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THE TRANSFORMERS: COMICS, BOOKS AND MANGA

IDW Publishing
(2005-now)
Devil's Due
(2003-2007)
Dreamwave
(2002-2004)
Club/Con
(2001-now)
Titan Books
(2001-now)
Marvel Comics
(1984-1994)
Japanese
Manga
Other Books
and Titles

MARVEL TRANSFORMERS COMICS GUIDE

Marvel UK nav: UK Intro | Story List | #1-10 | #11-20 | #21-30 | #31-40 | #41-50 | #51-60 | #61-70 | #71-80
#81-90 | #91-100 | #101-110 | #111-120 | #121-130 | #131-140 | #141-150 | #151-160 | #161-170
#171-180 | #181-190 | #191-200 | #201-210 | #211-220 | #221-230 | #231-240 | #241-250 | #252-260
#261-270 | #271-280 | #281-290 | #291-300 | #301-310 | #311-320 | #321-330 | #331-332 | Cover Images
Annuals: 1985 Annual | 1986 Annual | 1987 Annual | 1988 Annual | 1989 Annual | 1990 Annual | 1991 Annual
Other titles / G2: Action Force #24-27 | Specials & Collected Comics | UK G2 Intro | UK G2 #1-5 | UK G2 Annual

UK #1 - #10

| #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6 | #7 | #8 | #9 | #10 |

#1 - "The Transformers" Part 1

[cover]
Cover: Jerry Paris
Cover Date: 20/09/84

Plot: Bill Mantlo
Script: Ralph Macchio
Pencils: Frank Springer
Inks: Kim DeMulder
Letters: Higgins & Parker
Colours: Nelson Yomtov

Originally Printed In: Pages 1-11 of US Transformers #1, dated September 1984.
Later Reprinted By: Transformers Collected Comics #1 [UK, full colour US version], Transformers - The Complete Works [UK, full colour US version], Titan Books: Beginnings [Worldwide, full colour US version].

Synopsis: On the planet Cybertron, there has evolved a race of sentient robots named Autobots. However, a faction led by Megatron, named the Decepticons, throw the planet into a state of civil war. The Autobots are initially slaughtered, until a warrior named Optimus Prime leads them. The battle is so intense that Cybertron is thrown out of its orbit and sent towards an asteroid field. Prime leads a team of Autobots to clear the field, but after they have done so Megatron and a team of Decepticons jump them. Too weak to fight, Optimus sends the ship crashing into a young world to end the Decepticon menace. They crash into a volcano, Mount St. Hilary in what will be Oregon, and lie dormant for 4,000,000 years. 1984, and the volcano erupts, activating the ship's computer, which sets about rebuilding both factions.

Notes: The Autobots on the Ark are Optimus Prime, Prowl, Jazz, Ironhide, Ratchet, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Wheeljack, Mirage, Hound, Trailbreaker, Bluestreak, Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Huffer, Brawn, Gears, Grimlock, Slag, Snarl, Sludge and Swoop, though not all are seen this issue. There's also a possible on Red Alert being there [see #15]. The Decepticon assault team consists of Megatron, Soundwave, Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Rumble, Frenzy, Ravage, Laserbeak and Buzzsaw. Cybertron is the size of Saturn, and made of [note, not explicitly entirely made of] metal. Ravage gets the first line, and it's strongly hinted that Soundwave and Ravage are founding Decepticons. Prime is answerable to a Council of Elders, and his Cybertronian mode is shown to be a futuristic tank. Megatron wants to use the planet as a flying dreadnought via huge engines - an idea that resurfaces in the Flame cycle in #164-169, in the US cartoon serial "The Rebirth" and Dreamwave's first War Within mini-series. His fortress is called Castle Decepticon. Ravage can remain undetected due to absorbing electromagnetic radiation.

Errors: I'm giving this one, and the rest of the first four stories, a lot of leeway. Megatron has his early helmet design [as seen in The Transformers Universe] for all of this issue. On the second page, there's lots of red n Soundwave in the opening frame. On page 5, there's a very toy-like Jazz as Prime addresses the Elders... this means it has whacking great big chunks of Porsche 935 on it. It's also coloured predominantly yellow, and has both launchers. Many of those fighting on the Ark are unrecognisable, not tallying with any of the myriad character models used throughout the opening issues. One of the boarders on page 7 is a miscoloured Prime. On page 8, in the second panel, Megatron's fusion cannon switches to his left arm. Starscream also still has the more blue/red orientated scheme, which he'll keep for much of the early issues before switching to the more familiar mainly-grey scheme.

Would a war really rip a planet from its orbit? Why doesn't Optimus Prime even listen to Prowl?

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Ravage, Megatron, Soundwave, Optimus Prime, Jazz, Rumble, Skywarp, Prowl, Laserbeak, Starscream. All first appearances, obviously.

Production Notes: The comic is edited by Sheila Cranna, and priced at 25p. For the first issue only [for now, anyway] the comic segments are in full colour. The Transformers strip is untitled, but "The Transformers" is the accepted title for the story.

Letters Page: Unusually for a first issue, there is a letters page, made up of mail from kids at Greycourt School, who got to read early drafts of the comic. It's currently part of Openers, which combines an editorial, feedback, adverts for new products [very rarely Transformers-related] and penpal adverts.

Extras: There's a painted battle-scene poster for the free rub-on transfers, and an A4 reproduction of a cartoon frame of Jazz, Prowl and Sideswipe. The latter is from the early commercials for the series, and features rather unrefined character models. It's neither well drawn, nor well reproduced. The Robot Roundup feature, in which one Johnny Black looks at robots in the real world, also debuts.

Back-Up Strip:
Machine Man - "Byte of the Binary Bug" Part 1

Review: An interesting start. Not terribly good, but it covers a lot of ground, albeit awkwardly. The art's pretty bad, not helped by character designs jumping all over the place and Springer's seeming unfamiliarity with the characters themselves [when the Decepticons first board the Ark, Prime looks to be in about three places at once]. Still, the clunky stuff is by-and-large out of the way. Very different to most of what was to come. The issue looks like it was drawn by several different people over quite an extended period, and this lack of cohesion does hurt its readability. However, some of the art is very effective, and combines with the odd dialogue to give a sense of the alien. Still, considering the team were introducing a totally new mythos, this isn't bad at all. Megatron's about as cunning and ruthless as he'll get anywhere before the G2 comic. Not really the best thing to read as your first TF comic, though, in retrospect, more something enjoyed when you're more into the run.

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#2 - "The Transformers" Part 2

[cover]
Cover: John Ridgway
Cover Date: 04/10/84

Plot: Bill Mantlo
Script: Ralph Macchio
Pencils: Frank Springer
Inks: Kim DeMulder
Letters: Higgins & Parker
Colours: Nelson Yomtov

Originally Printed In: Pages 12-13 & 16-23 of US Transformers #1, dated September 1984.
Later Reprinted By: Transformers Collected Comics #1 [UK, full colour US version], Transformers - The Complete Works [UK, full colour US version], Titan Books: Beginnings [Worldwide, full colour US version].

Synopsis: Both factions awaken, with the Ark having given them new Earth-based transformations. The Decepticons immediately withdraw to set up their own powerbase. The Autobots inspect the severe damage to the Ark, and decide to contact the planet's dominant lifeforms, which the Ark mistakes the vehicles for. Prowl is elected to lead a scout team out of the Ark to explore Oregon. Meanwhile, in the nearby town, Buster Witwicky drives away from where he lives with his father "Sparkplug", a mechanic, to see a Drive-in movie with his girlfriend Jesse and friend 'O'. Prowl chooses the same theatre to make first contact with the Earthlings, but is observed by Laserbeak. Soundwave leads a team to attack them, and a battle ensues. During this, the Autobots realise the humans, and not the cars, are the dominant lifeform, and withdraw, leading the Decepticons away. However, Bumblebee has been damaged and left behind. Buster drives him back to his father's garage, where they're discovered by Sparkplug. Just then, Bumblebee begins pleading for help.

Notes: The phrase "[they can] if necessary revert to their original forms" appears to be reaffirming their transformational abilities, rather than meaning their Cybertronian modes, robot [I know they're the same at the moment...] or vehicular, are still available. Cliffjumper uses his [insanely powerful] glass gas gun, and Hound his hologram ability.

The excision of the "Autobot rolecall" pages means that several characters, including Wheeljack, Sideswipe, Trailbreaker, Windcharger and Mirage, have yet to appear in the UK series.

Errors: In the second frame, Soundwave does appear to have the glimmer of a mouth and nose, as well as the missile usually found in his hand rifle in the shoulder cannon. There's another quirk of Megatron's early character design visible in the same frame - the rather prominent hand-trigger for the fusion cannon. On page 2, Soundwave flies off in tapedeck mode. In the second frame of page 3, Optimus has odd legs - there seem to be six wheels secreted on the back of them. Cliffjumper's car design isn't anything like either the character model, and more like the Porsche 944 that it was loosely based on [the substitution of the actual rather than deformed cars is something which happens a lot on the Marvel comic - Bumblebee, for example, nearly always resembles a real Volkswagen Beetle]. On page 6, Laserbeak's flying over a very odd piece of landscape... It looks like Springer tried to make it look like he was miles up. The Autobots' transformations on page 8 are very odd, nothing like the toys, or the character models - they seem a bit better when Prowl and Hound revert to car mode to escape the drive-in. As he scares Ravage off, Hound has what looks like Mirage's head design. Bumblebee has what seems to be a normal VW engine under his bonnet - it's even in the back. Character designs are an odd mix, with the likes of Bumblebee, Huffer and Brawn very close to their toy designs, while Sideswipe, Prowl and Optimus are halfway to their regular Marvel character models.

That the Decepticons have the energy to leg it, but not destroy at least some of the Autobots [who, for whatever reason, seem much slower to awaken], is a bit silly. The Decepticons would, one thinks, be more practically minded than to simply run from somewhere were all the technology they know is.

Is anyone else seriously worried that not only would 'O' go to a drive-in movie with a blatant couple like Buster and Jessie, but the pair of them start necking with a fat bloke scoffing popcorn right behind them?

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Megatron, Soundwave, Optimus Prime, Skywarp [first appearance], Thundercracker [first appearance], Starscream, Rumble, Frenzy [first appearance], Ravage, Buzzsaw [first appearance], Laserbeak, Sideswipe [first appearance], Bluestreak [first appearance], Prowl, Huffer [first appearance], Brawn [first appearance], Gears [first appearance], Ironhide [first appearance], Bumblebee [first appearance], Hound [first appearance], Sunstreaker [first appearance], Cliffjumper [first appearance].

Notable Others: Buster Witwicky [first appearance], Sparkplug Witwicky [first appearance], 'O' [first appearance] and Jesse [first appearance].

Production Notes: For the UK, pages 14-15 of US #1 were omitted [they belatedly appeared in the 1985 Annual and The Complete Works], while pages 1-3, 6 & 8-14 were printed in black & white. The black & white pages would be a fixture on both original and reprinted stories until #27, also affecting Machine Man. The omission of the pages is covered by the lines "Their notice does not go unnoticed... the Autobots, too, have risen" at the bottom of page 2, and top of page 3.

The comic also helpfully prints a slip for customer research, to be sent in with any correspondence - asking, among other things, about pocket money and other interests.

Extras:
Another battlescene with cover-mounted decals, and another A4 poster. It was most likely another early animation still - if anyone can be more specific, please mail me as this bit's missing from my copy.

As well as the regular Robot Round Up, there's a feature on robots in Doctor Who from then-Doctor Who Magazine editor Alan McKenzie. There's also the Design-a-Decepticon competition, where readers could submit their drawings, receiving either Starscream, Skywarp or Thundercracker figures for their efforts.

Back-Up Strip:
Machine Man - "Byte of the Binary Bug" Part 2.

Review: Both better and worse than the first issue. There's more action, which is good, but more clunking dialogue, which is bad. It's also bizarre that the UK editors decided to reprint the blandest pages in colour [also, Machine Man has more colour pages... who's comic is this? ^_^]. The art's still variable at best, and characters are still leaping between the John Romita models and toy designs from page to page, but it chugs along happily enough. Oh, and Prowl debating Earth's life with Cliffjumper while gunning down Soundwave is way-cool.

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#3 - "Power Play!" Part 1

[cover]
Cover: Jerry Paris
Cover Date: 18/10/84

Plot: Bill Mantlo
Script: Jim Salicrup
Pencils: Frank Springer
Inks: Kim DeMulder
Letters: Janice Chiang
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Originally Printed In: Pages 1-14 of US Transformers #2, dated November 1984.
Later Reprinted By: Transformers Collected Comics #1 [UK, full colour US version], Transformers - The Complete Works Vol. 1 [UK, full colour US version], Titan Books: Beginnings [Worldwide, full colour US version].

Synopsis: The Decepticons raid the Harrison nuclear power plant, gathering material to build their base. Meanwhile, at Buster's behest, Sparkplug does what he can to fix Bumblebee, who then transforms and strikes up a friendship with Buster. However, Ravage is able to discover his location. At the Ark, Autobot fuel reserves are low. Just then, Bumblebee radios in that Sparkplug can convert them to take earth pump fuel, and the Autobots set off to meet him.

Notes: Thundercracker uses his sonic boom, Frenzy can jam radios, and Rumble can cause Earthquakes with his feet. Bumblebee can build a radio. Mirage thinks very un-Autobot things. A song by The Dazzler comes on the radio - see #5 's notes for a few lines on Transformers and the Marvel Universe.

Errors: In the flashback to on page 3, Prowl shoots Soundwave in the face rather than shoulder. As Starscream flies off on page 4, the underside of his whole nose section is blue, and then stays that way for the issue. On page 6, Starscream is missing his wings, and has his jet mode missiles, rather than machine guns. Sparkplug actually seriously believes his car-jack can hold O's weight. Bumblebee's transformation on page 10 is very, very weird. On page 14, Sideswipe is coloured like Sunstreaker, while Ratchet segues into an interim character mode - not unusual in the early stuff, but jarring because on the previous page, he's got his toy design. The Decepticons seem to have recovered quickly from a considerable beating at the drive-in last issue - Laserbeak had his wing smashed off by Brawn, while Thundercracker and Starscream were badly damaged by Cliffjumper.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Soundwave, Megatron, Starscream, Rumble, Ravage, Buzzsaw, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Laserbeak, Prowl, Cliffjumper [flashback], Rumble, Bumblebee, Ratchet [first appearance], Optimus Prime, Jazz, Wheeljack [first appearance], Windcharger [first appearance], Ironhide, Mirage [first appearance], Sideswipe.

Notable Others: Buster Witwicky, Sparkplug Witwicky, 'O' and Jesse.

Production Notes: For the UK, pages 1-3 & 6-13 were printed in black & white.

Extras: There's a Transformers Iron-On transfer free with this issue. I didn't really fancy shelling out another £20 to get an issue with this still attached, so if anyone has any more information, please mail me. There are also two of the A4 commercial still posters - one showing Prowl and Jazz, the other showing Optimus Prime.

The Fact File in the Openers section also debuts this issue, covering Hound. It's basically rearranging the toy tech spec, adorned with the box art. Also of note to variant nerds is that the Transformers Give-Away competition, in which readers can enter a draw for a free Minibot, uses a whacking great big picture of the yellow Cliffjumper figure.

Letters Page: In response to a letter, Cranna says Megatron won't be out in the UK until 1985. No reason why is given.

Back-Up Strip:
Machine Man - "Byte of the Binary Bug" Part 3

Review: A bit vacuous. Not a lot happens, and there's lots of cartoon-esque sledgehammer characterisation, though Starscream's vocally rather subtle [and sensible] rather than a preening, mouthy idiot. But there's some horrid exposition from Bumblebee [in the second story...] and both art and dialogue are variable. Sparkplug gets most of the best lines, though Bumblebee does nab one classic. There are some great renders, such as Ravage's first transformation, but also some abysmal ones, and the same awkward mix of character models.

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#4 - "Power Play!" Part 2

[cover]
Cover: Michael Golden
Cover Date: 01/11/84

Plot: Bill Mantlo
Script: Jim Salicrup
Pencils: Frank Springer
Inks: Kim DeMulder
Letters: Janice Chiang
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Originally Printed In: Pages 15-23 of US Transformers #2, dated November 1984.
Later Reprinted By: Transformers Collected Comics #1 [UK, full colour US version], Transformers - The Complete Works Vol. 1 [UK, full colour US version], Titan Books: Beginnings [Worldwide, full colour US version].

Synopsis: The Decepticons set off from their new base to intercept the Autobots at Sparkplug's garage, and kidnap the mechanic. Just as Optimus Prime meets the Witwickys, the Decepticons arrive and attack. While the Autobots are distracted, Megatron is able to kidnap Sparkplug, and the Decepticons withdraw, leaving the Autobots more drained than ever, with no fuel available.

Notes: The Decepticons have already half-built their base. Sideswipe uses his jet-pack, and flare-gun. Mirage enjoys Retro-gliding, carries an electro-disruptor and tries to reason with Ravage. The Transformers are clearly public knowledge by the conclusion of this issue, with the police getting involved. Megatron and Ravage appear to have limited flight capabilities in their alt modes - Megatron's will notably be featured in about a decade's time in GIJoe #139.

Errors: On page 1, Ratchet is in Prime's convoy, despite staying behind at the Ark in #3. On page 3, Sunstreaker and Sideswipe's character models are rather muddled; the reason behind this is at some stage, their toys were reversed from the original intention - for the "Sunstreaker" figure to become Sideswipe [complete with the engine airbox as a rocket pack] and vice-versa.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Megatron, Soundwave, Ravage, Starscream, Thundercracker, Skywarp, Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Optimus Prime, Hound, Prowl, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Jazz, Bumblebee, Mirage, Brawn.

Notable Others: Buster and Sparkplug Witwicky.

Production Notes: For the UK, pages 1-3 & 5-9 were printed in black & white. The cover is adapted from US #2.

Back-Up Strip:
Machine Man - "Where Walks the Gods" Part 1

Extras: This issue's Fact File covers Gears. There are also two more badly reproduced A4 size posters which are stills from the early toy adverts - one of Megatron, and one of the Autobots.

Review: Better than #3, with a fairly decent fight scene, but still none too special. The art is still lurching all over the place, with designs and perspectives clearly not an issue. But overall the plot doesn't really move much, and the characterisation's still awkward.

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#5 - "Prisoner of War!" Part 1

[cover]
Cover: John Ridgway
Cover Date: 15/11/84

Writer: Jim Salicrup
Pencils: Frank Springer
Inks: Kim DeMulder & Jim Esposito
Letters: Janice Chiang & others
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Originally Printed In: Pages 1-12 of US Transformers #3, dated January 1985.
Later Reprinted By: Transformers Collected Comics #2 [UK, full colour US version], Transformers - The Complete Works Part 2 [UK, full colour US version], Titan Books: Beginnings [Worldwide, full colour US version].

Synopsis: The Decepticons take Sparkplug back to their base and force him to make fuel for them. Meanwhile, the drained Autobots return to the Ark to use what's left of their fuel reserves, taking Buster with them. Sparkplug agrees to make fuel for the Decepticons, who then gather the materials he needs. The US Army, with the media in tow, descend on the Decepticon base, including Daily Bugle photographer Peter Parker, otherwise known as Spider-Man. The army attack, but are no match for the Decepticons.

Notes: Right, a much-needed common-sense lecture on Transformers and the Marvel Universe. This issue we see Spider-Man [with the symbiote costume], S.H.I.E.L.D. luminaries Nick Fury [who mentions Godzilla, indirectly - see Godzilla, King of the Monsters #1, if you must] & Dum-Dum Duggan, and Joe Robertson [a regular part of the Bugle supporting cast from various Spider-Man titles]. So is Transformers part of the Marvel Universe? This was clearly the original intention, until someone realised the logistics of it all - the Transformers are a match for many of Earth's heroes, and clashes with, say, the Avengers would be hard to present as an even fight. So, aside from the Savage Land making a few appearances the idea's dropped. So where does that leave us continuity-wise? It seems very clear - it's simply an alternate universe to the standard Marvel Universe, with fewer super-heroes on the ground. It's clearly not the same one, so there's no point forcing it into that one, and yet it's quite undeniable these characters appear.

William "Sparkplug" Witwicky was a PoW in Korea, where he served with the US Marines. Prime orders the refuelling of himself, Sunstreaker, Cliffjumper, Brawn, Hound, Windcharger and Gears. Laserbeak has laser eye-beams, and Rumble can remove his own hand. From this issue on, Megatron's regular helmet becomes pretty much a fixture, as do most of the Marvel character designs - most notably Bumblebee.

Errors: At the bottom of the second page, Soundwave's mouth reappears, and Rumble has a very odd face design. Page 5's first panel gives us miscoloured Sideswipe and Ironhide, as well as a very odd head design for Hound - it looks a lot like a Cyberjet's face. On page 8, Hound is driving back towards the Ark, even though he should be in Prime's trailer. There's also something wrong with Mirage's rear wing - it's split in half. At the bottom of the page, there's too much red on Ratchet. On the same page, there's too much red on Ratchet. In the bottom two frames on page 9, Shockwave is briefly shown in the Decepticon base, even though he should be still buried in the Savage Land [see #7]. 'O' seems to have lost 20 pounds since last issue. Jesse's name switches to "Jessie" from here on in.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Starscream, Thundercracker, Skywarp, Soundwave, Megatron, Rumble, Frenzy, Ravage, Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Prowl, Sideswipe, Optimus Prime, Hound, Ironhide, Bumblebee, Windcharger, Bluestreak, Trailbreaker [first appearance], Gears, Huffer, Cliffjumper, Ratchet.

Notable Others: Buster and Sparkplug Witwicky, 'O', Jessie, Peter Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man, Nick Fury and Dum-Dum Duggan.

Production Notes: For the UK, pages 1-3, 7 & 10-12 were printed in black & white.

Extras: This issue's Fact File is on Megatron. There's also more of those early cartoon stills as an A4 poster, featuring early versions of Thundercracker, Starscream and a generic Decepticon jet - come on, eHobby, you know you want to. There's also a feature on Sieve-Head, the 'robot' sidekick of Mike Read from Saturday Superstore, on top of Robot Round Up. As fascinating as it sounds.

Back-Up Strips:
Machine Man - "Where Walks the Gods" Part 2
Matt and the Cat [a new half-page in-house strip, by Mike Kazybrid]

Review: Pretty good. The art settles down to be mediocre, and there's some realism in the response to the Transformers war. The biggest problem is the dialogue, with some rather half-arsed satire, and what will become a cartoon staple, The Human Surprised By Transformers Who Still Has Time For A Quip Along The Lines Of "I Need A Holiday". The pace is quite good, and it's easy enough reading.

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#6 - "Prisoner of War!" Part 2

[cover]
Cover: Mike Zeck
Cover Date: 29/11/84

Writer: Jim Salicrup
Pencils: Frank Springer
Inks: Kim DeMulder & Jim Esposito
Letters: Janice Chiang & others
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Originally Printed In: Pages 13-23 of US Transformers #3, dated January 1985.
Later Reprinted By: Transformers Collected Comics #2 [UK, full colour US version], Transformers - The Complete Works Part 2 [UK, full colour US version], Titan Books: Beginnings [Worldwide, full colour US version].

Synopsis: Gears arrives to scout out the Decepticon base, but is briefly attacked by Spider-Man until the Autobot proves which side he's on by saving some soldiers. The Army withdraws, while Gears summons Optimus Prime. The Autobots move in, with the bulk of the Autobots drawing the Decepticons' fire while Spider-Man and Gears move in to rescue Sparkplug. They're successful, but Gears is smashed to bits. The Autobots gather his parts and repair him, and he tells them Sparkplug has given the Decepticons what they needed.

Notes: Gears can fly, using his compressed-air boosters. Sunstreaker uses his shoulder-mounted missile launcher, and Frenzy his electric attack. Ratchet has a separate repair bay [a nice nod towards the toy]. Frenzy refers to Rumble as his "brother" - figure of speech? Similar design type [snigger, wink, wink etc.]? Same mum? You decide ^_^.

Errors: Sunstreaker is coloured red on page 4, as he transforms. In the following frame, Cliffjumper has a yellow head. At the bottom of the same page, Rumble's legs are white. It's not a great page to choose for colour really, as on top of these errors, there's hardly any background. Cliffjumper gets his deformed alt mode this issue. Lots of white appears on Gears in various frames of pages 5, 6 and 10. On page 10, Sunstreaker [who's also missing an arm, though this may be intentional], Cliffjumper and Brawn are all coloured completely wrong. Nel must've been on his way to lunch, as in this frame only red, white and blue are used on the Transformers...

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Skywarp [shot down by Sunstreaker], Gears [who is badly damaged at the end, but repaired to some extent by Ratchet], Brawn [knocked out by Frenzy], Sunstreaker, Hound, Optimus Prime, Windcharger, Cliffjumper, Huffer, Starscream, Thundercracker, Rumble [knocked out by Brawn], Frenzy [damaged by Spider-Man], Megatron, Ravage, Soundwave [damaged by Gears], Ratchet.

Notable Others: Buster, Sparkplug, and Spider-Man.

Production Notes: For the UK, pages 1-3 & 8-11 were printed in black & white. The cover is taken from US #3.

Extras: This issue's Fact File is on Optimus Prime. There were more A4 posters with this issue, but again they're missing from my copy. Please mail me if you know what they were.

Back-Up Strips:
Machine Man - "Xanadu" Part 1
Matt and the Cat

Review: Again, quite good. The art's not great, but fairly consistent, Spider-Man works rather well and Gears gets some good character work as well as a large amount of story-time. It's not perfect, but it tries.

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#7 - "The Last Stand" Part 1

[cover]
Cover: Mark Texeira
Cover Date: 15/12/84

Writer: Jim Salicrup
Pencils: Frank Springer
Inks: Ian Akin & Brian Garvey
Letters: John Workman
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Originally Printed In: Pages 1-11 of US Transformers #4, dated March 1985.
Later Reprinted By: Transformers Collected Comics #2 [UK, full colour US version], Transformers - The Complete Works Part 2 [UK, full colour US version], Titan Books: Beginnings [Worldwide, full colour US version].

Synopsis: Buster is aghast at his father, who senses hostility from the Autobots and attempts to escape, only to suffer a heart-attack when Jazz tries to stop him with a flame-thrower. Ratchet takes him to hospital while the Autobots desperately plan their defence. Megatron tests his new strength by taking a heavy barrage from the US troops without damage. Meanwhile, Huffer tells Optimus of something that occurred while they were still dormant - Shockwave had landed on Earth in the Savage Land. The Ark sent Grimlock, Slag, Snarl, Sludge and Swoop to investigate. The fates of all six are unknown.

Notes: Huffer lists Gears, Sideswipe, Brawn and Bumblebee as "knocked out". Sideswipe's probably drained from #4, with Bumblebee possibly the same [it can't be damage from Megatron hitting him, as he's fine in #5], Gears and Brawn were damaged in #6. Rumble was damaged by Brawn, Frenzy by Spider-Man, Soundwave by Gears and Skywarp by Sunstreaker, all in #6. A brief word on the appearance or otherwise of Reflector in that frame, too - yes, it looks like him/them, but you've got to remember, as far as the Marvel comic universe is concerned, Reflector doesn't exist. It's really up to you on that one, though I personally mark them as drones that happen to look like Reflector. The drones aren't seen again after this issue. 'O''s dad runs a bar - "Mister O's". 'O' is presumably over 21, though I'm not familiar with American law if he's not actually drinking... Sparkplug was captured by North Korean forces in 1952 - he was already a mechanic of considerable repute. Megatron resists a massive amount of the army's firepower.

Errors: Jazz overreacts just a little there [it's possible he just doesn't realise how fragile humans are]. Sideswipe is up and around fine on page 1,despite being listed as knocked out by Huffer . I have no idea who that is behind Huffer on page 2, frame 1 either - the chest looks like Swoop, who won't appear until #28 in person. At the bottom of the same page, Sunstreaker has Optimus' faceplate. Where on Earth does 'O''s dad get that ultra-detailed Optimus Prime costume from? It's very odd that 'O''s dad has a bar named "Mister O's", and yet it's his son who's commonly known as 'O'. On page 5, Ratchet gets a lot of red once again, which stays on his ambulance mode.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Optimus Prime, Sunstreaker, Jazz, Mirage, Gears, Huffer, Windcharger, Ratchet, Ironhide, Prowl, Bluestreak, Sideswipe, Trailbreaker, Wheeljack, Megatron, Rumble, Frenzy, Soundwave, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Ravage, Shockwave [flashback, first intentional appearance - see #5], Snarl [flashback, first appearance], Grimlock [flashback, first appearance], Swoop [flashback, first appearance], Snarl [flashback, first appearance], Slag [flashback, first appearance].

Notable Others: Buster and Sparkplug Witwicky, 'O' and Jessie.

Production Notes: For the UK, pages 1-3 and 8-11 were printed in black & white. The cover is adapted from US #4.

Letters Page: Anthony Temple from Hasbro UK pops in to plug forthcoming toys, including Megatron [delayed in the UK], explain the robot points and name Optimus Prime, Jazz and Starscream as the most popular toys in the current range. The readers' drawings take over the poster space, and while it's hardly Saiko, the spread's a lot better for it.

Extras: The issue's Fact File is on Bumblebee.

Back-Up Strips:
Machine Man - "Xanadu" Part 2
Matt and the Cat

Review: A bit of a weird one, this. You've got a pair of leering frames of Jesse and friends in very clinging leotards, 'O''s dad in an Optimus suit most fanboys would kill for, Jazz [of all Autobots] giving Sparkplug a heart attack, which the 'Bots by and large seem rather unashamed about, and Ironhide as the voice of reason. There are some good bits, such as Megatron giving Starscream a much-needed fusion charge to the chest, but it all feels very loose.

[*][*][*][*][0][0][0][0][0][0]

#8 - "The Last Stand" Part 2

[cover]
Cover: Barry Kitson
Cover Date: 29/12/84

Writer: Jim Salicrup
Pencils: Frank Springer
Inks: Ian Akin & Brian Garvey
Letters: John Workman
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Originally Printed In: Pages 12-22 of US Transformers #4, dated March 1985.
Later Reprinted By: Transformers Collected Comics #2 [UK, full colour US version], Transformers - The Complete Works Part 2 [UK, full colour US version], Titan Books: Beginnings [Worldwide, full colour US version].

Synopsis: Ravage has sneaked into the Ark, and observes the Autobots' poor state. With this information, Megatron immediately sets off to attack. The Autobots use the tubes of transference to switch fuel from some Autobots to allow a team to face Megatron at full strength - Optimus Prime, Mirage, Ironhide, Bluestreak and Huffer. The Decepticons promptly arrive, and battles ensues. The outnumbered Autobots are soon overrun. Just when all seems lost, the Decepticons seize up - Sparkplug had poisoned their fuel. The Autobots are just beginning to comprehend when Shockwave arrives, and takes them out.

Notes: It's often stated Shockwave knocks out all the Autobots bar Ratchet; in actuality, he only knocks out Prime's team, despite an art error putting Sunstreaker in there; the rest [bar the errant medic] are all off-line already through battle damage or a lack of fuel.

Errors: Prime's choice of team is a bit odd. While I can understand Prime maybe not being fully aware of Mirage's doubts, but he's not very powerful or strategic, and Prowl would have been a better choice. Also, why pick up Bluestreak when Sunstreaker's available? I can't tell who that is opposite Mirage in the Tubes on page 2 - it looks similar to, well, Mirage... On page 4, Bluestreak is coloured like Prowl. In the first two frames he's in n page 5, Ratchet's lights are white. Sideswipe [page 7] and Sunstreaker [pages 7 and 10] are seen on Optimus' team, despite being out of action. Also on page 9, Mirage has his arm, severed by Ravage, back. Windcharger appears with Prime's team on page 10.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Optimus Prime [knocked out by Shockwave], Huffer [knocked out by Shockwave], Ravage [knocked out by corrosive fuel], Megatron [knocked out by corrosive fuel], Starscream [knocked out by corrosive fuel], Ironhide [knocked out by Shockwave], Ratchet [knocked out by Shockwave], Bluestreak [knocked out by Shockwave], Mirage [knocked out by Shockwave], Bumblebee [drained via the Tubes of Transference], Windcharger [drained via the Tubes of Transference], Sunstreaker [drained via the Tubes of Transference], Brawn [drained via the Tubes of Transference], Buzzsaw [knocked out by corrosive fuel], Laserbeak [knocked out by corrosive fuel], Thundercracker [knocked out by corrosive fuel], Ratchet, Skywarp [knocked out by corrosive fuel], Rumble [knocked out by corrosive fuel], Frenzy [knocked out by corrosive fuel], Shockwave.

Notable Others: Buster and Sparkplug.

Production Notes: For the UK, pages 1-3 and 8-9 were printed in black & white. The alternative version [see US #4] was printed in the UK in The Complete Works Part 2 collection as a form of closure. It was most likely supplied to Marvel UK in case Transformers UK didn't make it past #8.

Extras: Ravage gets the Fact File treatment. There's also a colour two-page January calendar in the middle, featuring original art of Optimus Prime.

Back-Up Strips:
Machine Man - "The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls" Part 1
Matt and the Cat

Review: An average story raised by a superlative double-twist at the end. The fight scene on the Ark seems to go on for ages, but is actually rather good, especially the Mirage/Ravage scuffle, though it's slightly disappointing some things [like how exactly Huffer saves Bluestreak from Megatron] happen off-frame. The ending is, of course, legendary, and back in the day must have had fans desperate for the next issue.

[*][*][*][*][*][*][0][0][0][0]

#9 - "Man of Iron" Part 1

[cover]
Cover: John Ridgway

Cover Date: 12/01/85

Writer: Steve Parkhouse
Art: John Ridgway
Letters: Richard Starkings [uncredited]
Colours: Gina Hart [uncredited]

Later Reprinted By: Transformers Collected Comics #3 [UK, full colour], Transformers #33 [US, recoloured].

Synopsis: Stansham Castle, in England, is bombed by Starscream, Skywarp and Thundercracker, but one of the bombs doesn't explode. The museum curator, Roy Harker, is called out to see to the damage. His son, Sammy, is playing in the woods and runs into Jazz, getting scared and running away. Jazz follows him home in his alternate mode, and observes. Sam tells his father, who asks him whether it looks like a robot rumoured to be in the parts over 900 years ago.

Notes: Now, continuity. With US #5 not ready until some way down the road, the UK staff just wrote a simple, straightforward story which didn't even attempt to follow directly on from the previous issue, with most of the Transformers off-line. But where does it fit? For some time I've slotted it into the initial arc, just between #7 and #8, but this hardly makes much sense as the Autobots are too low on fuel to go gallivanting around at this point. The most likely slot, given the cast, is after UK #40 and before #45, with the Autobots up to full strength and Soundwave dispatching a team led by Starscream.

Jazz refers to his name as a code-name, an idea which isn't explained, or used again after this story. The 'Man of Iron', who looks a bit like Jazz, has made three appearances over the past thousand years or so, but by the sounds of it, none recently. One visit was in 1017, and another in around 1070.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Jazz.

Production Notes: Pages 1-2, 7-9 and 11 were printed in black & white.

Extras: Sideswipe gets a Fact File. Also a checklist on the figures available in the UK at the time. Also a two-page spread of readers' art. There's also a toy checklist [all the mass retail toys from the American 1984 line, minus Megatron, Prowl, Trailbreaker, Ironhide and Sunstreaker, still not out in the UK], and the centre pages are given over to some of the winners of the Design-a-Decepticon competition. Some of these are a bit interesting - Jimmy Chang, at age 9, displays amazing thievery skills by just drawing a Macross/Robotech Valkyrie. That he sneaked this past the editorial team is impressive enough, but seeing as Hasbro couldn't actually use the likeness in their own material, this makes Jimmy a junior Thomas Crown. Mathew Snyder draws a Decepticon jet, colours it yellow and names it Sunbender, proving 10-year old kids do actually run eHobby's exclusives department. Even more interesting is the contribution of one Jason Yeo, who basically draws Ravage and names him "Night Stalker". Very interesting, that, as in the 1986 Annual story "State Games", James Hill 'creates' a character named Nightstalker, who's identical to Ravage. The cad.

Back-Up Strips:
Machine Man - "The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls" Part 2
Matt & the Cat

Review: An interesting story, very, very different to the previous ones, and anything which would be seen after this. The pace is placid, to put it mildly, with little Transformers action. Jazz is shown to be very alien, and slightly sinister. Ridgway's art is superb on the whole, despite an awkward toy-style look for Jazz, and the pages enhanced by Hart are tribute to the fact that this early, the UK-produced art surpassed that of the American book, though it would take another six months for visuals quite this lush to become regular. An intriguing start.

[*][*][*][*][*][*][*][0][0][0]

#10 - "Man of Iron" Part 2

[cover]
Cover: John Ridgway

Cover Date: 26/01/85

Writer: Steve Parkhouse
Art: John Ridgway
Letters: Richard Starkings [Uncredited]
Colours: Gina Hart [Uncredited]

Later Reprinted By: Transformers Collected Comics #3 [UK, full colour ], Transformers #33 [US, recoloured].

Synopsis: Sammy appears to be having a nightmare about Mirage, but when his father comes in to see what's wrong, Roy sees Mirage departing, and a drawing Sammy made of the Man of Iron gone. Back at the museum, the army tell Roy they have found a huge object under the castle, and plan an excavation. Sammy then finds Jazz parked outside his house, with his drawing on the seat. Jazz persuades Sammy to get in, and drives off.

Notes: Jazz has no mirrors in car mode, but does have a steering wheel.

The last page reinforces Sammy's initial reaction with a warning "Remember: Never Accept Lifts from Strangers", though as the comic goes on to feature his ill-advised lift landing him in an adventure full of robots, it's a bit of a mixed message...

Errors: How does Sammy dreams about Decepticon jet [in the US reprint, Yomtov colours it badly as Skywarp, but then we know what he's like] when he's never seen a Decepticon? The F15 could just be a coincidence, or from stories about the raid in #9, but the insignia on the wings isn't. If this story does take place after "The Enemy Within" [see #13] it's possible Sammy isn't dreaming and Mirage is projecting the image.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Mirage, Jazz, Thundercracker [the Decepticon jet in Sammy's dream; though printed in black and white, it's shown to be Thundercracker in the Collected Comics full colour version].

Production Notes: Pages 1-2, 7-9 and 11 were printed in black & white.

Letters Page: Anthony Temple borrows part of the letters page to fanfare the upcoming release of the second wave of Minibots, and the Insecticons.

Extras: Starscream is the issue's Fact File. There's also a February calendar in the centre pages, with new art of Megatron.

Back-Up Strip:
Machine Man - "Kill Me or Cure Me" Part 1
Matt and the Cat

Review: Another curious issue. Everything's moving slowly, but it's something of a gem so far. Ridgway's use of toy character designs is a little awkward, but the dynamics of his art are quite superb - the frames of Mirage walking around the village, and stepping over the fence convey the scale of the Transformers perfectly, something only Senior and perhaps Bryan Hitch would be able to do with equal aplomb. The Autobots are still acting strangely, though - Mirage freaks Sammy out big-time, as does Jazz, who actually kidnaps him after tempting him inside... But it reinforces the alien side of the Transformers, as if they aren't quite up to speed on their morals - it's possible that they don't yet understand the concept of children even. But another interesting comic with some fine visuals.

[*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][0][0]

 

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