Thursday, 7 February 2019

TRANSFORMERS INSTAGRAM: MONTH #17 of 77

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These were definitely exciting times for UK Transformers fans back in January 1987.  Not only was the animated movie still in cinemas and a raft of new toys released for Christmas or announced for the year ahead, we also had a multitude of additional comic books and specials released over the past couple of months and now Marvel's weekly was about to hit its landmark 100th issue.  Don't get too excited yet though, as we get right up to issue 99 before the month ends.  Damn you January!  But that's not to say we didn't have a wealth of brilliant content to warm the cockles after the Christmas decorations came down and we all had to go back to school.  Or, in 2019, after the Christmas decorations came down and we had that lengthy wait for the January pay check.


We start with the end of a fun diversion in the US story, then it's straight on to the build up to the centenary issue, focussing heavily on Optimus Prime himself and showing off how well-rounded he's become, especially in the capable hands of writer Simon Furman.  I don't think it's a coincidence the movie interpretation of the Autobot leader is very similar to the one from the original comic series, rather than the one portrayed in the cartoon.

Add to this the addition of the first appearance in the UK of a certain Marvel US series, before the release of their own comic and things are hotting up.  It looks like this is going to be a very good year indeed.  So let's get after it.

ISSUE 95
3rd January 1987


#95: 32 years ago the first Transformers comic from 1987 from Marvel UK hit the shelves, continuing the story of the Decepticon Battlechargers, Runabout and Runamuck.  The toys could be pulled back in their car mode, let go and they'd go racing across the floor for a few seconds before automatically springing up and transforming.  They were fun additions to the toy range and that's been translated into fun and 'naughty', rather than evil, characters.

More serious is Circuit Breaker as she cannibalises the bodies of Autobots she's captured to create this giant thing to fight the Decepticons.  Seems a bit extreme to stop a graffiti problem!  But the heroic Autobots agreed and even though she's in control they still manage to sow a little doubt in her head.  Her character development is deliberately slow and little moments like this were savoured by fans.


Spitfire and the Troubleshooters continue into their third tale and it's all getting rather good, plus who remembers these pasta shapes from Heinz that came in little spaceship and UFO varieties?  They really did create fan clubs out of anything back in the 80s.

Cover by Herb Trimpe
Decepticon Graffiti!: Part Two pencils by Don Perlin, inks by Ian Akin and Brian Garvey, colours by Nel Yomtov
Spitfire and the Troubleshooters!: Counter Attack pencils by Ron Wagner, inks by Danny Bulandi and colours by George Roussos

ISSUE 96
10th January 1987


#96: 32 years ago the countdown to issue 100 of Transformers UK began in earnest.  Prey is a fondly remembered classic and I can see why, featuring all three powerful leaders (and wannabe leaders), Optimus Prime, Megatron and Shockwave all going through some defining moments in their own way.  Will Simpson has a great knack for action or a good pose and doesn't hold back with either for any of the key characters.


I remember the Predacons from later issues, so I'm enjoying their introduction here, while elsewhere The Transformers: The Movie merchandise shows no signs of cooling off yet. In Spitfire and the Troubleshooters things take a somewhat gruesome turn for a kid's comic with a laser weapon or two, all wrapped up in a lovely Jeff Anderson cover. What more could you want?

Cover by Jeff Anderson
Prey!: Part One pencils by Will Simpson, inks by Tim Perkins and colours by Steve White
Spitfire and the Troubleshooters!: Counter Attack pencils by Ron Wagner, inks by Danny Bulandi and colours by George Roussos

ISSUE 97
17th January 1987


#97: You know you're in for a treat when it's a Geoff Senior cover!  Certainly true 32 years ago with this beauty.  The Predacons make quite the impact both on the cover and inside, where they have Optimus Prime on the run and it looks like "job done" on the cliffhanger page!


More new Transformers are introduced thanks to Lew Stringer too, of sorts.  Having one named 'John' is just as funny as his actual 'abilities'.  Then in the backup strip it appears Spitfire isn't exactly making friends or influencing people!  Top notch stuff from cover to cover.  Again.  Plus a little explanation of the time travel in Target:2006, Grimlock style.

Cover by Geoff Senior
Prey!: Part Two art by Jeff Anderson and colours by Steve White
Robo-Capers by Lew Stringer
Spitfire and the Troubleshooters!: Counter Attack pencils by Ron Wagner, inks by Danny Bulandi and colours by George Roussos

ISSUE 98
24th January


#98: Another week, another issue and we're suddenly transported to Cybertron and on a completely metallic world there's no better artist for the job!  Also, I must say Annie Halfacree's lettering brings a lovely sense of dread here too.  Spectacular stuff.

Lord Straxus returns in the form I remember him as from my childhood and Optimus Prime really isn't enjoying his trip back home!


The countdown to issue 100 continues, though Spitfire and the Troubleshooters just seems to abruptly end (complete with a badly edited final panel in an attempt to remove the cliffhanger) but look who's about to appear!

Cover by Phil Gascoine
...The Harder They Die! art by Geoff Senior with colours by Steve White, lettering by Annie Halfacree
Spitfire and the Troubleshooters!: Counter Attack pencils by Ron Wagner, inks by Danny Bulandi and colours by George Roussos

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHT:
@regulon_four - "Haha love that cover.  Look how happy ol' Megs Is 😁"

ISSUE 99
31st January 1987


#99: When this issue was released Transformers fans in the UK were gearing up for issue 100 with a full page of hype (below)!  First, Optimus Prime shows why he's such a beloved character to this day.  Not just a fearsome warrior but a fallible leader, full of compassion and guilt.  Fans of the movies will be familiar with this multifaceted character and it's great to see he was just the same in the original comic.


But for me personally the main event here is the very first Marvel G.I. Joe strip to ever see print in the UK.  Under the name Action Force this was our introduction to these characters and they made a big impact.  Their comic was on its way and the first issue was to come with a unique free gift: issue 2!

Cover by Lee Sullivan
Under Fire! art by Jeff Anderson, colours by Steve White
Action Force: Improvisation on a Theme pencils by Rod Whigham, inks by Andy Mushynsky and colours by George Roussos

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHTS:
@regulon_four - "This is all well 'n' good, but where is your badge?! 😂😂"
@theoinkblog - "Apologies but this eBay purchase came without its thick sticker... oh ahem, I mean "badge"."
@neo_tokyo7020 - "ROBBED!! 😸"
@regulon_four - "👍😂"
@timotron1 - "It's amazing the feelings seeing this brings back.  It's almost like seeing it for the first time.  These comics meant so much to me growing up."
@theoinkblog - "Glad you're enjoying it 😀.  Hope you stick around until I finish... in 2014!"


What a month, but boy are there some spectacular months to come.  1987 was a big year for the comic, but I won't spoil any of it for those seeing these physical issues for the first time, nor do I want to spoil it for those taking a long-forgotten trip down memory lane with me.  Remember, you can follow along here on the blog on the first Thursday of every month for the foreseeable future, or you can live/relive the comic in real time on social media.

Each and every Thursday the comics will pop up in the blog's Instagram feed; each issue's space above in this blog post is the Instagram entry for that week.  You don't have to sign up to the platform either, just visit the blog's profile (click on the camera icon above) and you'll see each issue there as they appear.  Of course, if you do have an account you'll see the photos pop up on your own timeline every week.  Alternatively, on the blog's Twitter I'll throw up a couple of the photos and a link to the full Instagram post (Twitter is obviously far more restrictive in the amount of wittering on I can do) so you can follow along that way if you prefer.

If you can't wait for that big issue 100, it's posing right now for my camera on the Instagram account as of the day of writing this post.


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