Say “Cheese” and Die!

Reflector has to be the coolest Decepticon around. Like Devastator, Superion, Predaking, and a host of others, Reflector is a combiner Transformer. Three Decepticons (Spectro, Spyglass, and Viewfinder), that combine their forms together to create a classic looking 80s camera. Unlike the above mentioned combiners, the three individual bots that create Reflector cannot transformer into anything on their own. They are individual bots or one combined camera. That’s it.

Youseph_Reflector

As a kid I was an Autobot loyalist. Whenever I could buy a Transformers from the department store it was always one of the good guy Autobots.

Reflector_Camera_Front_LeftAngle

There was however, one Decepticon I always wanted to get. One I never saw in a store. That was Reflector. These three Decepticons eluded me throughout my childhood. It’s only as an adult that I discovered why.

Takar Reissue of Reflector.
Takar Reissue of Reflector.

Spectro, Spyglass, and Viewfinder were released and relatively easy to find in Japan during the 80s. The same cannot be said about them in the United States. Hasbro decided not to release these ‘Cons in U.S. retail even though they where in the cartoon and were present in issue 4 of Marvel Comics’ The Transformers. Its puzzling because everything I’ve read  indicates that Hasbro couldn’t make enough quantity or variety of Transformers to satisfy demand at the time.

Original Generation 1 1986 Figures
Original Generation 1 1986 Figures

It wasn’t till 1986 and 1987 that mail away promotions for Reflector started to appear. Kids in the U.S. could now start getting their hands the combiner. At the cost of $10 and two robot points (plus $1.25 for Shipping and handling), this elusive trio of Decepticons finally find homes in the United States.

Reflector Mail Away Order Form
Reflector Mail Away Order Form

I can’t help but think that at just $10 Hasbro was just trying to get rid of stock. Weird.

The brochure to order Reflector was small. Just 1“ X 2”. A size that allowed it to be packaged with the sticker sheet and instruction manual of smaller toys like Mini Vehicles and combiner limbs. Even with the brochure unfolded it must have been difficult to fill out something that small.

Reflector Directions
Reflector Directions

Today, you have options if you want Reflector in your collection.

One option is eBay. This is how I acquired my original Generation One Reflector. Prices, condition, and availability are going to very.

Another option is to look online for a Takara reissue. At $50 (give or take), you’ll get Spectro, Spyglass, and Viewfinder, all in a box that calls back to the glory days of Generation One.

Transformers Review Issue 63: Kings of the Wild Frontier

Transformers issue 63 is here and we are in for a western ride this time around. Thought it was a good issue, its clear it’s following a pattered of story telling established in issue 62. It looks like the next couple of stories are going to follow this template which, I think, will end with the Transformers finally locating the Matrix. Lets get into this review and see if I’m right. But first, lets check out this cover.

Transformers_Issue_63_Youseph

Great Transformers T-Shirts Can Be Found At 80sTees.com!

This old west themed cover really grabbed my attention because, thanks to my older brother’s influence, I have an affection for Westerns. This cover features Thunderwing, front and center, with his  Decepticon troops propagated in the background. The background shows old western main street complete with a wooden sidewalk. There is even a shop sign at the top of the issue hanging by changes, displaying the Transformers logo. The Autobot insignia next to the logo has been painted over with a new Decepticon insignia. In the background Needlenose, appears to be holding a branding iron of the updated Decepticon insignia. Thunderwing is holding a weird four barrel gun with his hand and shoulder. “Ah’ve come fer mah MATRIX!” he says on the cover. To the left is written, “You’ll never forget the day they drifted in…” Also, written on the bottom right of the cover, “Thunderwing and the Deceitpcons hit town!” It’s a cover with a great use of color, but like most Transformers covers, not everything depicted on the cover happens in the issue.

Transformers_issue63_coverOn the planet of Cheyne, the Triggerbots search for the Matrix when they are almost run over by a group of riders then discover that these riders are pursuing an alien child. Dogfight, who has been itching to fight from the start of this issue, gets into the action and the other Autobots follow. The Autobots scar away the group of riders despite their warnings about the child. The Autobots return the child to its parents who insist the Autobots stay away and rest up before moving on.

Transformers_issue63_enoughOver to Thunderwing, we see has attached his three Autobot prisoners (Hosehead, Nightbeat and Siren), from the last issue up to a device that attempts to extract information from their heads. If the Autobots try to fight it off they are painfully punished. The point of this is so Thunderwing can learn as much about the Matrix Quest as they can before setting down on Cheyne.

Transformers_issue63_MindLeechBack on the planet, Hud and his family tell their sob story to the Triggerbots, ending with how they are now picked on by the locals who wont be happy until they have taken away their farm. The Autobots are convinced to stay over night on the farm to rest up before they leave.

Transformers_issue63_Hud

Now, the Triggerbots have been convinced to stay even longer with the Hud family and help on the farm. It’s also clear at this point their minds have been fogged and maybe even controlled. Non of them can remember the Matrix Quest.

Transformers_issue63_ImportantMr. Hud, travels to the town of Osaplam and Dogfight follows to provide protection. Soon they are confronted by Thunderwing and his Decepticons. After a quick battle, Thunderwing deduces that Dogfight’s mind is all but gone and can’t provide any new information about the Matrix. Thunderwing and the others leave Cheyne.

Transformers_issue63_nameDogfight pulls out of his mental fog. either by the Decepticon beating or the fact that Hud is not near by. Whatever the reason he is starting to remember. Dogfight is then approached by the riders he had attacked the day before and is told that mind control is the family’s evil nature. Without wasting time Dogfight races back to the Hud ranch and at gun point forces the Hud family to reveal their true form. They turn out to be Vrobian psychic vampires that have been feeding off the Matrix life-energy all of them have. A fight breaks out which snaps the remaining Triggerbots out of their mental fog.

Transformers_issue63_DogfightThe issue ends with the dispatching of the Hud family and with the Triggerbots contemplating the point of war and if they are any better than the evil doers they fight against.

Transformers_issue63_Victory

Transmission Letters This Issue

Dear Transmissions,

Transformers_Issue63_TransMissionsI have just finishes issue #57, and it was pretty rad, even if I wasn’t rooting for Megatron’s return. However, one question is very much on my mind: what is happening to Optimus Prime?? He isn’t the brave, kind, smart, etc., Autobot leader I used to know. Is it because he no longer has the Matrix of Leadership? Whats going on?

Also, when are you going to put female Autobots in the comic? I know Arcee is in the movie comic book, but that’s not enough for us girl fans. So if you’re ever going to do it, do it now!

Barbara Walker
Nazareth, PA

As you might have gathered from recent issues, Optimus Prime is going through a tough time at the moment, and even the mighty Autobot leader has feelings and emotions. He’s lost the Creation Matrix, and one of his best friends…and believe us, this is just the start of his problems! Before it gets any better for Optimus Prime, it’s gonna get a whole lot worse! Didn’t we finally sort out that there were no male or female characters—just Transformers (most of whom seem to be modeled on the male of the species)? Oh well, if we didn’t before, we have now. Okay?

Dear Transmissions,

TRANSFORMERS #57 was totally awesome! I’m sure that Megatron’s master plan is going to be very successful! Imagine: using your worst enemy, Starscream (the most traitorous, evil villain that ever existed– he’s my favorite, by the way) to destroy your other enemies is pure genius. The main reason that i’m writing this letter is to ask you why everyone is so down on Grimlock? According to his tech specs, he has an intelligence raking of 7, which would indicate that his intelligence is above average. This means he’s a whole lot smarter than a lot of other Autobots, so please keep this in mind when you use the new Pretender Grimlock. Like someone once said, “may your luster never dull, and your wires never cross!”

David Buzzell
North Bend, WA

And the same to you David (whatever it means!). We think your appraisal of Grimlock’s intelligence is right on the money. Grimlock is intelligenct, he just chooses not to show it (we also suspect his speech circuits might well be fairly basic). Friend and foe alike tend to underestimate Grimlock because of this, giving him a considerable edge. We’ll be taking a close look at Girmlock (and the other Dinobots!) in an upcoming issue.

Dear Transmissions,

For a long time I’ve felt that the Transformers series was somewhat disappointing, while at the same time being full of potential. In the last few issues I’ve perceived crucial changes that lead me to believe you’re finally tapping that elusive potential. And best yet, it’s leading somewhere! Megatron’s revival, although not captivating for me, was an essential step in your progression. And now that Megatron’s revival, although not captivating for me, was an essential step in your progression. And now that Megatron’s overseeing the restoration of Starscream–this is almost too much! Optimus Prime unleashed? Never! Really? I’d love to see Prime kick Megaton into the next time zone.

One Suggestion: I’m sure a lot of Transformers fans would like to contact others, including me. So why don’t you devote a page each issue to addresses of TF fans who’d like to correspond? Give it a try, eh?

Brendan Crispin
Madison, WI

To be honest, Brendan, the Transformers series has always been “leading somewhere.” As with all continuing sagas, the main story has many smaller tales to tell, not all of which need to be epic or cosmic to be enjoyable. At the moment, the comic is taking a very positive direction to a battle the like of which it’s never seen before, but–in the course of getting there-it will take many twists and detours. We hope all readers will enjoy both these detours and the main journey! As for a pen-pals page, we’ll let you decide. If we get enough names and address from budding corresponders, w’ll print a selection when we’ve the space. We’ve printed your full address to start the ball rolling… 

Dear Transmissions,

Why is it that TRANSFORMERS doesn’t have an annual? Is it that the Transformers are too tough for the Marvel Universe?

Daniell Patton
Big Spring, TX

Dear Transmissions,

I am writing to demand a TRANSFORMERS ANNUAL. I mean, even that no-account, organic, big-nosed alien (namely ALF), has one…and he’s had only a fraction of TRANSFORMERS’ 57 issues.

Nicholas Gustafson
Oakville, ONT

Do we detect a certain feeling out there that many of you would dearly love to see a TRANSFORMERS Annual next year? All we can say is keep those requests and demands flooding in, and who knows?

Dear Transmissions,

I am sick an dtired of you guys. Fifty eight issues have gone by and still no Rodimus Prime! I know you’re going to say the same old thing–“he doesn’t come around until the year 2005.” Ooooh! Don’t you think we get sick and tired of hearing that? Well, chew on this. Trypticon didn’t come around until after the movie (when Rod first appeared) and you had him in issue #25.

The Headmasters and Targetmasters didn’t make the scene until after the movie, and we said hello to them in issue #40! If you haven’t guessed my question yet, it’s–WHERE THE HECK IS RODIMUS PRIME?! You can’t say he doesn’t come around until 2005, because all these characters came before him!

Mike Barkhouse
Nova Scotia, BON

Let’s clear this up once and for all. Many of you seem to think that the cartoon series and comic continuities are tied up with each other. Not so. The cartoon series is entirely different from the comic in both its sequence of events and representation of characters. The closest in terms of a possible future is the movie, but even then it might not be what eventually happens. Enjoy the cartoon series by all means, but don’t think it shows what will happen in the comic. Issue #43 was the only episode that tide in directly with the cartoon series. Rodimus Prime appears in issue #67, but whether you’ll enjoy this particular appearance remains to be see!

Dear Transmissions,

I bought TRANSFORMERS #57 and loved it! I read the book so many times i have it memoriezed. Now that MEgatron is back, will he lead the decepticons again? Even though he is power-hungry, i still think he’d make a better leader than Scorponok. Another thing. My friend told me to tell you to get rid of Circuit Breaker, because she interferes too much with the Autobot/Decepticon war. Please have someone destroy her!

Ted Bucci
Y., Ohio

With the introduction of Thunderwing and a certain future Decepticon leader, it may be that there’ll be quite a bit of competition for the Decpticon leadership (and let’s not rule out a few ex-Decepticon leaders who may or may not be dead from this equation) in issues to come. Who will rule? That is a question whose answer will have dire consequences for both the Decepticons…and the Autobots! Poor old Circuit Breaker. We’re happy to say that not everyone agrees with you there!

Dear Transmissions,

I would like a Transformers cross-time saga, with Circuit Breaker starring! A ten-part series would do! Nuff Said.

Wesley Holland
Los Angeles, CA

Sheesh! Would you settle just for the return of Circuit Breaker?

My Thoughts On This Issue

Lets work our way back words. The issue ends with the Triggerbots taking the lives of the Hud Family. Even as the reader understands it was more or less a them-or-us situation, it’s still came off to me as very extreme and at the moment I don’t think I like it. Making the Autobots killers? I guess this brings to light the fact that war is messy and people die.

I want to point out that this issue marks the return of Jose Delbo and If I’m not mistaken, I would say his art has improved since we saw his work last.

The new or updated Decepticon logo doesn’t show it’s self in this issue. Not sure why it’s on the cover and if anyone knows for sure, I would love to find out.

Thunderwings four barrel gun on the cover also isn’t seen in this issue.

It’s a solid story. A little bit of a bummer regarding the ending. Thought, I guess it helps make it more real. I wonder if the remaining issues of this Matrix Quest will be more real also.

Let me know what you all thought of this book.

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Transformers Review Issue 62: Bird of Prey!

Transformers issue 62 kicks off the Matrix Quest. The Matrix may very well be the only thing in the universe that can stop Unicon and the Autobots are desperate to find it. I’m desperate to find out what happens, but before we flip open this floppy lets check out the cover art!

Transformers_issue_62_Youseph

Fantastic Transformers T-Shirts Can Be Found At 80sTees.com!

The cover to issue 62 makes a whole lot of sense after you read the issue. This cover show the cover of a cheap, ten-cent, detective novel featuring Nightbeat, Siren, and Hosehead being surrounded at gun point. This plays into the fact that the three characters are involved in a bit of sleuthing within the pages of this comic. The detective novel titled, ‘Bird of Prey!’, is surrounded by items which i think are Cybertronian in nature. Keys, lighter, micro recorder, and others. The Transformers logo at the top has a slight change with the Autobot logo being replaced with the logo for the Matrix Quest. The cover is nice and there is nothing wrong with it. It’s just not a favorite of mine.

Transformers_issue62_coverOur issue kids off with the Autobot faction sending out search teams into the galaxy to find the Creation Matrix hopping they can find it and use it against the Unicron threat.

Transformers_issue62_PrimeOn the planet of Pz-Zazz, Nightbeat, Siren, and Hosehead question local mobsters as to the whereabouts of the Matrix. Nightbeat, lacking true interrogating skills, result in the headmasters punched, thrown through a window, and shot at. Am alien being is hurt in the cross fire, but passes on a bird statue to Nightbeat before death takes him.

Transformers_issue62_AlienAfter getting away from the gun fight, Nightbeat wants to follow-up on this statue, but his friends convince him to continue with their mission at hand. Still, Nightbeat feels the statue has something to do with their main mission.

Transformers_issue62_MissionThe Autobots conversation is overheard by a Miss Fatale. She shared with them the story of the ‘font of life’ and how it once sat on top of a nearby mountain. The Autobots think this might be the Matrix. In trade for Miss Fatale taking them to the mountain temple, she asked for the bird statue with the claim that it is her property. Siren and Hosehead go with Fatale to the mountain while Nightbeat retrieves the bird statue.

Transformers_issue62_FataleAt the top of the mountain, Hosehead, Siren, and Fatale come face to face with one of the local gang leaders who wants the bird statue. Nightbeat races up just then and shares that the statue is a life-giving source of power, not unlike the Matrix of leadership. He disables the gangsters and places the bird statue back within its cradle on the temple.

Transformers_issue62_birdtempleUpon placing the bird back in its proper place, the planet is restored to it’s old glory. The story ends with Thunderwing and his Decepticons shooting Nightbeat and the others in the back. He wants to find out why so many Autobots are searching this end of the galaxy.

Transformers_issue62_ThunderwingTransmission Letters This Issue

Dear TransMissions,

Transformers_Letters_62I’ve finished reading issue #57 for the second time. Congratulations on bringing Megatron back to your pages. Among some of us females, Megatron’s well-built chassis is definitely a sight for malfunctioning optics! That’s right, guys -I’m a female Decepticon. Anyway, I’m glad somebody finally had the good sense to pay attention to the hordes of angry ‘cons waiting for Megatron’s return. Now that he is fully functional, let’s see him regain his rightful place as leader of the Deceitpcons. We know Meggie is the ONLY Decepticon leader…right, guys? Besides, Megatron’s cute!

Diane Kuhn
(Nightclaw)
Secae, PA

Cute?! Sigh…and there we were thinking this was a serious critique of issue #57. By the way, Meggie sends his love (if you can’t beat ’em…!).

Dear TransMissions,

Just read Transformers #56, was not impressed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing the plot (as it featured the return of Megatron and was written by Simon Furman, it just couldn’t fail) or the artwork, as such. The part that I really hated, that really ruined it for me, was the eyeballs! transformers don’t have eyeballs!! Since issue #43 you’ve given them these meaningless dots in their eyes. Please get Jose to stop drawing them in. Also, please introduce Galvatron soon!

Chris Hoffman
CA

Galvatron? Soon? Yeah, okay… how does issue #67 grab you? Book your copy now! eyeballs, eh? Well, the eyeballs are gradually being phased out (you’ll have noticed that Megatron had lost his “meaningless dots” by issue #57). However, some characters simply do have eyeballs, so we’re afraid you’ll just have to hide your eyes when you see them!

Dear Transmissions,

HOW COULD YOU?! After 31 issues of TRANSFORMERS you’ve brought back the malevolent Megatron! I am a big Transformers fan, but I will stop reading the comic if Megatron is not killed by Optimus Prime… soon!

Chad Scasny
Milwalkee, WI

Will “maybe killed by Rachet” do?

Dear Transmissions,

I think you’re doing a great job with the comic. You’re finally phasing out the fleshlings (there were just too many of them!), which is good news. I just finished reading issue #57 and it was great! Op busting loose and Megaton is back… yeah!! Keep up the great work!

Brian Poelstra
Hayti, SD

Glad to see you’re happy with the direction the book is taking, Brian. What about the rest of you Transformers fans out there? Are you happer with the focus mainly on the Transformers, with humans more as supporting characters? Let us know what you think. Okay, back on issue #57’s Transmissions page we asked readers to tell us whether the idea of a time crossover story to introduce Galvatron to the storyline was desirable. Just about everyone had an opinion, so here are a few selections from those letters…

Dear Transmissions,

…my answer is yes, yes, YES! I think it’s a great idea. I’m sure you could create a lot of confusion over whos hould lead!

Mike Cordiero
Hamilton, Ontario

Dear Transmissions,

…there’s no reason why Galvatron couldn’t be introduced into the comic. Why not let Megatron assume the identity of Galvatron, or even make Galvatron a character separate from Megatron!?

Brian McElwee
Syosset, NY

Dear Transmissions,

…DO NOT bring Rodimus Prime and Galvatron into the comic! It’s bad enough to see them in the cartoon series, i don’t want to see them here too!

Tony Alouzio
New York, NY
Dear Transmissions,

…I’m writing to say GO FOR IT! A future crossover sounds like a great idea!

Scott Berkley
Bremerton, WA

And so it went, roughly 3-1 in favor of the introduction of Galvatron. Well, majority rules in this case, and Galvatron (together with a few other future characters) makes his debut in issue #67. It’s an action shocker we predict will sway the most doubting Transformers fan! Be there!

Dear Transmissions,

I have an excellent idea: why don’t you create a special issue of the all-new Transformers Universe just for me, and send it to me for free! Okay? Also, when you’re creating this special issue of the Transformers Universe, don’t forget to include each and every Transformer from A-Z. Okay? And please don’t forget to include their profiles, their abilities and their weaknesses. Okay? If you would kindly do these three simple things for me, I will be well satisfied. Okay?

Reginald Tate
Decatur, GA

No Problem! Can we gift wrap it for you as well?

Dear TransMissions,

Whoa! All right! At last -the return of Megaton! i nearly went berserk waiting for this issue after I heard about it in issue #55. Will Starscream be returning too? I hope not. Even though he is one of my favorite Decepticons, he shouldn’t come back for a long time (he’s a little mad at the moment, ya know). Now that i’ve got issue #56, I’m going to have to suffer another agonizing thirty days for issue #57, and (hopefully) the reason why Megaton is still alive!

Hey, before i forget -what happened to Bob? Don’t get me wrong- Simon is providing a great and refreshing storyline for the comic- but is this permanent, or will Bob return?

Ronald Kinion
Pasco, Wa

We’re desperately sorry for providing a great issue and putting you through all the agony, Ronald. But then again… life’s like that! Bob has his hands full right now (look out for some great new titles from him soon), so Simon will be scripting TRANSFORMERS from now on. If that’s all right with you, anyway!

Dear Transmissions,

When the Headmasters were first introduced, they were a band of Nebulans who had the ability to transform into the heads of Transformers and take control of their inert bodies. Well, this was new, interesting and straightforward enough, but then we started getting into the mixing of Nebulan (or human, in the case of Fortress Maximus) and Transformer minds -huh?!

That was my reaction to this new development. I thought that the original heads were gone for good. But when we see this mind mixing stuff, which leads us to believe there’s still a Transformers in what used to be an empty, unliving body. In issue #39, however, things are cleared up when Spike points out that the body isn’t alive, but contains several latent engrams, that in plain english are blueprints, of the Transformer that once owned the body. This way the Nebulan can better control his body and “become” that Transformer. Is this right, or is there more to it than that?

Jeff Minicucci
Toronto, ONT.

The actual details of the bonding of Nebulan (or human) and Transformer minds are unknown, but -judging by the experiences of Spike Witwicky in issue #51 -there’s quite a bit more to it than a few latent blueprints. There may even be a direct mental link between the Nebulan and the original Transformer head. Sorta’ makes you wonder what would happen if that link were suddenly severed, doesn’t it? (this courtesy of the “unsubtle teaser” department.)

My Thoughts On This Issue

This was a good story and I left out plenty in the above section for you to discover on your own if you haven’t already read the issue. It’s a good story and I feel like I got my monies worth on this issue.

One thing I really liked about this issue is, I feel like writer Simon Furman is opening a door to restore Optimus Prime back to his old psychical self. He is hinting at us that he is planning on dumping the Powermaster Prime crap as soon as he can. I hope this is true. It’s really exciting and again I’m left with wanting to dive right into the next issue.

The art in this book is good. It does make me think of Generation 2 comic art though. Not a bad thing from my stand point. Just noticed it has that feel to me.

I find myself still wishing I liked the cover. Again, nothing really wrong with it. I just don’t like it, but wish I did.

So what did everything on think of this issue? How do you all feel about the multi-issue Matrix Quest?

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Transformers Review Issue 60: Yesterday’s Heroes!

Welcome to issue 60. This has become a love / hate thing for me. I getting so interested in these stories, but with each issue I read, I’m am one step closer to the 80th and final issue of Transformers. I guess there is not much to do other that sit back an enjoy the ride. Issue 60 is just that. A ride with some new villains and a shaken Optimus Prime. Can the Autobots get their shit back together in time to stop the Decepticons? Will find out, but first lets check out this cover!

Transformers_Cover_60_Youseph

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Bludgeon, a sword welding samurai looking figure is taking up most of the cover as he leaps down to Grimlock, Jazz and Bumblebee. The Autobots all have looks of supersize and terror on their faces. The walls surrounding everyone feel like a generic computer. Though this scene does not happen in the comic book, its not too far removed from what happens within it’s pages. “Introducing: BLUDGEON!” is written across the top above the logo. On the right side of the Transformers logo we read, “They’re Back! Jazz! Grimlock! Bumblebee! The Classic Pretenders!” and “The Autobots have three great heroes…” is written midway down the page and is finished at the bottom with, “BUT NOT FOR LONG!”. Bludgeon’s sword is on top of the logo giving it a 3D feel, but leaves me wonder if anyone really buys into a sword being able to cause any kind of damage to a Transformer.

Transformers_issue60_coverThis comic starts off with a clearly depressed Optimus Prime on board the Ark listening to the ship’s computer going over all the recent dead Autobots. When Ratchet’s name is spoken Primes guilt boils over as he tries to make sense of what appears to be a loosing war with the Decepticons. The other Autobots on board the great ship are concerned over their leader’s current state of mind.

Transformers_issue60_logicalThings are going a bit better for the Autobot cause back on their home world of Cybertron where the Classic Pretenders, Rescue Patrol and Targetmasters have completed another successful fuel raid. Things are looking so good on Cybertron that several of these Autobots will be heading to earth to assist Optimus Prime.

The Autobots success does not go unnoticed by Decepticon leader Lord Thunderwing. He orders Stranglehold, Octopunch, and Bludgeon of the Mayhem Attack Squad to dispatch the Autobot Pretenders.

Transformers_issue60_thunderwingBy now the Ark has landed on the Moon near Earth. Optimus Prime exists the ship to go on a walk so he can feel sorry for himself. The other Autobots on the ship grow increasingly concerned over their leader’s current state of mind. Hot Rod hatches a plan to snap their leader out of his current funk. The plan involves a Mark V Guardian drown going crazy, requiring Optimus to save the day. Unfortunately for Hot Rod, The Mark V Guardian actually goes crazy.

Transformers_issue60_MarkVAt this point the Mayhem Attack Squad are tracking the signal from their irradiated fuel the Autobots stole to the Council Chambers where the Pretenders and Rescue Patrol are getting ready to use the Trans-time Dimensional Portal to Earth. The Attack Squad bust in to the chambers and both the Autobots and the Decepticons are transported through the portal to an unknown location.

Transformers_issue60_PortalBack on the Moon, somehow Hot Rod’s horrible plan to snap Optimus Prime out of his defeated state actually worked. Prime destroys the Guardian bot and in the end promises to continue the good fight.

Now, as a result of traveling through the Trans-time Dimensional Portal, the Autobots and Decepticons end up in an oddly familiar tunnel. At the end of this tunnel they find themselves staring right into the face of Primus.

Transformers_issue60_Primus

Transmission Letters This Issue

Dear Transmissions,

Transformers_issue60_TransMissionsTo all you poor souls trying to follow the Bumblebee/Goldbug confusion: just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it seems the action figure folks felt left out of the confusion created by the comic book folks and the cartoon folks, and decided to bring back Bumblebee-as a Pretender! Yes, it seems we now have Classic Pretenders, namely Grimlock, Jazz, Bumblebee and even the late Starscream (pretending to be dead? Let’s see you write THIS one in, Bob!)

Not to worry, though, because this Transformerite has untangled the whole twelve mile tangle of the Bumblebee/Goldbug storyline. In the beginning there was Bumblebee, and Autobot spy from the planet Cybertron. Approximately four million years later (after crash-landing on Earth), this canary yellow (inconspicuous color!) Autobot acquires a new vehicular mode-that of a Volkswagen bug )Does this guy have taste, or what?). A little later, Bumblebee gets his chips blown out bof him by those paramilitary punks known as G.I. JOE. Still no problem up to here, because –with Ratchet’s help –he’s re-built as Goldbug. Despite this change, he still transforms into a Volkswagen! Now comes the fun part.

You might have noticed that Goldbug hasn’t been fixed since Starscream blew the living you-know-what out of everybody Well, I reckon all the Goldbug data god wiped out, and to save his life, the mechanics have to revert him to Bumblebee –only the little feela’s not to happy about this, so they compromise by making him a Pretender. Then, sometime before the movie, his outer shell gets blown into cosmic dust, and he’s just plain ol’ canary yellow Bumblebee again. There you go! As for the twenty mile Optimus Prime mess… well, that’s next week, folks!

Natalie Frank
Novi, MI

Actually, as issue #59 shows, it was far more straightforward than that (he says, filching, ready for the hordes of outraged letters from baffled readers). It seems Ratchet was very really happy with his Goldbug design, and decided –when Megatron inadvertently game him the opportunity –to change him back to Bumblebee. These surgeons are just so fickle! As for the return of Starscream, veteran TRANSFORMERS writer Bob Budiansky smiled smugly and said to new writer Simon Furman, “You can sot THAT one out!”

Dear TransMissions,

I recently read TRANSFORMERS #50, and I can sum it up in one ward –AAAAAHHH! You killed Starscream! Now I know you have to bring him back when you introduce the new Pretender Classics, but even one issue without him is one too many. I have a question for you. Why don’t you try introducing characters faster? You are behind!

Chip Calhoun
Indianapolis, IN

Actually, as issue #59 shows, it was far more straightforward than that (he says, filching, ready for the hordes of outraged letters from baffled readers). It seems Ratchet was very really happy with his Goldbug design, and decided –when Megatron inadvertently game him the opportunity –to change him back to Bumblebee. These surgeons are just so fickle! As for the return of Starscream, veteran TRANSFORMERS writer Bob Budiansky smiled smugly and said to new writer Simon Furman, “You can sot THAT one out!”

Dear Transmissions,

I recently read Transformers #50, and I can sum it up in one word –AAAAAHHH! You killed Starscream! Now I know you have to bring him back when you introduce the new Pretender Classics, but even one issue without him is one too many. I have a question for you. Why don’t you try introducing characters faster? You are behind!

Chip Calhoun
Indianapolis, IN

We can sum up the answer to your question in one word –AAAAAAAAHH!

Dear Transmissions,

From day one I know that the Transformers concept was something really big and had unbelievable potential, and yet, many issues haven’t lived up to that potential, nor have they developed the characters as much as I would have liked. This isn’t your fault. When you sit down and think about it, how could it have been done better under the very limited circumstances (stuck on Earth, Decepticons need fuel , Autobots must stop Deceipticons, case closed). Now that the limited factors are gone, please consider my suggestions:

  1. Make the Decepticons menace much larger. Consider that there may be another galaxy, full of Autobots and Decepticons! Perhaps Cybertron was only a lost moon. If this is true, then consider the kind of awesome individual leading an entire galaxy of Decepticons!
  2. There must be alien worlds that want the Decepticons stopped. Perhaps they could give Earth the technology to protect itself properly against the Decepticons. Please have more battles on alien worlds!

Greg Fitch
TOM-120, Canada

We’re not entirely sure you’ve been fair in your somewhat dismissive appraisal of the Transformers story so far. At least two of your proposals would only make matters worse, based on your own criteria. Even given that the initial conflict was as cut and dried as you say. We’re talking only about the first four or so issues: since then , the series has moved all over this planet, out to Cybertron, and to several weird and wonderful worlds. As for introducing a new galaxy of Autobots and Decepticons, wouldn’t this just make the characterization you desire that much more difficult to fit in? As for aliens assisting Earth, as yourself: why? Unless their worlds were threatened, it’s doubtful they’d bother. Somehow it seems to be introducing extra elements for their own sake. The story is about the Transformers, first and foremost. That said, though, if it’s battles on alien worlds you’re looking for, the aforementioned “Matrix Quest” has plenty

Dear Transmissions

  1. What happened to G.B. Blackrock? We haven’t heen him since issue #31
  2. What issue will feature the Pretender Classics and the Pretender monsters?
  3. On the Marvel Universe poster, how come there were no Transformers in evidence?
  4. How long will the Transformers saga last?

Andy Luke
Manteca, Co

Lessee now… 1. G.B. Blackrock’s still around, no doubt enjoying not being involved in the Transformers war quite so much. Don’t forget, he’s a businessman first and foremost, with a thriving company to look ater. 2. The Pretender Classics have made their debut, and the monsters will turn up at some point. 3. Can you imagine how big the poster would have to be?! 4. At least until the year 2005!

Hey, whatdaya know? We got through a whole letters page without one of those “Letters from a Transformer”!

Dear Marvel guys,

You are merciless! What were you trying to prove when you let the First One chop off my head in issue #53? You wanted a few laughs, is that it? I’m going into major surgery tomorrow because of this. You never fully repaired me! Who do you think you’re dealing with? I have rights too! Haven’t you ever heard of Autobots’ lib? I’m quitting as soon as my contract runs out! Well, I might reconsider if you give me a stunt double.

Cloudburts
Space.

Sight…

My Thoughts On This Issue

I feel like the cover is the best render, in this whole issue, of Bludgeon. And we’re not even seeing his front side. So it kind of makes for a kool cover, but I was kind of bummed out over the other drawings of him in this book.

In general we have a good story here. I could have gone without Optimus Prime having a pity party for himself. For now, I’m going to blame that on the fact this is Powermaster Prime and not my Optimus Prime.

I am quite interested in how Simon Furmon is going to handle God and Religion in this comic going forward. He must have through it out or he would not have brought it up. It will be interesting to see in the coming issues.

For the first time ever, I find myself more interested in whats going on with the Autobots on Cybertron than on earth. Mostly because Prime is being such an emotional wreck and not how I know Prime to be. It’s so out of character from my point of view that all the pages with him just pulled me out of the story to ask; What the fuck?

So, I want what you all thought of this issue? What did you like? What did you hate?

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Transformers Review Issue 59: Skin Deep

Consistency. Good Consistency is what I can say about this issue. The last few issues and this one have all had the same writer and artist and I think that has helped a lot with keeping me interested in what is going to happen next. But before we get into what happens within the pages of issue 59, lets us scope out this Jose Delbo cover.

Transformers_Cover_59_Youseph

Great Transformers T-Shirts Can Be Found At 80sTees.com!

This cover uses layers in creating a 3D space very effectively. The background is teared in colored layers. That, along with the background colors used for an explosion add to the effect. Grimlock is depicted going after the Sports car patrol. (Though it’s hard to see the Sports Car patrol. It looks more like a random laser mounting.) At the same time Grimlock is taking on fire. In the background Megatron steps forward in what I find to be one of the better renders Delbo has done of Megatron thus far. The whole cover feels like it is a live with movement and your eye tries to take in everything going on here. Written near the bottom, “Not a HOAX–not a DREAM– THIS issue, an Autobot DIES!” I found this to be underplayed in the story. Do you agree?

Transformers_issue59_coverWe flip open this floppy to find that the ferocious Grimlock has gone right to work on Megatron. Thought it appears that because Grimlock is still in mid recoup mode, Megatron is able to get the upper hand on him. Megatron is amused by Ratchet’s attempt to over take him. It is then that Ratchet shows his hand to Megatron. Starscream isn’t quite the mindless zombie he had hopped for. This puts Megatron’s plans in jeopardy.

Transformers_issue59_WhathaveyoudoneMegatron, who would like to find out what ratchet has done, is interrupted by the return of BumbleBee (YES BUMBLEBEE! Thank you Simon Furman!). He fires at Megatron. Ratchet tends to the issues concerning the Ark and the explosives on board.

Transformers_issue59_BumblebeeOn Earth, Starscream has started to battle Scorponok’s boys, all the while spouting he is doing this for Megatron. Optimus Prime just starts to mentally put things together when Starscream sends his Pretender shell to battle the Autobot leader. Choosing to work with the Autobots, Lord Zarak sends his Decepticons to help Optimus Prime.

Transformers_issue59_ZarakAt this point the Autobot Shuttle has rendezvous with the Ark and now even more Autobots are endangered of die as no one is able to disarm the ticking time bomb on board. Kup is giving it a good old college try though.

Transformers_issue59_KupBack on Cybertron, Decepticon leader, Megatron has managed to toss out all the autobots from his fortress. He orders his Powermasters and Micromasters to go finish the job while he hunts down Ratchet. Ratchet, is trying desperately to make contact with the Ark and warn them.

Starscream has the upper hand on Earth now that disable almost all of the reexamination Transformers. Optimus Prime and Zarak still are operational. Rot Rod pulls himself together long enough to blast Starscream’s Pretender Shell that is so powerful, Starscream himself feels the pain. Zarak joins in on the attach that results in Starscream’s personality returning. This was Ratchet’s plan and hope. Back to his cowardly self, Starscream begs for mercy.

Transformers_issue59_starscreamin his Cybertron base, Megatron catches up with Ratchet who is messing with the trans-time dimensional portal. Megatron thinks Ratchet is trying to escape, but he soon realizes that Ratchet is trying to bring the explosives on the Ark to his base. Megatron tries to escape through the portal but Ratchet tackles him. Outside the base the Autobots and Decepticons pause to watch as the entire base blows up with Ratchet and Megatron inside.

Transformers_issue59_kaboom

My Thoughts On This Issue

Simon Furman, Thank you so much for bringing back Bumblebee! And why not. The G.I. Joe crossover that resulted in Bumbleebee being rebuilt as Goldbug wasn’t accepted as cannon in the G.I. Joe universe. So why should we have to hang on to Goldbug? Welcome back old friend.

A lot going on in this issue. A lot I didn’t talk about because I want readers to enjoy reading these books without knowing everything that’s going to happen next. A lot happened and it was an enjoyable story. I do feel like the opening, “Not a HOAX–not a DREAM– THIS issue, an Autobot DIES!” is miss leading. I wont know for sure until the next issue which I’m ready to dive into once this post is completed.

I also enjoy when two warring parties, in this case Optimus Prime and Zarak, team up to do good. It was a nice change from normal suspense these covers imply that someone may die or be really badly hurt.

How do you all feel about this issue? How do you feel about the return of Bumblebee? I can’t imagine anyone being upset by it, but lets discus your thoughts in the comments below.

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Transformers Review Issue 56: Back from the Dead

The 56th issue of Marvel’s Transformers introduces Simon Furman as the writer. Simon has experience with Transformers having been writing for Marvel’s UK Transformers for some time. Having been a huge fan of Transformers UK ‘Man of Iron‘ I have high hopes for the new writer. But before we crack open this issue let us check out the cover art.

Transformers-Issue-56-YousephRepresent Transformers On Your Chest With Great T-Shirts From 80sTees.com!

The cover depicts the Decepticon Air Strike Patrol attacking an earth airstrip as men in military dress fun for their lives. “Attack of the Air Strike Patrol!!” is rendered on the cover giving you a small idea of what the story might be about. (We do have a history of Transformers covers being miss leading.) The good about the cover is the line art. I mean it’s really good in my opinion. The bad is the colors. It’s just a wash of color that makes it hard for me to focus. It’s not really the colorist fault. That person had to work within constraints. Still, the line art is amazing.

Transformers_56_Cover

With issue 56 entitled, ‘Back from the Dead’ we get a much needed plasma transfusion in the form of  writing talent from one, Simon Furman. To put it simply, this issue reminded me why I love Transformers and their story so much. Not the best Transformers story I’ve ever read, Not as good as the ‘Man of Iron‘,  but so much better than it has been. I hope that Mr. Furman is setting the bar for himself in this issue, because if he is, we are in for some great stories.

Ratchet’s nightmares welcome us into the issue. Over worked and stressed out, Ratchet has been increasingly suffering from nightmares. Zombie filled dreams of his fellow fallen friends attacking him keep him from even enjoying a single moment of restbit.

Transformers_56_Page1

Optimus Prime saves Ratchet from his evil dreamscape that was the result of an involuntary system shut-down. Optimus Prime is desperate to have his crew restored to health and now realizes that this has caused a mountain’s worth of stress on Ratchet. Clearly conflicted and concerned from all angles, Optimus Prime orders Ratchet to take some downtime. Ratchet has a hard time following this order knowing full well how much Prime needs his forces restored to operating order.  Ratchet is also frustrated in the lack of any real advanced medical tech he could use. If only he where back on Cybertron…

Transformers_56_Page3

On Cybertron, we see a mystery character speaking with the Micromaster Sports Car Patrol. This group of small Decepticons show off that they are ready for their mission by switching their faction symbols in front of our mysterious villain who then contacts more agents on Earth known as the Air Strike Patrol and orders them to begin their part of this new mission.

Transformers_56_Page4

MacDill Air Force Base is the location of the unveiling of a new state of the art Mid-Air refueling jet. The Decepticon Air Strike Patrol soon attack the Air Force Base after the jet’s announcement. This attack that the Decepticons are using as a distraction works. It’s enough of an event to get the Autobot’s attention and even though the Autobots don’t have many bots left, Optimus Prime feels compelled to gather a team and shuttle down to the Air Force base and protect the humans.

Transformers_56_Page7

The Decepticon Sports Car Patrol teleport into a nearly empty Autobot Ark using their new Trans-Time Dimensional Portal. Quickly, BlackJack reprograms some Autobot systems from a nearby panel giving him the ability to take control of several dormant Autobots. Not only does he reanimate them but he also provides a voice that results in Ratchet submitting to the physical and psychological stress of the situation. What we are seeing her is all of his nightmares coming true and nearly falls to the attack. But, at the last moment he shakes his guilt away and is able to put up a fight back. He is able to use an emergency cut-off switch to disable the zombie like Autobots, but pauses, worried about the additional damage it will cause to his fallen friends.

Transformers_56_Page12

Luckily, Ratchet didn’t have to throw the switch. Blackjack’s stops the attack, worried that Ratchet might not survive and be of no use to the Decepticons. The Decepticons now step up to Ratchet, announcing themselves as the Autobot Sports Car Patrol. The bots announce that they are on their way back to Cybertron and offer to take Ratchet with them. Ratchet is tempted to go as he would have access to advanced medical technologies.

Transformers_56_Page14

Ratchet, first contacts Optimus Prime to announce his wish to travel back to Cybertron. Communication interference prevents him from getting his message though, but Ratchet decides that the benefits of going out way the negatives of leaving, so he departs with the others. He takes along the bodies of Jazz, Goldbug, and Grimlock to repair. Ratchet, realizes the trap he is in when Blackjack stays behind on the ark and the Micromasters point their weapons at him as he they materialize in Cybertron. But that is the least of his worries. He soon sees and old enemy. MEGATRON!

Transformers_56_Page16

My Thoughts On This Issue

Hello awesome transformers comic. You’re awesome again. Thank you!

Simon Furman’s first Marvel US comic is a good one. A revitalization. A rejuvenation. A return BACK FROM THE DEAD perhaps. Could this issue title mean two things? The return of Megatron and the return of a great comic with great writing? Who knows. I doubt Simon Furman would admit to that, even if it is true.

But man, am I exited to read what happens next. This was a solid issue. A good issue. A page turner. I can’t wait to read what happens next!

I could say a lot more about this issue, but I’m really interested in what you think. Leave me a comment below and lets talk about it.

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Bob Budiansky’s Top 5 Best and Worst Transformers Comics (Part 3 of 3)

Bob_BudianskyIn 1984, the Transformers took over my 8-year-old world. I was consumed by the toys, cartoon, animated movie, comics and various merchandise. After the Transformers’ popularity waned in the late 80’s, the G1 comics, written by Bob Budiansky and Simon Furman, continued to hold my interest. Now, 31 years later, together with Youseph, Darryl, and Jeremy, I host the TransMissions Transformers-themed podcast where we continue to be captivated by Transformers in general, and for me, the current IDW comics in particular.

But those 80’s comics have always stuck with me. I have every comic of the original 80-issue run, plus the Headmasters and G.I. Joe crossover miniseries, the Transformers Universe miniseries, and the 1986 animated movie adaptation. Bob Budiansky is mainly responsible for building the Transformers universe from the ground up, and I treasure the stories he crafted in the comics greatly. I’m grateful to Youseph for giving me a new reason to revisit these comics as I present my picks for the top and bottom 5 issues in Bob Budiansky’s Transformers run.

Charles’ Top 5 favorite issues of Budiansky

Number 5: Issue #5 The New Order

Marvels Comics' Transformers Issue #5: The New Order
Marvels Comics’ Transformers Issue #5: The New Order

This issue officially marks the Transformers comic’s transition from a limited series to an ongoing comic that would continue for several years and 80 issues. At the end of the Transformers miniseries in issue #4, the Autobots snatch defeat from the jaws of victory when Shockwave shows up to beat them all. So in issue #5 will we see how the Autobots recover and fight back, eventually beating the Decepticons? Nope! Shockwave is still large and in charge, and the Autobots ARE (nearly) ALL DEAD.

Shockwave is a very different character in the comics than his incarnation in the G1 cartoon. His loyalty is ultimately to logic, rather than to Megatron, and determining the best course of action that will lead to victory for the Decepticons. As such, he sees Megatron’s leadership, with all the Decepticons poisoned and near death from the tainted fuel Sparkplug Witwicky made for them, as a colossal failure, which is why he takes command.

In addition to the introduction of Shockwave and the beginning of his rivalry with Megatron for Decepticon leadership, we are also introduced to Josie Beller (AKA Circuit Breaker), and her supervillain origin story. She’s a computer genius who works for tycoon G.B. Blackrock to build defense weapons for his offshore oil rigs that are getting continually attacked by Decepticons. As she’s manning the oil rig defense systems when Shockwave and other Decepticons attack, she gets a large dose of electrical feedback, nearly completely paralyzing her. Thus her hatred for all robots, and desire for revenge, is born.

This issue had to serve as a new “Number 1” since it’s a shift to a monthly comic, and needed to draw in new readers who might not have seen the original miniseries. I think it did this brilliantly, but also continues the story from where it left off. Ratchet’s dilemma as the last surviving Autobot is also a great touch.

Number 4: Issue #27 King of the Hill!

Transformers-issue-27-coverIn the aftermath of the tragic death of Optimus Prime, the Autobots are left to figure out who they should choose for their next leader. And Dinobot leader Grimlock has the perfect candidate: himself! The Dinobots have been AWOL for a few issues since they weren’t to fond of Prime’s “protect humans first” leadership style. But with Prime gone, Grimlock is ready to return to the fold. But the other Autobots swiftly reject his arrogance and declare him not fit to lead.

(cue Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer music) Then when Decepticon Trypticon shows up, the Autobots came to say, “Grimlock with your flaming breath so bright, save us from this citybot tonight!” Then how the Autobots loved him… Well, you get the idea. Despite being rejected, Grimlock still leads the Dinobots to rescue the Autobots from being pinned down in the Ark by Trypticon’s attack. After the battle, the Autobots are ready to gladly hand him leadership. And here’s the twist- Grimlock refuses! He’s learned humility and recognizes that his arrogance was why the Autobots originally rejected him. Of course, this only makes the Autobots more certain that he’s worthy.

It was a great story that showed real growth of Grimlock as a character. It’s unfortunate that he seemed to regress almost immediately in the next issue, when he’s barking orders at everyone, and seems more interested in trying on different crowns as King Grimlock than in actually fighting the Decepticons. But for one moment in this issue, Grimlock was worthy of the title he got.

Number 3: Issue #41 Totaled!

Transformers-Cover-41When there’s an Autobot Civil War, the Decepticons win! After finishing the Headmasters miniseries that introduced the 1987 Transformers toyline into the comic universe, Budiansky was faced with the task of integrating all these new bots and cons into a comic already filled to the brim with established characters and ongoing storylines. In this issue, the Earth-based and Nebulan-based Autobot groups finally meet, but it’s not exactly a party.

Grimlock is still leading the Earth-based Autobots, and he sees Fortress Maximus’ plan to rebuild Optimus Prime (from a copy of his mind stored on a floppy disk) as a challenge to his rulership of the Autobots. He invokes an ancient Autobot rite to resolve disputes by single combat (I thought the Autobots were the peace-loving good guys?) and since Fortress Maximus had been recently banged up fighting the Decepticons’ flying island/spaceship, Blaster steps up to settle the score.

What’s great about this story is how the Autobots are so wrapped up in their own internal drama, they’re caught completely by surprise when the Decepticons attack, damaging many Autobots, rescuing Decepticon prisoners, and completely wrecking the Ark, stranding the Autobots on the Moon. And we have another rare moment of character growth from Grimlock, after he’s been a terrible Autobot leader since he got the gig, as he realizes that his desire to dominate the Autobots has blinded him to the fact that they’re supposed to be fighting the Decepticons, not each other.

Number 2: Issue #25 Gone But Not Forgotten!

Transformers-25-Cover-

While I was not impressed with the circumstances of Optimus Prime’s death in issue #24 (see my Bottom 5 list), seeing Megatron’s reaction in the aftermath was a great character study. Megatron’s depression and descent into madness (with a little push from Shockwave and the Predacons) was a great insight into his relationship with (and co-dependency on) the late Optimus Prime.

On top of that, the issue was completely focused on the Decepticons and their internal politics. Not a single Autobot featured in the story. Contrary to the cartoon, in the comics, it was always Shockwave, rather than Starscream (who didn’t get much focus in the early comics), who plotted against Megatron for control of the Decepticons, and he did a much better job for the most part. Here he finally bests Megatron, not with an epic one-on-one battle, but by using Megatron’s paranoia and insecurities against him.

And in the midst of this great story, Budiansky still manages to satisfy the Hasbro suits and introduce a new set of toys, the Predacons, and their gimmi– combined form, Predaking, into the comic!

Number 1: Issue #17 The Smelting Pool!

Transformers issue 17 CoverAfter sixteen issues of Transformers adventures on Earth, Budiansky finally returns us to Cybertron, and the situation is bleak. This issue shows us a Cybertron that has fallen into complete ruin in the 50,000 vorn (4 million Earth years) absence of Optimus Prime and Megatron. The Decepticons have all but conquered what’s left of the planet, and the Autobots are reduced to a small resistance cell that can barely stay alive, let alone help all the bots struggling and dying under Decepticon rule.

In this backdrop, Budiansky expertly weaves the tragic tale of the Autobots Blaster and Scrounge. Blaster has been hardened by the war to the point where he lives more to kill Decepticons than to help his fellow bots, while Scrounge’s desire to prove himself as a useful member of the Autobot resistance causes him to take risks that ultimately get him killed. And despite the fact that Blaster and Scrounge only share space on the page at the very end of the story, their friendship and devotion to each other and the Autobot cause shows through.

Budiansky was under constant pressure in the to continue to introduce new toys into the Transformers comic, and sometimes the story suffered for it. But The Smelting Pool! is Budiansky at his best, using the mandate to introduce new characters as a driving force to bring us to a new setting and tell an amazing story.

Charles’ 5 lest favorite issues of Budiansky

We love Bob Budiansky for breathing life into the Transformers, but no writer is perfect. And the demand by Hasbro to continually introduce new toys into the comic sometimes took its toll on the story. That leads me to my least-favorite Bob Budiansky stories from the G1 comics run.

Number 5: Issue #20 Showdown!

Transformers-issue-20-coverIn my opinion, some of Budiansky’s weakest stories were the ones featuring single human/Transformer pairings that tried to focus on a particular character, but ultimately didn’t go anywhere regarding the overall Autobot/Decepticon struggle. Issue #20, Showdown! is a good example.

After Skids (following orders from Optimus Prime to keep up with the convoy) cut him off on the road in issue #19, Jake Dalrymple had a bout of road rage and ran Skids off the road in retaliation. Laserbeak also fired a couple of shots to knock him offline, while the other Autobots left him for dead. But fear not, Skids is later rescued by human hottie Charlene, who gets him fixed up by a mechanic and uses him as her car, unaware that he’s actually a giant robot.

Unfortunately, Mr. Jake Dalrymple uses the same mechanic as Charlene and spots her driving Skids. Dalrymple’s road rage has not subsided so he’s still on a vendetta against Skids. He tries to run down Charlene, and Skids is forced to take control and reveal his true Autobot nature to her. But Skids doesn’t want to go back to the Autobots, he just wants to be Charlene’s car. Awww.

Skids shares a few happy days with Charlene, including a weirdly sexual carwashing scene (this is a comic meant for kids, right?), but ultimately he realizes (with some prodding from former Robot Master Donny Finkleberg) he can’t escape the war and his responsibility to help the Autobots protect Earth from the Decepticons.

This story just felt pointless to me, with the focus on Skids (and Ravage a little bit) being a wasted issue. His story doesn’t really advance the overall plot, and Skids himself is a bit boring (love triangle with Charlene and her human suitor Wendell notwithstanding). But on the bright side, it does heavily feature Lamborghini-driving Jake Dalrymple!

Number 4: Issue #15 I, Robot Master!

Transformers-Issue-15-CoverIn the Marvel G1 comic I don’t think there was any human character more annoying than Donny Finkleberg. A washed-up comic writer is recruited by government bureaucrat Walter Barnett to create a cover story about the giant robots tearing up the Pacific Northwest. Somehow, it’s more comforting to the American public that a cartoonish supervillain is actually the one controlling the giant robots to steal our natural resources, rather than that the robots themselves are aliens from another planet here to steal our natural resources. Of course, this doesn’t actually solve the problem of stopping the robots from stealing our natural resources. But hey, the I.I.I. (Intelligence and Information Institute, the agency tasked with handling the “Robot Problem”) is on a budget! And it’s during the cold war, so the military is too busy with the Soviets to worry about giant robots rampaging on American soil. Pointless propaganda is about the best they can do.

The absurdity is turned up to eleven when the government uses the opportunity of a disabled, frozen Megatron, not to lock him up a thousand feet underground in Area 51 or wherever, but to shoot more live propaganda video with Donny as Robot Master. Of course the Decepticons see this and immediately come to free and re-energize Megatron, who is not too happy at being used as a prop. But somehow Mr. Finkleberg manages to convince Megatron that the Decepticons can use the Robot Master gimmick to their advantage too, and Megatron lets Donny live. Come on, Megatron, you should’ve done us all a favor and just stepped on him.

Number 3: Issue #45 Monstercon from Mars!

Transformers-issue-45-coverThe introduction and initial portrayal of the Pretenders in the comic was pretty confusing. The Autobots’ Pretender shells looked like giant humans in armor, but is that supposed to fool anyone? We all know normal adult humans are around 5-6 feet in height, not 20 feet tall. It’s even worse with the Decepticons. Their shells are all weird monsters. I guess that would work if you’re taking them to other alien worlds with similar looking and sized alien species, but on Earth they stick out just as much as giant robots.

And this is what kills the story for me in issue #45. Skullgrin stays in his Pretender shell for most of the issue, and since he’s the rare Decepticon who likes hanging out with humans, he goes to Hollywood and becomes a monster movie star and gets a human girlfriend. Hey, since he’s just a giant skull monster-thing, and not one of those giant robots tearing up the countryside, the humans are totally okay with him hanging out, and he saves them a bunch in the movie special effects budget! Oh, and can you pay him in gasoline instead of dollars?

One human who is not fooled is Circuit Breaker, who returns to her relentless quest to kill all robots. Once Skullgrin reveals that he’s a robot inside his Pretender shell, she takes the opportunity to attack. At least Circuit Breaker is targeting a Decepticon this time (of course, it’s also the nicest, human-loving Decepticon). I know Budiansky was under pressure to keep introducing the increasingly absurd gimmicky Transformers in the later years of the G1 run, but the outlandish Pretenders on Earth just didn’t make any sense at all, and this story highlights why. See issues #52 and #53 for a slightly better use of the Pretender concept in an off-world alien setting.

Number 2: Issue #55 The Interplanetary Wrestling Championship!

Transformers_55_CoverThis issue was the last G1 Transformers comic written by Budiansky, and unfortunately it’s not a great way to go out. In the previous issue Budiansky introduced yet another new group of Transformers, the down-sized, energy-efficient Micromasters (who still transform into normal human-sized cars and planes somehow). Prime brought the Autobot Micromasters to Earth to help bolster his ranks after the disastrous Underbase Saga where Starscream killed off the ‘84-’86 toylines. But the Micromasters are rebellious young punks and are more interested in hanging out with humans and helping fight crime.

Also, since their main human friend is a lady with a TV talk show, the Micromasters become wrestlers after being challenged to a match by another wrestler live on the air. Right. It’s cool though, because wrestling is fake, and they put on a good show. They even get a fan club. But the Decepticons can’t let the Autobots become too popular with the humans, so they have to come and spoil all the fun. Roadhandler and the Autobot Micromasters realize they’re putting their human friends in danger since they’ll always be targeted by the Decepticons, so they rejoin the main Autobot forces again. Hmmm, that plot sounds kinda familiar…

Number 1: Issue #24 Afterdeath!

Transformers-issue-24-CoverAnyone who has the original 1986 Transformers Animated Movie remembers Optimus Prime’s climactic battle with Megatron, and his ultimate sacrifice and death scene. It was an epic, albeit traumatic moment for many 80’s kids. Suffice it to say, Prime’s death scene in the comics doesn’t hold a candle to it.

The premise is interesting; Optimus Prime and Megatron agree to a “virtual” battle in a video game world so that they don’t damage the energy doohickey of the month (here it’s a device called a hydrothermocline) that they’re fighting over. Of course, since he’s a huge jerk, Megatron throws in the added caveat that the leader of whichever side loses the virtual battle will be killed in real life.

In the end Optimus Prime wins the virtual battle (after some underhanded cheating by Megatron), but he compromises his principles to do it because he sacrifices the “lives” of some of the virtual inhabitants to “kill” Megatron. So because of Prime’s impeccable moral character (or abject stupidity) he declares that he lost, and tells human game master Ethan Zachary to destroy him and not Megatron. Compared to Prime’s heroic sacrifice in the movie, this is an empty, meaningless, pointless death.

But even that could be forgiven, if not for the fact that the plot turns on Megatron cheating by using the ‘afterdeath’ code (that Ethan Zachary used at the very beginning of the comic when Vortex was spying on him) to come back to life in the game after he is killed the first time. It should have been immediately recognized by Zachary, but somehow it never occurs to him that maybe Megatron cheated before Prime killed some of the virtual inhabitants. Finally, the idea that you can save the entire mind of alien robot Optimus Prime on a five-and-a-quarter inch floppy disk breaks my brain. That’s some damn good data compression!