Transformers ’84 #1 – Comic Review

Following on from the reboot of the main IDW Transformers storyline, it’s time to go back to the past with the soft reboot of the original Gen 1 Transformers in Transformers ’84 – Secrets and Lies and IT. IS. GLORIOUS.

This thing drips 1980’s authenticity, from the way the art looks, to the way the text boxes are presented, to the page layouts, to the dialogue… just everything about it is pure nostalgia. But nostalgia isn’t enough to carry a comic, not on its own. Luckily we have a big ole bucketful of explosions, brawling, Dino, excuse me I meant DYNObots and more references than you can shake a large, metal stick at.

The place? Cybertron.
The time? Before the launch of the Ark.

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Megatron and Optimus Prime have just become aware of each other, and Megatron is fixated on this strange, new Autobot leader that has risen up to challenge him, much to the chagrin of his subordinates who are focused on the wider battle. Shockwave is obsessed in his own way, with a plan to reactivate giant planetary engines to tun Cybertron into a mobile dreadnought.

We also get to see Jetfire before his rebuilding on Earth, named Skyfire and serving as a colleague to Shockwave. A nice little nod there to original continuity. We get to see the Dynobots in their original Cybertronian forms, and it’s nice to see them all with their original names. Slag, Snarl, Grimlock, Sludge and Swoop… I mean Divebomb? This is another little nod to continuity, with a previous story where Swoop had his original name stolen by a Decepticon who started using it.

This issue also kicks off the long, LONG running grudge match between the Dynobots and Shockwave. These ‘bots have tussled time and time and time again throughout the different series. It ends with the Ark getting ready to launch, and the Decepticons ready and waiting with their own ship, The Nemesis, to intercept them.

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This is a great first issue. It pays homage to what’s gone before while building its own new version of events. There are nods and winks and references to so many previous story arcs and plot points that summarising them all would be an article unto itself. It’s a real delight for those of us who have been fans since the beginning while still offering up plenty for new readers to get their teeth into.

Simon Furman is on top form here, his writing brought to vivid, gorgeous, retro life by Guido Guidi’s art. Hell, they even replicate the way the art looks when it was printed on the old paper. No smooth, clean shading here, instead it’s stippled like it used to be “in the old days”. It’s a subtle detail, but it just makes the whole thing feel that much more authentic. Every character looks and sounds and feels just as long time fans remember.

The last 30+ years just fade away when I read this and I’m a child again. I can’t wait for issue 2.

Transformers ’84 #1 is out now from IDW Publishing.

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