Originally conceived as a miniseries to promote Hasbro’s new line of toys, Marvel’s Transformers series ended up publishing 80 issues from 1984 to 1991. Along with the main series, Marvel also published a list of spin-offs that include GI Joe vs. Transformers and Directors, an adaptation of the 1986 animated film and source material that ran through 330 weekly issues of the Marvel UK series.
The main architect of the UK material was writer Simon Furman, who was tasked with crafting stories that could literally fit between the pages of US issues, as the UK series’ weekly show required much more. material that the American series could provide. In the United States, most of the issues were written by Marvel publisher Bob Budiansky, who was also responsible for assigning names and personalities to the cast of transforming robot molds that Hasbro had licensed to Japanese toy companies. Budiansky’s career ended with that of 1989 Transformers # 55, and on his recommendation, Furman was also invited to take over the American series.
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Furman has contributed to the new continuities of Transformers comics over the years, helping to reinvent the myths of both Dreamwave and IDW Publishing. In recent years, however, IDW has allowed Furman to return to the original continuity created for the Marvel series. Going back to the 1980s is nostalgic fun, of course, but there’s a problem with creating new stories set between the adventures of an old Marvel comic. As evidenced by the appearance of a certain wall-crawling wonder in the series’ third issue, Transformers became firmly established within the Marvel Universe.
In 202, IDW Transformers ’84: Secrets and Lies Furman teamed up with artist Guido Guidi to create a series of prequels for the Marvel continuity. The premise reveals untold details related to the Autobot / Decepticon war, following the crash landing of Autobot leader Optimus Prime’s ship, the Ark, on a prehistoric Earth. The miniseries is narrated by Counterunch, an Autobot double agent who works within the army of the evil Decepticons. As the story takes place literally millions of years in the past, it’s easy for the creators to avoid any reference to Spider-Man’s eventual encounter with the Transformers. Dinobots, however, are a more complicated subject.
In the fourth number of the original Transformers Optimus Prime studies the records of his ship’s computer, collected during the millions of years that they were inert, after his accident on Earth. (The problem is from the brief stint of writer Jim Salicrup as a writer, who acknowledged that he wanted to bring more of the Marvel Universe to Transformers.) He discovers that five other Autobots existed on Earth while the others were inert. These are the Dinobots: Grimlock, Slag, Sludge, Snarl, and Swoop. Intrigued, Optimus Prime orders a probe to go and investigate what may have happened. Land at one of Marvel’s most famous locations, Savage Land.
The Savage Land is a prehistoric territory, hidden within a tropical reserve in Antarctica, and is the intellectual property of Marvel Comics. The idea is inspired by “The land where time stands still” from 1941. Marvel Mystery Comics # 22. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby reinvented the concept and named it the Savage Land in 1965. X Men # 10. It is a mainstay of X-Men continuity and the home of Marvel heroes Ka-Zar and Shanna the devil.
Transformers The number 8, one of the first numbers of Budiansky’s career, gives the Dinobots their origin. Following the Ark crash, his computer detected the Decepticon shock wave landing in the Savage Land. The Ark wielded the last of its abilities to revive five Autobots and modeled its alternate form on the Savage Land’s dominant life, the dinosaurs.
After the battle, the Dinobots were trapped in a tar pit and lay dormant for millions of years. Following a surprise attack from Shockwave today, Transformers # 8 has Autobot medic Ratchet traveling to Antarctica to find the Savage Land and revive the long lost Dinobots.
Placing Shockwave in Savage Land may initially seem like a curious choice, given that non-fictional dinosaurs existed at the time, so it’s not like you need Savage Land for the origin of the Dinobots. However, in addition to linking the Transformers lore with the Marvel lore, the opening story explains any issues related to Dinobots depicting dinosaurs from different historical eras. They all coexist, whether from the Jurassic or the Cretaceous, in the Savage Land.
According to Counterpillar’s Secrets and Lies Narrative, the Dinobot revival story involves “many apocrypha,” and one version even features “real living dinosaurs,” an obtuse reference to Savage Land’s role in the origin of the Dinobots. As IDW does not have the legal right to present the Savage Land in new material, even in Furman’s annotations, only referring to it as “The Original Location”, Furman goes ahead with an alternate origin for the Dinobots.
Transformers ’84: Secrets and Lies features the Autobot AUNTIE computer rebuilding the Dinobots, here portrayed as the “Dynobots,” a more recent idea that appears in some versions of the canon. The Dynobots are not Autobots randomly selected to become dinosaurs, but an established team of tough warriors. (Those who happen to have a name that sounds like “dino-bots”). His reconstruction scene is based on a sequence in Transformers # 8. However, the images on the Ark display now show fossilized dinosaur remains rather than the living dinosaurs from Savage Land.
This is tricky territory, as the goal of the miniseries is to provide die-hard fans with a story that fits the past perfectly, and flagrantly contradicting a beloved run from early canon history is likely to irritate the target demographic. Furman has some coverage, however. Dinobots’ battle with Shockwave was featured largely via a memory probe in Dinobot Slag in Transformers # 8. Readers only see the events that Slag witnessed, before falling into a tar pit and passing out. Additionally, Countryside’s account of these events is second-hand as well, by its own admission, indicating that it might have some of these incorrect facts as well.
Beyond that, Furman also uses Secrets and Lies as an opportunity to cover some plot holes from the first Transformers comic books. When Grimlock crushes the rogue AUNTIE, readers are given a justification as to why the computer on board the Ark made no further efforts to wake its crew, during the massive 4 million BC breach. C. and 1984 d. C. This is also a simple explanation for why AUNTIE was able to correctly identify organic dinosaurs centuries ago in the past, and then mistake automobiles for Earth’s dominant species (an essential element of the origin of the Transformers). Whether or not readers accept this supplemental material as true canon is their personal choice, but it is a clever means of solving the unique legal issues surrounding the Transformers past.
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