Many moons ago we looked at The Commandrons, a line of toys from Tomy sold through of all places McDonald’s. (I think they were called “Super Alternators” in Canada and sold through stores.) They came with mini-comics by DC Comics, who apparently learned their lesson after the Mysterians and dropped the good versus evil bit entirely. Instead the Commandrons are created on the planet Havon to operates as robotic rescue heroes and teamed with four kids (because of course they’re kids…it was the 1980s) to help people in trouble. They were the Rescue Bots before Transformers: Rescue Bots.
Initially all I could find was one single issue, #2 in the series, before learning all four were available through the Internet Archive. So now we get to go back to the first issue and see how it all began.
McDonald’s/DC Comics (1985)
Unfortunately there are no credits given. It’s kind of a shame the more fun comic company at the time didn’t have more writers and artists willing to do promotional comics and make them good. We’ve seen with MASK, Atari Force, and Masters Of The Universe that it was quite possible. So let’s get into the story. Read along with me.
Our story opens with the end. Or at least the end for one of a group of scientists. Havon, we’re told, has been dealing with a series of natural disasters, and if they’ve heard of Krypton they know something should be done about it. However, three scientists leave, convinced their new project, vehicles with human intelligence has failed, despite the lead, Doctor Wu, convinced it’s a success. Why are the others so convinced it’s a failure? Because they’re speaking their own mechanical language. I guess they’re too lazy to teach them proper…Havonese? Doctor Wu convinces them to stay for dinner and bring their kids, which the mouthier protestor, Dr. Jans, is confused by. Why, are you against having a meal with your kids? I’m starting to not like this guy. He’s calling a project a failure because he can’t program a language and now wants his kids to starve. I’m guessing they’re right there at the lab.
Not surprisingly the kids want to see these robot vehicles they’re talking about and sneak into the lab, because they’re kids in the 1980s and they’re the same no matter what planet you’re on. They’re going to involve themselves. They find out that the vehicles are also able to assume a humanoid robotic form and can now speak the local lingo, which for some reason Wu wants to keep a secret from the other scientists. He also wants the kids to teach them about life on Havon…despite them learning about life themselves because they’re, you know, kids. At least when the GoBots asked for Pete and Nancy’s help in learning about Earth and keeping them a secret it was due to circumstances. This just seems irresponsible. Ah well, it worked out for Gigantor. He also gives them “synthe-wands” that can drain power to recharge the robots, which also seems like a bad idea depending on the situation. There are so many ways this could go wrong.
The next night, when training is supposed to begin the kids decide to give the Commandrons a little extra color. It will help them sell better after all. It’s really just blue with some red highlights but this isn’t a toy review. The Commandrons also meet Coco, Deb’s unicorn cat thing, which leads to the kids taking them to the “Zoodrone” to teach them about animals. Now, you’re not going to believe this, but four giant robots are scary to the animals and they go on a stampede. That’s so weird, right? Animals are known for being so calm and rational. While Velocitor comes up with a plan to stop some of the stampeding animals a few others destroy a huge power cable and cuts all the power to the city of Metroplex. (No, not that guy.) You’d think they would have buried the lone cable that sends power to your city a bit further down, but this isn’t in the trench Velocitor makes and the animals didn’t fall into it because they were alerted to it and stopped, which was the plan. So somebody at the power company is going to be in a lot of trouble come the morning.
The problem is surprisingly easy to solve. Velocitor continues to get his MVP award by shoving the two halves of the cable together, the sparks heating up the wires so they fuse back together…because science used to work that way. You kids today missed out on that. With the damaged they caused fixed the Commandrons and the kids take off, surprising the zookeeper and getting mentioned in the paper for the fixing and not the causing. Good PR is everything I guess. Meanwhile, a man reads the paper himself and thinks how great it would be if he had the robots. This is our series villain, but we won’t properly meet him until the next issue, which I already reviewed.
As a debut it’s…not terrible. The characters are named but you don’t learn anything about them except that the girl has a pet and the robots weren’t programmed to know what animals are. The robots save the day but they were the ones who screwed it up in the first place. Dr. Wu’s decision making is…up for debate, but it’s not like his lazy colleague was any better. Overall it was a mixed bag really. It’s wasn’t bad but it wasn’t all that great, either. In the future we’ll tackle the other two issues.
Next time I do one of these however we return to Etheria to begin series 2 of Princess Of Power. Let’s see if He-Man’s sister is still into turning everyone into butterflies.