Friday, October 4, 2013


Writer: Simon Furman | Penciler: Andrew Wildman | Inker: Stephen Baskerville
Colorist: John-Paul Bove | Letterer: Chris Mowry | Editor: John Barber
Editor-in-Chief: Chris Ryall

The Plot: On Earth, the Wreckers are pursued by Megatron's lobotomized Decepticon forces while searching for an array they can use to contact Cybertron. The Decepticons capture Kup, to whom Megatron reveals he wants the Autobots, and especially Optimus Prime, to come find him. Meanwhile, Ultra Magnus learns that the Wreckers stole a shuttle for their secret mission. And Grimlock arrives on planet Nebulos in search of a cure for Nucleon poisoning, but finds himself attacked and captured by Nebulon forces. Finally, on Earth, the Wreckers are attacked by a human calling himself Circuit Smasher.

G1 Continuity: Nebulos is the planet where the Headmasters, Targetmasters, and Powermasters first appeared, circa the HEADMASTERS limited series in 1987. Circuit Smasher is clearly based on Circuit Breaker, a human character used primarily in Bob Budiansky's early G1 issues. Her rights are owned by Marvel rather than Hasbro, so I don't expect to see her pop up in this series.

Body Count: No one dies, but Megatron has several lobotomized Decepticon warriors under his command. I recognized: the Predacons, the Terrorcons, Octane, Astrotrain, Blitzwing, Ratbat, Buzzsaw (or Laserbeak), Skywarp, and Starscream. Furman was always very, very good at keeping track of exactly which characters were where at any given time, so I suspect these are all the Decepticons who were either still on Earth or imprisoned aboard the Ark near the end of the original series.

Megatron also has the head of Autobot medic Ratchet affixed to the front of a sled on which he cruises the barren Earth. When last we saw Ratchet in the final G1 issues, he and Megatron were bonded on some psychic level. It remains to be seen if this is still the case.

My Thoughts: I had forgotten two things when I started reading this series -- One: Megatron was quite insane in the original G1 comics; and Two: Simon Furman's Grimlock is smart. I care for neither of these characterizations. I guess I'm just a cartoon fanboy at heart, but I like my Megatron to be cold and calculating rather than irrational, and my Grimlock to be a simple-minded "tank" rather than a cunning strategist (though I don't care for the cartoon's season 3 portrayal of Grimlock as a total buffoon, either). 
But I accept that their characterizations are different in the comics, and I can live with it.

The Grimlock storyline looks to be interesting. When G1 ended, he had truly become an Action Master, though not named as such in the comic -- he had lost his ability to transform. Now he hopes the Nebulons can build him a new, transformable body.

But what really interests me about this plot is revisiting Nebulos. It was primarily featured in the HEADMASTERS limited series and in an issue or two somewhere around the forties of the Budiansky run, and I've always liked it as an alternate backdrop for the Transformers' war. At the moment, the Nebulons are working to restore the original heads of the Autobots who became Headmasters all those years ago. It's a nice touch, since Furman killed off all the Headmasters during the Unicron battle in G1 #75.

Variant "retro" cover by Guido Guidi
However I'm most intrigued by the fact that a group of Decepticons also ditched their heads on Nebulos, and some of them perished in the G1 series as well -- most notably, Scorponok. Now, I have to admit -- the cover of the second REGENERATION ONE trade paperback has Scorponok pretty much front and center, so I have a sneaking suspicion where this story might be headed -- and I like it.

Last thought: I enjoyed seeing some 1984 era Decepticons in Megatron's zombie army. But more notably, I was happy that the brief Ultra Magnus scene on Cybertron featured an appearance by Trailbreaker, one of the original Autobots. Oddly, considering Furman's Chris Claremont-esque habit of having every character called by name when they first appear, he went unnamed through the entire scene. I think Hasbro may have lost the rights to the "Trailbreaker" name, as they have called him "Trailcutter" in recent years, so I assume Furman simply chose to go without mentioning the replacement name.

Final Opinion: Still troubled by the destruction of Earth, but overall enjoying the story. It's Furman being Furman, so if you're into that sort of thing, it's pretty exciting,

Available as part of TRANSFORMERS: REGENERATION ONE, vol. 1 from


  1. I forget: is the deal with the Headmasters/Targetsmasters/etc. pretty close in the comics to what was (briefly) established on the cartoon, or wildly different (in terms of who went through the process and why)?

    Like you, I prefer a coldly calculating Megatron over the looney tunes version in the comic. I don't mind a smart(er) Grimlock, but I prefer his intelligence to come in the form of being a crafty and strategically efficient warrior, as opposed to someone who can hold his own amongst more scientifically-minded characters (which is how he ends up sometimes in the comics, IIRC).

    1. Yeah, all the -masters had roughly similar origns in the comics and on TV. Autobots and Deceptions wound up on planet Nebulos, where each faction allied with a group of Nebulans who eventually became their heads and weapons.

      The main difference is that the comic book Nebulans had a pseudo-futuristic society (but still dressed like Romans or something), while the cartoon Nebulans were already two warring factions when the Transformers arrived, with the good guys holed up underground. Also, the Nebulans on TV were green, while the ones in the comics seem to come in all the same colors as humans.

      I really liked Nebulous as presented in the comics, and I wish the Transformers had spent more time there, or revisited it later. I really think the Headmasters could've sustained their own ongoing series set there.

      (All of this is different from the Japanese continuity, by the way, where the heads and weapons were actually smaller robots that joined up withe the full-size Transformers.)

    2. Thanks to one of Barnes and Nobles' "buy 2 DVDS, Get 1 Free sales" I recently picked up the three recent DVD collections of the Japanese Transformers cartoon that picks up after the American series ends (and features a lot of Headmaster/Targetmaster stuff).

      I haven't had a chance to watch them yet, but apparently these new releases are remastered, with new subtitles that sub in the American names for characters (making it easier to follow). I'm looking forward to checking them out sometime, despite/because I expect them to be kinda batshit crazy.

    3. I have all three series, but I've only watched HEADMASTERS so far. It was interesting. I believe it's the only one of the series which is a direct continuation of the American series, featuring characters from prior seasons amidst the newbies. Going forward, it's supposed to be all new charcters in each series, with only a few cameos as exceptions.