Transformers: The Movie #1
Marvel (December, 1986)“The Planet Eater!” ADAPTATION: Ralph Macchio BREAKDOWNS: Don Perlin FINISHES: Ian Akin & Brian Garvey COLORIST: Nel Yomtov LETTERER: Janice Chaing EDITOR: Bob Budiansky
Adapting the first part of the movie, Unicron consumes the mechanical lifeform world of Lithone and sets his sights next on Cybertron. It is the year 2005 and the Decepticons now rule the planet, with the Autobots observing from bases on the two moons and using Autobot City on Earth as their main base of operations. Optimus sends Ironhide, Ratchet, Prowl, and Brawn to Earth to get enough Energon to launch an assault, but Megatron learns of the trip and takes control of the shuttle, killing the quartet in the process. On Earth, we meet some new characters who become pivotal to the story–Hot Rod, Daniel, Perceptor (okay, he’s not actually new), Ultra Magnus, Springer, Kup, and Arcee. Hot Rod and Daniel see the Decepticons coming from the shuttle and race to warn Autobot City but they’re already aware and transform the city. Devastator lives up to his name, but Optimus arrives with the Dinobots, who get taken out by Devastator. Optimus confronts Megatron and in the battle the Decepticon leader is badly damaged but Optimus, though winning the battle, dies.
Megatron and other damaged Decepticons are tossed out in a coup when Astrotrain complains about the weight (yes, we all catch that plothole) and they are drawn towards Unicron, who makes a deal with Megatron, giving him and the other Decepticons new names. Now stand Scourge and his huntsman, the Sweep, and Cyclonus, who becomes Galvatron’s ship. Galvatron is Megatron reborn, who agrees to fulfill his mission, crush the new Autobot leader, Ultra Magnus, and the Autobot Matrix Of Leadership, the only thing capable of stopping Unicron.
These next three Transformers reviews, namely the movie adaptation today and the other two issues next week, are less a review and more of an examination of the changes. While most of the important parts are there, the changes are interesting. I’ve seen test footage of the movie (it’s included with the 20th Anniversary Edition) so I know that’s where the altered Matrix of Leadership (later used in Furman’s Marvel run as an altered Creation Matrix) comes from, but there are other changes. Which ones have to do with an earlier draft of the script (necessary to match release times of the movie and adaptation) and which ones are a necessity of the panel space I couldn’t say.
For example, Unicron doesn’t munch down on a planet so much as release a mist that slowly breaks up the planet. Kranix (a robot that will come up again next issue) doesn’t leave in a spaceship but transforms into one. They were mechanical in the movie as well but that doesn’t mean they could transform and we never see anyone on Lithone transform. (The Transformers Universe final issue had a profile on Kranix and Arbulus, who doesn’t even make it past panel #2 or the first five minutes of the movie.) Laserbeak hides as a cassette tape in Autobot HQ. The biggest change, and one that really matters to Hot Rod’s character in the movie (and mocking by some fans) is that he doesn’t interfere in the battle between Optimus and Megatron, and yet Megatron still beats him the same way…and this time the gun isn’t really hidden by anything like it was in the movie, so Optimus should have had no problem seeing him reaching for it in the comic. People forget Hot Rod interfered for a reason, even if his action was kind of stupid. Doesn’t matter here. Finally, Cyclonus here turns into Galvatron’s ship where in the final film Galvatron has his own ship that we never see again. What happened to that ship, anyway?
IDW released a better, more accurate (and with better art) adaptation, written by Budiansky (still the only thing they gave the practical father of the Transformers Universe, since he worked on the tech specs and Transformers Universe, edited the early issues and wrote most of the later issues until Furman took over) that if you want the adaptation I would recommend. This is only interesting if you are curious about the changes. There will be more before the third issue is up.