Tuesday, June 28, 2011
On June 29th, 2011 the sequel, feature-length film Transformers 3: The Dark of the Moon will premiere. Even though I won't be seeing the new film from Paramount Pictures, (I've never even seen the first two) I thought it would be fun to share a list of my top ten favorite Transformers comic book stories!
Also for an alternative take on favorite Transformers Comics, please check out my fellow Fanhole, Mike Priest's Top Fifteen Favorite Single Issues of Transformers Comics or his Top Ten Favoritest Transformers Stories At This Point And Time!
10. Transformers Summer Special
A short story featuring the Decepticons from the Transformers Energon Universe by Simon Furmon and James Raiz. I've always enjoyed the embellishments that the series Beast Wars brought to the Predacon, and by extension Deception, culture. How treachery and backstabbing were often their own best reward within the Decepticon society.
Beast Wars Megatron doesn't punish a traitor like Tarantulas for being disloyal, it's because he was unsuccessful in his attempts to depose him for leadership. A good Decepticon's or Predacon's treachery would have never gotten noticed.
After a botched assault on Ocean City by several of Energon Megatron's troops, we find him questioning each subordinate in an one-on-one to discern just what went wrong. Slugslinger, Snowcat and Sharkticon all give rather embellished accounts of how proficient they were in trying to neutralize the Omega Supreme prototype, but ultimately for one reason or another, failed in their mission.
The three troops, along with the reader themselves, expect some heads will roll for this abysmal failure. Due, in part, to his short supply of troops, Energon Megatron defies expectations and grants his troops amnesty.
A clever reasoning for Megatron's reprieve is found in his respect and admiration for Slugslinger's ability to twist the truth to his advantage. Thus, the 'Con who is the best at deceit my friends, is the one that gets a promotion in the Decepticon Empire.
9.Transformers (UK) #152-153
The Transformers comics for the United Kingdom were always a rarity here in the States, even as far back as when they were originally released.
The only access I ever had to them as a kid, was from one of my childhood best friend's older brothers. He was a Transformers fanatic and had preserved all his Transformers toy boxes, which filled his closets to the brim. Only a few times did he let his younger brother and myself enter his room. I recall being fascinated by the all-original stories that we did not have access to, beyond paying the high import prices my friend's older brother had paid for the almost magazine-sized comics.
Galvatron is probably one of my favorite Transformers characters. He is an insane madman in the cartoons and I love him for it.
In the Simon Furman written Transformers stories, such as this, he is also an unstoppable force of destruction. I take particular glee in this issue, as current Decepticon leader, Shockwave, has his circuits in a tizzy.
Shockwave fears being deposed by Galvatron, as in the Marvel Comics, he is the one who deposed Galavtron's past self, Megatron as the Decepticon leader. As a kid, I had been exposed to the loyal subservient interpretation of Shockwave from the Sunbow cartoons, so Shockwave as an usurper was always something foreign to me.
Anyway, it's always a joy to see Galvatron tear through other Transformers. As a bonus, he goes up against the combined form of the underwater Seacons, who calls himself Piranacon. In the Sunbow cartoon, the Gestalts were generally more powerful than the leader class Transformers. Yet, here, in these comics, (and a few others) the combiners get their comeuppance from Galvatron.
Also, Galvatron is not all brute-force, and uses some clever reverse-psychology to generate sympathy for his own cause among Shockwave's own troops. You gotta love Galvatron. When Furman is writing him, he's a walking MacGuffin of awesome-ness.
8. Transformers Armada #14-17
Thankfully there are no bleeping and blooping mini-cons in this comic book version of Transformers Armada. The art by Don Figueroa is certainly pretty to look at, but that's not the main thing these issues have going for them. Here we have a story from Simon Furman where certain Generation One Style Transformers herald the coming doom to the Transformers of the Armada Universe.
The Mini-Con Over-Run is being pursued by Galvatron and his lieutenants for his possession of the Autobot Matrix. G1 favorites Scourge, Dirge, Bludgeon and Thunderwing make up the rest of the deadly crew. Unfortunately for the Armada Autobots, like Hotshot, the appearance of the Alternate Reality Prime causes their own Optimus Prime to be displaced to where the doomed Optimus comes from.
Soon the Armada-verse Autobots and Decepticons are confronted by Galvatron and his subordinates. This leads to the confrontation between the powerful Armada-verse Megatron and the seemingly unstoppable Galvatron.
If you had followed Transformers in its various incarnations over the years, you would probably have had the same sense of shock and awe when Armada Megatron finally bests Galvatron. The Air Defense Mini-Con Team gives Armada Megatron the edge he needs by forming into the Starsaber. This helps him to secure the killing blow against the "unkillable".
7.Transformers 3-D #1
Despite my love for continuity among comics, television franchises and movies, I would learn quickly on that there wasn't much you could do to reconcile the variety of comics, toy specs,cartoons,anime and films that Transformers had to offer.
This story from Blackthorne Publishing is one that I enjoyed a lot as a kid, but seemed to have more things in common with the cartoon than the Marvel Comics released up until that point. Ratbat thankfully was not talking and keeping records on how much fuel the Deceptions were wasting and instead just screeched and flapped his wings like a good cassette tape should. Although he did have the occasional whiny thought balloon.
Another note of interest is how Ultra Magnus seems to be in charge of the main mission this issue, but does contact Hot Rod from time to time. At one point Hot Rod indicates that if trouble should arise that he could "summon" Rodimus at will. I can only imagine that this would have worked more like Captain Marvel or He-Man, with Hot Rod serving as the Billy Batson or Prince Adam.
The huge "base" Transformers, such as Fortress Maximus and Scorpinok, weren't quite as developed as their comic counterparts either. In my youth, even when I collected the Marvel Transformers comic series, I took the Sunbow cartoon to be more cannon than any of the comics.
Looking back, as with this Blackthorne book, it was just more comfort in familiarity. Of course, by the second issue Ironhide shows up, which gave me a Dragon Ball Z sized continuity headache, but I digress...
The Throttlebot called Searchlight and Galvatron's right hand man, Cyclonus, are scouting a planet where signs of a new production of Energon have been detected. The funny part is that these little creature's waste product is actually comprised of the life-blood of the Transformers.
Each creature gets a taste of what it is like to be in the presence of either faction.
Of course the creatures are actually much more intelligent than they lead on to be, and are merely collecting data for their shared employer on both the Autobot and Decepticon factions. Fans of Transformers the Movie or Season Three will quickly recognize the beings employers as the Quintessons. Fun stuff and it's too bad the series only lasted for three issues, so there was never a real opportunity to see where Tim Tobolski and Bob Versani would have taken the Transformers.
6.The Story of Wheelie, The Wild Boy From Quintesson
I know a lot of people might be thinking, but this isn't exactly a comic book!
Well, it is a storybook that was published by Marvel Books, so that is good enough for me.
Mostly this is a simple side story, that tells a slightly different version of events that took place in Transformers The Movie. Maybe you could play it off as being from the young Autobot Wheelie's perspective, but Arcee was never on Quintessa (or Quintesson as the case may be here) in Transformers The Movie.
Although the story by Sonia Black Woods is just a slightly different re-telling of the events from Transformers The Movie (Ron Friedman even gets story credit here!), the artwork by Earl Norem has always stuck with me since I read the story as a child.
Also I was fascinated by Wheelie's use of non-metallic items such as his satchel and slingshot. This very well may be the odd duck on my little list, but I have a soft spot for this storybook from Marvel Comics.
5.Transformers (UK) #114
While I love Galvatron, I also really enjoy his Autobot counterpart Rodimus Prime. Or if you are watching the horribly dubbed Headmasters cartoon, Road-dimus.
Rodimus Prime didn't really get a whole lotta love from the US Marvel Comics, so it was always a bright point for me when Rodimus Prime was the focus of the UK series. This issue by Simon Furman and Will Simpson actually is the first time Rodimus Prime showed up in the storyline of the UK comics (barring any flashbacks to Transformers The Movie).
Even if Furman didn't particularly care for writing Rodimus, I still enjoyed reading about one of my favorite Autobots.
4. Transformers #72
"All This...and Civil War 2"
Andy Wildman really reshaped the way I thought about how an artist could interpret Transforming Robots. Andy made them seem so much more human and personified. They seemed to have teeth that would get knocked out in the middle of a struggle for dominance in a Decepticon Civil War. Or much more grandiose expressions for robot faces.
Not only was the artwork terrific and ground-breaking to my teenage mind, but it also focused on a favorite character of mine from the comics, Scorponok.
As opposed to the Blackthorne Comics or the three-part Rebirth episodes (from what was Season 4 of the Sunbow cartoon), the characterization of Scorponok was much more dynamic and layered.
Simon Furman wrote Scorponok as a visionary Decepticon leader who had just agreed to a truce between Autobot and Decepticon forces.
This truce was nearly over before it began due to the machinations of a select few Decepticons led by Shockwave. Again, I probably enjoy seeing the logical Shockwave get his ass handed to him way too much.
3. Transformers #39
"The Desert Island of Space"
Fortress Maximus was from a subsect of G1 Transformers known as Headmasters. These were Transformers who had bonded with organic counterparts. Their partners would then transform into the larger robot's head and this would grant both parties a lasting advantage over other Transformers.
For some reason, the idea of being a Headmaster greatly appealed to me in my middle school years. I would fantasize about performing the three layered transformation from me becoming Cerebros' head and then from there Cerebros' transforming into the head of the Autobot leader Fortress Maximus. Thus , instead of running 4 laps during phys ed, as Fortress Maximus I would only take a few steps and the laps were done.
Anyway, growing up as a "Sunbow cartoon first" kid, when reading the early Marvel comics, I was always asking, "Who is this tool, Buster? And where the hell is Spike?"
So you can imagine my great pleasure when Bob Budiansky and Jose Delbo finally introduced Spike as Buster's older brother and eventual partner to Fortress Maximus within the Marvel Comics. Frankly, Fort Max had a lot more personality then he ever had in the Sunbow Cartoons or in the Blackthorne comics. In the Sunbow cartoon he was really nothing more than a city mech that Spike had built for himself. In the comics the character had his own rich back story before he ever landed on the planet earth and met Spike Witwicky.
The action piece of the comic always inspired me as the idea of an underwater base concealed as an island-turned-rocket-ship always found it's way into my self-created comic books. Also the way the Decepticon spacecraft slowly eliminated each part of the character's make-up was exciting.
Eventually Cerebros faces off against Shockwave after a rocket places the Fortress Maximus body out of commission. Shockwave thinks he's won the battle as he unleashes the full brunt of his laser cannon against the mid-sized Autobot warrior. Luckily Spike escapes and can still use his remote access to Fort Max's gun cannons to dispatch Shockwave who falls from orbit.
2. Transformers (UK) #78-88
My last Simon Furman story on this list (I promise!) has always been a favorite as it went ahead and introduced the future characters from Transformers The Movie by way of time travel.
Jeff Anderson must of only had toy references to work from in the first of 11 weekly installments, because the designs for Galvatron, Cyclonus and Scourge quickly change from their toy molds into the movie looks after a single issue. They soon supplant Megatron's leadership over the Decepticons to begin their conquest of this time-line.
Unfortunately for the Autobots, the arrival of the three Unicron-Altered Decepticons to the year 1986 caused the displacement of several key Autobots to balance the scales of the time-stream. The Autobot Leader Optimus Prime, his right-hand man Prowl and Autobot Medic Ratchet have been sent to a Limbo-like holding dimension while the future Decepticons run rampant. The remaining Autobots are no match for this deadly new trio from the future without Optimus Prime at their side.
Luckily for the Autobots, Ultra Magnus arrives to balance the scales and carry out his mission to search for the 3 missing Autobots.
However, with the Autobots first assault on Galavtron having failed miserably, Ironhide sees no other choice but to deal with the "Devil (they) know", Megatron, to help them against this new mutual threat they both face.
The art chores change hands a few times going from Anderson to Will Simpson, and finally settling on Geoff Senior. Ultra Magnus along with the trio of Autobots from the future, Kup, Blurr and Hot Rod help to stop Galvatron's scheme and send him back to his proper time.
1. Transformers #25
"Gone But Not Forgotten!"
Bob Budiansky and Don Perlin have crafted a wonderfully little character study of the Decepticon leader, Megatron. In the aftermath of the death of Optimus Prime in the previous issue of the Marvel Comics series, Megatron finds himself unconvinced of his long-time enemy's demise. Much like Lex Luthor cannot fathom a world where he would not be the one to deliver the fatal killing blow to Superman, Megatron similarly feels the exact same way about his arch-rival Optimus Prime.
I remember loving the scene between Megatron and Brawl so much that I even free-styled and inserted a little homage to the comic into one of my old goofy home movies created at a birthday party of mine.
Highly irritated by every new challenge that comes his way, Megatron is slowly becoming more and more unhinged. This is quite similar to the portrayal of Galvatron in the Sunbow cartoon episode titled "Webworld", which is also a favorite of mine.
Soon Shockwave decides to take advantage of Megatron's imbalanced nature and sends the Predacon strike force after his currently loopy leader. As always per the Marvel Comics storyline, Shockwave seeks to lead the Decepticons himself, and this time is no different.
However, even a crazed Megatron proves too much for the Predacon assassins to handle, and they are forced to resort to using their combined form, known as Predaking.
Much like Galvatron's tussle with Piranacon in #9 on this list, it is quite the impressive accomplishment to see Megatron refuse to back down from the Gestalt Predaking and unquestionably defeat him.
Even after discovering Shockwave's treachery, the madness from the loss of his arch-rival still takes hold, ultimately leading to the Deception Leader's own eerie self-destruction.