Marvel Comics Group (February, 1985)
WRITER: Louise Simonson
PENCILER: Michael Chen
INKERS: Akin & Garvey
COLORIST: J. Ferriter
LETTERER: Joe Rosen
EDITOR: Ann Nocenti
The Destructors arrive at Battlestation, but they’re even more divided about killing off man, with some wanting to protect their creators and others agreeing with Slaughter to keep Earth for themselves. Stinger used a trap to drop Deadeye into a pit as Auntie Tank decides to be on man’s side, bringing some other Destructors with her to join the Protectors. Just before this Sawtooth is restored but Hot Shot couldn’t bring himself to do it, deciding to hate all Destructors due to Geo’s death as well as other Protectors. They also leave Motormouth to his fate, Sawtooth having to cast the deciding vote when the remaining Protectors are tied on restoring him or not. The Destructors that join Auntie Tank change his mind and now both groups battle Slaughter’s group. Deadeye goes while when Cricket is destroyed in the battle. Hot Shot gets into the base thanks to Stinger’s joining the battle, using the station’s weaponry to finish off Deadeye. The heroes win and Slaughter returns to the city for back-up as the heroic Starriors are restored by the station’s repair systems, Nipper even regaining her love for Tinker after he took a shot that would have hit her. They find and awaken the humans and together they plan to restore the world together, and prepare in case Slaughter Steelgrave comes back for war.
What they got right: There’s a lot here. There’s action, character arcs completing like Nipper’s restored memory and Cut-Up finally being able to fight back, and it’s not just reduced to Protectors versus Destructors. Some of the Destructors remember their loyalty to their creators and switch sides. It’s not just reduced to “this side good, this side evil”. It’s a nice bit of nuance that benefits the story itself.
What they got wrong: Of course you could make the case that this being a promo comic for a toyline, and seeing Marvel’s success with the similar-themed The Transformers more issues could have been made, this throws off the concept of Protectors vs. Destructors that was the toyline’s story. Some of the good guy toys are evil, some become good, some get destroyed or left to die by the heroes (which feels off for a hero–I would had him rebuilt but exiled) and that’s an odd way to sell the toys. Yes, it works for the story but not for what it’s supposed to be doing, and probably contradicts the mini-comics. We’ll explore that in future installments of Free Comic Inside
What I think overall: Stories like this are why I don’t subscribe to the belief that being a promo comic to sell toys means the story sucks. Remember, making the story good will push the toys, so it helps to have a writer who will take an idea no matter who thought of it and make a good story out of it the same as he or she would with a story idea created by someone on the comic staff with comics in mind. Somebody still came up with the concept, the lore, and the characters no matter why they did it. If you have something good to work with you get a good miniseries like this. If you didn’t know it was a toyline, and given how short-lived the line was that’s highly possible, all you see are construction and combat robots vying for supremacy and the future of their creators. While the toy line will ask you to promote this figure or that vehicle or the playset, that’s how you approach the story, just the same as you would any other concept you didn’t create but were put in charge of. That’s what makes this a story worth reading.