Well folks, here we are. Marvel Comics’ Transformers issue 80, entitled ‘End of the Road!’. Everything gets wrapped up in this issue and presented in a quickly made bow. This last issue is the first solid sign I’ve seen that writer, Simon Furman was not ready for the ending of the Transformers comic to come so quickly. In reading this issue I felt like he needed at least one more issue to really wrap everything up cleanly. As it is, the ending of the series feels rushed. A tip of my hat to the whole team for putting something together that made a valiant attempt of finishing story as well as they did. Now, before we get into the review and my thoughts on this finally issue, lets check out this issue’s cover.
This Wildman cover is really well drawn. Starting at the top we have. “#80 in a Four-Issue Limited Series”. is if defiantly telling to Marvel, Hasbro, and the non believers that the Transformers was and is bigger than anyone could have predicted. The marvel box now has the Decepitcon logo in it where Grimlock once stood. Bludgeon has his sword raised in one had and Wheeljack held up by the wires in his other hand. An image that would not have pass comics code if these where people and not bots. It’s gruesome and dark. Smoke and flames fill out the rest of the cover. “When All Hope Is Gone… One Shall Rise!”, could signal to the casual observer that this issue marks the end of the Transformers and the Decepticons win. Until you realize that the background of the cover a shadow of Optimus Prime can be seen. Something I completely missed myself until I started writing this section. “The Epic Conclusion!” is written at the bottom of the comic in red finishing off the cover.
We jump into this issue night quite where the last one left off. The Autobots have reached the planet Klo and have had their asses handed to them by the Decepticons. Octopunch is tracking down a group of remaining Autobots lead by Grimlock. Prowl is just giving him shit the whole time about how they got into this current situation. He is cut short by the Decepticon tracking party.
At another battle location down on the planet, Bludgeon is reading the execution of Wheeljack when the Neo-Knights arrive. They twist some Decepticon metal and before the bad guys can respond in drops Optimus Prime from above. (Action Master Optimus Prime) Bludgeon is caught in disbelief.
Optimus Prime is then attacked by the Decepticons, an effort which proves futile. Grimlock and his group of survivors arrive. Bludgeon, realizing hope for himself and the Decepticons is lost, and retreats.
With the Decepticons gone, Optimus Prime tells his comrades that Cybertron survived and has been restored by the power of the Matrix. The Autobots plan to help the Klozians rebuild their planet and return the Neo-Knights to Earth before returning to their own planet.
Transmissions Letters This Issue
THE END. A strange way to begin, perhaps, but it’s at the end that we now find ourselves. Not by choice–when the axe fell we were as devastated as no doubt many of you were. We (the staff and creators of TRANSFORMERS) know how much the comic meant to our readers, and that only makes it doubly sad that it has come to this. Having read your letters and even met a few of you at a signing in New Jersey, I know you’ve liked what we’ve been doing of late, and that (for many of you, anyway) the story and art had reached an all time high. Does this make it better or worse that we’re finishing now? I don’t know, but I do think we owe you some explanations, some general news, and some comments on the series as a whole. that’s why Rob Tokar kindly turned over the last letters page to me, your humble scribe, so I could tell you what’s what. anyway, before I run out of pace, here goes…
FIRST, WHY? Why cancel now? The BIG question! Unfortunately, the answer is both straight forward and almost belittlingly simple. Though TRANSFORMERS had a dedicated and devoted readership, it was also a worryingly low readership. With the toy no longer a major force, with no Transformers TV show, with many of our original readers suddenly thinking themselves too old to be still picking up the book, our audience had dwindled (and was dwindling still) to a hard core of regular readers. Despite our (and no doubt your) best efforts, new readers just weren’t latching on to the book. The trend was downward, and so (before we got to that sour almost loss making state) the decision was made to pull the plug. It hurt, but at least we were given the chance to wrap things up and go out feeling we’d finished on a high note. No one (not myself, nor Andy, nor Steve, nor Rick, no Nel, nor Rob) gave less than 101% on this last issue and we hope you all enjoyed it. It’s never great reading a final issue, a final page, but far worse to read an indifferent or lackluster finale. We didn’t let the end bow our heads, we hope you do us the favor of not letting it bow yours.
So what does the future hold? For TRANSFORMERS there’s little on the horizon. TRANSFORMERS UK is still running, but that’s just reprinting the stories you’ll have already seen over here and reprinting some old UK stories. Chances are, when this issue has been reprinted in a few months, it too will come to and end. For anyone lucky enough to get hold of a cop of this year’s TRANSFORMERS UK annual (on sale in the latter part of ’91) you’ll find within it’s pages (apart from some nifty reprint British Transformer stories) a text story (illustrated) that picks up from the end of issue #80 and looks onwards into the far future of the Transformers. It’s called “A Distant Time and Place” and it’s written by yours truly. If you can get a hold of a copy do so. I think you’ll enjoy it.
The chances of TRANSFORMERs ever being revived are incredibly small, so we’ll not bother going into that. But there is a slim chance that our resident super-team, the Neo-Knights will go on to greater things. No promises, but Andy and I are (as we speak) putting together and idea for a Neo-Knights (or whatever we decide to rename them) limited series. Don’t hold your breath, but we will give it our best shot.
What about us? What else are we working on? Well, the more keen-eyed among you may have noticed that of late my name has been cropping up on ROBOCOP and SHE-HULK. John Byrme’s back on SHE-HULK at the moment (hey, you can’t buck competition like that!), but i’m doing a few more issues and when John moves on to something new, well… who knows? I’m writing ROBOTCOP regularly now, and I’m joined there (apart from Robo artist supreme, Lee Sullivan, who’s handling the regular art chores) by none other than that Wild man, Andy. to give Lee a break from the rigors of penciling and inking an issue a month, Andy will be filling in from time to time. He’s already done issue #16 and #20, and (by the time this sees print) will probably be hard at work on issue #24. Look out for them! Stephen Baskerville (Baskers to his friends) is inking a Sleaze Brothers graphic novel for EPIC, and Nel (apat from his many coloring jobs), is busy editing for Marvel and Epic. And a quick scan through any month’s releases from Marvel will reveal the talented Rick PArker still busily lettering away. Is this a parting of the ways for Rob Tokar and me? No, of course not. Rob is currently editing none other that… ROBOCOP! isn’t it strange how these things seem to happen?! Enough with the present and future, lets take this opportunity for a stroll down memory lane, and a retrospective look at the many people involved with the world’s first eight-issue limited series!
Bill Mantlo (plot), Ralph Macchio (script), Frank Springer(pencils), Kim DeMulder (inks), Higgins & Parker (lettering, Nelson Yomtov (coloring), Bob Budiansky, Editor. So read the credit line on the very first issue of a then four-issue limited series. Things have changed a bit since then, but from that original line-up much grew, and the on constant for the series emerged (more on that later). Most notable about that early line-up was the presence of one Robert (Bob) Budiansky, the Editor. Bob, as I’m sure no long-time Transformers fan needs telling, went on to become writer and mainstay on TRANSFORMERS for the next four and a half years, writing not just the comic but also the character biographies for first the toys themselves and then the Transformers Universe entries. Taking over from Jim Salicrup at issue #5, Bob wrote 47 of the next 51 issues, only a fill in by Len aminski (issue #16), a two-part UK story, Man Of Iron (issues #33/34) and a cartoon adaptation by original TF cripter, Ralph Macchio (issue $43) coming between him and a clear run (hey, those deadlines are a pain!). Then it was my turn. Having written almost as much material for the UK TRANSFORMERS comic, my stories threading in with Bob’s stuff (which was reprinted sequentially with the UK stuff), I was possibly the natural choice to continue onwards. This I did for the next twenty five issues, hopefully succeeding in bringing the comic to the sort of conclusion it deserved. But that’s for others to judge.
Well that’s the writers, what about the artists? They range from Frank Springer on the orginal four-issue limited series to Alan Kupperberg to William Johnson (his brief but memorable contribution to TF history still talked about by readers), to Ricard Villamonte, to Herb Trimpe, to Don Perlin (about 20 issues, and featuring the superb inking of Akin and Garvey-who would later come to ink up the TF Universe character shots), to José Delbo who then penciled the book for more than two years, making it very much his own. His detailed style and superb action drawing made him a crowd pleaser almost without compare. Still, if there’s one real contribution I have made to TRANSFORMERS, it’s bringing with me from the UK the artistic talents of Geoff Senior and Andy Wildman. Geoff’s love-it-or-hate-it dynamism and Andy’s incredible animation brought new life to the series, and I feel that they (more than anyone else) ensured that the series went out with a bang!
Letterers too seem to have been on the constant side. Rick Parker was there way back on issue #5, popped in again a few times, and finished up with a long end run on the book. Janice Chiang, Bill Oakley and Jim Massara all did long stints as well.
But it’s our one constant, the one person who’s been with us from issue #1 through to issue #80 who deserves the biggest pat ont he back. Let’s hear it for Transformers colorist supreme, Nel Yomtov! Thanks, Nel-from all of us!
And to round things off, it’s a tip of the hat to the men behind the scense, the editors (Owsley, Carlin, Daley–for forty issues or more–and Tokar), the assistant editors, the Bullpenners and just about e everyone who’s had a hand in the comic that for sever years has been truly, More Than Meets The Eye!
Did we do well? Yeah, I’d say so. Eighty issues of the regular series, three limited series, a series and book of Transformers Universe, 300 odd issues of Transformers UK, reprints around the world. All this from a dreaded ‘toy title’. books which generally have a very limited life span. But then I guess all concerned with the book over its long history have always known that it was more than that. Like ROM and THE MICRONAUTS before it, TRANSFORMERS took on a life of its own, and I am confident that it (the worlds, characters and situations introduced) will live on beyond its cancellation in the hearts and minds of those who read it and created it. For me, personally, IT NEVER ENDS!
Thank you, one and all…and God bless!
– Simon Furman, 1991
The fat lady has indeed sung. It’s the final curtain call- the last hurrah.
I asked Rob if it would be OK to write a few words about the book, being that I’ve been associated with TRANSFORMERS longer than just about anyone else. Y’see, I’m the fella they’ve shackled to a drawing board these past six and a half years, coloring every single issue of the book. Throw in the TRANSFORMERS universe series, the G.I. Joe crossover, the movie adaptation and the HEAD-MASTERS mini series and you’ve got one bleary-eyed workaholic. When the series first started in early 1984, robots were pretty hot—lots of toy manufacturers had big toy lines, there were other robot comics, TV cartoon series–you name it. And we caught a lot of flak for publishing “another stupid comic about robots.” Yet, as the robot craze subsided, sales on our book continued to be very healthy. We had made a point: a well written and handsomely illustrated comic could outlast the fad. In effect, the book had taken on a very substantial life of it’s own.
There wee some pretty unique issues along the way. I remember one in which a couple of hoods find a gun in a garbage dump and it turns out to be Megatron. Surprises! Another one that comes to mind, naturally, was issue #1. The art and coloring had been done, but at the last minute a decision was made by the powers that were to make wholesale changes on the entire book. I remember putting in some serious weekend hours on that one.
It’s been a real treat having toiled on TRANSFORMERS for its entire run. Over the years, I’ve gotten tons of fain mail, and whenever I’m at a comics conventions, someone is sure to say, “Hey, aren’t you that guy who…”
Yup, Sure am.
-Nel Yomtov, 1991
My Thoughts On This Issue
Well lets get the obvious out of the way. With every page the story felt more and more rushed. It’s sad, but this series could have ended a lot worse than it did and I’m pleased with the results. I wish I knew more about what was happening behind the scenes. Maybe someone will write a tell all book and I’ll finally know.
I didn’t get my Optimus Prime back. I got Action Master Prime that tried really hard to look like the original Optimus Prime. Bummed out by this, but oh well.
Bludgeon’s farewell speech bothered me a lot. In one breath he states he and the Decepticons are going to live in Solitary Exile that honor demands. Then in the next breath says, “…and live to fight another day!” It just didn’t flow right and makes the first half of his speech worthless to me as a reader.
Honestly, its a good issue. Not the greatest, not even great. Under the circumstances it’s understandable.
Thanks to everyone that followed along with me while I did the Transformers classic comics reviews. What did everyone think of this issue? Heck, what did you all think of the whole 80 issue run? Lets chat below.
Before I close out here, I would just like to leave a note that, after a short break, I plan on reviewing the 12 Transformers Generation 2 comics next. As well as the 4 or so G.I Joe comics that lead to Generation 2.