Transformers: How the Dreamwave Comic Series Subverted Expectations

Welcome to the fifth installment of Nostalgia Snake, a look at property renovations from the 1980s to the 2000s, renovations so old they’ve become nostalgic too. (Hence the snake of nostalgia that eats itself). This week, we will review the Transformers miniseries of a company very of its time, Dreamwave. And if you have any suggestions for the future, let me hear them. Just contact me at Twitter.

After a preliminary comic, Dreamwave Productions released the six-issue miniseries. Transformers: Generation 1 to the scandalous sales figures. In 2002, four of the issues topped Diamond Comic Distributors’ sales charts, one was number two behind Dreamwave’s release of Transformers Armada # 1, and another was knocked out of first place by Marvel’s Fantastic Four # 60 (sold by just 9 cents as a publicity stunt to promote his new creative team and to give DC’s recent 10-cent Batman comic a hit).

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One thing Dreamwave had going for it, aside from the lure of nostalgia and its innovative coloring technique, was its adoption of the variant cover trick. Dreamwave wasn’t the first to use numerous covers for the same comic, but the now-defunct publisher was one of the first believers in publishing variants in every issue and in every printing of their titles.

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However, not many fans complained. The covers featured a plethora of characters from Transformers canon, featuring Dreamwave’s version of Transformers who could be months away from making official appearances. For a small independent business, Generation 1 it was an immediate and amazing success. The history of the “First Directive” marked the return of a Transformers comical after nearly a decade, an absence that the story treats as an integral plot point.

For such a bestselling series on art, the interiors are irritatingly inconsistent. Fans anticipating superstar artist Pat Lee’s renditions of the Transformers had to contend with pages that seemed rushed, with those intricate lines of detail in the Transformers fading away, and humans that seem increasingly grotesque. The polished buff from previous work often wears off, although there seems to be more effort to sell the big final battle. Without the intricate technique of coloring, it is questionable how long fans would have tolerated this job.

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The miniseries was written by Chris Sarracini and drawn in pencil by Pat Lee and Edwin Garcia (with Sigmund Torre rumored as a ghost for several pages). In the first few pages, we re-introduce ourselves to Spike Witwicky, former teenage fellow Transformers, now an adult living with his wife and son in Cleveland. He is approached by General Hallo of the United States Army, who demands his help.

Spike is soon at the Pentagon and, through a newspaper article, readers are informed about “the Ark II disaster” of June 24, 1999. We soon learn that Spike’s father and many other humans were killed. in the disaster, with a joke that Spike’s brother Buster has not yet recovered from the loss of his father, Sparkplug Witwicky. This reference to Buster, the teenage sidekick from the original Marvel comics who never appeared in the animated series is a clue that Dreamwave is trying to merge the continuities of the comics and cartoons.

A full reproduction of the newspaper article on the final pages of the introductory issue completes the details. Following an orchestrated effort between the Autobots and various human governments, the Decepticons were finally defeated in battle. An Ark II spaceship was built in 1999 to send the Autobots back home with their Decepticon captives, and a select group of humans had been selected to accompany them. However, a mysterious mechanical failure caused the ship to explode above the atmosphere, probably killing everyone on board. However, the military now has information indicating that the Decepticon leader, Megatron, has returned and attacked a military installation in South America.

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In a remote region of Canada, we discovered that the mysterious scarred figure from the preview number is known as Lazarus, who brought in a known terrorist to make a deal. Lazarus introduces the terrorist to Megatron’s inert body, explaining that the Transformers he has discovered have been equipped with a control mechanism that allows him to animate their bodies. There are now, Autobot and Decepticon, like their puppets, sold to the warmonger with the deepest pockets. Megatron responds to Lazarus’ orders as a show, until Lazarus orders Megatron to kneel before him. Lazarus dismisses this as a mistake, though behind his back, Megatron’s eyes glow sinisterly.

In the final pages of the first issue, General Hallo escorts Spike to Area 24, where Spike is asked to help the military communicate with a recently located government Transformer. Spike asks which one, as they enter a hangar that houses Optimus Prime. Indicate the dramatic splash of the closing page.

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It’s a promising opening for the series. Sarracini’s story touches on memories of the Challenger disaster, nods in the direction of the recently launched War on Terror, and uses the original Transformers’ long time out of the limelight as a plot point. It’s a story about the past, but that doesn’t mean everything has to be seen through rose-tinted glasses.

In fact, if you were looking for a simple continuation of the distributed cartoon, you might be disappointed. Just a few pages after Spike and Optimus reunite (and Spike uses a part of the Matrix to revive his old friends), we learn that Spike blames Optimus for his father’s death, and he’s actually quite sick of it. the war between Autobots and Decepticons. brought to Earth. There are some nuances to Star Wars: The Last Jedi here where the beloved hero from the past tells the audience that what they love about their childhood is actually quite destructive and stupid.

Even more subversion follows, as the fan favorite Grimlock, leader of the Dinobots, turns against the Autobots and sides with the Decepticons (unsurprisingly, Megatron did not last long under Lazarus’ rule). , Spike discovers that General Hallo was actually the man responsible for the Ark II disaster and had his own plan to control the Transformers. The plan was adopted by his former partner, whom we now know as Lazarus. As you watch a battle between the Autobots and Decepticons in San Francisco, one that emphasizes human casualties and collateral damage, clearly evoking memories of 9/11, an increasingly unhinged General Hallo orders a nuclear strike on the city.

The Autobot Gestalt Superion is tasked with saving San Francisco from nuclear attack, though absorbing the blast costs the lives of all five Aerialbots. Meanwhile, in Canada, the Autobot Wheeljack is forced to sacrifice his life to save Earth from a cyber-virus designed by Megatron to transmute Earth into Cybertron. In Washington, Spike is rescued when the president arrives with armed officers, taking down the insane General Hallo.

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After the Battle of San Francisco, the Decepticons left Grimlock. Optimus offers Grimlock a place in his ranks, but in the face of a vocal anti-robot mob, he declines, stating that not even Optimus can do things the way they used to be. But an element of the past is preserved, as Spike congratulates Optimus on the Autobots victory and makes amends with his former friend.

It is true that it feels like an undeserved moment. If anything, the destruction of the city only proves the point Spike was making earlier. While the first issues lend themselves to Sarracini’s more adult tone, any nuance is lost in the final installments, as the plot fades to page after page of the robot’s destructive action. Still, the ending already has enough Pyrrhic victories, so giving Optimus and Spike a moment of reconciliation arguably prevents the miniseries from ending on too harsh a note.

Certainly, the audience was convinced of Dreamwave’s promise that it gave them great anime-influenced action that reminded them of the cartoon, so the extended fight scene at the end is probably defensible. Losing the suspense and more nuanced writing of the opening issues is a shame though, as the latest installments feel largely generic. There is a setting for Transformers facing a different life on Earth, where the public is equally dismissive of the Autobots and Decepticons, hinting at an uncomfortable future for the Autobots. But, similar to Last Jedi, After positing that the past was not as innocent and fun as we remember, the creators seem unable to go anywhere with the idea.

Over the years, Dreamwave has lost some of its esteem, but this early miniseries shows true potential. Even if the conclusion is disappointing, there are intriguing insights here, as the story tries to do more than exploit nostalgia. In some respects, it’s not exactly what anyone would expect, which isn’t bad. Having remarkable production values ‚Äč‚Äčthat are still impressive 20 years later doesn’t hurt either. As a document of how the concept was reintroduced to its initial fans, during a peculiar moment in American history, the series earns its unique place in Transformers history.

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