The Transformers #56
Marvel Comics (September, 1989)“Back From The Dead” WRITER: Simon Furman PENCILER: José Delbo INKER: Dave Hunt COLORIST: Nel Yomtov LETTERER: Jim Massara EDITOR: Don Daley
Trying to repair all of the Autobots taken out by the Underbase-infused Starscream is taking its toll on Ratchet to the point that he’s having nightmares about it being his fault for not repairing them. Meanwhile, the Air Strike Patrol, under orders from someone other than Scorponok, attacks an Air Force base to draw out the Autobots who respond despite their limited ranks. This allows the Race Car Patrol to sneak in, using the equipment to trick Ratchet into thinking his nightmare has become real but even though the medic has come to terms with the fact that it isn’t his fault, he’s still willing to die rather than further damage his patients. So the Race Car Patrol tries a different plan by saying they’re Autobots here to take him back to Cybertron for a new machine to help repair his patients. Ratchet brings Jazz, Goldbug, and Grimlock’s bodies with him hoping to repair them. But waiting on the other side is the Decepticon Micromasters’ true leader….Megatron!
What they got right: I’m going to be giving Furman heck and a half in reviews to come. However, this wasn’t a bad story. The twist (which I still have fault with as you’ll see in a moment) is legitimately a surprise (and almost nobody stays dead in comics) and Ratchet’s issues with being unable to fix all of his patients is something we’ve seen before, as is the notion of Transformers dreaming.
What they got wrong: The Action Masters are a long ways away so why is Megatron back now? Also, the art has nose-dived since previous issues. Yomtov is the only member of the art team still in this comic (and he will be the only colorist for the whole series) but the art just doesn’t have the life of the previous main team’s work.
Other notes: I don’t know how much contact Furman and Budiansky had prior to this issue but last issue there’s a moment that suggested the Air Strike Patrol wasn’t here for Zarak’s benefit and we’ll see more proof of that next issue. I wonder if Furman asked him to put that in or if he’s continuing an idea Budiansky had? I believe (and someone can correct me if I’m wrong) that Budiansky recommended Furman, who at the time had been doing original stories for the UK comic and he’ll bring elements of what he did there here, some of which I’m really not a fan of. (Creation Matrix, but I’ve written about that already.
Recommendation: The first batch of issues (I’d say up to the end of “Matrix Quest” are actually decent Furman stories so that alone is worth a look, to see what happens when he does something interesting with the Transformers. It won’t last and I have issues with his version of the Creation Matrix, but at least this is fairly decent.