My love for Transformers likely peaked the Christmas I received Starscream, my first Transformers toy. I hated Starscream and his horrible voice. How could I have him in my very house? Anger at my family and their poor choice shortly faded as I changed that plane into a robot for the first time.000I picked Transformers #4—of a four-issue limited series!?—off a spinner rack at the Winn Dixie grocery in December of 1984. Undaunted by the issue number issue, Marvel rewarded me with an issue five a few months later. I likely haven't read this since then, and a quick flip through reveals immediately one of the staples of early 1980s mass media: the spandex-clad dance class.
It seems some guy named Buster has run off to befriend giant talking space robots. His girlfriend Jesse is so distraught by this that she leaves town, too, most likely having received a generous scholarship from a prestigious ballet academy in Italy.
I'm going to hit the highlights on this issue so I can show the incredible cover to issue five.000Jesse has no idea what her native land is in for, as shortly we see Decepticon leader Megatron head out for a stroll, buy a case of Tang, and withstand the firepower of an entire army battalion.
Six pages after dance class we learn the origin of the Dinobots:
So, right, there's that, and then Shockwave, the raygun-based Decepticon (or does he have his OWN agenda?) blasts into the room and kicks ass all over everyone, the end.
Aw, crumbs, a fifth issue just to show off an incredible cover taunting us with the prospect of 22 pages of dead robots? And how does Shockwave spend his ill-gotten free time? Walking through his room full of robots hung up like slabs of beef and catching up on all the tv shows he missed in sleep mode for four million years, like Let's Make a Deal, a cheesy soap opera, and news about the building of an offshore oil rig being built off the coast of Oregon. He deems all this "Very illuminating." And if you ever said to yourself "There's no way a comic book about giant robots could ever open with a splash page of Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton, and Alice lurking in the background," well, I've got a fantastic Alan Kupperberg drawing for you:
The rest of the issue is filled with pages and pages of Buster Witwicky talking to an ambulance and hanging out in a hospital room. BORING! Let's see what Optimus Prime is up to, already!
Aw, shit, you guys. There's no way out of this Morrisonian nightmare. Unless...
Damn it, Buster. You'll never save the Autobots if you're passed out on the floor.
Eventually Optimus gets himself a bad head, which he pops off so Jetfire can drop his good head back onto his body, we meet the Dinobots and the Constructicons, and a paralyzed girl in a tinfoil circuit board suit zaps things with electricity. It's just that tame sort of fucked up that keeps a seven-year-old entertained and feeling just a little subversive. The cartoons, in contrast, had many fewer dance school scenes and robots flying apart.