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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 US nav: US Intro | Story List | US #1-10 | US #11-20 | US #21-30 | US #31-40 | US #41-50 | US #51-60
US #61-70 | US #71-80 | Comics Magazine | Transformers Universe | Transformers the Movie | Headmasters
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

US #1 - #10

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

#1 - "The Transformers"

[cover]
Cover: Bill Sienkiewicz
Cover Date: September 1984

Plot: Bill Mantlo
Script: Ralph Macchio
Pencils: Frank Springer
Inks: Kim DeMulder
Letters: [?] Higgins, [Rick] Parker
Colours: Nelson Yomtov

Later Reprinted By: Transformers #1 -2, [UK] Transformers Collected Comics #1 [UK], Transformers - The Complete Works [UK], Transformers Digest #1 [US], Titan Books: Beginnings [Worldwide], IDW Publishing: Classic Transformers Volume 1 [Worldwide].

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 then-uninhabited Earth 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. Both factions awake, 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 Jessie 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 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 the Dinobots are not mentioned this issue. 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 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 UK #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 too absorbing electromagnetic radiation. 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.

Errors: I'm giving this one, and the rest of the first four stories, a lot of leeway. Character designs in both modes and colour schemes jump around an awful lot over the first four issues, and I'm not going to list every single one.

Would a war really rip a planet from its orbit? One of the boarders on page 7 of is a miscoloured Prime. Why doesn't Optimus Prime even listen to Prowl? On page 13, Soundwave flies off in tapedeck mode. On page 18, Laserbeak's flying over a very odd piece of landscape... Bumblebee has what seems to be a normal VW engine under his bonnet - it's even in the back.

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

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

Production Notes: The story's technically untitled, but I call it "The Transformers" and I've yet to hear any dissent on the matter... Bob Budiansky edits the bimonthly limited series. The cover price is 75¢.

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. The second half ups the action count, though the dialogue veers between being chillingly alien and clunkingly awful. 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 - "Power Play!"

[cover]
Cover: Michael Golden
Cover Date: November 1984

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

Later Reprinted In:
Transformers #3 -4 [UK], Transformers Collected Comics #1 [UK], Transformers - The Complete Works [UK], Transformers Digest #1 [US], Titan Books: Beginnings [Worldwide], IDW Publishing: Classic Transformers Volume 1 [Worldwide].

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. The Decepticons set off from their new base to intercept the Autobots at Sparkplug's garage to kidnap him. 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: 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. Dazzler is mentioned. 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. The Decepticons have already half-built their base by the issue midpoint.

Errors: In the flashback to #1 on page 3, Prowl shoots Soundwave in the face rather than shoulder. Sparkplug actually seriously believes his car jack can hold O's weight. On page 14, Sideswipe is coloured like Sunstreaker. On page 14, Ratchet is in Prime's convoy, despite staying behind at the Ark.

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

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

Review: A bit of a mess. The art's all over the place and there's two longish fight scenes with very sudden conclusions. The confrontation between Op and Megs fizzles a little when Megatron just kinda runs away, and it all just feels rather padded, despite a few nice parts [Sparkplug is rather funny, and there is some good art - just few frames with much rubbish in between].

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#3 - "Prisoner of War!"

[cover]
Cover: Mike Zeck
Cover Date: January 1985

Writer: Jim Salicrup
Pencils: Frank Springer
Inks: Kim DeMulder, Jim Esposito
Letters: Janice Chiang, 'Others'
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Later Reprinted In:
Transformers #5 -6 [UK], Transformers Collected Comics #2 [UK], Transformers - The Complete Works Part 2 [UK], Transformers Digest #2 [US], Titan Books: Beginnings [Worldwide].

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 army, with the media in tow, descend on the Decepticon base, including Peter Parker, otherwise known as Spider-Man. The army attack, but are no match for the Decepticons. 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: Right, a much-needed common-sense lecture on Transformers and the Marvel Universe. This issue we see Spider-Man [with the symbiote costume], Nick Fury [who refers to Godzilla, indirectly - see Godzilla, King of the Monsters #1 if you must] and Dum-Dum Duggan. 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 Marines. 'O' seems to have lost 20 pounds since last issue. 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. Gears can fly, using his compressed-air boosters. Sunstreaker uses his shoulder-mounted missile launcher, and Frenzy his electric attack. Ratchet appears to have a separate repair bay.

Errors: On page 8, Hound is driving back towards the Ark, even though he should be in Prime's trailer. On the same page, there's too much red on Ratchet. On page 9, Shockwave is briefly shown in the Decepticon base, even though he should be still buried in the Savage Land [see #4]. Sunstreaker is coloured red on page 16. Rumble's legs are white. On page 22, Sunstreaker [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]: Starscream, Thundercracker, Skywarp [shot down by Sunstreaker], Soundwave [damaged by Gears], Megatron, Rumble [knocked out by Brawn], Frenzy [damaged by Spider-Man], Ravage, Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Prowl, Sideswipe, Optimus Prime, Hound, Ironhide, Bumblebee, Windcharger, Bluestreak, Trailbreaker, Gears [who is badly damaged at the end, but repaired to some extent by Ratchet], Huffer, Cliffjumper, Brawn [knocked out by Frenzy], Sunstreaker, Ratchet.

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

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. 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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#4 - "The Last Stand"

[cover]
Cover: Mark Texeira
Cover Date: March 1985

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

Later Reprinted In:
Transformers #7 -8 [UK], Transformers Collected Comics #2 [UK], Transformers - The Complete Works Part 2 [UK, alternate version], Transformers Digest #2 [US], Titan Books: Beginnings [Worldwide], IDW Publishing: Classic Transformers Volume 1 [Worldwide].

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. 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: Huffer lists Gears, Sideswipe, Brawn and Bumblebee as "knocked out". Sideswipe's probably drained from #2, with Bumblebee possibly the same, Gears and Brawn were damaged in #3. Jazz overreacts just a little there [it's possible he just doesn't realise how weak humans are]. Rumble was damaged by Brawn, Frenzy by Spider-Man, Soundwave by Gears and Skywarp by Sunstreaker, all in #3. A brief word on the appearance or otherwise of Reflector in that frame, too - yes, it looks like him, but you've got to remember, as far as the 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. They're never seen again, and if Springer was to accidentally draw Bumblebee a little square, or Nel Yomtov, as is his want, was to recolour Cliffjumper yellow, it wouldn't mean 'Bumblejumper' [God, I hate that name...] was an Ark crew-member, would it? 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? 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 of the crew [bar the errant medic] are all off-line already through battle damage or a lack of fuel.

Errors: Jazz overreacts just a little there [it's possible he just doesn't realise how fragile humans are]. Gears is up and around fine on page 1, as is Sideswipe, despite being listed as knocked out by Huffer [Gears is back on the repair bay by page 2]. I have no idea who that is behind Huffer on page 2 either - the chest looks like Swoop, who won't appear until #8 in person. 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 Bluestreak when Sunstreaker's available? I can't tell who that is opposite Mirage in the Tubes on page 13 - it looks similar to, well, Mirage... On pages 18 and 21, Sunstreaker is seen on Optimus' team, despite being drained by the Tubes. Also on page 21, Mirage has his arm, severed by Ravage, back.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Optimus Prime [knocked out by Shockwave], Sunstreaker [drained via the Tubes of Transference], Jazz, Mirage [knocked out by Shockwave], Gears, Huffer [knocked out by Shockwave], Windcharger, Ratchet, Ironhide [knocked out by Shockwave], Prowl, Bluestreak [knocked out by Shockwave], Sideswipe, Trailbreaker, Wheeljack, Megatron [knocked out by corrosive fuel], Rumble [knocked out by corrosive fuel], Frenzy [knocked out by corrosive fuel], Soundwave [knocked out by corrosive fuel], Skywarp [knocked out by corrosive fuel], Thundercracker [knocked out by corrosive fuel], Ravage [knocked out by corrosive fuel], Shockwave [flashback, first intentional appearance - see #3], Snarl [flashback, first appearance], Grimlock [flashback, first appearance], Swoop [flashback, first appearance], Snarl [flashback, first appearance], Slag [flashback, first appearance], Starscream [knocked out by corrosive fuel], Bumblebee [drained via the Tubes of Transference], Windcharger [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], Shockwave [first proper appearance].

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

Production Notes: An alternative "final issue" version, without Shockwave's appearance, and thus an alternate final page, was drawn before the ongoing series was confirmed. There are some who claim initial printings actually used this configuration, but it seems unlikely that Marvel would leave such a crucial change until after printing had began. I've also yet to see, or hear of anyone who owns, a copy with this change made. The scan, which has the prominent page number "48" is from the UK hardback collection The Complete Works Part 2, which collects US #3-4 in full colour [unlike the first Marvel UK printings], and has the more closed ending as it was decided Part 2 would be the last in the Complete Works series. The page had most likely been sent on to Marvel UK in case Transformers didn't take off in Britain, and the series was curtailed at the end of the first round of reprints.

Letters Page: The first Transmissions letters page announces that the series will continue as a regular monthly.

Review: An average story raised by a superlative double-twist at the end. The first few pages are very unusual, though. 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. 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.

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#5 - "The New Order"

[cover]
Cover: Mark Bright
Cover Date: June 1985

Writer: Bob Budiansky
Art: Alan Kupperberg
Letters: Rick Parker
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Later Reprinted In:
Transformers #22 -23 [UK], Transformers Digest #3 [US], Titan Books: Beginnings [Worldwide], IDW Publishing: Classic Transformers Volume 1 [Worldwide].

Synopsis: Now installed on the Ark, Shockwave muses over the humans, the deactivated Autobots, and the repairing of the Decepticons. He announces to Megatron that in lieu of the latter is failure, he will be taking command. Meanwhile, the last remaining active Autobot, Ratchet, meets Buster Witwicky at hospital, where Sparkplug is making a full recovery. Buster opts to say goodbye to the Autobots, and tells Sparkplug. Meanwhile, back at the Ark, Shockwave reveals his plan to Megatron - to get the Creation Matrix from Optimus Prime and build an army of Decepticons. Ratchet and Buster return to the Ark, and find it full of Decepticons. Buster sneaks in, and finds the Autobots deactivated and strung up, and Prime's head placed in a holding apparatus, telling him he is the Autobots' last hope.

Notes: Starscream, Ravage, Laserbeak, Buzzsaw and Thundercracker are shown to be revived by Shockwave, with Megatron soon to follow. Megatron swears by the Great Matrix, and by 'The Divine Weld'. Although Yomtov's colouring is rather arbitrary, I think that's Sunstreaker being torn apart by Shockwave, which could well explain his prolonged absence from the series. Shockwave followed the crashing Ark to Earth. The Matrix is an encoded program, given to one Autobot every millennia [we later find this isn't true - it's possible Shockwave doesn't know the truth, but more Matrix talk when it changes state, much later...].

Errors: Yomtov completely buggers up the splash page of dead Autobots - Windcharger is coloured as Brawn, Wheeljack and Ironhide have unwarranted slabs of blue on them, Trailbreaker's coloured like Sideswipe, and Jazz has red hands and a red head, with white arms. On page 11, Shockwave dismembers Sunstreaker, who's blue with red arms. Mirage's arm has been stuck back on him by the nice Decepticons [who also leave his missile launcher on]. On page 17, Shockwave's upper arms are uncoloured, and the miscoloured Sunstreaker's still about. On page 21, Ratchet has a blue chest.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Shockwave, Thundercracker, Ravage, Starscream, Megatron, Ratchet, Rumble, Skywarp, Soundwave, Frenzy, Optimus Prime [just his head]. The bodies of Cliffjumper, Bumblebee, Windcharger, Huffer, Wheeljack, Gears, Bluestreak, Prowl, Hound, Sideswipe, Ironhide, Trailbreaker, Jazz and Sunstreaker [see Notes] are seen.

Notable Others: Buster, Sparkplug [flashback]. GB Blackrock [first appearance] and Josie Beller [first appearance] are seen on TV.

Production Notes: Jim Owsley takes over as editor on the series.

Review: A superb start for Shockwave, firmly establishing his primary concern of the Decepticon cause, and his cold, calculating manner. It's very slowly paced, with the initial sequence of Shockwave observing Earth TV and a recap of the first four stories feeling like padding. Kupperberg's art isn't especially good, though Yomtov's way-out colouring on some of the more dramatic pages, such as the "dead Autobots" spread on pages 4-5, really doesn't help. It's very promising, though, and the art team pull it together for the dramatic last page.

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#6 - "The Worse of Two Evils!"

[cover]
Cover: Alan Kupperberg
Cover Date: July 1985

Writer: Bob Budiansky
Art: Alan Kupperberg
Letters: Rick Parker
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Later Reprinted In:
Transformers #24 -25 [UK], Transformers Digest #3 [US], Titan Books: Beginnings [Worldwide], IDW Publishing: Classic Transformers Volume 1 [Worldwide].

Synopsis: Shockwave attacks an oil rig belonging to industrialist GB Blackrock in a show of power. Shockwave overcomes the rig's defences, and Blackrock orders the crew to abandon the structure, but not before his secretary, Josie Beller, is electrocuted. Meanwhile, Optimus transfers the Matrix to Buster's mind to keep it away from Shockwave, and the human passes out. Shockwave tells Megatron the Decepticons will be moving their base to the oil rig. After he leaves, Megatron breaks free of his life-support machine. Buster reawakens after the mind-link with Prime, and reports back to Ratchet. Back inside, Megatron sneaks up on Shockwave and blasts him clean out of the mountain. The pair battle in the nearby town, and Shockwave wins. He considers killing Megatron, but instead makes him swear loyalty in front of his fellow Decepticons. Meanwhile, Ratchet and Buster ponder a bleak future.

Notes: Optimus can mind-link to a human. Megatron loses his fusion cannon in the fight with Shockwave.

Errors: Blackrock's oil rig is insanely well-defended. His glasses reappear and disappear throughout. Shockwave's Decepticon symbol on his gun mode shifts all over the place. Shockwave's hand and gun go pink as Megatron blasts him out of the Ark. His gun goes pale blue after he blasts Megatron, and his chest follows suit as he transforms. As Megatron begs to Shockwave, his neck is at a ludicrous angle. Shockwave's shoulders go white again. They repeat this on page 21, while his waist and those things on his shoulders go blue. In the second frame, the left third of Ravage's face goes pink. In the final frame of page 22, the front of Ratchet's ambulance mode is much too flat.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Shockwave, Megatron, Soundwave, Rumble, Frenzy, Skywarp, Optimus Prime [his head], Ravage.

Notable Others: Buster [who receives the Creation Matrix from Optimus], GB Blackrock, Josie [electrocuted this issue].

Review: Dark and dynamic. Kupperberg delivers a superb fight scene, and Shockwave's growing in stature with each issue. Blackrock's also nicely defined on his debut and even Megatron's well characterised too. The plot's boiling nicely.

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#7 - "Warrior School!"

[cover]
Cover: Mark Bright
Cover Date: August 1985

Writer: Bob Budiansky
Pencils: William Johnson
Inks: Kyle Baker
Letters: Rick Parker
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Later Reprinted By: Transformers #26 [UK], Transformers Digest #4 [US], Titan Books: New Order [Worldwide], IDW Publishing: Generations #1 and a subsequent trade paperback [Worldwide], IDW Publishing: Classic Transformers Volume 1 [Worldwide].

Synopsis: Ratchet and Buster stumble on a group of students in the woods and speak to them for a while before Buster has a seizure caused by his mind-link with Optimus. Buster then leaves with the students, while Ratchet tries to come up with a plan. Meanwhile, in Portland, a human worker is tricked into taking Soundwave into the Blackrock Aerospace Plant. There, he and Laserbeak capture the plant from the inside, much to Blackrock's dismay. He then visits a recuperating Josie, who resolves to herself to stop the Transformers. Back at the Ark, Ratchet has sneaked on board, where he finds the sights Buster had told him of. Prime persuades him to carry on the fight. He is then jumped by Megatron, and a brief scuffle ensues before Shockwave interrupts them, giving Megatron fresh orders. Ratchet strikes an uneasy alliance with Megatron, with the Autobot agreeing to find the Dinobots and defeat Shockwave.

Notes: There's no wood on Cybertron. All the Decepticons have moved to the oil rig base, and are transporting the important things from the Ark to there. The Matrix appears to have given Buster telekinesis, over tools at least. Megatron has regained his fusion cannon. Ratchet has medical tools, including a surgical laser and a cryogenic hose, in his forearms. Megatron and Ratchet seal their alliance through the Rite of Oneness.

Errors: It's surprising that the viewscreen in the Ark is one-way.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Ratchet, Soundwave, Laserbeak, Optimus Prime, Grimlock [flashback], Sludge [flashback], Slag [flashback]. The bodies of Cliffjumper, Jazz, Bluestreak, Sideswipe and Ironhide are seen.

Notable Others: Buster, GB Blackrock, Josie Beller.

Letters Page: Jim Owsley confirms that Larry Hama [writer on Marvel's GIJoe series] has a Jetfire prototype on his desk.

Review: A superb piece of work, possibly the best Transformers story yet. Ratchet is shown to be witty, resourceful and realistic, in all a well-rounded, realistic characterisation rather than the blank functionary from the cartoon. Megatron also is given considerable intelligence, using his cunning rather than brute strength, and the whole thing's very well drawn by Johnson, the best Marvel US artist yet seen. Even the dialogue, Budiansky's biggest early failing, is pretty good. Excellent.

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#8 - "Repeat Performance!"

[cover]
Cover: Mark Bright
Cover Date: September 1985

Writer: Bob Budiansky
Pencils: William Johnson
Inks: Kyle Baker
Letters: Rick Parker
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Later Reprinted By: Transformers #27 -28 [UK], Transformers Digest #4 [US], Titan Books: New Order [Worldwide], IDW Publishing: Dinobots #6 plus a subsequent trade paperback [Worldwide], IDW Publishing: Classic Transformers Volume 1 [Worldwide].

Synopsis: Ratchet searches the Savage Land for the Dinobots, and luckily finds Slag almost straight away. He accesses the off-line Dinobot's mind, finding out how the five were dispatched by the Ark to tackle Shockwave. Initially they had the upper hand, but Shockwave soon overpowered them, although Snarl forces a stalemate, burying all six Transformers in tar. Just then, Slag reawakens, and after some brief confusion, Slag agrees to help Ratchet. Shockwave continues this plan for the next generation of Decepticons, with Optimus' head now installed in the aerospace plant. Meanwhile, Josie is building herself an exo-suit to overcome her handicap, and gain revenge on the Transformers. At the Ark, Ratchet contacts Megatron. Ratchet sends him a recording of the Dinobots beating Shockwave, telling him it has just happened. A pleased Megatron heads for their rendezvous. There, Megatron reveals he never planned to uphold his part of the bargain. Ratchet is prepared, and the Dinobots leap out of hiding to attack Megatron. To Ratchet's dismay, though they are easily beaten. In desperation, he charges Megatron alone, and seems to be unsuccessful, when the cliff below Megatron crumbles, sending the Decepticon over the edge. He then leads the Dinobots back to the Ark. Meanwhile, in hospital, Josie appears to have developed some interesting powers.

Notes: The Ark has shuttlecraft, one of which was taken by the Dinobots [who, according to Slag, set out a while after the crash] and another of which is taken by Ratchet. The Savage Land thing neatly explains why the Dinobots were based on dinosaurs when the Ark landed some time after the creatures were extinct. At the time, the Ark actually got the dominant lifeform for that part of the world correct... Shockwave's armour is "nuclear-hardened steel". There are, or were work droids on Cybertron called mechodrones. Prime's head is now in the Aerospace plant.

Errors: On page 1, the sides of Ratchet's head are yellow rather than red. In the first frame shown by Slag's mind, Snarl's head is yellow. For the best of the issue, it will be red - for the comic it should be black. Slag's head is also red, rather than black. Blackrock's missing his moustache. On page 13, Soundwave's legs are grey [they should be either blue or purple, depending on which colour they've done the rest of him]. The next frame, the colours for his head and faceplate have switched over. In the first frame of his conversation with Ratchet, Megatron's fusion cannon is missing [he wouldn't be able to get that arm to the keyboard]. In the next, it's pointing at an odd angle, 90° from his arm.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Ratchet, Shockwave, Megatron, Optimus Prime [head], Slag, Snarl, Sludge, Grimlock, Swoop. The bodies of Wheeljack, Bumblebee and Gears are seen in flashback.

Notable Others: GB Blackrock, Josie Beller.

Review: Another excellent story led by Ratchet, who's really carrying the series at this point, with an imaginative "intro" for the Dinobots. Shockwave's threat isn't diminished either as it's depressingly revealed his initial defeat was a fluke. It's superbly drawn once again, with pretty good amounts of detail put into the Savage Land backgrounds, and even Yomtov's colouring is pretty good. Much has been made of the fact that Ratchet sets out to cheat, but to be honest, this is a bit irrelevant - not only is a war going on, but Ratchet's the only guy left on one side, and there's five or so billion humans at risk - he'd be idiotic not to bend the rules a little to find an edge. The flip side is he does something like abandon the planet to the Decepticons even though he knows they're evil, which would be cartoon-esque... It's a great ending to the Ratchet-led mini-arc, with the Autobot surgeon one of the more engaging characterisations thus seen, and Megatron wins back some respect following his heavy defeat in #6.

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#9 - "Dis-Integrated Circuits!"

[cover]
Cover: ? [possibly Mike Mahley]
Cover Date: October 1985

Writer: Bob Budiansky
Pencils: Mike Mahley
Inks: M [?] Hanos
Letters: Rick Parker
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Later Reprinted By: Transformers #33 -34 [UK], Transformers Digest #5 [US], Titan Books: New Order [Worldwide].

Synopsis: At the Blackrock Motor Speedway, GB is practising in his racecar when he's called in by a General Capshaw, who is interested in an anti-Transformer weapon the industrialist has developed. He then visits Josie. Meanwhile, the Autobots are trying out their repairs in the desert. Jazz and Wheeljack then set off to negotiate a fuel supply with GB Blackrock. Shockwave has heard of Blackrock's weapon, and sends Starscream and Frenzy to disrupt its' unveiling. Meanwhile, Buster finds that via the Matrix, he can repair anything with his mind. Later that night, Josie strides into GB Blackrock's office, announcing herself as Circuit Breaker. She explains that she has made a cybernetic exoskeleton to enable her to fight the Transformers for Blackrock. He tells her to go back to hospital and recover, and she walks out. Jazz is then able to strike a fuel-for-protection deal with Blackrock. Blackrock then unveils his weapon, only to find it inoperable. Circuit Breaker has disabled it so he has no choice but to reveal her as his device. Just then, Starscream and Frenzy arrive and begin attacking the humans. Jazz intervenes, but Circuit Breaker attacks him, allowing Starscream to knock him out. Wheeljack takes out Frenzy, before Circuit Breaker knocks out Starscream, and then the Autobot. The Decepticons withdraw, while Blackrock lectures Circuit Breaker. She agrees to leave for now, but next time she won't be so lenient.

Notes: In addition to rigs and aircraft factories, Blackrock owns an eponymous speedway, and is an amateur racing driver. Jazz likes Madonna, and is Special Operations Officer. Prowl is acting commander of the Autobots. Circuit Breaker can fire large charges of electricity, fly via magnetic repulsion, disable electrical hardware and hack computers.

Errors: On page four, Gears has the red and blue on his scheme switched, Cliffjumper has a green face and Sideswipe a white head. Prowl's 'horns' are coloured white throughout, and Prime's torso is similarly colourless on page 5. Shockwave has blue shoulders throughout. Wheeljack is another who's colour scheme is never right. The main reason Yomtov coloured so many Transformers comics is that no-one else wanted him... Is there a point, other than dramatics, in Circuit Breaker knocking out everything on her way to see Blackrock? Her general appearance must have let GB to believe he'd been sent a cybernetic strip-o-gram, too... Jazz' negotiations with Blackrock are messed up. First, Jazz kidnaps Blackrock and drives him around at huge speeds. Then, GB is convinced Jazz isn't evil as he doesn't kill him first chance he gets. Hmm... On page 15, Jazz' front airdam is red.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Huffer, Wheeljack, Prowl, Jazz, Brawn, Bumblebee, Ironhide, Hound, Gears, Cliffjumper, Bluestreak, Ratchet, Windcharger, Sideswipe, Wheeljack, Mirage, Optimus Prime [body and head, separated], Starscream, Shockwave, Frenzy, Buzzsaw.

Notable Others: GB Blackrock, Josie Beller [who adopts her Circuit Breaker persona], Buster.

Review: A disappointing story. An old Marvel stereotype, where certain characters simply lose the ability to tell obvious good from obvious evil [see also Spider-Man and the X-Men], mucks up any good points [fine character work for Jazz, Prowl, Starscream, Frenzy and GB], as does the idiotic negotiation sequence. The art's okay, a little flat though, and that drooling splash page for Josie seems a little unnecessary, as if they don't have enough faith in Josie's fairly interesting character and need to pour on the sex appeal.

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#10 - "The Next Best Thing to Being There!"

[cover]
Cover: Ricardo Villamonte
Cover Date: November 1985

Writer: Bob Budiansky
Pencils: Ricardo Villamonte
Inks: Brad Joyce
Letters: Janice Chiang
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Later Reprinted By: Transformers #35 -36 [UK], Transformers Digest #5 [US], Titan Books: New Order [Worldwide], IDW Publishing: Classic Transformers Volume 1 [Worldwide].

Synopsis: At the Aerospace plant, Shockwave oversees the activation of six new Decepticons - the Constructicons. They set off on a pre-programmed mission. Meanwhile, Prowl shows Blackrock around the Ark. The Decepticons attack the army forces outside of the plant, and the Constructicons break out, while Sparkplug arrives back at his garage to find that Spike has fixed all of the cars. The Constructions raid a truck-stop for material, and one of the truckers, known as Bomber Bill, gives chase, running into a group of following Autobots, and hitching a lift with Huffer. Soundwave is overseeing the Constructicons in building a huge radio dish to contact Cybertron. The Autobots attack, but the Constructicons merge to form their gestalt form, Devastator. While the Autobots battle him, Huffer heads over to destroy the dish. Soundwave is able to send a message, and Huffer, homesick, hesitates, and is knocked out by Devastator. Bomber Bill charges Soundwave in his truck, disconnecting the Decepticon, before Huffer leaps in to save him. The Decepticons withdraw. Back at the Ark, the Autobots have been able to use Blackrock's bugs in the Aerospace plant to eavesdrop, and find that Shockwave, frustrated by Prime's inability to give life to his army, is planning to dispose of the Autobot leader.

Notes: The Ark is powered by an Ionic-Fusion Drive. Sunstreaker is still knocked out - it's unknown if he can be made to function again. Huffer is working on a Transdimensional Scrambler to contact Cybertron. Optimus has no more Matrix energy in him.

Errors: On page 3, Shockwave's left forearm is uncoloured. On page 5, Scavenger's head has too much green on it, and Optimus is missing the sides of his head. Blackrock's moustache has gone walkabout again. Maybe it's a fake? On page 7, in the second frame, the sides of Ratchet's head are white. Jazz' visor is drawn oddly, as if it's the peak of a cap over his eyes [It's possible it's retractable or something]. On page 8, the colour's gone from Prowl's horns again, and his doors keep on disappearing. On page 10, in the top frame, Shockwave's head is a different shade to the rest of his body. Sideswipe is mentioned being in the Autobot team, but isn't seen at any point. On page 13, Jazz appears to have replaced Bluestreak, and Ratchet subs for Ironhide. Soundwave's head design is all over the place. Bluestreak is always coloured as Prowl. On page 17, there's a weird hybrid of Bumblebee [colour and head] and Bluestreak [chest design] in the middle-top frame. The following page, Ironhide gets a Constructicon respray. For page 19, Bumblebee is given Windcharger's body and his own colour scheme, and the guy Devastator's holding looks like... God knows. By page 21, Mirage and Prowl appear to have joined the team.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Shockwave, Optimus Prime [head and body separately], Scavenger [first appearance], Mixmaster [first appearance], Long Haul [first appearance], Bonecrusher [first appearance], Scrapper [first appearance], Hook [first appearance], Prowl, Bluestreak, Brawn, Jazz, Sunstreaker [deactivated], Huffer, Hound, Soundwave, Ironhide, Bumblebee, Devastator [first appearance].

Notable Others: GB Blackrock, Buster, Sparkplug.

Review: Pure stupidity. Bomber Bill is the first in a succession of horrid guest-star humans from Budiansky, and the fight with Devastator falls flat. Combiner battles don't really work in the comics anyway as the cool visuals are hard to do, but Villamonte's cramped, perspective-free style really doesn't help. The dialogue's pretty poor, and the art errors get pretty confusing.

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