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Nostalgia November Day 05 — Transformers #57

Each day in November, I will read and review/discuss/whatever one comic taken from a box of some of my childhood comics. Today, it’s Transformers #57.

The Nostalgia November archive can be found here.

transformers57Transformers #57 by Simon Furman and Jose Delbo is one of four remaining Transformers comics that I own. I never had a huge collection of them, but I did have more. I’ve no idea where they are now, only that the four I still have are in rough shape. The cover to this issue is barely attached to the comic itself, the corners very dogeared… this is a comic that’s been loved, my friends. A lot of the comics in this box look like this and while some of you are cringing, I think it’s fantastic. I didn’t just read comics as a kid, I destroyed them by reading them too much. Of course, you’d think having read this comic so much that I’d have fond memories of it, but I don’t. I have vague memories surrounding this issue and the others I own — the other three being parts two, three, and five of the five-part “Matrix Quest” (at one point, I had the entire story), about getting them or reading them… but I don’t remember the specifics too much. I may pop in on the other issues throughout the month — “Transformers Thursdays”? I love alliteration and themes. But, let’s get to the comic…

Throughout the issue, I coloured certain parts of characters in with blue pen… like Ratchet’s little tuning fork thing on his head. But that doesn’t really impact anything…

Megatron is back after blowing himself up back in issue 25. He’s back and he’s got a pretty solid plan to take over Cybertron and destroy the Autobots once and for all. He needs Ratchet’s medical help with some sort of weird armour that was probably a toy first… the armour alters the body inside and they want a doctor to make sure nothing goes wrong. If not, they’ve wired the Ark (the Autobots’ ship/home) with explosives and will blow it up. The final page reveals who Megatron wants to put in the armor as he holds up the destroyed remains of Starscream…

Meanwhile, on Earth, Optimus Prime and the Autobots confront some Decepticons called the Air Strike Patrol. Optimus sports a more advanced look here, based on a new toy version of him. (I had that toy, actually. Basically, it was a giant Optimus that came in two parts: the torso transformed into regular Optimus and the cabin of the truck, and the body became the trailer and attack base. So, you could have Optimus as a giant, ultimate version of himself, as his regular self complete with small attack base, or in transport truck form. It was pretty sweet.) The Air Strike Patrol are acting as a distraction as Megatron does his work on Cybertron. Eventually, Scorponok arrives and a fight breaks out. Optimus is apparently going through a dark phase as he is a violent motherfucker, ready to kick some ass. He calms down when some humans are almost hurt, but, by that time, the Air Strike Patrol has abandoned Scorponok and things look like they’ll be over.

The art here is serviceable. Not the best storytelling, but it’s also trying to get across emotion with giant robots. Not a bad read. I wish I had the next issue (which I did have at one point because I remember the cover — which is shown on the letters page) as it’s where Optimus goes even further apparently. “Optimus Unleashed!” Hells yes.

This issue is a solid one-two story: Megatron is back, more calculating and evil than ever, while Optimus Prime is becoming more cold and violent… the two always work best as a binary, playing off one another, and it’s almost like we realise that Megatron’s absence has resulted in Optimus not having his opposite evil self to define himself against. Part of why Optimus was so good was that Megatron was so evil — he had an opposite example to follow in a sense. I imagine a future issue has the confrontation between the two where Optimus returns to his more heroic roots.

Tomorrow, who knows. Next Thursday: Transformers #63.

38 Comments

Oh how I loved the Tranformers before Michael Bay sharted all over them.

Heh. Michael who? Someone asked Raymond Chandler once what he thought of Hollywood ruining all of his books. He took them into his study and pointed up to the shelf where they all were, and he said, “Look, they’re there. They’re fine. They’re okay.”

As for this issue, well, I think it actually beats the next issue if nothing else. Not so much because #57 was good… it was mediocre, enjoyable mainly because Megatron was finally back nearly three years after they pointlessly killed off the character… but more because “Optimus Unleashed!” turned out to be more like a silly, unconvincing story of “Optimus Whining A Lot.”

I do still love the Marvel Transformers comics as a whole, though. At 31 years old, they still hold nostalgia and entertainment value for me, while I’ve never been able to bring myself to care about the rebooted continuities of Dreamwave or IDW, even with their computer colored Transformer-porn artwork.

To be truthfully honest, I was more of a Micronauts fan, than GI Joe, or Transformers.

And to this day, I’ve never read an issue of the Transformers or GI Joe.

I have read Star Wars (none of the Dark Horse issues), ROM, Shogun Warriors, and of course the Micronauts.

That Michael Bay guy sure likes to blow things up. One can’t help but admire that. ;-)

Look, Transformers was an entirely toy-driven book. I tried getting back into it during these issues, and I was pleased at the prospect of Megatron coming back (and Ratchet being the guy to fight him). But these issues led into the introduction of the Pretenders, which just happened to be the new toyline coming out at that time. Even at age 12, I could smell the commercialism that was driving the book.

Even as a tyke, I could never get into anything Transformers beyond the toys. The toys themselves were pretty fantastic, though, even if adults did break off both of Optimus Prime’s legs while trying to transform him (not that I’m still bitter). But it’s long worn out it’s welcome in my book; bring on the M.A.S.K. remake!

I picked this comic up in the airport on a family trip to Arizona twenty years ago and I have been reading comics consistently ever since. This is the one that started it all, thanks to Megatron’s return. Transformers and G.I. Joe were certainly fantastic gateway comics for kids to make the leap to regular super heroes and other types of titles. Thanks Furman and Delbo, and thanks Chad for posting this one. And thanks to Cronin for being Cronin.

Wraith — Thanks for letting me know I’m not missing much with the next issue.

John — That’s a cool coincidence.

I had a horrible stomach flu when I was about 8 or 9, and one of the only things that made it bearable was the Transformers comic my mom picked up from the drug store (hey, remember when comics were sold in drug stores, so parents could buy them for their sick kids?) – from the “Matrix Quest” story that comes up a few issues after this one, and features “Nightbeat,” an autobot I’d never heard of who was a total badass detective (to me, as a nine-year-old).

Robot detective pretty much sold me on the entire storyline. Which, yes, did feature the Pretenders toys fairly prominently, and kinda made me want to collect them all.

Was never a big Transformers fan as a kid but I certainly read an issue or two. My problem was telling all the robots apart. I could recognize three or four of them but beyond that they all looked the same.

Transformers was the gateway comic for me too. When Simon Furman took over the series, it really started to take off. It really found its new angle with issue #61 with fantastic art by Geoff Senior, who became the semi-regular artist for awhile until Andrew Wildman took over with issue #69. Lost final 20 or so issues was really the peak of the entire run for me.

And I’d love to see a Transformers Thursday feature.

Well, it would only be for the four Thursdays of November… since I only have four Transformers comics.

Heh, well I’ll take what I can get.

And kudos to you for reading the heck out of your copy.

Chad — Here to help. :-) So far I’m really enjoying this series; an entertaining mix of “I’ve got that!” and “I didn’t buy that; let’s find out how it was!”

And thanks to Cronin for being Cronin.

Yay me!

for the top ten story lines voting I had transformers issues 5 – 12 when Ratchet was the last autobot as my number one storyline. I changed it though because I didn’t want to wast my vote. I’m weak…

But Mandeville! That’s how we end up with Kang and Kodos!

(Eh, I probably would’ve done the same.)

Well, Tom, Micronauts was actually a good comic. Not quite ROM good, but close enough.

Still, I can’t help but think there’s more to Transformers than meets the eye . . .

Daniel O' Dreams

November 5, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Of course Starscream is going in the super armor. Why was Megatron forever relying on Starscream to carry out his plans? The guy F’s up EVERYTHING and straight up hates your shiny metal ass, kill him already!

Oh, I loved, I tell you, LOVED the transformers comic book when Simon Furman was writing it. Okay, I was only 13 years old, but at the time, I thought it was one of the greatest things ever. Nowadays, twenty years later, I doubt I’d think so highly of some of those issues, but back then I really enjoyed the series. And that’s the important thing, really, that I enjoyed it then.

i loved the marvel transforemrs comic. though do not recall much of that issue or the story line where optimus starts getting dark and wants to kick some decepticon butt acting like megagatron. which was nice to see returned from being destroyed

You have no idea how complicated this story made the history of Megatron continuity-wise in the UK comics! You see, he had actually returned about four months after blowing himself up, taken on Action Force, been apparently destroyed (again) by a human controlled robot call Centurion, before being subsequently fished out of the Thames by none other than Richard Branson. I kid you not!
Then things got really complicated, and this issue forced long-time UK chronicler Simon Furman to come up with a UK story involving two Megatrons, not including his even more evil future-self Galvatron. Or indeed, not counting the numerous versions of his future self from alternate dimensions.

Good times :)

Jeff Holland- I had some teeth removed once and they had to put me under. Afterword my mom was driving me home and we stopped at the grocery store to pick up my drugs. In my still doped up state I evidently was looking at the comics while waiting for my perscription until I started throwing them on the ground and calling them crap. I’m a real jerk while high as a kite.

Aw, man! That’s why they don’t have comics in the drug stores anymore, Mrjay! You ruined it for everybody!

Pretenders were a year and a half earlier in Issue 40. This story is about the Classic Pretenders which brings 4 older characters back.

An odd side-effect of the marketing-driven nature of the ’80′s Transformers comics is how much instability it introduced in the cast, at least compared to what would eventually come to be expected of the franchise, later. Megatron and Optimus Prime were killed off very early in the book’s run, and while a door was left open for their potential return, there’s no indication that it was inevitable.

This really applies to all the characters: Sunstreaker was brutally (and casually) murdered by Shockwave in he fifth or sixth issue of the series, and was never seen again. Blaster had a whole storyline and rivalry with Grimlock that’s brought to a sudden end when Starscream slaughters him and two-thirds of the rest of the cast. The original comic series was never afraid of a high body count, especially when death wasn’t necessarily the end of a character’s story. (Not to say that it was all done well; many issues and plot points were downright silly. But there really is a sense that anything can happen, which you don’t see as much in current Transformer media.)

The return of Megatron and the classic Pretenders (and the earlier return of Optimus Prime) illustrates the formation of what can loosely be defined as the Transformers’ status quo: there are certain characters who stick around because they’re the core of the brand. Part of this was because Hasbro was realizing the branding potential in the “core cast” that they’d cynically written out in the animated movie to make room for new product; the classic Pretenders were the first “new” versions of ’84 characters. Nowadays there’s a new incarnation of Bumblebee, Optimus Prime and Starscream on the shelf every year.

It was a bit of a detriment to the series, because honestly, Megatron was a crappy villain. He was a character who lacked any sense of subtlety or nuance, and was basically a petty tyrant. And then Shockwave came and handed him his hinder. Shockwave had something Megatron lacked: definable character traits. And then you have Ratbat, possibly the most unexpected Decepticon commander ever; he was a beaurocrat who happened to be promoted to the top spot because everyone ahead of him in the chain of command had been killed. Later, the conflicted cyborg Scorponok and the arcane fighter Bludgeon would get the own hands at leading the ‘Cons, but both would eventually be brushed aside for Megatron’s return.

The Megatron and Optimus Prime that Furman writes are deep enough characters, and that’s probably good because we’re essentially stuck with them, but you need to understand that Furman essentially re-invented them for greater utility.

I love the internet! A smartly written analysis of the Transformers US comic? Yes please!

Nicely done, Ellis Wyatt.

While I missed a lot of the original cast, I did like the factions and evolving leadership that cast instability created with the Decepticons. Grimlock’s leadership with the Autobots was pretty lame, though. (Although the Blaster storyline was a decent trade-off.)

Remember when the Beast Wars? When they made the robots into monkeys and shit?

God, that sucked.

Actually, the Beast Wars series is well-lauded in Transformers circles for being the smartest-written TF TV show for many years. It really picks up at the end of the first season, and the second is just great.

> Sunstreaker was brutally (and casually) murdered by Shockwave in he
> fifth or sixth issue of the series, and was never seen again

Isn’t he in 75 ? There’s a scene in that with a bunch of the original cast jumping out the ark….. the funny thing about it being that all the characters shown there had just been bought back as toys in the UK.

Sunstreaker was eventually rebuilt, and appeared in several crowd scenes, doing absolutely nothing of importance. Being ripped apart by Shockwave was the most memorable moment he had in the book.

“Actually, the Beast Wars series is well-lauded in Transformers circles for being the smartest-written TF TV show for many years.”

You have got to be joking.

I don’t joke about giant metal tyrannosaurs rexes. That’s Serious Business.

The only hardcore Transformers friend I ever had (college friend) loved Beast Wars, so perhaps it really is well-regarded!

Take a gander at any Transformers message board and ask around; while there will always be some who absolutely hate it (It is the internet, after all), it’s generally held to be a high point in the franchise’s fiction.

Part of the reason, ironically, is the expense of the CGI animation they used for it; it was too expensive to have a sprawling cast, so there were, at most, seven Maximals (Autobot-allied faction) and seven Predacons (Decepticon-allied faction) at any time. This led to some strong character-based episodes, and memorable personalities.

Transformers: Animated would later copy this model in its first season, then gradually add a greater and greater cast as time went on.

They made Optimus PRIME, the hero of the series and a big TRUCK, into a damn MONKEY. (and Megatron into a purple Barney wannabe) They threw logic out the window and the fact that Hasbrow approved this flawed concept makes it an automatic fail.

And yes I have heard about this Optimus being different than the real Optimus because it is a different continuity or whatever. Doesn’t make it any better.

Was Transformers Animated the Teen Titans-lite show with the little girl as the sidekick and father that was an Indian stereotype?

I don’t think there’s anything more to be said, since based on your response you clearly haven’t seen the series; there’s not going to be a constructive conversation here.

John: As a huge G-1 transformer fan, I gotta tell you Beast Wars was what got me collecting not only the original comics but the original toys again. You have to throw these preconceived notions you have about the show and throw them out the window. It was the most violent, smartly written show that had come around in ages. When FOX Kids got their hands on these episodes they cut them up-a lot.
BW had a lot more character development than the original cartoon ever had, sorry. It was a story with a beginning, middle, and DEFINITE end.
And if you give it a chance, in season 2, it ties into Gen 1 completely. But you know you have to actually watch it.

I also have fond memories of the Marvel Transformers comic, it was really great, fun stuff at the time (as was GI Joe). Both the comic and the tv show rocked my world…

The death knell for me of the franchise was the original Transformers movie. “This isn’t MY transformers anymore!!!” :-(

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