The Transformers #55
Marvel Comics (August, 1989)“The Interplanetary Wrestling Chamiponship!” WRITER/LAYOUTS: Bob Budiansky PENCILER: Jim Fern INKER: Mike Gustovich COLORIST: Nel Yomtov LETTERER: Jim Massara EDITOR: Don Daley
Roadhandler goes on Cecilia’s show to promote the Autobot cause but a wrestler named Jake “The Jackhammer” Jackson turns it into an opportunity to promote himself by challenging the Micromaster to a match. After the match, Roadhandler sees his own opportunity to not only promote his cause but to be a positive influence on humans. Zarak, however, decides to call on some Decepticon Micromasters to ruin his reputation by challenging the Autobot to a match. Cecilia, however, has seen this movie enough times to send some of the Off-Road patrol to protect Roadhandler’s two closest friends so he won’t be forced to throw the match. In the end he decides that this course of action would put humans further into Zarak’s gun sights and puts wrestling behind him.
What they got right: On it’s own, it isn’t a horrible story. As your typical sports story it works and it’s nice to see Autobots interacting with humans and forging allies, something Optimus should have done a long time ago. (Not like this but something.)
What they got wrong: On the other hand it’s filled with the usual fighting competition cliches and there’s no build-up to Jake’s challenge. While Roadhandler has trouble understanding what’s going on at first once he’s into his wrestling game all the usual tropes show up. Again, it’s not horrible, just not very good.
Other Notes: This is made worse by the fact that this was Budiansky’s last story and this is a terrible farewell. Consider that from issue #5 to this issue Budiansky has written all but four issues of this comic, as well as the Headmasters miniseries and all the Transformers Universe profiles, as well as tech specs for the toys even after leaving the comic. He was getting worn out by Hasbro’s decrees to get every new toy possible into the story and just decided to leave. It’s a shame that he left with no fanfare and a mediocre story like this.
Recommendation: There’s nothing really added to the fighting competition tropes here so unless you like those kind of stories or just want the complete run it’s hard for me to recommend hunting this down. It’s a shame that this is where Budiansky ended…especially with Simon Furman taking his place, which we’ll get into starting next week.