The Transformers #61
Marvel Comics (Mid-December, 1989)“Primal Scream” WRITER: Simon Furman ARTIST: Geoff Senior COLORIST: Nel Yomtov LETTERER: Jim Massara EDITOR: Don Daley
Deep in the center of Cybertron, the Classic Pretenders and Micromaster Rescue Patrol are face to face (literally) with Primus, creator of the Transformers. His guardian tells to the story of how Primus was a god of light out to destroy the last evil god, Unicron, a battle that led to them being merged with asteroids. Primus figured out how to shape his prison into a planet and realizing Unicron would do the same created robots to someday fight Unicron. Thanks to the war Primus is sleeping so that Unicron doesn’t find them before they’re ready to deal with him. That’s when Bludgeon, Octopunch, and Stranglehold find them and in the ensuing battle Primus is awakens, and Unicron hears his psychic scream. The other Autobots are able to finish the teleportation of the group to Earth where they need to warn Optimus of the one thing that can stop Unicron: the Creation Matrix!
This is about the time that Furman’s flaws are becoming clearer. Furman has said that at the time he really didn’t want to write this comic and hoped he’d get something like X-Men. (He did get Alpha Flight for a while and I wish I remember which website showed how poorly that went.) I’ve written in length the problems I have with both Furman’s origin for the Transformers and his alterations of the Creation Matrix into the Matrix Of Leadership so I won’t go into them here. I said that the Primus origin made the Transformers less like living robots and more like humans with metal skin. It feels that way here, too, especially with the Pretenders shells being used more often than not. For some odd reason this doesn’t include Starscream. In fact, I believe last issue was the last appearance of Starscream’s shell even though that shell’s boosting of his strength is one of the reasons Scorponok claims he’s keeping him around until they finally get backup from Cybertron. You can tell Furman doesn’t want to play by the rules set up previously, which always bugs me, but what he gives us kind of weakens the Transformers in my eyes as characters and concept. They’re no different from organic beings rather than forming their own identity as robotic lifeforms.
The upcoming “Matrix Quest” had some interesting stories and will probably be the last time I praise Furman’s work until we get to Dreamwave and the first War Within miniseries. I think most of the problems I have with Furman’s take on the Transformers starts with this issue so it’s hard to recommend. Yet it’s place in Transformers history and lore demand I do.