Originally two unconnected Japanese two lines, its owners Hasbro came to Marvel in 1983 hoping to replicate the success of G.I. Joe and have comic creators fashion distinct characters, personalities and an over-arching storyarc to a group of plastic transforming robot toys. Together, Jim Shooter, Dennis O’Neil, Bob Budiansky created what has become the key tenants, characters and conflicts we see now in comics, movies, video games, and yes, toys.
In this week’s Where Do I Start?, we look at the menagerie of Transformers comics released in the 28 years from Marvel to Dreamwave and IDW. Now let’s transform and roll out!
The Transformers Classics Vol. 1: This is the beginning, and what a beginning it is. After some missteps in the first four issues, writer/editor Bob Budiansky took charge and took these robots in disguise to great heights as it developed a layered story sense with shifting loyalties, complex back-and-forths and great characterization. This edition collects the first thirteen issues of the “Generation 1″ series, and is a must-have for any Transformers fan, especially fans of Ratchet.
Classic The Transformers, Vol. 5: Just a few issues into it, and writer Simon Furman already started firing on all cylinders with the epic “Matrix Quest” storyarc collected in this edition. Furman brings the Matrix into the forefront, as well as planting the seeds for the inevitable face-off with the planet-sized Unicron.
The Transformers: War Within Omnibus: Although as a whole the Dreamwave era of Transformers was more miss than hit, this far-reaching storyline worked as a prequel to the Autobot and Decepticon struggle on Earth, showing the civil war on Cybertron with tons of backstory. This might not be the first Transformers comic you should read, but it’s in effect the secret origin of the Transformers as we know it.
The Transformers: Last Stand Of The Wreckers: A group of Transformers as a special ops team going behind enemy lines? Sign me up. Writer/artist Nick Roche and co-writer James Robert jump on board and do one of the most violent robot-on-robot action Transformers have ever seen. As the wreckers go after a Decepticon prison, the Autobot team is really broken down as a characters and people, despite their metallic exterior.
The Transformers: The IDW Collection Vol. 1: After the mishandling of Transformers by Dreamwave, IDW’s takeover of the comics line signaled the beginning of a new golden age for this storied concept. This immense book collects the first fifteen Transformers comics IDW published, the Infiltration and Megatron Origin miniseries to five one-off spotlight issues. It provides a more nuanced take on these colorful alien robots, and really shows how the key characters tick.