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#19

Galvatron

By inflatable dalek

"I hate Autobots! I hate Cyclonus! And I'm not very fond of you, either!"

Percentage of vote: 28.9%
Average ranking: 13.2

Lord Byron was once famously described as "Mad, bad and dangerous to know", a phrase that applies just as much to our 19th best Transformer, Galvatron.

Galvatron was notable for achieving a number of firsts that rapidly became standard for the entire franchise, so much so they barely stand out as strange and new when we look upon him now. He was the first "new" leader for one of the two factions (beating Rodimus Prime by about an hour), and also the first to be specifically introduced as a newly rebuilt and renamed version of an older character (beating Cyclonus and Scourge by about thirty seconds).

Though at this stage the concept is handled much more nebulously than it would be in future years, with the Marvel comic the only continuity to make any play of Galvatron and Megatron being the same person whilst the cartoon basically sort of forgot about it and most future iterations of G1 haven't even tried to connect the two.

What really stood out in his film introduction though, was how flashy it was with (at the time) exciting computer graphics and swirling lights Galvatron made an instant impression. As with Unicron, the voice actor helped, with Leonard Nimoy being a genuine culture icon having a clear blast getting to do some of the typecast escaping he was so fond of during the 1970's and 80's.

"Mad as a ping pong ball
made of custard, yet still
a hugely scary threat.
Never, ever dull."

--Rack 'n Ruin

For the rest of the Movie Galvatron remains hugely impressive. Despite having no great desire to work for Unicron he still manages a better hit rate than Megatron had in the preceding twenty years, notably actually dealing with Starscream but also managing to kill the current Autobot leader without getting even a scratch upon himself (unlike Megs in his fight with Prime).

The gruff, no nonsense voice also helps make him seem a force to be reckoned with, creating the impression of a genuinely terrifying unbeatable new enemy for the Autobots, one whose final defeat has nothing to do with any weakness in their character, Galvatron only loses because even Mr. Spock cannot overcome the power of a McGuffin with a big "Plot Off" button written on the side.

After the Movie there were two main areas where Galvatron featured prominently, with slightly different personalities. In the third season of the cartoon being hit on the head by a planet was used an excuse to radically change his personality (and by strange coincidence, his voice). No longer the formidable foe who was perfectly capable of coming up with nice straightforward plans on his own, Galvatron was now completely and utterly off his tits, an unstable madman as much a danger to his own troops as anyone else and arguably more responsible for the sorry state of the Decepticons in the final year of the cartoon than Rodimus Prime was with his cunning plan of fighting evil by mooning like a sad emo over badly made statues of Optimus Prime.

"Madness and near-divine power
make for a fearsome foe - and a
fun guy to read about."

--HunterCham

You might expect this drastic shift in personality to count against Galvatron's popularity, but it's actually clear that pretty much all of our voters loved it, his mania being cited as a positive aspect of his personality by pretty much everyone who was kind enough to comment. Season 3 Galvatron may no longer be much of a credible leader, but he's never dull, and unlike Megatron actually has an excuse for being so useless.

In pretty much every scene in which he's featured in the third season Galvatron is hugely entertaining, veering between fantastic one liners (The Return of Optimus Prime is especially notable for how he comes so close to stealing the entire show from the titular return with so many perfectly timed sarcastic comments) and delightfully silly scenes of him just beating the crap out of his own troops.

The highlight of his animated adventures though is Webworld, one of the most successful (intentional) comedies of any Transformers series, it delves into why Galvatron is so screwed up with its pitch perfect send up of the sort of 1980's psychobabble that saw a therapist with her boobs hanging out on the Enterprise bridge, and even put the viewer firmly on his side as no one really likes psychiatrists, even the non-monkey sort.

It's also worth noting that Galvatron kills a planet at the end of that episode. That's pretty damn impressive.

Before we move onto the other main media to feature Galvatron, we should give the Japanese Headmasters cartoon and its treatment of him the due coverage it deserves.

There, that's that done.

"Insane and powerful, when he
showed up, things went bad. The
scene of him torturing Jazz in
Target: 2006 shocked me a kid."

--Warewullf

Galvatron was so heavily featured in the Simon Furman Marvel comics there were at least two, and potentially four, of the bugger running about. His introduction in Target: 2006, understandably for something written with only the film script for reference, treats him in a very similar way to the film, a serious credible threat who is hugely successful at running rings around his enemies who was responsible for some of the most memorable images of the entire comic (ZOMBIE JAZZARRHHGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!).

Though Target: 2006 seems to have been intended as a one-off bit of promotion for the film, it was so successful it quickly became the bedrock of a massive time travel story arc that ran throughout the remainder of the colour British stories. When Galvatron first returned to the 1980's in Fallen Angel Furman decides to play with writing him as his third season cartoon persona (and for similar hit by a planet reasons), his trauma making him a snarling, raging mad man who mistakes pretty much everyone he meets for Rodimus Prime.

This isn't an avenue that was really explored fully though, and Galvatron quickly settled down to his previous, more controlled and intelligent behaviour (the Galvatron and the Volcano arc being the last place where he was bonkers for just the sake of being bonkers), cunningly manipulating Autobots and Decepticons as he cheerfully plots to prepare for ruling the future. Enemy Action, where he completely undermines Shockwave by being nice to him, and Wrecking Havoc, where he plays the Wreckers off against Cyclonus and Scourge, are the high points of Galvatron at his most sane and controlled.

As the big time travel arc came to a close, a combination of changing time lines and being shot in the face by Roadbuster (and who knows, maybe he'd seen the script of Two Megatrons?) drove Galvatron to the edge again, and his 100 issue reign of terror ended with an amazingly memorable visual as reality itself was the only thing capable of destroying this modern day Cnut. Time Wars isn't a perfect story but Galvatron's development and exit are perfectly handled and make for a great capstone to the character's story.

Following this though, we got multiple alternate Galvatrons. All were written in very much the same vein, and the most memorable (as he appeared in more than one story, though the Aspects of Evil and Perchance to Dream ones might be the same character. It all gets very confusing) was the version introduced in the American comic. Again, he was originally written as insane, wandering through a damaged New York ranting to himself with those vacant Jose Delbo eyes, but soon became the more familiar Movie version, carefully plotting to overthrow the Unicron who kidnapped him whilst having to pretend to work for him.

Galvatron is a delight in those later comics, and also gets the most memorable of his fights with Megatron. Sadly his exit from the series -- defeated by his mortal enemy, ice -- wasn't up to the standards of his British counterpart, but he was still a hugely entertaining read.

"Hard to say why exactly I was drawn to Galvatron, but
he was the first Big TF toy I got and his subsequent
performance in the animated movie cemented him as my
favourite big bad. Being voiced by Spock didn't hurt
either. What really got me loving him though was his
depiction in season 3 of the cartoon (and to an extent
how he comes across in Dalek's Marvel reviews). The idea
of an individual driven mad by ambition and power was
wonderfully done for a cartoon at the time. Mad as
a hatter."

--Red Dave Prime

Following the end of the Marvel series, Galvatron has had a somewhat chequered history. In theory he has had lots and lots and lots to do in the IDW comics, and whilst his Spotlight suggested a nice and straightforward reuse of his more sane Marvel/Movie personas, he's been badly hampered by every single story he has been involved in being terrible. The Dead Universe, like Bumblebee as leader and Hearts of Steel, is one of those awful ideas IDW just won't let go of despite the fact that no one likes it, and Galvatron has been damaged by association. The most recent low points including trying to enter Megatron's gaping hole and Shockwave tying him up to force him to do something he'd probably be generally in favour of if it was explained to him properly.

He's also been involved in the ReGeneration One comic, but, as much improved as the later issues have been over the earlier ones, that's a storyline most readers seem to have lost the will to live over (it's currently the worst selling of the three regular books by a considerable margin).

Despite that though, Galvatron is overall a hugely memorable and entertaining character. Splendid chaps, all of him.

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