This edition of Free Comic Inside was intended to be a return to the Dreamwave-produced Transformers Energon minicomics, the last one they made before Dreamwave shut down. However, a recent episode of Transformers: The Basics discussed Transformers media around the world, which sent me searching for some of that media. One item I came across was a giveaway minicomic produced by Milton Bradley in 1985, who distributed Transformers toys in areas that didn’t have a Hasbro or Takara presence in that part of Europe. Specifically there were versions in Dutch, German, and Spanish.
One of the Spanish versions was translated for the All-Spark Transformers forums by Miguelator 3, provided to the All-Spark forums by IvanSpeedy, translated by Spark, and had new lettering and touch-up art by David “Walky” Willis. You can read them through here but the image links to go Photobucket pages that I had to reload the page a time or two to get the image to come up right and this video came coming up about Oprah doing something with Renee Zellweger or something. I’ve put together a PDF for myself but I don’t know what the rights issues involved are and I don’t want to risk my site when the entertainment industry is already targeting the independent critic community. I have no creator credits to bring you but I can still show you the cover.
The comic opens with text setting up things. They only had eleven pages (including this one) to tell their story, the rest of the book being a catalog that wasn’t translated for this posting. (Perhaps in a later posting, but I’m only interested in the actual comic.) It told how the Autobots and Decepticons were at war and how the heroic Jetfire led a group of Autobots to deal with an asteroid belt that the orbitless planet was now heading for. Yes, I said Jetfire. Apparently when Milton Bradley started distributing the toys Optimus Prime wasn’t part of the first wave and needing a leader they chose Jetfire. It makes sense given he was one of the bigger toys and they weren’t going to make Blaster the leader. The other names dropped were Whirl, Roadbuster (or “Road Buster” according to the translation), and later the Dinobots would appear. For the Decepticons we have Megatron, who gets to be leader, Thrust, Dirge, and Soundwave. Apparently no matter what Megatron always starts out with a smaller crew.
The actual comic part of the comic begins with the Ark headed to Earth, like in the original Marvel stories only with Jetfire being the one who programmed the ship into a kamikaze run. Actually, you’ll probably notice a bunch of elements taken from the original Marvel miniseries (or intended miniseries). Cybertron being shoved out of orbit and heading for the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars? Also came from the Marvel stories. However, this time Megatron was prepared and orders Soundwave to jump out, presumably to track them down after they crashed. Sure enough history repeats itself and the Ark crashes into a volcano during prehistoric days and the crew are somehow all smashed to pieces. However, the ship’s computer detects Soundwave and creates the Dinobots to go and stop him. Again, this is like the Marvel miniseries, only with Soundwave standing in for Shockwave.
One thing I find fascinating given the personalities the Dinobots are usually given (either dumb as rocks or violent as Decepticons) is their shock at Soundwave killing the “poor creatures”. (Because Shockwave isn’t here to do it.) Also apparently Soundwave took on Shockwave’s power levels as well as his hatred of dinosaurs because he actually more powerful than all four because for some reason my favorite Dinobot Swoop is absent Dinobots combined! That’s just utterly ridiculous. They really are cribbing from the Marvel story arc, aren’t they? Only this time instead of Slag accidentally burying them all in a battle rage Grimlock come up with a plan to bury Soundwave to stop him from establishing a Decepticon base and sacrifices himself and his team in the process. (Ask IDW Grimlock how well that will go over.)
From then on it’s business as usual. Four million years later the volcano has a minor eruption and reactivates the computer, who turns everyone into local technology and the battle rages on.
I’m not sure why this named “In The Transformers”, although that could be a translation error. I’m guessing that’s what IDW’s collection called it when they reprinted the German version in their volume five collection of the UK comic. I haven’t seen it but if I understand the Transformers wiki correctly IDW left it untranslated, which seems kind of strange. Four ten pages at two panels a page it gets enough important details to get the kids interested in the world of the Transformers they want them to play in. There are some cribbed notes from the first four issues of the Marvel miniseries plotted early by Bill Mantlo and later Jim Salicrup, although the Dinobots vs Soundwave battle takes more cues from issue #8 by Bob Budiansky.
What I really like is that the few Transformers we get are drawn mostly like their toys (with possibly the exception of Megatron and Blitzwing’s head). I was disappointed when the cartoon didn’t look like the toy (which I was exposed to first before the cartoon came out, and then I learned about the comic after the cartoon came out, around issue #5, after they switched to the cartoon models) so unlike a lot of others I prefer to see the media look like the toys, even if it means Jetfire now looks like his original Macross/Robotech fighter jet version. He also gets to be in charge though I wonder if that changed when they finally did get Optimus Prime? (Actually, Optimus does show up from behind in that first battle scene. Interesting.) Whirl and Roadbuster never got to be in the already large show cast because their toys weren’t licensed from Takara (now Takara Tomy) and they didn’t want to promote their rivals when the show hit the islands, but they were part of the UK comics as members of the Wreckers. (Some toys still haven’t had media representation at all.) So seeing them here was also nice. I guess this was all about the first wave and these are all Milton Bradley brought over despite this being well into…what, wave 3, year two or something of the original Hasbro run? Something like that. And like the captions says, where is Blaster? He was listed in the text but doesn’t show up in the story, while Blitzwing has the right colors for a tank but not the right colors for him.
I don’t know if Milton Bradley released any more of these but if I find one I’ll add it to the review list. Next time however depends on what I can find. Going over my rotation list it should be one from the Aliens: Colonial Marines toyline but if I can’t find one by the next installment we’ll get back to whatever Atari Force is up to. Unless of course something else draws my attention, which has been done a few times recently.