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A Blast From The Recent Past
on 21 September 2011
First a note as to what is actually contained in this volume as the marketing blurb is just plain wrong. This is a reprint of the first 13 issues of the Marvel (US) Transformer series which started in 1984. UK readers will recognise these as they all appeared in early issues of our comic too.
On to the quality of the collection. Unlike previous Classics reprints, there are no issues missed here - IDW and Marvel have sorted out their licensing quibbles so that characters like Spiderman and Circuit Breaker no longer cause anything to be missed. Also different is the colouring - gone are the dot matrix grids, replaced by solids. This doesn't really improve the look in my view - these are old comics, and I'd prefer them to look as they did originally. The solid colours give everything a rather flat look and highlight any problems with the artwork. It's not a dealbreaker however. The cover is embossed and it's a fairly handsome trade paperback. There is a new two page introduction and three small notes highlighting trivia on a few of the comics - these are fine but more could certainly have been done from an editorial standpoint. The covers of each issue are reproduced.
As for the content itself, it's aged a bit but not as badly as I expected. These were written to sell toys and for the first four issues it really shows as both writer and artist struggle to breathe life into the robot characters. Credit is due though for establishing the Transformers mythology. When Budiansky gets hands on with scripting duties things start to improve. These comics could easily have been terrible given the huge roster of toys to sell, but he quickly focuses on a few and isn't afraid to build up an overarching plot between many issues - something that kept me hooked as a kid. Included here are Shockwave's grand entrance, the plight of Ratchet as last remaining Autobot, and the return of Prime and Megatron after long absences. There isn't a settled artistic team, and some people get to grips with the subject better than others (William Johnson in Warrior School is the first to get the Bots to show some kind of emotion) however it's passable for the most part. They stand up OK for what they are, and if you are buying as a Transformers fan, or just to indulge in nostalgia, then you'll enjoy them again. I wouldn't recommend them to a neutral reader of course.
Finally, if you want a copy of this I wouldn't hang about. IDW has a terrible record of keeping stuff in print, and Amazon UK seem useless at getting much stock - use a reliable Marketplace seller or order directly from Amazon.com rather than wait.