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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Transformers Key Comics Part 1

It's time to bring back some 80s nostalgia, and while I wasn't really a collector of the Transformer comics, I did have a bit of the toys and watched the cartoon quite often. Needless to say, I grew up on the toys and cartoon and have quite a bit of fond memories involving this toy line.

So, at the suggestion of JW, I thought why the hell not? Although I wish they'd stop with the Transformer movies, these comics by Marvel were pretty popular back in the day.

So this will mainly deal with Marvel's Transformer key comics, and mainly the U.S. title. There will be a few parts just to warn ya. Autobots, roll out! Decepticons, attack!

1st appearance Transformers
1st appearance of Sparkplug & Buster Witwicky

Based off the Hasbro toy line that I and maybe quite a few of you grew up with, Transformers #1 by Marvel Comics was the first Transformers comic at least in the U.S. Not sure if they had a Japanese comic or manga as the toy was based off the Takara toy lines Diaclone and Microman.

Hasbro eventually gained sole ownership with Takara retaining the rights to produce and distribute the toy line in the Japanese market. I was a kid when the first Transformers were released and it was huge!

I remember my parents having a hell of time getting me and my brother one of these toys during Christmas time in 1984. I can even remember my dad mumbling upon finally seeing what we were fussing about, "What is this stupid shit?" Then giving us that look and once again mumbling, "Stupid American kids."

I'm pretty sure a head shake was involved as well. Then again, we're talking about a guy who tried to make my brother and I believe that all he had for toys as a kid was rocks and sticks. The toys were also not cheap back in those days, so I could see why he wasn't all that thrilled.

My brother got Megatron and I got Sunstreaker. However, who I really wanted was Soundwave, but he was all sold out by that time. Well, at least at our Toys 'R Us.

I never got Soundwave, but I thought he was the coolest. During this time, cassette recorders and ghetto blasters was all the rage. Break Dancin' was huge, and I thought it was coolest thing that Soundwave had these cassette tapes that also transformed into robots in disguise. Buzzsaw came with Soundwave and you had to buy the others that came in double packs I think. Damn! They sure knew how to stick it to you.

I remember bringing Transformers to school and I'd always trade whatever Transformer I had with someone who had Soundwave, Ravage, Buzzsaw, Laserbeak, Rumble, and Frenzy to play with at recess. I'd always have to give them back though since others thought he was too cool to trade with anything I had.

A fan of the toys and cartoon, I was but I wasn't a huge fan, meaning I'm no expert in them then nor now. Never really got into the comics though. I look back on that now and think it's a bit strange since I watched the cartoon religiously.

Regardless, this comic series was initially intended to be a 4 part limited series. Issue #1 is a huge issue that has the first appearances of most major Autobot and Decepticon characters. Optimus Prime debuts in issue #1 as well as his nemesis Megatron.

Issue #1 is the first Optimus Prime cover after all. Bumble Bee, Bluestreak, Jazz, Sunstreaker, Brawn, Hound, Ironhide, and Ratchet as just some of the other Autobots that debut in this issue.

Other than Megatron, some Decepticons like Soundwave, Ravage, Buzzsaw, Rumble, Laserbeak, Frenzy, Starscream, Thundercracker, and Skywarp also debut in issue #1.

Other first appearances are the characters of Buster and Sparkplug Witwicky, and I think they were both in the animated cartoon, although Spike was the main human protagonist in the animated series. Sparkplug is the father and is also seen frequently in the cartoon and in the comics.

The last name of Witwicky was used in the live action film, but the characters were obviously altered.

Transformers #1 by Marvel Comics has the cover date of September, 1984. It was released the same year the Hasbro toy line came out in North America.

1st Megatron on cover
2nd Optimus Prime cover
2nd appearance Tranformers in comics
2nd appearance of Buster & Sparkplug Witwicky

Issue #2 has the first Megatron comic cover, and it also has the 2nd appearance of the Transformers in comics. You could also say it's the 2nd appearance of both the Autobots and Decepticons for short as well as the 2nd appearance of both Optimus Prime and Megatron.

That's just to make things a bit easier.  This issue also holds the 2nd Optimus Prime cover as well.

So no surprise that the 2nd issue holds a bunch of 2nd appearances. Transformers #2 from the 1st series has the cover date of November, 1984.

2nd Megatron cover
3rd appearance Transformers in comics
Spider-Man & Nick Fury appearance

This here's a pretty odd one. Spider-Man pops up in the world of Transformers, and as we all know, they are both from two different continuities.

I think Marvel tried to incorporate Transformers into the world of Marvel superheroes with this issue, but the idea or concept was quickly abandoned. As far as I know, the crossing over between Marvel superheroes and Transformers would not happen again in Marvel Comics.

The only exception is that of Circuit Breaker, who crossed over at least once in the Secret Wars II #3 of the first series which also came out in 1985. Aside from the funky and only appearances of Spidey and Nick Fury in the Transformer comic issue #3, this is the 2nd Megatron cover and third appearance of Transformers in comics.

January, 1985 is the cover date of Transformers #3 volume 1.

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1st brief appearance of Dinobots
1st appearance of Shockwave

CGC does note this as the 1st appearance of Shockwave. However, the character shows up on the very last page in 4 panels only.  In the British reprinting of the comic, the page where Shockwave appears is cut from the comic.

Once again, I'm not entirely sure what constitutes a 1st brief appearance from a 1st and 1st full appearance or what's the deciding factors for CGC or Overstreet. Overstreet doesn't note this comic as a Shockwave anything, but does note it as the "1st brief appearance of the Dinobots".

CGC notes this comic as the 1st appearance of Shockwave and a Dinobots cameo. I am not sure on how many pages or panels they show up in this comic. However, here's the debut of Shockwave in this comic.

Well, for now, CGC notes this as the 1st appearance of Shockwave. Overstreet has yet to climb aboard in terms of Shockwave but does note it as a brief appearance of the Dinobots.

The character's portrayal in the comics was vastly different than in the animated cartoon, in which Shockwave was ordered by Megatron to stay back in Cybertron. Shockwave was also portrayed as loyal to Megatron.

Not so much with the comics nor original package bio for the character which states that he looks for ways to overthrow Megatron for reasons of logic not power. The character is one of the only Generation 1 characters that still retains his Cybertron alternate mode - a big ole purple ray gun. 

Transformers #4 has the cover date of March, 1985, and toy was one of the first to be released in 1985

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1st appearance of G.B. Blackrock
1st Shockwave cover
1st Bob Budiansky comic as writer

In terms of the 1st appearance of G.B. Blackrock, the character was a main supporting character in the comics, but I don't think he was in the cartoon or a prominent character in the cartoon. Some sources say that Josie Beller is in this issue, but her 1st appearance is still regarded as being in issue #6.

Shockwave was introduced briefly in issue #4, and if that is disputed, this issue may contain the character's 1st full appearance. Not sure about that though, but this issue does have Shockwave on the cover for the first time.

Considering fans of the Transformers over-all, this should be an important comic key to have as it is the first to have Bob Budiansky climb aboard as writer. Budiansky was an instrumental figure in creating the Transformer brand for Hasbro.

He is credited with naming such Transformers like Megatron, Ratchet, and Ravager just to name a few. Budiansky also wrote many of the tech specs and biographies of the Transformers printed on the toy packages.

Needless to say, Budiansky is most remembered for his run on the Transformers comics and the Transformer mythos. Transformers #5 has the cover date of June, 1985.

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1st appearance of Jossie Beller
2nd Shockwave cover

Some sources say that Jossie Beller has a cameo or brief appearance in Transformers #5. Not sure about that.

Overstreet notes this issue as the 1st appearance of Josie Beller, who later becomes Circuit Breaker. She is a computer genius and was paralyzed in a Decepticon raid and the prodigy of G.B. Blackrock, a shrewd businessman and ally of the Autobots.

Josie Beller would become a prominent supporting character for the comic series, and her 1st appearance noted as being in this issue of Transformers #6 has the cover date of July, 1985.

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1st full appearance of Dinobots
1st Dinobots cover

As a kid, I was a fan of dinosaurs, so it was natural that I geeked out on the Dinobots. I'm not sure whether my best bud or brother had Grimlock or I had him.

I think I had the Triceratops Slag since Triceratops were my favorite dinosaur. Then again, Soundwave was my favorite Transformer and I never had him.

Anyway, I was a fan of both the toy and the cartoon versions of the Dinobots, and issue #8 from the first Marvel series is noted or regarded as the 1st full appearance of the Dinobots that included Grimlock, Slag, Snarl, Sludge and Swoop.

Quite popular in the Transformer world, Grimlock is known as the leader of the Dinobots. They are Autobots but are loyal to each other before any other Autobot.

They, in general, don't much care for Optimus Prime and choose to follow his orders depending on what they are. The Dinobots are used as a special forces team to combat any threat too powerful for the regular Autobots to deal with.

Transformers #8 has the cover date of September, 1985. The toys came out in 1985 to 1986 as well.
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Once again, I'm no expert of Transformers comics and the toys. I think even the toy line has European variants when it comes to the packaging of Generation 1 Transformers.

The toys are pretty valuable as well in high grades or high AFA grades. I'm not sure how they've done throughout the decades as investments though. Not a vintage toy expert here.

Issue #1 in CGC 9.8 has banged around the upper $200 and $300 range for the last two years or so. CGC Census so far has a total of 1,726 with 366 registered 9.8s. There are zero restored copies as of this writing.

It also should be noted that the Marvel UK Transformers comics started around the same time and had reprintings of the American stories but also spliced original content within the reprinted series. They would also have issues with completely original stories. 

Most were written by Simon Furman and the writer fleshed out characters more and even tried to maintain the continuity of Transformers The Movie cartoon.

While not debuting to American audiences, some characters do have their first comic appearances in that title before they were seen in American comics. I think the UK sister title was published more often than the American title, and issue #2 has an earlier cover date than the U.S. issue by one month.

One of note is the character of Galvatron, who 1st appeared in Transformers UK #78 in a Prologue to the story arc called Target 2006. Well, at least in a comic book and not considering the cartoon movie. The story was written by Simon Furman and has the cover date of November, 1986.

So I am going by Overstreet here and what's considered the main Marvel continuity, but that can definitely be debated as Simon Furman did end up writing for the U.S. comic also. We'll get more to that later, and I will be referencing the UK issues that I can find some kind of information on. I do not guarantee being accurate when it comes to the UK issues as I'm far from an expert on those as well.

Part 2 is ready so click the link below to continue with more than meets the eye robots in disguise! See ya then.


  1. Awesome bro he will love it. JW

  2. The UK and USA Transformers #1 both date to September 1984, so the UK issue isn't really a reprint of the American one is it? Could this be a case of simultaneous publication, with, as you say, the UK issues running ahead of the US ones after a while.

    1. Hmmm...from the info I gathered...they are considered reprints by these sources. I'm not sure what the argument is that has the U.S. comics widely accepted as "mainstream" continuity for the two comic series. Comic-size vs. Magazine? Main title vs. sister title? I couldn't even find the Transformers UK listing in Overstreet. I'm just as perplexed as what to consider them, but the UK Transformers comics are probably printed less than their American counterparts.

    2. That's for issue #1 UK, not the ones that printed original stories by Simon Furman.

  3. Overstreet seems pretty thin on the ground when it comes to Marvel UK titles, and hopefully that's something they can improve on in the future. Meantime thanks for this great blog and for keeping UK comics in the mix!