In 1984, Marvel Comics launched a toy tie-in series called TRANSFORMERS. Originally planned as a four issue limited series, the comic's sales were successful enough to warrant an ongoing run instead. TRANSFORMERS ran for a total of eighty issues, ending in 1991, years after even the popular syndicated cartoon had finished its run.
The majority of the comic's issues were written Marvel editor Bob Budiansky, and it is Budiansky who is credited with creating the names and personalities of many of the first few years' worth of Autobots and Decepticons (one very notable exception: Optimus Prime was named by legendary writer and editor Dennis O'Neil, best known for his long association with the Batman over at DC).
While Budiansky was chronicling the Transformers' adventures in the monthly Marvel series for a U.S. audience, Marvel U.K. published a weekly Transformers series. As was their standard practice, the U.K. division reprinted stories from the U.S., but even printing half an American story in each British issue left the U.K. office with a need for original material.
Simon Furman, himself an editor at Marvel U.K., became the British series' equivalent of Budiansky, writing the majority of U.K. stories. And when Budiansky stepped down as the American Transformers writer with issue #55, Furman took over for him.
Where Budiansky had been primarily concerned with showing the Transformers' conflict from a human perspective with smaller, "slice of life" type stories, Furman's approach was to craft a long-term storyline moving the focus firmly onto the Autobots and Decepticons. Furman's 25 issues of Marvel U.S. are more-or-less one long epic, culminating (but not ending) with the united Transformers' final battle against Unicron, the planet-eating god-robot introduced in 1986's TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE.
Art by Wildman & Baskerville
Following the battle with Unicron, the short-lived alliance between Autobots and Decepticons fractured. The Decepticons stranded their enemies on Cybertron, the Transformers' homeworld, which they believed to be on the verge of self-destruction. But when a legendary being called the Last Autobot rose and joined the Autobots' ranks, the heroic Transformers escaped Cybertron, confronted the Decepticons for one last battle on the planet Klo, and sent their ancient enemies running for the last time.
In the aftermath of the battle, Optimus Prime revealed that the Last Autobot had restored Cybertron to its past glory, and the Autobots were free to finally return home. It was a happy, albeit hastily assembled, ending for the heroic Transformers...
...until REGENERATION ONE.
Next Week: TRANSFORMERS: REGENERATION ONE #80.5!
*I honestly wish I could say the pun in the title of this post was intentional, but sadly -- it wasn't at the time I first wrote it.