It’s been a fortnight (well, a fortnight and 35 years) since the first issue of the Marvel UK Transformers comic was published. In that time, children up and down the country have been showing their new favourite comic to friends and family telling them how good it is and making sure they’ve got 25p kept aside in a secure place for issue 2. I mean, I’m guessing.
The second issue of Transformers is pretty much more of the same but with one distinction: half of it is now in black and white instead of full-colour! I’m sure a lot of kids (and more likely their parents or grandparents) are somewhat peeved. No matter, there’s a free gift inside and a chance to win a Decepticon plane.
The robots have landed!
The cover, painted by John Ridgway, to issue 2 is quite the contrast to the first issue… it’s not at all violent but instead evokes a kind of sinister, almost War of the Worlds like, quality: aliens emerging from a vessel from outer spaaace.
As with last issue, the designs are based directly on the toys. There’s Jazz, Hound, and Mirage, with Huffer and Brawn in the background. The cover blurb refers to them as robots (who have landed) and that the metal invasion has indeed begun. But these are the “heroic” Autobots so I’m getting some mixed messages here.
The Autobots seem to have landed right in the middle of a Famous Five-esque caper and we have two young boys hiding behind an extremely phallic rock formation (get your hand off that, Dick!!)* while a little girl is more interested in her doll than the five heavily armed alien robots.
(*That’s a clever little Famous Five reference for you there.)
Among the various robot-themed editorial in this issue’s “Openers” spread is an advert for a transforming Robot Watch. This is in fact a knock off of an actual Takara product, from their Kronoform line. I think most of my friends at school had one of these. I had one, too. Mine was blue and I pretended it was Frenzy. (Similarly I had one of the pencil sharpeners that inadvertently looked like K-9 from Doctor Who, which I pretended was Ravage.)
And the *same* Space Olympics book give-away that was featured last issue is included again. The Marvel UK offices must have been full of them!
The Transformers, Part 2
Transformers 2 reprints the rest of Marvel (US)’s first Transformers comic story “The Transformers” in part black and white, and with two of its pages repurposed into a centre-spread wall chart.
I am a fan of black and white comic strips and while younger me would probably have been disappointed by the lack of colour, I can appreciate it here. It’s subtle but the inking is heavier on Skywarp, distinguishing him from Starscream and Thundercracker. Frenzy and Rumble are, well, colourless and neither red nor blue.
The entire (current) Decepticon cast is given a lengthy roll call and, at last, readers now know who’s who. There is supposed to be a similar spread for the Autobots but that has been removed from the comic story and moved to the centre pages as a full colour wall chart. It’s been replaced with, “Their exit does not go unnoticed… the Autobots, too, have risen”. Though I’m pretty sure any intelligent reader will realise that the wall chart should be slotted between those pages!
Win your own Decepticon plane
To provide balance to last issue’s competition to win Jazz, this issue has one to win one of the Decepticon planes… Starscream, Thundercracker or Skywarp. It looks like Thundercracker who is pictured but it’s actually the blue Diaclone “Jetrobo”.
The competition closed on Friday 19th October 1984, so you’ve just missed your chance I’m afraid.
As with last issue, Transformers continues to be a general robot magazine (outside of the main comic strip story and competition) and features a second “Robot Roundup” article, and a Doctor Who article about the robots that have appeared in the television series.
Readers are probably wondering at this point if there will ever be a Transformers television series. A Thunderbirds style show using detailed models of the characters along with cool pyrotechnics and special effects, perhaps?
All robots now accounted for
While the first issue only actually named six of the first year’s worth of Transformers toys/character, readers (and potential Hasbro customers) now know the entire cast by the time they’ve read issue 2.
Sure, the second part of “The Transformers” lays the character naming on thick but any reader getting into Transformers for the first time would certainly find it essential. I know I would have done.
I’m embarrassed to admit this but I thought Wheeljack was Jazz for nearly a year! My next door neighbour gave me Wheeljack (with no packaging or weapons) in exchange for some Matchbox cars in early 1985. My knowledge of Transformers was very limited at that point and I just figured that the “white racing car with numbers on it” was Jazz. It wasn’t until the end of that year when a schoolmate came to visit with Mirage in tow, and saw the “Jazz” I said I had, that I was joylessly corrected. (Kinda like some of the interactions I have on Twitter.)
Thank goodness that in the intervening 35 years we now have things like the TFWiki to help use recognise our Jazzes from our Wheeljacks!
May your luster never dull, and your wires never cross.
— Graham (@grhmthmsn)
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