The Transformers #42
Marvel Comics (July, 1988)“People Power” WRITER: Bob Budiansky BREAKDOWNS: Jose Delbo FINISHERS: Dave Hunte & Don Hudson COLORIST: Nel Yomtov LETTERER: Bill Oakley EDITOR: Don Daley
Goldbug and the others travel to Nebulos in hopes of restoring Optimus Prime. Using Galen’s remaining memories within Fortress Maximus, they know that the scientist Hi-Q and his team will be able to build a new body for the not quite late Autobot commander. However, things have changed on Nebulos. Hi-Q found a way to poison local fuel resources to Transformers but his jealous partner, Hi-Test, and a thief named Throttle transform themselves into “Powermasters” and binary bond with two Decepticons, Darkwing and Dreadwind. With the two Nebulans as their engines most of their raids are for powering their new power sources or demanding the council tell them where Scorponok’s squad went to. As the rebuild Optimus dies, Hi-Q and members of their team decide the Autobots are worth saving and also become Powermasters (except for Goldbug), chasing the Decepticon Powermasters off of Nebulos but forced to leave themselves.
What they got right: Toy or no toy, killing off Optimus Prime was a mistake. Kids had grown too close to the character and having him dead was something that isn’t done in American kids TV. Once you get past the “floppy disk” problem Optimus’ return is handled well, like how it takes feeling pain to realize he is more than computer code. The armoring gimmick looks better here than on the toy.
What they got wrong: I’m dropping this one partly on Hasbro but Budiansky is the one who created the backstory I’m pretty sure still around this time. I’ve never liked the concept of the Powermasters. As a toy (I picked up one of the reissue Apex Armor Powermaster Optimus Primes from a few years back) I don’t mind it, but the in-story explanation never worked for me. If they were, say, channeling energy where it was needed or weeding out impurities or something it could work. But a human as the power source for a Transformer? I would think the 20 entries the Decepticon Powermasters take from the restaurant wouldn’t last very long.
Recommendation: A decent return for the “icon”, Optimus Prime. What, you don’t think he’s an icon? Wait for tonight’s commentary.