Transformers The Animated Movie #1
IDW Publishing (October, 2006)
“The Gathering Storm”
WRITER: Bob Budiansky
ARTIST: Don Figueroa
COLORIST: Josh Burcham
LETTERER: Robbie Robbins
DESIGNER/LETTERER: Neil Uyetake
EDITOR: Chris Ryall
For the release of the 20th anniversary edition by Sony BMG (the third distributor of the classic series in the US, Family Home Entertainment being the first and Rhino the second, plus a different company for other countries–Shout Factory currently does it for the US) IDW released a new adaptation of Transformers: The Movie. Sadly it’s the only Transformers comic Budiansky has done for IDW. I mean, the guy practically created the Transformers, taking the initial story ideas, creating most of the name, writing pretty much all the tech specs, writing or editing a huge chunk of the comics for Marvel, and all IDW has him do is a crummy movie adaptation? For shame, guys!
Here’s what I’ve decided to do. I’m going to review this comic like I did the Marvel one. I’ll go back and forth between reposts or remakes of the Marvel review, comparing the two adaptations even though this one ends sooner in the story (Optimus on his death bed but not yet dead) and I think there were at least four issues of the IDW adaptation versus Marvel’s three. But what’s fascinating to me are the changes more than the movie I already own on DVD (I have the aforementioned 20th anniversary edition, but now there’s a 25th by Shout Factor).
So what’s different in the IDW version? Visually it’s closer to the cartoon without Figueroa just tracing screencaps. He adds his, for lack of a better term, camera work to the piece that’s a lot livelier than Marvel’s. That doesn’t surprise me after seeing him draw in the G1 cartoon style for his Macromasters fancomic, which I’ve reviewed in the past. and sadly I can’t find the comic online as the previous host has disappeared. There are scenes here that look more like they did in the movie. For example the prologue where Unicron goes after Lithone includes Arbulus bringing the vials of whatever to Kranix just before Unicron attacks. We don’t get to see the robo kids playing though. And Kranix uses a spaceship rather than turning into one, also in line with the movie. However, Budiansky adds dialog that wasn’t in the scene and I’m not sure was necessary. There’s also narration at times throughout the issue that the images could pull off just fine without it. I’m a defender of the old narration captions but not when it’s unnecessary to move things along that takes too long in images alone.
The next change comes during the shuttle battle, which is still not as gruesome as in the movie, but does have the part where Ironhide is shot point blank overkill in the head (and a good chunk of his body presumably) by Megatron’s fusion cannon. Hot Rod and Daniel see the Decepticons in the shuttle before it lands (mistakenly referred to as Autobot City when they’re actually outside of it on Lookout Mountain) and Hot Rod fires at it. They also include the part where Hot Rod buzzes Kup and Huffer on their way to the lookout, which shows a bit more of Hot Rod’s character. During the battle for Autobot City we even get the bickering/unrealized flirtation between Arcee and Hot Rod that was missing in the Marvel adaptation (and sadly the series as they paired her off with Springer for some reason). Another added scene is Blaster calling for help and being attacked by Soundwave’s Recordicons, breaking out his own Audiobots (the former name is semi-canon, the latter I’m still working to make fancanon at least) to show off the new toys.
Possibly the most interesting change from the Marvel adaptation is the inclusion of Hot Rod’s interference in the Optimus Prime/Megatron fight. As I said last week, the Marvel exclusion shows how unnecessary Hot Rod’s interference actually is, and as I think about it now even moreso. I could see if there were moments referring to that, making it part of Hot Rod’s growth into becoming Rodimus Prime but it’s never brought up again ever, except by fans of Optimus who use it against Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime. There really is no need for this moment being added to the fight as it just makes Hot Rod look like a moron who gets Optimus killed when his exclusion takes nothing from his character development due to the writers failing to capitalize on it, and makes him look worse to the kids about to see a childhood hero die, and a lot of kids were put off by that back in the day, a backlash ensuing that led to Optimus’ return to the show and later to the toyline as a Powermaster.
The comic itself also makes a couple of errors where the word balloons are pointing to the wrong character. For example, Perceptor is asking himself to translate Blurr’s big words when it should be Ultra Magnus asking for the translation as it was in the movie. Springer gives the short version in both, but later Hot Rod is saying Optimus’ wounds are fatal instead of Perceptor.
If the Marvel adaptation has the benefit of an earlier script to work from, what does this one have compared to just owning the DVD or Blu-Ray and calling it good? Honestly not much. It’s a good looking comic and a closer adaptation to the final movie, but beyond that there really isn’t much to offer unless you like the option of reading it. There are no official comics besides this and one episode adaptation from the cartoon universe and no official stories are made in that continuity anymore. It’s still neat to have I guess. Next week a repost or remake of the review of the second Marvel adaptation before returning to the IDW version in two weeks to continue the comparison.