. The next issue we’re on earth. After that, we are back in space again! Stories that don’t actually affect each other. Not yet anyway.

What I’m trying to say, in a round about way, is that my mind gets used to being on earth and then I have to make a hard adjustment to being in space with pretenders and Mecannibals. I doubt this was an issue back in the day when readers did have to wait a month from one issue to the next. It gave their mind a chance to process everything and be prepared for the next adventure the following month.

I will say this. The longer I think back over this issue, the more I find myself liking it. One big help was seeing old friends again. Berko and Sky Lynx. Which is weird because I didn’t think I would miss Berko.

Over all I feel the story had a solid idea behind it. Need chips to fix the Autobots. I do question the Mecannibals being in possession of so many microchips. They just don’t seem like a life form that would have so many of them. Unless, when they eat robots they don’t each microchips? Maybe?

Throughout the issue, I also enjoyed the art. It wasn’t fantastic, but I have seen worse in a Transformers comic. I take that as a good thing.

The more I think about this issue the more I’m getting excited to read the next one and find out how this story concludes.

So what do you all think of this issue? Do you agree with me or am I way off base? Let me know when you have a moment. I would like to know.

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Transformers Review Issue 51: The Man in the Machine!

Starscream is gone. The Underbase is gone. The truce between the Autobots and the Decepticons is gone. Whats left and whats next? Where do we pick up? We find out in issue 51: The Man in the Machine! But first, lets check out this cover.

Transformers-issue-51-Cover-Yoshi

Show Your Autobot Allegiance With This Optimus Prime 84 Shirt from 80sTees.com

With issue 51 we are presented with a cover that I don’t find all that miss leading. The updated Transformers logo on the very top of the issue could be overlooked if you’re not paying close enough attention. Fortress Maximus is seen, headless, at a ski resort holding up the cables of a ski lift in an effort to protect the humans on board while two Decepticon Pretenders pounce into attack. Fortress Maximus‘ head lays before him in the snow while skiers swoosh by. “Slaughter on the Slopes!” is written in a snowy, icy, white font. I like the cover. Not the best i have ever seen but far from the worst, that’s for sure. 

Transformers-issue-51-Cover

Issue 51 kicks off with Spike Witwicky caught in one of his dreams. He is being chased by mechanical everything before he wakes up with a start in his bed in his fathers new home in Oregon.

Transformers-issue-51-WakeUP

When morning arrives Spike is out of the house as fast as can be after saying hello to his dad and brother. He he is off on a spur of the moment ski vacation where he plans to get rid of his Headmaster control helmet. His thinking is that the helmet might be responsible for his evil dreams and he just wants to get back to his old normal life.

Transformers-issue-51-helmet

While Spike travels to San Francisco to pick up his friend and ski buddy, Cliff, he stops at a junkyard and tosses the helmet inside. Shortly after leaving the area, Carnivac and Snarler, two Decepticon Pretenders, appear in the junkyard in search of Fortress Maximus. They are on a mission from Scorponok, who wants Fortress Maximus’ human component dead. With leftover residue inside the helmet the Pretenders are able to start tracking Spike.

Transformers-issue-51-dump

As Spike and Cliff now drive off to the ski resort, spike falls asleep and fall right back in to his nightmare. He again wakes up with a screaming start and Cliff is just looking at him with a weird expression on his face.

Transformers-issue-51-cardream

The next day the two are able to finally hit the slopes, but it is not long before they have their first encounters with the two Pretender Beasts. For a moment the two are able to how race the Decepticons on their skis. Spike and Cliff toss their jackets into a ravine in hopes that this will confuse the Decepticons. It works, but only for a short time.

Transformers-issue-51-slopes

Spike and Cliff find shelter in a small cave where Spike unloads his secrets to Cliff. Cliff uses his recent self-esteem therapy to tell spike that his dreams are about him running from his “Other Self”. In this case, Fortress Maximus.

Transformers-issue-51-cave

Next, spike falls asleep and in his dream allows himself to call into the pit. At the end of which he finds himself face to face with Fortress Maximus. This event triggers something to allow Spike to regain his psychic link with the Autobot. Spike is now able to call down Fortress Maximus from his storage space aboard the Autobot Ark.

Transformers-issue-51-link

By this time the Decepticons have found Spike and Cliff. Running through trees to try and slow down their pursuers, spike leads Cliff off a cliff and into Fortress Maximus’ waiting hands. Using just his mind, Spike guides the Autobot remotely into battle with the Pretenders. The signal is lagged however giving the Decepticons the advantage. The Pretenders split from their shells and start attacking Fortress Maximus from all sides and in doing so collapse a chair-lift that Fort Max has to support to save human lives.

Transformers-issue-51-formaxhit

Spike retrieves his control helmet from the Pretenders and commands Max to release his Headmaster armor which automagicly assembles around him. Spike combines with Cerebros, and then with Fortress Maximus and fights back against the Decepticons unhindered and sends the Decepticons running away.

Transformers-issue-51-hat

My Thoughts On This Issue

I feel like I just read a classic Transformers adventure. The down side to these kind of adventures is that they often feel forced and this one is no exception. I just felt like I had to hang on and go for the ride.

Two things stick out for me from the get go and I wish they where positive things. Spike’s needing to get out of his father’s house right away in the morning came off as rude to me. The matter was not helped by the fact that I didn’t feel his father or brother put up much of a fight to stop him. On the other hand, one could read between the lines that Spike had just been through a war and letting him go do something “normal” might be thought of as a good thing by his family.

I also found myself wondering how Sparkplug got a new house? Where is that story? Honestly, this would most likely not have bugged me if IDW had not made such a big deal pointing out everything Sparkplug had gone through in the IDW Transformers Classics collection. He has every reason, in my mind, to be an overly protective father of his children right now, be we don’t see that. There was a lot opportunity for Sparkplug’s character development that was just not explored.

I know, I know. I am asking way to much form a kids comic.

So whats everyone’s thoughts on this issue? I have really been enjoying reading your comments and responding to them. So please let me know your two cents.

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