November was an exciting month in the world of Marvel UK's Transformers weekly 32 years ago, especially now as I look back on it as an adult and a fan of the modern day movies. Not only did we have five Saturdays and the next Collected Comics special, but the real excitement looking back over these now are all the little ideas and story beats that Michael Bay's movies paid such respect to (some critics should really read up on things before giving off).
The last time I read all of these was just after the first movie and before Revenge of the Fallen, which there's traces of in the storylines below as you'll see. Now of course, at the time of writing I'm looking forward to receiving The Last Knight for my birthday and the movie's take on the Quintessons (the animation's original story), so obviously they're taking inspiration from both the cartoon and the comics. But it's neat to see so much being recreated from the pages of this superb title in the kind of big, spectacular fashion we could only have dreamed of back then!
Anyway let's get on with another catch-up session. Each of the following issue's photos and information went up on my Instagram account every Thursday of the month, on the date of their original release (each issue had the release date of the next issue as its cover date, like an expiration date) and you can follow me by clicking on the logo under my photo if you're viewing the desktop version of this blog. If you're on the mobile version you can just click here instead. It's public and you don't need an Instagram account to view it, but if you do have one then these posts will appear on your timeline every week if you follow me.
On with the show.
#34: 32 years ago this uninspiring US cover made the front of the Marvel UK Transformers comic, but inside the story from across the pond thrilled fans to the core!
Josie Beller's suit transformed (ironically) her into Circuit Breaker, we got the run down on what it's made from (believable back in the 80s) and what she's now capable of. Jazz is an unfortunate casualty in her war against all Transformers and she'd continue her robotic-centred fascism in future issues, right the way through to the final one in fact. But she's a sympathetic character under all that, with real inner trauma making her carry out her cruel justice.
As the comic continues we'd see her change and understand there's two sides, bit-by-bit. Plus, is that Iron Man in the story?? Um, no, this is the last page of the comic and the cliffhanger to The Machine Man of 2020. But as the editorial reminded readers, other Marvel characters had already crossed over into the Transformers story! I'll get back to you with some photos of those cameos (below in Collected Comics #2).
#35: This issue we saw the creation of the very first brand new Transformers. The Constructicons seemed like any other group, but Shockwave had a plan and the editorial hinted at what was to come! This was also the issue we saw a still yet-to-be-activated Jetfire! More on that interesting Transformer to come.
G.B. Blackrock was another fave human character (something missing from the modern comics but which the movies get spot on), the attack of his drilling platform by Shockwave injured Josie Beller and set her on the path to becoming Circuit Breaker.
Then there's Bomber Bill. While this is all we saw this time (his inclusion explained the next week) it's a nice page, showing how even one-story characters got treated as three-dimensional.
Finally, this issue also included a Save the Children plea which appeared in all Marvel UK comics at the time and unfortunately it's one which could still be included today.
On the same day...
COLLECTED COMICS 2
CC#2: This week also saw the release of the second reprint collection, Collected Comics #2. While not officially designated a "Winter Special", the first was the Summer one and for the rest of the run they'd be given such names. This one included the second half of the original US mini-series (#5 to #8 of Transformers UK) and with it definitive proof the Transformers were officially part of the Marvel Universe.
We'd already seen the Savage Land in an early issue and they'd later crossover with G.I. Joe and of course Death's Head was created by Marvel UK and first appeared in Transformers. But for now there's some highlights from Spider-Man's guest appearance!
I had to post this up at the time too. It may be from the 80s but there's something awfully familiar about this panel.
#36: This was the week Transformers UK introduced us to Devastator! This huge combined Transformer's debut was rather muted inside, not being drawn much bigger than the regular characters by the American artists for whatever reason. This wouldn't happen again, he'd tower over them next time, but at least we UK fans got this cover to get the idea across.
They've stolen Earth vehicles to turn to scrap and into a giant satellite dish so Soundwave can let his Decepticon comrades know where they are and call for reinforcements. Bomber Bill from last issue comes to the rescue and unfortunately is another excellent human character never seen again.
Also this issue a hefty bit of reading for the young target audience, a catch-up for new readers (an awful lot has happened in 35 issues!) and who else had any of these Tell-A-Tale books and cassettes? For Transformers or any other franchise?
#37: So here we see that Buster Witwicky still has the Creation Matrix in his head. Able to understand machinery and complex science it's driving him crazy, the Decepticons are after him and Bumblebee is out to protect him. Some things never change, eh?
I love seeing how respectful the movies are to these original stories, how they're referenced all these years later and here we also see the inactive body of Jetfire! Fans of Revenge of the Fallen will like what's to come.
Also, the first Transformers Annual was on its way to Santa's Grotto for many young fans.
#38: Another week and another 32-year-old Transformers UK comic from Marvel. Jetfire has been built and is programmed by Shockwave to seek out Witwicky and the Creation Matrix in his head, all so that this new, formidable machine can be brought to life properly. (Have to say I do prefer his aircraft mode in Revenge of the Fallen.)
Sleek, fast, unstoppable. But not living. Bumblebee has an idea and sure enough Buster disassembles the giant at the last moment using the power of the Matrix. He then reassembles it into the alt mode, but not before Bumblebee takes out its "brain". Still a blank slate (well, cube) Buster is going to attempt to control it to help them rescue Optimus Prime.
In the backup strip Machine Man and the Iron Man of 2020 (no longer Tony Stark) bash it out and on the letters page a young reader mentions how he discovered the comic. An advert on TV for a comic! Unheard of from the mid-to-late-80s onwards (in fact Oink! was the first to eschew this and go the "free preview issue" route), does anyone remember it? Even better, does anyone have a recording?
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With the final issue sitting on top of the baubles I was using to decorate my Christmas tree, we've come to the very end of November. However, the next issue is already up on Instagram so get over there and have a nosey. The next monthly round-up on the blog will be with you on (hopefully) Thursday 4th January 2018(!) but before then I simply won't be able to let the Christmas issue and Annual pass... so check back soon!