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griffin
2nd January 2013, 02:12 PM
If you have the comics, have a refresher read and tell us a bit about it.

Are they worth buying after all this time, and what is good or bad about them.

Are there any specific issues or stories you'd recommend to others?

How do they compare to the current era of Transformers comics?

Iriorne
6th January 2013, 11:31 AM
I'm currently about 30 issues into the original G1 Marvel run.

Full disclosure: I've read quite a few modern comics, but only about a dozen or so TF specific comics from the early IDW series.

The G1 cartoon was my first exposure to Transformers fiction and the brand as a whole, so I will probably make liberal comparisons between it and the comics. :)

Some things that have occurred to me while reading:

The first dozen or so issues are incredibly verbose. Individual panels are quite small, relying on the text to tell you what's happening rather than showing it in the picture or dialogue. This seems to get better however and by roughly issue 24 the comics feel a lot more modern in terms of the narrative style and delivery.


The stories are a bit better than the G1 cartoon. I definitely think they benefit from having story arcs over multiple issues while the cartoon episodes were, for the most part, self contained. One interesting change from the cartoon is that there is three way conflict between humans, Autobots and Decepticons. While the Autobots have a few human allies, the majority of humans do not distinguish between the two robot factions and there is a much greater emphasis on staying undetected - something the cartoon dispensed with almost immediately.

Some silliness does still crop up from time to time however. When the Autobots are choosing a new leader, Grimlock shows up claiming the leadership as he's the strongest. The other Autobots explain the qualities a good leader should have and he leaves in a huff. A short time later after Grimlock saves the Ark from Trypticon the other Autobots crown him leader as he displayed all the necessary qualities. By the next issue, surprise, surprise, he's a terrible leader.


Humans play a pretty major role in the story so far. At present it seems like the Autobots and Decepticons spend more time battling the human 'villain of the month' or the humans in general than each other. There are a handful of issues which are almost exclusively about the humans. In general I'm not really a fan of humans in my transformer comics but they're tolerable because they help to set up subsequent stories.


Something the comic does well is explain the presence of new transformers on Earth, which the cartoon completely failed to do. The creation of the Constructicons, Dinobots, Protectobots, Aerialbots, Combaticons, Autobot reinforcements (Blaster, Seaspray, Beachcomber, et. al), Throttlebots and Triple Changers are all plausibly integrated into the story.


The way some characters are portrayed feels a bit off and many characters are poorly used - no different to the cartoon in that respect. Optimus Prime is given his final send off around issue 24 (which I think would correspond with the 1986 movie). Unfortunately he seems to be a pretty weak character, he spends half his time in the series as a disembodied head and the rest of the time moaning about betraying his guiding principles. Maybe that's a slight exaggeration but I don't feel his absence yet.

On the other hand, some minor characters get a lot more use - Ratchet really has a chance to shine in the comics and Shockwave has a major role too. His characterisation as coldly logical is interesting but I do prefer his 'loyal 2IC' portrayal from the cartoon to the leadership ambitions he displays in the comic, however logical they might be. He seems to fill the role of Starscream in the comics - another character who was never developed very well and seems to have disappeared altogether now.


Worth buying?
Original: Not unless you're really keen.
Digital: Worth a try. Comixology has collected volumes for about $12 each or individual issues for 0.99c which you can read online or on your phone/tablet. At that price I think it's worth a try.

Specific issues?
I've powered through the first 30 issues pretty quickly so they're a bit of a blur. The ongoing story lines also tie the issues together too. I'd suggest just starting at the beginning - if the verbosity bothers you just keep in mind that it gets less dense after a little while.

Comparison to modern comics?
Art, particularly the early issues, has a very 'statuesque' quality, like they were drawn from the toys posed on a desk. They become more 'animated' later on. Colour palette is quite limited, though probably normal for the time. The stories and characters can feel quite dated at times too. The modern incarnations definitely benefit from 20 years of character development.

5FDP
6th January 2013, 01:36 PM
It's hard for me to make a comparison between the original Marvel series and current Transformer comics mainly because I haven't read any current series :o however I'd recommend the Marvel series to anyone who has a slight interest in Transformers because THIS is what started it all - or more specifically Bob Budiansky.

My two favourite issues are #24 and #25, the deaths of Optimus Prime and Megatron. These issues had a bigger impact on me more so than TF:TM.

Megatron
6th January 2013, 02:16 PM
...
On the other hand, some minor characters get a lot more use - Ratchet really has a chance to shine in the comics and Shockwave has a major role too. His characterisation as coldly logical is interesting but I do prefer his 'loyal 2IC' portrayal from the cartoon to the leadership ambitions he displays in the comic, however logical they might be...

I prefer the loyal 2IC Shockwave as well! :)

GoktimusPrime
7th January 2013, 07:14 PM
It's hard for me to make a comparison between the original Marvel series and current Transformer comics mainly because I haven't read any current series :o
It's also an unfair comparison because current writers don't have Hasbro execs breathing down their necks telling them which characters they need to introduce and remove from continuity and when... and this sometimes continuity issues... but sometimes it worked out pretty well, like "mass slaughter" stories like the Underbase Saga where they just KILLED lots and lots of Transformers to remove the "old toys" from the story! :D It allowed writers to appease Hasbro and make room for new toy characters to appear, but also maintain continuity and also create a more mature feel for the comic stories (i.e. war is consequential and people die in random horrible ways). Also, as much as the Marvel Comics were more "mature" than the Sunbow/Marvel cartoons, they were still principally targeted at kids, whereas IDW comics are targeted at adults.


however I'd recommend the Marvel series to anyone who has a slight interest in Transformers because THIS is what started it all - or more specifically Bob Budiansky.
+1 QFT!! :D

Totally true. It was Marvel who created the original Transformers mythos for Hasbro... Autobots, Decepticons, Cybertron... they created the names and wrote the original toy tech spec bios. Without Marvel, Transformers were just a bunch of random Japanese transforming robot toys that Hasbro wanted to import. And while the toys themselves were very cool, the mythos made them so much cooler! I'd say Transformers have become far more successful than Diaclone or Micro Change ever were, even in Japan. :)


The first dozen or so issues are incredibly verbose. Individual panels are quite small, relying on the text to tell you what's happening rather than showing it in the picture or dialogue. This seems to get better however and by roughly issue 24 the comics feel a lot more modern in terms of the narrative style and delivery
That was pretty typical of American comics in the 1980s. The UK reprints omitted a lot of those self introductory expositions.


Some silliness does still crop up from time to time however. When the Autobots are choosing a new leader, Grimlock shows up claiming the leadership as he's the strongest. The other Autobots explain the qualities a good leader should have and he leaves in a huff. A short time later after Grimlock saves the Ark from Trypticon the other Autobots crown him leader as he displayed all the necessary qualities. By the next issue, surprise, surprise, he's a terrible leader.
The Autobots elected Grimlock as their leader because he demonstrated positive potential in the way his character changed in #27 (heh, after all this time I can still remember the exact issue number :D) -- Grimlock attacked Trypticon (and thus inspires his fellow Dinobots to follow his lead) because he was inspired by the courage of the human girl Rachel (smashing his previous misgiving that all humans were cowards, thus eliciting Grimlock to further self reflect), and he also saved the Ark and the Autobots in doing so. In doing this, the Autobots believed that Grimlock had demonstrated wisdom, compassion and courage: the core qualities of an Autobot leader as personified by Optimus Prime.

Of course, absolutely power corrupts absolutely and Grimlock became a tyrant (and self declared "King")... but the Autobots didn't know that he'd become like that when they voted for him. An elected leader who becomes a despotic dictator hated by those who put him in power? Well... ;)

Btw, are you only reading the US issues or are you reading the UK ones too? Because I personally think the UK ones are better in the following ways:
+ Better artwork. Superior colouring and print quality. In the 1980s the Americans kept on using that horrible pixelated print on really crappy cheap paper. The Brits on the other hand really put a lot more effort into their artwork - not as "statuesque" as the Yanks, but really emotive and full of life. The colour palette was far wider and just beautifully hand painted to create various visual effects (e.g. lighting) that are achieved digitally today.
+ Better story telling. Furman wasn't nearly under as much pressure from Hasbro as Budiansky was in terms of which toy/characters he could insert/remove, which gave him more creative writing freedom. He just had to try to avoid making his stories conflict with the US run, which also led to...
+ Greater scope for character development, such as Optimus Prime who isn't as one dimensional as he is the US comics or cartoon. In the UK comics he is riddled with self guilt as he blames himself for bringing the Transformers' war to Earth. Also greater scope for including lesser known characters not seen in the US comics or cartoon, such as Jumpstarters, Deluxe Autobots, Deluxe Insecticons etc.

Having said that, one thing I really like about Budiansky's portrayal of the Transformers is making them other worldly and reminding us that these are ALIEN robots who, while they may have some human qualities, are NOT human. e.g. when Gears falls and shatters apart, the Autobots take his remains back to the Ark showing no emotional concern, which upset Spider-Man, but then he realises that they brought him back to be repaired. But the fact that they barely even battered an eyelid makes them feel very alien... I mean, if a human got an arm bitten off by a shark, even if a doctor came along and felt that he could confidently reattach it, it'd still be a very emotional ambulance ride! Or when Bruticus first sees a human, he freaks out like a little child spying a cockroach and wants to squish it. Few other Transformers writers gone to the effort to remind the audience that these really are otherworldly aliens. Almost all other TF writers are guilty of making the Transformers too human. The only other writers that made them so otherworldly would have been Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci for the first Bayformer movie ("The boy's pheromone levels indicates that he wants to mate with the female." <---aawwwkwwwaarrrdd social faux pas moment!)

Iriorne
7th January 2013, 08:46 PM
Of course, absolutely power corrupts absolutely and Grimlock became a tyrant (and self declared "King")... but the Autobots didn't know that he'd become like that when they voted for him. An elected leader who becomes a despotic dictator hated by those who put him in power? Well... ;)

It's definitely set the stage for some interesting story directions and it's a nice change of pace from Optimus' leadership. It's also an interesting contrast with his cartoon portrayal in which he was written as more a "chaotic good" archetype. He didn't always direct his energy towards the right targets but his spark was in the right place.

My main gripe with it is that it was pretty obvious he'd be a poor leader. While he may have shown the appropriate leadership qualities while saving the ark, that was only one instance and completely inconsistent with his past actions. Grimlock may have had potential but it was unreasonable to expect him to change so dramatically overnight. Maybe the other Autobots still had their cerebro-circuits scrambled from the battle. Hard to be too picky as they're generally pretty good. :)

I'm reading through the US Marvel series currently but I have heard that the UK series was better, as you say. I had a quick look online and it looks like the UK writers were incredibly prolific.... 332 issues compared to the US run of 80. I know they slotted their own issues around the US stories but even so it still seems pretty incredible. I might need a break before I tackle the UK series.


[...] one thing I really like about Budiansky's portrayal of the Transformers is making them other worldly and reminding us that these are ALIEN robots [...]

Agreed. In the cartoon the Transformers behaved in a very human manner, and the humans never batted an eyelid when the giant transforming robots showed up. It's nice to see the 'robots in disguise' angle getting some attention.

Megatron
24th January 2013, 08:22 AM
If you have the comics, have a refresher read and tell us a bit about it.

Are they worth buying after all this time, and what is good or bad about them.

Are there any specific issues or stories you'd recommend to others?

How do they compare to the current era of Transformers comics?

I don't actually own any original G1 comics but I have seen/read various issues in bits and pieces. All I will say is that overall, I really don't like them. I don't like many of the characterizations nor the story lines.

The only reason I'd actually buy them is for their value as collectibles, some of the 'pictures'... and because I'm a completist.

It's hard to recommend any story or issue in particular because you never know what people may like/not like, which may be different to what you like/do not like.

How do they compare gainst the current era of comics? They don't, really. But considering the era that they are from, that's to be expected.

BigTransformerTrev
24th January 2013, 11:54 AM
Are they worth buying after all this time, and what is good or bad about them.
- Are they worth buying after all this time? In my opinion, only if you've got nothing else to do with your money.
- The Good: Really made some characters shine! The comics rescued the character of Grimlock after what Season 3 of the cartoon did to him. It promoted some characters like Bludgeon who were just a run of the mill toy to someone who we are still enjoying the adventures of to this day.
- The Bad: The storylines were not hugely in-depth and half the time they just seemed to be coming up with an adventure to show the new toys that were out. The art was ok for its day, but certainly not great.

Are there any specific issues or stories you'd recommend to others?
-I liked the comic arc of 'Primal Scream' - introduced us to the character of Primus which has become central to the mythology that has come since.

How do they compare to the current era of Transformers comics?
- Honestly? They were great for their day, but if you went into a comic store, had never read a TF comic and saw the IDW ones sitting next to the Marvel ones, which would you pick? Modern comics all the way baby!

1AZRAEL1
25th January 2013, 01:22 PM
Are they worth buying after all this time, and what is good or bad about them.
I would just to read all the stories again. Was fun to read them.

Are there any specific issues or stories you'd recommend to others?
Not that I can recall offhand, been a long time since I have read them and haven't got the time to.

How do they compare to the current era of Transformers comics?
Hard to compare them. I like both the old ones and the new ones.

Ultra Mackness
26th January 2013, 11:56 AM
If you have the comics, have a refresher read and tell us a bit about it.

Are they worth buying after all this time, and what is good or bad about them.

Are there any specific issues or stories you'd recommend to others?

How do they compare to the current era of Transformers comics?

Like Megatron, I don't own any of the originals. I'm also a completist so I don't want to open that can of worms! I do remember the stroyline of the last few issues of the original run however, with the Last Autobot and Optimus being reincarnated from a human into a robot to go and save the day as Bludgeon was about to deliver a killing stroke - it was a compelling read. However I never found the comics appealing enough to buy (odd as I was right into the Batman:Knightfall cycle and picked up all of those). The only recent release comics I have really read have been Infiltration and Regeneration. I don't know, I think the stories now are maybe grittier, but I just haven't read enough of either.

I guess it's time to start.

Hursticon
29th January 2013, 01:55 AM
Are they worth buying after all this time, and what is good or bad about them.

The 80s Marvel G1 comics, both US & UK, are truly the most entertaining tomes of G1 lore & story that can be found in any medium.

The stories truly stand the test of time as I myself only finished reading the US run a year or so ago & I can safely as well as happily say that I thoroughly enjoyed the stories contained as they are far better written, illustrated, delivered & conveyed than the G1 cartoon.

They incorporate some truly science fiction elements, situations seem to have more gravity and the characters have so much more personality that you are honestly left (At least I was) wanting to read the next issue immediately after finishing the previous one.

The artwork is superb if not very much a product of its era but the only real let down IMO is the colouring; Nel Yomtov did a horrible job & the printing method of the era didn't help either as rather than solid bodies of vivid colour, isometric dots were used to save on ink costs but the ridiculous thing is that said dots often found their way outside of the lineart.



Are there any specific issues or stories you'd recommend to others?

I honestly can't specifically remember the names or issues, but I'd certainly recommend the Dreadwing specific arc of issues along with the issue/s containing the Jumpstarters Runabout & Runamuck; They are 2 sets of stories that really stand out in my memory as being very entertaining and full of beautiful art work, they're just really indicative of the creative love that went into the Marvel G1 comics.



How do they compare to the current era of Transformers comics?

I honestly could've compare the original Marvel runs with that of the (Now defunct) Dreamwave's comics or the current IDW stories as I have just not read enough of the modern era books to give a fair or accurate opinion - I will however say that the artwork & colour of the modern books are truly stunning, vivid & alive pieces of art - So for those reasons alone they may very well be worth checking out.

KalEl
3rd February 2013, 12:55 AM
I have only really just started reading tf comics in the last year or two and im really enjoying them! Esp MTMTE! I have a few hard covers (LSOTW) but mainly buy them on my iPad :)