The Transformers #31
Marvel Comics (August, 1987)“Buster Witwicky And The Car Wash Of Doom” WRITER: Bob Budiansky BREAKDOWNS: Don Perlin FINISHES: Jim Fern COLORIST: Nel Yomtov LETTERER: Rick Parker EDITOR: Don Daley
With Shockwave’s efforts to collect energy less than satisfactory, Decepticon Fuel Auditor Ratbat comes to Earth to oversee his latest project, using a mind-controlled G.B. Blackrock to launch a series of car washes that also wash the brains of the users, bringing the fuel in their cars right to the Decepticons, causing a fuel shortage. One of those franchise owners is Sparkplug Witwicky, which doesn’t make Buster happy since the extra customers leave him less time to spend with Jessie. However, Buster and Jessie soon uncover Ratbat’s plot and with Sparkplug also under the control of the car washes and no time to contact the Autobots, the couple are going to have to use their heads to win the day.
Normally this is where I do the got right/got wrong, but I want to do something different. This comic is somehow considered one of Budiansky’s worse and I really don’t know why. Yes, it’s a silly premise, because I forgot to mention that the car washes play rock and roll music while hypnotizing with a strobe effect, similar to the device Astrotrain used on G.B. last issue. First, this isn’t the worse mind control device you’ve ever seen in a comic book, and two…I’m surprised the 1980s passed us by without there actually being car washes that played rock music as you went through. Guess they were too busy perfecting bikini car washes. You failed us, 1980s. You failed us bad.
Plus I’d still place this plan higher than the time cartoon Megatron did a similar trick with a discotheque. I am totally serious here. At least this featured something popular in the right decade.
One problem I do understand is the title, “Buster Witwicky And The Car Wash Of Doom” is a bit much, especially when nothing is vaguely connected to Indiana Jones. (The title even resembles the Indy movies’ logo.) Personally I would have gone with “Wash & Roll Out”, since the car washes are called “Wash And Roll” and “Roll Out” is an Autobot catch phrase even in the comic. Yes, I know there are no Autobots in this story I still think it would have worked better.
But what I really enjoy is watching how Buster and Jessie handle the Decepticons without the Autobots and Buster holds his own until he and Jessie come up with a plan. Buster even fights Ratbat, which will lead to another confrontation later down the road. Not only do we get the return of the Witwickys and Buster’s girlfriend (“O” is still absent from these stories and won’t be coming back) but they kind of team with G.B., marking the first, and sadly only, time two separate “teams” of Autobot allies work together. Sadly, this didn’t start an Autobot alliance network with Bomber Bill and Charlie Fong joining in. (Spider-Man and the rest of the Marvel universe except the Savage Land were pretty much ignored once the full series started.) It’s kind of a missed opportunity.
Overall, I say ignore the haters and give this comic a look. The title may be silly but for the 80s this comic makes a lot more sense than the critics make it out to be.