Thursday, July 5, 2012
On the Coffee Table: Transformers Classics
Title: The Transformers Classics, Vol. 1
Image via Entertainment Earth
It's official: the Transformers are my new guilty pleasure. I blame Zander Cannon. I read his Bumblebee series, half-expecting not to like it but then I did. So, I went back to read the original Marvel comic series from the beginning. My Wife was mystified by my purchase. But it's really good. I realize it all started as merely a toy promotion concept but the writers managed to create a compelling mythology for these funky robots.
Marvel launched The Transformers comic series in September 1984, the same year Hasbro launched the toy franchise, having bought the distribution rights from the Japanese company Takara. Marvel and Hasbro had joined forces for a similar and extremely lucrative venture with G.I. Joe just a couple of years before. What was originally supposed to be a four-issue series became 80. The story is alive and well today, rights currently held by IDW.
The Transformers Classics, Vol. 1 includes the first 13 issues of the original series. I've been trying to work out what is so satisfying about the story for me. Part of it, I have to accept, is my curiosity about the toys. I never had a Transformer, as discussed in the Bumblebee post. Also, having fully immersed myself in the early Silver Age Marvels recently, I'm ready for something different. Longer story arcs, in particular, are a welcome change at this point.
However, I need more than physical trappings to hold my interest for 13 issues and, dare I say it, beyond. Marvel's great strength is character development and the creative staff must have been very excited to have a whole new box of toys to play with (pun intended). Distinct personalities emerged quickly to inhabit Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron, Shockwave, Ratchet and all the others. Intrigue in the enemy camp is always good for plot development so the Megatron/Shockwave rivalry in particular is a lot of fun. Human characters are introduced along the way, too, each helping to move the narrative forward.
Spider-Man makes an appearance in issue #3, officially incorporating the Transformers into the broader Marvel universe. The writers found clever ways to introduce new toy lines such as the Dinobots and the Constructicons. How handy that Marvel already had a prehistoric fantasy world in Antarctica ready for the emergence of the former!
So, I'm definitely up for more. Volume 2 is on the to-read list. The movie's already on the Netflix queue. Who knows? Maybe I'll even give the old TV show a try. Perhaps I'll even keep an eye out for the toys...