Transformers: Trial by Fire
Jose Delbo, Bob Budiansky (Illustrator), Frank Springer (Illustrator)
Paperback 144 pages (September 24, 2004)
Publisher: Titan Books
Transformers old school style, in another of Titan? cool, but heavily overpriced reprints of the 80? series. In this one, we get to meet the mighty Fortress Maximus and the Headmasters for the first time. This volume collects the initial four part Headmasters mini-series and subsequent issues from the main run. In the story, Fort and some other Autobots flee War torn Cybertron to the peaceful beauty of the planet Nebulos, where everyone dresses like Adam Strange, and is scared of our favourite big brightly coloured robots. The plot follows a trouble in paradise theme, as the war they left behind catches up with them.
I read this initially as a kid, and it? often hard at times to turn off my super-nostalgia vision and look at it objectively. The pencils still hold up, with great dynamic movement on humans and robots, and some nice hot ladies. It all fits into the general Marvel style of the time and Springer? work can be seen elsewhere in many of their other titles. Some Transfans may complain about art-inaccuracies, but for me those are just part of the charm. Colouring is again of the time, with background objects and characters often just shaded in single colours. That said, at times it can be quite effective.
As for plot, there are times when it transcends its toy-ad origins, and other moment when it just plods along. As this was supposed to be introducing a whole new range of toys you can see that there were constraints upon the writers. The moments when the characters call out their names in BOLD TYPE just so kids know which ones to buy are rather amusing. Budiansky is often quoted as saying he got bored of the whole robot game about half way through, and that can be seen in the somewhat pedestrian plotting of this run. There is no doubt the series came into its own when Furman and the rest of the UK creative team got involved. The sequences set later on Earth are definitely paced up a notch.
All in all, its?an example of the better parts of Marvel? mid-80? TF run. And it features Scorponok, my best Christmas present ever!! ]]>