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THE TRANSFORMERS: COMICS, BOOKS AND MANGA

IDW Publishing
(2005-now)
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(2003-2007)
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and Titles

OTHER TRANSFORMERS BOOKS AND SERIES

Blackthorne Transformers 3D

| #1 | #2 | #3 |

An introductory essay is available for these titles.

#1 - "The Test"

Cover Artist: ?

Cover Date: Fall 1987

Writer:
Tim Tombolski

Art: Tim Tombolski, Bob Versandi

3-D Effects: Bob and Nancy Fritsch

Synopsis: Ultra Magnus takes Fortress Maximus, Lightspeed, Blurr and Searchlight to an asteroid to search for Energon. However, Galvatron has also heard of the asteroid, and arrives there in Scorponok with Cyclonus, Scourge and Ratbat. Both sides find that the source of Energon readings are small organic creatures living on the asteroid. Lightspeed is excited about the discovery, but Magnus warns him that exploiting the creatures would be against the Autobots' morals, despite a brewing war on Cybertron. Galvatron is less impressed when Cyclonus reports the creatures to him. Both sides discover that the creatures convert their food into Energon. Magnus sends out Searchlight to round up the rest of the creatures, and he stumbles on the Decepticon base. Ratbat, doing the same work for the Decepticons, then discovers the Autobot base. Searchlight is chased by Cyclonus and Scourge, while Lightspeed and Ultra Magnus pursue Ratbat. The two parties meet and fight, unaware that the creatures have vanished - they are incredibly intelligent beings that have been hired by the Quintessons to find out more about the Transformers.

Notes: Continuity-wise, this is an odd one. On the face of it, it's set after the cartoon serial 'The Rebirth', but there are all sorts of little oddities, such as the lack of Nebulans and Hot Rod referring to developing "Headmaster technology". A fresh continuity it is, but what the Hell's that reference to 'Rodimus' on the first page about? Is Rodimus Prime Autobot leader, but prefers to lark around as Hot Rod?

Ratbat is fully sentient, but fakes being dumb and servile because he's lazy. Searchlight is the only Autobot who can see in absolute dark, and his hobbies seem to include utilising this ability by lurking in dark rooms... He is also unarmed. Parsecs is used as a unit of time, and Galvatron swears "By the Nebulae!" on several occasions. Sixshot, Pounce, Wingspan and Flywheels all sneak in their first official TF comic appearances here, the latter actually preceding his Marvel UK debut. There's currently peace on Cybertron, where the Decepticons also have a foothold, but it's very tenuous.

Errors: The asteroid has magnetic poles. Is that right on something so small? Would it even have gravity?

Transformers Featured: Fortress Maximus, Hot Rod, Ultra Magnus, Lightspeed, Blurr, Searchlight, Cyclonus, Galvatron, Scourge, Scorponok, Ratbat, Sky Lynx, Sixshot, Pounce, Wingspan, Flywheels.

Notable Others: A Quintesson.

Production Notes: Each issue of was priced at $2.50, had 28 pages of strip, and came with a pair of cardboard 3-D glasses. The uncredited cover is based on the Hasbro box art for the Galvatron and Ultra Magnus figures.

Review: Pretty bizarre. There's some gloriously odd sequences [Searchlight is fantastic, quite simply, as is the idea of Ratbat just keeping quiet to skive], and there's something charming about the art. The 3-D effects aren't too bad either. However, the narrative gimmick of having the same thing happen to each faction sequentially soon wears thin, and it fails to rise above being a curiosity.

#2

Cover Artist: ?

Cover Date: December 1987

Writer:
Andrea LaFrance

Artist:
Dennis Francis

3-D Effects:
Bob & Nancy Fritsch

Synopsis: Galvatron, Soundwave and Ratbat attack the human space station Exton 9, planning to kidnap the scientists there and force them to manufacture an energy source for the Decepticons. However, a bunch of kids escape, and bump into Cosmos, who'd just turned up at that precise location for a look. The kids convince Cosmos to take them to Andellor to find the mystical Prism of Power so they can save their parents. The journey's a bit of a hassle, as they get attacked by Space Vultures, and then find Scorponok, Cyclonus and Octane hanging around Andellor waiting for them. Cosmos manages to spare their lives by agreeing to take the Decepticons to the prism. They travel into an underground building on Andellor, where Octane gets dismembered by a tentacle monster. They find the chamber containing the prism, and Scorponok announces that their purpose has been served, so he's going to off them. Thankfully, logic breaks down and Ironhide just appears to take the shot. He stands around and gets shot a few more times, and then the good guys stumble into a chamber, taking the prism from its' guardian by solving a rather simple riddle (too hard for Ironhide, though). One of the kids stays in return. They use the prism and Ironhide's bizarre invulnerability to beat the Decepticons and free their parents, and Cosmos sets off to return the prism and get the kid back. Well, he says he's going to, anyway;

Notes: Weirdly, the opening narration claims this as a story from the "bygone days of the Transformers", but aside from the presence of Ironhide, it fits into the post-Season 4 cartoon universe nicely enough. I say 'aside from Ironhide', but his presence at the same time as Galvatron (who killed him as Megatron) is a fork to the colonel for that idea. The Decepticons are also based on Cybertron - bar for the odd narration and Hickbot, this seems to sort-of follow on from the first 3D issue. You have to wonder why Ironhide was arbitrarily included in the first place...

When Octane gets smashed up by the tentacle monster, his disembodied head can still talk. Ironhide cannot be harmed by conventional weapons.

Errors: So, there are no Autobot patrols out that far, and yet Cosmos picks the precise moment the Decepticons attack the remote station to drop by and just see what it's like? Okay... Ironhide literally just appears from nowhere. Sure, he spouts something about a distress call, but that just covers 'Why' - we're still left with 'How'. Writer's block is about the best I can think of. This is why they don't let women write Transformers comics. Probably thinking about make-up or something. Tsk. It's taken millennia for someone to solve that riddle? Wow, must've been lots of people trying. Ironhide's name is taken a bit literally here - the guy seems to fight by just standing there, letting people shoot him, and waiting for them to run out of ammo. Cosmos also gets in on the act by flying in front of a shooting Galvatron.

Transformers Featured: Ratbat, Galvatron, Soundwave, Cosmos, Scorponok, Cyclonus, Octane, Ironhide.

Notable Others: Those kids.

Review: Ow. A painfully bad comic, too poorly drawn to even be funny. The kids are so nauseating and generic they make Budiansky's Babes look like the... the... four really interesting kids, and they get so much space it's unbelievable. The fight scenes are rendered nonsensical by the abysmal art and LaFrance's bizarre idea of tactics, and the plot would sustain about three pages. Like being kicked in the genitals, this one.

#3

Cover Artist: ?

Cover Date: March 1988

Writer:
[?] Williams

Pencils:
[?] Fuget

Inks:
[?] Haxo

Letters:
"Noodles"

Colours:
[?] Stephenson

3-D Effects:
Paul Tallerday & Barbara Marker

Synopsis: A skirmish between two warring races of aliens releases the Destructicons from their prison. They destroy all before them, though a message still reaches the planet of Tau-Ursa, where it is ignored by a scientist named Monitorus. However, the Decepticons arrive to steal his new energy device, using it to create the nullifying cannon. Monitorus escapes to Cyberton, and manages to alert the Autobots. His plea for help is interrupted by a Decepticon attack. Optimus Prime soon realises the attack is a diversion, and sets off looking for Galvatron. He's too late, however - Galvatron has wrecked the Autobot Energon plant, and demands the Autobots' unconditional surrender. Later, on Tau-Ursa, Apeface has found the taped message from the Destructicons' prison. Hot Rod and Blurr take it from him, and relay the information to Optimus. It tells the tale of the ancient evil Destructicons, imprisoned by the Logicons for their crimes on the planet Meta-Scan Alpha. Prime sends fact-finding teams out. The first, consisting of Ultra Magnus, Kup and the Monsterbots is jumped by Cyclonus and the Terrorcons, also searching for the Destructicons. The Autobots fend them off, but run into the Destructicons. The Autobots take a beating, with Kup (who fought them the first time around) covering their escape on Sky Lynx. Meanwhile, Optimus' team have infiltrated the Decepticon base with the aim of destroying the nullifying cannon - his shock attack works, as he disables Galvatron and then the cannon. Back on Metascan-Alpha, Ultra Magnus realises the Autobots need to form an alliance with the Decepticons to defeat the Destructicons. Cyclonus reluctantly agrees, and both parties make their escape.

Notes: The alien races are named the Kalkar and the Andegeans. The Destructicons are Delirious (who gives his title as Imperious Lord Delirious...), Medusa, Bruton, Psychokhan and one unnamed - they and the Logicons are considered myths on Cybertron.

It would seem Kup actually buys the farm covering the Autobots' backs... Don't know if they were going to make more of him knowing the Destructicons. This seems set firmly in the cartoon continuity, following on from "The Rebirth", complete with the restored Optimus Prime, uneasy joint Decepticon leadership of Galvatron and Scorponok/Zarak (with Scorponok retaining his massive size), and so forth. Oddly, though, the only Nebulan mentioned is Zarak.

Errors: How can the Destructicons be a myth if Kup remembers fighting them?

Transformers Featured: Galvatron, Scourge, Cyclonus, Slugslinger, First Aid, Hoist, Optimus Prime, Hot Rod, Blurr, Sixshot, Triggerhappy, Wreck-Gar, Apeface, Rewind, Blaster, Ultra Magnus, Pounce, Wingspan, Scorponok, Kup, Grotusque, Doublecross, Repugnus, Hun-Grr, Blot, Cutthroat, Rippersnapper, Sinnertwin, Abominus, Sky Lynx, Blast Off, Fastlane, Cloudraker.

Notable Others: Monitorus, Zarak.

Review: A novelty comic isn't meant to be this good... Okay, so some of the names and the basic plot of 'new threat forcing the Autobots and Decepticons to work together' read like some moronic fanboy's cartoonverse fanfic, but it's well handled, with a smattering of characterisation. 'Williams' has done his/her research, so there's Rewind referencing his TFU profile, and a halfway practical explanation for the clones. After the cramming of characters in "The Rebirth" and the focus on the Headmasters in the comic, it's nice to see fringe characters like the Monsterbots get something to do as well. The plot is very tight, with a lot happening. Certainly a shame it had to end without closure to this promising storyline.

 

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