The final of my retro, retro reviews is the 5th volume of the Transformers Classics series. The original Transformers series was definitely a lot of fun and I’ll miss it. There are still a few more volumes to go before the series is concluded, but it could be a long time until I read volume 6. As always, the Autobots are in a pretty bad spot in this volume. Their numbers have diminished while there always seem to be more Decepticons on the loose. It’s a pretty fun collection with some solid stories.
There are many stories featured in this collection and while Transformers has always done pretty well with keeping a strict continuity in place, we also get some issues that don’t really add to the plot. They’re still entertaining though so it’s not a huge loss. Most of the others do have reprucussions that directly affect future comics as well so you really want to stay sharp as you read through them. I shall briefly give a synopsis for several of the comics included.
The first comic follows good ole Spike as he hikes up a mountain. He doesn’t want to be a Transformer anymore and he’s rejected that way of life to be a normal person once more. Unfortunately, Decepticons show up and Spike’s friend is put in danger. Can Spike really risk their lives just because he doesn’t feel up to the task at the moment? It’s time for Spike to make a choice! I can’t say that I cared for Spike in this issue since he should always be ready for a fight and heroes have no time to worry about being normal. It’s a tough world out there and they need to stay alert. The next comic was a pretty big change in tone as a few Autobots head into an amazonian lair. They were using their humanoid mirages so the Amazons thought that they were not human. Men are not allowed of course, but the Autobot passes the test to prove that he is worthy. Unfortunately, he then lets them know that he’s not human and he basically loses his head during the discussion. Is this really a safe refuge for the heroes? The concept of that comic was pretty intriguing, but it didn’t really have a lot of action so it wasn’t one of the best ones.
The next issue was probably the best one in the collection or it definitely ranks up there at the very least. A few of the Autobots quit the group and decide to strike out on their own. Roadhandler is challenged to a wrestling match and he obliges. He doesn’t want to throw the fight so he wins and then he proceeds to keep on winning the matches. He gets a pretty large following, but then the Decepticons come over to town. They kidnap the fans so that Roadhandler will have to throw the fight against one of them. It’s a diabolical plan, but it;s definitely an effective one. I know that Wrestling fans won’t like the fact that Wrestling is supposed to be fake in this comic, but the battles are still fun and I’m glad that Roadhandler didn’t throw the fight. All’s well that ends well and we even get a moral at the end of the comic. Not bad!
The next story is the meat of the collection as it’s a 4 parter. (Debatably, it could be said to be 5 parts since the issue afterwards deals with the aftermath) Ratchet is feeling guilty about the deaths of his comrades and he has not been able to fix them. A group of new Autobots tell Ratchet that they may have an idea on how to help so Ratchet follows them. He doesn’t contact any of the other Autobots to let them know where he was going and that turns out to be a pretty deadly mistake as the Autobots lead him to Megatron! It was a trap and Megatron intends to revive Starscream among others. Ratchet’s mistake may have ended the war.
Meanwhile, The fake Autobots lead the Autobots into a battle with Scorponok’s forces. Neither side is really in the mood, but it’s hard to exit such a battle once it has started. Both sides clash and Optimus Prime’s group definitely has the edge. Nontheless, Prime realizes that Megatron is up to something so both groups are forced to join forces. Prime is pretty upset about the whole thing and he’s not holding back any longer. The climatic battle against Megatron will resume once again!
One comic gives us the “true” origin of the Transformers. Primus and Unicron had an epic battle and Primus tricked Unicron into merging with a planet so that he wouldn’t be a threat anymore. The problem is that the plan worked a little too well and he also got trapped. Primus built some normal Transformers and that’s how things started. An energy blast hits him in the modern day and he wakes up…this could be tricky for the Transformers. There are a few stand alone issues after that where Autobots travel to various planets to try and find the Matrix, but it’s all for naught. Maybe it just cannot be found anymore.
Aside from the issues, one reason that I really like the Classics series is the fact that the volume does a good job of giving the reader a lot of extra info. Before each comic, we get a fun foreward by the author explaining details about the comic like what they were thinking when it was written or scenes that were cut out. Likewise, there is a lot of writing after each issue where each panel is discussed. It’s a very fun way to read the comics since you really get the maximum amount of enjoyment since you can safely say that you’ve seen the comic from every angle.
The art for the issues is pretty good. The Transformers Wiki typically has an error relating to the art in most of the issues, but it is easy to miss them so it’s all good. A few mixed up colors definitely won’t stop the rest of the collection from looking good and I really miss some of these designs. Bumblebee’s has changed for the better, but the rest of the fighters have never really looked as good as the G1 designs.
One thing that I did find interesting was the use of the “Fake Autobots.” I believe that they called these Decepticons “Pretenders” and it’s an apt description. It’s really a brilliant move on their part and I’m surprised that it hasn’t been tried before. Switching emblems is likely difficult, but I’m sure that it would be easy for Shockwave to invent something to make it possible. The plan worked and the only oversight was that the Decepticons should have expected Prime to quickly take down Scorponok and then put a wrench in the plans. If there were more Decepticons then it would have definitely been a pretty crushing win. I would like to see more robots use this tactic in the future since it could make for a pretty great plot. Especially in the newer comics since there are so many fighters on either
Just about all of the characters were pretty solid. Ratchet was a lot better than usual and Megatron/Optimus Prime are always great characters. The rest of the Autobots and Decepticons were decent and they played their roles well. I can’t say that I really cared for Spike since he really didn’t make the right calls as quickly as he should have. Trying to leave the Transformers just isn’t that responsible when you are the leader of a team.
Overall, This was a solid addition to the Transformers Classics series. We got to Megatron return to fight the good fight and the 4 part epic with Ratchet was pretty exciting. The wrestling issue is an example of a great story that may not work quite as well in the modern comics. It was played seriously and yet it felt like a parody from the start. I highly recommend checking out this comic if you’re a Transformers fan or if you just want some action. It will be a little tougher to really get into the volume if you’ve never read Transformers before, but you have to start somewhere right? We are definitely reaching the climax and it appears that Unicron will definitely be joining the action in the next volume. That definitely sounds fun!