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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 #51 - #60

| #51 | #52 | #53 | #54 | #55 | #56 | #57 | #58 | #59 | #60 |

#51 - "The Man in the Machine!"

[cover]
Cover: José Delbo
Cover Date: April 1989

Script: Bob Budiansky
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Bill Oakley
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Later Reprinted By: Transformers #211 -212 [UK], Titan Books: Last Stand [Worldwide]

Synopsis: Spike has left the Autobots, and is now taking a skiing holiday with his college friend Cliff. He chucks his Headmaster control helmet into a junkyard on his way. However, Carnivac and Snarler find it on a mission for Scorponok to kill Spike, and set off in pursuit. They lay in wait at the Ski resort to attack. Snarler and Carnivac then pursue Spike and Cliff, but they give them the slip and hide out for the night. Spike then realises he can summon Fortress Maximus even without his helmet, and does so. Maximus then fights off the Decepticons, after recombining with Spike.

Notes: Fortress Maximus' body has compartments for Cerebros and Spike's armour.

Errors: Why does Spike want to go on a skiing holiday with Cliff when he's so obviously not too fond of being with him...? Security on the Ark is a little bit lax if no-one wonders why Maximus' body just walks out of the door. How do they recover the damn thing? The hole for Max' head to attach changes size, design and disappears altogether on page 16. On page 22, Max' eyes are uncoloured.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Fortress Maximus, Optimus Prime [flashback], Seaspray [flashback], Carnivac [first appearance], Snarler [first appearance], Cerebros. Blaster's body is also seen in flashback.

Notable Others: Spike.

Review: A none-too-interesting rerun of the Witwicky family's entanglement with the Transformers, with Cliff [surely the bastard son of Donny 'Robot Master' Finkelberg?] being a totally risible character. Only moderately sensible, if sparse, Decepticon behaviour makes it halfway readable. Aside from some interesting information on the power of binary bonding [the ultimate evolution of what's mentioned here will be very important come the end of the series], it's a bit of a dull 'facing up to your responsibilities' and 'finding the power within yourself' story.

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

#52 - "Guess Who the Mecannibals are Having for Dinner?"

[cover]
Cover: José Delbo
Cover Date: May 1989

Script: Bob Budiansky
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Manny Manos
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Later Reprinted By: Transformers #213 -216 [UK], Titan Books: Last Stand [Worldwide]

Synopsis: At the Grand Central Space Station, Cloudburst and Landmine are trying to find microchips to repair the Underbase casualties, but get side-tracked when they see a robot thrown to space in a bar, and it then disappears. The two Autobots strike a deal with two mysterious figures for the chips they need, but also stumble on a drunken Berko, who tells them of Sky Lynx' disappearance after dealing with the pair. The pair are in fact Hi-Test and Throttle, working on the station from the incognito Dreadwing. However, the Autobots insist on meeting their boss personally to continue the deal, and find him to be Master Mouth, a Mecannibal. The Autobots talk with the Mecannibals, who eat robots, when Sky Lynx is brought out for them to devour. Landmine's inner robot then appears, and frees Sky Lynx. He escapes, while Landmine uses a flash of Energon to cover his robot's return to his Pretender shell. He and Cloudburst then take the chips and leave. Landmine and Cloudburst hook up with Berko, but Throttle and Hi-Test realise they're Transformers, and have them thrown out into space, where Dreadwing captures them, and takes them back to the Mecannibals.

Notes: Robots are unwelcome at the Station, which has a huge black market and is only a few light-years from Earth. Most of the Underbase casualties suffered from massive microchip overload. Dreadwing is incorrectly named "Darkwind". Throttle and Hi-Test were exiled from Nebulos in #42. Sky Lynx and Berko headed to Grand Central for some "r 'n' r" at some point since #45.

Errors: Bits of Landmine's orange/grey shell keeps on going yellow or purple. In the background on page 3, one of the aliens appears to be clutching his crotch.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Cloudburst, Landmine, Optimus Prime [flashback], Sky Lynx, Dreadwing. Blaster, Gears, Grimlock and Goldbug's bodies are also seen in flashback.

Notable Others: Hi-Test, Throttle, Berko.

Review: A bit tedious, with too many ker-azy aliens and nods to the cantina scene in Star Wars to be especially enjoyable. Landmine and Cloudburst are both a bit bland and interchangeable, while Berko and Sky Lynx lose some sympathy because of their ongoing ability to leap into totally ridiculous situations. The Mecannibals impossible to take seriously, which is a shame as they're basically the story. Even the most indefatigable Budiansky fan wouldn't argue with the assertion that his heart's long gone by this stage.

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#53 - "Recipe for Disaster!"

[cover]
Cover: Jim Lee
Cover Date: June 1989

Script: Bob Budiansky
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Jade Moede
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Later Reprinted By: Transformers #217 -220 [UK], Titan Books: Last Stand [Worldwide].

Synopsis: Captured by the Mecannibals, Cloudburst and Landmine try to use their shells to escape, but are soon surrounded by their captors. The Autobots talk their way out, agreeing to find garnishing for the Mecannibals' meal, though Berko is held hostage. Both Sky Lynx and Dreadwing follow them. They land on the planet Femax, and are met by a tribe of giant women. The Decepticons arrive on Femax, closely followed by Sky Lynx. The Autobots are taken before the ruler of the planet, known as the High. Cloudburst has to face several ordeals of combat to appease her for their transgression. She then takes quite a shine to him, until she shows him he's a robot, and she promptly decapitates him. Landmine is able to talk sense into her, and Cloudburst is repaired, the Autobots leaving with their crystals. They are jumped by the Decepticons, but saved by Sky Lynx. They visit the Mecannibals, and force them to release Berko and repair all those they've destroyed, while also telling them of the Decepticons' nature as robots.

Notes: Presumably Transformers have some sort of protection against magnets damaging their circuits, even if they do contain some ferrous elements. Despite what a disturbing number of people think, Hi-Test and Throttle are not at any point explicitly referred to as robots. True, some of the dialogue isn't crystal clear, but if someone who'd never met Fortress Maximus and knew nothing of his nature pointed at him and Spike and said "Get those robots!", it hardly makes Spike a robot, does it? I personally find reading comics when writing a comic guide is fantastically helpful... Landmine knows of the Sharkticons - presuming he's being truthful, he's fought them.

Errors: Surely the magnets would tear the inner robot through the Pretender shell, instead of popping the things open? After losing everything saving Dreadwing, why do the Mecannibals then start chasing them around?

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Cloudburst, Landmine, Dreadwing, Sky Lynx, Darkwing, Dreadwind.

Notable Others: Hi-Test, Throttle, Berko.

Letters Page: Perceptor writes in to explain Transformers do need oxygen in order to burn their fuel.

Review: Paralysingly dull, boring and tedious. Cloudburst and Landmine are two of the least interesting characters to fill a frame, let alone deserve a second issue to themselves. And this one is worse. Femax, planet of the females. Oh, joy. The High's fervent attempts to bed Cloudburst does provide some amusement, however - especially the sheer comedy of the High beheading Cloudburst [with a comedy 'klonk' to boot] after a bout of sexual frustration - a definitive Delbo moment. I won't even mention the idea that the Mecannibals let the Autobots go for those reasons...

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#54 - "King 'Con!"

[cover]
Cover: José Delbo
Cover Date: July 1989

Script: Bob Budiansky
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Danny Bulandi
Letters: Jim Massara
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Later Reprinted By: Transformers #232 -235 [UK], Titan Books: Last Stand [Worldwide].

Synopsis: The Decepticon Pretenders are up to something in New Jersey. Elsewhere, Optimus Prime and Hi Q greet the Autobot Micromasters arriving from Cybertron, and he sends them to investigate. A TV reporter named Cecilia Santiago arrives in the swamp to investigate the "monster" sightings. The swamp is the site for Scorponok's new base, and he has a plan to gather Energon cubes. He deploys the Pretender Monsters to carry out his scheme. Cecilia stumbles across their Stormmaker Station, and is captured by Iguanus. Skullgrin tries to intervene, and the pair fight. Mudslinger and the Off-Road Patrol arrive, and are able to get Ceci to Roadhandler, who takes her to safety. The Patrol hold up Skullgrin, but Iguanus is able to make his way towards New York. Ceci, meanwhile, strikes an alliance with Roadhandler, but the pair are stuck in traffic as Iguanus causes havoc in Manhattan. The Race Car Patrol catch up with Iguanus, who's scaling the Empire State Building to place the Electrostator on the top. Meanwhile, the Off Road Patrol are able to turn off the Stormmaker Station, but it's too late. The Race Car Patrol follow Iguanus, but Ceci is captured. Roadhandler catches her when Iguanus drops her, and then knocks the Electrostator away. The Decepticon catches it, but then catches the full force of the storm. The Patrol then heads off with Ceci.

Notes: Fuel conservation has led to downsizing on Cybertron. Roadhandler can fire and retrieve his fist. The Trans-Dimensional Warp has replaced the Spacebridge. Optimus describes himself as "Commander of Earth's Autobots". Skullgrin has returned to the Decepticon ranks since #45, though it's caused some tension. Mudslinger can pump a smokescreen out of his exhaust.

Errors: Surely the magnets would tear the inner robot through the Pretender shell, instead of popping the things open? After losing everything saving Dreadwing, why do the Mecannibals then start chasing them around? Delbo doesn't nail Freewheeler's alt mode - most of the time it looks like there's two Swindlers. Considering how Ceci guesses straight off that Roadhandler's driver isn't real, its expression as she pays the toll is a little too emotive. On page 12, third panel, as Powertrain battles Iguanus he's coloured totally wrong. He should also be orange, not red, in the frame above. The whole storm hits Iguanus and just... dissipates? As the Race Car Patrol transform at the end, Swindler is a bit green. Tailspin's grey is too dark throughout.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Iguanus, Optimus Prime, Highjump [first appearance], Tote [first appearance], Roadhandler [first appearance], Swindler [first appearance], Powertrain [first appearance], Tailspin [first appearance], Mudslinger [first appearance], Freewheeler [first appearance], Skullcruncher, Scorponok, Weirdwolf, Mindwipe, Finback, Submarauder, Bugly, Skullgrin, Bomb-Burst.

Notable Others: Hi Q, Cecilia [first appearance].

Review: The acknowledgement of Skullgrin's character development in "Monster-Con from Mars" is pleasing, but the main plot really seems to be taken from the random cartoon villainy of Megatron as much as anything else. The plot's actually skipping along nicely, and Iguanus' determination comes across quite well. Also, it's nice to see Roadhandler drop the brashness a little when he's out of his depth, and his naivety shows when Ceci completely manipulates him. On top of this, Delbo's art isn't bad at all. It's partly because there aren't many robots, but his Mudslinger for one is pretty good, nice and chunky. Inconsequential, but fun, with some hilarious bits - notably the Race Car Patrol's attempts to figure out the lift.

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#55 - "The Interplanetary Wrestling Championship!"

[cover]
Cover: José Delbo
Cover Date: August 1989

Script: Bob Budiansky
Layouts: Bob Budiansky [pages 1-10], Jim Fern [pages 11-22]
Finished Pencils: Jim Fern
Inks: Mike Gustovich
Letters: Jim Massara
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Later Reprinted By: Transformers #236 -239 [UK], Titan Books: Last Stand [Worldwide].

Synopsis: The Race Car and Off-Road Patrols are fighting crime on Earth, and Roadhandler appears on Ceci's talk show. There he's challenged to a fight by Jake 'Jackhammer' Jackson, a pro-wrestler. They train together, but Jake's manager, Casanova Brown, wants the Autobot to throw the fight. Roadhandler's fight against Jackhammer comes along, but the Autobot refuses to throw it, and wins. This is watched by Zarak, who then plots to end the Autobots' good PR, and summons reinforcements from Cybertron. Roadhandler's wrestling skills make him successful and popular. However, Zarak challenges him, making him fight Storm Cloud. To sap the Autobot's morale, Zarak tells him he plans to kidnap Roadhandler's fan club, and will only return them if Roadhandler loses. Grimly, the Autobot begins to take a pounding, while Highjump and Tailspin try to get Roadhandler's ardent fans to safety. Roadhandler initially takes a pounding from Storm Cloud, but when his fan club turns up thanks to Highjump and Tailspin, he fights back, and wins. However, he soon realises he endangered humans, and announces his retirement, also trying to put his fans off following him. Some see through it, but he leaves nonetheless.

Notes: The two Patrols have effectively cut loose from the Autobots, and are fighting crime in New York. Ceci's show is called "New York Talk". Roadhandler weighs 0.893 tons. The Decepticons are now based under the swamp in New Jersey. Roadhandler would seem to be able to extend his forearms as well as firing his fists. Maybe he's Machine Man? The Decepticon Air Strike Patrol are sent down from Cybertron.

Errors: Tailspin hurling fragile squishies into the back of Mudslinger in the land of lawsuits isn't terribly bright. On page 4, Cecilia calls Roadhandler "Roadmaster". Roadhandler's car mode has changed - it looks more like a Lancia Stratos. His name flits between "Roadhandler", and "Road Handler". On page 7, in the last frame, his thighs are red - they should be yellow. The jackhammer thing is ultra-ridiculous - it seems silly in the context of this story... Why does Submarauder's shell need to be prepared for recombination? The Pretender system has always been shown to be automated before. His name changes to "Sub-Marauder" too. Zarak's exosuit gets a new two-shades-of-purple scheme, and in the frame where he demands his armour, his name is spelt "Zarac". As Roadhandler shows the kids self-defence on page 13, his legs, especially his thighs, are mental. Surely the neat lines of the Air Strike Patrol's overcoats would be thrown out a bit more by the jet kibble all over them? Roadhandler's fan club consists of two people. In the final frame, he also suffers the ignominy of having two right legs. On page 18, Highjump's head looks dreadful, and on the next Roadhandler's right arm is detached from his body... On page 20, Swindler has a thin torso and big fat arms.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Roadhandler, Freewheeler, Swindler, Submarauder, Skullgrin, Bugly, Whisper [first appearance], Tailwind [first appearance], Storm Cloud [first appearance], Nightflight [first appearance], Tailspin, Highjump, Powertrain. The body of Iguanus is seen in flashback.

Notable Others: Cecilia, Zarak.

Review: Silly, mindless pap. Budiansky's pencils are better suited to the action, but the silly wrestling part undoes the promising start, with the proactive actions of the Patrols much more interesting. That Zarak would bother with something so pathetic is highly implausible, and it's unlikely he'd call for reinforcements and set up a mad plan when he has a base full of Decepticons. Unengaging and silly, even though Roadhandler being dishonourable is briefly amusing. The bitter ending, paralleling Budiansky's own unhappiness on the title, is actually rather well done. It's a shame that Bob's final story, though, was largely so poor, and that he was kept on the title a couple of years longer than he should have been...

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#56 - "Back from the Dead!"

[cover]
Cover: José Delbo
Cover Date: September 1989

Script: Simon Furman
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Jim Massara
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Later Reprinted By: Transformers #240 -242 [UK], Titan Books: Primal Scream [Worldwide], IDW Publishing: The Transformers Magazine #3 [Worldwide].

Synopsis: On the Ark, Ratchet is haunted by nightmares, believing himself to have failed the Autobots he seems unable to resurrect. Meanwhile, on Cybertron, the Decepticon Sports Car Patrol prepare to put a plan into action, disguising themselves as Autobots. On Earth, the Air Strike Patrol are also up to something for the same enemy. The Air Strike Patrol take control of the MacDill airbase, demanding a new refuelling plane and a full load of fuel for it. This is spotted by Optimus Prime, who takes most of the Autobots down from the Ark to deal with it. The Sports Car Patrol sneak onboard, and hack into the computers in Ratchet's lab, animating the deactivated Autobots. The Autobots arrive at the Airbase, and the Air Strike Patrol activate the next part of their plan, contacting Scorponok. Back on the Ark, the Sports Car Patrol are unable to get Ratchet to destroy the reanimated Autobots. Instead, they masquerade as Autobots themselves, persuading him to come with them to Cybertron to pick up more advanced equipment. Ratchet agrees, but instead he's taken before Megatron, the Decepticon behind the events on Earth and the Ark.

Notes: Most of the Autobot casualties were caused by Starscream during the Underbase saga [mainly in #50]. Ratchet estimates their number as "thirty, maybe forty". Seeing his body in the background of page 3, panel 4 is the first indication that Perceptor is deactivated [it will be confirmed in #60]. An "involuntary systems shutdown" would seem to be the Transformer equivalent of sleep. There aren't a huge number of active Autobots on the Ark. A rough guess at current strength would be: Optimus Prime, Kup, Hot Rod, Blurr, Getaway, Joyride, Slapdash, Cloudburst, Waverider, Landmine, Hardhead, Chromedome, Highbrow, Brainstorm, Pointblank, Crosshairs, Sureshot, Nightbeat, Siren, Hosehead and Ratchet, with some possibly reassigned somewhere, giving the rough number as twenty-ish. The Decepticons now have use of a Trans-Dimensional Portal that can place them straight on the Ark.

Errors: Optimus has a strange web-thing between his helmet and antennae on page 2. Road Hugger calls Blackjack "Road Hugger" on page 4. Considering that we're later shown that Blackjack is the brains of this operation, it would seem the character models were swapped by mistake. The next two panels are also confused - it would seem it's meant to be Blackjack speaking in both, but in the first showing a portion of Road Hugger, and the second a segment of Hyperdrive. The note about "switching to Autobot symbols" also means the preceding and following lines feel really odd. Prime's seemingly sudden thought about Megatron feels rather too prophetic... Storm Cloud and Nightflight nearly flying into some trees because they're arguing isn't remotely believable. Why does Prime need to take so many of his men to cope with four Micromasters? In the top-middle frame of page 10, Hyperdrive's in it twice - once inside the bubble, once outside [he replaces Road Hugger]. Also, the same frame implies that Detour's just arrived and Hyperdrive's just been looking in the lab, when it would seem to be vice-versa. On the first page, the centre of Optimus' waist is red. Omega Supreme's body is much too small. On page 16, Ratchet's left hand is coloured black.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Ratchet, Optimus Prime, Detour [first appearance], Hyperdrive [first appearance], Road Hugger [first appearance], Blackjack [first appearance], Megatron, Tailwind, Nightflight, Whisper, Storm Cloud, Getaway, Hot Rod, Pointblank, Landmine, Megatron. The bodies of Blaster, Omega Supreme, Grimlock, Jazz, Goldbug, Perceptor, Hound and Sludge are seen, either in Ratchet's dream, or in his lab.

Extras: The issue contained Universe profiles on Battletrap, Blot, Cutthroat, Goldbug, Rollbar and Wideload.

Review: Intriguing, but unsatisfying. Ratchet's nightmares seem rather melodramatic, and the script itself is very heavy-handed - US readers probably could have been forgiven for not noticing Furman's big debut, as the clunky introductory dialogue for the Sports Car Patrol feels very similar to Budiansky. Sure, Delbo's art isn't helpful [though his crazy style does actually fit the nightmares well], but the script really isn't one of Furman's best. Ratchet falling for the Decepticons' riff is believable, but only just, though this will depend on buying into Ratchet having been depressed for some considerable time, when in fact we've barely seen him for a few years.

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#57 - "The Resurrection Gambit!"

[cover]
Cover: José Delbo
Cover Date: October 1989

Script: Simon Furman
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Jim Massara
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Later Reprinted By: Transformers #243 -245 [UK], Titan Books: Primal Scream [Worldwide], IDW Publishing: The Transformers Magazine #4 [Worldwide].

Synopsis: Megatron sets Ratchet to work on his new secret weapon - a Pretender shell. Back on Earth, Prime has been cut off from contacting the Ark, and flies into a rage. He works out something has happened to Ratchet, but then Scorponok shows up with his troops, intent on protecting the Air Strike Patrol, despite them having acted without his orders. Meanwhile, Blackjack has infiltrated the Ark, and set explosives which will be detonated if Ratchet won't help Megatron. The Decepticon also explains how he was left a wandering amnesiac in the Dead End on Cybertron following his accident on the Spacebridge, but regained his memory when he saw Blackjack under attack from Autobots. Megatron takes Ratchet to his patient, but the medic is already forming a plan. Down on the Airbase, the Autobots and Decepticons begin to fight, and the Air Strike Patrol clear out, their work done. Ratchet, meanwhile, is shown who he has to rebuild for Megatron - Starscream.

Notes: Megatron was damaged on the Spacebridge in #25. Scorponok received the Air Strike Patrol as reinforcements from Cybertron in #55. Dreadwind and Darkwing are working for Megatron, having escaped the Mechannibals following #53. Darkwing and Dreadwind recovered Starscream's remains in UK #218 [there's a sidelong reference to that UK exclusive strip here].

Errors: Despite Ratchet exclaiming that the Autobots were being left behind last issue, they're clearly there on page 1. The Autobots only have one radio? There's not even one on the shuttle? Why is Storm Cloud dribbling on page 7? Iguanus is on page 8, despite looking pretty totalled in #54. Blackjack's a powerful little guy, taking down Joyride and... is that an oversized Pinpointer? We can probably assume Megatron was lying in that the explosion was designed to cover his escape... Why run from the Decepticons on Earth when he was holding sway over Shockwave? Prime's legs are uncoloured in the first frame of page 7. In the middle-left frame of page 11, Roadhugger's huge. In the panel above, Blackjack's only slightly shorter than Megatron.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Megatron, Ratchet, Hyperdrive, Detour, Roadhugger, Getaway, Hot Rod, Blurr, Landmine, Optimus Prime, Highbrow, Slapdash, Cloudburst, Storm Cloud, Nightflight, Tailwind, Whisper, Scorponok, Skullgrin, Skullcruncher, Weirdwolf, Mindwipe, Joyride, Blurr, Bomb-Burst, Dreadwind, Darkwing. The bodies of Goldbug, Grimlock, Jazz and Starscream are all seen.

Extras: The issue contained Universe profiles on Cloudraker, Overkill and Slugfest.

Review: The plot's starting to come apart at the seams a little, with several concidences that, while plausible individuallly, really damage credibility when all tied into the same story. Ratchet's good value, though, and Megatron has some oily charisma to him, though he's already sliding into the arch-villain mode, with a needlessly complicated plan, with the nice "ironic" touch that we can guess will be his downfall in some way even on the first read. It feels very stodgy and slow, with only Scorponok's weary characterisation really above average. It'd be a disappointing story with the limp script anyway, and between them Delbo and Yomtov suck the life out of what remains.

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

#58 - "All the Familiar Faces!"

[cover]
Cover: José Delbo
Cover Date: November 1989

Script: Simon Furman
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Jim Massara
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Later Reprinted By: Transformers #246 -248 [UK], Titan Books: Primal Scream [Worldwide].

Synopsis: Ratchet works on Starscream, trying to stall until he can develop his plan. On the Ark, Blackjack has laid explosives, but Kup is back online and prepares to stop him. Back at the MacDill Airbase, Prime orders to Autobots to retreat, to reduce the risk to humans, but opts to stay behind himself. Hot Rod stays behind to help, and the pair are able to get Zarak to think over the odd happenings. On Cybertron, Starscream is ready, and Megatron sends him to Earth. Ratchet is forced to accelerate his plans, but Megatron realises he's up to something. Kup confronts Blackjack, who accidentally primes the explosives aboard the Ark. On Earth, Prime and Zarak reach a truce, but then Starscream appears and attacks them. Back on Cybertron, Ratchet has a surprise for Megatron - he's used reject Pretender shells to revive Grimlock, Jazz and Bumblebee, who prepare to attack.

Notes: The new bodies of Starscream, Bumblebee, Jazz and Grimlock are modelled on the Classic Pretender range of figure.

Errors: Joyride's in a different place than he was in last issue [the frame is reused in a flashback in this issue also, and retains the oversized Targetmaster partner]. He's then gone altogether as Kup revives and moves for his gun. In the first two frames of page 7, Op's legs are entirely white. In the third, Hot Rod's insignia is yellow, and then disappears in the following panel. As Scorponok zaps Prime, the Autobot's faceplate goes pink. As Hot Rod charges through the Decepticons, the guy in the bottom-left looks a lot like Whisper, who left last issue. Putting aside aesthetics, how does Ratchet have the time to remould much of Goldbug's body into Bumblebee?

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Ratchet, Megatron, Blackjack, Joyride, Darkwing, Dreadwind, Detour, Hyperdrive, Roadhugger, Kup, Hot Rod, Getaway, Blurr, Optimus Prime, Chromedome, Mindwipe, Iguanus, Scorponok, Triggerhappy, Skullcruncher, Slapdash , Landmine, Weirdwolf, Starscream [revived by Ratchet] , Jazz [revived by Ratchet], Grimlock [revived by Ratchet], Bumblebee [revived by Ratchet].

Notable Others: Zarak.

Extras: The issue contained Universe profiles on Afterburner, Lightspeed, Nosecone, Scattershot, Strafe and Computron.

Review: It starts off very well, with Ratchet getting too caught up in his work a great moment. Megatron's characterisation's back on track a little, but it's not a terribly interesting read. On the plus side, Ratchet's always good value, and he has an extra zing when he starts to get on top of things here. Furman also begins his work on Zarak, and this is about the first time since the Headmasters limited series that the character's promising foundations have been built upon. It's far from perfect, but Furman's finally getting somewhere.

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#59 - "Skin Deep"

[cover]
Cover: José Delbo
Cover Date: Mid-November 1989

Script: Simon Furman
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Jim Massara
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Later Reprinted By: Transformers #249 -251 [UK], Titan Books: Primal Scream [Worldwide].

Synopsis: The revived Autobots tackle Megatron while Ratchet tries to contact Optimus Prime. At MacDill airbase, Starscream begins to attack the Decepticons. Optimus and the Decepticons attempt to battle Starscream on Earth. Back on the Ark, the shuttle crew has returned, but there is no way of stopping Blackjack's explosives. On Cybertron, Megatron knocks out Bumblebee, Jazz and Grimlock, and sets out after Ratchet, who has managed to contact the Ark with a plan. Hot Rod is able to injure Starscream on Earth, causing his personality to resurface. He then promptly surrenders to Scorponok. Meanwhile, on Cybertron Ratchet has teleported the explosives from the Ark to Megatron's base. Megatron tries to escape via a portal, but Ratchet tackles him and the base explodes. Meanwhile, the Earth-based Decepticons have retreated, with Prime reasoning that Starscream will cause dissent in the Decepticon ranks.

Notes: The Underbase overloaded Starscream in #50. Blurr is four million years old, placing his creation around the Arklaunch [though either date is most likely rounded up or down for convenience's sake].

Errors: Ratchet's blue on the splash. On the second page, bottom-left frame, Grimlock's neck is uncoloured. On the next page, the motion lines make it look like Bumblebee's shell has just swung open, when it was opened at the end of last issue. In the next frame, his left horn is uncoloured. On page 5, Roadhugger's missing a leg. Kup's prepared to risk all of the Autobots on the Ark rather than leave the deactivated Autobots... As he hurls Bumblebee through the wall, Megatron's helmet is uncoloured. Hot Rod injures Starscream very easily.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Grimlock, Megatron, Ratchet, Bumblebee, Jazz, Roadhugger, Detour, Hyperdrive, Starscream, Triggerhappy, Skullcruncher, Hot Rod, Skullgrin, Weirdwolf, Scorponok, Optimus Prime, Mindwipe, Nightflight [flashback], Storm Cloud [flashback], Tailwind [flashback], Whisper [flashback], Blurr, Getaway, Blackjack, Kup, Darkwing, Dreadwind, Cloudburst.

Notable Others: Zarak.

Extras: The issue contained Universe profiles on Nautilator, Overbite, Seawing, Skalor, Snaptrap, Tentakil and Piranacon

Review: Furman's first US arc is far from a masterpiece; in fact, in places, it's far from good. The conclusion is one of the better parts, though. Ratchet's sacrifice isn't especially emotional, but once again it's great to see the medic utterly on top of things, full of grim smiles, and with every detail covered. This is counterbalanced a little by the swift defeat of Starscream, however.

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#60 - "Yesterday's Heroes!"

[cover]
Cover: José Delbo
Cover Date: December 1989

Script: Simon Furman
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Jim Massara
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Later Reprinted By: Transformers #252 -254 [UK], Titan Books: Primal Scream [Worldwide].

Synopsis: Optimus Prime is still upset by the death of Ratchet, which is causing him to reconsider the whole war. On Cybertron, the mood is more upbeat, with Grimlock, Jazz and Bumblebee revitalising the Autobot resistance. Nevertheless, they are being reassigned to Earth. Their success on Cybertron has not gone unnoticed by Thunderwing, who dispatches Bludgeon, Stranglehold and Octopunch to kill them. Meanwhile, Prime lands the Ark on the moon, and sets out alone to brood. Hot Rod has a plan - to use a Guardian Mark V robot to get Prime out of his depression. However, the robot malfunctions, and really does start damaging the Autobots. Prime hurries back to save his troops. As the Autobot Pretenders and Rescue Patrol bid farewell to Xaaron, Bludgeon's team infiltrate the base, and follow them through. The damage they did on their way means Xaaron is unsure where either group are. Meanwhile, Optimus Prime destroys the Guardian, and finds himself with a reason to fight on - to inspire others. Grimlock's group of Autobots, however, have materialised under Cybertron, unaware that their attackers are nearby, and stumble upon the sleeping form of Primus.

Notes: Perceptor, Powerglide and Prowl are all listed as deceased - these are something of a mystery, though none of them have been seen since the Underbase Saga. The Mark V Guardian was never used because it was unreliable. Primus being in rest at the centre of Cybertron is presumably a well-known myth.

Errors: The Micromasters! They're bloody huge - the same height as the Pretenders' robot modes! This is made even worse on page 6, when a more-or-less correct-size Red Hot is seen in robot mode, standing on a giant ambulance-mode Fixit. At the top of page 3, Quickmix' left forearm is missing. Landfill's red has changed to orange by the last page. I have no idea who that's meant to be with Fort Max in the Underbase flashback, but the only TF around when Starscream attacked him was Omega Supreme - who it isn't . Why keep an unreliable Guardian robot on the Ark? Even if they would, there are all sorts of uses for the thing before now - say, sending it to Megatron's base with the explosives to keep Megatron busy. It looks like Brainstorm is standing behind Prime when he gets shot by the Guardian. The Decepticons storing fuel in giant canisters with "FUEL" written on them is bafflingly low-tech. Scoop's Autobot insignia is uncoloured right at the start. Highbrow is in his too-much-blue Yomtov scheme. Stranglehold has white on him - his chest and thighs should be flesh-coloured. Kup's toes are red as the Guardian decks him. As he confronts the Guardian in the last frame, Optimus' legs go white. The generic Autobot operating the Trans-time portal loses his Autobot insignia as Bludgeon kills him. Xaaron mentioning Primus for the first time in "many a year", and the subsequent conversation, really knocks the credibility of the story - it's actually something of a Furman trademark, and looks especially bad coming so soon after Optimus' reminiscences on Megatron, pages before he returns... On page 15, in the top right, Optimus' left leg goes white, and in the bottom-left his head design goes strange.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Optimus Prime, Starscream [flashback], Fortress Maximus [flashback], Kup, Hot Rod, Scoop [first appearance], Quickmix [first appearance], Landfill [first appearance], Bumblebee, Jazz, Grimlock, Fixit [first appearance], Stakeout [first appearance], Seawatch [first appearance], Red Hot [first appearance], Thunderwing [first appearance], Bludgeon [first appearance], Stranglehold [first appearance], Octopunch [first appearance], Cloudburst, Highbrow, Brainstorm, Xaaron [first appearance].

Notable Others: Primus [first appearance, sleeping].

Extras: The issue contained Universe profiles on Misfire, Pointblank, Slugslinger and Sureshot.

Letters Page: Cloudburst writes in to complain about getting beheaded in #53.

Review: Melodramatic and unengaging. Familiarity has desensitised me to many of Delbo's, erm, eccentricities, but the oversized Micros really grate here, as do the Star Wars cantina reject Decepticons. Prime's behaviour really does seem rather OTT - while Ratchet was clearly his friend, it somewhat devalues the character - has he never lost one before...? Considering he barely blinks following the Underbase saga, it seems a bit much. Though Prime seems to be easy to sway, it reads nicely that he never really walked out anyway - it was more something he had to get out of his system briefly rather than follow through on. The biggest problem is Delbo's design for the Guardian, which is both ugly and ridiculous. The Mayhems' sudden incision into the Autobase feels very poorly thought out, as does how exactly they end up in the portal. As mentioned above, the conversation about Primus feels silly, and Delbo really isn't up to the Primus splash page.

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