MARVEL TRANSFORMERS COMICS GUIDE
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G.I. Joe and the TFs | US G2 Intro | G.I. Joe #138-142 | G2 Special | US G2 #1-6 | US G2 #7-12 | Cover Images
G2 US #1 - #6
#1 - "War Without End!"
Cover Date: November 1993
Synopsis: In the K'Tor cluster, a Transformer named Jhiaxus hears of one of his mining teams being destroyed by Autobots. Meanwhile, Optimus Prime is suffering from harrowing visions of dystopia. He wakes, and accompanied by Hot Rod and Kup, meets up with the team, led by Grimlock, to find out about the step-up in Decepticon activity, but they are captured by Jhiaxus. Elsewhere, Megatron is loose on Earth, and General Hawk orders the use of a subspace beacon to call in Autobot help. Back in space, Jhiaxus tells Prime that he is an antique, and that the Decepticons are now a race of colonists, the Cybertronian Empire, much bigger than the small faction of warmongers he knows of. Prime is depressed by this, but Grimlock fires up his spirits and they break out. Jhiaxus watches them go, preparing a new assault.
Notes: A lot's happened since the end of the original run. The Autobots are scattered, fighting guerilla tactics against the Decepticons - until shortly before they meet Jhiaxus they just seem to think they're facing random world-threatening 'Con scum. The Autobots have personal warp gate technology, which allows them to materialise at their targets, and presumably can exit in the same way if they had to. Jhaixus' Decepticons have been colonising [i.e. conquering] worlds for some considerable time - Grimlock has located 17 so far. Megatron is loose and upgraded on Earth, bothering GI Joe after the recent guest-star spot. Jhiaxus explains that a large number of Decepticons left the planet during the 4,000,000 year gap while the Ark was dormant on Earth, leaving 'small minded tyrants unfit for the Empire' in charge. Jhiaxus' flagship is called the Twilight. Please note that from now on, for ease of explanation, Megatron/Bludgeon's Decepticons will be referred to as Decepticons, and Jhiaxus' ilk as the Cybertronians.
Errors: Most unshown changes [Optimus' trailer upgrade, Sideswipe's paint job etc. - even the new Autobrand] can be easily slotted into the gap since the original series. By the time Prime's in Grimlock's acquired base, he's regained the antennae shot off in the previous battle [it's been repaired?]. After his dramatic unveiling of it, Grimlock's Autobrand is subsequently absent for the rest of the issue. Oh, GIJoe calling the Autobots is totally different to in GIJoe #140 - Hawk's now in a jeep, Megatron's a little more proactive and Mainframe does the calling up himself, rather than delegating it to a nearby civvie. Oh, well...
Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Jhiaxus ['Cybertronian' Decepticon leader, first appearance], Rook [Jhiaxus' secretary or somesuch, first appearance], Hound [presumably resurrected post-Underbase Saga], Broadside, Sideswipe [in his new Generation 2 toy colour scheme], Blades, Grimlock, Swoop, Sludge, Slag, Snarl, Optimus Prime [back in a 'classic' look, as opposed to the Action Master one from the end of the last run - it's actually based on his G2 toy also, hence the black armed-up trailer], Hot Rod, Kup and Megatron. Bludgeon, Megatron [in his original body], Shockwave, Scorponok and Galvatron get flashback appearances - as do, most wonderfully, Straxus and Ratbat.
Notable Others: Unicron [flashback], Buster Witwicky [flashback], Hawk and Mainframe.
Production Notes: The original cover was a gatefold version [priced at $2.95] featuring a foil-stamped cover, and a battle scene by Derek Yaniger inside. It also featured a full-page advert for the series on the back cover, again with art by Yaniger. Both of these were omitted from the regular version [priced at $1.75, which would be the regular price for the series]. It's worth noting that the regular version isn't a second printing - one of the trademarks of mid-1990s Marvel were limited edition special covers, where the limited edition run would be so large it would basically amount to the printing run of the comic... this means that these limited editions are often a lot easier to find than the standard versions. This is very much the case with Transformers Generation 2, with enough copies of the gatefold edition being unsold that they were used in a Marvel Adventures Collector's Pack.
The issue was 37 pages of story long, as opposed to the regular 22. As every second-rate TF trivia hoarder knows, Jhiaxus is a phonetic pun on "Gee, axe us", to sum up the pessimistic attitude of the TF:G2 team on Marvel's refusal to recommission the title until after the initial 12 issues.
Letters Page: Furman hijacks the letters page [which I suppose is fair enough, given the fact that there wouldn't be any letters at the time of printing], named Transmissions Generation 2, to write a small piece on why he's doing it all. The letters' page typeface will be nigh-unreadable for the comic's entire run.
Review: 33 of the most important pages in Transformer history. Furman sells the reader a massive dummy, showing that the Autobot/Decepticon conflict is a tiny anachronism, but then showing that there is a war to be fought, and that conquest is conquest, however you choose to dress it up. The character of Optimus Prime is redefined, without destroying what has gone before. That rather sets the tone for the series - past continuity is respected and utilised, without constricting the storyline. Furman excels, pitching high-octane action [the level of violence has never been seen outside this series as far as a toyline book is concerned] alongside thought-provoking morality. Jhiaxus' Decepticons are actually like certain fanboys/girls claim Megatron's cartoon baddies to be; a self-preserving, nurturing force above conventional morality. Thankfully Furman steers them above such pathetic black=kewl faux Gothique kitsch, with the simple message that no way of life which restricts another way of life is acceptable. On top of this there's the glorious art of Yaniger, meticulously detailed and fitting the new abrasive tone seamlessly. As vital and successful a revamp as Ellis' Counter-X or Morrison's 'New X-Men'.
#2 - "All or Nothing!" & "Ghosts"
Cover Date: December 1993
"All or Nothing!"
Synopsis: On Earth, GIJoe try to aide Hot Spot as he attempts to destroy the technology gave Cobra. He gives his life doing so, unaware that the materials were useless anyway. Spike, meanwhile, tries to free Dr. Biggles-Jones with the help of Fortress Maximus, and meets up with Skydive. Maximus attacks Megatron, but is outclassed, while Skydive rescues Biggles-Jones. Once they're clear, Maximus destroys the Ark's antimatter stream, atomising the vessel.
Notes: Presumably Spike and Max parted company some time after "The Last Autobot", and Max returned to deactivation aboard the Ark [though wouldn't it have made more sense to guard it in base mode?]. Hotspot and Skydive are the only survivors of the team sent to stop Megatron in GIJoe #142. At the end of this story, Skydive is the only Autobot on Earth. The Ark is another casualty. Megatron claims that the technology he gave Cobra Commander was useless... but then poor Hotspot wasn't to know that. It's also worth noting, however, that technology Megatron would think of as junk could be way in advance of human equipment - I mean, Transformers are several million years older than that of Earth, and the cutting-edge GIJoe drive around in jeeps...
Errors: What's happened to Cerebros? He was there in "The Last Autobot". Did Megatron's deactivation of Max involve downscaling him to his original body or something? Starscream seemed alive and well at the end of GIJoe #138. Skydive must have known about Spike being Fort Max' head - the Aerialbots were the advance guard for rescuing his brother in "Dark Star".
Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Hotspot [Destroys himself to prevent capture by Cobra], Megatron, Fortress Maximus [who dies at the end of the issue, taking out the Ark's antimatter conversion chamber], Skydive [reactivated after being sneaked on board in GIJoe #142]. Starscream's seen in a tank being regenerated by Megatron.
Notable Others: Spike [who dies with Fortress Maximus], Scarlett, Snake-Eyes, Hawk, Cobra Commander, Dr. Biggles-Jones.Production Notes: There's no explanation for what "Ghosts" is doing there, where it fits etc., but it seems certain that, combined with the two extra pencillers, it was a result of Yaniger's slow work-rate.
Review: An excellent story about sacrifice, marred by the needless continuity glitches. Some have criticised the story for giving two characters pointless deaths, but this just lends it an edge which takes it above conventional immolations - in war not all heroics are rewarded. The work of the three art teams meshes quite well. Galan's art is good throughout, if not up to Yaniger's standard [following Derek's style is, as Manny would later admit, a big mistake], although Wildman, in imitating the others, loses much of his own very individual style. While not quite a dynamic masterpiece along the lines of "War Without End", "All or Nothing" remains a highly enjoyable action story, utilising well that old Furman staple of the Noble Sacrifice.
#3 - "Primal Fear!" & "Old Evils"
Cover Date: January 1994
Synopsis: In the K'Tor cluster, Jhiaxus has caught up with a team of Autobots led by Optimus on a planet, but now a parasitic organism is feeding off their anger and making them fight. Prime realises this and explains to Jhiaxus, and both parties withdraw, with the Autobots able to withdraw once again.
Errors: Why exactly doesn't Jhiaxus shoot the shuttle out of the sky once they're clear of the planet?
Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Optimus Prime, Jhiaxus, Hound, Grimlock, Slag, Blades, Kup, Swoop, Sideswipe, Snarl.
Review: Only slightly diverting, being a showcase for Prime and Jhiaxus without advancing the plot much. The plot seems very similar to "Distant Thunder" [ UK #100], with Jhiaxus taking Shockwave's role. Nice to see Hound get some characterisation, even if it's largely as a plot device to allow the issue to leap into the middle of a story. Manny Galan's art isn't as bad as people will tell you, though his faces are unpolished and his necks occasionally preposterous.
Synopsis: Bludgeon is building resources on his new ship, the Warworld, and sets course for Earth so he can lure Prime out of hiding and take the Matrix to give life to his new army of warriors.
Notes: Since the end of the first Transformers series, Bludgeon has regrouped and built a planet-sized ship, the Warworld [though it isn't named yet]. He seems to have rebuilt Fangry after Grimlock put his fist through his chest in "End of the Road", and possibly Quake after he was MIA following the same scrap. Bludgeon plans to get the Matrix from Prime to give lift to his new army, and plots a course for Earth to bring him out into the open.
Errors: The Decepticons have curiously adopted the G2 logo, like the Cybertronian Empire...
Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Jhiaxus, Stranglehold, Bludgeon, Fangry, Quake.
Production Notes: The format is what will be pretty much the norm for the best part of the rest of the series - a roughly 14 page main strip, usually drawn by Galan, and a roughly 6 page strip by Yaniger. The issue also contains the first bona-fide "Transmissions Generation 2" letters page.
Letters Page: Benson Yee, owner of bwtf.com, advisor to the Beast Wars TV series [and announced as advisor to the stillborn Dreamwave Beast Wars comic series] writes in to praise the new direction.
Review: Much more accomplished, but is really just a prologue to reintroduce Bludgeon, his aims and the power of the Warworld. Yaniger's art is great. Overall, though, this is a relatively weak and inconsequential part of the run.
#4 - "Devices and Desires!" & "Tales of Earth Part One"
Cover Date: February 1994
"Devices and Desires!"
Synopsis: Against orders, Grimlock sneaks a team aboard Jhiaxus' flagship, the Twilight, but the Cybertronians are already and capture them easily. However, Prime arrives and bails him out. Grimlock expects a long lecture, but instead finds himself left in charge while Optimus makes a trip to Cybertron.
Notes: The first mention of the Liege Maximo, though Jhiaxus doesn't expand on who or what it is. He also describes the Autobot attacks as "niggling". Grimlock is made temporary Autobot commander while Optimus journeys to Cybertron.
Errors: On page 5, First Aid's coloured wrong. On page 6, Sideswipe's missing the grenades or whatever those were strapped to his thigh.
Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Optimus Prime, Kup, Sideswipe, Grimlock, Red Alert [killed by Cybertronians], Ironhide, Streetwise, Groove, First Aid, Mirage [killed by Cybertronians], Snarl, Blades, Slag, Swoop, Jhiaxus, Prowl, Hound, Hot Rod.
Review: There's some good character work for Grimlock, but aside from that it's a less dramatic reworking of "War Without End". Galan's art is still inconsistent, with his necks being a bit of a problem still, and smaller faces being messy. That said, he nails Red Alert's gruesome death fairly well, though some dodgy colouring makes it look a little Delbo-esque as he's hit - it looks like he's simply knocked into neat components, which clashes a little with the detailed partially stripped exoskeleton.
"Tales of Earth Part One"
Synopsis: The Warworld bombards Earth, before the Decepticons land and attack. But there, rather than Optimus Prime, Bludgeon finds Starscream and Megatron.
Notes: Weirdwolf is another repaired since damage in "End of the Road".
Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Bludgeon, Shrapnel , Stranglehold, Octopunch, Fangry, Darkwing, Quake, Weirdwolf, Megatron, Starscream.
Review: Again the support story kicks the main one into touch. "Tales of Earth" is much more interesting, with some very dark art affirming once again that this isn't a kids' book. That said, Bludgeon meeting Megatron within minutes of planet fall stretches credibility a little. Overall though it's a decent read.
#5 - "The Power and the Glory" & "Tales of Earth Part Two"
Cover Date: March 1994
"The Power and the Glory"
Synopsis: Prime travels to Cybertron to decipher his visions, and a group of elders drop him down into Cybertron, where the planet's resonance will amplify his link with the Matrix. There he learns that originally the Transformers reproduce by cellular division. The process was unknown for years, but Prime deduces that Jhiaxus reactivated it. He awakens, too soon to see a black swarm produced as a by-product of the Cybertronian reproduction.
Notes: There are still what seem to be Autobot Elders, or at least whatever Autobots have for priests, on Cybertron. They refer to Optimus Prime as the "fourth heir to the Matrix", after Prima, Prime Nova and Sentinel Prime presumably. The natural resonance of Cybertron allows for relaxation for the Matrix holder, and allows Optimus to find out the source of the visions bothering him. The first Transformers rose from the flesh of the planet, and then used asexual reproduction. This process was thought lost, having served its purpose.
Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Optimus Prime, a trio of Autobot Elders, Jhiaxus, Hot Rod, Air Raid, Fireflight, Silverbolt, Slingshot, Groove, Slag, Swoop, Snarl, Sludge, Grimlock, Kup. Also, on the bottom-left frame of the first page, Scourge, Blurr and Wheelie are visible on Cybertron.
Review: Steadily done, with the main thread unfolding nicely, though the training at Autobase reeks of padding. It's interesting stuff, and a plausible theory is put forward for Transformers reproduction. The menace is building, as is Manny Galan's confidence and skill in the pencilling.
"Tales of Earth Part Two"
Synopsis: Megatron and Bludgeon fight, but Megatron wins easily, taking command of the Decepticons.
Notes: Skydive has been stranded on Earth since GI Joe #142.
Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Bludgeon [killed by Megatron], Stranglehold, Quake, Octopunch, Fangry, Megatron, Starscream, Darkwing [deactivated by Megatron], Skydive.
Letters Page: A glib explanation of the lack of nucleon is given; to wit, that it was a fad, the Transformers retooled themselves on Cybertron and found "a proper energy source"...
Review: Incredibly rushed, with Bludgeon's last stand being pathetically written. The fight with Megatron lasts two pages and two frames, and his death is mostly off-frame. Not a bad read, but not really the series high-point that the momentous events would deserve.
#6 -"Tales of Earth Part Two" & "The Gathering Darkness"
Cover Date: April 1994
"Tales of Earth Part Three"
Synopsis: Megatron gets used to the Warworld, while the Decepticon assault continues. Meanwhile, GIJoe are reinforced by Optimus Prime and Skydive.
Notes: Swindle says the Warworld is constructed from various stolen technologies, including Karkan, Szorian and Jabbi-Ko. Bludgeon's unborn army is glimpsed again, though the troops now have a less generic look [we see the bodies of the Decepticons that will become Sizzle, Ransak [sic], Jolt and I think Manta Ray and Powerdrive]. Thundercracker has been revived at some point since "Dark Star". Darkwing is being rebuilt by the Decepticons. Megatron claims he revived Starscream.
Errors: Starscream suddenly switches to his Generation 2 colour scheme. Can you really see even the comic versions of Rumble and Frenzy as technicians? Megatron says that after the Ark's destruction Starscream provided him with mobility... Now, this is just me having a quibble, but can you really see tank Megatron hanging on to the back of Starscream's jet mode or something?
Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Swindle, Megatron, Thundercracker, Starscream, Ramjet, Soundwave, Darkwing [being rebuilt], Frenzy, Rumble, Optimus Prime, Skydive.
Notable Others: Hawk, Flint.
Review: Yaniger's opener is well-drawn, with nice flecks of characterisation throughout. The gloomy atmosphere Earth is enveloped in is put across well, and Starscream's well portrayed.
"The Gathering Darkness"
Synopsis: Hawk is enraged that Skydive's brought just one Autobot with him, and Optimus doesn't help by announcing he plans to parley with Megatron. However, the Decepticon attacks him, and tears the Matrix out of him. He's only saved when Grimlock and Prowl arrive with a rescue team. Meanwhile, the Swarm grows ever closer.
Notes: Megatron shows his antimatter power again briefly. The Decepticons have attacked Washington DC, Tokyo, London, Moscow, Delhi and North Africa among others. The conventional US military are withdrawing from the front line, with GIJoe taking over. Megatron uses a siphon to suck most of the energy from the Matrix to give life to Bludgeon's former army. Optimus has a conventional mouth, complete with teeth, visible when Megatron cracks his faceplate.
Errors: In the page where Prowl and Grimlock debate backing up Optimus in the Autobase, in the bottom-right frame, Grimlock gets a close-up with speech bubbles indicating it's him speaking. However, the dialogue and colouring of the bubbles indicates it should be Prowl speaking. Tantrum's external fuel tanks alternate between being blue-grey, and red like the rest of him. In the Decepticon line-up as Megatron tears Optimus' chest open, Thundercracker is coloured more like Skywarp. It might be the latter, but when the drop-ship retrieves the Decepticons, there are only three jets picked up. It's still not an error per se, as Thundercracker could have left earlier, or even still be on Earth somewhere. It's really up to you on this one... Also, I think Hawk should say "capital" instead of "capitol". Another thing that bothers me is Optimus looking on while Starscream wipes out a USAF jet... If it's because he goes in peace, why blow Tantrum up?
Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Optimus Prime, Skydive, Prowl, Grimlock, Tantrum [killed by Optimus Prime], Megatron, Starscream, Skywarp [maybe - see Errors], Rumble, Bonecrusher, Soundwave, Ramjet, Swoop, Blades, Silverbolt, Snarl, Sludge, Jazz, Slag, Ironhide, Hot Rod, Hound.
Notable Others: Hawk, Flint.
Letters Page: Liane "Tetra Reris" Elliot writes in, plugging the Overlord II fanzine, and offering use of her own characters, but only the ones she's copyrighted... Rob Tokar tells her where to stuff it. Okay, so he's actually quite diplomatic, but it's just amusing that someone honestly thinks that Marvel, with ~200 existing Transformers at their beck and call, not to mention Simon Furman, would be interested in using fan characters...
Review: The biggest problem is that Manny Galan's fight scenes are fairly undynamic, though overall his art continues to improve. He's got the hang of faces now, and his excesses such as wires have disappeared. Furman's writing in the Optimus/Megatron showdown is superb, with Megatron's hatred for Optimus really captured for the first time. And we get our first real taste of the Swarm. Great reading.