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1987 Annual

| Notes | "What's in a Name?" | "Headmasters Saga Chapter One - Doomsday on Nebulos" | "Vicious Circle!" | "Headmasters Saga Chapter Two - Stylor's Story" | "Ark Duty" | "Headmasters Saga Chapter Three - The Final Conflict" |

Production Notes

Cover: Robin Smith

Notes: The third Transformers annual produced by Marvel.

As well as three strip stories and three illustrated text stories, the annual also included a quiz, plus A-Z profiles on Brainstorm, Chromedome, Hardhead, Highbrow, Mindwipe, Skullcruncher and Weirdwolf.

Priced at £3.75.

"What's in a Name?"

[5 page strip story]

Simon Furman
Art: Will Simpson
Inks: [David] Elliot
Colours: ? [possibly Steve White]
Letters: ?

Later Reprinted In:
Transformers - Prey [Worldwide]

Synopsis: Swoop remembers how, as Divebomb, he was jumped by a Decepticon trying to claim his name. He was nearly killed, but was saved by Optimus Prime. He hasn't told the Dinobots this, and now sets off to settle his score with Divebomb.

Notes: The present-day sequence takes place during #135 [page 8, to be precise]. Swoop's alt-mode on Cybertron was a futuristic jet. Divebomb's original name isn't given. Optimus Prime never reported the incident. Swoop was part of the Elite Flying Corps on Cybertron, under command of Optimus. Again, as with #196, it would seem Optimus was Optimus Prime even at this stage.

Errors: 'Swoop' has a pink gun on the first page.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Swoop, Divebomb [flashback], Optimus Prime [flashback], Sludge, Grimlock.

Review: A fair adventure, lending some background to the Swoop/Divebomb rivalry, a rare amount of depth for two relatively minor characters. Simpson's art is uncharacteristically bland [though the Cybertronian modes are great - shame they just didn't bother with Op, though], not helped by the minimalist colouring.


"Headmasters Saga Chapter One - Doomsday on Nebulos"

[8 page illustrated text story]
Script: ?
Illustrations: ?

Synopsis: Lord Zarak and his followers meet Scorponok's band of Decepticons, having summoned them to Nebulos to deal with Fortress Maximus' Autobots. He tells them of the events that have happened since the Autobots arrived on Nebulos. Zarak tries to persuade Scorponok to attack the main Autobot force encamped in the nearby forest, but Scorponok elects to head after Fortress Maximus, currently at the city of Koraja. Zarak is left wondering what he's done to the planet...

Notes: Odd one, this. It's a rough retelling of the first meeting of Zarak and Scorponok printed in #135, though the dialogue is different. Also, throughout the "Headmasters Saga" stories, Galen is rechristened Kord [to clasp at a desperate straw, it could be his first name or something - though this is unlikely, as outside of these stories, everyone calls him Galen...].

Review: A nice take on Zarak, and some moderate descriptive work, but it feels astonishingly inconsequential. And would it have been too much to get Galen's name right and modify the dialogue slightly to fit with the comic?


"Vicious Circle!"

[11 page strip story]

[Simon] Furman
Art: [Jeff] Anderson
Inks: [Dave] Harwood
Letters: ?
Colours: ?

Later Reprinted In: Transformers - Fallen Angel [Worldwide]

Synopsis: Ultra Magnus has survived being thrown into the volcano in Mount Verona, instead landing on a gantry in Galvatron's energy syphon. He's helped up by Goldbug, who tells him that Galvatron's still around. Magnus refuses to help, so Goldbug sets off to stop him alone. Galvatron beats Goldbug easily, but Magnus bails him out. The syphon is damaged, though, and Magnus orders Goldbug to flee, allowing the eruption to engulf himself and Galvatron.

Notes: This story follows directly on from #120. Magnus was thrown into the volcano [well, kind of...] in #119, and Goldbug was created from the remains of Bumblebee in #118.

Errors: So, Galvatron not only allows Goldbug to walk away, but he lets him get back to the syphon first, rescue Magnus and get out of there? It also seems highly unlikely that Galvatron didn't look where he threw Magnus, as he's not exactly feeling the pressure at the start of #120. Goldbug's Autobot symbol keeps disappearing, and when it does who up has a tendency for being blue. He's also got a nice toy-accurate blue head. The volcanic eruption seems to do bugger-all damage in the end. In the silhouetted frame on page 9, Galvatron appears to have a slightly sloshed smiley face on the wall.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Ultra Magnus, Goldbug, Galvatron.

Review: Hrm. The cheated feeling from #120 isn't helped by the tacky movie serial style escape for Magnus, or the fact the whole thing's two old hats stuck on top of each other. Magnus' motivational problems seem very much like a staple, and the idea of the smaller, weaker Autobot giving the powerful warrior inspiration though his courage feels rather tired too. Even the Magnus/Galvatron clash seems repetitive, while Anderson's art is unspectacular even by his standards. Hardly a story-ending spectacular, "Vicious Circle!" only really succeeds in cheapening the first Death's Head arc.


"Headmasters Saga Chapter Two - Stylor's Story"

[8 page illustrated text story]
Script: ?
Illustrations: ?

Synopsis: Stylor tells of the arrival of the Decepticons at Koroja, the idea of binary-bonding Nebulans to Autobots, his own bonding to Chromedome, and the battle with the Decepticons.

Notes: A retelling of the events of #136 -137, from Stylor's point of view. Quixotol was the first Nebulan to claim the planet was round. Stylor agreed to the binary bonding process after seeing the devastation wreaked on City Central Park in Koroja. The Headmasters process would seem to involve a lot of bioengineering. Arcana was rumoured to be involved in more mystical sciences.

Errors: There are a few grammatical errors, and Gort becomes "Grot" on page 4.

Review: Quite a little gem, all-in-all. It's engagingly written, and some of the stuff about the dual minds is quite ahead of its' time. Stylor's a wonderful character to develop, especially as he had the least work done on him in the Headmasters series [compared to Galen, Duros, Gort and Arcana].


"Ark Duty "

[7 page strip story]

Simon Furman [Uncredited]
Art: Will Simpson [Uncredited]
Letters: ?
Colours: ?

Later Reprinted In: Transformers - Space Pirates [Worldwide]

Synopsis: Inside the Ark in 2003, Ultra Magnus shows the assembled Autobots a simulation tape of the proposed Autobot City Earth, which will be build in collaboration with Earth government. Magnus leads the majority of the Autobots on a convoy to collect the materials needed for constructing the city, while Kup takes the tape to the government, and Hot Rod and Blurr guard the Ark. However, the simulation has been seen by Ravage. As Hot Rod observes Kup's progress, the latter is jumped by the Stunticons, who take the tape. Hot Rod sets off after them, despite warnings from Kup and Blurr not to. When he catches them, they give him a beating and leave him. Kup catches up with Hot Rod, and explains the tape was a dummy - the real tape was sent to the government by Blurr, as a speeded-up radio transmission.

Notes: This story takes place about a year before the flashback in #225 - this is roughly the time it takes to build Autobot City. The city is built with the full consent and co-operation of Earth Government [some sort of successor to the UN?]. There's no sign of Firebolt, Kup and Blurr - it's possible the former's dead by now. Ratchet and Sandstorm are alive at this point.

Errors: Hot Rod's missing his spoiler on page 2, and looks very odd in the last frame. Magnus has yet another face design. As Hot Rod pushes past Blurr, his chest design vanishes. Dead End looks very odd as Hot Rod watches him tail Kup, while Breakdown looks more like Pointblank. Would a speeded-up radio transmission really get past Soundwave?

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Ultra Magnus, Bumblebee, Blurr, Hot Rod, Ratchet, Hoist, Kup, Ravage, Windcharger, Sandstorm, Huffer, Beachcomber, Dragstrip, Breakdown, Motormaster, Wildrider, Dead End.

Review: Not particularly diverting. The characterisation for Hot Rod and Kup doesn't tell us any more than their tech-specs did, and the plot's straightforward. As with "What's in a Name?", Simpson's art is bland and characterless.


"Headmasters Saga Chapter Three - The Final Conflict"

[8 page illustrated text story]

Illustrations: ?

Synopsis: The Autobot Headmasters decide to leave Nebulos for Earth, converting themselves to take Earth fuel sources. Maximus is jumped by Misfire, Slugslinger and Triggerhappy, but the Decepticons claim they've come in peace. They bring a challenge from Scorponok - a duel to decide the fate of Nebulos. Maximus, realising the factions are in deadlock, agrees. It's a ruse to steal the fuel convertors, though - the Decepticons had bugged the Autobot base all along. The Decepticons leave, and are soon followed by the Autobots.

Notes: A vastly different retelling of #142 -145. Among the changes are that Fortress Maximus has two heads - one his original, and one which contains Kord - though unlike in the other comics, the original is stored in Maximus' chest.

Errors: From page 3 on, Maximus gets' Cerebros' head. Brainstorm has Arcana's head on page 3.

Review: The ridiculously overlong duel, and the needless complication of the changes in the Headmaster process, undo a straightforward narrative.



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