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#26

Ravage

By inflatable dalek

"A barren featureless desert- and I'm being chased by someone who can become a fighter jet! This may call for a major reassessment of my loyalties!"

Percentage of vote: 20.6%
Average ranking: 14.4

For those of you only know Ravage from the cartoon, this must seem a very strange inclusion. Sure, like all the cassettes he looked cool and had a funky gimmick, but equally snarling animals only count as proper characters if you're Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.

This is because we've reached the first Transformer on our list that, despite them all officially being the same version of the character, has wildly different portrayals across the different media. So whilst in the original TV show he was just a big cat, elsewhere he tended to be much more interesting.

"A really cool, intelligent and loyal
spy - much better than the animal
he's portrayed in most other media."

--Shellsuitwarrior

His big claim to fame of course is being the first Transformer to speak in the Marvel comic, and, as such the first Transformers character full stop. Right from the off he set up his almost unique stall of being the actually loyal Decepticon, offering smart and thoughtful advice to Megatron.

This continued throughout the original American mini-series, with Ravage getting several nice moments to show off his intelligence, loyalty and line in deadpan humour. Sadly when Bob Budiansky came onboard as writer with issue five he pretty much reduced Ravage to his TV persona before dropping him down a mine shaft.

Luckily the UK comic picked up the slack, and Ravage remained an important part of the Decepticon cast, having major moments in two of the three original British stories: In The Enemy Within he has a memorable one on one fight with Starscream and in Raiders of the Last Ark actually getting to team up with an Autobot in Windcharger so as to save the day. This later example got to show that, though he's a bastard, he's an honourable bastard and there's a fantastic sequence where, after saving Windcharger's life, he refuses to acknowledge there was anything noble in his actions.

"Beyond being a laconic robot jaguar with
a pocket-friendly second alt-mode (I know,
the jaguar is the robot mode, but as a kid
the distinctions seemed more blurry) Ravage
gets to be there at the death of civilisation
in the classic UK annual strip, State Games."

--Denyer

His status as an important character was emphasised in the 1986 Annual story State Games, which revealed he was in fact the second ever Decepticon after Megatron himself, and showed the first meeting between these characters and demonstrated where Ravage's loyalty and strength of belief in the Decepticon cause came from.

Sadly after that is was slim pickings for Ravage, despite some late in the day impressive material in the black and white stories (especially the otherwise disappointing Two Megatrons). With the leader he so admired being mostly absent from the comic by the time Ravage came out of the mineshaft he had little left to be loyal too, and most of his remaining appearances (still non-talking in America) have him switching sides and back stabbing various leaders in exactly the same way as pretty much every other Decepticon. Despite some nice moments between himself and Galvatron and Shockwave during Time Wars, a lot of what made the character really appealing had been lost.

Luckily for Ravage, in 1996 the Beast Wars cartoon decided to do something that was on the surface completely insane: To end the show's second season with a big three part story that made very little concessions to younger viewers who didn't remember the original Transformers by featuring lots and lots of continuity, cameos and flashbacks to the original series. It shouldn't have worked, but The Agenda has instead gone on to be regarded as the peak of the entire series, if not of all Transformers animation.

"Zealots come in all shapes, sizes and temperaments
but the most dangerous ones are the quiet ones. You
can't reason with a true believer and to attract
their attention is to learn just how far and how much
time they are willing to expend to prove their idiotic
point. When that true believer is invisible, has
nuclear missiles bolted to his thighs and is a giant
cat monster, you have chosen the wrong sort of
company."

--Terome

One of the things the story chose to do was bring an original Decepticon into play in a non-flashback/non-corpse on the floor way, and as the story lent itself to sneaky spying Ravage got to be the one picked. Whilst this is an obvious fan pleasing move, akin to Scotty showing up on The Next Generation or Tom Baker in The Day of the Doctor, even beyond the blatant fan service (turning into a cassette for no reason) it's done so brilliantly you don't care.

Beast Wars Ravage may technically be the cartoon version, but as the series was made by people who weren't bothered by (and likely weren't even fully aware) of the differences between series and comic, this is very much the Marvel take on him. Loyal, smart, deadpan and untrustworthy whilst still being strangely likeable. But now with an added comedy Russian accent that fits him so perfectly it becomes impossible to read any line of his from any previous comic in another voice.

In a series where characters like Quickstrike had become mined out it's a shame Ravage had to be the only fatality in The Agenda not to have their death retconned at the start of season three, his final explosive exit left you feeling there was a lot more that could have been done with him.

After a lengthy period of not talking at all the IDW comics have recently taken up the mantle of making Ravage awesome, and he has remained one of the few consistently good things about the transitional period between the regular Robots in Disguise comic and the Dark Cybertron crossover.

Again, he's true to his Marvel personality (getting in some nice insults about Shockwave), but with a bit more emphasis on his special skills that make him such an effective spy, he knows everything about you from how you smell. The issue revealing his first meeting with Soundwave, and the instant touching bond between them, was by far the best moment of the entire second year of Robots in Disguise, and shows there's life in the old cat yet.

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