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Nostalgia November Day 19 — Transformers #64

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 #64.

The Nostalgia November archive can be found here.

transformers64Transformers #64 by Simon Furman and Jose Delbo continues the “Matrix Quest” storyarc as, this time, we get a trio of Autobots sent to a planet to find the Matrix. They were told to be on the look-out for any odd resurrections or events, and the reappearance of a Klud, a giant leviathan/whale-like beast, seems like a sure sign that the Matrix is nearby. During the intial contact, Longtooth loses a leg to the beast and becomes an Ahab-esque figure as he hunts the Klud, obsessed with killing it. At the same time, Lord Thunderwing and his group arrive in search of the Matrix and the Klud provides the key clue to discovering it.

This was probably my favourite issue so far, mostly because I like how Longtooth and Thunderwing mirror one another in their obsessions. Longtooth’s injury focuses him on revenge to the point where he does everything he can to forget his past — he’s no longer an Autobot, he’s just a hunter. Thunderwing’s obsession with the Matrix is similar as, once he discovers its whereabouts, he calls off his forces, seemingly forgetting the war between the Autobots and Decepticons. One of his followers comments that this is the second time that Thunderwing has stopped them mid-fight from killing Autobots to go off in search of the Matrix. Both are losing themselves in their obsession. In the end, Longtooth has the chance to kill the Klud, but doesn’t, escaping his obsession, while Thunderwing continues with his.

While the writing had me engaged throughout, Jose Delbo’s art continues to deteriorate as this issue is cluttered and just ugly at times. In some cases, that works — Thunderwing becoming more monstrous in appearance is a great idea. But, other pages, are just difficult to look at they’re so ugly and ill-composed. However, he does deliver a fantastic splash page of the Klud breaking through the surface of the water — and his expressions for Longtooth are usually good.

We get a bit of history about the Matrix and how it’s the lifeforce of the Autobots’ living god Primus — who created the Autobots in his image to continue his fight against Unicron… and has recently revealed their whereabouts to Unicron, making finding the Matrix essential. Wait, he revealed their whereabouts to his enemy? Time to find a new god, I think…

Next Thursday, it’s the conclusion of “Matrix Quest” with a cover that promises a Thunderwing/Optimus Prime fight.


In an earlier issue, the Autobots learned that Primus had slumbered within Cybertron for millions of years, because Unicron would be able to sense him. During a firefight between Autobots and Decepticons in the core of the planet, a stray laser blast ricocheted off Grimlock’s armor and struck Primus, awakening him; since he’d been violently awakened after such a long slumber, he screamed, and Unicron sensed him. Unicron is (in this issue) on his way to Cybertron, which is why it’s so critical for the Autobots to find the Matrix, as the only other thing that can stop Unicron is a united Transformers race (which seems unlikely).

I too found Delbo’s artwork to be pretty bad in this issue. He’s not the worst artist ever employed by Marvel by a long shot, but he’s not the best, either. And I always got the impression he was being lazy on Transformers, thinking it was only a kids’ comic that didn’t really matter. I usually like Furman’s work, and I know what he was going for in Matrix Quest with the genre homages, but this issue bothered me. Mainly, it was the timeline. In trying for a Moby-Dick homage, he throws us in mid-story, and doesn’t do it as well as he’s done at other times. Also, if I remember properly, Longtooth is supposed to have been chasing this Klud for a long time, maybe several years, which didn’t fit well into the sense of urgency Matrix Quest was supposed to have.

Overall, Matrix Quest was a good story, though probably the weak point of Furman’s 24 issues (which I still feel are hugely underrated, especially once Andrew Wildman took over on pencils). My only problem with it is that it alludes heavily to several earlier stories by Furman when he was on the UK Transformers book, which were unavailable in the US until the last few years.

The comic said a few weeks, I think… I got the impression that the events here were taking place at the same time as previous Autobot-centred stories with Thunderwing’s appearances showing the closer continuity.

My biggest problem with Delbo is that his robots look so short and compressed. Their legs are far, far too short.

Ah, it’s been a while since I re-read Matrix Quest. Maybe I remember thinking it should’ve been a matter of years for Longtooth’s story to work properly, at least for me. I should revisit those sometime soon.

Delbo was also known for tracing or copying the character model drawings that came from Hasbro, or going totally off on weird tangents with overly humanizing them. (Soundwave never had his face mask when he was drawn by Delbo.) Like I said, I don’t think it’s so much a lack of talent as laziness, or maybe even lack of interest, on this title for whatever reason; I’ve seen his work in other books and, while I wouldn’t call him great, his work on those titles was much better than almost anything I saw by him in Transformers. #67 is probably his best Transformers work (or maybe I was too excited by that incredible Galvatron cover by Jim Lee when I got it and didn’t notice), but it’s also his last issue.

this might have been just in the UK comics, but does anyone else remember when they used to draw the robots exactly like the toy (as opposed to the cartoon)? and then for a while afterwards they’d be drawn like the toy in their first appearance and then the cartoon version thereafter? the example I can remember is galvatron, cyclonus and scourge look like the toys on the last page of Target 2006 part 1, and then like the cartoons thereafter.

Am I just imagining this???

no, you’re not. early issues had several characters, among them Brawn, Ironhide, Ratchet and Megatron looking like their toy counterparts before they switched to looking more like the cartoon versions. this also happened with Galvatron in particular in Target 2006 as at the time the artist only had the toy to work from, before they got stills and a model sheet from the movie animation.

For some peculiar reason, Sideswipe was also drawn with a weird face in one story where his entire head was grey and he had a Y shaped slit in the front. no eyes, nose or mouth, just this Y.

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