Friday, 6 September 2019

TRANSFORMERS INSTAGRAM: MONTH #24 of 89

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Below are no more than nine issues of Marvel UK goodness, all released in one month, making August 1987 the most jam-packed of the entire Transformers UK run.  The reason?  That'd be the Transformers/Action Force crossover which began in one title before transferring to the other, with the one story taking part over all of these comics:


Over five Saturdays, four of which would see young readers pick up two comics at once, this event brought much in the way of action but did it bring much in the way of story?  You'll find out below as we make our way through this London-based adventure while simultaneously making our way through a hypnotising carwash in America.  Nope, you didn't read that wrong.

ISSUE 125
1st August 1987


#125: To say "this was an exciting week" is pretty much a given now with this comic, but for this particular week it was for more readers than normal, because it was the start of the classic crossover event with Action Force (the UK's G.I. Joe) comic.  Ancient Relics is very fondly remembered to this day and it's easy to see why.  It's atmospheric, great fun and includes none other than the return of Megatron, whose exact reentry to the series I was struggling to remember until now.  What's not to love?

As I read the modern day G.I. Joe continuation it's even more fun for me to see characters like Scarlett, Barbecue, Airtight, Bazooka and Flint amongst the Robots in Disguise.  Next week the story spills over into their own comic so this is going to be a somewhat longer blog post than normal!


After the high energy of the main strip, The Iron Man of 2020's surprisingly downbeat ending feels all the more dramatic.  A brilliant issue, one of the very best so far.  I'm looking forward to the extra comics over the next few weeks, but of course you're reading this on the blog now so you don't have to wait to see the highlights, just scroll down.

Cover by Jeff Anderson
Ancient Relics!: Part One pencils by Geoff Senior, inks by Dave Harwood, colour by Steve White
The Iron Man of 2020: Man of the Year pencils by Mark Beachum, inks by Bob Wiacek and colours by Bob Sharen

ISSUE 126
8th August 1987


#126: On this particular day we got two comics for the price of, well, two.  But that's not the point, as today the Transformers and Action Force crossover made its way into the pages of the latter comic which you'll see below.

In the latest Transformers story featuring the Scraplets the mythical cure turns out to be water.  Well, it would be a mythical chemical on a metal planet inhabited by robots, wouldn't it?  Goldbug's new human friend is quite the physical ally and I love him taking on giant robots many times his size to save his new friend.  Also, the Scraplets show their true forms and poor Blitzwing should've stayed in bed.


At this time of the year the Transformers Annual would be released into newsagents across the land, but this teasing advertisement below was all most of us would get until Christmas, just as it is in 2019.  In the back up we leave The Iron Man of 2020, rejoin the Invincible Iron Man of 1987 and Lew Stringer's Robo-Capers provides more belly laughs to round things off.


Cover by Lee Sullivan
The Cure!: Part One pencils by Don Perlin, inks by Ian Akin and Brian Garvey, colour by Nel Yomtov
The Invincible Iron Man: Deep Trouble art by Bob Layton and colour by Bob Sharen
Robo-Capers by Lew Stringer

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHTS:
@the._inevitable.k - "That was an odd Iron Man story to give us.  I think that was the only one from what I remember."
@theoinkblog - "It was probably chosen because it began and ended in England.  There'd been previous ones in the back up slot such as The Night of the Octopus."

ACTION FORCE 24
8th August 1987


AF#24: So here's our second comic of the week as the Transformers and Action Force crossover continues in the pages of the latter's own publication.  G.I. Joe, Megatron and Grimlock in the same story?  Yes please!

It looks like Wild Bill has flown his last flight thanks to the crazed Decepticon leader.  As I've said previously I'm currently reading IDW's continuation of Marvel's original 'Joe line and it's become a favourite read of mine, so to have these two franchises together is a thrill, especially in the hands of these classic creators.



The comic itself has a great set up, with a five-page UK strip and in the middle there's eight pages of US G.I. Joe.  Seeing Destro and Firefly, who have been particularly ruthless lately in the new comic, high tailing it up a tree is a sight to behold.  Though I have to say that's a bit of overkill on the poor bear, especially since it's a member of Action Force responsible!


There's also a back up strip in the shape of Master of Kung-Fu who takes up about 4 or 5 pages at the rear of the comic, rounded off with probably the first Combat Colin strip many Transformers fans would've come across.

Cover by Jeff Anderson
Ancient Relics!: Part Two pencils by Geoff Senior, inks by Dave Harwood, colour by Steve White
The Mountain: Part Three pencils by Frank Springer, inks by Andy Mushynsky, colour by George Roussos
Master of Kung-Fu! pencils by Paul Gulacy, inks by Dan Adkins, colour by Janice Cohen
Combat Colin by Lew Stringer

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHTS:
@ian_snow - "Always loved Geoff Senior's art as a kid, specifically in Transformers.  He's the one artist that for me seemed to capture the scale of the Transformers characters."
@theoinkblog - "He was always a favourite of mine, but then again so are Andy Wildman, Lee Sullivan, Dan Reed... etc. etc. etc. 😂😂😂"

ISSUE 127
15th August 1987


#127: It appears the latest Combiner Transformer had arrived, in a way.  The Scraplets became the latest robots to join together to form a formidable foe, although this monstrous combination took a lot more than the usual five or six robots to put together.

I always enjoy a good story with plenty of human/Cybertronian interaction and with new human companion Charlie Fong and G.B. Blackrock back that's exactly what we get.  Just how funny is Goldbug trying to use a payphone to call Blackrock for help.  I have to say I've liked this story a lot with its horror, characterisation and humour in spades.


In the back up strip, The Invincible Iron Man is in the UK and the story involves another certain fascination I have: the Titanic (built just around the corner from me, by the way).  A chemical weapon was on board and its canisters are eroding in the salt water, so it's Iron Man to the rescue.  I'm very glad this was the story chosen to replace the cancelled Inhumanoids; I almost forgive Marvel for not bringing them back.  Almost.

Cover by Robin Smith
The Cure!: Part Two pencils by Don Perlin, inks by Ian Akin and Brian Garvey, colour by Nel Yomtov
Iron Man: Deep Trouble! art by Bob Layton and colour by Bob Sharen

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHTS:
@the._inevitable.k - "It looks like Tony Stark is gathering water for Goldbug 😂"
@isen_skurge - "Good old Robin Smith and The Cure 🤔"

ACTION FORCE 25
15th August 1987


AF#25: Another double dose for Transformers fans as Ancient Relics continues, although after the summing up of the previous episodes we end up with less than four pages of new story.  But what a fun little tale it is anyway.  Harwood's inks work brilliantly with Senior's pencils, creating a unique melding of styles which is just perfect for a crossover.

A new Action Force story starts as well and I can't help but laugh at Snake Eyes recuperating in a hospital bed in full tactical gear!  How apt for him.  Destro then shows The Baroness how much he trusts her, but will we get to see what made this deadly killer faint?  Don't be daft, of course we won't.  The back up, Master of Kung-Fu reads really well and it's tempting to collect the comic to read more.  Some lovely visuals here from Paul Gulacy and Dan Adkins.


There's also an advertisement for the Transformers Complete Works, released a year ago so they must've still been about.  Obviously placed in there for the crossover fans and finally there's a very tricky question in the competition!


Cover by Jeff Anderson
Ancient Relics!: Part Three pencils by Geoff Senior, inks by Dave Harwood, colour by Steve White
Celebration!: Part One pencils by Frank Springer, inks by Andy Mushynsky, colour by George Roussos
Master of Kung-Fu! pencils by Paul Gulacy, inks by Dan Adkins, colour by Janice Cohen

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHT:
@rudy_zissou - "Obviously Snake Eyes "rests" in full combat gear... lol."

ISSUE 128
22nd August 1987


#128: A rather funny cover that sets up the reader for a bit of silliness inside with the strangest story title of the whole run, somewhat inspired by a certain series of Spielberg movies.  It's gloriously silly, like an episode of the cartoon, with Ratbat's plan of a hypnotising car wash franchise thanks to G.B. Blackrock being under the control of an Insecticon's probe, but it's fun and that's the point, right?  I'll have to wait until next week to see what the point is but in the meantime there's a lot of enjoy.

First up, who'd have thought their little toy cassette would give the Decepticon commander Shockwave a run for his money?  Ratbat's actually become a main character in the series, surprisingly.  His and Shockwave's personalities (one programmed for logic, the other for auditing) are perfect to bounce off each other, so I'm looking forward to seeing exactly where this leads.


In The Invincible Iron Man, Tony Stark makes it down to the Titanic in a story originally published not long after its discovery and which also involves some Cold War conflict, so it was certainly a topical tale.  We also get the first look at the Headmasters in the latest Hasbro advert.  The Christmas push had officially begun.

Cover by Dave Hine and John Burns
Buster Witwicky and the Car Wash of Doom!: Part One (phew!) pencils by Don Perlin, inks by Jim Fern, colour by Nel Yomtov
Iron Man: Deep Trouble! art by Bob Layton and colour by Bob Sharen

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHTS:
@the._inevitable.k - "The toy adverts and storyline definitely worked on me 😂  Bi-annual trips to Toys-R-Us way out of town were common."
@theoinkblog - "Yeah, there were no local toy shops to me either.  My birthday is at Christmas so I got bumper stocks of TFs then lol, but during the year trips to get a new 'bot felt like a day out!"
@captainalexis - "Maybe there was a problem at the newsagent but I never had this issue 🤔  Imagine launching into part two of that 🤣"
@rudy_zissou - "I wonder what made them choose Weirdwolf and Highbrow [for the Headmasters advertisement]?"

ACTION FORCE 26
22nd August 1987


AF#26: As the crossover nears its conclusion next week the recently discovered former Decepticon leader feels the full force of Dinobot fury!  Almost defeated by Megatron, Grimlock snaps and does what he does best.  A few times recently in the main comic he's found himself respecting some of us humans and the personnel of Action Force seem to be the latest.

It appears this multipart story is no more than one big fight scene, which is disappointing, but as far as fight scenes go it's up there with the very best.  I just wish it'd been a deeper story.


A free poster inside the issue surprised me because I hadn't realised it was still there after all these years.  It's not exactly on a level with those Thunderbirds cutaways we were treated to in the 90s but I'm sure fans still loved these series of supplements and adorned their walls with them accordingly.

Then, Hasbro continued its marketing push for their latest lines of toys, showcasing mini robotic companions.  The Headmasters featured above and here we have the Targetmasters getting the back page treatment.

Cover by Jeff Anderson
Ancient Relics!: Part Three pencils by Geoff Senior, inks by Dave Harwood, colour by Steve White

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHTS:
@rudy_zissou - "Absolutely stunning cover!!  But the real highlight is the drawn toy Targetmasters page.  I would look at these for hours.  I also actually really enjoy the simplicity of the cover."
@theoinkblog - "It's amazing to think back and remember we relied on illustrations rather than any photos at all, isn't it?

ISSUE 129
29th August 1987


#129: It may have been a daft premise, but the Buster Witwicky and the Car Wash of Doom story did bring us a brilliant Robin Smith cover, which focussed on the highlight of the whole tale; a scary showdown between Buster and Ratbat inside a claustrophobic car wash!  The whole tale is a bit out there (it's all an excuse for the Decepticons to drain our cars of fuel) but this scene is excellent and filled with tension.  It's a nice surprise in a strip which initially seemed so throwaway.


Showdowns are the order of the day with Iron Man too.  He's up against a rather tech savvy KGB in their Leviathan craft, racing about the abandoned wreck of the Titanic.  Talk about "out there"!  It's a suitably far-fetched finale for the high-tech superhero, which leaves room for a new secondary strip in the comic and that leads me to the back page.


The big news for me this week came with the full-page Next Issue feature.  Next week it's all about the Headmasters and the Targetmasters, a unique set of Transformers that I really enjoyed both in their toy and strip forms as a kid.

It's going to be cover-to-cover Transformers for a whole sixteen weeks.  So not only do I finally get to become reacquainted with some amazing characters but the origin story will also last right up until the Christmas issue.  So it's official, next week the countdown to my favourite time of the year begins!

Cover by Robin Smith
Buster Witwicky and the Car Wash of Doom: Part Two pencils by Don Perlin, inks by Jim Fern, colour by Nel Yomtov
The Invincible Iron Man: Deep Trouble art by Bob Layton and colour by Bob Sharen

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHTS:
@the._inevitable.k - "I love the Headmaster/Targetmasters storyline, though don't remember it lasting so long!"
@regulon_four - "That cover makes it worth owning, weird story or not 😂"

ACTION FORCE 27
29th August 1987


AF#27: This issue concluded the crossover in explosive form.  What it lacked in depth it made up for in action for the young 'uns, with Megatron and Grimlock battling on top of giant gas tanks, both seemed destined to die at the hands of our human heroes.  But a swift sacrifice by Guardian (is he still controlled by Professor Morris?) sees him and Megs explode in a huge fireball, but not before a shadowy shape splashes into the Thames.

"To be continued" and all that.


There's a rather surprising turn for Cobra Commander in the US strip I have to say!  I can't wait to get back to collecting the graphic novels from IDW to find out where that leads.  Then on the letters page (Mail Call) the friendly rivalry between Marvel UK editors is apparent in the response to one reader's letter.

The explosive action continues but with a comedy slant in Lew Stringer's Combat Colin once again, bringing the chortles to round off our final foray into the world of the Action Force comic, though the characters themselves will return later in the run when the comic would merge into Transformers.  That should be around January next year if memory serves.


Cover by Jeff Anderson
Ancient Relics!: Part Five pencils by Geoff Senior, inks by Dave Harwood, colour by Steve White
Celebration! pencils by Frank Springer, inks by Andy Mushynsky and colour by George Roussos
Combat Colin by Lew Stringer

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHTS:
@gazmondo595 - "For years and years I only had the one half of this story arc, the one that was published in Transformers UK.  I dropped lucky earlier in the year, I got every issue of Action Force weekly and every issue of Action Force Monthly off eBay!"
@martin.s.wright.14 - "Blimey!  I had that comic.  I used to get Action Force and Eagle delivered every Saturday.  Good times 😀"


I told you this would be a long blog post.  It seems like every single month this series just keeps getting better and better, but at the end of each one I'm looking forward to something else the next time.  It's been a great month with loads to read and experience, but September all the way through to December promises an epic Transformers comic like nothing we've experienced before.  But before the next post there's something else to look out for.

Watch out for a month-long event beginning here on Friday 20th September, with a special preview post the week before!  Again, you didn't read that wrong, it's a big event and the reason behind it equally so.  Watch out for all to be revealed on Friday 13th (it won't be an unlucky day!).  Subscribe now to the blog or follow its Instagram feed (or my own Twitter) so you know when to come back!


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