Twenty Years Later: Where Do We Go From Here?

It Is Over. Finished!

    From 1984 to 1990, Marvel Comics produced the original Transformers comic. It ran eighty issues, as well four mini-series (Transformers: The Movie; Headmasters, G.I.JOE vs. Transformers and Transformers Universe) and a parallel weekly series in the UK (that went 332 issues and several annuals). The main U.S. series was written primarily by two men. First, Bob Budiansky and then later, Simon Furman. It's fair to say that without either of these men, the Transformers concept would not have evolved as it did. Budiansky laid a lot of the groundwork from the beginning, writing Tech Specs for the toys as well as defining many of the main cast of characters. Furman did a lot of work in the UK writing stories in-between the U.S. stories, filling in the blanks with characters we either never saw at all in the North American comic or who would be introduced quite some time later in a different fashion by Budiansky or himself.
  In 1984, Transformers was a massive hit right from the get-go. Kids everywhere wanted these fascinating toys and because of that, a comic and cartoon were quickly initiated to help keep the momentum and sales strong among the fickle audience they were aimed at. By 1988, a glut of toys, an aging demographic and the end of the popular cartoon series saw the beginning of the end of Generation One. The toy line limped through 1989 with more Pretenders and a major gamble on the micro-sized Micromasters concept. By 1990, Micromasters were the primary TF toy concept alongside Action Masters--smaller, G.I.JOE-like figures that were articulate but unable to transform into anything. Some fans loved the Action Masters idea but not enough. Many would point that having a toy called Transformers, where the characters no longer transformed was illogical.
      The Marvel comic was the last source of Transformers fiction by that point. When Hasbro decided to kill the TF line for 1991 (in North America, anyway) it seemed pointless to continue the comic. No toys meant no new support for the idea. Also, comics were beginning their speculator phase around the same time with mega-artists like Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefield selling literally millions of copies of comics like Amazing Spider-man, X-Men and so on. A puny little toy tie-in comic that no longer had a toy to support simply couldn't compete. What were sales of thousands of issues to Spider-man's millions? And so the axe fell, with the cult favorite comic ending its run at issue eighty.
    Two years later, Hasbro surprised fans with the release of the new Generation Two toy line. Suddenly, we had (mostly) new toys, a recycled cartoon with new cgi openings and... a new comic series! Simon Furman himself was writing the new series with art by the incredible Derek Yaniger (and later, the not-so-good Manny Galan and the competent Geoff Senior). Sadly, the speculator boom was at its height by this point and G2's sales were not good enough to compete so the series ended with issue twelve in 1994. Not long after, the comics market totally crashed and suddenly the numbers G2 had been getting were what was considered more normal (but it was too late to help by then).
    Since G2, we've gone through the Dreamwave comics era (one I was mostly underwhelmed by) and even had Simon Furman return to start a neo-G1 universe at IDW. After several Furman penned mini-series, other writers took over and the result has been a mixed bag at best.
    In 2011, a fan petition got started online and on Facebook. It got enough signatures to get noticed and even tacit approval by Furman and G1 artist Andrew Wildman. IDW green-lit the series and starting in May 2012, fans will get a continuation of the original comic that ended in 1991.

It Never Truly Ends...

    Not a lot is known about the new series since the powers-that-be have been keeping tight-lipped about it. There have been several rumors flying about but it's hard to sort fact from fiction. What is known is that it will ignore the events of the Generation Two comic and go in a different direction (which is a bit unfortunate since it had some good points. Conversely, G2 ended a story-closing truce while G1 ended on a murkier note which would be easier to pick up from). The new comic is apparently to be titled Regeneration One (assuming the promo art is accurate). It's also said to run for twenty issues in its entirety (issue 80.5, a Free Comic Book Day comic, up to 100). Presumably the series will be over after that...  Based off promo art, it seems there might be some iteration of G2's Jhiaxus in the story at some point as well as more humans (I've seen someone refer to the metallic covered man as "Circuit Smasher". According to an article Furman did, such a character does exist. Is he Circuit Breaker's offspring or someone else entirely? Also, since she was both crippled and seemingly lost her mind at the end of the series, how exactly is that supposed to work?) It's also been stated the comic will jump ahead in time slightly to the modern day.

    It would be nice to see a definite resolution to Megatron, Ratchet, Shockwave, Galvatron and Starscream's fates aboard the Ark. Are they all dead? Are some of them dead? G2 asserted that only Megatron and Starscream survived but that no longer has to be the case. Galvatron ended up at the bottom of a lake in issue #79--but why should a little cold water stop him for long?
    What about Spike and Fortress Maximus? They were blown to bits in G2 #2--but not anymore. Did he and Fort Max become one entity somehow? What about the other binary bonded characters, for that matter? Hi-Q asserted they would each merge into one composite being one day. Did that come to pass? And, if so, what does it mean in practical terms?
    Will Bludgeon remain the leader of the Decepticons? And, if not, will he at least get a better death then in G2 #5 (which I always found a tad lackluster myself).
    One of the more obvious questions--what will become of the whole Action Masters storyline? Grimlock could no longer transform at story's end. The letter column of the time said not all the TFs would be affected the same way and lose their transformation powers? Will this still come to pass or will Furman quickly tie it up and move on to new things? Although I would prefer the latter in some way, I do think a true continuation should go with what was left and wrap it off properly rather then just quickly getting it out of the way. I guess time will tell...
    Action Masters or not, will we still get to see some of the prominent characters of the time, such as Krok? He did seem to be Bludgeon's lieutenant by story's end. In G2 he didn't really show up but Furman had to contend with getting the story going at the time and introducing a bunch of new toy characters from G2. Twenty years on, this is no longer the case so he should be free to do as he pleases.
    Another welcome thing will be the return of the classic G1 character designs. IDW's neo-G1 comics drive me nuts with how far the characters looks have deviated from their original designs... This is both a chance to tell a good story and get back to less bizarre design schemes for the characters (I liked Don Figueroa's art too but the redesigns he did were unnecessary).
    I would hope Furman will throw some cosmic thing into the mix but given that it's his modus operandi, I pretty much expect it. He'll likely start with smaller character related stuff and build to some Universe-shattering conclusion.

    The article with Furman has him refer to new elements such as "Ultra Magnus" (a familiar character but previously not in the old U.S. comic); the aforementioned "Circuit Smasher"; whatever "Zero Space" and "Nova Point" are; and "War-Worlds" (G2 redux?) Will "Zero Space" be something similar to the "Dead Universe" Furman created for IDW or something else all together? (Perhaps he will do something like whatever he planned for the future in IDW before things were changed by later writers).
    Whatever the end result, expectations for Furman's return to the G1 era that made him famous are high. Hopefully not impossibly high (let us not forget The Phantom Menace. Or perhaps we should?) At the end of the day my only real expectation when it comes to a comic (or really, any form of entertainment) is that it does its job. That is, succeeds in entertaining me. Marvel's G1 comic did that well for me when I was a teenager. If Regeneration One can do the same then I'm all for it.
Regeneration One art courtesy Andrew Wildman's website ( )